The office has increased the number of files it accepts and amount of money it makes, but there are growing concerns about its fairness and transparency
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

It was Oct. 15, 2007, when the RCMP officer knocked on David Lloydsmith's door.

Mr. Lloydsmith, a former electrician on partial disability living in the Fraser Valley community of Mission, was told the officer was investigating a dropped 911 call. Mr. Lloydsmith lived alone and said he hadn't touched the phone.

The officer asked to come in and search the residence, according to court documents. Mr. Lloydsmith declined several times and finally moved to close the door. The officer then forced his way in and put Mr. Lloydsmith in handcuffs. A second officer arrived within minutes and the Mounties began their search.

They eventually found marijuana plants in the basement. Mr. Lloydsmith was arrested, but released without charges. The initial officer wrote in a report that the offence was "minor" and, with the plants removed from the home, public interest had been met.

Mr. Lloydsmith thought the ordeal was over. But three years later, the province's Civil Forfeiture Office moved to seize the residence. The legal battle continues, despite an earlier ruling that the evidence collected against him was in breach of the Charter. A judge described the search as "warrantless" and "unreasonable."

Mr. Lloydsmith is one of the hundreds of British Columbians who have become caught in the relatively new spectre of civil forfeiture - a process originally intended to fight organized crime that has come to have a much wider reach.

A Globe and Mail investigation spanning several months and more than two dozen interviews has found the Civil Forfeiture Office has rapidly increased the number of files it accepts and the amount of money it brings in, while remaining largely out of the public eye. But as the scale of the forfeitures has grown, so too have concerns about fairness, public interest, and transparency.

Documents obtained through freedom of information show how the office's policy works when it comes to accepting files. The office does not investigate cases itself and instead relies on referrals from law-enforcement agencies.

The documents say the director must assess a file on four grounds before accepting: public interest, strength and adequacy of evidence, fiscal considerations, and interests of justice.

The office does not need criminal charges, or convictions, to move on a property and the penalty - losing one's home, for instance - can seem disproportional to the alleged offence. The burden of proof is lower in civil court than criminal, on a balance of probabilities instead of beyond a reasonable doubt. Evidence that could be seen as unfit for criminal court can be seen as fit for civil court.

Ontario was the first jurisdiction in Canada to introduce civil forfeiture, and eight of 10 provinces have such programs today.

B.C., despite opening three years after Ontario, has taken in more money than Ontario and critics have contended it's operating as an end-run on the justice system.

The office's executive director said 99 per cent of the people the office targets settle on terms favourable to the office. Unlike Ontario, B.C. has a budget target it must meet. And cases that in the past have been conducted as offences under the Motor Vehicle Act, Wildlife Act or Employment Standards Act, for example, are being pursued under the Civil Forfeiture Act.

B.C. Justice Minister Suzanne Anton expressed her support for the system and said the program meets the public interest. The minister also noted many millions of dollars have been handed out to community associations and police as a result of the office's work.

"The public has a very strong interest in seeing that people do not keep ill-gotten gains," she said. "And that's why generally there's public support for this Civil Forfeiture Act."

Civil forfeiture itself is not a new concept. Its roots date back about a millennium, to Europe. Modern civil forfeiture, however, evolved in the United States, where it was brought in to target drug lords but has grown controversial in recent years. Controls have appeared lax and the programs have developed into cash cows.

Ontario was the first Canadian province to introduce civil forfeiture legislation. The Civil Remedies for Illicit Activities Office opened in 2003. In 2009, Ontario's legislation withstood a challenge in the Supreme Court of Canada in a case commonly known as Chatterjee. The court ruled the Ontario legislation did not conflict with the Criminal Code.

Yukon considered such legislation but decided against it in 2010, following a public outcry from people who said it would infringe on their rights. A Yukon government spokeswoman said the territory has no plans to revisit the issue.

B.C.'s Civil Forfeiture Office opened in 2006 under the Liberal government. It was heralded as another tool in the fight against gangs involved in the billion-dollar drug trade. The "bling-bling," as former solicitor-general John Les put it after a 2007 bust, was about to disappear and the province has described itself as a modern-day Robin Hood.

In 2011, B.C. became the first province to introduce a process known as "administrative forfeiture," which makes it easier and quicker to seize property worth less than $75,000. Robert Holmes, then the B.C. Civil Liberties Association's president, decried the move as another attempt to avoid proving cases in court.

Mr. Lloydsmith is sitting at his kitchen table, near a window that overlooks the front steps the RCMP officer once climbed. He has lived in the home for more than two decades. It's assessed at about $250,000.

He knows some people won't sympathize with his plight - he's heard from them. They say he should never have grown marijuana in the first place.

He stresses he is not a bad man, nor a rich one, and indicates he started growing after he had trouble getting prescriptions. Mr. Lloydsmith went on partial disability after breaking his back on the job. The exact number of plants discovered in his basement is under dispute. A police report said it was a few hundred, a fact his lawyer denies.

Mr. Lloydsmith says he will have nowhere to go if he loses his home. "My world is right here," he said.

He said the stress from the case has taken its toll. He's fought depression and lost 35 pounds. It shows - he's wearing an old sweater that's become far too large.

"I don't sleep now. I can't get it out of my mind. It's torture, it's like a nightmare," he said.

In court documents, the office argued Mr. Lloydsmith's property amounts to "proceeds and instrument of unlawful activity" and can be seized.

Bibhas Vaze, Mr. Lloydsmith's lawyer, said it's an affront to democratic rights to suggest the Charter shouldn't apply in this case. He said the house can be accounted for as purchased through legitimate income and Mr. Lloydsmith does not have a criminal record.

He worries about the legal ramifications if Mr. Lloydsmith is to lose.

"Because then, as far as I'm concerned, it will be carte blanche for cops to go into people's homes in violation of the Charter, based on what they could find, whether they have any good information," Mr. Vaze said. "Why even get a warrant then?"

In a sign of the importance of Mr. Lloydsmith's case, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association has decided to intervene. It's back in court in mid-February.

Gian Hong Jang and Yue Wang Jang own a Vancouver janitorial company. In April, 2008, the husband and wife purchased a second property so Ms. Jang's parents would have a place to reside. The Kerr Street home was bought for $720,000 after the couple secured a bank loan, according to court documents.

In September of that year, Ms. Jang's parents moved out of the home. The Jangs decided to rent out the downstairs portion of the property and found tenants online, according to court documents.

The couple said they had no reason to believe anything was amiss, until Vancouver police raided the home in December and found a marijuana grow-op. The Jangs were not charged but, in August, 2009, the Civil Forfeiture Office attempted to seize the property.

The office alleged that it would present evidence that the Jangs' primary property, their own home, was also purchased with marijuana proceeds and it attempted to seize that residence as well.

The Jangs obtained a lawyer but, on the eve of a court date, decided to settle to minimize their losses.

They were allowed to keep their home, but had to give up 50 per cent of the equity in the property they'd been renting out.

David Karp, the Jangs' lawyer, said the case still irks him. He said the janitorial company was legitimate and Mr. Jang "worked his ass off six days a week."

However, he said his clients were wary of further court costs and the uncertainty of trial.

"They essentially flip it on its head," Mr. Karp said of the Civil Forfeiture Office. "You're guilty until you prove you're innocent."

Robert Milligan is a second-generation guide outfitter. He owns and operates Coast Mountain Outfitters, a company based in the northern community of Terrace that specializes in mountain goat hunting, but also offers bear hunting and fishing expeditions. To run his business, Mr. Milligan requires a guide outfitter's certificate.

The Civil Forfeiture Office, however, is attempting to seize that certificate. Mr. Milligan is accused of several offences - from using a snowmobile for the purpose of hunting in a closed area, to using a helicopter to transport hunters who were not physically fit, to using bait to lure a bear more than a decade ago.

The office is also seeking an order that would force Mr. Milligan to turn over his profits.

The case, and the fact that it's being handled through the Civil Forfeiture Act instead of the Wildlife Act, has drawn the ire of the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. Scott Ellis, the association's executive director, said it plans to intervene in the proceedings.

"I was going to say the punishment doesn't fit the crime, but I'm not even going to say there was a crime committed," Mr. Ellis said.

"It's taking a sledge hammer - which is a quote you can use from me, if you like - to kill a mosquito." Mr. Milligan, in a statement released through his lawyer, said losing the certificate would be "utterly devastating."

Nicholas Weigelt, the lawyer, said the plan had been for Mr. Milligan's children to take over the business. He said losing the certificate would be akin to losing the family farm.

Although he could not say exactly how much the certificate is worth, Mr. Weigelt said those in large and remote territories can sell for millions. Mr. Milligan's certificate offers exclusive access to a large space.

Mr. Weigelt said only one of the office's claims has merit - one of Mr. Milligan's guides did ride his snowmobile into a closed area. But it was unintentional, he said, and the snowmobile only ventured 400 metres into the closed space.

Mr. Weigelt said some of the complaints appear to have been made by competing land users.

"I, like most members of the public, thought the government through the Civil Forfeiture Office went after criminals," Mr. Weigelt said. "Regulatory offences are offences, they're not crimes."

This is not the only time the office has taken an offence that falls under another act and tried to pursue it under the Civil Forfeiture Act.

The office was unsuccessful last year when it attempted to seize a motorcycle owned by Jason Dery, after he was caught speeding on a quiet Vancouver Island road. The office argued the Motor Vehicle Act offence made the Ducati - valued at anywhere between $7,400 and $14,000 - an instrument of unlawful activity. A B.C. Supreme Court judge disagreed and ruled in Mr. Dery's favour. (The judge added that the decision should not be seen as acceptance of Mr. Dery's driving. He had been cited for more than three dozen motor vehicle offences over the previous two decades.)

The office had until recently been pursuing a case against Mumtaz Ladha for an alleged violation of the Employment Standards Act. Ms. Ladha had been charged with human trafficking, though she was ultimately acquitted.

The office would not immediately agree to drop the case after Ms. Ladha was exonerated, but relented about a week later. Casey Leggett, Ms. Ladha's lawyer, said media attention around the potential forfeiture likely didn't hurt her cause.

The different cases highlight the different concerns that have been raised with respect to the office.

Mr. Lloydsmith's case speaks to admissibility of evidence, among other things.

The Jangs are among the many landlords who said they had no idea what their tenant was up to, raising questions about severity of punishment and public interest.

Mr. Milligan's case demonstrates how an offence under a different act can be pursued through the Civil Forfeiture Act.

In 2007, the Civil Forfeiture Office moved on the Hells Angels clubhouse in the Vancouver Island city of Nanaimo. It later went after clubhouses in Vancouver and Kelowna.

However, even these instances, in which the office did what it was essentially created to do, have not been without controversy. Joe Arvay, one of the country's most influential lawyers and a constitutional law expert, announced in October that he would represent the Hells Angels in a constitutional challenge of the Civil Forfeiture Act.

"If it takes the Hells Angels to demonstrate that the government has acted unconstitutionally, well then good for the Hells Angels," he said. "There have been a number of cases ... where you look at what the director has done and you say, 'Really?'"

The constitutional challenge could put those who feel they have been unfairly targeted, or that the process is flawed, in the delicate position of rooting for the Hells Angels to succeed.

Rick Ciarniello, president of the Vancouver chapter of the Hells Angels, said the legislation should trouble everyone, not just the group's members.

"Governments everywhere are now routinely using these 'civil forfeiture' laws as a substitute for the criminal process. Most people seem to just cave when faced with these forfeiture lawsuits. It is just too expensive and stressful to fight back when faced with the resources of the state," he wrote in a statement. "We aren't going to do that and our fight will be for all British Columbians."

The office itself is a black box. Its location is not made public and, unlike Ontario, B.C. does not disclose who works there. The province's information and privacy commissioner is expected to rule in a matter of months on whether the staff list should be made public.

Rob Kroeker, who was the office's first executive director, left the post in October, 2012, for a position with a gaming corporation, according to documents released through freedom of information. He was replaced by Phil Tawtel. Both men had previously worked for the RCMP.

In an August briefing note to Minister Anton, obtained through freedom of information, Mr. Tawtel said revenue derived from forfeiture is used to operate the program (legal and administrative costs) and provide crime-prevention grants to community associations and police. Litigation is the single biggest expense.

Mr. Tawtel said the grants are critical because they generate positive feedback and provide government with a way to identify emerging issues and priority commitments.

The office has issued about $11-million in grants since it opened, and paid about $1.3-million to victims of crime. Grant applications can be found on the Ministry of Justice's website.

Those numbers have been helped by a sharp increase in seizures in recent years.

In its first year, the office brought in about $600,000. In 2010-11, it seized approximately $4.8-million in property. That figure more than doubled the following year, to about $10.8-million.

By the end of fiscal year 2012-13, the office had seized more than $31-million in property since it opened. That total has since reached $41-million, more than Ontario which is at $39-million.

Unlike Ontario, B.C. has an annual budget target it must reach. In the briefing note, Mr. Tawtel wrote the office must "meet an assigned budget target to the government which has increased over the past two years by $1M to its current $3M."

The office has made more than three times that target in fiscal year 2013-14, seizing about $9.5-million in property.

The number of files the office has accepted has also grown, from 69 in 2008, to 240 in 2011, to 418 in 2012. In 2013, the office accepted 467 files.

The complaint most often cited by defendants in civil forfeiture proceedings is that of cost. Legal aid is not available and defendants are put in the position of assessing whether it's better to fight their case in court or to settle to try to minimize the damage.

Blair Suffredine, a lawyer and former Liberal politician who served in the legislature from 2001 to 2005, last year went up against the office in a case involving the seizure of $9,251. The money was found on a property in which marijuana plants had also been discovered.

Mr. Suffredine's client, Bill Pundick, was living on part of the property but was not its owner and maintained the money had been obtained lawfully as part of his decades-old currency collection. The judge ruled in the pensioner's favour and said it was "not a case where wads of tens or twenties or fifties are rolled up and bound by elastic bands."

Mr. Suffredine, who did not play a role in establishing the Civil Forfeiture Office during his time in government, said its conduct in the few cases he's handled amounts to bullying. He said the office tries to stretch out a case and make it so expensive that the defendant has to settle. Going after pensioners was not the plan, he said. "What was intended was to get the guys who are making big money," he said.

In a joint telephone interview with Minister Anton and Mr. Tawtel, the minister portrayed Mr. Tawtel as a gatekeeper who ensures it does not go after cases that are outside the public interest or the interests of justice.

Ms. Anton said the office's target remains organized crime, but any unlawful activity is fair game. When asked if she's worried people who did not receive ill-gotten gains are being swept up in the process, she said no.

Mr. Tawtel said the Civil Forfeiture Act has a number of safeguards, including court oversight. But very few cases make it to trial - the first wasn't completed until 2011. As Mr. Tawtel himself noted, 99 per cent of people settle on terms favourable to his office.

Ms. Anton said she does not believe a settlement rate that high suggests the process is flawed. She said she's very confident in the system.

"Sometimes the cases, often they do settle. And that's because generally the director brings them forward in proper circumstances. In fact, I would argue the director brings them forward always in proper circumstances because that's his job," she said. "The point is not to make money. The point is to deprive people of ill-gotten gains."

She declined to comment on whether the office should take cases in which evidence was collected in breach of the Charter, since such a matter is before the courts.

She declined to comment on whether the Civil Forfeiture Act is being used too broadly for similar reasons.

When asked whether she sees any problem with giving the office a budget target, whether she's worried the quota leads to the pursuit of cases that don't meet high standards, her answer was simple: "Absolutely not."

Although it has had some defeats, the Civil Forfeiture Office has also had some wins, both inside the courtroom and the community.

Sergeant Lindsey Houghton, spokesperson for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C., the province's anti-gang unit, said his agency will only refer files to the Civil Forfeiture Office if they involve people with direct relationships to guns, gangs, and violence.

He said the office does serve as a deterrent. The unit this week received a vehicle from the office that's been draped in anti-gang messaging. The seized sport utility vehicle will be taken to school to warn young people about the dangers of gang life.

Abbotsford police received a vehicle in a similar manner for a similar purpose in 2011. The department had the Hummer covered with messages that included "Gang life is a dead end" and "Easy money can get you hard time."

The rolling billboards have also grown popular among police departments in the U.S.

The grants the province has handed out as a result of the office's work have helped a wide variety of groups.

In February, 2012, the province announced $5.5-million in crime-prevention grants for programs that included violence-prevention projects at half a dozen Lower Mainland schools and an anti-gang campaign in Kelowna.

About $1-million in grants was announced in March, 2013, with funds earmarked for women and family violence programs and a workshop on sexual exploitation awareness, among other things.

MOSAIC, a non-profit organization that assists immigrants and refugees, last year released a pamphlet to help foreign workers who may be victims of trafficking.

The pamphlets were made possible due to a $42,500 civil forfeiture grant.



November, 2003: Ontario becomes the first province in the country to open its civil forfeiture office.

March 7, 2005: Solicitor-General Rich Coleman announces the B.C. government will begin "hitting back at organized crime" through civil forfeiture legislation. Mr. Coleman says the province needs to go after assets acquired through criminal activity as part of its strategy to enhance public safety.

April 20, 2006: B.C.'s Civil Forfeiture Act comes into force. It had received royal assent in November.

Oct. 15, 2007: Mission resident David Lloydsmith is involved in an altercation with police. An officer who says he was responding to a 911 call forces his way into Mr. Lloydsmith's home. The officer finds marijuana plants and Mr. Lloydsmith is arrested but never charged. The Civil Forfeiture Office attempts to seize the house three years later.

Nov. 9, 2007: Solicitor-General John Les announces the province has seized the Hells Angels clubhouse in Nanaimo.

December, 2008: Vancouver police raid a home that was being rented out and find marijuana plants inside. The homeowners, Gian Hong Jang and Yue Wang Jang, are not charged and maintain they had no idea what their tenants were doing. The Civil Forfeiture Office moves to seize the home, as well as the Jangs' primary property. The couple, who own and work for a janitorial company, eventually settle to try to minimize their losses. They lose half the equity in the home they were renting out.

October, 2010: Yukon's government decides against civil forfeiture legislation following a public outcry. Today eight provinces have introduced such legislation.

February 16, 2011: The first trial under the Civil Forfeiture Act is completed. Sarban Singh Rai, a longshoreman and property developer, loses two of the three homes that had been seized. The judge rules that while Mr. Rai was not involved in the marijuana grow-ops found in the home, he had to suspect something was amiss and chose not to make any inquiries.

May 4, 2011: Solicitor-General Shirley Bond announces B.C. will become the first province in the country to establish "administrative forfeiture." The process makes it easier to seize property worth less than $75,000.

Feb. 9, 2012: The province announces $5.5-million in civil forfeiture proceeds will go to crime-prevention grants, the single biggest announcement of its kind in the office's history. The province seized more than $10.8-million in property in 2011-12, more than double the previous year.

May 16, 2012: The Civil Forfeiture Office files a notice of civil claim against Robert Milligan, owner of Coast Mountain Outfitters. Mr. Milligan is accused of Wildlife Act offence but the Civil Forfeiture Office wants to seize his guide certificate and the proceeds that resulted from it.

Oct. 31, 2012: Rob Kroeker, who has served as the Civil Forfeiture Office's executive director since it opened, leaves for a job with a gaming corporation. He is replaced by Phil Tawtel.

January 2014: B.C. has seized approximately $41-million since its office opened. That's more than Ontario ($39-million) in three fewer years.

Monday, February 03, 2014

The Globe and Mail and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre join forces for a rare, uncensored look at the challenges Canadian hospitals face on the ground, and what doctors, nurses and other key players think it will take to meet them. This is the first in a five-part series Funding is tight. Beds are scarce. And as the population ages, hospitals will have more patients than ever. How will they cope? Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is at the cutting-edge of a new kind of care - getting patients in and out of hospital faster and outsourcing more to the community. Sandra Martin reports from the corridors of change
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F1

The Globe and Mail and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre join forces for a rare, uncensored look at he challenges Canadian hospitals face on the ground, and what doctors, nurses and other key players think it will take to meet them. This is the first in a five-part series


When universal health care was in its infancy, real estate agent Sharron Baker was a young woman. Now, like the health-care system itself, she is aging and in need of a refit. After cheerfully enduring a decades-long love/hate relationship with her left knee, Ms. Baker, 67, had replacement surgery at Sunnybrook's Holland Orthopedic and Arthritic Centre in downtown Toronto in November.

To a casual observer, the two-hour surgery seemed like a small construction project - retro-fitting the back porch came to mind. The amazing part was watching Ms. Baker show off her dexterity and stamina two days later as she gamely made it up and down a hospital corridor with the help of a walker.

And then she was discharged, thanks to Sunnybrook's Home on Day 3 initiative aimed at getting surgery patients in and out more quickly and freeing up beds in a hospital that, like many in urban Canada, typically runs at more than 100-per-cent capacity.

Leaving hospital so soon wasn't easy for Ms. Baker. Even though she had family support, including moving into a ground-floor bedroom with adjoining bath at her son's home, she found the aftermath gruelling. Recovering from surgery "is a slow process," she says. "They need to spend more time on that aspect."

It's not perfect, but the "day three" program is one solution for the health-care conundrum about who should get hospital beds, how long they should stay in them and who looks after patients when they are released. Sunnybrook, like all hospitals, is faced with a growing number of aging patients who are living longer than ever and coping with more and more complex needs. At the same time, it is being squeezed by budget cuts. And, just like Ms. Baker, it doesn't have much time to recover.

Ms. Baker's short hospital stay and post-operative difficulties are symptomatic of a hospital system that is only just evolving to match the country's changing demographics.

Back in the mid-1960s, when universal health care was instituted, mandatory retirement meant that people quit working at 65. Most of them conveniently died within the next decade.

Now, we never have to retire and life expectancy is heading into the stratosphere. A 60-year-old man in 2013 will live long enough to celebrate his 87th birthday, according to recent figures from the Canadian Institute of Actuaries. His female counterpart will likely reach 90. Whether either will be in robust health is not nearly so certain: Medical successes in combatting rapacious killers such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes means people are living long enough to be afflicted with dementia, depression and other chronic and complex diseases of old age.

In the 1960s, the average age in Canada was 27; now it is 47. "Our interaction with the health-care system tended to be in and out," Deb Matthews, Ontario's Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, says of the past. "If you needed your appendix out, you would go into hospital and get it out and then go home and be healthy again."

Even "getting out," though, meant staying in hospital longer, and there were more family members to help us recover when we did leave. Nowadays, a lot of those expectations have been passed on to patients. We are supposed to keep ourselves healthy and active, and to make arrangements ahead of time for post-operative care when we are briskly wheeled through the revolving hospital door.

Hospitals have no choice but to push more onto patients, because they are overloaded. A survey this week by the Commonwealth Fund ranked Canada last among 11 OECD countries for wait times to see a family physician, an issue that is forcing thousands of patients to head to emergency departments for routine complaints.

Seniors are another problem: Sunnybrook has them stuck in more than five per cent of its beds while they wait for a spot in rehab, nursing homes or community hospitals. And Sunnybrook is not unique. There are more than 2,500 patients, known as bed-blockers, clogging up hospitals across Ontario.

But if there is an escalating problem with capacity and costs now - people over 65 account for almost one-half of every health care dollar spent in Canada - imagine what will happen when baby boomers like Ms. Baker hit old age. Nearly one-quarter of all Canadians, or 7,844,309, people will be over 65 by 2030.

That may sound like a long time away, but change is hard and turning around something as creaky and as beloved as medicare is a monumental dilemma.

No time to waste

The good news scenario is that baby boomers are relatively healthy and mainly determined to stay that way, says Camille Orridge, chief executive officer of the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), one of the 14 administrative bodies through which funding flows from the Ontario government to health-care providers, including Sunnybrook. "We [she includes herself in the cohort] are not all crashing at 65 the way our parents did," she says.

That gives Canada some flexibility to fix the health-care system before boomers need chronic and long-term care, but there's no time to waste.

"We must identify the problems and find solutions now," Ms. Orridge warns. The next couple of decades, until the earliest boomers reach their mid-80s, offer a respite in which to build the health-care system of the future, she says, one that goes way beyond "acute hospitals" and a "sick-care system."

One potential solution that Sunnybrook is already implementing is telemedicine. It would have been a boon for Ms. Baker, who was dealing with doctors and physiotherapists in one community while recuperating in another.

Once considered a way to bring specialist services to remote communities, telemedicine is now making the patient experience better in urban areas. Who needs to trek half-way across town on a series of streetcars and buses, or fight traffic and pay exorbitant fees in hospital parking lots, to wait for hours in a clinic for a five-minute consultation about your blood tests? Telemedicine connects patients, specialists, primary doctors and home-care workers on a secure form of video conferencing without anybody leaving home or office.

Besides cutting down on the time and anxiety of travelling, telemedicine has an unexpected bonus: Patients like it because they can hear the interaction between specialists and primary-care providers and they can participate in the conversation about their own recovery or treatment.

The only remaining hitch - traditional doctors who are accustomed to billing patients per office or clinic visit and are loath to embrace a newfangled notion such as telemedicine - should be overcome with a new billing code that allows doctors to charge for electronic consultations.

Improved surgery techniques are another huge factor in cutting costs and moving patients in an out of expensive acute-care hospitals as quickly as possible. When colorectal surgeon Dr. Andy Smith began operating at Sunnybrook in the late 1990s, the typical hospital stay for a colon resection was 11 days. Now it is down to three days and it is going to get shorter, he says, because of "minimally invasive surgery, new approaches to pain management" and because "the care that those folks need is being backfilled by home care."

The Sunnybrook knee clinic, where Ms. Baker had her surgery, has cut down on waiting times to see a specialist, increased operating-room efficiencies - as many as four patients a day - and greatly enhanced mobility for a wide range of people, from fortysomething athletes with sports injuries to active boomers who want to stay that way such as Ms. Baker to seniors crippled with arthritis.

Help, at home

But the big issue remains: What happens to patients when they leave the hospital? Home care, the part that was missing from the original medicare formula, is at "the coal face of patient care," according to Barry McLellan, CEO of Sunnybrook.

Ms. Baker's post-operative problems came largely because she fell between the cracks of two regional Community Care Access Centres (CCACs), which were supposed to provide her with follow-up. She couldn't drive, she was in pain, her family doctor wasn't in the loop about her post-operative care and, because she lives outside Toronto, it wasn't convenient for her to go back to the Holland Centre.

At one of Ms. Baker's lowest points, the five-year-old daughter of a neighbour came into her bedroom for a visit. "Are you crying?" the blonde little girl with big blue eyes asked. "Don't worry," she advised. "It will heal. It just takes time."

Charmed, Ms. Baker says, "that little child came and turned my life around." But, she adds, someone should have faxed a form requesting rehabilitation to her local CCAC before surgery.

Dr. McLellan is sympathetic. As a physician he was a trauma leader; as an administrator he is diagnosing and treating a system-wide crisis. Doctors can boast of efficiencies that allow them to turnstile patients in and out of acute-care beds thanks to innovative surgical techniques and enhanced pain medications, but who is going to pick up the slack when those post-operative patients hit the streets?

"More than 50 per cent of my time is spent talking about improving the care in and around the hospital," Dr. McLellan says . "We believe we have a very major role in helping to shape and improve care that is being provided outside the walls of the hospital."

That means working closely with people like Ms. Matthews and Stacey Daub, CEO of the Toronto Central CCAC.

"We are set up to provide specialized care for people who have unique and special needs - be it trauma, cancer, heart, high risk maternal and neonatal - but we also need to be sure that our complex patients are transferred with a really good care plan to another organization, say rehab, or home," Dr. Mclellan says. "That part is incredibly important to our functioning as a hospital."

What we also need, says Ms. Orridge, "are more retirement homes and more assisted-living homes on Main Street, so you can go out with your walker and get your milk and go back home." She didn't add, and be safe and well cared for, but that is the warning coming out of the horrific tragedy in L'Isle-Verte, Que., where a fire early Thursday morning ravaged a senior's home, leaving five people dead and another 30 missing. That "is the other piece about how we address the numbers thing - not just with hospitals."

Ontario hospitals' operating budgets are in the deep freeze - from an era when they were growing at six per cent annually, they are now at zero, even though labour costs are rising by two per cent a year. Home and community care are the only parts of health care in Ontario that are getting an increase in funding because, says Ms. Matthews, "we know that people recover more quickly at home." The top-up this year, including meals on wheels and other community supports, is six per cent, or $260 million in an overall provincial health-care budget of more than $45 billion.

Still, every penny that goes to home care is money that isn't going to hospitals. You'd think that Sunnybrook's CEO would resent that. Not so. The days of hospitals as temples in which august male physicians held court have vanished, if they ever existed.

"We need to make better use of our resources because this wave is coming," says Dr. McLellan.

A future in its past

At Sunnybrook, that wave is already lashing the shoals.

On a cold January morning, Michael Graydon arrives for his music therapy session. Trim in his long-sleeved pewter T-shirt and trousers, he's 91, but with his chiselled profile and slate grey hair, he looks a dozen years younger - a candidate for a Grecian Formula commercial.

But, Mr. Graydon, a retired dentist and a jazz lover, has dementia. When he's agitated, he can't sleep and works out obsessively, doing crunches, planks and sit-ups by the hour; when he's confused, he gets angry and can be verbally and physically abusive, especially if wartime memories - experiences that he never shared with his family - roar to the surface of his damaged brain.

(Michael Gradyon is not the patient's real name. His family requested anonymity because he is unable to give consent.)

Because he's a Second World War veteran who served in a combat zone, Mr. Graydon is entitled to live at Sunnybrook in the Dorothy Macham Home (DMH), a special 10-bed unit that is part of Sunnybrook's veterans' centre and a national model for treating people with severe behavioural issues.

Nobody wants to have dementia - least of all me - but the Alzheimer's Society projects that more than a million of us will suffer from the devastating disease by 2030, the same year that one in four Canadians will be over 65. Watching the sensitivity and kindness with which Mr. Graydon and other veterans are treated makes the prospect so many of us face almost bearable - if we could be so fortunate to find a spot in a place like the veterans' centre.

Mr. Graydon is one of more than 500 veterans living in nursing-home rooms and long-term-care beds at Sunnybrook. They pay less than $1,000 a month for food and accommodation, with the rest supported by an annual grant of $25 million from Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC). Their average age is 91, half of them have dementia and more than 200 are plagued with complex conditions needing continuing medical care. Some, like Mr. Graydon, require constant supervision on a locked ward.

Ironically, Sunnybrook's past may be the nkey not only to its future, but to how all of us should care for an increasingly elderly and infirm population. Founded after the Second World War as a soldier's hospital, Sunnybrook has morphed over the decades into a specialized regional hospital in trauma, stroke, burns, cancer and neonatology, but the geriatrics practised over the decades in the veterans' centre is an important part of its ongoing role as a teaching hospital.

"There is an interesting thing that happens when you care for a cohort," says Jocelyn Charles, medical director of the veterans' centre. A former family physician, she has worked at the centre since 1990. "As they age, their care needs change," she says. "That is different from being a facility in the community caring only for older people."

Over the years, Dr. Charles and her staff have acquired a vast depth of knowledge and experience about geriatrics, skills that could provide a primer in treating an aging population with chronic complex diseases in a changing health-care system.

'Go with the flow'

From the outside, DMH looks like a suburban brick bungalow with gardens and a cedar hedge - which camouflages a fence that keeps patients from wandering away. Dr. Charles likes to tell a story about the veteran who obsessively dug up perennials in the freshly planted gardens; when the landscapers complained, a staff member replied, "but it is his garden."

Instead of restraints and heavy medication, care in the DMH is based on the mantras "go with the flow," and "anticipate the unmet need, whether it is physical, social, emotional, or related to a past experience." These patients may not be here by choice, but we should all be so lucky if we have to be incarcerated - think of Francesco Greco, who was charged with murdering his 87-year-old roommate Francisco DaSilva in a Toronto nursing home in November. There have been 60 such homicides involving seniors in nursing homes across Canada in the past dozen years, according to a CTV W5 investigation. In the home-like atmosphere of DMH, by contrast, there's a stone fireplace and a nurse's station outfitted like a den, staff adhere to a patient-driven schedule under which veterans eat when they are hungry and sleep when they are tired; the television is controlled so that news of insurgent attacks or suicide bombers won't trigger buried memories and activate post-traumatic stress episodes.

Down the corridor I hear a discordant and low-pitched chanting from a patient's room. "He started singing when we put up the Christmas tree a month ago, and he hasn't stopped yet," explains patient manager Sylvia Buchanan.

"That must be annoying," I say.

The deadpan look on her face is an essay in patience as she steers me back to the dining room. A few of the other patients, oblivious to the man who is stuck like a broken record in the middle of a song, are eating lunch. One of them, a lanky fellow with a shock of white hair tells me at least 10 times in as many minutes how he jumped out of planes behind enemy lines during the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Each repetition is climaxed by a proud flash of his wrist watch, which has Juno Beach 1944 imprinted on its face. I find the performance both haunting and charming because I am awed by his bravery and he reminds me of Matthew Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables, but I don't have to live with him.

What's next

Few people outside the higher echelons of Sunnybrook and VAC realize that the last of these veterans of the Second World War and the Korean War will die within the next few years. The spacious veteran's facility, with its Inuit art collection, comfortable reception areas, concerts, barbershop and dentist's chair, will no longer be needed and the money will stop flowing from VAC for their care.

"We will continue to support war veterans for as long as they need to be cared for at Sunnybrook," says Sandra Williamson, VAC's director of long-term care and disability benefits. But, "it is not a federal facility, so the future of what happens will be determined by Sunnybrook in consultation with the Ontario Ministry of Health."

Will the lessons learned caring for the veterans be applied to ordinary folk in a rapidly aging country? Could Sunnybrook be a model for other hospitals with veterans' beds across the country? Or will the doors be locked, turning once vibrant facilities into expensive artifacts?

Health Minister Deb Matthews says it is Sunnybrook's responsibility to get together with the LHIN and put together a proposal. And that includes a pitch to cover the $25 million annual shortfall that Sunnybrook currently receives from VAC.

"Is there a fixed plan?" Dr. McLellan asks rhetorically sitting across from me at a meeting table in his sun dappled office. Not yet.

"The worst thing we would want to see are plans to build a new facility because [the government] thinks it will be needed in three, five, 10 years down the road, when we have a facility like that," Dr. McLellan says, nodding his head to indicate the veterans' centre that most of us only know from watching Remembrance Day services on television.

He understands better than anybody that there will be beds open in 2016 unless VAC changes its admission criteria.

The clock is ticking, as it is for the rest of the health-care system.

Sandra Martin is a senior feature writer at the Globe.



$200-billion: Cost of Canada's health-care system.

30%: Health spending devoted to hospitals - the biggest expense in health-care.

11th: Rank among OECD countries (last place) for wait times to see a family doctor. Long wait times for GPs force thousands of patients to use already overloaded Emergency Departments for routine, rather than acute, issues.

57, 155: Number of visits to the Emergency Department at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto - up by more than 15,000 patients since 2002.

6.4: Average number of days spent at Sunnybrook - down from a high of 7.4 in 2002. This is vital, given occupancy rates.

100%: Average occupancy rate - no beds, in other words - at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

2,500: Number of so-called bed-blockers - patients, often elderly, who are hospitalized for lack of outside access to care - across Ontario alone.

7,844,309: Number of Canadians who will be over 65 by 2030, or about one quarter of the population.



We asked readers about how they think hospitals need to change. Among their concerns:

Superbugs and superbills

My husband required two major surgeries earlier this year, one that required a stay in ICU - where he contacted C Difficile. Since that time he has been hospitalized five times with this infection. And one of the major issues for us has been the expense of the drugs to treat it. We are seniors on a fixed income. I feel the drugs should be provided as it was acquired in the hospital.

Helen J Baker

Long-term care

The Alberta government has ignored the demographics of our aging population for years - decades even - let alone the Boomers waiting in the wings. And there's been no attempt to build even a modicum of long-term care facilities in this province. Are other provinces this out of touch?

Patricia Hartnagel

Dr. Wait

A few years ago, I was visiting my elderly mother in England when the car door shut on her finger. She was told she needed an X-ray at the "small injuries clinic" at the local hospital - where she was triaged, seen by a nurse-practitioner, X-rayed and treated within 40 minutes! I asked the nurse whether she needed to be checked by an emergency room doc and was told that one would have been called had it been necessary. Being assessed by a physician for every visit seems to me to be one of the reasons for the length of time people wait in ER here, and take up beds unnecessarily.

Jean Lewis




Carly Weeks reports on how cleaners are changing the way hospitals work


We asked hospital workers: What bugs you most about the system, and how can we fix it?


Photographer Kevin Van Paassen chronicles cutting-edge care - from faster methods to rebuild creaky knees to addressing the chronic needs of the elderly in the vet's wing


Who should get a hospital bed? Who should see a doctor first? Read about the tough decisions in front line care, and share your hospital experiences

The dawn of Fort St. John
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B6

Rejean Tetrault is happy to be warming up in "the doghouse."

It's minus 25 C, but the operations manager for Shell Canada Ltd. is shielded inside a steel shed on a barren stretch of northeastern British Columbia. Other Shell employees and contractors, wearing ski masks under their hard hats, take their positions in the control room and on the drilling floor.

Mr. Tetrault keeps a close eye on electronic monitors in the shed, as a drilling rig cuts deep into the rock below to tap into the province's new mother lode: natural gas.

Advances in energy technology in recent years have revealed that northern B.C. hosts an enormous amount of natural gas - an estimated 271 trillion cubic feet within the B.C. portion of the Montney play alone. It's enough to keep production flowing for about 100 years.

For the debt-burdened province, the promise of a flourishing new industry is mouth-watering. The B.C. government sees a $1-trillion economic bonanza and jobs measured by the tens of thousands over the next three decades, as global energy players flock to invest in natural gas production and export facilities. The Canadian energy industry and the B.C. government hope this region will one day be mentioned in the same breath as Alberta's oil sands for economic importance to Canada.

"My children's children might be working in this industry. I know it freaks people out when I say that," says Mr. Tetrault, who moved with his wife and three kids to Fort St. John from Calgary in 2011. "My children's children's children might still be working on this."

With its ambitious Groundbirch project, Shell is among more than 30 companies operating hundreds of well sites in British Columbia's Montney shale gas play.

These are still early days, but multinationals are being lured to B.C. by the prospect of piping the gas from the north to export terminals they want to build in the Prince Rupert and Kitimat areas on the West Coast. Plans call for the prized commodity, used for heating, electricity production and a host of industrial applications, to be super-cooled into liquefied natural gas, loaded onto ships and exported to LNG-thirsty customers in Asia.

For energy companies in B.C., a wide pricing gap in global natural gas markets presents a massive opportunity. U.S. spot prices averaged $3.70 (U.S.) per million British thermal units last year (although they have spiked recently due to the cold snap). By contrast, customers in Asia, where gas isn't as plentiful, often pay four times that.

Natural gas producers here are desperate to capture those strong prices abroad, because the domestic industry has suffered a supply glut and low prices for years. Gas exports from Canada to the United States have fallen nearly 25 per cent since 2007. The U.S. shale gas boom has swamped the market and hurt demand for Canadian natural gas.

But B.C.'s gas windfall is far from a sure thing. Canada is behind in a global race to supply LNG, and rival producers are coming on strong. British Columbia's fledgling LNG industry will face fierce competition from an array of projects in Australia, Qatar, offshore Africa, Russia, the U.S. Gulf Coast and Alaska.

"In particular Australia and to a lesser extent Nigeria could emerge as significant LNG suppliers, with Australia challenging Qatar as the world's largest LNG exporter," according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

The risk for B.C. is that other competing LNG producers will get to market first, quench demand in Asia, and push prices back down to the point where multibillion-dollar projects on the West Coast fail to generate solid returns.

Boom Town

While the B.C. government has been highlighting a flurry of proposals for LNG export terminals in the northwestern part of the province, the northeast is where the tale of the energy promised land begins.

Signs of a mini-boom are everywhere across the Fort St. John area. It's remarkable, given that natural gas prices are down 70 per cent from a record high in late 2005. Instead of doom and gloom, civic leaders are decidedly upbeat.

"The reality is that Asia is looking at us, and so that puts a lot of attention on northeast B.C., the province and Canada as a whole," says Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman.

The region's airport is bursting at the seams, the local Wal-Mart is starting a major expansion and the Winner's department store is preparing for a spring opening. Average prices for single-family detached homes surpassed $372,000 (Canadian) in 2013, up 16 per cent since 2011.

Shell opened a new office building last year on former swamp land. Neighbours in other buildings on the road near the Fort St. John airport include the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, Talisman Energy Inc., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and Driving Force, a Western Canadian vehicle leasing and rental firm.

"We know in northeast B.C. that things are going to get very busy for us," Montana Currie, Driving Force's branch manager in Fort St. John, said in her office in a new $5-million building. Her clients include Progress Energy, Shell, Encana Corp. and Nexen Inc., which was acquired in late 2012 by CNOOC Ltd. of China. "Fort St. John is very positive, and it's positive energy that gets things done."

As the region grows quickly, there's a learning curve for newcomers. Ms. Currie offers a friendly reminder to visiting workers to watch their fuel gauge because some invariably run out of gasoline driving out to remote locations where there aren't pumping stations.

The North Peace Regional Airport increased the number of parking spots by one-third to more than 320 last summer and doubled the number of car rental spots to 120. Already, the expansion has proven too little to meet surging demand.

WestJet Airlines Ltd. launched its regional Encore service between Fort St. John and Vancouver in June, while Air Canada beefed up its flight offerings on the route. The airport is forecast to handle more than 200,000 passengers in 2014, up from an estimated 144,000 in 2013 and 121,000 in 2010.

"People will be cramped in the terminal building," says Moira Green, the airport's managing director. She notes there is only one baggage carousel, but she hopes to eventually add two more.

The population of the Fort St. John region is forecast to nearly double to 123,000 within six years, even if only one or two LNG proposals come to fruition and if other developments proceed, notably coal mining ventures and BC Hydro's proposed $8-billion Site C Dam. Thousands of construction jobs would be created, although Ms. Green sounds a cautionary note. "We don't like the boom word. It has a corollary in bust," she says.

The energy sector needs workers, but they must have the right skills and be prepared for tough conditions, says Jennifer Moore of the North Peace Economic Development Commission. "It takes more than two feet and a heart beat to land a job," she says.

"It's winter here for a long portion of the year. You need your steel-toed boots and coveralls. You also need to know that you can survive when it's minus 40 out there. Work doesn't stop because it's minus 40," Ms. Moore said as she drove along the Alaska Highway in her pickup truck. "Make sure you've done your research before you come here for a job."

The road between Fort St. John and Dawson Creek, a city popular with summer tourists for its Mile Zero Post to mark the start of the Alaska Highway, is a busy link year-round as convoys of heavy-duty trucks carry equipment to and from drilling sites in the Peace River region.

While drilling activity dates back to the 1950s in Fort St. John and parts north, the fast pace of energy development is relatively new to Dawson Creek and parts south. Shell and other producers have been venturing into territory previously dominated by cows instead of rigs. Setting up drilling sites sometimes requires careful timing so as to keep the peace with local ranchers. There could be dozens of trucks on a road headed toward a drilling site, but if cows stand in the way, then commerce grinds to a halt.

Richelle Cooper, 22, grew up on a ranch near Dawson Creek, but she sees the energy industry as the economic catalyst for the region.

A decade ago, there weren't nearly as many job opportunities for youth as there are today, and it was common for local high-school graduates to leave in droves to Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and other cities, she said after finishing a 12-hour shift as an administrator and labourer for Infinity Oilfield Services.

"Natural gas development is creating jobs, and people are realizing that now," she says.

After completing the nursing program at Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek, Ms. Cooper could only find part-time work as a nurse, so she jumped at the chance when a full-time opening arose at Infinity in late 2012. She already makes $22.50 an hour, but with some more training and experience, she is optimistic about landing a field job that pays $35 an hour and developing a fulfilling career.

A bounty of gas

China, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia are among the Asian energy buyers that are eyeing northeastern B.C. gas, notably the Montney formation. The Liard, Horn River and Cordova plays also boast significant gas reserves.

The Montney is much larger than the Marcellus gas formation in the U.S. Northeast, notes TD Securities Inc. analyst Mike Dembicki. He estimates Montney to be the third-largest hydrocarbon resource in North America, trailing only Alberta's oil sands and the Permian oil and gas basin in Texas and New Mexico.

Shell leads the LNG Canada project, which is proposing to build an export terminal at Kitimat, one of the leading contenders in the race to export LNG from northwestern British Columbia.

Another major player is Malaysia's state-owned Petronas, which leads the Pacific NorthWest LNG proposal to build an export terminal at Prince Rupert. In 2012, Petronas acquired Progress Energy Canada Corp., whose key assets are natural gas properties in northeastern British Columbia.

"Our natural gas markets are being eroded in the U.S. and Eastern Canada. We're going to have to find new markets in Asia," says Progress chief executive officer Michael Culbert.

Enormous capital investments are required to bring LNG projects on stream. "This isn't what junior Canadian companies do. This is what multinational companies do because the capital is so intense," Mr. Culbert says. "We're identifying and validating the reserves that will serve 20-year to 30-year LNG contracts."

Progress recently had 27 rigs in northeastern British Columbia, making it the most active company in the region. Pacific NorthWest LNG estimates that almost $36-billion will need to be spent in order to make its export plan a reality by early 2019. It's aiming to make its final investment decision by the end of 2014, while Shell-led LNG Canada is targeting a "mid-decade" deadline for its decision.

Most of the 567 wells drilled by all companies across British Columbia last year were for natural gas. B.C. drilling activity last year increased 24 per cent from 2012. Experts forecast an even busier 2014. Until it can export gas, however, B.C. is adding to a domestic market already well supplied.

The provincial payoff

B.C. Premier Christy Clark believes that if five LNG projects come to fruition, the economic benefits will include 39,000 construction jobs and a further 75,000 jobs created for operating LNG plants and pipelines. The B.C. government envisages a total of $1-trillion being added over three decades to the province's gross domestic product.

Ms. Clark has a long-term vision modelled after the $16.7-billion Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund. She wants to create the British Columbia Prosperity Fund, which would become an enormous piggy bank to collect LNG tax revenue. An LNG tax regime is slated to be unveiled in the province's budget on Feb. 18.

The Premier's optimism helped the B.C. Liberal Party score a surprising re-election victory last May. But critics deride her LNG vision as a pipe dream, questioning whether even one project will get off the ground and saying it is unrealistic that she has set a goal to dramatically slash the province's $62-billion debt with proceeds from LNG tax revenue.

Major hurdles need to be cleared for northeastern B.C. natural gas to reach its potential, especially as LNG projects try to stick with timelines, face competitive threats, and address environmental issues and First Nations' concerns.

Wood Mackenzie, the global energy consultancy, says consolidation is inevitable to corral costs. A project led by British-based BG Group PLC, for instance, has held talks with Petronas to build a shared natural gas pipeline in British Columbia, instead of constructing two competing lines.

There are also lingering concerns about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, especially the huge quantities of water that are mixed with chemicals and then pumped into the ground. Geoscience BC, a not-for-profit organization, plans to step up its scientific studies of water supply and quality related to fracking in northeastern British Columbia.

In a letter to Ms. Clark earlier this month, Chief Karen Ogen of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation says the B.C. government has a duty to consult with aboriginals "for the exploitation of resources, including when, by whom and how."

Ellis Ross, chief councillor of the Haisla First Nation near Kitimat, supports LNG development in principle, but cautions that natural gas drilling and LNG terminals must meet or exceed environmental provincial and federal standards. The amount of money being contemplated for natural gas and LNG investment is staggering, Mr. Ross says, noting that he has gone from budgeting $100,000 for a new service station for cars in his village to scrutinizing how the Haisla might receive spinoff benefits from multibillion-dollar LNG projects.

While B.C. LNG projects must find ways to overcome obstacles, the provincial energy regulator is gearing up for busy times ahead.

"When somebody makes a financial decision, a final investment decision, on an LNG plant and gas pipeline, we anticipate an increase in activity in the northeast," says Paul Jeakins, commissioner of the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission.

When Mr. Jeakins started his job as commissioner in 2006, he had 120 people on staff. Now, there are more than 210, and the workload promises to increase.

Eight years ago, unconventional shale gas plays were in their infancy in northeastern British Columbia, but improved technology has made natural gas buried deep beneath the surface economically viable, despite being trapped in tight spaces in what appear to be solid rock to the human eye. "That's the thing about shale. It's like this table. You can barely get your thumbnail into it. It's not porous like some of the old conventional pools that we used to have. The only way to get it out is by fracturing it," Mr. Jeakins says.

At Shell's Groundbirch project, the company has nearly 300 workers and another 200 people on contract, such as those employed by Nabors Industries Ltd., a leading provider of drilling and oil field services. Other contractors include Bonnett's Energy Corp. and Calfrac Well Services Ltd.

After initial drilling, rig workers use fracking. Multistage fracking has brought a manufacturing mindset to drilling sites in northeastern British Columbia, in contrast to conventional practises found at exploration and development operations.

The B.C. portion of the Montney play contains an estimated 271 trillion cubic feet of marketable natural gas and the Alberta side holds another 178 trillion cubic feet, according to a recent study by the National Energy Board and others. That amount of marketable natural gas is the equivalent of meeting nearly 160 years' worth of Canada's consumption, and new technology could increase reserve estimates in future.

Shell's Mr. Tetrault likens the northeastern B.C. gas play to harvesting a known resource. Today's fracking is far different than the old days of exploratory drilling. "You won't hear 'Whoa, we got it!' Here, you know where it is," Mr. Tetrault says.

It's that technology that has paved the way for B.C. to make its LNG dream real.

As Mr. Tetrault says: "The prize from this source rock is tremendous."



Here are a dozen projects in the race to develop liquefied natural gas operations in British Columbia. Also listed: Status of export licence applications to the National Energy Board, related pipeline plans that have been announced and proposed locations for LNG export terminals.


Backer: Canadian units of Chevron Corp. and Apache Corp.

Status: 20-year licence approved October, 2011

Pipeline: Chevron-Apache venture's Pacific Trail Pipeline

Location: Kitimat


Backer: Haisla First Nation and Douglas Channel Partnership

Status: Co-operative 20-year licence approved February, 2012

Location: Kitimat


Backer: Shell Canada Ltd. leads joint venture, with partners PetroChina, South Korea's Kogas and Japan's Mitsubishi Corp.

Status: 25-year licence approved February, 2013; TransCanada's Pipeline: Coastal GasLink Pipeline

Location: Kitimat


Backer: Malaysia's Petronas leads joint venture, with partners Japan Petroleum Exploration and Petroleum Brunei

Status: 25-year licence approved December, 2013

Pipeline: TransCanada's Prince Rupert Gas Transmission

Location: Lelu Island, near Prince Rupert


Backer: Exxon Mobil Corp. and its Canadian unit, Imperial Oil Ltd.

Status: 25-year licence approved December, 2013

Location: Kitimat or Prince Rupert


Backer: British-based BG Group PLC

Status: 25-year licence approved December, 2013

Pipeline: Spectra Energy Corp.'s Westcoast Connector

Location: Ridley Island, near Prince Rupert


Backer: Vancouver-based Woodfibre Natural Gas Ltd.

Status: 25-year licence approved December, 2013

Pipeline: FortisBC Energy's Eagle Mountain - Woodfibre Gas Pipeline Location: Squamish area, north of Vancouver


Backer: Calgary-based AltaGas Ltd. and Japan's Idemitsu Kosan Co. Ltd.

Status: licence application under review

Location: Kitimat or Prince Rupert


Backer: Beijing-based CNOOC Ltd.'s Nexen unit leads joint venture,

with partners Inpex Corp. and JGC Corp., both of Japan

Status: licence application under review

Location: Grassy Point, near Prince Rupert


Backer: Kitsault Energy Ltd. of Canada

Status: licence application under review;

Location: Kitsault, 140 kilometres north of Prince Rupert


Backer: Woodside Petroleum Ltd. of Australia

Status: licence application to be filed

Location: Grassy Point, near Prince Rupert


Backer: Quicksilver Resources Canada Inc.

Status: licence application to be filed

Location: Campbell River on Vancouver Island


Montney shale play

Unconventional shale gas plays in northeastern British Columbia are relatively new. Improved technology since 2005 has made natural gas buried deep beneath the surface economically viable to extract, despite being trapped in tight spaces in what appears to be solid rock. The B.C. government notes that breakthroughs in horizontal drilling and multistage fracturing, or fracking, have cleared the way to develop the natural gas reserves in the Montney formation.



To understand the politics of peace in the Middle East, go no further than Beit El - where settlers call their claim on the land the 'fulfilment of God's promise.' As Patrick Martin reports, they aren't going anywhere
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F1

BEIT EL, WEST BANK -- When I arrive, 15-year-old Orya Lerner sits on the floor in the kitchen surrounded by pots and pans. She is scrubbing the cupboards in preparation for Passover - the holiday that marks the Jews' freedom from slavery and their long journey towards a homeland.

Passover, which starts Monday evening, is a particularly big deal around here: Orya lives in Beit El, an Israeli settlement in the Palestinian West Bank, just a half-hour drive from Jerusalem, that has been occupied by ardent Jewish nationalists since 1977.

Like many of Israel's 300,000 West Bank settlers (there are another 200,000 settlers in occupied suburbs of Jerusalem), Orya's parents came here from elsewhere: her mother, Sherri, grew up in Toronto, her father, Tuvia, in Moscow. But she is part of a growing - and explosive - generation that was born on this land and is determined to stay at all costs.

The stakes are clear. Beit El is located next door to Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority. The only thing separating the Lerners from a Palestinian farm 50 metres away is an electrified fence. And they can hear the muezzin's call to prayer five times every day from a nearby mosque. If there is a peace accord establishing a Palestinian state, these settlers will be on the wrong side of territorial lines. They will lose their homes.

A majority of mainstream Israelis would feel little remorse over that loss - they see these and other settlers as a financial burden and an impediment to peace with the Palestinians and the broader Arab world. The international community views them with contempt; as violators of international law. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that plans for new settlement homes in east Jerusalem made recent peace talks go "poof."

But settlers see themselves as the frontline in the battle to safeguard the land given to them by God. And they wield increasing political power in Israel - the majority in the governing coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are watching out for settlers' interests.

I've been to settlements like Beit El several times in the past three decades. In the early days, they were viewed as irritants. Later, as settlers launched raids on Palestinian villages and cut or burned down olive trees, as incendiary political elements. Now, as settlers wield political clout, the very future of Israel, and the region, will be shaped by families like the Lerners and their stake in this land.

A winding, five-kilometre drive over the bare, rocky hills of Samaria brings me to the gates of Beit El, where a guard sees my yellow Israeli licence plates and no suspicious (read: Arab) person in the car and waves me in.

The settlement is situated beside a large army camp that has served as protection for the past 37 years. But once inside, the look here is more suburban: well-paved roads lined with white-stucco homes with red-tiled roofs - the trademark of every mature Israeli settlement I've seen - and nondescript three- and four-storey office buildings, grocery stores, a medical clinic and schools.

Indeed, one the first things you notice about this community of 6,000 is the large number of schools. Two-thirds of Beit El are kids - about six in an average family.

That leaves few people here with much disposable income. Most parents are in low-paying white-collar jobs - teachers, social workers and bureaucrats - many in Jerusalem. Work on site is restricted to a small winery and some metal and wood workshops, as well as a group that makes tefillin, scripture from the Torah housed in a black box and worn strapped to the body by observant Jews.

Beit El is not an ultra-Orthodox religious community. But it is observant. It has two large synagogues and seven schools of varying religious degrees. And at least part of the draw for settlers - a mix of Europeans, North Americans, Peruvians, Ethiopians and even several dozen Bnei Menashe (Indians from the northeast believed to be descended from one of the lost tribes of Israel) - is the Biblical tie to this land.

"This is where Jacob lay down one night and dreamed of a ladder to heaven," says Judy Simon, who moved to Beit El from Chicago 14 years ago.

Ms. Simon is the mother of, yes, six children and a former teacher. But these days she works as a tourism organizer: Jewish and Christian groups come here to show their support for settlements, and to see the place Jacob, grandson of Abraham, son of Isaac, and future father to Joseph of the many-coloured coat, called home.

We stand atop the highest hill in the settlement - with a view to Jerusalem to the south, the Mediterranean to the west, Syria to the north and the mountains of Jordan to the east - as she explains why this particular story is so important to settlers.

The scripture, Book of Genesis, Chapter 28, does not only describe Jacob's ladder. It says that God told Jacob in his dream that He was giving the land on which he lay to him and his descendants. And that no matter how far abroad Jews would be spread He would bring them "back to this land."

"Jacob was so moved by what he saw," says Ms. Simon, "that he called this place the House of God, or Beit El, in Hebrew."

"That's the part that hooked me. Our coming here is part of the fulfillment of God's promise."

'My life changed forever'

The Lerners, my hosts for three days in Beit El, were also drawn by a sense of destiny.

Tuvia Lerner moved to Israel at age 12. It was the 1960s and his family wanted to escape the restrictions on Jewish life in the Soviet Union.

Although his father was a "simple Jew," he says, his mother's father taught in the yeshiva. So Mr. Lerner was enrolled the year he arrived in Israel in a religious summer camp. That's where he read the Bible for the first time.

"I realized it was not the stupid book they told us it was in the Soviet Union," he says, "and my life changed forever."

Sherri Lerner had visited Israel as a teenager in the late 1970s, then followed a sister who made "aliya" - a term that refers to diaspora Jews making their way "up" or "ascending" to Israel - in the early 80s.

"My uncle was Tuvia's teacher in the yeshiva," she says. "He set us up."

The couple married and first settled in Pisgat Ze'ev, one of those suburbs of Jerusalem. But they elected to move out to Beit El - where he says they always planned to live - in 1989 to help ensure that the then-12-year-old settlement was not abandoned.

"The first intifada was frightening a lot of people," Mr. Lerner says, referring to the Palestinian uprising of the late 1980s, "and some were leaving Beit El."

The Lerners bought land for a house there - a bargain compared to other places in Israel, but at 14,000 shekels or about $4,500, a sacrifice for them. "I had to sell my car to pay the builders the last of the money I owed them," says Tuvia.

For almost 25 years the family has lived in that same white-stucco, four-bedroom bungalow, large by Israeli standards but crammed by Canadian, raising their eight children. There's also a lower-level flat for Mr. Lerner's mother, and a second floor, still unfinished, that the Lerners hope will house one or more of their grown-up children and their families.

The higher roof supports large photovoltaic panels, too, which provide power to eight homes on the street and supplemental income to the Lerners.

For several years, even as she continued to bear her last four children, Ms. Lerner operated a day-care centre in their home - another money-maker, but one can only imagine the chaos in this limited space.

Ms. Lerner now earns a living as Beit El's cultural organizer, bringing speakers and performers, mostly religious, to the community. Mr. Lerner was educated as a physicist but, when he moved to Beit El, he became head of Russian news on Arutz Sheva, a radio-station and website that prides itself in being the voice of the settlement movement throughout the West Bank; based in Beit El, the operation broadcasts and posts in Hebrew, Russian and English.

After completing a legal program at college, Mr. Lerner also represents those seeking divorce in religious court in Jerusalem.

Two-state stalling

Mr. Lerner has thought a lot about just what kind of arrangement would work best for both Jews and Arabs here and has concluded that a two-state solution will never work.

"If it could work it would have worked by now," he says. "They've talked about it for years."

His vision is of a single state for both peoples - but with certain limits on democracy. He imagines a democratic Jewish state in which loyal Palestinians would be allowed to stay with full economic and legal rights.

"But not political rights," he says.

Perhaps they would have their own parliament, he suggests, but it wouldn't oversee ministries such as defence or foreign affairs. When I tell him this sounds a lot like the old apartheid system in South Africa, he recoils.

"Absolutely not," he insists. "In South Africa, a small number of whites ruled over a majority of blacks and treated them like slaves."

"Here, the Arabs would have full economic rights."

This is a long way from what Palestinians want - an independent state - and would make a lot of Israelis uneasy - they pride themselves on the country's fully democratic values. But Mr. Lerner may be right about one thing: The two-state solution is looking increasingly unlikely.

The Israeli government, dominated by members who are supportive of the settlements, seems content to let the peace process fester while continuing to build settlements throughout the West Bank.

Two new kindergartens were opened while we I visited Beit El, and the Minister of the Interior, Gideon Sa'ar, was there for the occasion. "We will keep building in Beit El," he assured the crowd of 200 parents. "Beit El will never be removed from the map."

Many here recall a court decision two years ago that forced the settlement to tear down five small apartment buildings that housed 30 families. The buildings, part of a new neighbourhood in Beit El called Ulpana, had been erected on private Palestinian land.

That kind of thing had happened before with few consequences, but this time the court insisted on their removal and the government of Benjamin Netanyahu agreed.

Still, settlers were moved to temporary caravans and promised that, in view of the 30 homes that were destroyed, 10 times as many homes would be added to the community.

The Lerners' daughter Yael, 27, and her husband live in a similar small, three-room caravan. She is an optometrist, working limited hours at a nearby settler shopping centre. Her husband is studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The couple has two young children - Miriam, 2½, and Hadas, 1½ - with another due in May.

"I want to have as many children as possible," says Yael - definitely more than the eight her parents had.

After three years in the caravan, they are looking forward to a larger, real home, but one here in the settlement.

"My family is here," she says, adding that "this is a full-service community."

Violence breeds violence

It may have all the needed services, but Beit El has also been the locus of some incredible periods of violence.

Young people now in their late teens and early 20s grew up here in the middle of the second intifada, the Palestinian uprising from 2000 to 2005 that was marked by suicide bombings and armed attacks.

"You felt you were taking your life in your hands every time you left the community," says Ms. Lerner. There were frequent rock-throwing incidents, and several occasions when guns were fired at their vehicles.

"We're still using the armoured buses that were built during that time," she says. "The Army insists on it. But they're always breaking down and it takes forever to get anywhere."

The Lerners play down the frequent Friday protests that still go on, in which neighbouring Palestinian youths burn tires and heap verbal abuse upon the settlers. "The black smoke is the worst part," Ms. Lerner says. (The prevailing wind usually carries it toward their home.)

Of greater concern: On March 10, a Palestinian teenager from a local village was killed when soldiers opened fire on the boy and his companion, who reportedly had been throwing rocks at vehicles on Highway 60, near Beit El. The army is investigating the matter, as soldiers are not supposed to fire unless their lives are in danger.

"The peace process is the worst thing to happen to the Arabs," Mr. Lerner concludes. "Before the Oslo Agreement we all got along. We used to drive through Ramallah to get to Jerusalem... no problem."

Mr. Lerner is referring to the 1993 accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization that created the Palestinian Authority. But he glosses over the Palestinian uprising of the late 1980s, one that made it clear that, if there were no problems for settlers like Mr. Lerner, there were serious problems as far as Palestinians were concerned - and that they were willing to take action.

"It was after the PA was created that the trouble began," Mr. Lerner insists, "and we ended up with the worst terrorism in our history."

Perhaps as a result of that terrorism, Beit El's young people grew up more radicalized than their pioneering parents and grandparents. Many are moving out of mainstream settlements and into so-called "outposts," several around Beit El, that even the Israeli authorities acknowledge are illegal but do little to remove.

The term "hilltop youth" has been coined to describe these settlers, and the violence and vandalism many carry out against nearby Palestinian communities - breaking windows, torching mosques and painting graffiti in what they say are "price-tag" operations, the price Palestinians will pay for any action by the authorities against settlements, such as removing a new outpost or arresting hilltop youth.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, chief rabbi of Beit El and one of the most influential rabbis in the settlement movement, condemns such behaviour. "It gives our movement a bad name," he says.

But hilltop activities are condoned by many mainstream settlers.

Sarah Feld, from New Jersey, came to Beit El 10 years ago. Her husband left because he wasn't up to the challenge of living here, Ms. Feld says, but she is enormously proud that her five children all live in various settlements - three in outposts.

Some of the Lerners' children, too, are joining outposts, which their mother describes as "new places to conquer."

Noam, 18, is studying in a yeshiva in Itamar, a settlement closely associated with the hilltop youth. The Lerner's eldest son, Yehuda, 28, lives in Yitzhar, perhaps the most militant of all settlements, with his wife and three children.

Just this week, settlers in Yitzhar slashed the tires on the car of a senior Israeli Defence Force officer as he paid a courtesy call to the leaders of the community. The Minister of Defence labeled it an act of terrorism.

But little is likely to change in Yitzhar, where frequent acts of violence against the IDF and neighbouring Palestinian farms has been given a religious sheen as the settlement's influential rabbis lead a call for a theocratic Jewish state.

Leaving, for now

The Lerners' third child, born shortly after they moved to Beit El, is named Yaacov, or Jacob, for the man who named this place thousands of years ago. Ironically, of all their children, he is the family's wayward sheep.

He's frequently seen without his skull cap and has decided to leave Beit El and the whole settlement enterprise.

Yaacov was a pre-teen during the second intifada - a most impressionable age. Later, he was frequently in trouble with the Israeli security forces that police the settlements, protesting whenever they tried to remove an outpost. And he took a leading role in the defence of Amona, an illegal settlement that was ordered demolished by Ariel Sharon's government. Thousands of security forces laid into hundreds of protesters.

"I ended up in the hospital," Yaacov says, showing me a large scar just below his hairline. "It was like war."

"I did some crazy things back then."

His father says he was "very proud" of his son for the fight he put up at Amona.

Mr. Lerner is critical of Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip who chose to leave their homes without much protest when ordered out by the Israeli government in 2005. "They put us all in jeopardy," he says, referring to the settlements of Samaria that would be the next targets for withdrawal.

Fortunately, he says, "their children ... and young people like Yaacov ... learned a lesson." What they did at Amona, he says, was show the government that "we'll never again go without a fight."

Yaacov is surprised to hear that his father is so proud of him, but that's not going to make him change his mind about leaving. "It's not for ideological reasons," he says, though he admits he's uncomfortable with settlements such as Yitzhar that attack the IDF. "It's about lifestyle."

Yaacov served four years in an IDF elite anti-terrorist unit operating on the Lebanese border in the North of Israel. He liked the job so much, dealing mostly with Hezbollah in Lebanon, that he stayed on an extra year and fell in love with the rugged border area.

Now, he wants to live there after he finishes his education.

Yaacov never completed high school and did terribly in the years he was there. So the family celebrated last week when he excelled in an entrance exam to an engineering college in Tiberias.

And with all the political support it gets, Beit El isn't going anywhere, says Yaacov.

"Peace talks will never amount to anything," he says, "and me being here won't make any difference."

Still, this is home. And he will never turn his back on the settlement. Should the day come when the people here are being forcibly removed, he says, "I'll be back to join the fight."

"It's stupid to force people out of their homes."

Patrick Martin is The Globe's global affairs writer.

Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B6

GLADSTONE, AUSTRALIA and VANCOUVER -- On a warm evening in late February, on an island just off the coast of eastern Australia, workers started to pour the concrete roof of an enormous liquefied natural gas tank that stretches 90 metres in circumference and rises 10 storeys into the sky.

The workers toil away late at night to avoid the searing heat of Australia's late summer sun. They had recently built the roof for an identical adjacent container, both part of the $24.7-billion Australian ($25.5-billion Canadian) joint venture Australia Pacific LNG, owned by American oil and gas firm ConocoPhillips Co., Australian energy giant Origin and China's state-owned Sinopec.

The two enormous tanks will hold natural gas tapped from the deep coal beds further inland and piped hundreds of kilometres to the LNG export terminal on Queensland's Curtis Island. Facing the sheltered harbour of the industrial port city of Gladstone, the gas will be chilled until it condenses to one-six-hundredth of its original size - essentially from the size of a beach ball down to a table tennis ball - making it possible to load the liquid gas onto LNG carriers with enormous domed tanks and ship it off to the surging economies of Asia.

"I don't know how many cranes we have out there, but it's a bunch," says Kent Anderson, ConocoPhillips' project manager for Australia Pacific LNG. "It's a good clean fuel and it just seems the world can't get enough of it at the moment."

The world is undergoing an LNG boom, and Australia is at the epicentre. Right next door to Australia Pacific LNG's 3,600 workers on Curtis Island is a similar-sized, $20.4-billion (U.S.) LNG export terminal under construction for a project led by British-based BG Group. And next door to that is yet another project run by Australian energy firm Santos, worth about $18.5-billion. Remarkably, construction might begin on a fourth LNG project next to that one if Royal Dutch Shell PLC decides - amid global restructuring and approvals - to push ahead with it.

All of these huge Australian projects have long-term sales contracts with massive Asian firms such as Korea Gas Corp., Malaysia's Petronas, Japan's Kansai Electric and China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC).

Half a world away, meanwhile, there are bold plans to make Canada an LNG powerhouse, targeting many of the same Asian firms as customers. But Australia's huge head start, the massive scope of its LNG projects, and major cost overruns encountered along the way threaten Canada's success as it jumps into a global industry that promises to be intensely competitive.

Canada, or more specifically British Columbia, will be lucky to have three LNG export terminals by the end of the decade. Australia, on the other hand, has three LNG export terminals nearing completion in the small port city of Gladstone alone - and this is just one small corner of a surging Australian gas export sector that will likely help the country overtake Qatar as the world's leading LNG exporter.

There is a lot of promise in British Columbia but relatively little happening on the ground. There are at least 14 B.C. LNG projects planned, but industry experts caution that launching just one project will be a major challenge. With B.C.'s delayed tax regime, environmental assessments, a lack of local infrastructure and complicated negotiations with First Nations, it remains unclear how many companies will stick it out. No final investment decisions have been made yet to build LNG projects on Canada's Asia-facing West Coast.

LNG projects require massive levels of investment and each delay increases the likelihood of being squeezed out due to a looming gush of global gas supplies scheduled for 2018 and 2019. Companies will be facing pressure this year to make final investment decisions or miss the chance to export B.C. LNG.

Nevertheless, B.C. Premier Christy Clark and her provincial Liberal government hope LNG projects could pump $1-trillion (Canadian) into the economy over three decades, helping generate 39,000 construction jobs, as well as tens of thousands of other LNG-related positions.

Of the planned projects, Pacific NorthWest LNG project, headed by Malaysia's state-owned Petronas, is the most likely to proceed to construction on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert. Another promising project is Kitimat LNG, owned by the Canadian units of Chevron Corp. and Apache Corp.

B.C. Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman says other players remain committed, even if their projects aren't as advanced, but warns that B.C.'s window of opportunity will close in the next five to seven years.

While some LNG proponents have urged the B.C. government to speed up its timetable for finalizing tax rules, Mr. Coleman is confident that tabling legislation this fall for the LNG tax regime will provide enough detail for projects to make their plans accordingly. "The LNG proponents want to know that they have a stable marketplace where they can nail down their numbers for the long term and compete worldwide on the investment they want to make," he says.

But for now, global LNG players have headed straight for Australia while Canada remains on the back burner.

Boomtown Gladstone

Located about an hour's flight north of Brisbane, Gladstone is no stranger to industry: It has been shipping goods to Asia for more than century.

Today, Gladstone has a population just over 62,000 and exports bauxite, aluminum and grain. For visitors, the first sign Gladstone is going through an energy rush comes at the airport. The lone baggage carousel is dwarfed by large advertisements for workers' compensation lawyers and scaffolding firms.

On Goondoon Street, the main drag, there are other signs that this is more than just a sleepy town.

There are the large, gleaming, cheerily staffed community outreach centres with displays, pamphlets and maps that seek to soothe the community's nerves. Stretched out along the small strip, there are separate buildings for the Santos-led Gladstone LNG venture, Australia Pacific LNG, BG Group-led Queensland Curtis LNG and another one for Shell.

The centres explain how LNG is better for the environment than other fossil fuels, show the safe double hulls of the LNG carriers and explain the fracking-style drilling that happens further inland. Hydraulic fracturing has created unease among Australia's cattle farmers, who fear their wells will be soiled by natural gas.

Almost everyone walking the streets, sitting in the restaurants or driving Toyota Hilux pickup trucks wears yellow fluorescent clothing. This is the "fluoro army" building Gladstone's LNG industry, a smattering of the 13,000 people who work on Curtis Island. Thousands go back and forth on huge ferries every morning and afternoon. They are so ubiquitous they even made an appearance as "high-vis zombies" in a musical performed by the waterside. "It was called Boomtown," says Shane McLeod, a local real estate agent.

In the Santos building, marine and stakeholder manager Garry Scanlon leans over a diorama of the harbour and describes the effort that goes into building three separate LNG export terminals, all in the same place, all at the same time. The Gladstone port, which is already a big hub for coal exports, used to see on average 10,000 small ship movements within the harbour each year, he says. With each company now operating separate ferries and large vessels to move enormous LNG equipment prefabricated in Indonesia and the Philippines, that number has soared to 32,000 ship movements per month. "It's something you won't see again," he says.

The pace of development is so great the city has even attracted a foreign anthropologist who studies boomtowns.

"I'm interested in local responses to accelerated change," says Thomas Eriksen of the University of Oslo. "There's an upside and downside to everything."

Australia's head start

Gladstone, as impressive as its three LNG terminals seem in comparison with Canada, is just one part of Australia's broader LNG industry.

Elsewhere in the country, Australia already has three functioning LNG terminals. Including Gladstone's projects, there are a total of seven projects under construction, some of which could start shipping LNG in late 2014 or in 2015.

Several projects either under construction or proposed are located thousands of kilometres away in Western Australia. Darwin in the country's Northern Territory is another busy LNG site. These projects range from traditional offshore sites to the innovative "floating" LNG terminal being built by Shell. The gargantuan Gorgon project off the western coast is now estimated to cost a whopping $54-billion (U.S.).

Given the large number of projects, observers predict Australia will easily overtake Malaysia's LNG output soon and then push past Qatar to become the world's largest LNG exporter by 2018.

Lodged in the Asia-Pacific region, close to key Asian buyers, Australia also enjoys a geographic advantage over Canada.

However, the whopping $54-billion price tag on the Chevron-led Gorgon project, which has soared by 40 per cent since the original estimates, shows LNG infrastructure can be painfully costly.

High commodity prices in recent years flooded Australia with investment and drove up the Australian dollar while construction materials and labour costs soared.

The BG Group-led $20.4-billion QCLNG project at first was projected to cost $15-billion. Firms in Australia will need to cut costs if they want to remain competitive, particularly as the United States and Canada plow into LNG.

"Australia has a permanent shipping advantage to these markets because it is physically closer, but it is hampered by the highest costs in the world and some of the lowest productivity," says Geoffrey Cann, who heads Deloitte Australia's oil and gas consultancy out of Brisbane. "The shipping advantage is not much. You can chew through it in a hurry."

But even with high costs and low productivity, which could be damaging if global LNG prices drop in years ahead, Australian projects have a distinct advantage because of the head start. By 2015, many of these LNG projects will be operating with two "trains," or separate LNG cooling processes, but most LNG sites are approved for three or four production trains. Western Australia's $50-billion North West Shelf Venture (Woodside, BHP Billiton, BP PLC and others) already has five trains.

Expanding facilities is much cheaper than building new ones. That means Australian projects - with land already cleared, and jetties and storage tanks already built - will be fighting for sales contracts in Asia against brand new Canadian projects that have much higher startup costs.

"If they decided to expand the plants at the exact time that Canadian projects are trying to find buyers, they will absolutely compete," Mr. Cann says. "And it's much cheaper to expand than to find new buyers. This is why it's a bit of a foot race."

Mr. Cann suggests Canada's legislators could also learn from mistakes made already in Australia, where companies pursuing similar projects have duplicated infrastructure such as pipelines unnecessarily.

He also suggests firms looking at projects in Canada consider more advanced technology, such as Shell's massive, 488-metre-long floating LNG terminal Prelude.

Industry experts say there will be pressure for B.C. LNG projects to consolidate. Petronas, for instance, has held talks with BG Group to combine forces to build one pipeline from northeastern British Columbia to the coast instead of two.

Aboriginal rights

It is late afternoon on Goodoon Street when two members of the "fluoro army" swagger into the middle of the road and yell suggestively at a group of three women standing on the corner. "You got to see it first hand," Anita Street sighs. She and her friends describe a boomtown that has become increasingly hostile to women as workers flooded in for LNG projects. The women said they no longer go to clubs or bars any more because they get grabbed, and even while shopping in grocery stores they are ogled, hit on and heckled. "I have a son and they still do it," Ms. Street says.

Gladstone has weathered booms and busts before, but the sheer scale of the race in the global LNG industry has strained the city and the environment on a number of levels - as well as relationships with aboriginal groups, farmers and fishermen.

Mr. McLeod, the real estate agent, describes an increase in drug use, drunken fights and public urination downtown. Rents on some properties doubled or tripled quickly, to the point where the town opened nearby showgrounds so locals driven out of the housing market could live in RVs. Firms responded by building new houses and apartments, which in turn led to an oversupply of housing, and prices have fallen. "I'm born and bred local," Mr. McLeod says. "It's probably the largest boom we've seen."

One other explanation for firms' ability to push ahead in Australia is that rights for aboriginals are less entrenched than on Canada's West Coast, where failure to consult with affected groups can result in legal challenges and costly delays.

Wally Ingra, a community elder who has worked in the energy construction business for decades, says aboriginal groups elsewhere in Australia have had more success than local groups around Gladstone. "They're making massive amounts of money and nothing comes back into the community," he says. "They'll give us a sporting day. Oh, great. A sporting day."

In British Columbia, some aboriginal groups have already endorsed LNG exports, as long as projects meet or exceed environmental standards. Still, opposition remains. For instance, members of the Blueberry River First Nations are upset because they have been unable to persuade the provincial government to protect 80,000 hectares of land from LNG-related drilling for natural gas in northeastern B.C.

Besides the global competition from Australia, British Columbia is in a continental race to export LNG.

B.C. LNG projects face a disadvantage compared with U.S. proposals that have a head start because some infrastructure is already in place, notably those in the U.S. South, near the Gulf of Mexico. In some instances, it will be a matter of converting American facilities originally designed to handle LNG imports so that they are instead reconfigured for exports.

Mr. Coleman, B.C.'s Deputy Premier who is in charge of the LNG file, says he recognizes the high stakes amid competitive pressures from Australia and the United States.

"LNG projects did their own thing in Australia and they found that costs got out of hand. Companies have learned that they don't want that to happen in Canada, so there will be discussions here about how they can share certain things," he says. "Our job is to make sure we're globally competitive, which we are."



All 14 projects are in the proposal stage. Canada's Natural Energy Board has issued export licences to the first seven listed here.

1. Kitimat LNG: Kitimat

2. Douglas Channel Energy: Kitimat

3. LNG Canada: Kitimat

4. Pacific NorthWest LNG: Lelu Island, near Prince Rupert

5. West Coast Canada LNG: Kitimat or Prince Rupert

6. Prince Rupert LNG: Ridley Island, near Prince Rupert

7. Woodfibre LNG Export: Squamish area, north of Vancouver.

8. Triton LNG: Kitimat or Prince Rupert.

9. Aurora LNG: Grassy Point, near Prince Rupert.

10. Kitsault LNG: Kitsault, 140 kilometres north of Prince Rupert.

11. Woodside LNG: Grassy Point, near Prince Rupert.

12. Discovery LNG: Campbell River on Vancouver Island.

13. Stewart Energy: Stewart

Steelhead LNG: Site to be announced



British Columbia is playing catch-up with Australia and the United States in the race to export liquefied natural gas, but the province believes its tax and regulatory regime will be competitive against its two main rivals.

The B.C. government commissioned Ernst & Young to see how the province stacks up against Australia and five states - Louisiana, Texas, Georgia, Oregon and Alaska. The EY report said that, on the low-end scenario for LNG export activity based on a hypothetical example of five plants, B.C. is essentially the same as Australia for collecting projected taxes and royalties over a 20-year period (roughly $160-billion in real 2012 dollars).

But the B.C. government argues that on the high-end estimate for comparing the tax and royalty frameworks, B.C. is lower than Australia, at roughly $280-billion versus Australia at $320-billion.

There are also other factors that go into companies' decisions on whether to forge ahead with LNG export terminals. Shipping distances, pipeline costs, the availability of natural gas and the status of consultations with First Nations are also important to keep in mind.

"It's a huge challenge to figure out a way to make these LNG projects competitive," says Byron Beswick, senior manager in EY's oil and gas practice in Calgary.

The soaring costs of Australian LNG projects are providing an opening for British Columbia's nascent industry to capture market share, according to analysts at RBC Dominion Securities Inc.

Canada could foster a more collaborative industry among various competitors, something Qatar was able to do when the pace of development drove costs too high, says Thomas Valentine, an international oil and gas lawyer with Norton Rose Fulbright's Calgary office.

Canada, unlike promising LNG projects developing in East Africa, has a stable regulatory and legal system, as well as local oil and gas expertise, but Mr. Valentine says investors may look elsewhere if Canadian policy makers don't start making decisions faster.

"What happens in Australia really does matter to what's happening in Canada," Mr. Valentine says. "If the Canadian projects don't really get engaged quickly, they could be left flat-footed."

Cheniere Energy Inc.'s Sabine Pass LNG project in Louisiana is the only LNG export project under construction so far in North America. There are nearly 30 LNG projects planned in the United States, but realistically, a half-dozen of them stand the best chance of getting built over the next five or six years.

Brent Jang, Iain Marlow

Twenty years ago this Monday, mass killings erupted in Rwanda - eventually ravaging the country as the world stood by and did nothing. Now, despite persistent warnings, the world is once again standing by as bloodshed breaks out in two neighbouring countries. The Globe's Geoffrey York reports from the ground on why 'never again' is happening again
Saturday, April 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F1

BOALI, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC -- Drive north from the capital, and you soon discover why relief workers call the Central African Republic a post-apocalyptic country. After a year of mass murder, the villages are abandoned and the roads eerily empty and desolate.

The checkpoints are controlled by cold-eyed men from largely Christian militias who brandish knives, machetes, swords and other crude weapons. Occasionally, a decrepit taxi comes barreling down the road, ludicrously overloaded with 15 or 20 refugees, some piled on the roof. At times a slow-moving convoy appears - busloads of terrified Muslims, with an escort of heavily armed peacekeepers to protect them from slaughter.

They represent 15 per cent of the country's 4.5 million people, but even where they were a substantial minority, almost all Muslims have been killed or forced to flee. The last ones in the impoverished town of Boali were evacuated a month ago, and a local administrator admits it is still too dangerous for her Muslim husband and children to visit, let alone come back for good.

Last year, when largely Muslim rebel forces seized power, it was the Christians who fled for their lives even though the two communities had lived peacefully side by side for decades.

A horrifyingly bureaucratic term, "ethno-religious cleansing," has been invented to describe the massacres in the CAR. While experts argue over whether it qualifies as genocide, those inside the country know only that the killing is endless. In the capital, Bangui, bodies still pile up in the morgues, mosques and streets. What began as a political struggle has become sectarian. "One group is trying to exterminate the other," says Dr. Jean Chrysostome Gody, director of Bangui's pediatric hospital. "It's about extreme brutal revenge. They are trying to eradicate a race."

This wasn't supposed to happen. "Never again," the world said after 800,000 died in Rwanda. Yet two decades later - Monday marks the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the 100-day carnage - the killing continues. It continues in terrible wars such as the conflict in Syria, but also much closer to the scene of the tragedy that shocked the world in 1994.

Tens of thousands have been butchered in the CAR as well as its neighbour to the east, South Sudan, where a few months ago a dispute between the president and vice-president erupted into mass bloodshed. As in Rwanda, politicians and military leaders in both countries have whipped up hatred and turned it deadly. And as in Rwanda, there was plenty of warning. Academics, aid workers and analysts had pointed to the danger signs for months, even years. Yet little was done.

Preventing genocide has been an official goal of the United Nations since 1948 - four years after the term was coined at the height of the Holocaust. Genocide was banned in international criminal law, enforced later by tribunals investigating the mass killings in Rwanda and Darfur. According to the world's new moral code, enshrined by the UN as the "responsibility to protect" doctrine, any mass atrocity was never to be ignored.

African countries, motivated by altruism but also by a cold calculation of their regional security interests, have sent thousands of peacekeepers to Bangui, including 850 from Rwanda. The European Union's contribution, however, has been slow to materialize. And Canada, despite its proud tradition of UN service, has refused for years to send substantial forces to any African hot spot.

The current carnage has provoked plenty of high-level hand-wringing. This week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon fretted that the international community has failed to "prevent the preventable." And in Brussels, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird called the CAR a prime example of how efforts to save lives have been "inadequate" and the world "lacking" in resolve.

Why has the response been so minimal?

The bloodshed in South Sudan has left a landscape depressingly similar to that of the CAR. Malakal, the strategic capital of oil-rich Upper Nile province, is now a ghost town of abandoned markets and looted compounds. Thousands have fled, fearing attack by government or rebel forces, while thousands more have taken shelter at the local UN base.

"Many people were killed in front of us," says Robert Okeng, a 30-year-old student. "The rebels burned our houses and killed many people, even small children. They shot them and beat them with sticks."

The growing risk of mass violence had been clear for years. A Canadian member of the peacekeeping force, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the UN troops received intelligence briefings last August about the potential for large-scale violence as a result of the deep political split between President Salva Kiir and Vice-President Riek Machar. Similar warnings had been issued privately by relief agencies even earlier, last June, due to tensions in the army, badly divided because regional and tribal militias had been poorly integrated.

Then in July as the feuding intensified, the Sudd Institute, a widely respected think-tank in South Sudan's capital, Juba, issued a stark warning: "A violent split in the [ruling] party may lead to spontaneous rebellions and possibly a civil war. If the cracks take ethnic lines and violence ensues as a result, the state may become dysfunctional, giving way to a large-scale ethnic violence."

Instead of heeding these grim warnings, the world clung to the blithe optimism of South Sudan's birth, when it won independence from Khartoum in 2011 after decades of civil war. It seemed to be an irresistibly happy ending to an often-tragic story.

But there had been warnings signs. Even before South Sudan became the world's newest independent country. Despite massive support from the United States, Canada and other Western countries, it was a tinderbox. About 2,500 people were killed in inter-communal clashes in 2009, and several armed rebellions erupted in 2010. Corruption was widespread, ethnic resentments were festering, dissent was often crushed rather than addressed, and the military was factionalized on ethnic lines.

Yet, even after the dangerous feuding between the top rulers last year, diplomats failed to apply strong pressure on Mr. Kiir, and the UN did not significantly increase its peacekeeping force of 7,000, far too small for a sprawling country with few paved roads. Large-scale fighting erupted in mid-December, including the deliberate targeting of ethnic groups - exactly as the Sudd Institute had warned just five months earlier - and by January more than 10,000 people had been killed.

"Both sides were preparing for violence - it was just a question of when," says Abraham Awolich, a policy analyst who helped to found the Sudd Institute. "But nobody paid any attention. It was avoidable, but it slipped away."

In the Central African Republic, the world has ignored warning signs much longer. This remote corner of Africa has been neglected and persecuted for more than a century, beginning with the slave traders and colonialists who depopulated much of what is now the CAR as forced labour. French colonial policy kept it weak and divided, and further damage was inflicted in the 1970s by the delusional fantasies of the self-proclaimed "emperor" Jean-Bedel Bokassa.

Since 1998, the UN has organized or endorsed an alphabet soup of peacekeeping and peace-building missions, with acronyms from MINURCA to BONUCA to today's MISCA.

This means that UN officials have been receiving daily "sit-reps" (situation reports) on the country for the past 16 years.

But when the mass killings began last year, the world was unprepared and unable to intervene. Only a few thousand peacekeepers were in the country - not nearly enough to stop the massacres - and most were from neighbouring countries and primarily in the CAR to defend their own national interests, rather than to build a self-sufficient government in Bangui.

"The international community has been watching the CAR for a long time - and not doing much about it," says David Smith, a Canadian who served on one of the earliest UN missions in the late 1990s.

"There are no surprises in the CAR, only inaction. We've sent a lot of people, but we're not sending them to do the right thing. It's not just about boots on the ground - it's about nation-building."

Because of a lack of personnel and resources, the UN peacekeepers could do little more than patrol the streets, observe the clashes and guard the key buildings. What was badly needed was a bigger long-term commitment, in order to create a proper army and police force, build a functioning justice system and rescue a failed state.

The violence escalated last March, when the rebels swept into Bangui, and has continued, on and off, in plain sight of the foreign observers, diplomats, peacekeepers and aid workers.

The disaster can even be seen from the air. Satellite photos show the destruction of villages and a massive camp for displaced people has sprung up on the edge of Bangui's international airport - clearly visible to passenger jets that arrive every day. Not even a fence separates the planes from the estimated 60,000 people who live in appalling conditions, with children routinely dying of easily preventable diseases.

"They don't die of bullets - they die because of a lack of will to help them," says Dr. Tahir Wissanji of Médécins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders) who worked in Bangui for two months. "This isn't a situation where people can say, 'Oh, we didn't know.' They're at the airport when you land. You can't miss them."

The camp gets so little support that many residents don't even have tents. "We have to use palm leafs," says Joseph Mboris, a 54-year-old teacher who has been there since December. "When the rain falls, it's terrible."

Mr. Mboris onced lived side by side with Muslim friends and neighbours. Now the neighbours have lost contact and the friendships destroyed. "Things have become like that," he says. "It's too dangerous to go home. People have taken up machetes, and they want revenge."

Four days before Christmas, his pregnant daughter's husband was caught and killed by a local militia when he went home to collect their belongings. "He was too young to die," Mr. Mboris says. Eight days later, his daughter gave birth to son who will never know his father.

The UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, visited the Central African Republic late last month, and says she is deeply concerned by the slow response of the international community, which so far has provided only one-fifth of the funds needed.

The world seems to have forgotten the lessons of Rwanda, she told reporters in Bangui. "I cannot help thinking that, if the Central African Republic were not a poor country hidden away in the heart of Africa, the terrible events that have taken place - and continue to take place - would have stimulated a far stronger and more dynamic reaction.

"How many more children have to be decapitated, how many more women and girls will be raped, how many more acts of cannibalism must there be, before we really sit up and pay attention?"

MSF is one of the biggest aid agencies on the ground, and Joanne Liu, its international president, says years of struggling to call attention to the disaster have produced no "traction."

"A lot of people say they don't even know where the CAR is - it's always been a second-class crisis," Dr. Liu says, noting that the country has few people and few natural resources.

And what could have been done?

In both CAR and South Sudan, the world had leverage if it had wanted to act: There were peacekeepers in position, diplomats watching, and United Nations operations on the ground. As well , both countries were recipients of foreign aid, another potential tool to influence key players.

As the atrocities mounted in the CAR, foreign armies eventually responded, but never with an adequate effort. There are about 8,000 French and African peacekeeping troops there today - not enough to stop the killings or disarm the militias or prevent the "ethno-religious cleansing." The European Union has promised another 1,000 troops but its commitment has wavered after the Ukraine crisis and its troops repeatedly delayed.

The UN estimates that a force of at least 12,000 - including 2,000 police - is needed in CAR alone. But even this is probably far too few: On a per capita basis, it is barely one-tenth the number of peacekeepers sent to Bosnia and Kosovo.

The UN doesn't deserve all the blame. Countries like Canada, active supporters of peacekeeping until the past decade or so, have failed to make more than a token contribution. Even modest assistance - helicopters, communications equipment, airlift or other resources - could make a substantial difference.

If the problem in CAR is sheer neglect because it lacks strategic importance, South Sudan is more complex. The West has never neglected the newly independent country, providing much aid and other support. If anything, it was over-confident in South Sudan's capacity to avoid mass violence, and failed to pressure the government to prevent it.

Conversations with South Sudanese political leaders and human-rights activists make it clear that they were fully aware of the dangerous splits in the army and the repressive tactics that were inflaming tensions. Yet donor nations essentially gave the government "a blank cheque," one aid worker says, admitting that "maybe we could have been tougher."

Deng Athuai Mawiir, a Canadian citizen who heads the South Sudan Civil Society Alliance, was kidnapped and beaten for three days in 2012 after he organized a march to demand action against 75 officials suspected of involvement in a $4-billion corruption scandal.

He says the military's heavy involvement in politics is crucial to the persistent repression. "You can't fire people in the ministries because you're afraid the soldiers from their region will kill you. They are hungry for the war to continue, because they want to keep their positions forever. Everyone is hungry for power, and they don't want to hear any opposition."

When the rebellion erupted and the slaughter began, the international response - just like in the CAR - was too little and too late. In key cities like Malakal, the UN peacekeepers could do little more than protect VIPs and guard their base. This allowed the rebels and army to keep fighting, with hundreds of deaths over a period of weeks. The Canadian peacekeeper recalls how ending up flat on the ground in a bunker, trying to escape a hail of bullets from both the rebels and government forces.

There is no sign of a rapprochement between Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar, and their followers. The tensions between the feuding leaders and the two main ethnic groups, the Dinka and the Nuer, will fuel the risk of mass violence for years to come.

Is it too late to act? The clashes in South Sudan and the CAR have left such deep social wounds and such yearning for vengeance that it will be nearly impossible to prevent further massacres - unless there is a huge ramping-up of the peacekeeping effort.

The killing could also heighten the danger that both countries will plunge back into dictatorship. It was the genocide in Rwanda, and the world's inaction in the sight of the genocide, that paved the way for the iron-fisted regime of President Paul Kagame, who tolerates no dissent.

At Dr. Gody's hospital in Bangui, injured Muslim and Christian children lay side-by-side, united by their pain. Yet their parents can barely conceal their rage against people who were once their neighbours.

"We can't live together again," says Stella, 22. Her uncle was killed by Muslim rebels and her infant son later hit by a stray bullet.

"I consider the Muslims my enemies now," she confesses as she tends to her bandaged child. " If my life is worse, it is because of them."

It's a long way from the horrors of Bangui to a bland conference hall in Brussels, where Canada's foreign minister was lecturing on genocide prevention this week.

"As leaders, this is our time," Mr. Baird said in Brussels. "Let us not look back when it's too late and wonder if we really did enough."

His speech was an echo of the burning questions that tormented the world after Rwanda. It's an extraordinary irony that the same questions are still being asked 20 years later.

Geoffrey York is The Globe and Mail's Africa correspondent.

The uncertain legacy of 'Helicopter Ben'
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

WASHINGTON -- On Tuesday, for the 72nd and final time, Ben Bernanke will convene a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, the group of men and women from the U.S. Federal Reserve System that determines the cost of money.

They've been through a lot together. Their last piece of business will be directing the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to once again create tens of billions of dollars - probably $65-billion (U.S.), down from $75-billion this month - for the purchase of separate tranches of Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities. The only question in the minds of Fed watchers is whether the central bank might trim its monthly asset purchases a little faster. But that's trivial. Whether it's $65-billion or $55-billion, it's still a lot of money.

Perhaps historians one day will pinpoint when extraordinary became routine. Not so long ago - say, about 2008 - the notion of a central bank seeking to stoke the economy in this way was the kind of mad economic doctrine favoured only by the naive and those too young to remember what it took to crush inflation in the early 1980s. Now, quantitative easing is just another tool in the toolbox. The policy even has a nickname: We call it QE.

The mainstreaming of QE will forever be associated with Mr. Bernanke, who began his tenure as Fed chairman with a portfolio of bonds worth about $900-billion, and will end it with a balance sheet of more than $4-trillion.

The creation of money at that scale should have caused all kinds of problems by now: Runaway inflation, asset-price bubbles; name it. But it hasn't.

Instead, Mr. Bernanke's Fed appears to have almost singlehandedly prevented the United States from sliding back into another recession.

"Without this guy, we'd be in a lot of trouble," said Richard Grossman, an economics professor at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and the author of a 2013 book on how policy makers throughout history so often get things tragically wrong.

Yet what if trouble simply hasn't found us yet? Mr. Bernanke may be leaving the Fed next week, but questions about the ultimate effect of his policies will linger for years. That's the problem with monetary policy, especially the innovative kind: It works with a lag. Mr. Bernanke will retire a hero of the fight against the financial crisis. But there remain too many uncertainties about some of his decisions to be sure he will be remembered so fondly in the future.

When Mr. Bernanke's predecessor, Alan Greenspan, gathered with the Federal Open Market Committee for the last time in January, 2006, he was showered with praise.

Mr. Greenspan today is a diminished figure from the one who ruled the global economy at the start of the millennium. He kept interest rates too low for too long; he tragically misjudged the willingness of financial institutions to self-regulate; and he perpetuated a cult of personality that turned the act of monetary policy making into a one-man show.

But all of this is reinterpretation; at the time of his leaving, Mr. Greenspan was beyond criticism. Could the future be similarly unkind to Mr. Bernanke? There are reasonable people who think so.

William Marsh, a former investment banker who now runs a small steel mill outside Philadelphia, says he has little faith in the low interest rates the Fed has engineered because the central bank's methods were so unorthodox.

Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank and one of Wall Street's more accurate forecasters, compared the effects of QE on the economy to the effect of long-term exposure to the sun on the skin: It's nice to get a little colour, but you don't realize you have skin cancer until it's too late.

"We simply don't know what the effects of these actions have been," Mr. LaVorgna said.

'Helicopter Ben' saves the day

In 2002, when he still was a junior central banker getting used to life outside of academia, Mr. Bernanke made a passing reference to economist Milton Friedman's famous line about how a government at any time could reverse deflation by dropping money from a helicopter. It didn't matter that Mr. Bernanke was speaking theoretically or that Mr. Friedman was a Nobel laureate. From that day forward, Mr. Bernanke was "Helicopter Ben."

But no one actually thought that Helicopter Ben would take flight - not once, not twice, but three times between 2008 and 2012. The third sortie continues. The Fed in September, 2012, said it would create $85-billion a month to buy bonds until it detected a substantial improvement in the labour market. In December, the central bank surprised Wall Street by announcing that its conditions for tapering or reducing its asset purchases had been met. If all goes according to script, the Fed will create its last extraordinary dollar some time this fall, by which point its balance sheet would exceed $4.4-trillion, compared with $870-billion in August, 2007.

The December announcement wasn't exactly a triumph, however. The unemployment rate, at 6.7 per cent, still is considerably higher than the Fed's unofficial target of something closer to 5.5 per cent. The Fed characterizes the pace of economic growth only as "moderate." More than four years removed from the end of the recession, one would have expected better.

It's wrong to conclude that lacklustre growth means QE doesn't work. John Williams, the president of the San Francisco Fed, last week published a paper listing more than a dozen academic studies that show QE lowers borrowing costs. The impact on U.S. stock markets also is evidence of the central bank's power: A stronger equity market was an intended consequence of the policy in the hope that healthier stock portfolios would give a lift to consumer confidence and that companies would raise cash to hire and invest.

The problem is that the real world makes for a poor laboratory. Mr. Bernanke constantly was pushing against serious headwinds. The European debt crisis derailed the global economic recovery in 2010, just when things in the United States were starting to look up. And unlike previous recessions, the Fed got little help with the recovery from governments, which slashed spending and fired tens of thousands of people. The sight of politicians embracing austerity in the aftermath of a recession was virtually unprecedented. It left the Fed no choice but to go it alone.

"History will always remember that he stood up at a very difficult time," said Anil Makhija, academic director at the National Center for the Middle Market, a group housed at Ohio State University that conducts research on companies with revenue of between $10-million and $1-billion.

Into the unknown

To avoid Mr. Greenspan's fate, Mr. Bernanke needs two things to happen: His successor, Janet Yellen, must unwind the Fed's extraordinary stimulus without losing its grip on inflation; and Mr. Bernanke must cross his fingers that his fight against the fallout from the U.S. housing bust hasn't created a new asset-price bubble.

Some economists remain wary about inflation because they doubt the central bank's ability to catch it in time to rein it in. Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz acknowledged this week that predicting when a sluggish economy will take off is especially difficult. Deutsche Bank's Mr. LaVorgna is convinced the Fed is going to miss the turn.

Policy makers currently predict inflation won't be an issue until at least 2016. Yet, at the same time, the Fed's latest economic projections say economic growth will accelerate to a pace of about 3 per cent this year, even faster in 2015. Some find the outlook that inflation will remain tame as economic growth finally takes off hard to believe.

"It certainly is possible that over the next two, three, four years that measures of inflation could move significantly above what the Fed is forecasting," Mr. LaVorgna said. "Growth is accelerating. My guess is it will be better than what the Fed is targeting. But to keep inflation where it is given the amount of accommodation in the system? That just seems incongruous. That just doesn't make sense to me."

Mr. Bernanke's response to those who taunt him as being soft on inflation is akin to the classic sports put-down of players on the winning side: He points at the scoreboard.

Last week, Mr. Bernanke was at an event in Washington at the Brookings Institution on the same day the U.S. Labour Department published its consumer price index for December. Annual inflation was 1.5 per cent, safely below the Fed's 2-per-cent target.

"Some of the costs [of QE] that people talk about are really not costs," Mr. Bernanke said. "Those who have been saying for five years that we are on the brink of hyperinflation, I think I would just point them to this morning's CPI number and suggest that inflation is just not a significant risk of this policy."

Mr. Bernanke is less dismissive of bubbles. "Given what we've been through the last five years, we are sensitive to those risks," he said at Brookings.

Demand for bonds forces their prices up and their yields down. So by buying hundreds of billions of dollars of U.S. Treasuries, the Fed shoves borrowing costs lower because credit prices tend to be marked against the cost of U.S. debt. But QE also is an attempt to bully private investors into spreading their money around.

When times are uncertain, there is a natural attraction to buy Treasuries, the safest asset on the market. Through QE, the Fed effectively blocks that option, forcing profit seekers to look elsewhere.

After five years of QE, no one is quite sure how out of sync financial markets might be. Some see bubbles everywhere, others see none at all. The "reach for yield" could explain some of the current turmoil in emerging markets.When the Fed was buying bonds indefinitely, investors sought profits in the stocks and bonds of countries such as Brazil and Turkey. But once it became clear the Fed was preparing to end QE, investors recalculated. Many rushed home to the United States, causing volatility in the markets they left behind.

Mr. Bernanke said the Fed has staffed up with economists whose job it is to be on guard for bubbles. For now, he insists risks are low. But he also knows the lesson of the financial crisis is that it is entirely possible that no one will see the threat until it is too late.

The professor

In March, 2012, Mr. Bernanke went back to school.

The former Princeton University professor gave four lectures at George Washington University on the origins of the Fed and its response to the financial crisis. Thirty undergraduate students were chosen from more than 80 applicants. Thousands more watched the sessions online and Mr. Bernanke's notes were made into a book by Princeton University Press.

Timothy Fort, who organized the lectures, said Mr. Bernanke wanted to demystify the Fed. Besides the lectures, he attended a reception with the students and invited them to take a tour of the Fed. When they asked to see his office, he agreed. Yuqi Wu, a Chinese student who attended the lectures, said she was touched that Mr. Bernanke made an effort to learn everyone's name.

"Every student I talked to said it was the most amazing experience of their academic career," said Prof. Fort, who left George Washington University in 2013 to teach business ethics at Indiana University.

For now, the first thing people think of when they think of Mr. Bernanke is the money: $4-trillion is hard to ignore. Yet his determination to lead the Fed out of the shadows could be his most important contribution - and possibly the thing that keeps his grand experiment from going off the rails.

Monetary policy works only if the public trusts the central bank behind it. Mr. Bernanke realized that the Fed's tradition of a limited public interaction and coded language was ill-suited for the Internet age. He did away with the mystery and instituted a clear inflation target. He became the first Fed chairman to hold press conferences after policy decisions. He pushed his colleagues to give more explicit guidance about the Fed's intentions.

There are doubters about Mr. Bernanke's commitment to transparency, too. They say all the talk only causes confusion. Perhaps on occasion. But if Mr. Bernanke's George Washington class is a guide, Mr. Bernanke's openness also is making believers out of the people who will inherit the economy he tried to save.

"There has to be some radical change to occur for there to be progress," said Smita Trivedi, who was Prof. Fort's teaching assistant. "Maybe I'm a sucker for smart professors, but I was left with the impression that [Mr. Bernanke] really knew what he was doing."



1. Feb. 1, 2006: Ben Bernanke becomes the 14th chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

2. March 28, 2007: Mr. Bernanke tells Congress that the problems with subprime mortgages seem "likely to be contained."

3. March 16, 2008: Bear Stearns, on the brink of failure, is bought by JPMorgan Chase with the help of the Fed, which takes ownership of tens of billions in toxic mortgage assets from Bear.

4. Sept. 16, 2008: After the collapse of Lehman Brothers causes panic in global financial markets, the Fed grants an emergency loan of $85-billion (U.S.) to save insurer American International Group.

5. Nov. 25, 2008: In the midst of a full-blown financial crisis, the Fed announces it will buy $600-billion worth of debt and securities related to mortgages - the first round of "quantitative easing" designed to bring down interest rates and salve the economy's wounds.

6. Dec. 16, 2008: The Fed cuts its key short-term lending rate to near zero.

7. Nov. 3, 2010: The beginning of QE2: With the economy still sluggish, the Fed goes back to bond buying.

8. Sept. 13, 2012: With unemployment stuck at more than 8 per cent, the Fed launches a third round of quantitative easing, saying it will buy $40-billion a month in securities to drive down rates as long as the labour outlook does not improve substantially. Later, the program is expanded to $85-billion a month.

9. Oct. 9, 2013: President Barack Obama nominates Janet Yellen to succeed Mr. Bernanke as Fed chair, effective Feb. 1, 2014.

10. Dec. 18, 2013: The Fed trims, or "tapers," its bond buying to $75-billion a month.



All eyes on the Marcel Show
COC president enters final mandate with goals to overhaul amateur training, keep sponsorship money flowing in
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S9

OTTAWA and MONTREAL -- Athletes go for gold, Marcel Aubut goes for grand.

On his business card, the 66-year-old lawyer is listed as the president of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), the country's deep-pocketed amateur sporting organization. In his own words, he is the "country's biggest volunteer."

Parades, sponsorships, banquets and announcements are always megascale affairs on Aubut's watch. He points to Rendez-Vous 1987, a five-day gala in Quebec City that included two games between the NHL's best players and the Soviet national team - "the biggest event in the history of the league, never beaten," he proclaims. Even his CV lands at a fat 48 pages, though a single sentence captures his sense of self: "Mr. Aubut has left a bold impression wherever he has ventured."

He is certainly doing that these days, putting Team Canada gear on athletes who have earned a ticket to the Sochi Winter Games next month. At every festive event, he speaks at length, showcasing his love for the cameras and giving fuel to eye-rolling critics who feel the Marcel Show cannot end soon enough.

But Aubut has methodically built a formidable power base inside the Olympic establishment, long a decentralized web of sporting federations. He has both expanded and consolidated his Olympic empire, hiring more staff, opening new offices in Montreal and making renewed riches cascade into COC coffers - no small feat after the inevitable sponsorship fatigue following the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Now, starting his second and final four-year mandate as COC president, he has his sights set on affecting everything from coaching to anti-doping - but well knows he'll ultimately be judged on winning.

"Top of the board" is how Aubut describes the Canadian team's goal for Sochi, though he refuses to target a specific medal haul. That kind of talk induces cringes in some quarters of Canadian amateur sport - "We're nowhere near where we were for Vancouver," one federation executive said - but is standard procedure for a man known for his jaunty brand of charm, arrogance, self-promotion and tireless dedication. While almost everyone assumes Aubut has larger personal ambitions - an eye toward rising high inside the International Olympic Committee - he insists he is only focused on his current mandate, which ends in 2017.

"One of the things that my father said, 'We are always as good as our last shift.' That sticks with me always, always," he said in an interview. "I can't, at my age, have taken this on and missed my last shift. Forget about it, that won't happen."

Aubut leaves no one indifferent. Fans and foes alike describe the big-bodied former owner of the Quebec Nordiques in essentially the same terms: a force of nature, a bull in a china shop, an outsized character forged in the days before political correctness. But Aubut is also deft at building and preserving relationships, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

"Everyone around the office loved Marcel, he's very affectionate," Daly said with a laugh. "I often bump into him in what I would consider to be the strangest of places, but when you know how much he travels and how much he's doing, maybe it's not so strange."

A trait that wins over many people turns off others: Aubut will deploy absolutely everything in his arsenal to get what he wants. "He is unstoppable," said Jean Charest, who had Aubut in his office - and his face - on a number of files during his time as Quebec premier. "It's a lot easier to say 'yes' to Marcel than to say 'no.'"

'I was received like a king'

The irrepressible Aubut was born in 1948 and raised on the family farm in Saint-Hubert-de-Rivière-du-Loup, a small town halfway between Quebec City and the Gaspésie. After graduating from Laval University's law school in 1970, he made his mark in Quebec City, where he earned the nickname of the "Grande Allée Kid," after the city's main drag.

Working on a case, he grabbed the attention of Jean Lesage, a former Quebec premier who was the chairman of the board of the Quebec Nordiques. At just 30, Aubut became president of the hockey team, then part of the World Hockey Association. After the league merged with the NHL, Aubut set about breaking up the television monopoly in Canada to allow each team to earn greater broadcast revenues. He went to all the other NHL owners individually to mount his campaign, proving a particular hit down south.

"I was received like a king," Aubut recounted. "The Americans called me 'the French guy with the great idea.'"

By 1988, Aubut owned the Nordiques, and four years later, he made a killing trading Eric Lindros to the Philadelphia Flyers, acquiring a mix of cash, picks and players, including future star Peter Forsberg. In so doing, he also caused headaches at the league office by simultaneously dealing Lindros to both the Flyers and New York Rangers, who called in the lawyers.

But with the slumping Canadian dollar and an increasingly dilapidated rink, the Nordiques couldn't compete financially and were sold and moved to Denver in 1995, leaving Aubut a wounded, if substantially wealthier, figure in Quebec City. He said his team's exit wouldn't have happened if the new Colisée - which he argued for at the time and is currently under construction - had been built during his tenure.

Asked whether he is a visionary, Aubut answered with his customary self-assurance: "The good Lord gave me that, there is no doubt."

He also gravitates to the limelight.

"He loves the glamour in sports, professional sports, Olympic sports," former Nordiques captain Peter Stastny said. "He is attracted by something glamorous, something big, something global. He loves megaprojects, he loves the podium, he loves being involved and being visible."

Most importantly, Stastny said: "He wants to win."

Although Aubut is a consummate insider and schmoozer, he likes to portray himself as a quintessential outsider, battling long odds.

He is a relative newcomer to the Olympic movement, which he joined in 2005, at 57, after a decade building up his legal career in Montreal and sitting on corporate boards. When he decided to run for the COC presidency four years later, he activated every branch of his famous network and ran a campaign - akin to a political leadership race - that shocked parts of Canada's usually stolid, genteel Olympic movement.

"I hadn't been in the machine forever, I wasn't a former Olympian, I wasn't an anglophone. On the contrary, I came from the world of professional sports, having learned the ropes in the lap of luxury, with athletes making millions of dollars. Everything was against me," he said of his victory over four-time Olympic rower Tricia Smith in 2009.

His plans for the COC - on which he was elected with more than 60 per cent of the votes in 2009, and acclaimed into a second mandate this year - are "audacious," he said.

The COC staff will basically double by the end of his mandate, occupying new offices in Montreal and, next on his list, Toronto. He wants the COC to showcase athletes year-round, regardless of whether it's an Olympic year, and to beef up coaching and technical expertise across the country and in all sports. His goal is to get even more revenues flowing, through increased merchandising sales and - think big - a new national sports lottery. By the end of 2017, Aubut hopes to have persuaded the federal government to match every private-sector dollar that comes into the COC.

While Canada triumphed at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics - topping all countries with 14 gold medals - and expects to perform well at Sochi, Aubut said there is no justification for Canada's relatively low standing at Summer Games.

National sporting federations (NSFs in Olympic jargon) technically report to their sport's international governing body. Aubut's detractors in the sports establishment believe his central aim is to create a "single window" for sponsorships and funding in Canada - a de facto centralization of all sports funding in a secretive body that currently spends less than half its total budget on athletes.

Aubut acknowledged many sporting federations were "nervous" when he took over the COC, but said he comforted the large majority by building partnerships instead of asserting control.

"That was one of the fears at first, that when I get somewhere, I take charge," he said. "That is not what I did. I showed them that it could be done differently, by showing them that the COC could be their best possible partner. Today, all of the federations are running to us, asking whether we can help them."

His essential task was renewing the COC's major sponsors that had been on the Vancouver bandwagon. It had been relatively easy for the COC to attract Canadian blue-chip firms when the Winter Games were on home turf, but harder to bring them back for Games in London (2012), Sochi and Rio de Janeiro (2016). With $100-million in corporate sponsorship deals signed over four years, Aubut expresses no doubt he will succeed in transforming Canadian Olympic sport before his mandate ends in 2017.

His main fear? That his successor will not keep up.

"When I leave, it has to be strong enough to not crumble," he said. "One of my great challenges is for this castle to not fall apart in four or five years."

'He brings results'

Dressed in a lawyerly pinstripe suit, with three pins on his lapel (Order of Canada, National Order of Quebec and Olympic rings), Aubut moves swiftly as he gives a tour of his offices in Montreal, which will be officially inaugurated in the spring. Sweat is forming on his forehead as he describes how he had a hand in the nitty-gritty details of office design.

With a child's energy he shows where the massive television screen will be located, points to the rooms where sports officials will meet, mentions how fundraisers will be held on the newly landscaped terrasse at a busy downtown intersection. He goes on to explain where he will put a treadmill and other exercise machines like those he has in all of his residences and workspaces, trying to get in shape.

It is an obvious contradiction: The rotund man who oversees an organization dedicated to ideals of fitness, strength and grace struggles to maintain his own health. "My biggest battle is against my weight," he said. "I probably lost 2,000 pounds in my life. Up and down, up and down; that's not real good."

The fact he never seems to slow down is cause for concern. In addition to working for the COC, Aubut sits on a few boards and works full-time for the Heenan Blaikie law firm (the offices in Quebec City are still called Heenan Blaikie Aubut).

"We all think that his work rhythm versus his waist size isn't a good equation, but that's his way of doing things," said Jean-Luc Brassard, a former Olympic mogul skier and medal winner who is assistant chef de mission of the Canadian delegation in Sochi.

Like many people, Brassard said, Aubut is far from perfect, but the upside of his style compensates for any downside.

"Sure, he loves the limelight," Brassard said. But athletes can detect when someone tries to live off their work and sacrifices, he said, and wouldn't tolerate Aubut if they felt he was an imposter. "We admire what he has done," Brassard said. "He brings results."

Although a federalist, Aubut has no overtly partisan leanings. Basically, he cozies up to whichever government happens to be in power, both in Ottawa and in the provinces.

The COC's executive director of communications until recently was Dimitri Soudas, a former director of communications to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, while his manager of media relations, Jane Almeida, worked in former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty's office - one Conservative and one Liberal. Chief executive officer Chris Overholt was a senior executive with the Miami Dolphins of the NFL. The COC recently hired Ray Lalonde, a former executive with the NHL's Montreal Canadiens and CFL's Montreal Alouettes, to replace Soudas.

"I don't compare to the average," Aubut said. "We compare ourselves to the best. And then we become the comparator."

There is an obvious overlap between Aubut's volunteer work with the COC and his day job as a lawyer and deal maker.

By working in the Olympics, Aubut hobnobs with the world's elite in splendid settings. They talk amateur sports, but also set up contacts that can eventually pay off. When he organized a 4,000-seat filet mignon feast in Quebec City in honour of former IOC president Jacques Rogge in 2012, the building was packed with one of the biggest contingents of CEOs and senior executives in Canada ever assembled.

Aubut, however, said "sports doesn't bring a lot" to his legal career, "except for the national respect that comes with the function." Although obviously wealthy - he is said to have pocketed $15-million on the sale of the Nordiques alone - he makes no apologies for his workaholic pace.

"I have to do both, given I'm still earning a living," he said. "I get nothing here financially as the biggest volunteer, which doesn't mean a lot when you go to the grocery store."

Still, Aubut acknowledged he will always need to feel needed. Not only does he want to go out with a bang - to see high Canadian medal counts, to play every shift as if it were his last - he wants to remain at the centre of something big.

"I'd be unhappy, I think, if I lost this feeling that people need me," he said. "I think I would feel a bit useless."

Separately, Dimitri Soudas and Eve Adams courted power. Together, they became embroiled in a bitter nomination battle in a crucial Tory riding in Ontario. Now, with an investigation under way and the Prime Minister watching, the duo is vowing to fight on.
Saturday, April 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A10

OTTAWA and HALIFAX -- It was a Friday night in early December when Prime Minister Stephen Harper convened a meeting of the Conservative Party's national council at 24 Sussex Dr., his official residence in Ottawa. About a dozen people, mostly council members and some senior party brass, attended the meeting, which was brief and free of Christmas cheer.

Mr. Harper told the group his former director of communications Dimitri Soudas, a loyal strategist, would be returning to the fold as the party's executive director. He said, according to one Tory insider, that Mr. Soudas was a good choice.

Immediately, though, some councillors raised concern about a potential conflict: Mr. Soudas' powerful new job was to manage and prepare the nomination races across the country, and his fiancée, Ontario MP Eve Adams, was seeking nomination in a new riding. This, they said, was a conflict.

The Prime Minister assured the attendees that Mr. Soudas would stay out of her nomination, and that Mr. Soudas was agreeable to signing a letter, prepared by party lawyer Arthur Hamilton, stating that fact.

So began the drama that has not only rattled the upper echelons of the governing Conservative Party's election machine, but also forced the political couple to confront allegations of wrongdoing - and the prospect of being reduced to pariah status within the very party they have called home for many years.

Prime Minister Harper last week asked the party to investigate allegations against Ms. Adams of improper conduct and unfair advantage in a heated Toronto-area nomination contest ahead of the 2015 election. Mr. Soudas, who was once the public face of the Prime Minister's Office, had just days before resigned from his senior post after extensive evidence arose showing he had violated the contractual pledge spoken of that December day at 24 Sussex.

The departure and the investigation have dominated Ottawa chatter in recent days, eliciting mixed views within a party and government that has faced the Senate scandal, the Duffy-Wright revelations, Jim Flaherty's resignation after eight years as finance minister and the Supreme Court of Canada's recent decision not to allow Mr. Harper's pick to sit on the the top bench.

The Globe and Mail compiled comments from about a dozen MPs about the nomination race and found a wide range of opinions, from those who believe Ms. Adams should face severe consequences if wrongdoing is determined, to those who think the party's handling of the situation speaks to its commitment to fairness.

Some spoke positively about Ms. Adams, among them Conservative MPs Brad Butt, Patrick Brown and Bev Shipley, while others focused on whether she broke the rules. "I don't care who it is - if it was the Prime Minister even - if anybody broke the rules, they gotta suffer the consequences. That's all I'm going to say," Conservative MP Larry Miller said.

The Prime Minister refused to address the issue this week when asked directly, calling it a party matter and pointing to the ongoing investigation.

Ms. Adams had initially refrained from publicly addressing the allegations, but spoke with The Globe briefly on Thursday, saying she looks forward to winning the newly carved-out Oakville North-Burlington riding, the scene of the nomination battle that led to this week's headlines. She had planned on giving a wide-ranging interview with The Globe on Friday, but the sit-down was cancelled because she was suffering the effects of a serious concussion that caused her to take leave of House of Commons duties in recent weeks.

Extensive conversations with those who know Mr. Soudas and Ms. Adams paint a picture of two ambitious people, neither one a stranger to controversy even before they became romantically involved.

Their lives have parallels: Both were born to immigrant parents, lost their fathers quite young, cut their hyper-partisan teeth early, worked in municipal politics, had children, parted ways with their spouses. Now, they are both - this time together - facing a critical moment that could define their political prospects as an Ottawa couple. They have vowed to fight on.

Ms. Adams, the 39-year-old daughter of Hungarian immigrants, Eva and the late Attila, has a resume that includes gas station attendant, Pizza Hut kitchen worker, Helicon Society spokeswoman, class of 1992-1993 parliamentary page and Ontario government staffer in the transportation ministry during the Mike Harris years. Her younger brother, Bill Horvath, said Ms. Adams paid her way through school at the University of Ottawa and the University of Western Ontario, and helped him and his brother with homework.

She wins races, whether it's claiming the crown as a Hungarian pageant queen in Ontario, a seat at Mississauga City Council by age 29, or her federal Mississauga-Brampton South riding in 2011. Then, the Sudbury-born politician was deemed a rising Conservative star, having beat out Liberal MP Navdeep Bains to help deliver Mr. Harper his coveted majority government. She was immediately made a parliamentary secretary, but has been passed over since. The 2013 cabinet shuffle, which was aimed at boosting the role of women and younger MPs in cabinet, saw four of eight female parliamentary secretaries promoted. Ms. Adams was not among them.

As an only child raised by a single mother named Georgia and his grandmother, Mr. Soudas was "restless, intense, gregarious ... a lightning rod," according to his longtime friend, Senator Leo Housakos, a fellow Greek Montrealer who is godfather to Mr. Soudas' four-year-old son. The two met some 25 years ago, back when a young Dimitri played ball hockey in the lane behind the home of Mr. Housakos' then-love interest and now-wife. Mr. Soudas, 34, has since gone on to earn a black belt second dan in judo.

Mr. Housakos and Mr. Soudas worked together politically, first at the Hellenic Congress of Quebec and later in Montreal municipal politics. Mr. Housakos later suggested Mr. Soudas for a job with Mr. Harper, who was at the time in opposition and hungry for a bilingual communications staffer. Mr. Soudas and Mr. Housakos, who was named to the Senate by Mr. Harper in 2008, were embroiled in 2011 in a controversy over the appointment of a new president at the Montreal Port Authority. The Prime Minister fended off calls for Mr. Soudas' resignation.

Mr. Housakos saw Mr. Soudas fall in love, marry, divorce and fall in love again. He describes his friend as intensely loyal, competent and cerebral. "In [the Oakville North-Burlington incident], his loyalty probably overtook and overcame his capacity to do what needed to be done," Mr. Housakos said. "He allowed his loyalty to overwhelm the cerebral part of himself."

Mr. Soudas told The Globe on Thursday, "I'm sorry to the Prime Minister for all the grief that this has caused," adding, "but ultimately in life you have to stand by the person that you care for and love in a difficult moment."

Mr. Soudas and Ms. Adams, both dyed-in-the-wool Conservatives who chose and proudly wore their political stripes at a young age, met professionally in May of 2011, shortly before Mr. Soudas announced he would be leaving as director of communications. He said then that he was leaving to spend more time with his wife and family, including a new baby, tweeting, "Priority 1 my wife and 3 kids." So when he parted ways with his spouse and news emerged that November that he was dating Ms. Adams, who had separated from her husband, there were those within the party who were put off and confused.

"That didn't sit well with many people," said one former political staffer who worked with Mr. Soudas on the Hill.

There were also those who said que sera, sera. "Life happens, right?" Mr. Butt said. "They found each other, and that's great. I wish them the best."

Ms. Adams, mother to an eight-year-old son, separated from Peter Adams in the summer of 2011, Mr. Adams said, noting they met through their Conservative activism. The two, who still co-own an Ottawa home, have not yet divorced and "still have some details to work out," Mr. Adams said, citing the MP's "dynamic schedule" for the delay in finalizing the split and saying, "we'll do it when we do it." Mr. Soudas divorced his wife several months ago.

"If you were to ask Eve or I, we're divorced," Mr. Adams said. "Eve and I are both moving on with our lives.... I wish Eve and Dimitri the best. There's no animosity."

Mr. Adams was Ms. Adams' campaign manager for the 2003, 2006 and 2010 Mississauga council elections and also for the 2011 election. He and her older brother were charged with possession of stolen property after two rival candidates' signs went missing, but those charges were dropped after he made a donation to charity. He denies any signs were stolen, and Ms. Adams said at the time, "I'm not interested in dirty politics."

The 2011 election had its own twists. This time, her paperwork was not in order by deadline. Records show she sought two extensions from Elections Canada, one for a late audit, another for permission to pay expenses more than a year later. She spent more than $25,000 - about one quarter of a roughly $106,000 budget - on phone-based campaigning during the race. Among the expenses Elections Canada authorized her campaign to pay later was $424.80 in spa treatments and a $260.71 Shopper's Drug Mart bill for products such as Neutrogena cleanser and whitening toothpaste. Elections Canada would have partly reimbursed such claims.

The latest news had its origins in February, 2013, when the commission redrawing Ontario's new electoral map, with added seats, released its first report. It created a new riding of Oakville North-Burlington. Three months later, Ms. Adams told a local newspaper she would move to, and run in, the new riding. Incidentally, the new riding is a safe seat, with 52 per cent of its electors voting Conservative in 2011.

Property records show Mr. Soudas took possession of a house in the riding in July of that year. That same month, the new map was finalized. The couple have since made that their home base on weekends and when the House is not sitting.

In the fall of 2013, Mr. Soudas ran unsuccessfully for Oakville's local Conservative riding association, which was largely won by supporters of Natalia Lishchyna, a chiropractor who is fighting Ms. Adams for the nomination. He soon took on the role of Conservative Party executive director.

Rumblings in the riding began when Conservatives started to receive mail from Ms. Adams in Oakville, which is within the rules for an MP, but odd, given it is not her current riding. Then there was a March 19 board meeting at which Ms. Adams allegedly verbally abused members and said she would use her access to party data to look up how much the president donated to the party annually, according to an April 1 letter from the riding association to the Prime Minister.

A standoff ensued while Mr. Soudas waited in the hallway to drive home Ms. Adams, who is recovering from the concussion she suffered following a fall outside an Ottawa restaurant after her fiancée "got a hankering for corned beef" late this winter.

Under Mr. Soudas, the executive director position was more powerful than when it was held by Dan Hilton, who performed a more bureaucratic role. Mr. Soudas, for example, reported directly to the Prime Minister.

Mr. Soudas, however powerful in that role, was not hired to run the 2015 campaign. "It wasn't like he was going to be in charge of the war room, or it wasn't like he was going to be the one that was doing up our ads or anything like that," the Tory insider said.

Mr. Soudas' resignation is among several departures from prominent posts in recent years. He left the Prime Minister's Office in June, 2011, and later that year took over communications at the Canadian Olympic Committee. He left the committee ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics to launch his own public-relations firm, Dimitri Soudas Communications. COC president Marcel Aubut praised Mr. Soudas' work and said the committee was "disappointed" when he left since his "contribution was absolutely huge."

Mr. Soudas is slated to return to the private sector and promises to work hard at helping his fiancée secure the nomination in the new riding.

Ms. Adams, for her part, is preparing a defence to submit to the party, but has so far refused to disclose what it says, saying she doesn't want to fight these battles in public. The party hasn't even formally opened the nomination race in Oakville North-Burlington. Once it does, both Ms. Adams and Ms. Lishchyna will need to have their candidacy approved to be accepted formally as candidates.

The MP says she's on the mend and will be back to work soon.

With reports from Steven Chase,

Jill Mahoney and Rick Cash

How a priest inspired an audacious bet
Bradley Shaw, CEO, Shaw Communications Inc.
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B3


Just call him the new-age cable guy.

Back in 2005, some five years before Bradley Shaw became chief executive officer of Shaw Communications Inc., he met a Tibetan holy man who taught him a lesson about leadership.

The man, a Buddhist high priest, invited Mr. Shaw and his wife, Michelle, to meet him in Calgary. Before entering the room, a translator cautioned the couple not to drop any object the man might offer because it would most certainly be blessed.

"I still have it - a little rock," Mr. Shaw says, recounting the story over lunch in his office. "He picks it up from the bedside table and chants on it for about a minute. And then he says 'Oh here.' ... I am holding it and Michelle starts to look at me. I am just totally red, and so I give her the rock ... I had third-degree burns on my hands."

Almost a decade later, Mr. Shaw remains mystified by the incident that left him soaking his hands in ice for two days. But the encounter taught him the value of being open to new experiences that test the truisms of his own worldview. Mr. Shaw has since travelled to Tibet a number of times to help fund an orphanage run by the holy man.

"Here's a guy who has meditated in the caves for eight years," Mr. Shaw says, poking at a tossed salad served from the company canteen. "We have a great friendship."

Reflecting on what he has learned, he adds: "The strength of leadership is being vulnerable, being compassionate. There is a power in that, not a weakness."

Striving to be vulnerable may seem odd for a man whose raison d'être is to crush the competition in the rough-and- tumble telecom market. Shaw, much like its cable peers, is grappling with challenges that include slowing growth in its core businesses. Not only are new television and Internet customers harder to find, but the company's chief rival, Telus Corp., is siphoning off market share in Western Canada.

Instead of resorting to the knockabout antics of times past, Mr. Shaw staged a retreat. Less than a year after becoming CEO, he nixed plans to launch a billion-dollar cellphone network, instead veering the company into the world of WiFi.

The new game plan was to build a less costly network of WiFi hot spots that would blanket key parts of the company's operating territories, providing smartphone and tablet-toting customers who subscribe to Shaw Internet with high-speed service on the go.

It was a strategic shift that still baffles some on Bay Street. Not only is WiFi only a partial substitute for a traditional smartphone plan, but Shaw's residential Internet customers are using it "free." But Shaw is wagering that WiFi will disrupt the business model for cellphone service. Usage is already skyrocketing in Canada, but customers are continually grousing about price increases on some smartphone plans.

For Mr. Shaw, WiFi is wireless 2.0 - an inventive but less risky weapon to win tomorrow's war for the West.

"We're playing a role in the data world right now in Western Canada. I am sure that [Telus CEO] Darren [Entwistle] is seeing that a little bit," Mr. Shaw says. "And we want to slowly grow that and build that. But we don't want to do that at any cost."

He's the first to admit that a maturing market is necessitating a more prudent approach on wireless at Shaw. During the 1990s and early 2000s, it was relatively easy for the company to ladle up market share by launching new products such as high-speed Internet and home phone.

These days, a "win" is more modest in scope - achieving growth of 2 to 4 per cent in EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization), while keeping a lid on capex.

"We have to realize where we're at as a company," Mr. Shaw says. "We have to realize where the market's at. ... We all like to win."

But critics question the merits of Shaw's strategy since its ability to make money off WiFi remains unclear. Dvai Ghose of Canaccord Genuity is blunt: "We view wireless as 1) the only significant growth driver in the sector; 2) an important hedge against cannibalization of fixed-line data and voice services; and 3) an essential weapon for cable-cos when competing against telcos."

Those who know Mr. Shaw say it would be a mistake to interpret his judicious approach as a signal that he is backing away from the long-term fight.

"I've never played poker against him and I wouldn't want to," says Edward Rogers, deputy chairman of Rogers Communications Inc. who considers Mr. Shaw a business associate and a family friend. "Because whenever you are in business and you're dealing with people, you tend to try to get a sense of what they're thinking by their expressions, their tone, their facial expression. ... He is a very thoughtful man, but he's hard to read - which I think is a strength."

Not only does he have his "own style," Mr. Shaw is "not afraid to make the choices that need to be made" even if that means going against the grain, Mr. Rogers added.

In fact, Mr. Shaw leaves one with the impression that he is anything but a conformist. He may be a Calgary establishment man who lives on a 160-acre ranch west of the city, but he doesn't put on airs. He laughs from his belly and talks with his hands.

The day we meet, he is dressed in brown slacks and a tan-coloured shirt - an everyman ensemble accessorized with a pair of eyeglasses perched on the top of his head.

He still gets his kicks by listening to classic rock and roll such as AC/DC and The Who. "That gets me all fired up coming into work, listening to a crazy tune," he says with a grin. "I like still like that banger stuff."

Mr. Shaw may be the family scion, but there is nothing ostentatious about his office. There is a rack of hand weights in a corner, a testament to a healthy lifestyle that includes eschewing beef and pork. "I try to eat as properly as I can as I am coming up to 50 years old. So, I am starting to make sure I am listening to my wife and my kids."

He and his wife, Michelle, will celebrate their 22nd anniversary this summer.

They have four children: daughters Sierra, 20, and Hannah, 9, and sons Phelan, 16, and Logan, 13.

Pictures of the kids, his own and those from the Tibetan orphanage, are prominently displayed. His youngest daughter has also left her mark on his whiteboard, decorating it with colourful hearts and a message reading "I love you Dad so much."

Work-life balance, he says, is the key to being a hands-on dad. "I try to go to every hockey game I can, every event they do. I try to take calls whenever they call in. ... Of course, my daughter just texts and thinks that I should respond immediately," he says.

Mr. Shaw is himself the youngest of four siblings. He never imagined that he would be the man in charge of the family business - growing up on a farm, he was more familiar with cattle than cable. He was about 14 before he really understood what his father did for a living.

The elder Mr. Shaw, however, was eager to leave a legacy for his kids. JR Shaw (formerly James Robert but now legally JR, with "no dots") founded Shaw in Edmonton as Capital Cable Television Co. Ltd. in 1966, later building an empire through his legendary "handshake deals."

Bradley Shaw cut his teeth as a customer service representative in 1987, before working his way up to various roles in the company's cable and satellite divisions.

"I remember my first cable management job was in Hinton, Alberta - 2,200 customers. I thought I was paralyzed, not really learning anything. I said to Dad, 'Is this really a learning opportunity? There's not a lot going on here.'"

But over the years, he did learn - especially from his father and his brother, Jim Shaw, who served as CEO from 1998 to 2010.

Jim is known as much for his pugnacious personality as his daring deal making.

Although preparations were already under way to hand the reins to his younger brother, Jim hastily resigned less than a week after an outburst at an investor lunch in Vancouver - a move that thrust Bradley Shaw into the CEO job two months ahead of schedule.

When Bradley took control, it became apparent that the two men couldn't be more different. Even so, Mr. Shaw says his brother left big shoes to fill.

"I think with Jim it is just his sheer willingness to just drive the business and as he says 'call the ball' and 'my give-a-shit button's broken' and all of those things," Mr. Shaw says.

"And the time was perfect for our company because we were consolidating, we were growing. So, I just had a real sense of wow - to have the balls and guts for some of the calls he made."

When asked how his management style is different from that of his brother and his dad, Mr. Shaw chortles. "They'll probably kill me for this article," he starts.

"Well, Jim is very controlling. You know, and very much wanted to manage every little piece of things. ... For me, I am much more giving of the information. I want to allow people to grow. I am not going to be one to micromanage you."

Although he believes he is more "easy going" than his father, "They tell me I am a little impatient."

Mr. Shaw hasn't said how long he plans to serve as CEO. But he is not counting on his own kids, or those of his siblings for that matter, to take over the family business.

"When I leave ... well, will someone actually be capable? I don't think so," he says. "It's been JR, Jim and then myself. And then I really see professional management after this. As a time frame, as we've talked about, no one is going to be ready. We were fortunate to grow up in the business at the right size and the right level. And moved into that as we grew. So, it's different."



On speculation about Shaw buying Corus Entertainment Inc.: "The family might be able to get a bit of money, but that doesn't make sense from a business and strategy and a growth point of view because I'm not sure we'd spend the $2- or $2.5-billion or whatever it would be."

On speculation about Rogers buying Shaw: "I think you're always open to looking at where is the opportunity, what makes sense. ... I'm not sure in this regulatory environment what that looks like and what the possibility of that is. I think you look at us. We're an operating family. We all operate. We're very much involved in the day-to-day operations. We're not an investor."

On whether Shaw will

proceed with its spectrum transfer deal with Rogers in September, despite Ottawa's wireless policies: "We've got a deal with Rogers and we're going to continue down that path. ... As we look at September ... I think we have some time beyond that [where] the agreement is still live. ... I think we're pretty clearly going to get the message in September of which way this is going to land."

On foreign investment rules for telecom: "I've always said in the past that we want to be treated fairly. So if we're going to look at telecom, we should be looking at cable at the same time. We don't want to be disadvantaged. We want access to foreign capital if the competitors do."

Rita Trichur

'Mystical' businessman saw future in TV
Ever a maverick, he founded a newspaper, created a counterculture radio station and brought 24-hour television to North America
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S10

On Dec. 4, 1976, a Weekend magazine article asked: "Is the world ready for a mystic ... with a broadcasting empire and liquid gold in his veins?" The mystic in question was Geoff Stirling and the reference was to an unconventional treatment for arthritis Mr. Stirling said had cured him, but the description aptly suggests both his Midas touch and his image as an enigmatic visionary.

Legend, maverick and pioneer were words frequently applied to Mr. Stirling, who died on Dec. 21 at 92. Indeed, he revolutionized radio and television broadcasting in Newfoundland and Labrador, unifying the province as never before. He had an incredible instinct for predicting the next big thing, from satellite TV to the price of gold.

"He just sees things that other people can't," his son Scott told The Globe and Mail's Report On Business magazine in December, 2004. "He's not afraid to try something everyone else believes will fail."

Mr. Stirling wanted to be rich, not out of greed, but because that meant he could be free. He travelled the world and experimented, letting loose his tremendous curiosity on technologies and philosophies.

As a journalist and publisher in his 20s, he would work 24-hour shifts, bank a wealth of copy and fly from Gander to New Orleans or Capri.

Deeply spiritual, he would spend months travelling in India, meet with holy men and religious figures all over the world, fast for 40 days and meditate regularly.

He also wrote In Search of a New Age, a personal treatise whose 16 chapters include guidance on "Mind and Thought" and "Be-Do-Think." His beliefs could seem quirky. He once hired an executive because he was an Aries.

His business innovations, however, were sharp and prescient, including introducing 24-hour television to North America, bringing colour TV to Newfoundland, putting 24-hour English-language AM radio on the air in Montreal and planting the seeds of music videos by playing footage of rock performances during commercial breaks.

Many of his staff never saw him from one year to the next, but they got used to 4 a.m. phone calls. ("Where are you?" was always their first question.) Sometimes he called because he was watching NTV on satellite and would request a specific piece of programming or a particular visual effect. All Newfoundland would then view what he requested.

"I'm not Howard Hughes, because Howard Hughes is invisible. And I'll never be invisible," journalist Alexander Ross quoted Mr. Stirling as saying, in a profile in the early 1970s. Mr. Ross also noted Mr. Stirling's "mystical quality," which he shared with some fellow entrepreneurs (including Polaroid's Edwin Land), who "took an almost existential approach to the process of risk-taking," and who were even somewhat uninterested in money.

Indeed, Mr. Stirling never kept his business intuitions to himself, for example encouraging his fellow Newfoundlanders to buy gold in the early 1970s, because he felt its price would rise, which it did, from $35 (U.S.) an ounce in 1970 to a peak of $875 (U.S.) in 1980.

Adventuresome and bold, Mr. Stirling was known for his rock-star aura. Part of it was pure genetics, as he was very handsome.

But he also had a certain kind of eccentric charm that made people pay attention, leading him to cross paths with figures such as John Lennon and (almost) Fidel Castro.

Geoffrey William Stirling was born March 22, 1921, to Edgar, a businessman who owned the popular Stirling's Restaurant on Water Street, and Ethel (Uphill), of Salisbury, England. She had travelled to Newfoundland to visit her twin brother, when her ship, the HMS Bruce, ran aground and the passengers had to walk over the ice floes to reach land. The Stirlings named their first child Bruce. Then came Geoff, Enid and Rex. The boys attended Bishop Feild School in St. John's and Mr. Stirling also attended Chatham House in Ramsgate, England, for a year.

When he was 14, Mr. Stirling's mother was killed and his father seriously injured in a car accident on the way home from her birthday party. It was a shocking loss with a terrible parallel, as Mr. Stirling's daughter Kimberly would also die in a car accident, in 1977, when she was only 19.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Mr. Stirling was a star athlete in track and field, introducing "the western roll" to the high jump. His high-jump record stood for decades and he is in Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.

He also did a year of pre-law at the University of Tampa. But he was bored.

In the 1940s, as the Newfoundland National Convention debated Newfoundland's political future, he co-founded, with Ches Crosbie and Don Jamieson, the Economic Union Party, which opposed Confederation and advocated closer ties between Newfoundland and the United States. Their slogan was, "Don't Sell Your Country for Six Cents a Meal" and Mr. Stirling's campaign tactics including meeting every U.S. senator.

Despite this early clash with the pro-Confederation stance of then-premier Joseph Smallwood, Mr. Stirling went on to run provincially for his Newfoundland Reform Liberal Party in 1975.

He and Mr. Smallwood were often on different sides politically, but there were also odd convergences between their outlooks and personalities, and they were lifelong friends.

For example, in 1946 Mr. Stirling used $1,000 he had saved working for his father to buy 60 tonnes of newsprint, and founded the Sunday Herald (now The Newfoundland Herald), an American-style tabloid.

Most people, including Mr. Smallwood, told him it wouldn't work. Mr. Stirling had some experience freelancing with The Chicago Tribune and Time magazine (and writing a sports column for the Daily News while a student at Bishop Feild).

He wrote, printed, sold ads and delivered the paper. The front page headlines of the first issue, dated May 12, read: "Hitler's Son Alive in Germany," and "Movie Company May Film National Convention."

The paper also broke stories, such as the hourly wage differential between Americans and Newfoundlanders working on the U.S. military bases, which was $4 versus $1.25, because of a decree from the British-appointed Commission of Government, which administered Newfoundland's affairs from 1933 to 1949.

The Commission responded by passing an order-in-council forbidding anyone to advertise with The Herald.

But the newspaper thrived on circulation. The initial 10,000 press run sold out. Mr. Stirling's marketing strategies, very much part of this success, were way outside any box; for example, he would drop bundles of Heralds on the ice floes for the seal hunters.

In 1950, he and Mr. Jamieson started CJON radio. In 1955, this became CJON TV (now NTV, "Canada's Superstation"). Mr. Stirling handled the business end while Mr. Jamieson, later a provincial Liberal Party leader and a member of Pierre Trudeau's federal cabinet, was the public voice of the nightly "News Cavalcade."

As Mr. Stirling told The Herald, he expected TV to "take over. It had music, it had sound, it had everything." Later on, switching to colour was "a big accomplishment" and helped further distinguish it from CBC, the only other channel, which was still black and white. By the late 1960s, he owned five Newfoundland stations, each with its own licence. NTV is the only Canadian station with deals to broadcast both CanWest Global and CTV programming. Its audience share was huge. The newsroom, with its slogan "First with the news in Newfoundland," held the dominant market share as a source of information.

In the 1960s, when FM radio played easy-listening and light classical music, and car radios didn't even pick up FM signals (listeners had to buy a special set), Mr. Stirling bought CHOM-FM in Montreal. By 1969, it had become a counterculture rock station, featuring repeated plays of Abbey Road, throws of the I Ching and meditative chants. He called it "tribal radio."

That year, he interviewed John Lennon at Apple Studios. While vacationing in London with his son Scott, Mr. Stirling introduced himself to the former Beatle by telexing: "I've heard your Come Together, so here I am," from the Londonderry Hotel. "John and Yoko invited us over and we spent two days with them," Scott wrote in an e-mail. "Geoff invited them to Montreal and when they arrived they had their 'bed in' and recorded Give Peace A Chance."

Five years later, in another adventure, Mr. Stirling and Mr. Smallwood travelled to Cuba for a prearranged meeting with Fidel Castro. The encounter was postponed, however, and instead the two talked by a hotel pool about what would happen at the meeting, which ultimately never took place. The result was Waiting for Fidel (1974, directed by Michael Rubbo), a piece of avant-garde documentary filmmaking said to have inspired Michael Moore.

Although his personal travels and business dealings took him well beyond the borders of Newfoundland (his holdings included AM and FM radio stations in Montreal, Windsor, Ottawa and Arizona), he always had particularly strong opinions when it came to his home province. As for TV programming, Mr. Stirling felt that what Newfoundlanders wanted was American shows, such as The Young and Restless and Survivor. So, when the CRTC insisted NTV produce more Canadian content, he resisted.

"I'm not anti-anything. I'm just pro-Newfoundland," Mr. Stirling told ROB magazine. "I'm sure that if NTV were sold to a national company, we'd lose our sovereignty, which is the only sovereignty we have right now - television and radio owned by Newfoundlanders."

But while he played down the importance of Canadian content for his TV stations, he felt strongly that kids need homegrown superheroes. "Canada has no superheroes," he once told Downhome magazine. "It has the flag and the Mounties. Not that I'm putting down the Mounties. The only thing [young kids have] got now are American superheroes." So he helped create the graphic novel Atlantis, introducing Captain Atlantis (a.k.a. Captain Newfoundland - another melding of his business instincts, offbeat passions and Newfoundland patriotism), a mascot for NTV. The first issue sold 10,000 copies.

Mr. Stirling, who lived in Arizona and Torbay, just north of St. John's, was very generous, but quiet about it. In 1988, for example, he helped found the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Historical Society, with a grant of $5,000 toward research. Another time, he purchased a specially designed car for a neighbour with a disabled child, with the salesman strictly sworn to secrecy. His philanthropy was constant and thoughtful.

He never stopped championing Newfoundland. He believed it could soar. "Our biggest problem is naiveté and modesty, really," he told Downhome.

Beyond that, he thought any individual could soar. "You consider that your brain is 97 per cent hydrogen and oxygen and there's not a cell in your body that's more than seven years old and the planet, which is travelling at 79,000 miles an hour, is surrounded by 12 miles of hydrogen and oxygen," he told Downhome. "Therefore, as we put ourselves in context of where we are and what we are, we start to comprehend a lot more of the reality of this life."

Though he sounded far out at times, Mr. Stirling could also be very straightforward and down to earth.

"I'd like to be remembered as a nice guy who tried to do the best he could, someone who never tried to hurt someone and someone who worked hard," he told The Herald in 2009.

He added in a later interview, "To me, the first priority was always Newfoundland." And his life? It was "fascinating."

Predeceased by his daughter Kimberley, Mr. Stirling leaves his wife of 57 years, Joyce (Cutler), children Scott, Ann, Greg and Shawn, and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Mr. Stirling's first wife, Jean Fox Stirling, also survives him.

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In Davos, the battle lines are drawn
Growth has returned but as unemployment persists a new sense of dread is settling over the world's elites. Even Google's top brass concedes there's a rising conflict between people and computers: 'It's important the humans win'
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F5

DAVOS, SWITZERLAND -- The Google Club Lounge is a step removed from Davos, in distance and spirit.

Anchored in a new hotel, high above town, it seems designed to send a message. The customized pad has sliding doors, fireplaces, a long bar and panoramic views of the Alps, as if to say, "all you governments meeting down in the valley can't see the future."

This evening, the Lounge is also a hotbed of debate.

Eric Schmidt, the tall and strapping executive chairman of Google, is in a verbal tussle with Martin Wolf, the shorter and rotund economics guru from the Financial Times, over - and only in Davos could this be called an "It" party - productivity. Like a school master at exam time, Mr. Wolf is distressed by the world's inability to generate more growth and more jobs, and it's all because we can't find a way to be more productive. Every banker in the room seems to agree with him. Mr. Schmidt doesn't. He says we're using the wrong numerator, that we're all producing lots more than we know thanks to, well, Google, and a lot of other disruptive technologies. We're producing more, consuming more, enjoying more.

As the Google crowd nibbles on prosciutto and sips Chablis, there isn't much room for the fusty old views of John Maynard Keynes, that in such times of distress it's the role of the state to guide the economy and create jobs. At this party, the hidden economic god is Joseph Schumpeter, the author of "creative destruction."

In Schumpeter's day, high-speed freight trains were ruining small-town America, and lots of jobs along the way. Suck it up, was the economist's message. Those trains would help build a new economy rooted in cities and factories, and a scary new threat called supply chains, across the land.

Once again, the argument between creative destruction and state-funded stability is the talk of policy makers, who have woken up to a new year of economic growth around the world and yet a dreaded sense that this global expansion will not bring nearly enough jobs and wage increases to satisfy any public. It's a tension not seen, perhaps, since the late 1930s, when Schumpeter made his case and a three-decade-long burst of innovation proved him right. For then.

Another machine revolution is upon us. There is a new wave forming behind the past decade's surge of mobile technology, with disruptive technologies like driverless cars and automated personal medical assistants that will not only change lifestyles but rattle economies and change pretty much every assumption about work.

The talk of one Davos session this week was 3-D printers - for housing. A prototype, it was claimed, is already printing small houses fit for human habitation. Within five years, the entire construction industry could be replaced by a phalanx of printers. Goodbye, a million construction jobs. Hello, a thousand code-writers.

"It's a race between humans and computers," Mr. Schmidt tells another audience, in another hotel room, over another meal. "And it's important the humans win."

The state of the state

Davos is a tranquil mountain town that seems perfectly content and productive 51 weeks of the year. Then comes this week in January when the World Economic Forum descends on it and brings along every problem known to mankind. Never mind the pristine, snow-capped Alps, sausage stands and tourists walking the boulevard, skis on shoulders; there's round-the-clock debate about death and disease, terrorism, cyber-attacks, financial collapses and private wars.

Inside the high-security zone, billionaires (S. Schwarzman), economists (J. Sachs), movie stars (M. Damon), prime ministers (B. Netanyahu), rock-star commentators (T. Friedman), even aging rock stars (P. Gabriel) seem eager to take on problems that most of them won't be going home to.

But this year may be different, paradoxically so. For the first time in five years, the world does not seem to be in a financial or economic crisis. The U.S. economy is looking to hit 3 per cent growth this year. Europe is back in the black. Even Spain mustered a quarter of growth recently. In Asia, Japan is threatening to roar, and China and India are doing fine.

For all the talk of growth, though, the global economy is also in an employment morass that has the smartest people in the room humbled and anxious. The rebound is not producing jobs and pay increases to the degree that many of them expected. Most governments are tapped out, fiscally, and can only call on the private sector - "the innovators" - to do more.

That in itself seems humbling. Davos was the place where governments often found succor, in a cacophony of panels, speeches and forums that seemed to usually conclude with the view that a government - democratic or theocratic, clean or corrupt - had good reason to go home and get on with it.

Of course, after 9/11, governments coming here expressed dismay at their seeming inability to fight the new enemy. State warfare was gone. Then came the financial crash of 2008, and the state was back. Bailouts, crackdowns, virtual printing presses for money - the interventionists had their day in the Swiss sun.

But rather than a celebration, these countries are all owning up to a new challenge, as amorphous and yet more insidious than anything else on the agenda. You wander into the Google Club and sense that much of what Davos has known is coming unglued.

Worker, disrupted

Here's what the world may look like, sometime in the 2020s, which for this crowd is tomorrow:

The Internet changing the functioning of everything. Your hearing aid. Your snow shovel. Your shoes. Everything will be programmed, monitored and designed for what's called "process optimization," meaning a machine will run your life.

Advanced materials changing the shape of everything, from airplanes (they have to be cylindrical because of aluminum) to rooftops (they have to be angled because of lumber). More mind-bending (literally): bioprinted organs based on stem-cell materials.

Artificial intelligence changing the job of everyone. Emerging intelligent software can handle unstructured commands and rely on what we humans call judgment. Siri is about to get a PhD.

The consulting firm McKinsey & Company has tried to calculate how much the coming wave of disruptive technologies will change the global economy, and figures a dozen innovations like these could, by 2025, create up to $33-trillion a year in new economic activity. That's $3,300 for every expected person on the planet.

It's heady stuff for consumers and entrepreneurs. Goods and services will be cheaper, and easier to use. And anyone with a sound, scalable idea - plus venture capital - will be able to eat the lunch of vast industries. Banks, universities and drug stores may yet get to taste the bitter pill of disruption that media, retail and phone companies have swallowed.

Which is where the worry of government becomes evident.

If a 3-D printer can kneecap your construction industry, or an AI-powered sensor put to pasture half your nurses, what hope is there for old-fashioned job creation?

The new digital divide - it used to be about access, now it's about employment - stands to further isolate the millions of long-term jobless people in Europe and North America, many of whom have left the workforce and won't be getting calls when jobs come back.

Some governments see this as a call for an overhaul of their education systems, to be replaced by lifelong learning programs that assume much of the population will be back in class at age 40, 50 and 60, and probably for a good many hours in between. Globally, there are an estimated 200-million unemployed. A Davos forum on the issue was told that number could hit 250 million by 2018.

In an age of economic upheaval, history indicates most employment will come from new enterprises, ones that don't exist today, as the old ones - including government - batten down their hatches. In Canada, spurring such enterprise has left government planners flummoxed, just as they were a generation ago. With notable exceptions, venture capital remains as foreign as four-down football, something Canadian entrepreneurs go to Boston or San Francisco to find.

However it is spurred, innovation and enterprise is what everyone is looking for. Even the Chinese here are bemoaning their insufficient creative class, fearing what, say, the Koreans might come up with.

A tribal war

During another period of global upheaval, the Industrial Revolution, a French economist named Jean-Baptiste Say popularized a theory that says successful products create their own demand. Say's Law is again in vogue, often cited in debates about the iPad. No one asked for the iPad, or perhaps even needed it, but we all wanted one once tablets were on the market. And we found ways to pay for it, either insisting on paying less for other products or working harder to make more money, often using an iPad to do so.

That is a pollyannaish view that the technology enthusiasts might endorse.

Not Keynes, however. He was among the fervent critics of Say's Law, for reasons that might just be playing out in Canada today.

All this creative chaos not only drives down prices, the argument goes, it spooks businesses and individuals who fear more disruption and so horde what they can. As prices fall further, disinflation sets in, a problem highlighted this week by the Bank of Canada, as it sent the dollar tumbling. Consumers stop buying as they wait for new and better things at even lower prices. And instead of investing in job-enhancing technologies and expanding exports, businesses are hording cash. As in Japan, many will see that as reason for more government intervention, to keep the economy as we know it going.

In Davos, those two scenarios are taking shape, like tribal forces on opposing mountainsides. The coming waves of innovation will show who's right, whether government - having saved the financial system - should now get out of the way of a new industrial revolution. Or whether those states need to step it up, spending tax money on training, helping pick winning technologies and pumping consumers with even more credit to buy what the innovators are creating. At least for now there is general agreement with Eric Schmidt's take on the race between humans and machines - "that it's important the humans win."

John Stackhouse is the Editor-in-Chief of The Globe and Mail.



In the Swiss mountain resort of Davos this week, actress Goldie Hawn was talking up the benefits of meditation to a group of executives as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a packed audience that his country had no plans to acquire nuclear weapons.

It was but another ordinary day at the World Economic Forum, the annual gathering of the global elite.

Founded in 1971 by German engineer and economist Klaus Schwab, the forum has morphed from its early days as a smallish business-focused conference to a broad - though exclusive - vehicle for global betterment. Its earnest motto: "Committed to Improving the State of the World."

Among the 2,500 rich and influential participants this year are more than 30 heads of state, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and British Prime Minister David Cameron, along with a bevy of central bankers, CEOs, academics, leaders of non-governmental organizations and journalists.

Despite its serious-mindedness, the schmooze-fest is known for its lavish champagne-fuelled private parties. It's also not immune to glitter - Irish rocker Bono is a regular - leading to criticism about its legitimacy.

Still, advocates argue that plunking the globe's movers and shakers in a sleepy alpine village fosters the kind of unparalleled opportunities for networking, innovation and diplomacy that the world needs.

Jill Mahoney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Where to eat in Bangkok (and what to have)

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

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

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


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

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

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

A bellboy at the hotel.

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

Kitimat's modern-day LNG gold rush
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S4

KITIMAT, B.C. and VICTORIA -- The Silja Festival once sailed the Baltic Sea, carrying passengers who left the working world behind when they stepped aboard.

Today, the 171-metre former cruise ship is anchored in the deep-water port of Kitimat, where it is being retrofitted as accommodation for up to 450 workers whose closets will contain safety boots and hard hats rather than evening wear.

The ship, which pulled into harbour last month, is the clearest sign of a boom in the city, which has a history that is inextricably linked to industrial development and now sits at the heart of a modern-day gold rush, this one to send B.C.'s natural gas in liquefied form to energy-hungry customers in Asia.

Onshore, the signs are just as clear. The town's two main hotels are booked to capacity, with some renovated units going for $275 a night.

Three of the town's four doctors have stopped accepting new patients, housing prices have jumped by more than 50 per cent in the past year, and the vacancy rate is close to zero.

At the animal shelter, meeting rooms and even a washroom have been commandeered as shelter for dozens of cats and kittens that have arrived this spring, some dropped off by tearful owners who had to move after their rent increased.

And that is with just one major development under way - Rio Tinto Alcan's $3.3-billion (U.S.) Kitimat Modernization Project. The real boom has not even begun.

"We have had workers dispatched to that [KMP] job that don't have a place to stay," said Tom Sigurdson, executive director of the B.C. Building Trades.

"We filled the labour commitment, but they need a place to sleep."

It is not the first time employers have had to scramble to house workers here; 60 years ago, people brought in to help build the original Alcan smelter stayed on a ship called the Delta King. (In a nod to that history, the Silja Festival will be dubbed the Delta Spirit Lodge for its time at Kitimat.)

But the ship is a daily floating reminder of challenges that have implications far beyond the city, which in 2007 posted the greatest population decline in the country.

That trend has now reversed. The province has pencilled in five LNG plants it believes will require 75,000 workers at the peak of construction, which could come within two years.

An estimated $165-billion worth of projects - pipelines, mines and LNG plants - are forecast to be under way by 2023, most in the north.

Investment decisions by the likes of British Gas, Petronas and Chevron - just a few of the companies with LNG proposals on the books - depend on the provincial tax regime, lining up customers and regulatory approvals.

They also depend on engineers, electricians, welders and a host of other workers.

The scramble to make sure those people are available, housed and fed, in the midst of grappling with issues such as First Nations economic goals, temporary foreign workers, and aging, inadequate infrastructure, makes Kitimat a bellwether for development in Canada and abroad.

If B.C.'s LNG-related labour policies are poorly designed or put in place too late, the province could end up like Australia, where fierce competition for workers drove up wages, but also resulted in a huge share of the jobs going to foreigners.

Liberal Premier Christy Clark has promised an overhaul of the provincial skills training system to ensure the maximum number of British Columbians will be in line for LNG and other industrial jobs in the northwest.

She has also promised a B.C.-first policy to ensure that people in the province who want to work, can.

The second tier will be from the rest of Canada. To that end, B.C. officials are talking to the Atlantic and Western provinces to harmonize apprenticeship requirements to help smooth the flow of employees.

The province is also negotiating with Ottawa to ensure immigration rules will not block workers from outside Canada.

To bolster the ranks of skilled labour, B.C.'s LNG employment plan calls for 25 per cent of trades jobs on the projects to be filled by apprentices.

The plan also recommends the province consider an apprentice quota for public infrastructure projects, a step designed to produce new qualified journeymen by the time LNG projects are ready to break ground.

Such measures are essential if B.C. and Canada are to benefit fully from LNG projects, said business owner and District of Kitimat Councillor Phil Germuth.

He would like the province to offer more financial incentives, both to employers to hire apprentices and to students who sign up for apprenticeship programs.

"They need to put more incentives in," Mr. Germuth said, adding that he got government support when he was a young apprentice.

"I think a lot of the incentives and benefits have been taken away, for the employer and the worker too."

While the much-touted LNG projects have yet to materialize, Rio Tinto Alcan's smelter upgrade is providing a case study in what to expect.

The project formally kicked off in 2011 after more than a decade of discussions and will nearly double the capacity of the existing 60-year-old smelter.

Currently, about 1,000 Kitimat Modernization Project employees live in Kitimat or elsewhere in the region.

About 1,700 construction workers live in a trailer camp near the smelter site.

Later this month, as the construction labour force peaks, as many as 450 workers will begin moving onto the cruise ship.

The vessel is a necessary stop-gap measure, said Gaby Poirier, general manager of B.C. operations for Rio Tinto Alcan.

Brought in on a nine-month contract, with an option to extend for another three if required, the ship will allow Rio Tinto Alcan to provide the standard of housing that workers desire without putting more pressure on home prices or scarce rental accommodation.

"We took the responsible decision - to make sure we don't put [stress] on the city. That's why we did it," Mr. Poirier said.

Once the upgraded smelter is complete - scheduled for 2015 - it will employ about 1,000 workers, most of whom already live in Kitimat or nearby, so the housing crunch is expected to be short-term.

But other projects, with head counts of 1,500 and higher, could be around the corner.

Mr. Poirier, who worked at Alcan operations in Quebec before moving to Kitimat last year, said he is not too worried about losing KMP "operations" workers to competitors if the LNG boom materializes.

About 70 per cent of KMP employees are shareholders, enhancing employee stability, and Alcan ties run deep in the community.

Some people's work history with the company goes back four generations.

Mr. Poirier said his biggest priority is safety - unsurprising at a workplace that has its own railway, and where a passing "cruce," or crucible, filled with four tonnes of molten aluminum heated to more than 900 degrees, demands and gets the right of way.

But he is also attuned to hiring and retention, as shown by a March visit to the engineering faculty at the University of Victoria.

Mr. Poirier welcomed the chance to pitch training and employment opportunities in the north and, at the urging of B.C. Advanced Education Minister Amrit Virk, used his own experience as an example.

Married, with a young family, Mr. Poirier said he was drawn to Kitimat by the opportunity to oversee a world-class smelter but also by the recreational opportunities, civic infrastructure and spectacular landscape.

He plans to return for another visit to UVic in the fall with Mr. Virk.

Long-time physician Howard Mills would like to ensure that people have access to a doctor and health services if and when they arrive.

Dr. Mills, who moved to Kitimat in 1981, is the longest-serving general practitioner in the district, and also, with his wife, runs Minette Bay Lodge, a seven-room fishing camp.

Kitimat's 22-bed hospital is at capacity, and health services in Terrace are also under pressure, Dr. Mills said in a recent e-mail.

The region needs more nurses, midwives, occupational therapists and other health-care staff.

Three of four general practitioners in Kitimat have stopped seeing new patients, Dr. Mills said, and the only reason he sees new ones is that he worries if he does not, they will wind up at the emergency room, which is already overloaded.

He is working with investors on a proposal to build a new medical clinic that would cater largely to the expected influx of industrial workers.

The proposed facility would provide walk-in service for patients who do not have a local doctor and would involve International SOS, a medical services company that already provides service to the KMP project in Kitimat, Dr. Mills said.

"Discussions are ongoing with RTA, Chevron, Shell and others, and with our ability to look after their needs, and with their support, the clinic should be open to patients by mid 2015," he said.

The Haisla Nation is also making plans.

Based in Kitamaat Village at the head of the Douglas Channel, the 1,700-member Haisla Nation is part of the Douglas Channel Energy Partnership, an LNG proposal, and has business ventures in transportation, accommodation and other services.

Since the smelter upgrade began, Rio Tinto Alcan has poured about $200-million into Haisla-owned businesses or joint ventures, including Bridgemans Services, which brought the Silja Festival to town.

The unemployment rate among the Haisla, once hovering at 50 per cent or higher, is now virtually nil, Haisla Councillor Ellis Ross said.

High on council's priorities is more on-reserve housing, a long-standing issue that has become more pressing as young people return to the community to take jobs that did not exist a decade ago.

"We've always had a housing problem, and now that we have some resources at our disposal, we're actually starting to look at how do we resolve that issue on our own terms instead of relying totally on government money," Mr. Ross said.

Some of those resources came through a deal with the province that allowed the Haisla to acquire a parcel of Crown land to use for an LNG facility.

Other First Nations have recently signed LNG revenue-sharing agreements, part of a provincial approach designed to spur aboriginal economies.

The Haisla also have a stake in the Kitimat Valley Institute, a private agency that provides industry-required training in, for example, site security and orientation.

By offering such training close to home, the facility increases employment opportunities for local residents, especially First Nations people who might otherwise not have the required skills to land a job.

Beginning last month, the institute has been pumping 210 people a week through site orientation programs required for the smelter upgrade project - work that has required taking over space at a nearby golf club to accommodate the crews.

The institute has gone from two to nine full-time instructors and does not see business slacking off any time soon, business and development manager Jodie Cook said.

"Just like everyone else is ramping up - we are trying to do the same."

Just For Laughs has defied Broadway's long odds and become a bona fide player with two back-to-back smash hits and two more promising shows on the way. How 32-year-old Adam Blanshay went from listening to show tunes in Montreal to being one of the hottest producers on the Great White Way
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R1

NEW YORK -- It's lunchtime at Bond 45, the upscale Italian eatery just around the corner from Times Square that's frequented by Broadway's biggest movers and shakers and is the setting for martini-throwing producers in the NBC series Smash. The CEO of Just for Laughs Theatricals is at his regular table, ignoring the off-menu salad he ordered - and holding back tears.

Even if the Canadian producer wasn't sitting there, you'd know it was his table: "Adam Blanshay" is engraved on a nameplate affixed to the floor, alongside one for Tony winner Michael Cerveris, and another for David Furnish (an executive producer on husband Elton John's Billy Elliot).

JFL Theatricals, a new division of the Montreal comedy powerhouse that Blanshay launched just last January, has hit the Broadway jackpot with the first two shows it's ever co-produced. Both the $13.5-million (U.S) crowd-pleasing musical Kinky Boots and the $3.1-million critic-wowing double bill of Twelfth Night and Richard III (imported from England) have beat long odds to turn a profit on the Great White Way - a place where, by some estimates, a mere one one in eight shows ever manages to make its way into the black.

There's beginner's luck - and then there's rolling a 64-sided die and predicting the number it lands on. "Not many startups can project a profit after a year of operations," the 32-year-old producer tells me as we sit down to talk about the next big New York projects that JFL Theatricals will be co-producing. Both are movies-turned-musicals, and both are good bets to be Tony contenders this spring: Rocky the Musical, whose final fight scene, in the show's tryout in Germany, is a coup de théâtre that's been compared to the chandelier scene in Phantom; and Bullets Over Broadway, Woody Allen's adaptation of his own love letter to 1920s theatre.

So, why has the conversation taken an emotional turn. And why are Blanshay's eyes welling up?

Because for him, Kinky Boots (with its score by Cyndi Lauper and book by Harvey Fierstein), now a member of the million-dollar-a-week club alongside the likes of Wicked and The Book of Mormon, is about more than the weekly grosses. It's about audiences from near and far flocking to see a musical that tells the story of an intrepid drag queen who helps save a struggling, small-town shoe factory; it's about a message of acceptance finding enormous resonance. And it's about how much has changed since Blanshay was a gay teenager searching for acceptance.

Cue those tears.

But let's start with the business, before the personal. In fact, Blanshay, born and raised in the affluent Montreal enclave of Westmount, is part a pack of Quebec cultural entrepreneurs who have suddenly and somewhat surprisingly become behind-the-curtain stars of a whole lot of Broadway theatre. Even before JFL Theatricals came into being, Blanshay had been involved in a number of productions (not all of them successful, by any means) on the Great White Way. The same June evening that Kinky Boots nabbed the Tony for best new musical, the statuette for best musical revival went to a production of Pippin centred around the circus choreography of Montreal's Les 7 doigts de la main. And, just last week, Cirque du Soleil announced its own new division dedicated to developing musicals for New York and beyond.

At the same time, over in London - where the financial risks and rewards involved in commercial theatre are a fraction of those in New York - JFL Theatricals, which Blanshay co-owns with the founder of the Just for Laughs comedy festival, Gilbert Rozon, is invested in a half-dozen shows, ranging from a revival of Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts to the upcoming I Can't Sing: The X Factor Musical in the West End.

But a major goal of Blanshay's is to move to lead producer on shows in London and New York. As well, he'd like to begin tapping into the infrastructure of the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal in order to bring Broadway and West End shows home to Canada, and to develop new ones that could be exported to the rest of the world in French or English. As proved by Europe's Stage Entertainment - the lead producer on Rocky, which has developed the Broadway-bound musical with German lyrics, in the city of Hamburg - language is no longer a barrier to infiltrating an industry that may be called "Broadway" but that has its eyes as much on taking musicals to South Korea as to making money in New York.

The story of JFL Theatricals is really a continuation of the story of Adam Blanshay's abiding love of theatre, born when his aunt and uncle returned from a trip to England in the 1980s with a double cassette of the original cast album of Phantom of the Opera. Soon enough, the preteen Blanshay had worn out his own copy and convinced his parents - Roni, a jewellery designer; and Edward, a corporate lawyer who now handles JFL Theatricals' legal work - to take him to see the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical in New York.

As Blanshay entered his teens, musical theatre became an escape from some of the difficulties that came with being a gay student at a private boy's school. "I didn't have the easiest time of it," recalls Blanshay. "To come home and listen to musical theatre was therapeutic."

Back then, Blanshay dreamed of being a performer - and he acted with Montreal's legendary Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre in Montreal. Later, while studying theatre at McGill University, he transferred his energies to directing, and staged a production of Evita (a show he would later co-produce, with pop star Ricky Martin as Che, on Broadway).

It was his passion for directing that took him to New York after graduation in 2004. He first learned the ropes of producing when he landed an internship with Anita Waxman, who has been a force on Broadway since the 1980s. With her business partner, Elizabeth Williams, Waxman was involved in such memorable plays as the Pulitzer-winning Topdog/Underdog, and Gypsy with Bernadette Peters.

While a series of assistant-directing gigs went nowhere, Blanshay proved more than adept at the strange business of getting strangers to open their wallets and invest in Broadway shows, despite the long odds of turning a profit. When another producer, Jacki Florin, enlisted Blanshay to help manage her "raise" for John Kander and Fred Ebb's The Scottsboro Boys (a brilliant show that was also a box-office flop in 2010), Blanshay ended up getting his first Broadway producing credit himself.

He credits his skills - he even convinced his dentist to invest in one show - to working at DKNY and Ralph Lauren outlets during university, hawking status symbols to well-off Montrealers: "Selling a $10,000 suit to a businessman and a $10,000 investment in a show - there are a lot of similarities."

It has helped, too, that Blanshay has the continuing support of Waxman, who describes herself as one of the younger producer's surrogate Jewish mothers. "I would think that most producers in this world guard their Rolodex more than they guard their families," she says. "But I always knew Adam had an instinct and the ability."

That's the ability to raise money - even if Blanshay's knack for picking shows that will please investors was not always evident in the theatre seasons preceding his banner 2013. He was involved in the critical and box-office disaster On a Clear Day You Can See Forever in 2011, as well as the money-losing revivals of both Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar (the latter a transfer from Canada's Stratford Festival) in 2012. "Adam had a tough start with a lot of his shows - he crashed and burned as we all do," says Waxman. "I was worried that he was making some really poor decisions."

Says Blanshay himself, "I've learned to make more discerning choices as I progress, carefully analyzing a show's cap, royalties, and running costs, and perhaps produce more with the brain than with the heart."

But amid those setbacks, Blanshay honed his craft and expanded his horizons during an exchange of theatre professionals that took him to London. And he did pick one winner in 2011 that made all the difference: How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, a revival starring Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame.

It was that show that put Blanshay on the radar of Quebec media - and, ultimately, of his Quebec partner at JFL productions. First came an article in La Presse - titled Prince of Broadway at 30 Years Old. Then came an appearance on the hit TV talk-show Tout le monde en parle.

Rozon, who founded Just for Laughs in 1983 and has overseen its expansion into an entertainment giant, was watching when Blanshay made his April, 2012, appearance on the latter - and he was intrigued enough to get in touch. "Basically, I followed my instinct ... and we got along really easily," recalls Rozon, who flew to London to meet Blanchay, who was producing the British premiere of Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor's His Greatness.

Rozon, who had long been interested in trying his hand at Broadway, saw a golden opportunity in Blanshay. "You really have to know this type of business. It's a private club; you have to be invited," says Rozon. "I felt this guy would bring the experience along with the skill."

Since then, it's been full speed ahead. By the end of that summer, Blanshay had pitched Rozon on JFL Theatricals; and last January the company officially launched. Just six months later, the two Quebeckers found themselves side-by-side on American television with the other producers of Kinky Boots at the Tony Awards. Recalls Rozon, "When I went up on stage, I felt like it was a magic carpet - I don't even remember what happened."

For Blanshay, however, the Tonys really hit home when his alma mater, Selwyn House, contacted for an interview for its newsletter. On a trip back to Montreal, he decided to visit - and was surprised to find that the school he once found a forbidding presence now had a gay-straight alliance for students and rainbow triangles up on doors indicating support for LGBT students. "You weren't gay in high school in the 1990s," he says, marvelling.

In the headmaster's office that day, Blanshay broke down in tears - and it's as he recalls this moment from his table at Bond 45 that his eyes fill up again.

"Just be/Who you wanna be," are the lyrics of the Kinky Boots finale written by Lauper. "Never let them tell you who you oughta be."

Roguish career of outspoken B.C. politician
McKitka embraced controversy, and he twice attempted a political comeback by trying to win a provincial nomination
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, April 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S10

Ed McKitka served two years as mayor of the Vancouver suburb of Surrey. That was one year less than his sentence after being convicted of breach of trust and other offences.

The roguish career of Mr. McKitka, who has died, stands out even in British Columbia, which has a reputation for wayward politicians.

A husky figure with a pugnacious disposition, Mr. McKitka was a rough-hewn character eager to do battle. He claimed to have gone into politics after punching a municipal contractor in the mouth outside his home.

"Hell, I'm the liveliest mayor in the whole province," he once told Chris Gainor of the Vancouver Sun. "I'm the most controversial. I don't know why. I guess it's because I speak my mind."

One of the mayor's first acts was to demand the removal of artworks he found to be pornographic. He was widely mocked for his crusade, including in the pages of The New Yorker magazine. Ridicule was a kinder fate than what was to come.

He lost the mayoralty, then regained a seat on council by being elected as an alderman, only to be banished from office for five years following his criminal conviction. He served time in prison.

Then, while on parole, he was convicted of sexually assaulting three teenaged girls in his employ by touching their buttocks, for which he was fined $600.

Mr. McKitka embraced controversy, perhaps finding in debate the opportunity to express the resentments that seemed to fuel many of his antics.

After losing the mayor's chair on election night, he presided over his final meeting of municipal council by wistfully recounting his 10-year political career, summing up with a defiant, "Pretty good for a truck driver!"

Adolf Mikitka, later known as Edward Adolph McKitka, was born on March 15, 1934, in the village of Vilna, 150 kilometres northeast of Edmonton. His biography, as he once told the Vancouver Province newspaper, is of a hard-working man who made the most of his opportunities.

His carpenter father moved the family to Victoria when the boy was five. They eventually transferred to B.C's Lower Mainland, where Mr. McKitka said they were insulted as "bohunks" until the family name was anglicized and "now they don't know who we are." He dropped out of school after Grade 10. In reciting his background, he provided a glimpse at how he regarded his own success.

"I had to go to work, feed the kids - my brothers and sisters," he said. "I went to work in a loggin' camp, driving 'Cats, drivin' logging trucks. Fifteen at the time - from the old hard-knock school.

In 1965, the political novice challenged incumbent Roland Harvey for the Surrey reeve's post. Mr. Harvey was re-elected with 5,747 votes, while Mr. McKitka finished a distant third with 1,762.

An attempt to gain a seat on council failed the following year when Mr. McKitka finished eighth of 15 candidates vying for five seats. He at last gained a spot on council in November, 1967, joining Bill Vander Zalm, who would go on to become Surrey mayor and later Social Credit premier of British Columbia.

The sprawling district of Surrey, which stretches from the Fraser River to the border with the United States, underwent a dramatic and uneasy transformation in those years. The population in 1971 was 96,600; by 1991, it was 245,173. Rich farmland was turned over for housing developments and fortunes were made - and sometimes lost - on land deals.

Not long after arriving on council, Mr. McKitka became the subject of investigations into whether he was using public office to further his private contracting business.

A provincial inquiry looked at his relationship with developer Walter Link, who had rented a Cadillac convertible for the councillor's use. He was cleared of wrongdoing, yet both men would face future criminal charges over their dealings.

"I got into trouble," Mr. McKitka said a few years later, "and I've stayed in trouble ever since."

His outspoken style gained him a following, which fuelled his ambitions. Mr. McKitka unsuccessfully contested the Social Credit (Socred) nomination in the provincial constituency of Langley in 1972. Three years later, he ran to succeed Mr. Vander Zalm as mayor of Surrey, defeating fellow alderman Rita Johnston by 6,003 votes to 5,955. (Ms. Johnston, who was also a Socred, later went into provincial politics, in turn succeeding Mr. Vander Zalm as premier of B.C.) The 48-vote margin launched as controversial a mayoralty as the province had ever seen.

The new mayor crusaded against what he saw as smut poisoning the community. He ordered a mural removed from the municipal hall because it included a 10-inch (25.4-centimetre) drawing of a nude woman in the midst of a wall-sized mural. He also said a collection of First Nations art that included fertility symbols would not be exhibited.

"I'm not going to have those large overgrown penises in our art gallery," the mayor said. "Why, some of them were 18 inches by two feet."

Mr. McKitka pledged to hunt down offensive artworks on display in municipal buildings. His ambition was to set up an art committee "of open-minded people who agree with me." For this, he was mocked by The New Yorker magazine, among others. In any case, the committee was never formed.

A year later, Mr. McKitka called reporters into his office where he had on display three sex-education books for children that he deemed pornographic. He said he would rip the business licence off the wall of any establishment in Surrey he found selling the titles. The mayor described the illustrated books as sickening and urged Canadians to instead read scripture. He brandished a Bible to emphasize his point.

A reporter then asked whether he found certain scripture passages to be obscene, citing the story of Lot's incest with his daughters. Mr. McKitka replied: "I shall have to read that. No comment."

The mayor also campaigned against residential developments with small homes, especially those built as part of a federal program to provide low-cost housing. His criticisms of the program outraged those homeowners, as well as several politicians in neighbouring municipalities.

The mayor of Port Coquitlam referred to Mr. McKitka as "the Idi Amin of Surrey," while a Burnaby alderman called him "the south end of a northbound horse." Surrey alderman Bill Vogel said he was "the most irresponsible and incompetent mayor I've ever seen."

In the 1977 election, the mayor faced a formidable challenger in Mr. Vogel, an Air Canada pilot. Late in the campaign, a desperate Mr. McKitka issued a brochure proposing to build new sports facilities in five Surrey neighbourhoods. The extravagant promise failed to secure his re-election, as Mr. Vogel won by 502 votes.

On election night, an angry Mr. McKitka demanded a recount. He accused his opponent of stuffing ballot boxes and blamed his defeat on interference by Mr. Vander Zalm, by then a cabinet minister who had endorsed his chief rival.

Two days after election night, during a break in the proceedings at Surrey council, Mr. McKitka stunned reporter Brian Morton of the Vancouver Sun by cracking a whip in front of his face. Months later, Mr. Morton sought out Mr. McKitka at an amusement park in Washington state, where he was working with his daughters. Seeing the reporter, Mr. McKitka bowled into him from behind before brandishing a stick with a protruding nail at Sun photographer Dan Scott.

"I want to be left alone by these knotheads," Mr. McKitka said afterward.

Surrey voters returned Mr. McKitka to council as an alderman in November, 1979, even though he faced criminal charges stemming from his time as mayor after a two-year investigation by the RCMP's commercial crime squad.

A B.C. Supreme Court jury heard wiretap evidence from 36 telephone calls, as well as secretly bugged conversations in the mayor's office.

In one bizarre call, Mr. McKitka warns an alderman not to oppose the rezoning of a farm as a racetrack. He said some 200 horses would be paraded to the parking lot of the alderman's meat store and one would be shot every five minutes until he acquiesced. As well, the mayor threatened to dispatch bylaw inspectors to the meat store.

Other recordings included the mayor tipping off developers about confidential planning proposals. Among those who benefited from the information was Walter Link, who had earlier provided the politician the use of a Cadillac convertible. As well, the mayor was heard misleading a local farmer about the value of his property so that he could obtain it himself.

After a four-week trial, during which Mr. McKitka was the only defence witness, the jury convicted the former mayor of demanding kickbacks and abusing the trust of his office. He was convicted of four counts of breach of trust, two counts of unlawfully demanding a benefit, and one count of threatening a Surrey alderman. He was sentenced to three years in jail.

He was released on parole in February, 1983, after serving one-third of his sentence.

In 1984, he was found guilty on three counts of sexual assault. Three teenage girls accused him of fondling them by grabbing their buttocks while they were in his employ at a concession stand at the Cloverdale Rodeo. The judge believed their testimony that the disgraced politician had made sexual advances, offered drinks of Grand Marnier, and called one of them a "mouthy little bitch." He was fined $600.

Despite the ignominy, he twice attempted a political comeback by trying to win a provincial Socred nomination in 1986 and 1990.

Before his death, his name was last in the news in 1995 when he was fined $23,000 for dumping glass, plastic and tin cans on protected farm land.

On Feb. 4, Mr. McKitka was driving eastbound on the Trans-Canada Highway in Chilliwack when his 1994 Jeep Cherokee veered to the right onto a grass shoulder and down an embankment through blackberry bushes before coming to a rest in a stream.

The news of his death was not announced for three weeks, by which time the RCMP determined the accident was the result of his sudden death. A coroner's report is pending. Mr. McKitka was 79.

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Danish sail maker was a six-time Olympian
He designed the Laser's sail, and held the record for the longest stretch between winning medals in the history of the Games
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S10

The yacht Canada II had a healthy lead on an American boat in the sea off Fremantle, Australia, when the wind ripped a four-metre tear in the mainsail.

The sail needed a fix on the fly. Hans Fogh, the crew's navigator and tactician, climbed into the bosun's chair before being hauled up near the end of the boom, where he used needle and thread in a desperate bid to repair the sail.

The sail maker's dramatic efforts in the midst of a race kept the yacht competitive, though it lost by 66 seconds on the opening day of the America's Cup yachting series in 1986.

Mr. Fogh was 48 years old that day and he remained a competitive sailor for nearly three more decades before dying in Toronto in March at the age of 76.

The sailor was a six-time Olympian and a two-time medal winner, claiming a silver for his native Denmark in 1960 and a bronze for his adopted land of Canada in 1984. The 24-year stretch between a first and second medal is the longest in Olympic history.

Praised as a cool and practical sailor, Mr. Fogh won four world championships (twice each in the Soling and Flying Dutchman classes), four European championships (three Soling, one Flying Dutchman), and four North American championships (all Soling), the most recent of those coming in 2013 on Lake Champlain near Plattsburgh, N.Y. He also won races aboard Finns, Stars and Etchells.

An ambitious competitor on the water, Mr. Fogh had technical expertise that made him a force on land as well. Soon after arriving in Canada, he created a sail for the prototype of a new dinghy designed by Canadians Bruce Kirby and Ian Bruce. The Laser, as it was eventually named, is a one-person craft whose simplicity and popularity led to its own introduction into Olympic competition.

A compact, diminutive figure at 5-foot-7, Mr. Fogh showed daring at sea.

"He was a risk taker," said John Kerr, of Midland, Ont., who joined Mr. Fogh and Steve Calder in winning a bronze medal in Soling at the 1984 Olympics. "There was nothing he wouldn't try on a boat to make it go faster."

Mr. Fogh displayed an enviable ability to assess three dimensions while sailing, Mr. Kerr said, calculating strategy even as he evaluated the wind in the sails, the waves against the boat, and the force of the current underneath.

"He was a gifted downwind sailor," Mr. Calder said. "He had a feel for the boat and a nose for the wind like no one else."

Hans Marius Fogh was born on March 8, 1938, at Rodovre, a Danish town outside Copenhagen. As a boy, he spent summers at a cottage owned by relatives. "I was always playing with my boats in the water and going out on the boat with my aunt and uncle, so even at a young age, I felt that some day I would have a career on the water," he once told the sports writer Bob Duff. He graduated from a rowboat to a sailboat and at age 17 bought his first dinghy with money earned from working as a gardener in the family's greenhouse.

When he needed a new sail, his father bought some from Paul Elvstrom, an Olympian who had just launched his own sail-making company. The younger Mr. Fogh joined Elvstrom's firm in 1960, becoming a protégé of the Danish sporting legend.

Both men competed in the Olympic regatta that year in the Bay of Naples. The owner won a gold medal for a fourth consecutive Olympics. Competing in a different class, Mr. Fogh made his Olympic debut as helmsman of Skum, a Flying Dutchman with Ole Erik Gunnar Petersen as crew. The Danish duo won two of seven races to claim the silver medal behind a Norwegian boat.

In 1962, Mr. Fogh, "a fresh-faced and gee-whiz sailor" in the words of one of his competitors, took the tiller while his boss handled tactics and wind shifts as the crewman in the Flying Dutchman world championship. Reporters covering the regatta on Tampa Bay off St. Petersburg, Fla., noted the six-year-old Danish boat looked "battered, beaten and nicked with shell ice marks from winter sailing." The third of seven races took place in gusting winds, causing six of 19 boats to topple into the choppy waters. The Danes held off a challenge from an Australian boat to claim the world title.

"I have never seen a Dutchman as fast as the Australian boat, but their tactics were poor," Mr. Fogh told Sports Illustrated magazine after the race. "The race was our good tactics against their fast boat."

Mr. Fogh returned to the Olympics in 1964, guiding Miss Denmark 1964 to victory in the fourth of seven races in Sagami Bay off the coast of Japan. The Danes finished fourth in the competition.

The Danish sailor withdrew in the midst of the 1968 Olympic regatta on Acapulco Bay to return home following the death of his father. Four years later, he finished a disappointing seventh in Kiel, Germany, his last of four Olympics representing his homeland and by which time he was living in Toronto.

When not on the water, Mr. Fogh continued working at Elvstrom Sails, becoming a production manager before wanderlust and a desire to be his own boss brought him to Canada.

Paul Henderson, a Toronto sailor and Olympian, had urged Mr. Fogh to immigrate, partly out of friendship and partly out of self-interest. The high-quality sails needed for racing were not made here, so Canadians bought them in the United States before smuggling them across the border to avoid an onerous duty tax. A domestic manufacturer was needed.

In his eulogy for Mr. Fogh, Mr. Henderson told a story about the Danish sailor's immigration interview. The officer asked, "Mr. Fogh, how are you going to earn a living in Canada?"

"Sail maker," he replied.

"Sale maker? Canada has no need of those," the officer replied.

Mr. Henderson piped up. "Sail maker."

"Oh, Mr. Fogh," the officer said, "Canada has no category for that."

Mr. Henderson then said the young would-be immigrant had been an apprentice gardener in his native land.

"Gardener!" exclaimed the officer. "Canada needs those."

Mr. Fogh opened a loft in a former ski-jacket factory on Pelham Avenue in Toronto's Junction neighbourhood. He sewed Elvstrom sails and designed a sail of his own for the Laser, the new dinghy which he also tested on the water. Its success contributed to the growth of his company and became a landmark in the development of the domestic marine manufacturing industry. The addition of the Laser class to the Olympic lineup in 1996 only added to the popularity of the craft. Mr. Fogh also designed the Laser Radial, a smaller version he originally intended for his son's use, which is now the model used by women in the Olympics.

Over time, the company name became Fogh Sails and, later, North Sails Fogh Ltd.

After he gained Canadian citizenship in 1975, Mr. Fogh became a member of the national team as Canada prepared to play host to its first Summer Games. In May, 1976, Mr. Fogh joined with Evert Bastet, a Venezuelan-born sailor who had moved to Quebec as a boy, in winning the European Flying Dutchman championship at Hyères, France. The victory came in dramatic fashion, as the Canadian sailors jumped from third to first place with a victory in the final race.

The triumph was promising, coming just three months before the Olympic regatta on Lake Ontario near Kingston. With a home country cheering for Canadian medals, the Flying Dutchman sailors were in contention for a podium finish going into the final race. A poor, sixth-place finish in the last event allowed a Brazilian boat to slip ahead for a bronze medal. With Canada boycotting the 1980 Moscow Games, Mr. Fogh had eight long years to contemplate a disappointing fourth-place finish.

By 1984, Mr. Fogh had moved into a larger craft. He was skipper of a Soling crew with Mr. Kerr and Mr. Calder in the Pacific Ocean off Long Beach, Calif. They won the third of seven races, but finished in fourth place, yet another frustrating competition for Mr. Fogh, who referred to fourth-place finishers as winners of the "leather medal" in comparison to gold, silver, and bronze.

"We were all pretty dejected," Mr. Calder recalled. "It was a pretty damned sombre sail back to the dock. Johnny [Kerr] and I were especially bummed for Hans."

Later that day, the rules committee decided on its own to examine the actions of the second-place finisher and concluded the Norwegian crew had violated the rules by deliberating rocking their boat. They were penalized back to fifth place, floating the Canadian crew into the bronze-medal position.

"I know how they must feel," Mr. Fogh said at the time of the Norwegians. "They're young people and it's a lot harder when you're young. Now I can turn around and tell them, 'There's lots of time, because even at my age you can win medals.'"

At age 46, Mr. Fogh had claimed a second Olympic medal 24 years after winning his first.

The Soling medals were presented by Constantine II, the deposed monarch of Greece. As Crown Prince Constantine in 1960, he had won an Olympic gold medal in the Dragon class. The former king recognized Mr. Fogh from those earlier Games. In the solemn moment of placing a medal around Mr. Fogh's neck, Constantine congratulated him by saying, "Not bad for an old fart."

Mr. Fogh has been inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame (1985), the Canadian Amateur Sports Hall of Fame (1986) and the Etobicoke, Ont., Sports Hall of Fame (1996). In 2009, he initiated the Hans Fogh Endowment Fund to support sailors, coaches and officials in Ontario.

Mr. Fogh died in Toronto of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease on March 14, six days after his 76th birthday. He leaves Kirsten, his wife of 49 years; two sons; five grandchildren; a brother; and two sisters. He was predeceased by a sister.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With files from Karen Howlett and Jane Taber


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

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

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

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

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

Decorum and ritual add to the Masters mystique
The awe-inspiring Augusta National has changed subtly over the years, but much of the club remains charmingly old-fashioned
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S6


"The Masters is more like a vast Edwardian garden party than a golf tournament."

British broadcaster

Alistair Cooke

The secret lies in change so subtle it is barely, if at all, noticeable.

Take Gary Player, for instance. He can represent the human side of the Masters. The three-time champion - 1961, 1974 and 1978 - is standing in the lower hallway of the clubhouse at Augusta National. He is within reach of his own portrait, which hangs on the Champions Wall - just to the left of six-time winner Jack Nicklaus, and two to the right of four-time winner Arnold Palmer. If Player turned to face his picture, it would be almost as if he were facing a mirror.

It may be 53 years since his first victory and 36 years since his last, yet Gary Player is as tanned and handsome and nearly as thick-dark-haired as he was at 25, save for the tint of grey about his temples. The green jacket he wears this sunny afternoon is the same fit as the one he first donned in 1961.

"Mystique?" he asks in his familiar South African accent. "Why, it's everywhere here. President Eisenhower, Bobby Jones, Cliff Roberts, [Ben] Hogan and [Sam] Snead, Arnie and Jack and me on Sundays, reporters and players talking under the big oak. There's tradition here everywhere you look. That's the mystique."

Player also acts as television spokesperson - "So, for the love of Golf, go!" - for the Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla. Tradition is a big deal to him.

Shortly after dawn on Thursday morning, Player, 78, Nicklaus, 74, and Palmer, 84, launched the 2014 Masters with the traditional ceremonial drive off the first tee, with Player graciously conceding that Nicklaus outhit him by a yard or two - "but it's not bad when you think he used to outdrive me by 50 [yards]."

The crowd was so thick to see three old men cuff golf balls off the tee that it was next to impossible to get within sight of them, the Masters "patrons" - never, ever to be referred to as mere "fans" - revelling in a strange sense that here, and perhaps only here, time stands still, even if now it hobbles a bit.

The Masters is but the first of men's golf's four majors each year - the U.S. Open, The Open and the PGA being the others - but it is the only one that is always played on the same course. More importantly is its timing, early April - for millions watching on television the start of the Masters signals the start of spring.

It is as close to a pagan rite as sport comes.

"It's sort of the official start of the golf season to more of the general public," Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland said when he arrived for his practice rounds.

Augusta National itself is the main character in this annual play, a revered sprawl of rolling hills, emerald green grass, towering pines, undulating greens, deceiving water and traps and, of course, the flowering cherry and crabapple trees, the blooming azaleas, magnolia, wisteria, dogwood ...

The course was built on a former nursery and, in many ways, the nursery remains.

In the days leading into Thursday's launch of the tournament, the "personality" most discussed was not the chances of Australian Adam Scott repeating - though he would be the opening day leader at four-under-par - or Phil Mickelson claiming his fourth green jacket or even what difference the absence of Tiger Woods, having withdrawn following back surgery, would make to the field.

No, they talked far more of a tree - a specific tree that stood for decades on the 17th hole and was lost during a severe ice storm this winter. The spot, unnoticeable but for a few discreet lines in the grass where fresh turf was laid, is pointed out all week long by volunteers while patrons take photographs of ... nothing ... and stand as if visiting the grave of a beloved relative.

When Augusta's chairman Billy Payne announced the end of the tree only two months before the tournament was to begin, he spoke as if they had tried everything from life support to faith healers: "We obtained opinions from the best arbourists available and ... were advised that no recovery was possible."

It was known as the Eisenhower Tree, a spreading 65-foot loblolly pine that befuddled short drivers like Canada's Mike Weir but could be cleared by the big hitters like Woods and McIlroy. President Dwight D. Eisenhower had so much trouble skirting the tree that he asked them to cut it down - an affront to the dictatorial board that was refused, no matter the office that had asked.

It became the most famous tree in golf. When Augusta opened earlier this week to practice rounds, 350 gold coins depicting the tree, priced at $125 (U.S.) apiece, sold out immediately.

When Player, Palmer and Nicklaus had finished their ceremonial tee-off, they held a news conference in which, predictably, the Eisenhower Tree was a delicate early question. Player said he was against trees and traps on a golf course anyway, the game being hard enough as it is. Palmer was of the opinion that they should put a similar tree right back. Nicklaus said, "It's best to probably just keep my nose out of it."

Nicklaus knew that no one, not even the president of the United States, tells Augusta how to run its affairs.

It is hard to imagine how such a powerful, awe-inspiring "club" could have come out of how it began. The course was the creation of legendary American amateur champion Bobby Jones, his friend Clifford Roberts and architect Alister Mackenzie, who co-designed the course with Jones.

They opened in 1932 and hoped to attract 1,800 members by setting annual fees at $360. According to Jeff Neuman and Lorne Rubenstein's A Disorderly Compendium of Golf, only 76 members signed up. Today, membership is by invitation only and includes the corporate elite of America: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and the like.

It worked because of Jones's charm and Clifford's determination. Jones's sports pals, in particular Grantland Rice of The New York Herald Tribune, and a member at Augusta, helped bring the sporting press to the tournament as they made their way back north from baseball's spring training. Today, the working press remains so revered at Augusta that faithful long-timers even have their names posted on reserved parking.

Despite such affirmative press, Augusta has not been without controversy. When Charlie Sifford won two tour events in the 1960s he was not invited to play, simply because of the colour of his skin. Sifford never forgave Augusta for the slight.

"As long as I'm alive," Roberts had proclaimed at one point during his tenure as chairman, "all golfers will be white and all the caddies will be black."

Such thinking could not, of course, hold. Lee Elder was invited in 1975 and, of course, no face is more connected to the Masters in the 21st century than Woods.

It took women much longer to break through. Protests organized several years ago by the National Council of Women's Organizations led to the tournament being broadcast, at Augusta's insistence, without sponsors. Such is the wealth of Augusta that it can turn its back on the proceeds from one of television's most lucrative sports properties.

Finally, in 2012, the club invited two women to join - former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and financier Darla Moore - and both accepted. The controversy quietly went away.

They worship tradition here, even when it can seem just a tad corny, such as the green jacket presented to the winners, the champions dinner where the menu is chosen by last year's winner (Scott served surf 'n' turf BBQ, Moreton Bay bugs, but stopped short of kangaroo), and the glorious entrance drive known as Magnolia Lane.

And yet, under current chair Billy Payne - who also headed up the disastrous Atlanta Summer Olympics in 1996 - Augusta has slowly but undeniably changed. Many of the changes are subtle. Augusta still sells its iced tea, beer and pimento cheese sandwiches at prices last seen a generation back. It has volunteers putting up the scores the old-fashioned way on ancient scoreboards. There are still attendants in the washrooms and the caddies still wear those white coveralls. But there is also a state-of-the-art digital world inside Augusta that is as current on the World Wide Web and in broadcast facilities as can be found.

The behaviour is also charmingly old-fashioned. In 1967, "president in perpetuity" Bobby Jones penned a message to patrons stating, "In golf, customs of etiquette and decorum are just as important as rules governing play." There should be only appreciative applause; there should be no "excessive demonstrations" by players; and there are none.

Cellphones are strictly forbidden, as is running. Patrons can leave their fold-up seats and return hours later to find them neither moved nor occupied. Elderly men holding thin white ropes are able to exercise total control over flowing rivers of patrons hoping to cross over to sit at "Amen Corner" or watch the drama on the 18th hole.

"You do feel like you are walking on eggshells, scared to break a rule," former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland told BBC before the tournament. "You feel like the boss could walk 'round the corner and all of a sudden your invite disappears the following year. Not that it would happen - but it feels that way."

No matter: The players, the patrons and the television audience love it all.

"I've never been to heaven," 1979 champion Fuzzy Zoeller said, "and thinking back on my life, I probably won't get a chance to go. I guess winning the Masters is as close as I'm going to get."

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U of T's new mayor
The University of Toronto is a sprawling city within the city, and Meric Gertler is stepping in at a critical time. James Bradshaw spends a week with the president as he faces funding gaps, pressures to chart a new course and the expectation that he'll also help Toronto
Saturday, April 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M1

The latest kink in Meric Gertler's routine makes him grimace: He almost never walks to work these days.

Two weeks ago, the University of Toronto's new president moved from his family's Annex home to the president's residence in Rosedale. It's the farthest from campus he has lived in 29 years, and he worries it may disrupt another fixture of his calendar - three weekly evening workouts with a trainer at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre.

After a month as president, a yellow parking ticket pinned to the windshield of his Volvo station wagon said it all: his car still went unrecognized in its reserved space outside his office.

Dr. Gertler is an urban creature, having spent most of his life observing cities. He built his career as an economic geographer, probing why prosperity and innovation clusters in certain urban regions, and his reputation as a civic thinker breeds expectations that he will deepen the university's ties with the city.

To many, it came as little surprise when Dr. Gertler was chosen as the U of T's new mayor.

The university is a small city inside the country's largest metropolis, host to more than 80,000 students and 18,000 faculty and staff. More than two-thirds of its students are concentrated at the downtown St. George campus, but its growth is mostly at the school's evolving campuses in Scarborough and Mississauga - "East and West" in administrator shorthand. For generations, the main campus has been a fixture in many residents' image of the city.

Dr. Gertler now enters a critical juncture for the university, which has a $28.5-million annual structural deficit and a "differentiation" mandate from the province, pressing him to show how the university will strike its balance between research and teaching in the years to come. He must keep U of T on a global cutting edge without losing sight of the need to nurture undergraduates or to help strengthen the fabric of Toronto.

For one week in early December, The Globe and Mail shadowed Dr. Gertler as he navigated U of T's vast enterprise, a month into his new job. Collegial by nature, he wields his considerable influence carefully and calmly, with an even demeanour, and is a stickler for politeness and punctuality. But where he was once inclined to drive change by setting a direction and not giving ground, he now calls himself a "convenor of the conversation" who has learned to "slow down and take the time to get people to buy in" to new plans. The way Dr. Gertler chooses to tackle these issues could chart a course for Canadian universities.

It is a hallmark of university presidents to consult widely before acting, and Dr. Gertler is cut from an academic's cloth. So far, he's been cautious, but his "listening phase" may be nearing its end. At this key moment for U of T, many people will look to him to speak out. Will he be the voice the university needs?

At 2:37 p.m. on a December afternoon, Dr. Gertler sits at the head of the modest boardroom table in his orderly, elegant office. It is the school's situation room and he is breaking the first bad news of his administration to eight senior staff. A $19-million hole has just been punched in U of T's future budgets.

Twenty minutes earlier, Ontario's higher education ministry informed him in a phone call it would change the way universities can charge student fees. What will be a triumph for student leaders will cost U of T $3-million annually starting next fall, and another $16-million each year from 2016. In the school's nearly $2-billion budget, that money brought new faculty hires, room for more students in popular courses and study-abroad opportunities.

"It's truly disappointing news," a subdued Dr. Gertler tells his staff. "I'll let you draw your own conclusions as to the logic that is driving this. It's hard to reconcile with building a world-class university system."

As the 16th president of the only Canadian university consistently ranked in the global top 20, Dr. Gertler holds perhaps the most powerful office in Canadian higher education. As government spending shrinks, he is expected not only to shield the country's largest university from cuts but to expand its mission. Concrete issues confront him at his own doorstep. He may rue his new drive to work, but he knows it is luxurious compared with the "crushing" commute times growing numbers of students endure to and from the "East and West" campuses.

When visiting U of T Scarborough, the first thing he heard from a student was, "Okay, you're the urban guy. What are you going to do to fix our transportation problem?" He agrees UTSC students "desperately need" better transit options, and has since met with the presidents of Ryerson University, York University and OCAD University about mobilizing their communities together to explore transit planning beyond "the sort of blatant political criteria that seem to be colouring the debate currently."

At age 58, trim and 5-foot-7, Dr. Gertler has already had a 30-year career at the university, the past five spent as dean of arts and science - a faculty so large it is often likened to a mid-size university on its own.

He is the university's first president chosen from the social sciences or humanities since Claude Bissell in 1958. And he brings a shift in tone from his frank, no-nonsense predecessor, David Naylor, but not a reversal in course.

Provincial Transportation Minister Glen Murray, whose previous portfolio was overseeing universities, thinks U of T has too often "looked in on itself, but Meric will be more outward-looking." Dr. Gertler is eager to "open up the campus" to maximize its impact on city-building.

Asked to speak out on scandal-plagued Mayor Rob Ford, he is circumspect. The situation "is a concern, of course," as it distracts attention from important city issues, he says, eventually conceding, "I find it difficult to fathom that he hasn't yet resigned." Still, he hopes U of T will host at least one mayoral debate during the current campaign.

"One of the risks in a job like this is that you allow yourself to be isolated, protected," Dr. Gertler says, so his schedule is planned, often weeks in advance, to be peripatetic. He gets energized roaming the campus, meeting professors and quizzing students about their experiences.

One day begins at 8:15 a.m. with a speech to professors and ends around 7 p.m with another, when he takes paperwork home with him. He spends his lunch hour meeting student entrepreneurs at U of T's expanding campus startup incubator. Three meetings with senior staff to plan budgets or talk strategy are dotted throughout the day, and between them he takes calls from a government funding agency and from The Canadian Jewish News, answering interview questions on thorny issues such as academic boycotts of Israel.

The volume of demands can be "numbing," especially the constant speech-making, which he calls his "substitute for teaching." Much of the time, Dr. Gertler listens more than he speaks, but not everyone has seen him that way.

As dean of arts and science, he attracted a backlash in 2010 by pushing a contentious budget-cutting plan that included closing U of T's revered Centre for Comparative Literature. The department of East Asian studies faced a similar fate until the plan was altered, and its chair, Thomas Keirstead, recalls Dr. Gertler more for "the delivering of information" than for open consultation.

Yet, Dr. Gertler has changed as a leader since his days as a rookie dean. "You can't get too far out in front of people," he says now, adding, "I was impatient." His comments, no longer his opinion alone, send powerful signals. As a result, he admits, "I'm much more scripted."

Dr. Gertler's detailed vision for U of T is still a work in progress.

But his approach to a new provincial "differentiation" framework - the Ontario's government's bid to save money and boost quality by compelling universities and colleges to find and focus on strengths - could soon give clues about how he intends to position the school. The government hopes to measure everything from graduate employment rates and enrolments in co-op programs to researchers' total publications and citations.

This is the reason Dr. Gertler called the December meeting with senior staff: for a strategy session on U of T's response. The country's most comprehensive university is being asked to specialize more, and while the new formula could prove a financial win for U of T, its long-term impact is unclear.

"If we're going to get any value from Queen's Park, this looks like the only opportunity before us right now," he told staff. "So we have to do well by this exercise. It's as simple as that."

Four months later, "we're down to the short strokes," he says, and though it is too soon to comment in detail, "the rhetoric and the language [from government] looks good." The university highlighted its stature in research and graduate studies, hoping to enhance both through the process. But it must also show it is paying attention to undergraduates, and has had to make quick decisions on how many international students to admit and how widely it can offer small, specialized first-year courses.

Striking that balance is among Dr. Gertler's biggest challenges. In a breakfast speech late last year, he told new department heads the public perception that undergrads can get lost at U of T "is well justified by the past, and by certain elements of the present." Being research-intensive and accessible at the same time is "a tightrope that we walk."

The long road back
A year after the Boston bombings, Forum restaurant has returned to life - and to normalcy - but carries with it the scars of terror
Monday, April 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS -- All kinds of customers enter the restaurant Chris Loper runs on Boylston Street. One type in particular he has come to recognize. They hesitate as they step inside, or look searchingly at the staff, or stand still as their eyes well with tears.

Ever the host aiming to make his guests comfortable, he approaches them. "I'll just walk over and say, 'Hey, I was here too. It looks like it's probably your first time back in. Let me know if you need anything.'"

Nearly a year ago, on April 15, the second of the two co-ordinated bombings at the Boston Marathon exploded on the sidewalk outside Forum, turning the area into a scene of carnage. An eight-year-old boy, Martin Richard, was killed in front of the restaurant and scores of people were seriously injured.

The bomb shattered windows at Forum and launched shrapnel up into the carpet on its second floor. Closed for four months, it was the last business in the area to reopen after the attacks.

Since then, its staff has tried to move forward from the events of that day, but never leave them behind. Most customers are coming for a drink or a meal; others come for a type of catharsis.

There was the paramedic who recognized Mr. Loper, Forum's general manager, and remembered him bringing linens and ice during the frantic minutes after the bombings. Another was Adrianne Haslet-Davis, a dancer who lost part of her leg in the blast. She came in search of the bartender who had cradled her head as they waited for help to arrive. She found him, and they embraced, weeping.

"Each day, you don't know who's going to walk through that door," says Mr. Loper, a 41-year-old with a low voice and a goatee.

Forum's journey - a return to normalcy carrying new scars - echoes the larger dynamic in Boston. On Tuesday, the city will mark the one-year anniversary of the bombings with sombre commemorations and religious services. Then, on April 21, thousands of runners will take to the streets once again for this year's marathon.

For Forum, the past year has been about rebuilding, reopening and getting customers back into the seats, with the awareness that it is no longer simply a place to eat, but a symbol. "Whether we like it or not, we've had some type of identity that has been created for us," said Mr. Loper. "You have to embrace it to a certain extent."

From normalcy to chaos

Opened in 2011, the large, two-storey restaurant was the youngest eatery on its strip of Boylston Street, jostling for diners with more established competitors. Marathon Monday, as Bostonians call it, was a major day on its calendar.

Last year, the restaurant was hosting an event downstairs for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, a charity devoted to serving people with cancer, which had a team of runners participating in the marathon. There was a photo booth brought in for the occasion. Upstairs, on the second floor, Forum was selling tables by the window to the public: $100 bought a group of four a bucket of Michelob beer, lunch and a perfect view of the race.

Mr. Loper was on a cigarette break in the alley behind the restaurant when the first blast resounded down the narrow passage. He thought a construction crane had fallen. As he re-entered the back of the restaurant, he saw the flash of an explosion out front. For the next two or three minutes, until emergency personnel arrived, the only help available would come from bystanders and his employees who were facing "a scene that you don't see unless you're at war somewhere."

Someone began shredding the photo booth's curtain to make a tourniquet. Others made sure guests were ushered safely out the back into the alley. Others brought tablecloths and bar towels and ice to the wounded. Erinn Fleming, the restaurant's events and marketing manager, remembers hearing a person scream, "Why would someone do this to us? Why would they do this?"

Matt Chatham, a former professional football player, was sitting out on Forum's patio when the bomb went off. He scooped up a young woman named Heather Abbott whose leg had been mangled as she waited to enter Forum, and together with his wife Erin, carried her out the back of the restaurant. As they waited for an ambulance, Erin repeated the Lord's Prayer.

Half an hour later, the police found Mr. Loper and asked him to show them the restaurant's security cameras. He took them to the basement, where he rewound the tapes and saw that they had captured the bombing. He and his colleagues headed home in a daze. He woke up the next morning on his couch, his cellphone ringing. The first call was from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The next was from CNN.

Reopening and rebirth

For 10 days, no one could get back into Forum. Investigators scoured the premises for evidence, ripping out the carpet on the second floor in their search for fragments (though when the staff returned, they found burgers on the grill, untouched). Early on, the restaurant's owner - Euz Azevedo, who heads a company called Boston Nightlife Ventures - said he would reopen.

It took a long time, partly because of a decision to remodel the restaurant. The new version would be brighter, warmer, less "nightclub-y" in appearance, said Mr. Loper. There was another motivation, too: keeping the restaurant the same "would have been a little difficult for a lot of people," he says. He declines to discuss the topic of insurance payments except to say that it's a sensitive topic and "an ongoing process."

Four months to the day after the bombings, Forum reopened with a party. Boston's beloved mayor, Thomas Menino, was there. So was its police chief. Mr. Loper had reached out to his favourite band, Rebirth Brass Band, in New Orleans. He persuaded them to come to Boston and found a sponsor to pay for it.

The band led a traditional "second line" parade - a kind of moving, impromptu dance party - from the place where the marathon finishes to Forum, two blocks away. Staff danced behind the musicians, waving napkins in celebration. Cars honked and people on the street hollered. "It was something to be seen," says Ms. Fleming, 40. "It just felt like everybody was rooting for us."

Becoming a symbol

Once the restaurant reopened, it benefited from strong support from the community. Locals stopped in for a signature burger or a special cocktail to help the restaurant get back on its feet. One group was especially drawn to the venue: those hosting fundraisers or events related to last year's marathon.

Paul and J.P. Norden, two brothers who each lost a leg while watching the race outside Forum, returned for a fundraiser at the restaurant last November. Ms. Haslet-Davis, another marathon bombing survivor, returned for an event this spring benefiting a foundation that provides prosthetic limbs to low-income amputees. Another event raised funds for a scholarship honouring Sean Collier, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer shot and killed as the perpetrators of the bombing attempted to flee on April 18.

"It's just the process," says Mr. Loper of those who were affected choosing to return to the restaurant. For fundraisers, it donates space and food.

As Mr. Loper speaks, it's a quiet afternoon on the restaurant's second floor. Some employees can no longer handle large crowds.

Business is busier than it was a year ago. Later that evening, Forum's ground floor is full and appealingly noisy.

Upstairs, more than a hundred people are eating sliders and bidding on auction items. A cover band blasts out rock classics. The event is a benefit for a music education charity, which is fielding a team of runners in the marathon for the first time.

At one point Ernie Boch, Jr., a local car magnate who started the charity, takes the microphone. "Given what happened here last year, it's crazy. It's beautiful; it looks fantastic," he says. Then he introduces the runners, to sustained applause.

Marathon Monday

On April 21 - Marathon Monday - Mr. Loper will be in early, just as he was a year ago. The Joe Andruzzi Foundation will be back, only this time with many more people. "It's about repeating what we did last year, but this year, finishing it," said Jennifer Andruzzi, the foundation's executive director.

One of their guests will be Matt Chatham, whose wife Erin is running her first marathon. They've become close to Heather Abbott, the woman they helped rescue from the restaurant last year. Ms. Abbott, who lost her lower leg, will join Ms. Chatham on the course for the final stretch of the race. "It'll be a little eerie being out there," said Mr. Chatham. But he is excited to cheer on his wife and Ms. Abbott.

The restaurant still has its cameras but hasn't instituted any new security procedures. It doesn't plan to do anything differently for the marathon. Already, there is a considerable police presence in the area as the stands for spectators begin to take shape; those coming to watch at the finish line won't be allowed to bring bags.

For the staff at Forum, they will have one of their own in the race: Ms. Fleming made the decision to run the marathon for the first time. Mr. Loper, meanwhile, will be at the restaurant, making sure everything - and everyone - is taken care of.

"I'll be here with people that I respect and admire and care a lot about," he said. "I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."

Pussy Riot, the Solzhenitsyns of a new Russia?
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F1

MOSCOW -- Nadezhda Tolokonnikova isn't a woman who is easily rattled. The 24-year-old has smacked heads with Russia's two most powerful institutions - the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church - and come away still smiling her crooked grin. She left jail in December after a 16-month sentence emphatically unbowed by the experience, chanting "Russia without Putin!" for the assembled television cameras as she stepped through the prison gates, arms raised triumphantly.

But after an interview with The Globe and Mail this week, a worried look crosses Ms. Tolokonnikova's face. She's realized that she dropped the F-bomb, in English, during our recorded conversation. The subject following the verb was Russian President Vladimir Putin, and she's worried I will use the quote in the newspaper.

"Please tell me you won't use that word," she pleads in Russian. "I know it's a very unpleasant thing to say in English."

It's a surprising request from a woman who is the face of a punk group called Pussy Riot, and who was sent to jail - along with bandmate Maria Alyokhina - for performing an expletive-laced "punk prayer" on the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral, during which the women prayed for the Virgin Mary to help rid Russia of Mr. Putin.

But the cleaned-up language matches Ms. Tolokonnikova's new appearance - and a new seriousness about trying to change Russia, as a political dissident in the Solzhenitsyn line rather than a shock artist.

Gone, for now, are the balaclavas and sleeveless dresses from Ms. Tolokonnikova's Pussy Riot performances. Instead, she meets journalists at a Moscow art gallery wearing a demure white blouse and long black skirt, her dark hair pinned up in a neat bun.

The 26-year-old Ms. Alyokhina, meanwhile, dresses like the university student she still is (she's a year from completing a journalism and creative writing course), wearing a blue button-down shirt over blue jeans, her curly red hair tumbling past her shoulders.

Asked what's next for Pussy Riot, the two women say nothing about making music. Instead, they launch into passionate speeches about their plans to raise awareness about the prison system that swallowed them, and the need to mobilize Russians against Mr. Putin's rule. Plans that involve civil society, rather than revolution.

"We have to respect small deeds. Small deeds like searching for the human rights defender within ourselves, searching for the citizen, the artist, the philosopher, in each of us," says Ms. Alyokhina. "If we could find these people within ourselves this would change the country."

She sounds very much like someone campaigning for elected office. She's certainly used to the games that professional politicians play.

She and Ms. Tolokonnikova call their early release - they were to serve two years for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" - a public gimmick ahead of next month's Winter Olympics in Sochi, one meant to soften Mr. Putin's international image.

And on Feb. 7, when much of the world will be watching the opening ceremonies at Sochi, the women are planning to be in faraway Mordovia, the central Russian republic where Ms. Tolokonnikova spent much of her time behind bars. They're planning to file legal challenges on behalf of those political prisoners still jailed in what Ms. Tolokonnikova calls Mordovia's "little gulag archipelago."

The tactic is simple: to use Pussy Riot's fame to distract from Mr. Putin's party in Sochi - which they believe will be followed by a fresh crackdown on dissent soon after the Games are over and the world's media moves on.

Ms. Alyokhina invites me to skip the Olympics and come along. "This is more important for society," she says.

Russia's Beyoncé

Even many liberal Russians found it difficult to support Pussy Riot's profanity-filled concert in Moscow's main cathedral. But thanks in large part to Ms. Tolokonnikova's diarizing of her time in jail - descriptions of 16-hour workdays and harsh punishments- she and Ms. Alyokhina have emerged as two of the most powerful voices speaking out against the Kremlin.

Together, they are filling a vacuum in Russia's political opposition. Mr. Putin, who was rattled by protests against his rule in 2011 and 2012, has since recovered his footing and seems as in control as any time during his 15-year reign as either Russia's president or prime minister. Anti-corruption lawyer and protest leader Alexey Navalny has gone silent since losing a bid last fall to be elected mayor of Moscow.

Tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was released as part of the same December amnesty for political prisoners as the Pussy Riot members, headed to Germany immediately after being freed following a decade in jail. He's said he's not interested in playing an active role in Russian politics for the time being.

Ms. Tolokonnikova and Ms. Alyokhina, in contrast, have been anything but quiet since their release. They've moved tirelessly around Russia talking to small crowds about the need for judicial reform. Next week, the pair will fly to New York to take part in an Amnesty International concert.

Both women are mothers of young children. But they say that jail time made them stronger.

"When you live shoulder to shoulder to with the system's officials, it helps you understand better the psychology of those officials. That is why it was a big mistake by the Putin government to put us into jail. Because now we know by practice how to interact with them," Ms. Tolokonnikova says.

The two women do seem somewhat bewildered by the celebrity they gained while they were behind bars. Despite identical prison sentences, the bulk of public attention has fallen on the more photogenic Ms. Tolokonnikova - portraits of her hung from every wall of the art gallery they visited this week - to the extent that Russian media have drawn bizarre comparisons to the pop group Destiny's Child, with Ms. Tolokonnikova cast as Pussy Riot's Beyoncé Knowles.

Ms. Alyokhina seems unbothered by her second-fiddle status, often letting Ms. Tolokonnkova answer media questions first before adding her own remarks. Even before they were arrested, Ms. Tolokonnikova was Pussy Riot's de facto leader, writing some of the band's most aggressive lyrics and coming up with the choreography for the performance in the Christ the Saviour Cathedral. (A third Pussy Riot member was also jailed for the act, but received a shorter prison term because she was tackled by security before the performance began.)

Supporters say they deserve the attention because their defiant stand against the Kremlin captures the choice facing today's Russia.

"They are a mirror of Putin," says Marat Gelman, the owner of the art gallery that this week was screening a documentary about Pussy Riot that had been banned from screening in Russia. "[Mr. Putin] is a man, they are girls. He is old, they are young. He is grey, they are colourful. He is rich, they are poor ... They've shown to the entire world how our system works, the courts, the prosecutors, the prisons. They've also shown that Russia's art community is very powerful."

Canadian 'foreign agents'

Ms. Tolokonnikova's father, Andrei, takes it a step further, comparing his daughter and Ms. Alyokhina to famous Soviet-era dissidents like, yes, Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov. "They can fill that role," he says, with a bent grin that matches his daughter's.

Despite the risk that she could go back to jail, the philosopher and writer says he will encourage his daughter to escalate her fight against the Kremlin.

He says Ms. Tolokonnikova had an apolitical upbringing in the Arctic mining city of Norilsk, before discovering politics a decade ago when Mr. Khodorkovsky was jailed on charges many believe were punishment for his political opposition to Mr. Putin.

She grew even more political, and radical, after she met her now-husband Pyotr Verzilov, a dual Canadian and Russian citizen who spent part of his high school years living in Toronto's High Park neighbourhood. (Mr. Verzilov's Canadian passport - and Ms. Tolokonnikova's Ontario health card - were entered as evidence during her trial as proof that Pussy Riot were "foreign agents" sent to stir unrest in Russia. Ms. Tolokonnikova said she spent only a month living in Canada.)

At Moscow State University, Ms. Tolokonnikova and Mr. Verzilov were among the founders of a shock-art collective known as Voina, the Russian word for "War." The group achieved notoriety with stunts that included videotaping a five-couple orgy inside a biology museum (to mock a government call for Russians to have more babies). "She was not motivated by ideological hatred towards Putin," Mr. Tolokonnikov says of his daughter. "It was non-conformism."

At least it was in the beginning. Now, both Ms. Tolokonnikova and Ms. Alyokhina seem motivated by little else than escalating their fight with Mr. Putin and his regime.

"We need to make everyone overcome the barrier that holds them back from getting involved in political actions," Ms. Tolokonnikova says. "Everyone has to ask himself or herself: 'Why do they want Russia to be without Putin?'"

Her own answer to that question involves that English expletive, a flash of the angry punk rocker that, for the moment, she's trying to keep hidden.

She recovers her new grace as an admirer steps forward to hand her a bunch of flowers. Ms. Tolokonnikova, the politician-in-training, gracefully receives the bouquet and smiles for the flashing cameras.

Every eye in the room is on her. And her combination of charisma and cool determination seems far more potent than any number of women in balaclavas.

Mark MacKinnon is The Globe's Senior International Correspondent. Follow him @markmackinnon.

The unfrozen north, circa 2067
Flooded cities, arid prairies and climate refugees - Globe science writer Ivan Semeniuk imagines Canada on the eve of its 200th birthday if emissions remain unchecked
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F5

It's Dec. 31, 2066, and for a little while the prime minister of Canada is trying not to think too much about a troubled world.

After all, it's time to celebrate. In a few hours she'll be on Parliament Hill to usher in the year that Canada turns 200.

As a nod to the past, the event will echo a similar scene that took place exactly a century before when Lester B. Pearson, her distant predecessor, lit the Centennial Flame.

Feeling the weight of history and looking for inspiration, she uses her digital aide to call up the speech Pearson gave that night. But when the file flashes across her sleeve, what catches her eye is the black and white photo that pops up along with the text.

There stands Lester B. in his hat and overcoat on a brisk December night. The snapshot has captured the cloud of breath at his chin while, behind him, officials and flag bearers stand shoulder to shoulder like they're closing ranks against the winter cold.

What a difference, she thinks. On the eve of Canada's bicentennial year, Ottawa no longer feels so much like a nordic city. While the capital still experiences blizzards, cold snaps and - increasingly - severe ice storms, there are now long stretches when daytime temperatures are above freezing. Most years, the Rideau Canal is open for skating for just a week or two.

Born in 2014, this future prime minister inhabits the Canada we can expect to see under the highest-emission scenario considered by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) in its latest assessment of climate impacts, released on March 31.

Tomorrow, the IPCC will release its follow-up report on mitigation, focusing on the emission reductions needed to avoid the worst-case scenario of unchecked climate change. But given the political challenges that stand in the way of co-ordinated international action, it's worth considering what will happen if, 53 years from now, the amount of carbon in the atmosphere is still on the rise.

A climate projection for Canada in 2067 conducted for The Globe and Mail based on the IPCC's high-emissions scenario paints a picture of a warmer and stormier country. In this possible future, the average global temperature is about 2 degrees Celsius warmer than it was at the beginning of the century. In Ottawa, the change is more like 3.5 degrees. For old-timers, it feels like the city has migrated a few hundred kilometres south.

Ironically, this is the world that international climate negotiators had hoped for when, in 2009, they set two degrees of warming as a global safety limit. If warming could be held to two degrees, the IPCC has said, the worst impact of climate change can be avoided.

But under the IPCC's high-emissions scenario, two degrees of warming is not good news. Rather than a stable endpoint where global warming tops out, in 2067 it will be a fleeting signpost that humanity blows through on its way to a much hotter planet.

So while 2067 is no climate apocalypse - at least not for Canada - it is a time of growing uneasiness as the unavoidable consequences of a high-emissions future rattle a world already beset by inequality and geopolitical tension.

Whatever issues and worries are keeping Canada's prime minister awake by then, it's a good bet that climate change will be one of them.

Floods, wildfires, chablis

While the ability to simulate the atmosphere in massively complex computer programs has improved by leaps and bounds over the past 25 years, anyone hoping to gaze into Canada's climate crystal ball is confronted with some big unknowns. Chief among them is the question of how far the world will go along its current path before shifting in a meaningful way from fossil fuels - if it ever does.

"We have a lot more faith in what the models are telling us, but the uncertainty comes from not knowing what the greenhouse-gas emissions are going to be," says Adam Fenech, director of the Climate Research Laboratory at the University of Prince Edward Island. The lab is one of the few places where the outputs of all the world's major climate models can be readily combined to provide an outlook for specific regions; it is where Dr. Fenech created an outlook for Canada in 2067 for The Globe and Mail.

The general implications for Canada are laid out in the IPCC's report, including the growing likelihood of extreme heat, flooding and drought in summer and increasingly snow-free winters in much of the country.

But the biggest temperature shifts in Canada, according to Dr. Fenech, will occur when most people aren't paying attention - in the form of average nighttime lows that are as much as 10 degrees warmer than today. Warmer nights are a hallmark of the growing presence of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. "You could say climate change happens at night," he says.

Along with the heat will come more precipitation across the whole of Canada - a rise of 6 to 10 per cent annually for the most populated parts of the country. Depending on exactly how and when that precipitation occurs, flooding events like those experienced last year in Calgary and Ontario's cottage country are expected to become increasingly common.

"Water is a big part of what's changing in our climate and what's expected going forward," says Paul Kovacs, executive director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR), based in London, Ont., and a lead author on the North America chapter of the IPCC report.

When it comes to forests, warmer winters have already increased the survival of various beetles that can infest trees. And despite more precipitation on average, the IPCC notes, the growing severity of dry spells will increase outbreaks of wildfires.

Farmers will feel the impact too - as well as some of the potential benefits of longer growing seasons as temperatures rise. The benefits are undeniable, says Barrie Smit, an emeritus professor of geography at the University of Guelph. Farming will likely push northward in those locations where soils allow it, while the arrival of varieties of grapes and specialty crops previously unable to grow in Canada will be a boon to winemakers, among others.

But the upside may be offset by increased risk elsewhere, particularly on the prairies, where periodic dry spells could mean long-term trouble for grain growers, potentially overwhelming irrigation capacity and driving up prices.

When it comes to farming, "the issue is not average temperature at all. It the frequency and severity of droughts," Dr. Smit says.

Fortress Canada?

In Canada, the rate of warming will be most pronounced in the North, where Dr. Fenech's analysis shows average temperatures climbing by 5 to 6 degrees mid-century in a high-emissions scenario. This startling shift will be the nail in the coffin for summer sea ice, and it guarantees profound changes for Arctic wildlife and the people who depend on it as a food source.

"The big thing is how will animal species be affected. ... We just don't really know," says James Ford, a geographer at McGill University who studies climate change in the North.

At the same time, a warming Arctic will bring opportunities to the North in the form of resource development and jobs. Whether the region comes out ahead will depend on how well it can adapt to changes such as the loss of permafrost. This is a huge matter for a community like Tuktoyaktuk, which is built on a frozen river delta that may all too soon melt away into the sea.

Yet, the biggest climate challenges facing the prime minister in 2067 may be the ones that originate outside Canada.

By then, with a population somewhere around 60 million, Canada will likely be adapting to a warmer world, bearing the costs while enjoying whatever short-term gains aggressive climate change may bring.

But as the planet rapidly warms in the high-emissions scenario just as the world's population nears 10 billion, the situation for much of the rest of the world will be less rosy.

"That's when you're starting to see areas that are already pretty hot pushing the threshold of habitability," says Damon Matthews, a climate scientist at Concordia University in Montreal.

In the developing world, climate change spells food shortages and extreme poverty as rising sea levels and environmental stress overwhelm countries that do not have the resources to adapt. It is unlikely that Canada, a wealthy northern nation that could well be seen as having played a disproportionate role in causing the climate problem, will escape being drawn into a larger global crisis.

As Canadians cope with the climate's impact at home, they may also be increasingly called upon to provide direct aid, some form of compensation, or to relieve affected countries by taking in economic refugees. The alternative will be no less troubling - become an isolated fortress while the rest of the world bakes in misery.

During his centennial-year address, Lester Pearson said that Canada had found "unity in diversity," a model that mankind as a whole would need to emulate "if we are to survive the perils of the nuclear age."

In 2067, when another prime minister prepares to address the nation, a different set of perils will be in play. On a national scale, it will have altered the weather and changed ways of life. On a global scale, it could challenge the meaning of what it is to be Canadian.

Ivan Semeniuk reports on science for The Globe and Mail.

The lone wolf joins the fold
Its role in the hunt for the missing Malaysian airliner is the latest sign that China, long dismissed as self-obsessed, is finally serious about becoming a good global citizen. Nathan VanderKlippe reports
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F4

BEIJING -- Brandishing guns and tossing bombs, the mob surrounded the construction site, attacked the foreign workers and tried to make off with everything from cars and computers to cash.

The country was falling apart, and the assault was "very scary," says one victim, an interpreter who managed to escape the onslaught and find refuge in the home of a local friend.

Four days later, her embassy called and, before long, she was at the airport walking past thousands of others desperate, but unable, to get out.

Monica Li had no such worries. She was Chinese. "There were many people from other countries ... but no one picked them up," she recalls.

Ms. Li flew directly to Beijing, while others were evacuated on Greek ferries hired by her government. In total, 35,860 Chinese nationals were plucked from danger in just under a week as Libya imploded in 2011. China also carried to safety nearly a thousand others, including citizens of Bangladesh, Nepal and Vietnam.

"The Chinese government is getting stronger and stronger," Ms. Li says. "In the past, they may not have been able to do something like this. But now they can protect their people. We just feel very lucky."

Three years later, in the throes of another crisis, Beijing is once again exercising its might. Two-thirds of the 239 people who were on board when Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared March 8 were Chinese, and their government has responded with force, committing almost a dozen aircraft, two dozen satellites and a small fleet of ships to the international effort to find the plane.

Although China has long embraced the world's money, it has been much criticized for doing little to redress a long history of insularity on other fronts. It has been called a "selfish power" that has won international treaties and assistance but been unwilling to offer much in return.

In the search for the missing airplane, however, a new look is emerging, that of a country more interested in the broader good. That the steps taken so far have been small does not diminish their significance.

"There is a growing pattern of China co-operating in disaster relief and search and rescue," says Geoff Raby, a former Australian ambassador to China, of what he considers "building blocks" for something more important.

It is "part of China normalizing the way it deals with the rest of the world, as indeed it must," he says, noting that over time such efforts "begin to change people's perceptions."

For example, as Chinese ships and planes hunt for Flight 370 alongside those of other nations in the southern Indian Ocean, search leader Australia has gone out of its way to take note. Its authorities have said they are "very satisfied" with Beijing's willingness to co-operate and share information. One Australian naval officer, describing communication with a Chinese ship, said it was "like she was one of our own."

Generosity that extends

even to a bitter rival

The change began long before the plane vanished. China was among the five most generous donors to Japan, arguably its most bitter rival, following the 2011 tsunami and subsequent Fukushima disaster. Its ships patrol the Somali coast in the fight against piracy. A Chinese warship recently helped to escort a shipment of chemical weapons being removed from Syria and, in January, one of its icebreakers played an important role in rescuing people from an icebound Russian ship off Antarctica.

China also plays an increasingly important role at the United Nations. It currently serves in no fewer than 10 peacekeeping missions with 2,188 active peacekeepers, more than any other permanent member of the Security Council and exceeding those from Canada and the U.S. by a factor of 18.

As well, China contributes more than five per cent of UN funding, compared with less than 3 per cent for Canada. Its navy and army have conducted joint disaster-response exercises with Australia and New Zealand, and at least one live-fire naval exercise. Last November, for the first time, members the People's Liberation Army set foot on U.S. soil - while taking part in a disaster-relief exercise in Hawaii.

"China has very gradually, over the years, broken with what had been the 1970s policy of non-participation and being studiously 'outside,'" says U.S. analyst Jeffrey Laurenti, a long-time student of the UN. It has begun to act more like "a responsible global citizen," by taking steps that "build up its credibility and its experience as a major power."

In part, that's because China has invested heavily in a navy and air force that can, with increasing ease, project power around the world. It now has a capability to respond that it never before possessed.

In his 2013 book, China Goes Global: The Partial Power, political scientist David Shambaugh says that, as a rule, Beijing's increasing influence is more broad than deep, and has left it notably devoid of close international friends.

But he makes an exception for disaster relief, calling it "one area where China has progressively been doing a better job of being a good global citizen."

In part, the country has no choice. Its ties with the international community have grown dramatically in recent years. No other country sends out more tourists - about 97 million last year - and Chinese companies have become a global force, making foreign investments in 2012 of $87.8-billion, behind only those of the U.S. and Japan. They now do business everywhere from African war zones and eastern Europe (Chinese-built Geely cars are top sellers in Ukraine) to Alberta's oil sands.

The world has increasingly intruded on the home front as well. A deadly attack at a train station last month by knife-wielding assailants with apparent fundamentalist Muslim ties made clear that global problems are increasingly China's problems.

In that respect, China sees its efforts at the UN as a "very useful" contribution "for the maintaining of international order," says Wang Chungui, former ambassador to Malaysia, calling China a "responsible country in this world."

Yet critics say its diplomacy remains heavily tainted by narcissism. For all its willingness to work with others, China remains focused on its own interests. The Libya evacuation and Flight 370 search both have distinctly domestic political motivations.

"The Chinese leadership must be seen as doing everything possible to find out what happened to this airliner," says Bonnie Glaser, senior Asia adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. "This for China becomes a legitimacy issue for the party and the leadership."

Ms. Glaser calls China "very much a selfish power," and argues that Beijing hasn't moved far from the foreign policy dictates of Deng Xiaoping, who famously urged his country to "keep a low profile and never take the lead."

She insists that "Chinese ambitions outside their own borders are very limited," adding that "they want to ensure that their external environment continues to be favourable for internal stability and domestic growth."

Even in supposedly co-operative ventures, China has acted as a lone wolf. With the airline search, Malaysia and Australia have co-ordinated international efforts, but Beijing unilaterally reported satellite debris sightings and the detection of an underwater audio "ping" by one of its ships.

China "has consistently failed what I call 'kindergarten 101'; that is, share the sand-box with others and co-operate on the sand castle," says Larry Wortzel, a former U.S. military attache in Beijing now serving on the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

China has been noticeably absent from global conventions on land mines and the International Criminal Court, and has been loath to turn to international dispute resolution to sort out territorial issues.

By other measures of engagement, too, China lags far behind. It spent $39-billion (U.S.) on international aid in the half-century leading up to 2009, little more than the $31.5-billion the U.S. donated last year alone (Canada's figure was just under $5-billion).

Following the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean - a disaster in its own backyard - China provided just $122-million in assistance, compared with $445-million from faraway Canada. Last year, after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, China initially offered $100,000, a sum so embarrassing that it was soon increased.

'When you are a superpower ... responsibilities come with that'

China, of course, remains a developing country, with nearly 100 million people still living below the poverty line and a per capita gross national income lower than that of Thailand, one of the countries hardest hit by the tsunami 10 years ago.

At the same time, its economy is now the second largest on Earth, and in time may exceed that of the U.S. For many, it remains too reticent to employ its power in service of the greater global good.

"Everyone keeps telling them that they have to be more of an international player," says Guy Saint-Jacques, Canada's ambassador to China, adding that he hopes the collaboration on Flight 370 is a sign of a broader shift.

"When you are a superpower, and especially a permanent member of the Security Council, I think responsibilities come with that," he says. "You cannot sit on the sidelines, or get involved only because your interests are at stake."

Nathan VanderKlippe is The Globe and Mail's Asia correspondent, based in Beijing.

Fathers and sons
When it came to fathers and sons, Sigmund Freud only knew the half of it, perhaps even less than that. It is undeniably true that on their path to maturity sons have to murder their fathers (only a symbolic butchery in the best case scenarios). But the full gamut of filial emotions is much wider than the Oedipus complex. Our fathers appear to us first as gods, then in various successive disguises as heroes, mentors, friends, clowns, rivals, victims, and, perhaps finally, as remorseful memories. Mourning the slain father is also part of the Oedipus story.
Saturday, April 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R18


By Adam Begley

Harper, 400 pages, $36.99

John Updike was one of the towering and inescapable patriarchs of American literature, a writer so dauntingly skilled and so impossibly prolific that subsequent generations can only look back at him with resentful awe. When he was alive, the range of responses to Updike ran from knee-bending reverence to knife-wielding rage. While women writers felt free to either admire Updike's stellar prose or dismiss him as a sexist old coot, male writers tended to have a more visceral reaction. For Ian McEwan, Updike was one of his "father figures." Nicholson Baker's U and I (1991), a deliciously creepy memoir of his obsession with Updike, is puckishly written but also frank in its sexual emulation. Baker saluted Updike's erotic explicitness, hailing him as the first writer "to take the penile sensorium under the wing of elaborate metaphorical prose."

The late and now-sainted David Foster Wallace was more brutally Oedipal. In a notorious and opinion-shaping 1997 review of Updike's Toward the End of Time, Wallace railed against the elderly writer as a "phallocrat," a "narcissist," a "solipsist" and quoted the devastating judgment of a friend who memorably summed up Updike as "a penis with a thesaurus." As with Baker, paternal sexuality is the key to Wallace's response. Updike was the bard of suburban adultery, the definitive chronicler of bed-hopping among the barbeque set. Wallace looked at Updike with the disenchanted eyes of a son pondering his old man's feckless skirt-chasing. "The children of the same impassioned infidelities and divorces Mr. Updike wrote about so beautifully," Wallace complained, "got to watch all this brave new individualism and self-expression and sexual freedom deteriorate into the joyless and anomic self-indulgence of the Me Generation."

Baker and Wallace should be seen as two vantage points of the same monument, both obsessed with Updike's formidable generative member. "What a big dick Updike has!" Baker marveled. "What a big dick Updike is!" Wallace replied.

Adam Begley's hefty new biography of Updike belongs to this history of conflicted sonly emotions, an attempt to thread a middle path between Baker's abject worship and Wallace's adolescent rebellion. As it happens, Begley, as an editor at the New York Observer, commissioned Wallace's review, and in this book the biographer tries to make amends by complicating (although not wholly eradicating) the image of Updike as a self-absorbed sex addict.

Beyond the Wallace connection, Begley has a long history with Updike, one that predates the biographer's birth: the man writing Updike's life is as close to being Updike's son as one can get without being able to pass a paternity test. Begley's father, the lawyer-turned-novelist Louis Begley, was born a year after Updike and studied with Updike at Harvard in the early 1950s. In 1953, Updike married Mary Pennington; in 1956, Louis Begley married a woman with a name comically similar to Mary Pennington: Sally Higginson. Adam Begley was born in 1959, the same year as Updike's second son Michael. As a family friend, Updike would drop by to entertain Louis Begley's clan. According to family lore, Updike's juggling provoked the first burst of laughter to fly from the lips of the baby Adam. The film About Schmidt, based on a Louis Begley novel, borrowed a central narrative device from Dear Alexandros, an obscure 1959 Updike short story. Louis Begley and Sally divorced in 1970, prefiguring the separation of Updike and Mary in 1974 (and their divorce in 1976). For ample reasons, the impact of family breakup on children is a major concern in Begley's biography.

Begley repeatedly hammers at the point that Updike was an "autobiographical writer." This is a half-truth or perhaps a quarter-truth. Updike had two major modes, the domestic and the exotic. As a domestic writer, he imagined hypothetical alter egos who owed much to his own experiences. The Updike who crafted fun-house mirrors of his own life is dominant in novels like The Centaur (1963) and Couples (1968), not to mention the stories set in Olinger, Penn., a or tracing the rocky marriage of Richard and Joan Maple. But Updike also had an adventurous side which took him to the imaginary African nation Kush, to Brazil, to medieval Denmark, and to the post-American future, among other far-flung locales.

Even dealing with familiar territory, Updike consistently imagined characters who decidedly were not him. Harry Angstrom, the protagonist of the Rabbit novels, is like his creator a native of Pennsylvania but the fictional character has only slightly over half of Updike's IQ points and a completely different life trajectory. Yet Angstrom is as wholly plausible as any character in American fiction. To see Updike as primarily an "autobiographical writer" is to miss the crafty witchery that he put into even the fiction that was closest to his experiences.

Begley deftly recapitulates a story familiar to readers of Updike's memoir Self-Consciousness as well as novels like The Centaur: the swaddled childhood in small-town and rural Pennsylvania; the strong-willed mother with her own literary ambitions; the self-sacrificing father; the brightness and talent that opened the doors to Harvard and The New Yorker; the 1953 marriage while still an undergraduate to Mary; the four children (two sons and two daughters); the adulteries that both Mary and Updike indulged in as part of the swinging crowd of Ipswich, Mass.; the tormented love affair with Joyce Harrington that almost tore apart the marriage in 1962; the crazy sexual adventurism in the aftermath of that affair when Updike seems to have slept with nearly every housewife in Ipswich; the bestselling fame; the final dissolution of the marriage in the mid-1970s; the remarriage to his now-divorced former mistress Martha Bernhard; the lingering guilt over the impact of all this on his kids and stepkids (three sons from Martha's first marriage).

Begley's account of Updike's life is often shrewd but it is also severely damaged by misinterpretations and partisanship, a byproduct of who Begley talked to. He interviewed Updike's first wife Mary and their four kids but not the second wife Martha and the three stepsons from that relationship. As a result, Mary is presented as nurturing, maternal, shy, serene, and artistic as well as tolerant of Updike's creative and personal foibles. By contrast, Martha is depicted as an evil stepmother worthy of a fairytale rather than a biography.

Although Begley provides a few softening caveats and provisos, the dominant narrative is that Martha was a predatory home-wrecker who had designs on Updike. Once Updike and Martha married, she allegedly became a controlling wife who isolated him in a remote mansion and sharply regulated his access to the children and grandchildren produced by his first marriage. Martha, Begley claims, "was perfectly willing to bully [Updike] for his own good." Begley strongly hints that the wife in Toward the End of Time (who he describes as a "fearsome nag" as well as "shrewish") is a likeness of Martha. The dubious gender politics of this account should be obvious.

Begley's sinister portrait of Martha is simplistic and rings false. Could it be that the biographer resents the second wife for not co-operating with his project? Begley's account almost completely erases Martha's sons (Updike's stepsons). In the book Updike in Cincinnati (2007), James Schiff has a small anecdote about how John Bernhard, Updike's stepson, made a visit to a literary reading and was greeted by the novelist with "a smile and a kiss." This throwaway remark in a book commemorating a small Updike conference is a more humanizing portrait of John Bernhard than he receives in Begley's massive biography.

Is Begley right in his claim that Updike was cut off from the lives of the grandchildren from his marriage to Mary? Three of those grandchildren are mixed-race (a daughter and a son from the first marriage both married black Africans). Updike's increasing sensitivity to issues of race and the special experience of mixed-race families, evident in novels like Brazil (1994) and Terrorist (2006), was surely connected to his grandfatherly interest in the non-white branch of his family tree. Updike had a long-standing and tangled history with race which Begley only sketchily covers and the experience of having dark-skinned grandkids changed the novelist in ways this biography doesn't contemplate.

Begley notes that "Oedipal struggle" is a recurring theme in the Rabbit books. Not just Oedipal struggle but unresolved anger towards an imperfect father figure is the major motive behind this flawed biography. The father can't be quite forgiven nor totally blamed for leaving the family, so the stepmother becomes the scapegoat.

We're never really finished with our parents, not even after their deaths. Begley's imperfect book is one attempt to wrestle with Updike's ghost, but there will be many more. One hopes those future biographies will deal more justly not just with Martha Updike but also the rich and complex patrimony Updike has bequeathed us.

Jeet Heer's next book, Sweet Lechery (featuring his selected cultural and political essays), will be released later this year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What happens when an atheist sees God?
The American writer Barbara Ehrenreich got a Ph.D in cell biology before she became an anti-war activist and journalist. She has made a career out of busting myths in books like Nickel and Dimed, about life in low-paying jobs. 'I don't do belief,' she says. But in a new memoir, Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything, Ms. Ehrenreich tackles a great mystery in her life - the time, as a teenager, she had a religious-like vision of the world in flames. She had never talked about the vision before writing her latest book. The Globe's Kate Taylor asks the author: What's really going on here?
Saturday, April 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F4

The word God with a capital G appears in your title, but you come from a long line of proud atheists. Would you still, at this point in your life, use the word atheist to describe yourself?

Oh yes. I have taken some heat for that title. I always thought of God a little metaphorically, as in "Oh my God." No, no backsliding here.

Still, in the final pages of the book, you raise the notion of an Other, a presence, or perhaps plural others. You would not elevate that to God?

No, when we say God we mean a powerful being; we are usually monotheistic about it, a single being who is usually seen as good and caring, and this has nothing to do with that.

When looking at your proto-mystical experience, how much weight would you give to the circumstances that you describe: you hadn't eaten much, you hadn't slept properly, you were badly sunburned?

Yeah. That's all there. That is what the Plains Indians did when they went on vision quests. That had something to do with it. I can think of very materialist explanations for just about everything. But also I am left with the raw experience: This is it, this is what happened. It was stupendous beyond anything else that ever happened to me, with the possible exception of having babies. I can't fold it into a materialist explanation and be satisfied, because what happened is so real to me.

And you remember it clearly?

All my life. The struggle was to be able to put it into words. I had been recalling it over many decades. I put it aside but it didn't go away: late-night musings.

When I read about that young woman who wrote the diary, I felt pained by her circumstances. You describe her as a solipsist, someone who only believes in the existence of her own consciousness, but I would also describe her as emotionally abused by her alcoholic parents, and in great need of affection and counsel. You are sometimes quite sharp about her adolescent indulgences. I wondered if you felt sorrow or pity looking back?

In all the time that has lapsed since I was 17, I became a mother, and a grandmother now. I will admit that there is part of me that does sometimes see her [my younger self] in a maternal way and says, "Oh my god, why wasn't anyone noticing what was going on with her?" I want to avoid the notion of abuse, because that opens up the possibility of an abuse narrative, the unhappy childhood and all that, and that becomes normal or something.

My mother was harsher than most other mothers, but remember children were not the same thing in the 1940s and 50s. You were supposed to take care of yourself, stay out of trouble, stay out of the way. Nobody saw a child as some kind of artisanal project. It just horrifies me now we have gone so far in the other direction. Let them find out a few things for themselves. Not that I am not a very involved and caring grandma.

That made me wonder about love in your live. Despite your solipsism, you always had a boyfriend. In your isolation, how did you manage to find companionship with other adults?

Everything changed for me when I became involved in the anti-war movement in the 60s. That is really when I came out of the solipsism and began to be acutely aware of, or at least imagine, other people around me as centres of consciousness and feeling, just like myself. At that point, I became a little bit more like a normal person.

In Bright-Sided you exposed the danger of positive thinking, and the vacuousness of that trend. Most quest stories are Oprah-ish, the person goes through something difficult and comes out somewhere better. I wondered how you see where you are now?

Like is everything resolved and I have become a mature, responsible grown-up?


No, I don't think I have. I am in some ways extremely self-indulgent. I follow up things that interest me; I become unstoppable, obsessed with a subject and that's what I do.

[Now] I am entertaining myself with a new line of research and speculation which takes me back to my brief tenure as a cell biologist. I am intrigued by the autonomy of individual cells in our bodies, the degree of autonomy some of them have; cancer cells would of course be the most autonomous.

Let me put it another way. How do you feel now the book's been published?

Quite a bit of anxiety. Also a feeling of, "Well, I had to do it and I did it." I was not prepared to die without taking a crack at it.

I didn't know what the response was going to be. There is a lot more interest than I had ever imagined. I just got a wonderful e-mail from a woman I know well and she said, "It happened to me." She briefly describes some incident in her teenage years; I wrote back to her just thrilled. There is this coming-out feeling; it's out there. I have no secrets left, which is terribly scary but also there is this possibility of finding others. People wave back and say "Yup," and that's what I want - to see that I was not alone in these things and understand this is a very widespread experience which only reinforces my sense that it needs to be discussed and understood a lot better.

You write that there are always lots of materialist explanations used to explain God away, and yet American society seems very religious; people are always talking about God or praying. How do you react to that?

It helps that I have learned something about the varieties of religion in the last few decades. A big breakthrough for me was beginning to understand that not all religions require belief or faith. Twenty-five-hundred years ago, most religions were probably ecstatic religions where people engaged in rituals in which they did not believe in the deity or spirit, they experienced the deity or spirit. It took over them. They had direct contact. If you tell me you want me to believe in your deity, I say, "No way, I don't do belief!" But if you tell me there is a deity that you can experience if you follow the following set of ritual procedures, I might be more interested. The whole idea of belief is wrong; don't believe - find out, know.

Kate Taylor is a feature writer

with The Globe's Arts section.

This interview has been edited and condensed.



In the next few minutes, on that empty street, I found whatever I had been looking for since the articulation of my quest, or perhaps, given my mental passivity at the moment, whatever had been looking for me. Here we leave the jurisdiction of language, where nothing is left but the vague gurgles of surrender expressed in words like "ineffable" and "transcendent." For most of the intervening years, my general thought has been: If there are no words for it, then don't say anything about it. Otherwise you risk slopping into "spirituality," which is, in addition to being a crime against reason, of no more interest to other people than your dreams.

But there is one image, handed down over the centuries, that seems to apply, and that is the image of fire, as in the "burning bush." At some point in my predawn walk - not at the top of a hill or the exact moment of sunrise, but in its own good time - the world flamed into life. How else to describe it? There were no visions, no prophetic voices or visits by totemic animals, just this blazing everywhere. Something poured into me and I poured into it. This was not the passive beatific merger with "the All," as promised by the Eastern mystics. It was a furious encounter with a living substance that was coming at me through all things at once, and one reason for the terrible wordlessness of the experiences is that you cannot observe fire really closely without becoming part of it. Whether you start as a twig or a gorgeous tapestry, you will be recruited into the flame and made indistinguishable from the rest of the blaze.

I stopped at some point in front of a secondhand store, transfixed by the blinding glow of the most mundane objects, teacups and toasters. I could not contain it, this onrush: The dream in my uncle's house had been right about that. Nothing could contain it. Everywhere, "inside" and out, the only condition was overflow. "Ecstasy" would be the word for this, but only if you are willing to acknowledge that ecstasy does not occupy the same spectrum as happiness or euphoria, that it participates in the anguish of loss and can resemble an outbreak of violence.

From Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything by Barbara Ehrenreich

His truth is marching on
Seventy-five years after John Steinbeck published The Grapes of Wrath, his elegiac novel of America, a reflection on the country today
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R20

Reading John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath as a teenager, I didn't really understand the red earth.

Where I grew up in rural, agricultural B.C., the earth was brown, heavy, rich from the occasional flooding of the Fraser River. My main frame of reference for "red earth" was Mars, as depicted in comic books and science-fiction pulps. I knew, rationally, that such a thing existed, but it didn't seem real to me.

And in a novel so rich in imagery, I suspect I took the term at a metaphorical level: red earth, blood-stained, wounded, dying.

It wasn't until I visited Oklahoma City last month that I saw red earth for the first time, and everything about The Grapes of Wrath seemed to click into a different arrangement in my mind.

And standing on the front porch of the Indian Trading Post, a stone's throw from Route 66 - "the path of a people in flight, refugees from dust and shrinking land," - the wind playing through the brown scrub grass, turning the hydro windmills in the distance, it was easy - too easy - to see all of it happening, to recognize, finally, the world behind the words.

"To the red country and part of the grey country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth."

Following a series of articles chronicling life in the migrant camps and fields of central California during the Great Depression and an aborted attempt at a satirical novel concerned with the same material (L'Affaire Lettuceberg, which it remains unclear whether Steinbeck abandoned or destroyed), Steinbeck wrote what would become The Grapes of Wrath in a deliberately scheduled hundred-day burst in mid-1938; the novel was first published 75 years ago this month, and has just been reissued in a new Penguin edition.

It is one of those rarest of books: still contemporary, still vital after all of those years, still important.

Nay, critical.

It was an immediate sensation, adored and reviled by turns. It sold over 400,000 copies in its first year, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1940 (the novel was also singled out for recognition when Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel in 1962). A cornerstone of 20th-century American literature, it remains widely studied and read, a perennial seller. It is also perennially challenged, with conservative forces seeking to have it removed from libraries and curricula owing, largely, to what is referred to, perhaps over-coyly, as its "obscenity." This continued opposition is a pale shadow of the rancour and violence which greeted the novel's original publication, with Steinbeck being threatened, and referred to as a communist. Damning stuff in 1939.

Rereading the novel today, one is forced to consider the contradictions - not unlike those of its original reception - which characterize The Grapes of Wrath itself, and to recognize that it succeeds not in spite of these issues, but precisely because of them.

The Grapes of Wrath is never simply one thing; this is its greatest weakness, and its greatest strength. It is at once polemical and realistic, intimate and detached, naturalistic and self-consciously literary, mired in its time and utterly timeless. It shouldn't, by rights, work, at all.

And yet it does.

Seventy-five years on, there's no need to summarize the movement of the novel. Forced off their share of Oklahoma land, the journey of the Joad family to California, drawn by the promise of jobs and a life, is firmly ingrained in the popular consciousness. The tragedy of what they find in what they hoped would be their promised land is as American a tale as the opening of the West decades earlier.

Interweaving third-person chapters with the narrative of the Joads' journey, Steinbeck creates a counterpoint, page by page: intimate modernist realism juxtaposed against detached vignettes (car salesmen cheating the migrant families, a waitress in a roadside restaurant watching the Okies pass, etc.) and raging, detached overviews (Chapter 25, which ends with "In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage" is rage-inducing and chilling simultaneously). The tension between these chapters and the Joads' story is the fuel that drives the narrative, building the tension, raising the stakes. The reader knows the bitterness which awaits the family before the Joads do, and the non-narrative chapters take on the tone of prophecy, an Old Testament fury coiled and building.

But "Old Testament" isn't quite the right term for a novel that eschews traditional Christianity. Often seen as a Christ-figure, lapsed-preacher Jim Casy makes the case - often - that religious faith offers little more than hypocrisy and conflict. The Grapes of Wrath, despite its deep morality and its righteous fervour, is far from a religious text.

It is, however, a deeply spiritual book, and it is from this root that the power and longevity of The Grapes of Wrath grow.

Grounded in a ferocious sense of right, the polemical material takes on that prophetic tone, and in so doing, resets the boundaries of the novel itself. Steinbeck's deep immersion in the reality of the migrants' life opens the novel up to the universal. Steinbeck strives, as William Blake wrote in Auguries of Innocence, "To see a World in a Grain of Sand...And Eternity in an hour." The novel, rooted in the red earth of the topical, takes on the stature of myth, especially in its closing page, with its flood and that transcendent gesture of Rose of Sharon, whose child was stillborn, offering her breast to a dying stranger.

It is in moments like these that The Grapes of Wrath becomes a holy book, touched with grace. Nowhere is this more clear, however, than in what is likely the novel's most familiar moment: Tom Joad's speech.

Having already served a prison sentence for homicide, the eldest Joad son spends the novel actively avoiding trouble, keeping his temper in check even when provoked. When he witnesses the murder of Jim Casy, though, Joad lashes out, and is forced to flee, to leave the family. Upon his departure, he tells his mother, "I'll be all around in the dark - I'll be ever'where - wherever you look. Wherever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there... I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an' - I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready. An' when our folk eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build - why, I'll be there."

It's Tom Joad that draws the novel into the wider world. While I feel echoes of the Joad family's struggles in the novels of Rohinton Mistry and Rawi Hage, and in the grace and power of David Adams Richards's Mercy Among the Children, it is Tom Joad that haunts me.

It's not just a matter of the influence of the character. Yes, Woody Guthrie and Bruce Springsteen both wrote songs around the character, but it goes beyond any work of art.

As he promised, Tom Joad is there.

He's there when Wal- Mart employees in the United States aren't paid enough to eat, and have to turn to public assistance. He's there when millionaire politicians and prosperous corporations oppose the raising of the minimum wage to something someone could actually live on. He's there when the banks force people off their land, whether from agricultural consolidation or subprime mortgages. He's there as desperate migrants brave the Rio Grande in search of their promised land, and as politicians threaten to build a border fence, and people - in fear for their own jobs - take up arms against the "other."

And I saw him, on a breezy late winter morning, in the placid reflecting pond on the site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, where 168 people died in what was the largest domestic terror attack in the United States. The citizens of Oklahoma chose to respond to that act of unspeakable violence with an offering of, in the words of the memorial's dedication, "comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity."

As Joad said, quoting Jim Casy, "For if they fall, the one will lif' up his fellow."

For 75 years, Tom Joad has walked the roadways of America, a ghostly presence, a shadow.

A conscience.

Over the 450 pages of The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck stripped away the legends of America, the lie of a promised land, and gave, in return, a mythic rebirth, a sense of the holy, and a conscience to guide, and to haunt.

Not bad, for one hundred days.

Robert J. Wiersema's new novel, Black Feathers, will be published next year.

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

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

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

What makes Remonte-Pente so covetable?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

1 cup pastry flour

4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup cornmeal

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 tsp vanilla

10 tbsp melted butter

7/8 cup milk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The stage reaches the streets
As Marsha Lederman reports, playwright Joel Bernbaum formed a group to help George after listening to Vancouver's homeless
Saturday, April 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

George packed up his few possessions and got a lift to his own apartment - two decades of life on the street fading further in the rear view mirror. Homeless since he was 14, George has seen his life repaired by the power of art and the dedication of strangers.

"I've tried to do this 15 times, and all the times it was by myself because ... I learned very early on the street that asking for help makes you look weak, and looking weak gets you beat up. This is the first time things have actually succeeded and it's because I've had help."

With the help of a group in Victoria calling themselves the Power of 10, he has learned to cook, drive and has passed Grade 10. "I know it sounds cliché, but I want to be a better man than what I am already," he says.

It all started with a play.

Michael Shamata moved from Toronto to Victoria in 2007 to be artistic director of the Belfry Theatre, housed in a former Baptist church dating back to 1887. Alarmed by the number of homeless people he saw on the streets, he sought an opportunity to address the issue on the stage of the Belfry, which was once a homeless shelter. He eventually commissioned Regina-based playwright Joel Bernbaum, whose focus is verbatim theatre - a sort of documentary theatre, where the script is made up of words actually said by the interviewees.

Mr. Bernbaum set out to talk to as many Victorians about homelessness as he could. Over the course of more than two years, he conducted more than 500 interviews, translating to thousands of pages of transcript. He got to know some of the people living on the street during breakfast ride-alongs with an outreach worker, where they distributed coffee and doughnuts.

He wanted to talk to the housed too, and met many by knocking on random doors in different neighbourhoods.

He also met a man known in the play as Kevin - he didn't want to be identified. Over coffee, Kevin told Mr. Bernbaum a story he had heard at church: Thousands of starfish wash up on a beach. A child tries to rescue them, throwing them into the water, one by one. A man approaches the boy and tells him his efforts won't make any difference. "Well, it made a difference for that one," the child responds.

Kevin was also thinking about Judaism's concept of the minyan, where a quorum of 10 is required for public prayer. How difficult would it be, Kevin asked Mr. Bernbaum, to get 10 people together to help one homeless person?

Warming to his own idea, Kevin said: "Call me when you have the other eight."

A life to be proud of

Mr. Bernbaum also interviewed George - who asked that his real name not be used - then panhandling with his beloved Rottweiler cross.

"She's a major reason why I felt like I could be better than the street," he says in an interview, reaching over to pet her, decked out in doggie rain gear on a dreary Victoria afternoon. "I wanted to give her a better life."

George was born in 1977. Diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, he says he was put on Ritalin at age six. He was bullied at school. "I was ostracized, I was always made fun of, I was always beat up, picked on, thrown around. Girls didn't like me, laughed at me. It was a horrid childhood."

His mother, raising him on her own, did the best she could, but things did not go well. He was sentenced to open custody in the youth justice system (possession of dangerous weapons - a butcher knife to ward off a schoolyard bully, he says.) His mother wound up in what is now called the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. After a few months in youth jail, George was placed in a group home. By 14, he was out on the street in downtown Toronto.

He fell in with bikers, and became very good, he says, at selling pot - a skill he took with him when, wanting to get away from the increasing demands of the bikers, he took off, hitching rides across the country. He wound up in Victoria and began a new life on the street.

Two years ago, he'd had enough. He told Mr. Bernbaum he wanted out. "Every few years I get wanting what other people have - being normal and loved and having a boss that you can learn from and a life to be proud of, like most people," George says. "Like the stories you read in the newspaper and see in the movies."

Mr. Bernbaum was by then acting as associate artistic director at the Belfry and had some stability and a steady income. Inspired by Kevin's starfish story, he initiated what they began to call the Power of 10. He, Kevin and Mr. Shamata started supporting George immediately while they looked for the seven others. They sent e-mails out to their networks and, by the end of the second month, they had the group together.

"I saw it as an opportunity to do something that I'm always sort of griping about ... the homeless situation," says Eryn Yaromy, 27, who works at the Belfry box office.

Each member was to contribute $100 a month and meet with George regularly to help him with some aspect of his life. (There were actually 11 members, as two people, who didn't know each other, teamed up: Iris MacGregor, a retired drama teacher then living out of town, had the money but not the time; Will Weigler, who facilitates socially conscious community theatre projects, had the time but not the money.)

Everyone had an area of specialty. Art teacher Xane St. Phillip helped George fill out endless forms and navigate the bureaucracy in the quest for financial assistance. Christine Leacock, a registered nurse, shepherded him around to medical appointments and assessments. Maureen Murphy-Dyson helped him get his learner's permit, quizzing him over meals at Denny's or Tim Hortons so he wouldn't be learning on an empty stomach.

Ms. Yaromy helped with budgeting. "I'm in an entry-level job ... not making a ton of money," she says. "It just goes to show that anybody can be involved in something like this."

Jeannie MacDonald, a former social worker who is now retired, gave George cooking lessons, beginning with the very basics. "You don't realize what somebody doesn't know. He had not for years had a kitchen or a fridge so it didn't occur to him to put perishables in the fridge," Ms. MacDonald says.

George asked to learn recipes that would allow him to re-experience the meals he had enjoyed at his grandmother's table, before life on the street. He learned how to steam vegetables, make soup, pork roast. "I can make an apple pie from scratch," he says, beaming at his cooking mentor.

A two-year plan

Mr. Bernbaum's play, Home is a Beautiful Word, opened at the Belfry earlier this year. It's a work of documentary theatre, created with the actual words of 58 people Mr. Bernbaum had interviewed. Each presentation was followed by a discussion with audience members, with 50 to 100 people regularly staying in their seats for it - a remarkable rate of participation. George was there on opening night, as were other members of the Power of 10.

Buoyed, counselled and shuttled around by the group, George has learned to budget, and control his temper; he has acquired proper glasses, and, through WorkBC, his forklift operator's licence. He is getting his high-school diploma. "Last year, he took an English class and got an A," boasts Mr. Bernbaum.

After months of coffee shop quizzes, George and Ms. Murphy-Dyson went to the crowded motor vehicle office, where he passed his test. He tore over to his friend and gave her a huge hug, she says. "He was in tears and announced his success to the room."

George has a two-year plan: He wants to learn a trade - maybe welding, carpentry, plumbing - get a job and buy a truck. Having his own set of wheels, he explains, would allow him to make the 12-hour drive to a favourite spot: a natural hot spring he's found helpful for his dog's hip dysplasia.

"We used to hitchhike there every year to help her hips," he says. "And it would be of dual use: I could use it for work and bootin' around. And if I needed to help anyone else out, I could. Because a lot of people have helped me."

Tuesday, April 08, 2014


A Saturday Arts story on playwright Joel Bernbaum incorrectly said he is based in Regina. He is in fact based in Saskatoon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mexico City's must-see art and design spots

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

For whom did you write this book and why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interviews have been edited and condensed.

Off Mozambique's northern coast lies a UNESCO treasure. Feel the centuries slip away on Ilha de Mocambique, a living museum of Portuguese colonial architecture, traditional ways and pristine beaches
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page T1

ILHA DE MOCAMBIQUE, MOZAMBIQUE -- Squinting in the cavernous darkness - through a cross-shaped slit chiselled into the foot-thick stone wall - I can see nothing but dazzling Indian Ocean azure. Nearly 500 years ago, a Portuguese priest likely stood in this exact spot within the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte, yearning for the arrival of a caravel from Lisbon - dreading the sight of a Dutch warship or Arab pirate dhow.

Perched on the eastern edge of Ilha de Mocambique (Mozambique Island), this masterwork of Manueline vaulted architecture is considered to be the Southern hemisphere's oldest still-intact European building.

Behind it looms impregnable Fortaleza de Sao Sebastiao, where thousands of colonial troops once manned one of the largest fortresses ever built south of the Sahara. Together, these remnants of colonialism tell part of the fascinating story of this crescent-shaped speck of coral barely four kilometres long just off Mozambique's northern coast.

Seized shortly after Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama came ashore in 1498, the island that gave Mozambique its name was for centuries the capital of Portugal's African empire. But after the colonial government relocated in 1898, Ilha de Mocambique slid into obscurity, forsaken by the 20th century.

It wasn't until 1991, when UNESCO awarded it World Heritage Site status for its remarkable architectural uniformity, that Ilha de Mocambique began to emerge from isolation. Today, it still welcomes relatively few travellers, but those who do venture here have an historic island as exotic as Zanzibar virtually to themselves. They discover a living museum, where the centuries melt away and where wooden dhows set sail every morning before dawn - as they have for 1,000 years - their crews of Muslim fishermen chanting timeless tribal songs.

Most visitors to Africa come for a safari, but a trip to Mozambique is not about ticking the Big Five off your list. It's about exploring a rich culture and country re-emerging after decades of post-colonial struggle and civil war. One boasting a 2,500-kilometre-long coastline sprinkled with pristine, empty beaches, abundant marine life, superb diving and islands such as Ilha de Mocambique that time forgot.

Last year, increased violence between Mozambique's ruling party and the opposition prompted the Canadian government to advise against non-essential travel to some of the country's provinces. But cooler heads are prevailing and both sides pledge a peaceful run-up to the presidential vote in October, easing fears of continued unrest.

My introduction to Ilha de Mocambique was Stone Town, site of the original European settlement, now connected to the mainland by a narrow single-lane causeway. Today a sleepy fishing village, this maze of silent, slave-built cobblestone alleys that converge on palm-lined town squares feels like a surreal, shuttered movie set. Decaying yellow, blue, terracotta and pink colonial-era limestone mansions, their wooden handcrafted entrances carved with Arab, Indian and Oriental motifs, broil beneath the African sun.

On Stone Town's languid waterfront, fishermen loiter beneath the peeling façades of former Portuguese trading houses, waiting for the high tide to take them back out to sea. In the shallow bay, grandmothers and children scour the seabed for shells. Other women, draped in brilliantly coloured capulanas, the traditional cloth that Muslim Mozambicans wrap around skirts, scrub laundry along the shore near the wharf. Some have painted their faces with musiro, a natural wood-based lotion and sunscreen.

Most of Stone Town's inhabitants are descendants of Mozambique's original African Muslim population, driven off the island by the Portuguese in the 16th century. They only began to return in significant numbers after the country gained independence in 1975. With the outbreak of civil war in 1977, thousands more flooded in, desperate to flee the inland fighting.

"When I was a child this was a very broken place," says James, a slight man in his mid-30s who offers to show me around. "The local Makua people still call this place Omuhipiti, or 'refuge,' because so many of them hid here."

After the civil war ended in 1992, many refugees returned to their ancestral mainland homes. Others migrated to Macuti Town on the south end of the island, and Stone Town once again became a ghost town.

From Stone Town, I board a dhow and sail to a peninsular headland across the bay. Awaiting me is a swath of white sand beach that Mozambican author Mia Couto described as a place "where the Earth undresses and where the gods come to pray."

My destination is a cluster of airy bungalows on the dunes overlooking the sea. Coral Lodge 15.41 - a reference to its cartographic co-ordinates - is operated by Alexandra and Bart Otto, an enterprising Dutch couple who quit their management jobs six years ago to move here. It is the only luxury lodge in one of Southern Africa's last remaining unspoilt coastal regions.

"We fell in love with the location, which is still largely unexplored, as well as the rich history and culture of the area," says Alexandra over freshly caught lobster with siri siri, nhewe (local spinach), coconut rice and baobab ice cream on a shady deck overlooking the lagoon.

Using traditional African and modern design elements, the lodge was built entirely of endemic wood and other natural materials by local artisans. The Ottos employ more than 40 residents from the adjacent village of Cabaceira Pequena as lodge staff and guides. "From the start, our mission was to hire as many local people as possible to ensure that this area would develop," Alexandra says, explaining that many of the townsfolk have little access to secondary education or training.

To that end, the Ottos have financed a primary school and orphanage in Cabaceira Pequena, and stand by their staff whenever they can. "Everyone has my cell number and they call me for help when they need it. I've had calls from hospital emergency wards, sprung people out of prison and even helped deliver babies in the middle of the night," Alexandra says. "We're more than just an employer. We are family."

Alexandra and I cross barefoot through a lush mangrove forest from the resort to Cabaceira Pequena and visit a group of women drawing water from the same well that Vasco de Gama's sailors once frequented. They greet Alexandra as one of their own.

Later, local boys tag along as we explore the nearby ruins of one of Southern Africa's oldest mosques. Peering through a jagged hole in the mosque's crumbling wall I can see the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte across the bay, perfectly framed like a holy relic, where so many prayers were once uttered.

Now, thanks to renewed interest from the outside world and the promise of newfound political stability, prayers for a better life in this remote, largely untouched stretch of Southern African coastline - with its ethereal island outpost at the end of the world - are finally being heard.

The writer was a guest of

Coral Lodge 15.41. It did not review or approve the story.



Most connections to Mozambique require an overnight stay in South Africa's capital city. Airlink ( offers daily direct flights from Johannesburg to Nampula. From there, road transport can be easily arranged for the three-hour ride to Ilha de Mocambique. Canadian citizens require visitor visas prior to entering Mozambique. They can be obtained by contacting the embassy of Mozambique in Washington, or with the assistance of the outfitters mentioned here. There is no nationwide travel advisory for the country, however the Canadian government urges a high degree of caution due to violent crime, including a recent significant increase in cases of kidnappings.

What to do

The spirits of doomed mariners are said to inhabit Stone Town's Marine Museum, which houses the remains of shipwrecks - everything from navigational instruments to precious Ming porcelain. Maxim guns, rusted cannons and other artifacts of warfare still litter the courtyard of the nearby Palace and Chapel of Sao Paulo, built as a Jesuit College in 1610.

Where to Stay

Coral Lodge 15.41 is a secluded luxury beach resort and a great base for exploring nearby Ilha de Mocambique. Guests can also go snorkelling, shipwreck diving or fishing, as well as visit the nearby fishing village of Cabaceira Pequena. Bungalows from $700 (U.S.) a night, all inclusive, based on double occupancy.


The Vancouver-based Heritage Safari Company (1-888-301-1713, and Toronto's Kensington Tours (1-888-903-2001, can arrange customized Mozambique itineraries, including visits to Ilha de Mocambique.

Mark Sissons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Canadians react

Finance Minister Joe Oliver:

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

Former Ontario premier

Mike Harris:

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

Conservative MP John Duncan:

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

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair:

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

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford:

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

B.C. Premier Christy Clark:

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

Former NDP MP Olivia Chow:

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

Canadian Council of Chief

Executives CEO John Manley:

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

Long-time NDP and Liberal

politician Bob Rae:

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

Green Party Leader

Elizabeth May:

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

Foreign Affairs Minister

John Baird:

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

Industry Minister James Moore:

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

Ontario Premier

Kathleen Wynne:

"He was a feisty spirit in this place."

Former Quebec premier

Jean Charest:

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

Former Bank of Canada

governor Mark Carney:

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

A man of boundless energy - and opinions
Samir Brikho CEO, Amec PLC
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B3

Samir Brikho has trouble staying in one place for too long.

The chief executive has just emerged from the elevator at Toronto's Four Seasons hotel and bounced into Café Boulud. He is grinning and excited, and in a bit of a rush. He has an hour before he has to be back upstairs, packing his bag to visit offices across Canada. This country is the largest source of revenue and profit for Amec PLC, the London-based global engineering firm he runs, and which aspires to take a good amount of business away from SNC-Lavalin Inc. and other Quebec rivals.

He is on an east-west tour of Amec's operations here. The business has 70 locations and more than 7,000 employees in this country - a bigger Canadian work force than Imperial Oil Ltd. - doing work in industries such as power, clean technology, energy and mining. That sizable presence means Mr. Brikho is in Canada every six weeks or so; he makes regular stops in Edmonton, Halifax, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon and elsewhere.

With an itinerary like that, it's no surprise the Lebanese-born CEO has opinions aplenty about Canada, though he has never lived here. The startling thing is his willingness to share those opinions with a reporter he has just met, a stark contrast to most Canadian chief executives who are ultra-reserved - certainly when there's a recording device lying on the table.

Quebec's scandal-ridden construction industry? Not a problem for Amec, which was "never asked to join the team."

Calgary? Not a big fan. Too much like Houston.

Keystone XL? A waste of time for Canada. Forget the Americans and move on.

Skiing at Mont Tremblant? "Not good. It is so cold."

The environmental record in the oil sands? Nothing to get too worried about. Take a look at the mess in Kuwait.

Whistler? Lacks the "charm" of European ski destinations.

There's no rancour in any of this. The statements are often followed by a giggle. Mr. Brikho is frankly impish - not a word usually associated with people who run companies with £4-billion (about $7.5-billion) worth of annual revenue. He doesn't mind making an impression. This is a guy who drives a DeLorean.

A waiter stops by to inquire whether we would like wine, and Mr. Brikho retorts: "We take shots, we don't take wine."

Of course, we don't. Because this is Toronto. And it's lunchtime. And Mr. Brikho is joking, I think. Instead, it's water all around. He orders a lobster salad followed by risotto that he will later urge me to try, grabbing my bread plate and spooning a dollop on for me even as I attempt to demur, in Canadian fashion.

"We share!" he declares. So we do, as he shares his views on most everything.

Mr. Brikho has been running Amec since 2006. In that time, revenue has soared, profit has surged and the shares are worth 21/2 times what they were when he joined. But he almost didn't take the job. He had been overseeing a large division at the huge Swiss engineering firm ABB Ltd. and had a bright future there. Amec was in poor shape, in his view.

Then it dawned on him that therein lay the opportunity. ABB could never grow as fast as Amec, because the latter was starting off at such a low base.

He called people who worked with Amec. "They said the people are good," he said. "I think the management is not good." That convinced him that new leadership could fix the company.

"To change a new vision, strategy in what we are trying to do, engaging with people, exciting them and making them deliver - that's much easier than to train 30,000 people."

About 2,000 of those people work in the oil sands, on projects such as Imperial's Kearl mine.

"I have been travelling all my life through all these oil and gas installations," he says. "I've seen with my own eyes what feels dirty and bad. Is oil sands the best fuel in the world? No. Is it the worst? No. The reality is somewhere in between."

He points to dirty operations in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and especially Kuwait where oil pools on the surface of the desert. Some is the result of the Iraq war, some of Kuwait's producers flushing their pipes into ponds.

"This place stinks. When you are 10 miles away, you say: 'Ooh, that stinks.'"

Still, he acknowledges the oil sands can do better in areas such as water and energy use, and that's where Amec comes in.

"That's what ingenuity and engineering is about - always to do better. That's why I feel sometimes the debate on the oil sands in Canada is totally wrong. But it is what it is now today. You cannot change it. It's like your mayor here, Rob Ford, you cannot rewind it. It is there."

Energy is Canada's future, he believes. And if the Americans won't buy Canada's oil, someone else will.

"If Keystone doesn't get built, okay, live with it. In business sometimes, you try something, it doesn't work, you move on. Okay guys, you don't want it? Fine, I move on. Maybe they [will] regret it one day."

Mr. Brikho has a lot of experience with frustrating negotiations. Early in his career at ABB, he was tapped by the Swedish industrialist who controlled the company, Peter Wallenberg, to lead a delegation to Palestine. The goal was to try to do something for the peace process through economic development.

At 33, Mr. Brikho found himself part of the creation of the Palestine International Business Forum, leading a group of Swedish CEOs who were much more senior in every way. Why him?

"I'm quite good in conflict management. I try to listen to everybody. I also find a way to bridge some of these things." Also, he spoke Arabic.

The group helped to build a power plant in Gaza, a stock exchange, Volvo engineering centres and even an operation that exported carnations, which grew in the West Bank.

What's next for Amec? Energy, he says. Just as it is crucial for Canada, it is important for Amec. He's looking at acquisition targets in the area.

He's also excited about Quebec, where the engineering business is in turmoil after the revelations of bribery and corruption on public works projects. Amec was not much of a player in the province. Now, he calls it "a fantastic opportunity for Amec because we are one of the few left in town who are not tainted."

If he had to pick a town to live in in Canada, he says Montreal would be high on the list. Vancouver, too, because of the access to wind and water. (Sailing is one of his passions.)

Mr. Brikho has plenty of experience moving around. Born in Beirut, he has lived in Sweden, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Greece, Belgium, France and Britain. These days, he resides in Switzerland, near Davos, where he is a fixture at the World Economic Forum and on the ski hills.

He has skied in Canada but doesn't get it. Mont Tremblant is too frigid. As for Whistler, there's something missing. Nobody sits outside socializing, so it lacks the "charm" of Europe, where skiing is as much about sunning on patios during breaks from the schussing. "You are sitting outside with all these people having quite a good time, having a good drink or good coffee. Then you are skiing maybe two more hours. Then you have lunch."

By night, he enjoys dancing. "It's nice to go out and people really dance, rather than hanging around in the bar and don't do anything."

And he loves food. But there's no time for dessert. Always in motion, Mr. Brikho must rush off to finish packing.




Born in Beirut, now 55 years old, has a partner and two grown sons; counts dancing, sailing, skiing and golf among his pastimes.


Swedish, Arabic, English, German and French


Engineering degree and master of science degree from Sweden's Royal Institute of Technology.


On Canada as a safe haven for Amec in the financial crisis: "We felt so safe with Canada and Canada's financial policies that we more or less shifted almost all our money to Canada."

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


Asking price: $2.575-million

Taxes: $11,645.13 (2013)

Lot size: 47 by 120 feet

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

The back story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The house today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best feature

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


City administration


Headquarters of SBU state security service


City administration


City police headquarters


City police headquarters, city administration


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


City administration


City administration


City administration


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

Russian military buildup identified by NATO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Home as investment? I'm still not convinced
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B11

How to start an instant argument: Question whether homes are an investment.

That's what last week's column did, and the response was intense. It shows how deeply people believe that, more than a place to live, a house is an investment that builds wealth. Further discussion is definitely required.

The point of last week's Portfolio Strategy column (read it online at, was to make a case that while houses may be a wonderful place to live and raise a family, they're not a home-run investment. Supporting this argument were data showing that the Canadian stock market has delivered better returns over the past 10, 20 and 30 years than housing.

Readers raised several points about these numbers that are worth exploring:

1. The impact of taxes

Provided your home is your principal residence, you'll pay no taxes on your gains when you sell. The only other investment vehicle shielded permanently from income tax is the tax-free savings account. Wouldn't houses enjoy a big advantage over investing, then?

Over the long term, possibly. But last week's column threw out the idea of young prospective home buyers sitting out the next five years, a period in which some experts see house prices declining. The plan: Rent and invest the money saved by not owning a home. A case was presented in which, if we assume investment gains of 6 per cent annually, the five years of renting and investing would build more wealth than a housing market that moves up or down slightly or remains flat.

Here's why taxes are not much of a factor over this five-year period. For one thing, a couple would have $60,200 in combined cumulative contribution room in tax-free savings accounts, provided they hadn't yet used TFSAs (annual contribution amounts were $5,000 for 2009-12 and $5,500 for 2013 and 2014). Also, they could shelter even more money from taxes by contributing to registered retirement savings plans and then withdrawing up to $25,000 each from the federal Home Buyers' Plan. Taxes must be paid on regular RRSP withdrawals, but not money taken out through the HBP (it has to be repaid to the RRSP over time).

Long term, taxes must come into play in any comparison of stocks versus homes. But what a lot of people forget is that the cost of maintaining and improving a home undercuts your wealth gains in a way that's similar to taxes (and fees) on investments.

2. Some housing markets are hotter than others.

Resale homes across the country averaged gains of 5.4 per cent annually over the past 10 years, while the total return on stocks (share price gains plus dividends) averaged 8 per cent. A couple of Toronto readers said these numbers underplayed the gains they've had in their homes.

In the chart accompanying this column, you'll find numbers showing that Toronto has in fact trailed the average marginally over the past decade. Vancouver and Calgary are the outperformers. Joining Toronto with below-average gains were Halifax and Montreal.

3. Leverage

The word "leverage" is an investing term that refers to borrowed money and its ability to magnify gains and losses. Some readers thought the gains from housing in last week's column were underplayed because leverage wasn't considered.

Here's a simple example of how leverage works: You buy a $400,000 house with 5 per cent down and the price increases by 10 per cent. In other words, you've put down $20,000 to buy a house that you can sell at $440,000. Even after paying off your mortgage, you've dramatically increased your investment thanks to leverage.

Mortgage interest, real estate fees and other costs associated with both buying and selling the house would reduce this leveraged gain considerably, but you get the point. Borrowing to buy a house that goes up in value boosts your gains a lot.

Just the opposite is true, of course. If the $400,000 house you bought with a 5-per-cent down payment falls by 10 per cent in price to $360,000, you'd be in a tough spot if forced to sell. Your down payment money would be gone and, depending on how much principal you've paid down, you might have to come up with some extra cash to pay off your mortgage.

4. Human frailty vs. the forced savings plan

Some people doubt that renters would have the discipline to invest the considerable amount of money they save by not owning a house. Home ownership, they say, is a forced savings plan.

In fact, the financially irresponsible behaviour people attribute to renters is endemic among homeowners. Financially handcuffed by their homes, owners may dip into their home equity lines of credit to supplement their salaries and neglect their retirement savings.

Blame our expensive housing market for this, not the concept of home ownership. Unless they're big earners, today's first-time buyers will have trouble balancing home and savings obligations. The struggle only gets worse when cars and kids are added to the mix. Bottom line, the financial well-being of homeowners is a serious concern.

5. Stocks may beat houses, but how relevant is that to real-world investors?

Quite correctly, some readers said it's common for investment returns in the real world to fall below what the stock markets make. Fees and commissions cut into returns, as do bad decisions on when to buy and sell.

Still, there are many widely available balanced mutual funds that have surpassed the housing market on a long-term basis, even after fees. I offered to list a few of them last week, and a few people asked me to follow up.

To give housing an extra fair shake, funds were benchmarked against the full 10-year average price gain of 5.4 per cent. A case could be made for reducing this gain by roughly two percentage points to reflect the average annual cost of owning and maintaining a house over the years (including utilities).

Check out the accompanying chart - plenty of choices from all corners of the fund world have beat housing in the past decade.




Nationally, resale housing prices averaged a gain of 5.4 per cent over the past 10 years.

CITY......................................10-YR ANN. GAIN (%)






Stock Market......................8

(S&P/TSX total return


The housing market, that is. Here's a selection of Canadian and global balanced funds (mixing stocks and bonds) that beat the 5.4-per-cent average gain in national resale housing prices over 10 years. Note: As is the case with houses, past gains are no indication of future returns for these funds.

FUND......................................................MER %......MIN. ........ONE YEAR......10-YEAR RETURN

...................................................................................INVEST....RETURN TO....TO MARCH 31

......................................................................................................MARCH 31

Beutel Goodman Balanced-D..............1.21%......$5,000..........15.22%...........6.49%

CI Signature High Income.....................1.60...............500..........10.55..............8.32

CI Signature Income & Growth..............2.41..............500..........14.25..............7.31

Dynamic Power Balanced.....................2.10..............500..........14.34..............7.24

Dynamic Value Balanced A...................2.41..............500..........14.96..............7.85

Fidelity Canadian Asset Alloc. B..........2.25...............500..........12.26..............6.08

Fidelity Canadian Balanced B..............2.07..............500..........14.49..............7.1

Fidelity Monthly Income B......................2.09..............500............9.84..............8.11

Leith Wheeler Balanced........................1.17..........25,000*........15.56..............6.03

Manulife Monthly High Income..............2.11..............500...........12.72..............6.81

Mawer Balanced Class A.....................0.96............5,000..........18.82..............7.86

Mawer Tax Effective Balanced.............0.98............5,000..........18.81..............7.68

MD Balanced.........................................1.45............3,000..........13.50..............6.60

MD Dividend Income............................1.44.............3,000............8.45..............6.12

Signature Canadian Balanced A.........2.44................500..........12.43..............7.15

TD Dividend Income I............................2.04...............100..........12.70..............6.60

*This minimum applies if you buy directly from the company; a $5,000 minimum applies if you buy from an investment dealer.



The 2MP follow-up: Your queries answered
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B10

Even simple investing strategies should be questioned aggressively by investors.

Take the Two-Minute Portfolio, nicknamed 2MP, for example. It gives you a well-diversified, mostly blue-chip portfolio of Canadian stocks in just a few minutes. You simply invest equal amounts of money in each of the two largest dividend-paying companies in each of the 10 sectors of the S&P/TSX composite index, then rebalance annually. In 2013, the 2MP had a total return (share price gains plus dividends) of 23 per cent compared with 13 per cent for the S&P/TSX.

I've been writing about the 2MP since 1999, and the helpful data crunchers at Morningstar Canada use a 1986 start date for their monitoring of the portfolio. Yet the 2013 update for the 2MP (read online at has, gratifyingly, generated more questions from readers than ever before.

Any and all questions are welcomed here. Now for some answers.

What's meant by the two largest dividend stocks in each sector?

The largest dividend payers by market capitalization, which is shares outstanding multiplied by share prices. The 2MP strategy has no interest in the dividend yield of a stock; all that matters is the mere fact that a stock pays a dividend.

How often should the portfolio be rebalanced?

Once a year. The back-testing results use a first-of-the-year rebalancing, which means adding the new market cap leaders and discarding any stocks that no longer qualify for the portfolio. Also, positions in stocks being retained may need to be adjusted so that all stocks in the portfolio are in equal proportion. Some readers have proposed a more frequent rebalancing, but that would add cost and effort to a strategy that already has a history of solid returns.

What is the minimum portfolio size suggested for the 2MP?

It depends on how much you pay to buy and sell stocks. With the online brokerage Virtual Brokers, the penny-a-share commission option makes the 2MP economical for small accounts. At Questrade, with a minimum $4.95 commission, $20,000 sounds like a good minimum. At brokers charging $10 per trade, $50,000 becomes a sensible minimum.

Here's the reasoning: To set up and rebalance the 2MP, you should expect to make an average 20 or so trades a year. If the total cost of trading is greater than 0.5 per cent of your portfolio, then it would be expensive in comparison to other options for do-it-yourself investors, such as exchange-traded funds.

Many investors have asked whether they must invest in board lots of 100 shares. Short answer: No. You can trade odd lots of any amount and, because you're mostly buying heavily traded blue chips, you should be able to buy and sell at a competitive price.

Is there a U.S. version of 2MP?

No. Morningstar tested one for me back in 2010 and the results were lame - a 16-year annualized gain of 3.6 per cent in Canadian dollars, compared with 6 per cent for the S&P 500. Morningstar tried a tweak - picking the two highest yielding stocks in each sector - and it produced gains of 8.8 per cent annually. I consider this a spin on the Dogs of the Dow strategy, where you invest in undervalued stocks (high yields are caused by falling share prices).

Is the 2MP suitable for a TFSA?

Yes. In a taxable account, you'll have to keep track of capital gains and losses on an annual basis, as well as dividends. Both are taxed advantageously compared with regular income, but you'll nevertheless have some work to do in filing your tax return. A tax-free savings account gets the taxman off your back and allows you to reap full benefits from the portfolio. RRSPs are okay for the 2MP, but you lose the benefit of those capital gains and dividends. When money is withdrawn from an RRSP or registered retirement income fund (RRIF), it's treated as regular income.

Can I substitute stocks?

Some readers cringe at the idea of buying Barrick Gold, for several years a materials stock in the 2MP, and others are nervous about buying the small-cap stocks that populate the S&P/TSX capped health care and technology indexes. Freelance all you want in your stock picks, but recognize that the portfolio's strong past returns become meaningless if you deviate from the strategy.

How are 2MP returns


Total returns are used, which means share price gains and losses plus dividends. Long-term results are expressed as an annualized total return.

Is there an ETF or mutual fund that follows the 2MP strategy?

Been asked that a lot. No is the answer.

Is the 2MP a complete stock portfolio?

It will do for Canada, but you'll need exposure to U.S. and global markets to properly round out the stock portion of a diversified portfolio.

How can you find the annual 2MP stock list on your own?

The stock screener on the TMX Money website ( will help you do the job. For screening criteria, choose "exchange" (Toronto Stock Exchange), "sector," "market capitalization" and "dividend yield." Once you've got a full list of dividend payers in each sector, click the "market cap" column heading twice to order the list from largest company to smallest.

What about selling a Canadian market ETF and switching to the 2MP?

Don't do it without first considering the many advantages of an ETF, including low cost, diversification across a larger group of stocks and the simplicity of buying the market in a single product. The 2MP beat the S&P/TSX composite index by a wide margin last year, but investment decisions should never be made on the basis of one year's results.

I contribute to my RRSP twice monthly - how do you suggest I manage the 2MP?

The 2MP is not suited for periodic investment. However, you could collect RRSP contributions through the year in an investment savings account that trades like a mutual fund and then invest it in the 2MP at the beginning of the year.

It all seems too good to be true - are there other down sides?

As with any investment, past returns do not predict the future. So be prepared for the possibility of one or more years of underperformance versus the index.




Here's a look at the stocks in the 2MP from 2011 to 2014 (first and second in market cap - top in each pair being the first). The 2MP must be rebalanced at the beginning of every year, which means adding a few new stocks, selling others and making sure all 20 stocks in the portfolio have an equal weight.



Thomson Reuters

Magna International


Thomson Reuters

Shaw Communications


Thomson Reuters

Magna International


Thomson Reuters

Magna International



Loblaw Cos.

George Weston


Loblaw Cos.

Shoppers Drug Mart


Loblaw Cos.



Alimentation Couche-Tard

Loblaw Cos.



Suncor Energy

Canadian Natural Resources


Suncor Energy

Canadian Natural Resources


Suncor Energy

Imperial Oil


Suncor Energy

Imperial Oil



Royal Bank of Canada

Toronto-Dominion Bank


Royal Bank of Canada

Toronto-Dominion Bank


Royal Bank of Canada

Toronto-Dominion Bank


Royal Bank of Canada

Toronto-Dominion Bank



CML Healthcare

Medical Facilities


CML Healthcare

Nordion Inc.



CML Healthcare



Medical Facilities



Canadian National Railway

Canadian Pacific Railway


Canadian National Railway

Canadian Pacific Railway


Canadian National Railway

Canadian Pacific Railway


Canadian National Railway

Canadian Pacific Railway



Constellation Software

Evertz Technologies


MacDonald Dettwiler

Constellation Software


Constellation Software

MacDonald Dettwiler


Open Text

Constellation Software



Barrick Gold

Potash Corp.


Barrick Gold



Potash Corp.

Barrick Gold


Potash Corp.

Barrick Gold







Rogers Communications



Rogers Communications



Rogers Communications



Canadian Utilities



Canadian Utilities



Canadian Utilities



Canadian Utilities




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Eight reasons for the nation's Hab-haters to root for the Canadiens anyway
Monday, April 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

MONTREAL -- So you're bummed that your team got eliminated from the playoffs, and you can't quite bring yourself to switch into baseball or golf mode.

It's okay, we've got you covered.

Sure, for fans of other Canadian NHL teams, cheering for the Montreal Canadiens feels a little like rooting for Donald Trump, or tooth decay. But who else are you going to throw your support behind? Columbus?

There's much to recommend backing a playoff underdog, but hey, the Habs haven't won jack in 21 years, so that's kind of what they are - not very Evil Empire-y at all.

Plus, Montreal remains this country's most interesting city (great restaurants, beer in corner stores, colourful corruption scandals). These things count, I think we can all agree.

Problem: You haven't really followed the Habs this year, be-cause, well, you hate them with a passion.

Fret not: Speaking knowledgeably to friends and co-workers about the only Canadian NHL team that has even a notional chance of hoisting the Stanley Cup is a function of the following bullet points:

Carey Price

You may have heard of him.

Canada's Olympic goalie is pretty much the best thing about the Habs.

You'll hear people say he hasn't been able to perform in the playoffs, but don't believe it.

True, he cost his team a pivotal game against Ottawa in the first round last season.

However, he was brilliant the previous year against Boston, and, anyway, he emerged from the second-biggest pressure cooker in hockey a few months back with a shiny gold medal.

He grew up on a reserve in Anahim Lake, B.C., he likes to ride horses in the off-season, he's the only world-class goaltender playing for a Canadian NHL team (sorry, Leafs fans, but it's true).


That's what a blogger on fan site, has taken to calling the line of David Desharnais, Thomas Vanek and Max Pacioretty. They may not be great defensively, but this is where all the goals come from. The point-a-game Vanek, a trade-deadline acquisition, has crazy skill and is here for a good time, not a long time. Pacioretty fell one shy of being the Habs' first 40-goal guy since 1994, not bad for someone who has an undeserved rep as a perimeter player. But the discerning fan will note that the 5-foot-9 Desharnais - his official height measurement is a triumph of optimism - is the zone-entering, 360-degree-visioning, playmaking genius of the group. He was undrafted, worked his way up from the ECHL, earned a long-term NHL deal, had only one point in his first 19 games this season, got benched, and now has 50 points in his last 56 games.

P.K. Subban

He's good and isn't shy about it, which is why every other NHL team hates him. You'll hear loose talk about how his own coaches and some teammates feel that way sometimes; ignore it. Subban is a big-game player and an offensive catalyst (fourth in the NHL in scoring by defencemen).

In the postseason, he and partner Josh Gorges will be seeing a lot of the opposition's top players. Andrei Markov (known as the General) and Alexei Emelin have been handling that duty in the latter part of the season, but despite all the stuff you'll read and hear about the Habs' blue line, Subban's the guy, the difference-maker. Also, he'll be the one skating through people with the puck on his stick.

Tomas Plekanec

Partial to wearing turtlenecks under his uniform, speaks in a monotome and once said of a poor playoff performance that he played like a little girl. That's not politically correct, of course, but it shows a self-critical streak, which is the key to self-improvement. He won't get a lot of love from the Selke Trophy voters, but he's a defensive stud and one of the top half-dozen two-way centres in the game. Lately he's had a more offensive role playing with Alex Galchenyuk (20-year-old superstar in waiting) and Brendan Gallagher (economy-sized power forward) - you'll be hearing a lot about that line. Plus, whenever Plekanec is on the ice with Subban and Gorges, the opposition's offensive numbers have a habit of cratering.

The X-Factors

These would be Daniel Brière and Lars Eller. Brière is old, and little, but he's a career point-per-game guy in the playoffs, and that's why he's here. No reason he can't perform, particularly if he plays somewhat sheltered minutes.

They say speed kills, but in the playoffs, balanced scoring will get you every time - Brière brings that.

Eller was the team's best centre (playing with Galchenyuk and Gallagher) last season going into the playoffs, and losing him to injury in the first game hurt. He's had an iffy year, but at his best he's very nearly as effective defensively as Plekanec. He's just bigger and more creative offensively. Eller plays a lot with captain Brian Gionta, who formed a pretty snappy defensive duo with Plekanec. Beware pint-sized former New Jersey Devils wingers.

Grit guys

People will tell you the Habs are undersized, and soft, and blah, blah, blah. They're not the biggest team in the league, but the playoffs are about stick-to-itiveness and heart, not heft. It's true that Brandon Prust and Travis Moen - tough, penalty-killing fourth-liners - have suffered late-season injuries and will doubtless be limited in the playoffs, but there's plenty of sandpaper to go around (Ryan White, Mike Weaver, Douglas Murray, Jarred Tinordi, Emelin). Plus, the Habs can throw some speed at you on the fourth line in the form of Michaël Bournival and Dale Weise. See above re: speed.

The coach

Yes, Michel Therrien occasionally does goofy things. Like preaching a dump-and-chase style. Playing human battleship Doug Murray more than Subban at even strength in a recent game. Or putting Francis Bouillon on the power-play. And declaring earlier in the season that "we're a grinding team" (no Michel, we are not). Yes, Ottawa's Paul MacLean ran circles around him in the first round last year. But give the guy a break - he has coached in a Cup final, his team finished with the third-best record in the East and it wasn't a fluke. He's a motivator, his special teams philosophy is top-level, and his approach of defensively stalwart, smart, positional hockey is a basic requirement for playoff success.

Fancy stats

The Habs have been hard to define this year, starting out as a dominant puck-possession team, then falling off a Leafs-like cliff at mid-season, and then rallying after the Olympic break. They've ridden their goaltender a little too often for comfort, but this is a team that has showed it can drive possession when the game is close - which correlates strongly with winning - and appears to have sorted out its issues with scoring at even-strength. Throw out terms like Corsi, Fenwick or PDO if you must, but the main takeaway is that when the Habs hold on to the puck and manage to unlock the opposing fore-check, they can play with anyone. This is a flawed lineup, but in the East anything is possible, and the Habs have the pieces to go on a run if their luck holds.

There. You're all set. Just remember: If for some reason it all starts to go sideways (as it inevitably has for two decades), you can always blame the goalie. It's a long and proud tradition here in Montreal, and even though it makes no sense, it's probably simplest to just go with it.

Stursberg, Klein, Burman, Lantos and Barrie: Big thinkers reinvent the CBC for the 21st century
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A9


Former head of English-language services at the CBC, 2004-2010

There are a number of principles that should guide the CBC's future.

1. CBC should offer - to the maximum extent possible - only Canadian programming.

2. The corporation should focus on making popular shows. It is financed by the taxes of all Canadians and should serve as many of them as it can.

3. CBC should not duplicate the work of the private sector. There is no point spending public money on things that are already being well done without it.

The application of these principles leads to some broad conclusions about programming strategy:

1. The Corporation should abandon local television newscasts. The private networks do this very well and the CBC is typically third in the markets it serves. The CBC should focus instead on national and international news to let Canadians better understand their place in the world.

2. The Corporation should focus its prime-time strategy on the creation of popular, distinctively Canadian dramas, comedies, documentaries and reality shows. The private networks cannot do this because their deep prime-time schedules are inevitably dedicated to U.S. shows.

3. The CBC should be out of sports completely. The private networks do sports very well.

4. The CBC should reflect French Canada to English Canada and English Canada to French Canada, so that both linguistic communities can better understand each other. The CBC is the only broadcaster - public or private - able to do this.


Director of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of British Columbia, U.S. current affairs TV producer and documentary filmmaker

Imagine for a moment that Canada has no national broadcaster, and the government has decided to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to build a network for the 21st century and beyond. What an exciting prospect, but where to start?

First and foremost, we'll need some great journalists - reporters who are hungry for important stories, and can tell those stories well through a variety of media - so they should know how to report, capture video and audio, present, write and engage thoughtfully with the audience.

Let's blanket the country with these 21st-century reporters, so they can develop local sources and find those hidden stories that mainstream news organizations are missing. Let's package their stories by theme, location and other relevant organizing principles and present them through the medium of choice for the audience of the future - the Internet.

There will likely be good audio in many of these reports, so why not pull together some programs that can be broadcast through traditional radio waves for Canadians stuck in rush hour traffic? And "talk radio" is so popular on commercial broadcasts - what if we did a smarter version of talk radio, with cutting-edge, creative hosts.

There's surely going to be some compelling video too, so let's find ways of delivering video packages through streaming mobile apps and TV. And perhaps most important, let's be careful not to replicate what everyone else is doing. This is public money, after all, so let's spend it in the most efficient way possible.


Former head of CBC News and Al Jazeera English. Teaches journalism at Ryerson University

Reimagining the CBC for the 21st century, we can be certain that Canada does not need a low-rent clone of its commercial rivals. But it does need - now more than ever - a strong, innovative and commercial-free public broadcaster that provides Canadians with what the commercial media marketplace is unwilling to produce.

In poll after poll, the majority of Canadians have indicated they want a strong national public broadcaster. They want groundbreaking news and current affairs journalism, and distinctive Canadian drama and entertainment. But if we were inventing a new CBC for this century, it would likely look very different from what it is today. In an exploding digital environment, conventional broadcasting is losing its lustre, and Canadians are increasingly turning to other sources - such as the Internet and on-demand services such as Netflix and Apple TV - for information and entertainment.

A new commercial-free CBC needs to be radically reinvented to thrive in this new era. In the absence of any direction from Parliament, the CBC needs to initiate this process itself. A reinvented CBC requires a dramatic narrowing of what its mandate is. It needs to ditch those activities that are secondary to its core mission. And it needs a totally new funding formula.

As a starting point, there are countless ideas already on the table. The only thing missing now seems to be the will to do it. But as recent events have shown, clinging to a fading status quo is no longer an option.


Film producer

CBC has been stumbling around looking for an identity for a long time and has managed to hurt itself significantly along the way, by misguidedly trying to compete with the private sector, Global and CTV, by putting the same shows on the air that they would put on as opposed to sticking to its own niche and its own identity and its own kind of programming - programming that is strictly about Canadian perspectives and Canadian point of view, Canadian news and Canadian stories, Canadian perceptions, whether its world events or national events, whether its fiction or news or children's. CBC has instead over the years become a mishmash, a little bit of this, a little bit of that, a carbon copy of programming that could just as well be on one of the other networks.

There has to be a future for the CBC - I can't imagine Canada without one - but the future has to be restabilizing a culturally important and relevant network that makes no attempt to compete with the private sector and proudly sticks to its mission which, summarized in one word, is Canada.

The overwhelming majority of CBC funds should be spend on programming, not on infrastructure, not on staff, not on equipment but on what goes on the air. Anything that the public doesn't see is really secondary. It's about what is on the TV set and the radio, not what is in the building and having a fully staffed department of this and department of that. Even after the cuts, look how many employees the CBC has.


Andy Barrie is the former host of Metro Morning on CBC Radio One in Toronto

Okay, this is going to be really boring. See, the fact is that every CBC I can imagine would be unimaginable unless one thing happened first: Every appointment to the CBC's board of directors, from the president on down, must have a background in, or a passion for media, culture, technology and an understanding of how these three can combine to strengthen, educate, entertain and sustain this country. Until these patronage appointments become arms-length appointments, fuggedaboutit. Oh, yeah, you say, like Canada's Chief Statistician and Electoral Officer? Well, at least these two men had the chance to speak truth to power while the government of the day was attempting to kneecap their institutions, and in the latter case could actually affect the electoral support of that government. Fact is, if any actually attempted to close down the CBC, they would get murderized. But reduce its presence in people's lives incrementally, and some day those pesky people will be gone. I'm with those who believe CBC television should be like CBC radio - distinctly Canadian, commercial free, funded at a level above the pathetic crumbs it gets now (a fifth per capita of what Norway gets). But sadly, this will not happen because a former morning man wants it to. Which brings us back to the board. Imaginings are only as good as the minds that dream them. Fix the top and the rest just might follow.

Submissions have been condensed and edited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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


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

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

Ellen Himelfarb

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


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

A new chef makes a big difference
Farmhouse Tavern's hiring of Alex Molitz has paid off with an improved menu - and a disgustingly wonderful burger
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M4

When Farmhouse Tavern first set out its tractor wheel patio tables near the western end of Dupont Street a couple of summers ago, it was an okay restaurant - good for the neighbourhood, which wasn't saying much.

The service was welcoming and confident. The chalkboard wine menu was reasonably priced and 100-per-cent Ontario, stocked with micro-lot bottlings from Hillier and Beamsville Bench. They chilled the wines in repurposed dairy pails.

The "farm-driven" cooking, as the management called it, missed the mark as often as not, but unlike at so many other local-focused restaurants of the time, it was cheap and unpretentious. And in a neighbourhood without a single other noteworthy restaurant, a person could only be so picky. Where else were you supposed to eat?

I wrote as much in a one-star review in June, 2012, and then forgot all about Farmhouse Tavern. But something happened in the ensuing 20 months. Instead of coasting along as it could have done until the local goodwill expired, its owner, a former Oliver & Bonacini floor boss named Darcy MacDonell, hired a new chef, who quickly set to improving things.

At its core the place is still that welcoming west-side local with the tractor wheel patio tables and rock 'n' roll soundtrack, even if the neighbourhood has quite suddenly become the scene of Leslieville-style bidding wars. (That semi in the news this week for going $200,000 over asking is just three blocks away.)

The dining room still feels like a rural Ontario mess hall, though now it's filled with middle-aged couples who drove in from Oakville, and on-the-make women in Moncler puffies - in addition to the house-poor young parents who need you to know that they came here before it was cool.

The cooking is what's most different. Where other city spots have tried and failed to freshen and democratize what was once called "fresh and local" cooking (Café Belong; the ridiculous Globe Earth chain), Farmhouse Tavern's new chef, named Alex Molitz, has actually done it. Mr. Molitz, 33, has brought real technique and ambition to lumpen hunks of local fish and meat and vegetables, even now in the bleakness of winter, when just about all you can find locally is Jerusalem artichokes and wizened winter radishes.

Mr. Molitz, who graduated from the elite Culinary Institute of America, spent a year as a chef de partie at Daniel, in New York, before working around Manhattan.

The man's got skills.

The platter that Mr. Molitz calls "veg harvest" is a fine example: it includes squash, celeriac, kale, Jerusalem artichokes - an assortment of cold-weather vegetables so dun and joyless that they could drive even the stoutest-hearted vegetarians to suicide watch. But the chef roasts them outside on the restaurant's oil drum smoker, gently flavouring them with applewood smoke. He roasts them so far past the usual point of doneness that they melt inside as if into candy.

There's charred radish (soft, pink, extraordinarily delicious) done that way, a handful of jiggly-tender Jerusalem artichokes, and half of a butternut squash at the platter's centre, so richly brown and soft and smoky that it nearly collapses into itself. Mr. Molitz has filled that squash with a celeriac puree as smooth and decadent as pastry cream; it is so good that the four bloody-minded carnivores around my table one night had to be told to stop plunging in their spoons.

"This guy is completely reinventing vegetables!" one of my friends, a former chef, said. She wasn't so far off the mark.

On another night, late last fall, Mr. Molitz built a fine mushroom broth from wild maitakes, chanterelles and smoked rapini, and then used that broth as a base for Georgian Bay lake trout that had been caught that morning. (This was part of the restaurant's "Hunt Camp" series of $150 per person, multicourse dinners.)

The fish's head, with eyes as gleamy as a Justin Bieber mug shot, had been set on the bottom of the bowl so that it peered up and out almost inquisitively; the chef had set beside it another piece of the trout, which was rolled with herbs and sea salt and smoked just to the point of ruby-hued doneness. It was one of the most exquisite things I ate last year. (It's not yet a part of the à la carte menu. It ought to be.)

The dish called "a threesome" (the menu names are annoyingly enigmatic), is simply duck breast prosciutto, seared foie and foie gras torchon, but all three of them as impeccably balanced and textured and smartly judged as any in this city. Another appetizer, called "beets & lamb," drops a big, deep-fried croquette of pulled, minted lamb and pickled vegetables on a wooden board beside roasted beets and dill-spiked yogurt sauce. It is Greek lamb, sort of (the tzatziki) and British lamb sort of (the mint, the beets). It is to my mind far greater than either one.

Or consider Farmhouse Tavern's burger: a fat, beefy patty smothered with homemade Russian dressing and chunks of fresh goat cheese and a slab of house-smoked bacon, and a whole fried duck egg so deliciously oozy that it ought to be accompanied with a firehose, for when you're done. If you're willing to spare $13 for a hunk of seared foie gras, which you really ought to, there's a hunk of seared foie gras on it too.

Does that sound good? It's disgustingly wonderful; I can't write about it even a month later without craving the thing.

Yet after three visits to Farmhouse Tavern in as many months - twice for à la carte dinners, once for a Hunt Camp night, I'm convinced that the place still has work to do. Alongside those soaring highs, you can still find yourself with a plate of grilled beef that's weirdly under-seasoned (though the cheery staff will happily bring a dish of Maldon), or a bland hunk of pork, or a piece of farmed trout like the one I had a couple of weeks ago that's pitifully small and muddy-tasting.

And that Hunt Camp dinner, while fun and intimate (it's served in the private dining room, on enormous, trough-like platters, at a table of eight people, with beautifully aged wines), was so over-the-top meaty that my dinner mate and I didn't want to see a piece of flesh for a good week afterwards. Better balance and pacing - signs, both, of a chef's maturity - would make it a much better meal.

All of this matters, but it hardly overwhelms the high points. A restaurant this good would find an ecstatic reception in any neighbourhood. The northern Junction Triangle now has a terrific local - great news, unless you're shopping for a house.



Farmhouse Tavern **

1627 Dupont St. (at Edwin

Avenue), 416-561-9114

Atmosphere: Two small, warm, loud(ish) rooms, decorated like a hunt camp mess tent. Friendly, professional service. Patio in summer.

Wine and drinks: Superb, all-Ontario wine list, priced fairly; great local beers and well-made cocktails.

Best bets: "a threesome," mushroom soup, beets & lamb, veg harvest, squash gnocchi, barnyard burger (with foie), smoked apple bread pudding.

Prices: Appetizers, $9 to $25; entrees, $20 to $44.

NB: Chalkboard menu changes frequently; popular items sell out on Sunday nights; very popular weekend brunch from 11 a.m.

No stars: Not recommended.

* Good, but won't blow a lot of people's minds.

** Very good, with some standout qualities.

*** Excellent, well above average with few caveats, if any.

**** Extraordinary, memorable, original with near-perfect execution.

Smart energy challenge changes the office building
When landlords and tenants enter into friendly competition, the consumption of energy and water can come tumbling down
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B7

Since its inception in 2011, Toronto's Race to Reduce has encouraged office building landlords and tenants to work together to cut energy use. Just over three years into the program, participants have reduced their energy consumption by 9 per cent, nearing the 10-per-cent target two years ahead of schedule.

The 175 buildings taking part represent 67 million square feet of commercial space - about one third of all the commercial office buildings in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton area.

Only 100 of those buildings, accounting for 54 million square feet, were included in final 2012 findings. But those 100 buildings have made significant progress, organizers say.

"[It's] the equivalent of taking 3,598 cars off the road," said Brad Henderson, senior managing regional director for CBRE Global Corporate Services.

"The total potential for the Toronto market, which is 165 million square feet, if all of them were able to reduce by 10 per cent, that total is 11,500 cars."

Reducing energy usage can present a hurdle for some of the older, less efficient buildings, particularly in Toronto, where the real estate is amongst the oldest in the country. Many of the buildings in the Ontario capital are approaching the end of their 25- to 30-year life cycles, according to Greg Moore, senior managing director for CBRE Project Management Canada.

"We're now in an era where we have knowledge workers and they're demanding a higher level of quality of their work environment," he said. "And if landlords and building owners don't adapt they will become the dinosaurs of the real estate industry and their buildings will become vacant."

Many of Toronto's prominent firms are doing their bit to help achieve these goals, using methods ranging from simple to cutting edge.

Here's a look at three.

Toronto-Dominion Bank

Striving to be as green as its logo, TD has renovated half of its corporate headquarters, located at the intersection of King and Bay streets in a cluster of iconic black towers, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the first of which was completed in 1967.

The company's 1.97 million square feet of office space were "overlit," says Roger Johnson, senior vice-president of enterprise real estate for the TD Bank Group. With artificial lighting accounting for 38 per cent of all energy use in the average office building - by far the highest drain on energy - a lighting retrofit of the Toronto-Dominion Centre using energy-efficient bulbs has reduced energy use by 3.5 megawatts, the equivalent of 35,000 tonnes of carbon-dioxide emissions a year.

Motion sensors turn off lights in empty rooms and passages, timers put computers to sleep if they sit unused for a period of time, and cleaning staff now work during the day throughout nearly the entire 90 floors that TD occupies predominantly in five of the six towers, which are owned by Cadillac Fairview.

"We have reduced our energy consumption in the towers by doing what we've done by 40 per cent," Mr. Johnson said of the company's efforts since 2008. "That's staggering. We're saving more than $1-million per year."

The company's future at Bay and King isn't necessarily set in stone, however. Despite achieving high-level LEED certifications for existing buildings on four of the six towers, the TD Centre will never have the capability of some of the newer, more modern buildings currently going up around Toronto. In January, the bank put an RFP into the market to explore options when its lease comes up for renewal in 2018, Mr. Johnson said.

Royal Bank of Canada

Royal Bank of Canada has taken a different direction from TD, leading the corporate shift from older building stock to Toronto's brand-new south core and to LEED-certified modern buildings.

The company has vacated much of the Front Street corridor it occupied between Blue Jay Way and Simcoe Street to move into new, purpose-built buildings. Most prominent among those is the RBC Centre at Simcoe and Wellington, which has been certified LEED gold, and the new Waterpark Place III on Queen's Quay, which opens later this year and will be Toronto's first new office tower certified LEED platinum.

In addition, RBC completely stripped down and rebuilt its aging office at 180 Wellington St., replacing the building's facade, energy systems, generators and electro-mechanical systems to build what Nadeem Shabbar, vice-president of corporate real estate for RBC, calls a "state of the art, Class A building."

Within its properties, as both an owner and a tenant, RBC has developed a four-pronged plan to reduce its energy consumption. The first initiative is daylight harvesting, which involves using as much natural light as possible, and incorporating RBC's Digital Addressable Lighting Interface, or DALI system, to synchronize with the building's automated lighting systems to make up for any deficit.

RBC has also incorporated daytime cleaning where possible to reduce its energy usage, and at RBC Centre, this move has allowed the company to save almost 250,000 kilowatt-hours annually.

The third prong to RBC's plan is to raise employee awareness and education through devices such as TV monitors at Royal Bank Plaza, which offer real-time updates on the building's energy consumption and tips for employees to bring that total down.

Finally, RBC has promoted alternative work environments, such as hot-desking or hoteling.

"It's early days so I couldn't put a figure on it," Mr. Shabbar said, "but I would say we'll hit double digits in energy savings in the office buildings within the next 15 to 18 months."

Starwood Hotels

As one of the world's largest hotel and leisure companies, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. has a prominent footprint in downtown Toronto. It owns the Sheraton Centre opposite City Hall and manages the Westin Harbour Castle on the waterfront.

While both facilities opened in the early to mid-1970s, both are still big players on the Toronto tourism and hospitality scene, with the pair welcoming more than one million guests in 2013.

Starwood has set itself a "30, 20 by 20," goal, in which it is attempting to reduce its consumption of energy by 30 per cent and water by 20 per cent by the year 2020.

Starwood examined all of its practices to find savings.

"Everything from the basics, such as what kind of light bulbs are we using, what kind of water, faucet aerators and all these sort of things that we use around the properties, the simple, easy fixes come first," said Jennifer Bauchner, director of rooms and sustainability for Starwood's North America operations.

Starwood also engaged its guests to become part of its sustainability programs, inviting them to "Make a Green Choice," offering vouchers or loyalty points for those declining housekeeping during their stay.

At the Westin Harbour Castle, Starwood uses Bullfrog Power to power its lobby and restaurants with green electricity, while Sheraton is currently retrofitting all exterior windows in all guest rooms to drive down heat loss.

Both hotels also use ORCA machines for disposing of organic waste. The ORCA system eliminates the need to haul away massive amounts of food waste to a landfill by accelerating the breakdown of organic food matter, and can turn more than one ton of organic food waste into environmentally safe water within 24 hours.

"A lot of this work does take upfront investment, but it does lead to a saving, and that saving is usually in energy or water, and energy is really one of the largest expenses that any property has, so it's actually a very easy business case when you look at it that way," says Ms. Bauchner.

Would you do this at work?
Monday, April 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L4

It was slipping on a patch of ice and twisting as he fell that dealt the final blow to Tim Sitt's back. But the injury had been waiting to happen for months, his chiropractor told him - the direct result of slouching at his office desk for 12 or more hours a day.

"I was tight through my hip flexors, my quads, my glutes," he recalls. "I was tight everywhere."

The chiropractor prescribed a series of exercises to be done at intervals throughout Sitt's workday as a child and family therapist, aiming to fix muscular weakness, tightness and imbalances, and break up extended periods of motionless sitting.

Sitt was motivated - until it came time to actually get up from his desk every hour or two, under the puzzled gaze of his co-workers, and perform prone hip thrusts and other odd manoeuvres.

Over the past few years, prolonged sitting has emerged as a new health scourge. Sitting is the new smoking, headlines warn. But even as awareness of the problem grows, proposed solutions like regular activity breaks and adjustable-height desks have run into a stubborn problem: workplace culture. Sitt's experience convinced him that psychology is as important as physiology in the fight against sedentary behaviour, and spurred him to launch a new program tackling the problem on an organizational, rather than personal, scale.

The list of ills associated with hours of uninterrupted sitting includes elevated risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other conditions, which occur as your muscles switch into a "dormant" mode that compromises their ability to break down fats and sugars. Crucially, exercising before or after work isn't enough to counteract these effects - sitting all day is harmful no matter how fit and active you are.

Knowing may be half the battle, but the other half (actually doing something about it) is the hard part. In a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in January, researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia tried a multipronged approach to figure out the best ways to prompt behaviour change in office groups.

The study compared three groups of university employees who typically spent more than six hours out of every eight-hour day sitting. One group received adjustable-height desks; the second received the desks along with ongoing individual and organizational-level guidance; the third group received no instructions and served as the control group. After three months, the desks-only group had reduced their sitting time by a modest 33 minutes compared to the controls, while the desks-plus-guidance group dropped 89 minutes, getting close to the 50-50 sit-stand split recommended by the researchers.

The additional support included face-to-face coaching and goal-setting, group brainstorming sessions on ways to reduce sitting time, regular e-mail reminders and consultation with managers.

"Changing sitting habits may not be as simple as providing new desks," lead researcher Maike Neuhaus said. "Sitting habits are ingrained in office routines, and we found that workers acting alone may feel awkward when standing during meetings or at their desk."

Sitt, a former personal trainer, reached the same conclusion while struggling to rehabilitate his back. He saw a dramatic improvement in his overall health once he established a routine of taking five or six one-minute breaks each day to perform simple exercises at his desk, so he decided to launch a program to encourage others to do the same.

The key barrier, he realized, wasn't the time commitment, which is less than 10 minutes a day, but getting a critical mass of people doing similar things, so he aimed his MOVE program at employers rather than employees. The nine-week intervention starts with one-on-one consultations, then assigns a range of simple exercises and stretches for one-minute breaks, and includes a weekly half-hour lunch workshop.

An initial pilot project with 10 employees at the charity Free the Children produced improvements in a range of assessment measures, including strength (as measured by push-ups) and flexibility (sit-and-reach test), as well as less tangible measures like energy and fatigue levels.

The pilot data also confirmed that the biggest barrier to adherence was feeling awkward about doing the movement breaks around other employees not participating in the program. There was, Sitt admits, some teasing.

Given the costs associated with sedentary behaviour - one study estimated that the least active employees are less productive by about three hours per week - this all-too-common workplace culture is something that employers would be wise to address. Change is hard, but Neuhaus's research shows that getting the whole office involved with a formal program makes a difference.

In other words, sitting resembles "the new smoking" in yet another way: Quitting is way easier when you're not the only one doing it.

Alex Hutchinson blogs about

exercise research at



Most of us know we should be less sedentary at work. But there are a lot of impediments to actually getting up from your desk and getting a little exercise. Not least of these is the awkwardness of being the person doing lunges in the middle of the office. We wanted to find out just how hard it can be to exercise at work.

"I got [an exercise] ball to deal with back pain issues due to poor seating posture. When I first got the ball I got a lot of stares from co-workers, especially since the trading floor is a huge open environment where everyone is visible. However, it's a great opportunity for an introduction. ('Hey, you're the guy that sits on that ball! How's that? Can I try?'). And people are generally very positive and inquisitive. It also gives you the privilege of replying, 'I'm so on the ball today' to queries such as, 'Hi, how are you?'" Alex Farberov, vice-president, BMO Capital Markets

"What would it take for me to exercise at my desk? A closed door, a change of clothes, loud music and accommodating neighbours." Doug Bourassa, lawyer, Chaitons

"I've never been very good at sitting still. Luckily, my desk is fairly tucked away so my colleagues aren't subjected to my contorted posture or odd stretch routines. Sometimes I'll stand up to take a phone call, and when possible I go on a walk. In my dream office set-up, I'd have a treadmill desk." Laura Creedon, account director, Pilot PMR

These interviews have been condensed and edited by Dave McGinn.


Tim Sitt, the founder of Toronto-based workplace wellness program MOVE, suggests fighting "sitting disease" by getting up every half-hour or so, and incorporating one-minute movement breaks at least five or six times a day targeting strength, cardio, flexibility, balance, and body awareness.


Single-Leg Squat

1. Hold one leg up like a pink flamingo, with hands on hips or out in front of you.

2. Lower yourself halfway down by squatting. Tap the toes of the rear foot on the floor behind you.

3. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.


Standing Twist

1. Twist your torso left to right, swinging continuously. Shift your head in line with your body.

2. Lift your foot (the one you're turning away from) off the ground and stretch your hip flexors as you twist.


Desk Jogging

1. Put your hands on your desk and body in a plank position, and begin jogging on spot.

2. With the forward lean, it should feel almost like you're on a stationary bike rather than jogging.

3. Add mini-push-ups as you go to work the upper body.



Campus renewal project goes a step beyond lean
When planning a $47-million expansion, St. Jerome's University chose a new design process. It gives architects, contractor and the university equal say - and keeps costs down. Globe writer GUY DIXON sat in on an integrated project delivery meeting
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B7

MISSISSAUGA -- It's like constructing a building backward.

Architects, construction companies and their clients normally exist in silos, waiting for the other to finish their work. Yet there's a design process that allows the three to work together, but it requires them in a sense to work in reverse.

Called integrated project delivery (IPD), it has a growing number of converts, at least judging from the palpable enthusiasm at one design meeting for a new 360-room student residence and academic building at St. Jerome's University. The Roman Catholic university is located on the campus of the University of Waterloo in Ontario. Students from one school regularly take classes in the other.

The new St. Jerome's buildings are being designed by committee. The university's administration has had a hand in the plans from the start, from the size and configuration of the raked lecture halls in the academic building to the smallest furniture details.

No detail seems too small. At one of the preconstruction IPD meetings, all three parties discussed whether indoor trees in the academic building should be grown from the floor or from heavy, movable pots. They didn't strike an accord on that one. Time was pressing at the meeting.

Another issue was the problem of placing emergency fire hydrants in the stairwells of the student residence. As representatives of St. Jerome's noted, stairwell hydrants had been vandalized at another university by students wanting to see what a staircase waterfall would look like.

All of these design choices have to be mapped out, so that all parties are part of the decision-making process. Designing by committee may sound time-consuming, but typically it means that all choices, put into three-dimensional computer renderings, can be agreed upon by the main parties and by other building specialists involved at the beginning with fewer changes later.

At the meeting in a warehouse-sized room at the Mississauga branch office of construction company Graham Group Ltd., a computerized flowchart of tasks was projected for everyone to see.

Graham is leading construction for the St. Jerome build. Diamond Schmitt Architects is the designer. And administrators from St. Jerome are involved at every stage. Each design detail is charted, from plans for a particular mechanical space in one of the buildings to architectural revision work for the college's chapel. Each task is given a completion time and inserted into the flowchart. Some of the smaller tasks may take just 30 minutes, but each needs to be checked off for all to see.

"We're working backward from outcomes. In other words, we have milestones, and then we have things we need to get done to deliver these milestones," said Art Winslow, project director at Graham.

"This says when we need to get something done, and let's work back to see how we get there. It's working almost exactly in reverse of the norm," added David Dow, a principal at Diamond Schmitt.

On another wall of the meeting space, every significant construction cost is printed on spreadsheets and posted. This unorthodox transparency, as the IPD process has slowly gained ground in the building industry over the past decade and a half, has mirrored the movement toward lean construction and finding ways to streamline the design process, hopefully making it more efficient.

All forecasted costs are monitored by everyone. As another example, the projected overall cost of the campus development was due to come in at $47.5-million, more than the originally projected cost of $47-million. The goal, then, by all parties is to bring down that overall cost estimation, rather than have it be a nasty surprise for the client at the end, as it might have been with a traditional design project.

Another graph showed the estimated total fees for the construction engineers and architects. Originally projected to wind up being around $1,485,500, those were actually under budget a few weeks ago at a projected $1,077,000 in total costs. For this project, the design and preconstruction phase won't take longer than if it was done the traditional way. Construction is set to start in June and finish by early 2016.

Darren Becks, vice-president of administration at St. Jerome's, said this collective approach depends on finding the right kind of architects to work with - a firm willing to work non-traditionally.

Mr. Becks did most of the original research on using the IPD approach for the university's redevelopment. He had been in touch with Howard Ashcraft at San Francisco law firm Hanson Bridgett, a key figure in formulating the legal framework for the IPD method in recent years and who helped St. Jerome write its request for proposals for its development.

"The architects are the ones who have normally held most or all of the process at the front end. And they've had to now [with the IPD method] share and embrace a whole bunch of other trades and professionals, and a group of owners, to essentially tweak and poke and peck and critique the process to arrive at the best value for the client," Mr. Becks said.

"We wanted to find an innovative way that would allow us to be more collaborative, but also to manage the risks of undertaking a build of this size for an institution our size," he added.

Said to be the first postsecondary educational building project in North America using the IPD approach, the method does seem best suited to institutional buildings where costs are key. And while agreeing that the IPD approach may be less suited to a building in which an architect is given free rein, Mr. Dow of Diamond Schmitt said that IPD could still be possible with an architectural gem, so long as those costs were understood from the get-go.

IPD is best seen as a relationship contract (a working relationship between all parties), rather than a traditional, transactional contract (where the architects and construction company works for the client.) In the latter, the architects and the contractor don't have a legal tie. In IPD they do.

"In this arrangement, the three of us - the contractor, the architect and the client - are all signing one mutual contract. All three of us are legally bound together. So that's a very strong distinction," Mr. Dow said.

"And within that agreement there are various clauses that limit quite significantly the times where we can apportion blame or sue each other effectively. For lots of things on a typical project, I might end up suing, or he might end up suing me. Those are taken off the table," Mr. Dow said. "So therefore, it's better for us to work together. It's a legal framework to help enforce the collaboration."

Indeed, the drive to make this succeed adds to the proselytizing conviction in the room, despite the long hours that the meetings entail. Each party said that the process should bring out the best in everyone.

"And it does that because it mitigates the risk," said Katherine Bergman, president and vice-chancellor of St. Jerome's. "I know what this whole thing is going to look like from beginning to end before we ever put a shovel in the ground."



Academic building

Building gross floor area: 2,087 square metres - two storeys plus mechanical penthouse.

Six classrooms, including some theatre-sized, and student study spaces.

Placed north of the chapel, the academic building redefines the entry to campus.

Residences building

Building gross floor area: 9,765 square metres - seven storeys plus mechanical penthouse.

Ground floor - pantry, rooms for TV, games, music, study, gym-multipurpose and fitness.

A total of 360 beds on six floors.

Source: Diamond Schmitt Architects

Calling all Canadians who bring great business ideas to life
With our new Innovators at Work contest, we're seeking talented individuals who are moving their industries - and the country - forward. Their vision and risk-taking are exactly what Canada needs for a vital future
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B10

Creators, innovators and entrepreneurs tend to be intrinsically motivated to do their work. Their drive, in other words, often comes from within - from engagement and curiosity, and not from carrot-on-a-stick rewards such as profit or fame.

It's why the minds behind many of today's most successful businesses eschew traditional measures of success - why Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard, for instance, or why Steve Jobs took an annual salary of a dollar: They let their output speak to investors while their personal fate hung in the balance.

Not all innovators make it to the Fortune 500, though, in spite of their dedication or even their impact. Most act quietly, particularly in the bastion of modesty called Canada, taking risks and developing products and processes that shift the paradigms of their sectors a little or a lot.

More often than not, these people leave a measurable influence on their industry, if not broader Canadian prosperity and productivity.

Today, The Globe and Mail is launching the Innovators at Work contest to recognize those Canadians whose entrepreneurship has made an indelible mark on their industries and communities. The series will profile creative business minds who not only come up with innovative ideas, but also see them through to fruition to change the life of Canadians for the better.

Innovators have "a combination of spark, depth and practicality," says Sheldon Levy, president of Ryerson University in Toronto and one of five panelists who will determine the winners of the Innovators at Work contest. "I would describe it as the ability to almost see what others don't see, in identifying an opportunity to improve the status quo."

The simplest ideas - say, getting e-mail on your phone - have made some Canadians transformational innovators. "Take an example like BlackBerry in its earliest days. It's the ultimate invention innovation," says panelist Paul Waldie, editor of The Globe and Mail's Report on Business.

True innovators, Mr. Waldie says, think beyond traditional business models and products. "They get out of their niche, out of their comfort zone," he says. The willingness to acknowledge failure helps, too. "I think humility's a real part of being open to new ideas and new ways of doing things."

Unearthing Canadian business talent is crucial, says Doug Watt, director of industry and business strategy with the Conference Board of Canada. In today's sluggish economy, he says the country puts too much emphasis on its raw resources, including lumber and oil and gas, and isn't focused enough on creating new value among those resources and working toward greater productivity.

The country ranks just 14th in global competitiveness worldwide, according to the World Economic Forum.

"If you have a lot of a good thing, sometimes people rest on their laurels, recognize what they're doing is serving them well, and the continue along that path," Mr. Watt says.

The Conference Board released a 129-page report this week examining how companies, governments, educational institutions and individuals can better promote innovation. "Canada is at a stage in its developed economy where it needs to be innovative, to create new value and opportunities with the talent and resources we have," Mr. Watt says.

The deck, however, is improbably stacked against Canada's creative problem-solvers: Not only is Canada "weak" at promoting business innovation, according to Conference Board research, but traditional education systems rarely encourage the type of thinking that leads to innovation.

Tony Wagner, expert in residence at Harvard University's Innovation Lab and author of Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, says today's culture of schooling is also to blame, and "fundamentally at odds" with learning to be an innovator. Reward and punishment for grades and advancement, he says, don't help these "intrinsically motivated" people who become innovators.

Still, many parents and teachers have pushed against the norm, helping young people to become creative problem-solvers by encouraging "play, passion and purpose," Mr. Wagner says. These people grow to take risks, make mistakes, work collaboratively, and cross the borders of disciplines and specializations to try new ways of thinking.

They become innovators - whether working alone or as part of an effective team.

"The characteristics I look for in innovators are a balance of creativity and discipline. This is hard to find in one person," says Innovators at Work panelist Annette Verschuren, chief executive officer of NRStor Inc. and former president of Home Depot Canada. "But teams that have a balance of creative/strategic thinking and execution capability are the best."

By clearly describing their products and services, understanding their markets, and carefully planning, Ms. Verschuren says, innovators can execute their ideas even in an ever-changing environment.

"It starts with putting yourself into the perspective of the people your business will serve," Mr. Levy says. "This goes with the practical reality of recognizing that ideas by themselves are cheap, and that execution is the challenge. Execution is a team sport, and it is about far more than just the technical side, it involves critical strategies in marketing, human resources and business planning."

Innovators at Work panelist Bill McFarland, CEO and senior partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada, says innovation "is not about another program driven by 'champions' within an organization.

"It's about a culture that allows everyone in the organization to challenge the norm, take risks and do things differently," Mr. McFarland says.

Peers, colleagues, clients, associates, friends and family can nominate the innovators in their life for the Innovators at Work contest - people who have ideas, and the ability to turn those ideas into something tangible, be it product, policy or business model. The Globe and Mail will profile those nominees weekly this spring and summer, and the panel of judges will announce 12 winners in September.



Innovators at Work is a series and contest about talented people across key sectors of the Canadian economy and society who not only have great ideas but who also help to turn those concepts into reality through their actions. They get the job done with impact.

We seek to highlight these people, many of whom are not famous but who nonetheless have had a significant and measureable influence on not only their industry, field or discipline but have in some demonstrable way improved the lives of Canadians.

Their peers, colleagues, clients, friends and family recognize them as people who have ideas combined with the ability to turn those ideas into something tangible, whether it's a business, a product, a theory, a policy, a service, a model, productivity, competitive edge or a positive disruptive change.

Who are they? You tell us - and our panel of judges will select the top 12 Canadian Innovators in September.

Definition of an innovator

Individuals who, through their ideas and subsequent actions, have made a significant impact on their business, sector, institution or profession to a degree that Canadian society has benefitted.

Nomination criteria

- Nominees must be living Canadian citizens or permanent residents, residing either in Canada or internationally.

- Must have had a demonstrable achievement that has positively affected or influenced others or actions in the areas of natural resources, manufacturing and retail, finance and professional services, science and technology, public sector and academia, and health.

How to nominate

To nominate an innovator that you know, please go to:



Sheldon Levy

President of Ryerson University in Toronto.

Annette Verschuren

Chairwoman and chief executive officer of NRstor Inc., formerly of Home Depot Canada.

Daniel Debow

Senior vice-president at, co-founder of Rypple.

Bill McFarland

CEO and senior partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

The kid makes the picture
Meet Jaxzen Sandell: director, producer, raconteur, Grade 7 student
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R1

Most filmmakers have a predictable list of people to thank when their work arrives on the big screen. Their actors, the producer, the screenwriter, perhaps even an agent will all get special praise. When Jaxzen Sandell's first film premieres at TIFF Kids this month, he'll likely give a shout-out to his homeroom teacher, Ms. Partridge.

It was Ms. Partridge, after all, who late last year, before her retirement, suggested that Sandell and his Grade 7 classmates at Bowmore Public School, in Toronto, each make a movie and submit them to the TIFF Kids International Film Festival Jump Cuts program. Sandell was eager to pick up a camera and start shooting.

"Our teacher expected us to make storyboards and everything. I started making storyboards and then I got bored so I started filming," the 12-year-old recalls.

Sandell's movie, Flat, is one of just 14 films in the Grade 7 and 8 category, selected out of nearly 100 submissions from across Ontario that will be screened at this year's TIFF Kids festival. The film, with a running time of five minutes and 45 seconds (all entries had to be under eight minutes), uses stop-motion animation to tell a story about two drawings in love who are separated by an evil tablet that makes one of them into 3-D Plasticine while the other is trapped on paper. A representative for the festival said the movie was chosen as a finalist because of its "very impressive" blend of various types of animation.

"I was kind of fond of the whole Romeo and Juliet idea," Sandell says.

Like most storied films, Flat ran into its share of production troubles.

Sandell took so many photographs for the stop-motion animation - just more than 2,000 - that they crashed the family computer.

Then, he had to learn to use iMovie."We had a big problem with editing. It took two days to figure out how to use iMovie. My mom helped me figure it out and I did the editing myself," Sandell says.

But the largely improvised, do-it-on-the-fly aspect of making the movie suited the director just fine. "Sometimes you just have to go with what feels right at the moment," he says.

Besides, it's not as if he wasn't prepared. Sandell has wanted to be a filmmaker since he saw Enchanted, a Disney movie starring Amy Adams that puts a different spin on princess stories, in 2009.

"Before then, I only liked watching cartoon movies because I was younger," Sandell says. But Enchanted, which his older sister had shown him, led him to decide to become a filmmaker. "It had a different formula from normal Disney movies."

Since then, he has gobbled up DVD commentaries to learn everything he can about making movies. His favourite directors include Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton and Hayao Miyazaki, the director of Spirited Away. And, Sandell adds: "I like the work of Brad Bird."

He's already thinking big: Sandell's dream project is a series of three or four animated musicals.

"I would want to get a big cast," he says. "I like Jim Carrey. I like Will Ferrell. I like Kristen Wiig. I like Jonah Hill. He plays a good side character. I feel like Leonardo DiCaprio is a bit too serious for what I want to do for certain movies. But I wouldn't mind working with him. And mind you, all of these actors will be pretty old by the time I become a really good director."

He does want to make live-action movies, but he always knew that Flat would be animated.

"I wouldn't say there are more limitations to being live action because you can certainly do more. You could jump around. It wouldn't be so hard to actually make. I just felt like there's more craftsmanship and more personal kind of influence that went into an animated movie because it has your own artistic style. It's like looking at a painting that came to life," Sandell says.

He's already planning his second film, a claymation short about the Mexican Day of the Dead, which he expects to shoot this summer. It's the next step toward one day launching his own moviemaking company.

"I plan on starting from scratch," Sandell says. "Blue Sky Studios, that's what they did. They just made a short and then went off and made Robots."

He wants to go to film school, but his education has already begun. He's currently learning Final Cut, a video-editing software, and Toon Boom, the animation software. And he hopes to get RenderMan, the visual-effects industry's gold-standard software developed by Pixar. At the moment, though, he's looking forward to the premiere of Flat at the festival.

"It will be very, very exciting. I'll probably be sweating a lot," Sandell says.

Now that he's got his first movie under his belt, he is absorbing the lessons of sitting in the director's chair.

"What I liked about it was just the idea that I'm able to bring the story to life. It's like a buzz kind of feeling when you're doing it. It's not that sort of excitement when you say, 'Oh, I can't wait to be done.' It's more of a feeling like, 'I can't wait to accomplish this.' I guess it's just different words, but it makes a difference," he says.

And then there's maybe the most important lesson of all that Sandell says he's learned from the process.

"I know this is going to sound kind of cheesy, but follow your instincts, and go where your heart takes you."

Jaxzen Sandell's film, Flat, screens as part of the Jump Cuts Young Filmmakers Showcase on April 17 and 19.



Disneynature's Bears

Directed by Alastair Fothergill, who's been called the "Spielberg of nature films," the new True Life Adventures film from Disneynature, about a year in the life of a family of brown bears in the Alaskan wilderness, makes its Canadian premiere on April 11.

The House of Magic

The festival's closing-night film, on April 19, is also a Canadian premiere. The House of Magic is an animated movie about a cat who lives in the house of a retired magician. Director Ben Stassen will be on hand for a post-screening Q&A, and a "special guest" magician will also be on hand to teach kids tricks.

Big Bird in the House

The yellow Sesame Street superstar will give a special introduction to Elmo the

Musical on April 13. Kids in attendance can get their photos taken with Abby Cadabby, Elmo and Cookie Monster before or after the screening.


Described as "where great kids' books meet flash mobs," StoryMobs will be part of a special event where kids and adults will bring to life the book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, on April 19. There will be a screening of the movie afterward at this free event.

Easter Treat

With the festival falling on Easter Monday this year, it is extending programing on April 21. There will be screenings of the award-winning films as voted by festival audiences and TIFF Kids juries, meaning there'll be one more chance to check them out. DigiPlaySpace, the interactive space inside TIFF Bell Lightbox, will also be open.

Dave McGinn

The TIFF Kids International

Film Festival runs April 8 to 21.

Visit for details.

Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

Hart Memorial Trophy

To the player adjudged to be most valuable to his own team.

Winner: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins.

Runners-up: Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks; John Tavares, New York Islanders.

Getzlaf has emerged as a strong leader on an Anaheim team that is generally far greater than the sum of its individual parts and has added a goal-scoring component to his game as well as his exceptional playmaking. The Ducks set a series of franchise records this season, largely thanks to his contributions. Tavares was in the midst of another fine year before he got hurt in the Olympics (66 points in 59 games) and hasn't played since. His value was demonstrated first by his presence and then by his absence. Without Tavares, the Islanders fell apart.

James Norris Memorial Trophy

To the defence player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability.

Winner: Shea Weber, Nashville Predators.

Runners-up: Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks; Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins.

There are a lot of honourable mentions beyond the front-runners. Drew Doughty in Los Angeles and Ryan Suter in Minnesota are catalysts on their respective teams and primary reasons they're in the playoffs. Chara has had another exceptional year in leading the Bruins to the best record in hockey and Keith has done it all for the Blackhawks. He eats up big minutes and he's contributed more offensively than in the past couple of years. But on a Nashville Predators team that has never fully recovered from Suter's loss, Weber has done it all. Offensively, he's passed the 20-goal plateau and he helps the power play go. Defensively, he's a scary big-bodied presence. He has twice been the first runner-up for this award - in 2011 and 2012. This year, he should be in the winner's circle.

Vezina Trophy

To the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position.

Winner: Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche.

Runners-up: Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins; Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens.

Rask has the Bruins in contention for the Jennings trophy again this year, but it helps to play behind a defensively sound team. Price has had another terrific year in the Montreal pressure cooker, but Varlamov is the single biggest reason that the Avalanche has completed a near historical turnaround - from 29th over all last year to competing with Boston, Anaheim and St. Louis for first over all. Colorado's starting six on defence regularly consists of Erik Johnson, André Benoit, Nick Holden, Jan Hejda, Cory Sarich and Nate Guenin. The Avs should take home a lot of hardware this season, and Varlamov's contributions cannot be overlooked.

Calder Memorial Trophy

To the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition.

Winner: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche.

Runners-up: Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets; Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning.

Many of the awards this year are close and nuanced, but MacKinnon has made the rookie of the year an open-and-shut case and probably the only suspense will be whether he wins it unanimously or not. Coach Patrick Roy started him on the third line to temper expectations and allowed MacKinnon to adjust to the NHL slowly. In the first half, MacKinnon played on average 16 minutes 5 seconds a game. Roy upped that in the second half, so that his average is now 17:15 - and as injuries took Paul Stastny, Alex Tanguay, P.A. Parenteau and now Matt Duchene out of the top six, MacKinnon got a chance to play more minutes in the second half. Palat has been a real find for the Lightning and his emergence was one of the reasons (along with Jonathan Drouin in the pipeline) they felt they could trade Martin St. Louis at the deadline. A number of excellent young defenders entered the NHL this season as well, among them Hampus Lindholm (Anaheim), Danny DeKeyser (Detroit) and Seth Jones (Nashville). But when healthy, nobody had the impact of Trouba, whose presence in part allowed the Jets to switch Dustin Byfuglien to forward back in January.

Jack Adams Award

To the coach adjudged to have contributed most to his team's success.

Winner: Patrick Roy, Colorado Avalanche.

Runners-up: Mike Babcock, Detroit Red Wings; Bruce Boudreau, Anaheim Ducks.

Annually one of the most difficult to sort out. So many coaches did admirable jobs, from the ones who presided over unexpected turnarounds (Roy; Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay) to the ones that kept good teams competitive again (Todd McLellan, San Jose; Claude Julien, Boston) to the ones who squeezed the most out of the talent at hand (Todd Richards, Columbus; Bob Hartley, Calgary). Boudreau helped the Ducks win the tough Pacific for the second year in a row, while Babcock extended the Red Wings' playoff streak to 23 consecutive seasons, despite playing a heavily influenced Grand Rapids for much of the season after injuries felled the likes of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen. But Roy went into Colorado with his trademark swagger, backed up by some coaching chops learned in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Colorado had young talent to be sure, but as many teams can tell you (Edmonton, Florida, others), turning all that young talent into a winning and cohesive NHL team is harder than it looks. Roy made it look comparatively easy.

Frank J. Selke Trophy

To the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.

Winner: Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings.

Runners-up: Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks; Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins.

There are three exceptional Selke candidates this season. Toews won it last year, Bergeron the year before, while Kopitar remains one of the NHL's best-kept secrets, one of the few times that mostly ridiculous notion of an anti-West Coast bias may hold true. Kings coach Darryl Sutter never ever lavishes praise on his own players, but he makes an exception for Kopitar, noting that he is the best centre he's ever coached. Sutter's respect for Kopitar isn't because of his point-per-game scoring pace on the NHL's best defensive team. It's because Kopitar does all the things in the defensive zone Sutter believes are part of a winning program. He wins face-offs, kills penalties and is so defensively sound that even going up against the top centres of the opposing team most nights, he is a plus-13 player. Toews and Bergeron are of course exceptional, too, for virtually all the same reasons cited above. Any of the three would be a worthy choice.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy

To the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.

Winner: Ryan O'Reilly, Colorado Avalanche.

Runners-up: Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks; Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks.

Let's just make it a complete Colorado sweep. O'Reilly leads the Avalanche forwards in playing time at just under 20 minutes per night and had 62 points in 77 games. He didn't take a minor penalty until the 71st game of the season, when he was dinged two minutes for playing with a broken stick. As of Friday, that was it for him. Seven of the past eight Byng trophies went to either Martin St. Louis or Pavel Datsyuk, but neither has had a season up to their usual standards. Kane, by contrast, was playing great before he got injured and Marleau has been a big reason why the Sharks have quietly put up another quality 100-point season, with a strong two-way game.

Mammoth revival
Almost frozen out, the Cadillac Escalade heads up a herd of big luxury beasts that have carved out a profitable niche
Thursday, April 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page D1

Russian scientists recently unearthed the remains of a wooly mammoth, an immense, tough, elephantine beast that went extinct about 10,000 years ago. Given the remarkably well-preserved nature of the corpse - hair, bones, blood, and marrow were present and intact - there has been discussion of the possibility of cloning this animal and allowing this deceased species to rise from the evolutionary graveyard.

Cadillac has just reincarnated its own immense, tough, elephantine beast: the all-new 2015 Escalade, which will arrive in dealerships throughout Canada in the next few weeks. Despite its similarities to that prehistoric pachyderm, this luxurious four-wheeler never actually suffered an extinction event.

Sales of basic, large-scale SUVs like the Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon and Toyota Sequoia have fallen by as much as 40 per cent from their peak 10 years ago. With the rise in gas prices in the mid-2000s and the plummet in the economy a few years later, many "casual" full-sized SUV users abandoned these vehicles for mid-sized crossovers, smaller SUVs, or mid-sized cars.

But buyers of Brobdingnagian luxury behemoths like the Escalade - along with its brethren the Infiniti QX80, Mercedes GL and Lexus LX 570 - remain fiercely loyal. Despite any commodity dips, spikes or corrections, each of these vehicles has sold consistently at around 20,000 units every year.

Who is still buying these leather-lined, chromed-out, gas-hungry land yachts?

According to Alexander Edwards, president of automotive industry research firm Strategic Vision, these buyers have some significant differences from the typical luxury buyer. They are more likely to be married and from Generation X. They're twice as likely to have minor kids living at home, and four times as likely to have three or more. And they're less likely to be college grads - though their household income is about two-thirds higher than that of a typical luxury buyer.

Consumer purchase decisions do not occur by compulsion through their slotting into a demographic profile. There are myriad emotional and behavioural needs, known to marketers as psychographics. "People are not simply buying these vehicles because they have a lot of money and a lot of kids," Edwards says. "They're buying them because they have a lot of money and a lot of kids, and a lot of needs that can't be satisfied by a smaller vehicle."

Strategic Vision's surveys of nearly 1,000 owners of vehicles in this category demonstrate that buyers use these big rigs for a multitude of discrete but interrelated tasks. In addition to acting as a shuttle for their atypically extensive broods, they're also utilized as an all-wheel drive, all-weather hauler - for safety reasons. They find use ferrying a large family-sized hoard home from a big box store or shopper's club. They have the capacity to tow a boat, a camper or an off-road vehicle, be it a snowmobile or an ATV. They're also an easy way to tote around aging parents, for whom climbing up into the vehicle's wide doors via step-up power running boards is simpler than climbing down into an average sedan.

Most importantly, says Edwards, buyers see enough value in these vehicles' combination of functionality, safety and luxury to justify the high five-figure purchase price. (The 2015 Escalade starts at $79,900). To wit, these big SUVs are laden with technology and creature comforts like touch-screen navigation; multiple integrated on-board entertainment systems; rows of heated, cooled, and/or power-folding seats; high-end leather, wood and metal trim; and collision avoidance systems like adaptive cruise control, automatic braking and a plethora of airbags. They also tend to be equipped with the highest output and/or most sophisticated powertrain choices within their segment. For example, the new 2015 Escalade will sport a 6.2-litre, 420 horsepower V-8 borrowed from its famous General Motors stable-mate, the Corvette.

While their sheer scale prevents fuel economy from taking a high place on consumers' list of must-haves, efficiency improvements from advanced six- or seven-speed transmissions, direct injection, and cylinder deactivation (shutting down parts of the engine to conserve gas) means that they can return real-world consumption that lands just this side of the purely profligate.

Because buyers see these vehicles as being both highly utilitarian and highly indulgent, they are able to rationalize their purchase as one that would otherwise need to be filled by two vehicles. "Rather than having a luxury sedan and a utility vehicle," Edwards says, these consumers tell themselves, "I can get this alone."

Buyer fealty and the limited number of choices within the segment mean that the introduction of a new model usually results in a significant bump in market share without altering the total number of vehicles sold in the category. With its all-new offering, Cadillac may see its Escalade sales evolve, stampeding itself back into first place in the pack.



Cadillac Escalade

The Escalade has always had presence. But where previous generations used to privilege audacity over refinement, the all-new model is at once extremely luxurious and extremely imposing, without being simply a blunt instrument.

The exterior clearly communicates this notable transition, with softer and less flashy chrome trim (and less of it), jewel-like LED head and tail lamps and a crisp profile that looks more lithe and taut - if such adjectives can be applied to a vehicle that, in extended wheelbase ESV trim, weighs 2760 kilograms and is nearly 5.7 metres long.

The most significant upgrade is in the interior. The materials feel as exclusive as those in the rest of the Cadillac line - exquisite leathers, intriguing veneers of real wood, satin-finish metals and delightful trim in unexpected places like the chrome caps on the end of the dash, visible only when the doors are open. The cabin is also equipped with the latest tech and safety features, like active cruise control that follows the car in front of you at a safe distance up to your preset speed, and a full suite of emergency collision avoidance features. Unlike the outgoing Escalade, there's a truly adult-friendly third row of seats, which power down and fold flat - like the second row - at the touch of a button, and can feature their own 9-inch LCD entertainment monitor.

And while the Escalade sports the category's most potent V-8 engine, the passenger compartment is remarkably quiet. Cruising at highway speeds, the big eight-pot chugs in almost electric silence, barely infringing on the cabin occupants' conversation, while providing plenty of muscle when needed. (0-100 km/h in 6 seconds.) We only wish the premium Bose stereo had a power and depth of sound to match its clarity.

Mercedes-Benz GL

The category best seller, the GL is smooth, luxurious, quiet, and almost minivan-esque - unless you order it with the raucous 550 horsepower 5.5-litre twin-turbo V-8 in the GL63 AMG version.

Infiniti QX80

With its high-shouldered stance, tall forehead and low eyes, the Nissan luxury brand's SUV most resembles an actual elephant - on the outside. Inside, it's more like a luxurious private jet.

Lexus LX570

The Lexus of SUVs has the brand's signature insulation, effortlessness and technical perfection. But it's mounted on the aging Toyota Tundra truck platform, which may be nearing the end of its life cycle.

Brett Berk

Hear him roar
Aaron Eckhart, the star of I, Frankenstein, isn't afraid of being seen as difficult. Oh, and he thinks directors view actors as 'competition'
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R3

Aaron Eckhart knows he's demanding. "Oh, yeah," he said in Toronto on Monday. "I'm challenging. I'm not demanding like, I need special-colour M&M's. I'm demanding in that I need to be allowed to try things when I'm making a movie, to have an atmosphere of creativity. I demand to be allowed to try to be good."

At this point, we're 10 minutes into a 15-minute conversation, and we've reached a tricky place. Eckhart has a career that's hard to categorize. He started strong in the late-1990s in two Neil LaBute films (In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors). He's worked for Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich), Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking) and Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight). But he hasn't found an easy or recognizable groove.

Now he's playing a monster in a film that's admittedly a departure for him, I, Frankenstein. Based on a graphic novel, it's an expensive update of the Mary Shelley classic, laden with special effects - and baggage. It was directed by Stuart Beattie, who wrote two of the Pirates of the Caribbean films and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. By the time it opened yesterday, I, Frankenstein had been bumped from two earlier release dates, and late January is not exactly an auspicious launch time.

Neither of us is admitting what we think of the finished film, and we're both aware of that, too. Eckhart is sitting on a sofa, dressed in black (jacket, shirt, jeans, lace-up shoes). He's 45, with a cleft chin and the requisite actor frame: large head, lean body. His manner is direct - not testy, but he knows there's an edge to what he's saying, and he's saying it anyway.

We'd started our chat innocently enough. I asked Eckhart how long he'd spent daily in the makeup chair to play Frankenstein's monster (who's called Adam), and how he'd passed the time. His answers: two to three hours, and quietly. He likes to think - to stare at his eyes in the mirror, to have conversations in his head, even crazy ones. He doesn't like to play music or read or gossip. And he doesn't like others to do that stuff around him.

"I want to get closer to my character, not father away," he says. "When I'm thinking, I'm working - planting seeds. I could be talking to myself in a little boy's voice, saying, 'Daddy, come get me.' Or be talking to my father about why he did this to me."

The point is, he wants to concentrate. His character may be doing extreme things - killing demons, burying the "father" who made him. But as an actor, "I take it totally seriously," he says. "Otherwise, what's the purpose of doing it?"

Here's where our conversation starts sliding onto thin ice. Eckhart recently worked with an assistant director who'd worked with Jared Leto on Dallas Buyers' Club, which earned Leto an Oscar nod and numerous awards. "This AD said, admiringly, 'Leto stayed in character the entire time,'" Eckhart says. "Why are people so impressed when actors stay in character? Why don't more actors do it? I'll tell you why: It's hard to do. There's so much pressure not to. Because you make the crew uncomfortable. You're deemed difficult. You're weird. You can't imagine the pressures to get you out of what you're hired to do. You have to fight all the time."

Eckhart doesn't understand why more directors don't foster his kind of intensity - why, for example, they don't alert the crew to stay out of an actor's way on a tough day. He always says to directors, "Audiences don't notice lighting or camera moves. Performance and character are what they're looking at."

In fact - and oh, the cracks are spreading beneath us now - Eckhart thinks most directors are afraid of actors. "They view us more as competition than as a partner," he says. "The first thing you hear about an actor is, 'He was nice.'" He furrows his broad brow in puzzlement. "Ooo-kay, but I don't understand that. Why would you want your actor to work his entire life to get these feelings, and then throw them away, just to be genial to people on a set? If I do that, I'm not going to have those feelings when I need them."

I am torn. Do I skate away from this line of conversation, because I like Eckhart's work and respect his honesty? Or do I let him keep going, though he may crash? I keep going.

Is Eckhart suggesting that his artistic demands have prevented some directors from hiring him? "For sure," he answers. "People want to have a good time. That's the bottom line. But in my defence, every actor who I admire has a difficult reputation. I'm not saying mean. I'm saying they're artistically disciplined. Denzel Washington, Sean Penn, Christian Bale, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Those are the guys I'm looking to. I always endeavour to be great. And I endeavour to work with people who want the same thing."

Some directors understand what Eckhart wants. "Neil LaBute, because we were friends and did theatre together," he says. "And Antoine Fuqua, on Olympus Has Fallen. He's not afraid of his actors. He relished the idea of always going further. But most guys, if you fight back, they shrink."

When I ask who, Eckhart finally stops himself. "No," he says laughing. "I'd never say. But I've got spirit, I've got passion. To me, that's a great thing." Eckhart isn't directly blaming timid directors for the rockiness of his career, but he's not shying away from implying it, and that's rare.

He's not finished, either. Eckhart also thinks many male characters are too timid. "I'm interested, now more than ever, in projects that explore what it means to be a man," he says. "My version of a man."

Which is? "I can't exactly articulate it, but it's around the notion of responsibility," he replies. "The responsibility a man has to his children, his partner, his place in his community. The steps he has to take, the sacrifices he has to make, in realizing that. I think men have become afraid to voice who they really are. We've become afraid to be men. It's certainly reflected in movies today. I want to make movies that address that, get back to an original toughness, that code of, 'This is who I am.' I think there's a lot to mine there."

Eckhart holds out hope that he can find like-minded filmmakers who'll go there with him. "I want to say what I want to say, and I don't want to be penalized for it," he says. "Sometimes I have to temper myself so much that I almost can't be around people. But I don't want to do that; I don't want to have to mould myself into somebody else's vision of me. I want to roar, man."

Twenty-four-hour party people
How Fox News president Roger Ailes reshaped around-the-clock cable news in the image of the American right wing
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R15

The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News - and Divided a Country

by Gabriel Sherman

Random House, 538 pages, $34

It was 8:49 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001. Sharon Fain, Fox News's Atlanta bureau chief, was on an editorial conference call when she saw something on a monitor near her desk. "Oh my God," she uttered, alerting her senior producers to the story of decade, "turn on CNN."

It would be four full minutes - ages in the hurried tempo 24-hour news cycle - before Fox News made mention of American Airlines Flight 11 fateful crash through the World Trade Center's north tower. What traction the network lost breaking the story, they reclaimed defining it. 9/11 was a make-or-break moment for Fox News. And for its founding chief executive officer, Roger Ailes.

They acted fast.

As Gabriel Sherman puts it in his new book about Ailes, on Fox in the hours after the 9/11 attacks, "the defining tenets of the Bush years were coming quickly into relief: the with-us-or-against us defiance; the battering of political opponents as unpatriotic and unmistakable undercurrent of Christian messianism." Within 30 seconds of another plane striking the south tower, anchor Jon Scott had named Osama bin Laden as public enemy number one. Later that same day, Ailes had instituted "the crawl," that steady stream of bullet point headlines that rolls across the bottom of the screen.

The crawl is one of those things now so essential to cable news that, until reading about it in Sherman's book, would never have occurred to me needed to be invented. The crawl gives a sense of news happening, of narrative unfolding, literally revealing itself as it flows from right to left. It gives cable news networks the license to state that they're ostensibly reporting the news in a conventional, meaningful sense in the guise of "un-biased" bullet points. As it ticks by, it keeps the pulse of cable news' cynicism.

Remarkably, The Loudest Voice In The Room doesn't resort to this same level of cynicism. It's not the nastiest book about Ailes - that'd be 2012's The Fox Effect, by David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt of media watchdog Media Matters. But Sherman's book distinguishes itself in its diligent characterization of Ailes as something more than just some political P.T. Barnum.

Despite the book's backhandedly praiseful subtitle and constant references to its subject's "bluster," Sherman develops an image of Ailes as something more than a showman. Scarier, and more importantly, The Loudest Voice in the Room posits Ailes as a real-deal ideologue: someone who actually believes all the stuff Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck ("Fox News's id made visible") spout on his network. (Or most of it, anyway.) This is a man who called the president of Fox-owned cable channel FX and told him not to air a movie about the Pentagon Papers because "It's bad for America."

Born in the factory town of Warren, Ohio, Ailes defined himself as a producer on The Mike Douglas Show in the mid-sixties. In 1967, after helping to make the stiff, alienating Richard Nixon appear approachable on TV, Ailes was hired as an image consultant for his 1968 presidential bid.

Ailes would move between showbiz (he produced a few failed Broadway musicals, and a TV special about Federico Fellini) and political consulting between the 1970s and eighties. He served as an executive producer of Rush Limbaugh's late-night talk show in the early nineties, and then as president of cable news channel CNBC and the short-lived NBC cable channel America's Talking (sort of a dry run for Fox News). The merger between MSN and NBC saw Ailes sidelined, then drafted by News Corp mogul Rupert Murdoch, who installed him as the head of Fox News in 1996.

As The Loudest Voice In The Room pivots from being a straight-ahead bio of a media mogul into a history Fox News, it transforms into a sizzling page-turner. A New York magazine writer who has served as a commentator across the cable news band (including Fox), Sherman's insider access is impressive (he interviewed a total of 614 people). As expected, there's plenty of "dirt" here, from a story about Ailes offering a prospective female hire an extra $100 week to sleep with him whenever he pleased, to his doughnut-throwing tirades, to engineering Fox's "War On Christmas" as a ratings ploy, and his miscarried attempt to use the network to rocket a Republican to the White House (in the form of Mitt Romney).

At Fox, Ailes was able to fully realize his long-held notions of politics as entertainment. He carefully controlled everything from on-air graphics to wardrobe - fitting Alan Colmes, the network's token liberal punching bag, with fake glasses - and deliberately obfuscated the network's blatant conservative bias with stuff like their often-mocked "fair and balanced" tagline.

Yet even something like Fox's laughable mantra revealed Ailes's grander political ambitions. It was less a programming slogan than a broader cultural mandate. It wasn't that Fox News was necessarily fair (nor balanced). It was that Fox was restoring a perceived imbalance caused by the Democrat-sympathizing liberal media. As one Fox senior exec puts to Sherman, "You didn't need to hear both sides of the story at Fox. You were getting the other side by coming to Fox."

Ailes's stature - as well as his defining "bluster" and paranoia (he reportedly tried to have his Fox News office bomb-proofed) - mean that many of Sherman's more incriminatory observations come from unnamed sources. There are a lot of senior executives, former O'Reilly staffers and even "a person familiar with the conversation" quoted here. It runs the risk of undermining Sherman's validity, with the spotty sourcing opening up holes that Ailes and Fox News are already exploiting in their campaign against the damning tell-all, and its author.

Of course, this megalomaniacal desire to control the message only serves to certify Sherman's characterization of Ailes as an embittered, mock-populist ideologue. And unlike something like The Fox Effect, which for all its incriminatory e-mail transcriptions and trumped-up "revelations" felt a little "duh," like 336 pages decrying water for being wet, Sherman makes a fairly assiduous effort not to mire himself in the us-versus-them dogma that defines the cable news landscape. He dutifully indexes Ailes's efforts to "triangulate" Fox's political bias (as when the network formed an unlikely coalition with presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton in 2008) and mentions his thoughtfulness in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut in 2012, which had Ailes ordering producers not to insensitively stack segments with Second Amendment debates.

These depictions of Roger Ailes as something other than a frothing, ratings-mad showman-provocateur may be cases of damning with faint praise. But it's about as a fair and balanced an account as one could hope to read about someone who has so weightily tipped the scales of American political life to the right.

John Semley is the online editor of Now magazine in Toronto.

A high cost to living
Hazardous levels of air pollution ni the Chinese capital are making it increasingly difficult for Canada to find qualified people to staff its embassy. Foreign companies face similar challenges, Nathan VanderKlippe reports from Beijing
Thursday, April 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A10

As China's acrid air exacts a mounting health toll, Canada's embassy in Beijing is pouring taxpayer dollars into purifying pollution, spending $175,000 in the past two years to buy crates of high-end filters for its staff.

Faced with growing difficulties getting people to Beijing - and keeping them once they arrive - embassy officials are also looking at compensation for workers whose stays in China stand to permanently damage their health.

"It has become a major problem, and unfortunately it will take many years for the situation to improve," said Guy Saint-Jacques, Canada's ambassador to China, in an interview Wednesday. The embassy, which has 70 Canadian workers, has seen qualified candidates drop out of competition for jobs after assessing the Chinese air quality. Staff with families in China have also declined to extend their postings "because they are concerned about the pollution," he said.

Staffing concerns have become an acute problem for foreign companies and countries operating in China, where air quality regularly descends to a level considered hazardous to human health. In Beijing, pollution ranks as the top concern among two-thirds of companies recently surveyed by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China. It's also driving wealthy Chinese out of the country, as those with the means are ordering family members to flee to places where children don't risk lifetime consequences from merely breathing.

"The number of millionaire families that have air pollution as one of their top reasons to leave China for Canada" has become a palpable trend in recent years, particularly among those with asthmatic children, said Richard Kurland, a Vancouver immigration lawyer who, through access to information requests, unearthed an early 2013 e-mail showing the Beijing embassy's initial plans to buy more air purifiers.

He offered sympathy for embassy workers in China. "People don't realize that the foreign service of Canada is not a cakewalk, and gone are the days of champagne and fancy parties," he said. "The reality is that a significant number of Canadian embassy posts are hardship postings."

Mr. Saint-Jacques said he discussed the smog problem with senior officials in Ottawa last week. He said it is important to "look at all the measures that we could put in place to reassure people."

That extends to money. The Japanese company Panasonic in March announced it would offer extra "smog pay" to expat workers in Beijing, and Mr. Saint-Jacques has been asking other companies what they give their employees.

"Based on all those comparisons, we are also looking at what else could be done to make sure that we meet the fiduciary obligations of the government toward the employee," Mr. Saint-Jacques said.

Beijing is already considered a Level 4 hardship post by the Canadian government, placing it in the company of Bogota and Caracas. (Cities such as Baghdad and Islamabad are Level 5, the highest.) The Level 4 calculation, which is based in part on local pollution levels, qualifies a worker with a family of four in Beijing for roughly $15,000 in annual hardship pay.

The embassy has spent heavily to protect its Canadian staff in their Chinese homes, too. Over the past two years, it has purchased 106 Blueair air-purifying units at a cost of $81,000. It spent another $93,000 on air filters, which are expensive and must be changed regularly, and a further $2,500 on an air-testing unit.

That unit has been deployed to employee homes on bad-air days to make sure the filters are working properly and ensure air meets World Health Organizations guidelines. If there are problems, more filters can be installed.

In one case, a family stopped using a bedroom after a leaky window allowed foul air to enter.

The embassy has not purchased filters for its Chinese staff, saying its obligations to local workers extend only to keeping a healthy workplace at the embassy. It has, however, brought employees into briefings with local hospital officials and Health Canada.

Mr. Saint-Jacques has also begun considering much more drastic measures - such as barring some vulnerable family members from China.

The embassy wants to "to look, in the long run, at what else we should take into account. Because, to give you an example, there are some missions around the world where we don't allow children," he said. The government is "not at the stage" of making such a decision, he said. But, he added: "If you expose a child to severe pollution below the age of eight, they could have permanent damage to their lungs."

The bad air isn't all bad for Canada, however, as the embassy also seeks to mill profit from the smog. Among its most recent priorities is finding business opportunities for Canadian companies whose technologies may help solve the Chinese pollution problem.

Next week, a delegation of Canadian nuclear energy companies will come to Beijing to market the Candu reactor. British Columbia has actively courted Chinese buyers for liquefied natural gas, which when burned produces fewer harmful emissions than coal.

And in March, the embassy arranged for SaskPower, which has scrubber technology for coal-fired power plants, to make a presentation in front of China's powerful National Development and Reform Commission.

It is working to do the same for Airborne Energy Solutions, a Calgary-based company whose technology promises to cheaply remove virtually all traces of particulates, sulphur dioxides and other nasty byproducts from coal stacks. Airborne uses sodium bicarbonate - baking soda - as a scrubber, and turns the scrubbed material into fertilizer.

"We can remove the pollution and turn it into [something clear], like a Saskatchewan day," said Murray Mortson, Airborne's president, who lives in Beijing.

But it's a small company and hopes the embassy can place it in a room with people powerful enough to offer intellectual-property protection.

"My shareholders and myself don't want to build one unit in China, and then lose everything because someone steals it," Mr. Mortson said.


Pollution is shortening lives in China and, by some accounts, is the main cause of social unrest in the country. One report said people in northern China may be dying five years sooner because of air pollution-linked diseases. In February, President Xi Jinping said air pollution was the country's "most prominent" challenge.

Public concern over air pollution exploded last January during a smog crisis in Beijing. Levels of PM2.5, the particles posing the greatest risk to human health, peaked at 35 times the World Health Organization's recommended limit. State-backed media provided surprisingly critical coverage of the crisis.

Coal still provides about 65 per cent of China's energy and it will take years to reverse the country's dependence on polluting fossil fuels. Fumes from coal-fired power plants kill about 250,000 a year in China, according to former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, now a UN special envoy on cities and climate.

By the end of June, all building sites in Beijing will have to install cameras to monitor how much construction contributes to the city's notoriously polluted air. In addition, all building firms will have to use fully enclosed vehicles to carry earth to prevent it from being blown into the air.

Sources: Bloomberg News, Reuters

The opening of Alexandra Park
It's right downtown, but it's a world unto itself. Now Toronto Community Housing is remaking the place, and many fear tearing down its walls will fracture the neighbourhood. Change, writes Joe Friesen, isn't easy for those who live there
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M1

Iveth Maita stood and watched as the demolition crew peeled back the roof of what used to be her home, exposing to the sky the bedrooms where her children once slept.

"I lived here almost 20 years. It's very sad," Ms. Maita said.

After nearly five years of planning and hundreds of meetings, the first segment of co-op and community housing units in the downtown Toronto neighbourhood of Alexandra Park have been torn down. They will be replaced by brand new townhouses, part of a massive, 10- to-15-year revitalization that will see 333 new rental units built, 473 units refurbished and 1,540 new private market condominiums on prime downtown land. All of it will be paid for by the condo developers at no cost to Toronto Community Housing.

Officially, the start of demolition back in February was meant to be a celebration. Dignitaries made speeches under a rented canopy. The property developer, the city councillor and many of the local residents basked in the occasion. Others, like Ms. Maita, had mixed feelings. They worry that the disruptions of this massive tearing-down and building up, not to mention the arrival of new condo-dwellers, will threaten the spirit of the community they've built. On the surface this is about building better public housing. But it's also about power and money. They're being asked to accommodate development - this is, after all, some of the most valuable real estate in the TCHC portfolio - but they'll get nicer homes and a new community centre in the deal.

Alexandra Park, to the outsider, is a hard-to-navigate warren of townhouses, apartment buildings and dead-end passageways. Located between Kensington Market and Queen Street, it feels as though the neighbourhood turns its back to the city, repelling passersby with its forbidding design and lack of through streets. That has been both a blessing and a curse. Residents appreciate the close-knit atmosphere it fosters, but at times it has made the community less safe.

The revitalization promises new streets to open up the area. One will connect Augusta from Dundas to Queen, while two others will run east-west between Cameron and Augusta. The intention is to embrace the city, said TCHC CEO Gene Jones. It will also make it easier to navigate for fire and police, who often complain that such large-scale housing projects, designed with closed pedestrian walks, allow crime to flourish.

Ms. Maita's home is gone now. There's nothing there but an empty field of dust, and "very nice memories," she said wistfully. Before leaving for a last time she had hugged and kissed the doorway as a farewell.

"My kids thought I was crazy," she says. "In my country, you live in the same house until you die."

Ms. Maita came to Canada as a refugee from Bolivia in the 1980s. She raised two children in Alexandra Park working a full-time job at the neighbourhood McDonald's, earning a little more than minimum wage. The local school was great for her kids and she appreciated being so close to Chinatown, Kensington and all the amenities of the city centre. But when the revitalization was announced, it became clear that some people would have to move, at least temporarily, to allow for demolition. Ms. Maita was one. She agreed, reluctantly, but she's not happy about it. She now lives on the 30th floor of a TCHC building near the waterfront. It's too high up for her and too far from the old neighbourhood, but it's new and clean.

When revitalization was first proposed six years ago, many residents were opposed. They had seen what had happened at Regent Park, the first in the recent wave of TCHC revitalization, and rejected the idea that people might be displaced to different neighbourhoods against their will. Zero displacement became the mantra. That mantra was repeated at hundreds of meetings, as everyone with a stake was consulted on a litany of details.

City councillor Adam Vaughan, who spoke at the ceremony in February, said he was always mindful of the community's wishes. Nothing would have happened without the community's consent, he said.

"As a young man at the beginning of this told me, 'Mr. Vaughan, You can fix this community but don't break the neighbourhood,'" Mr. Vaughan said. "We haven't always been here for Alexandra Park. As a government we haven't, as neighbours we haven't. But that has changed ... You'll see Alex Park residents getting skills and careers from the changes in the neighbourhood."

After Mr. Vaughan spoke, Ms. Maita wandered over to inspect the artist renderings of the new buildings, the SQ condo project slated for Queen and Cameron and the new townhouses where she hopes to live in three years' time. She let out a sigh.

"That's beautiful," she said. "I want one there. It looks like a very rich building."

That's certainly part of the appeal for residents.

Ahmed Hashimi, originally from Kandahar, Afghanistan, has lived in the neighbourhood for more than 20 years. He raised eight children here.

"It's sad to see," he said. "But we need new buildings. These ones are old."

Colleen Lavallee, a well-connected leader in the community, said she expects the positive outcomes from the revitalization will outweigh any short-run negatives. For one, the urban design will be more practical. For another, local youth will be hired for revitalization work as part of an economic development plan.

"The design is about clear sightlines, less turns and twists. But it's not just construction. I also see opportunities for our young people," Ms. Lavallee said. "When you come into these neighbourhoods to report on crime or whatever, they can do the math. They can see what rent in the city of Toronto costs, they can see what wage earners earn and they can see there's not very many opportunities for them. This is an opportunity to provide training, get them employed."

Kathleen Sousa is less optimistic. She has lived in the neighbourhood for 43 years, longer than nearly anyone else. She lives next door to the home where she grew up. It may be old, but a home is what you make it, she said.

"They're taking away community. And it's all for money. You mark my words. They say nothing is going to change, zero displacement. But you'll see," Ms. Sousa said.

Mr. Jones, the TCHC CEO, said there is a lot to be gained for Alex Park. The plan is to continue to work with residents to minimize the disruptions and maximize the benefits. He said the mixing of neighbourhoods, with community housing blending more closely with its surroundings, will boost the self-esteem and remove some of the stigma associated with living in public housing.

Ms. Maita has seen a lot of changes to the neighbourhood already. Queen West, the borderland to the south, is now a hopping commercial hub, and with the new condos going up that may spread north into Alex Park.

"A lot of new, good people. Nice things. Lots of money coming in," Ms. Maita said.

"It's good."

Close encounters of the hetero-textual kind
Ever screamed at your smartphone? Tucked him- yes, him - into your sports bra during a power walk? Like me, you've been conducting an intimate affair with a piece of technology. And with developers making devices more human like, the relationship will only intensify
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L11

I think I am headed for a breakup. It may be a temporary one. Maybe we just need a little space. Who knows with these things? But it's serious. A lot of emotion is involved.

Not too long ago, it dawned on me. I woke up and realized a terrible truth. I had feelings of affection for my smartphone. And if that sounds as though I am tiptoeing around a deeper, more revealing truth - as a guy might do when his date presses him to express how he really feels about her - then you're right. I love my smartphone. There. Full confession. I love it like I might another human being. I think about him often. (Yes, it is a he. I am a hetero-textual.) I admire what he can do. I check in on him frequently. I wait for his little blurts of communication. And I panic when I don't know where he is. When I can't find him, I send out all-bulletin alerts across the office explaining that he has butterflies on his sleeve and that his resting face is the picture of a cute, shaggy dog. I plead with people to bring him back to me.

When I realized I was smitten in this way, I consulted experts. How common could this be? Where could this love affair lead? Is it unhealthy?

First, I read an interesting study. The LEAP Index, meaning Leveraging Emotional Attachment for Profit, ranks consumers' attachment to brands in 38 categories. It debuted in 2010 as a way for companies to predict purchase behaviour. The first year, iPod came in first. A year later, iPod did it again. In 2012 and 2013, it was the iPhone. Ah, thank goodness, I thought. I am not alone.

I am not naive. I understand that all advertisers want people to fall in love with their brands. They want us to feel they are indispensable to daily existence. Coke will bring happiness. KitKat chocolate bars ushers in a welcome break from work. Dentyne gum is as important as a condom on the dating scene. But I don't think the love affair I am dealing with is so simple and neither do a number of researchers who are thinking through this very issue. "The focus has been on what mobile media do - functionality - and we need to open up analysis to understand these devices as objects with which individuals may develop an attachment," wrote David Beer, a sociologist at the University of York in England, in an article entitled, The Comfort of Mobile: Uncovering Personal Attachments with Everyday Devices.

So I phoned him up. It was like a therapy session.

"Yes," he said soothingly. "Others have expressed love, too. The way they talk about their devices is the same."

Human beings have long had attachment to objects, he told me. Favourite books, for instance. Or an item you were given by a grandparent. Even though today's consumerist society means objects enter and exit our lives with greater frequency - a turnstile of stuff, really - there are still certain things that we hold dear.

But he agreed this is different. "The mobile device is part of our own biography," he intoned thoughtfully, explaining that the intimate relationship with a smartphone happens because there's a shared history. "You take it with you on holiday. It's always present. Part of the idea behind the comfort of objects is that you associate them with certain memories.

"These devices just become part of our daily lives," he continued. "They get embedded very quickly in our bodily routines. This is beyond the brand. Obviously, it's part of it. But these objects are carried around with us all day.... You are not carrying around a can of Coke all day."

And then there's the physical part. "You hold it in your hands. You put it next to your face." I didn't dare tell him that when I go for a power walk, I tuck my smartphone in my sports bra, next to my heart.

"And sometimes I get really angry at it," I offered.

Beer murmured in sympathetic understanding.

I think the relationship is going to get even more co-dependent, I told him. I had read recently about the new Tile app. It works by attaching a matchbook-sized Bluetooth device onto any item you might lose - your keys, say. Should you lose them, your smartphone will be able to locate them for you. Is there nothing the smartphone isn't willing to do? It aims to please you, without complaint, like a devoted husband who loves to cook you dinner while you take a bath.

I checked in with a different expert. "This is an object that speaks to deep human desires of control and connection and competency," explained Elizabeth Gerber, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and design at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. "With your smartphone at your fingertips, you can know anything, connect with anyone and accomplish many tasks. That's very powerful." Training in sociology and psychology are all part of the education of designers of these products, she pointed out. And with "affective computing," programmers are thinking about "how we can have our devices act more and more like humans, or friends, so we can trust them and benefit from their help." Now being developed are devices that "are good at encouragement," she said. "You have technology that is saying, 'I'm going to come with you everywhere, keep you on track, not just to point out your error but encourage you.... There are new apps for for people with depression that will contact you and say, 'I haven't heard from you in while.' It's like a friend." The movie Her, in which a man develops a relationship with an intelligent computing system, is not so far fetched.

I started thinking about how I feel when I have to change smartphones. I am discombobulated. I'm not sure how to make it run. It's like having a new lover. You mean I have to push this and do that to make it happy? It takes time to adjust. "Ah, that's something sociologists see as an important sign," Beer had informed me. "Only when you notice there's such a rupture in routine do you realize how ingrained something has become in your life."

It was all getting too intense. Gerber suggested that my infatuation with my device could be disturbing my ability to focus and concentrate. She cited research from the late Clifford Nass, a professor at Stanford University, who conducted pioneering research on how humans interact with technology. He found that our multi-tasking screen-saturated daily lives interfere with our ability to concentrate, make decisions and feel empathy.

I have had enough. My phone is starting to feel like a bad boyfriend. I think it's time he sleeps in another room. I'm going to ignore his bleeps. I'm going to tell him that I need to hang out with other objects, like a book. I will have to prove that I can live without him. Wish me luck. It may just last a weekend.

Having fostered the careers of such cutting-edge designers as Ann Demeulemeester and Dries Van Noten, Belgium's second city has first-rate cred among the world's style savants. But as Amy Verner discovers during a 48-hour jaunt, the town isn't resting on its laurels. These days, an equally impressive group of innovative up-and-comers is following in their forebears' footsteps. And did we mention the shopping?
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page 18

Compared to fashion centres such as New York and Paris, Antwerp feels positively quaint, sleepy even. Its luxury boutiques line intimate laneways instead of grand avenues, while the avant-garde looks associated with the city are more likely to be spotted hanging on a rack in a hidden-away studio than on the backs of the throngs of Belgians who stroll from shop to shop on sunny Saturday afternoons. That low-key feeling also marks the collections of the city's many designers. Rather than committing to an identifiable Belgian style, the only common denominator among them (including big names such as Raf Simons, Kris Van Assche and Ann Demeulemeester) is a resolute individualism.

This, of course, is what makes Antwerp such an intriguing fashion destination. Thanks to its prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts and the legacy of the Antwerp Six, a group of designers (including Dries Van Noten, Dirk Bikkembergs and Walter Van Beirendonck) who banded together in 1986 to launch their idiosyncratic collections in London, Belgium's second-largest city has become a must-stop on the grand garmento tour.

"Back then, we were really convinced that you could tell a lot through fashion," says Van Beirendonck, reflecting on the mid-eighties rise of Antwerp's fashion industry. The designer, who continues to present his collections in Paris, has been the director of the Royal Academy since 2007.

We are sitting in one of the school's airy studios before one of his classes. Two floors below is ModeMuseum (or MoMu), Antwerp's fashion museum. The entire building, known as ModeNatie, also houses the Flanders Fashion Institute and the museum's extensive library, plus a restaurant and shops at street level. It's a unique fashion ecosystem where academia, culture and retail all feed each other.

Just up from ModeNatie is Van Noten's flagship, located in a beautiful belle époque department-store building dating to 1881. There are sneaker shops and streetwear outposts in one direction and artisanal jewellery boutiques in another. Head south and you'll find independent shops, Demeulemeester's minimalist, multilevel outpost and the atelier of emerging designer Izumi Hongo.

Hongo graduated from the Royal Academy in 2010 and showed her first collection of delicate knitwear and printed-silk pieces two years later. After studying architecture in Tokyo, she chose Antwerp for her fashion education because it offered a more personal approach than other options. And she stayed on in the city, not just because her partner is based here, but also because, in her words, "it's peaceful; there's no unnecessary information."

That's a sentiment echoed by Karen Van Godtsenhoven, one of the MoMu curators involved in the recent exhibition timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Royal Academy's fashion department. "Antwerp has a bit more space to develop your universe and it is a quieter place to focus," she says.

Back in the golden age of the Antwerp Six, the national government was grappling with the reality that its textile industry was moving elsewhere. The Royal Academy created a Golden Spindle Award to foster fresh talent, and Demeulemeester was the first to win it in 1982.

Like many other graduates, Glenn Martens (class of '08) credits the vision of former Royal Academy director Linda Loppa for the program's success. !"They really push personal development," he says. Martens now oversees the Paris-label Y Projects and jokes that Antwerp is a "fashion academy island."

The fact that so many designers stay in the city to start their businesses is a testament to its appeal. Damien Fredriksen Ravn, who graduated the same year as Martens, worked for three years on the design team of a commercial label before concentrating on his own line (his showpiece for spring, pictured on these pages, consists of a vest with oversized pockets that has the spongy feel of neoprene, only with better breathability).

A Norwegian, Ravn says he appreciates that there isn't a single specific aesthetic shared among his peers even if, on closer inspection, you can detect a technical similarity or two. "I think you can always recognize how the silhouettes are constructed or the thought behind the concept," he says. "Everyone is taught to think for themselves."

Van Godtsenhoven uses Van Noten and Demeulemeester to illustrate the industry's sense of independence.

"The colour use, the importance of shoes, the playing with masculine and feminine codes - all of this is there, but comes out in very different ways." When Demeulemeester recently decided to step away from her own label, she shared the news via a handwritten note, circulated by e-mail, that included the line, "I always followed my own path"

Over time, the city has gradually realized that it can leverage its free-spirited fashion reputation beyond students. Antwerp Tourism & Conventions has created a Fashion in Antwerp app that includes a local shop directory and a variety of thematic walking routes. For Luddites, there is also an Antwerp fashion map marked with essential retail stops.

"They're not blind," Van Beirendonck says about the tourism initiative. "They see that chocolate is working and diamonds are working, so it makes sense to play that card."


Dramatic entrance

Many sojourns in Belgium's secondlargest city start at Antwerpen-Centraal Station, where this voluminous overcoat by Emmanuelle Lebas competes for attention with Clement Van Bogaert's soaring iron-and-glass train shed. Adjoining the space is an equally grand waiting hall that leads onto Astrid Square. Emmanuelle Lebas drawstring coat, price on request through WeberHodelFeder lace-up oxfords, €695 through

Mas appeal

Like the view of the city and port from Museum aan de Stroom (MAS), Damien Ravn's neoprene vest with oversized pockets is in a class all by itself. Damien Ravn neoprene top, €915, sheer skirt, €280 through WeberHodelFeder lace-up derbies, €595 through

On the markt

Surrounded by Antwerp's iconic guild houses and imposing city hall, the statue in Grote Markt, its main square, depicts the mythical giant Antigoon. During the summer, locals sometimes cool off with a dip in the fountain at its base. Van Hongo gauze vest, €230, silk camisole, €245 at Salon Van Hongo ( Carolina Apolonia necklace made of old book covers, €595 at Beyond Fashion (

Zoo story

One of the stately stone lions that mark the entrance to Antwerp's zoo serves as an ornate counterpoint to Wim Bruynooghe's minimal separates cut from athletic textiles. A green oasis in the middle of the city, the zoo dates to 1843. Wim Bruynooghe stretch jersey bodysuit, €492, jogging maxi skirt, €390 through Emmanuelle Lebas slingback platforms, price on request through

Bell curve

Even when worn with a pair of sporty brogues, designer Nathalie Bries's made-to-order gown, accented with miniature sequins, makes a big impression on the circular staircase twisting through Den Bell, home of Antwerp's administrative offices. Nathalie D'Anvers silkjersey dress, price on request through Tine De Ruysser bracelet made from Mongolian banknotes, €330 at Beyond Fashion ( WeberHodelFeder Velcro brogues, €495 through

A culture bares its moles
The surefire way for actresses and models to make a mark right now is by peddling their imperfections. Amid all the Photoshopped fantasy, it seems, freckles, messy hair and other deft touches of reality hit the spot
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L11

You know the culture is oversaturated in images of perfection when a mole on someone's cheek is enough to stop you dead in your tracks during a flip through a glossy magazine. That it hasn't been airbrushed out is like putting a speling mistake in the middle of an otherwise lovely sentence, just to draw attention to itself, to arrest the eye for a beat or two.

The mole - or beauty spot - has a rich cultural history, of course. Ancient Greeks believed that moles or birthmarks could foretell a person's destiny. The pseudoscience of moleomancy was like astrology for the body -a mole on the ear was lucky; one on the outer corner of the eye meant the person was reliable and forthright, etc. In medieval times, patches made of felt were used to cover pock marks, functioning as a mask for disease. At the height of their popularity in the 18th century, moles were drawn on the face with kohl marks or a small patch of black taffeta was affixed to the cheek. They were a show of playful extravagance and in retrospect, evidence of the upper classes' risible affectations of superiority. In the fifties, on Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, beauty spots signified a heightened sexual allure, a promise or a yearning concentrated into a tiny, dark point on porcelain skin.

And now, the mole is acquiring new meaning in an age that increasingly values "authenticity" - the buzzword of social media, which has brought unfiltered access to celebrities and taste makers. "That extra dot," as Cindy Crawford's famous mole at the edge of her lip was once called, has become a silent communication that speaks of a shift in perceptions and standards of modern beauty. What Lena Dunham's much-discussed cover is to the February issue of Vogue magazine, on newsstands this week, is what moles are on the beautiful face of Jennifer Lawrence in last year's fall ad campaign for Miss Dior.

It makes the point that style doesn't equal perfection and acknowledges the growing importance of realism in fashion imagery. Such is the interest in the "reality" of Dunham that Jezebel, the feminist website, offered a $10,000 reward for unretouched versions of the Annie Leibovitz shoot. In Vogue, Dunham says that the nudity on her hit HBO show,Girls, is meant to "normalize" sex, not glamorize it. Through her fictive alter-ego, Hannah Horvath, she celebrates a kind of "unvarnished naturalism." On the cover and in the pages of Vogue, she is doing the same thing for fashion, which shouldn't be intimidating -not a set of seasonal edicts that women should conform to or else face social censure. Rather, fashion should conform to individuality and the need for personal expression. It is for real people, people with character, not just for robo-beauties with tall, reedy frames, thin thighs and skin like a skating rink.

Maybe we're growing disenchanted with the idea that fashion is all about fantasy, that it is a joyful art, an idealized, glimmering vision of how to be and look in the world. That, after all, is how many have justified the use of teenagers to model clothing only middle-aged women could afford to buy. But what does it say, that intelligent women are expected to find inspiration in an image they could never truly inhabit? That we're delusional - or gluttons for punishment?

And yet, the controversy last year over the removal -and subsequent restoration - of Lawrence's neck and facial moles in the Miss Dior advertising campaign suggests that women (and men) actually prefer their icons real. In her spring debut last year as the new face of Miss Dior, Lawrence appeared like a perfect doll in sculpted clothes, a veiled retro fascinator and serious red lips. Her skin was flawless. But the image did not suit her cute, anti-Hollywood appeal, which was on full show when she tripped up the stairs to the podium to collect her Best Actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook around the same time.

Outrage about her missing moles - Molegate? - lit up Twitter. Her fans were irked. It was as if the fashion industry had white-washed her quirky character. Her moles make her beauty authentic, and in turn, render her more approachable, the girl next door with a scattering of dots and luminous blue eyes. "Possibly one of my most favorite things about Jennifer Lawrence is all her moles. She's speckled. It's rad. You don't see that enough," one person tweeted. "Her chest moles are God's chocolate chips," a man wrote. "I looked up #HungerGames wiki fully thinking Jennifer Lawrence's moles would get equal billing," someone else tweeted. "I'm still slightly disappointed."

A few months later, in the fall campaign for Miss Dior, Lawrence posed in profile, her chocolate chips on full display. She wore barely any makeup. Her hair was in a messy bun. The clothes were more relaxed. There was about her a sense of being at ease with her appearance, which made her seem all the more adorable.

Similar discontent arose over Kate Winslet's air-brushed, mole-free appearance on the cover of Vogue in November 2013. She looked like "a CGI version of herself," the Guardian quipped. In the current Lancôme skin care campaign for Rénergie Lift Multi-Action Reviva-Concentrate, her facial moles are untouched.

A mole has even become a feminist statement. (Some mole-centric websites -yes, they exist -refer to them as "lady lumps," an object of male sexual obsession, like those other lumps called breasts.) You don't see Morgan Freeman's archipelago of freckles wiped off his face in images of the actor. They're part of his identity. And now, more and more actresses are proudly baring their moles in defiance. "Having a mole on my cheek was the biggest thing," Natalie Portman told Allure magazine recently. "When I did photo shoots, they would Photoshop it out. No one ever said anything to my face, but I felt like I was being told it was ugly. Finally, I had to say, 'No, this is part of me.'"

This is the thing magazine editors don't seem to understand a lot of the time: Women appreciate beauty in other women, and are more engaged by it, feeling less diminished or excluded, when it's captured with some truth. (I say "some" because we all know the magic of professional photography and good lighting.) Being force-fed perfect, airbrushed images of models assumes the audience lacks imagination to understand how beauty really exists in the world -in tandem with the average, with imperfections, with bad hair days and blemishes.

There's an honest, harmless truth in a mole. You can be rich and thin and famous, and still have some. You can have trainers and diet coaches, but they won't be able to get rid of them. A mole is a very visible way of claiming your I'm-just-like- you humanity, which makes it that much more powerful on an exceptionally beautiful face. It's a little dot of reality.

Follow Sarah Hampson on Twitter: @hampsonwrites.

Why groceries are going upscale
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B8


Metro Inc.'s store No. 46 is a testing ground for the mid-market supermarket of the future, one that is decidedly more upscale than its predecessor.

The Mississauga store features a lush "wet wall" of fresh vegetables stacked in colourful arrangements, a 2 1/2-metre-long display of mushrooms varieties, hot gourmet pizza, plus local and organic pork and chicken.

Montreal-based Metro isn't alone in transforming the traditional mid-priced supermarket into a premium foodie's destination. After a rush to roll out discount formats in response to new competition and a budget-conscious consumer, grocers are now upgrading their shrinking array of conventional supermarkets, as a way to differentiate them from low-cost competitors.

An upmarket strategy also has the benefit of bolstering financial returns, as the discount grocery wars start to leave a void in the middle, which takes a toll on profit margins. Last year, grocery stores' operating profit fell 9 per cent from a year earlier, according to industry publication Grocery Trade Review.

Conventional grocers are losing ground to discounters. In 2013, the mid-market segment fell to 60.4 per cent of the total estimated $87.54-billion grocery industry, from 63.9 per cent in 2009 and could drop to 50 per cent within five years, said Carman Allison, vice-president of consumer insights at researcher Nielsen Co.

"Over the years, the discount stores have raised their game," said Johanne Choinière, senior vice-president of Metro's Ontario division. "Conventional stores cannot be stuck in the middle. They really have to elevate their game. It's not only us but everybody in the conventional market. It's our mission to offer stuff that consumers cannot find at the discounters."

"If you stay in the middle you're going to get run over," said Tom Stephens of food specialist Brand Strategy Consultants and a former executive at industry leader Loblaw Cos. Ltd.

From Metro to Loblaw and second-ranked Sobeys Inc., grocers are dressing up their mid-market conventional supermarkets with walls of cheeses, rows of cupcakes and racks of local lamb. They're peddling freshly squeezed juices, 40-item salad bars and made-to-order stone oven pizza to entice customers to spend more.

Even U.S. luxury chain Saks Inc., which was bought by Toronto-based Hudson's Bay Co. last fall, plans to bring a tony food hall to its new stores in Canada.

Italian-based Eataly, the upscale mega-food-emporium that had to close its new store in Chicago for a day last December because it was selling out of key items, is looking for space here. Some sources say the company is talking to the Galen Weston family, whose holdings include Loblaw and Holt Renfrew, about buying the rights to run Eataly in Canada. (Spokeswoman Cristina Villa said Canada is "one of the countries we are looking at," while a Weston spokesman declined to comment.)

"The middle is disappearing," Anthony Longo, chief executive officer of the high-end Longo Brothers Fruit Market Inc., said. "Conventional stores have to figure out what role they play. ... A lot of them are moving upmarket."

In a more crowded field, upscale players such as Longo and U.S.-based Whole Foods Market Inc. are being forced to raise their game as Loblaw and others borrow from their playbook.

"Competition is pretty fierce at the moment in terms of Canadian grocery retailing," said Michael Bashaw, who heads the Whole Foods' region that includes Canada. "I don't think that's going to change for three to five years. At the end of that time there are going to be some winners and losers."

Whole Foods, with eight stores in Canada, is looking to expand to 40 outlets in all and generate $1-billion in sales here (it doesn't disclose its current revenue here.) It has been able to maintain its Canadian margins over the past few years even as it lowers some prices, partly by getting better deals from its suppliers and pumping up its overall sales, Mr. Bashaw said.

Other grocers, nevertheless, "are cutting margin," he said. Metro, which will report its second-quarter results on Wednesday, saw its first-quarter gross margin slip to 18.8 per cent from 19 per cent a year earlier.

Longo has cut some prices to draw shoppers: it recently started to sell 4L bags of milk at cost, for $3.99, from its previous range of $4.29 to $4.49, Mr. Longo said. A year ago it shaved the price of a 24-pack of its water bottles to $2.99 from $4.99 to compete with the likes of Costco Wholesale Corp.

But to offset the margin pinch, the 26-store Ontario chain is adding higher priced items and new merchandise, such as local Ontario beef , rather than beef from Western Canada. It is even looking at emulating Eataly concepts, such as stand-up eat-in bars to keep shoppers in the stores longer.

Still, with the key competitors all focusing on improving their fresh and prepared foods and "doing the exact same thing, the risk is that they mostly negate each other" and capture just "modest" market share from small grocers, Michael Van Aelst, retail analyst at TD Securities, said.




Loblaw's store at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto has become the blueprint for its growing number of outlets referred to internally as "inspire" stores, marked by a "higher-end experience," spokesman Kevin Groh said.

The stores feature a 12-foot high wall of cheese, including more than 450 varieties. They tout more than 100 organic products, including tropical fruit. Other features include a coffee bar, tea emporium and patisserie.

Last year, Loblaw refurbished two Ontario outlets into the "inspire" model and more are planned in 2014. "These stores don't just offer a premium shopping experience for our customers, they offer a premium learning ground for our business." Mr. Groh said.


Sobeys began rolling out Sobeys Extra stores last fall, offering stone-oven-made pizza, freshly grilled sandwiches and in-store bars serving coffee, smoothies, sushi and noodles.

Stores include a chef who offers advice, food classes, a "well-being counsellor" who answers health and diet questions, and a "cheese ambassador" who provides guidance in selecting from hundreds of cheeses. An expanded bakery features artisan bread; store-made Montreal and New York style bagels; all-butter pastries and gourmet cakes. An expanded produce department organic and local produce and and tomatoes displayed by sweetness. The stores have "well-being departments" with organic products and more than 600 gluten-free items.


About a year ago, Metro set up an internal innovation team to oversee the transformation, which is playing out at a test store in Mississauga.

For example, Metro's produce section carries green, red and black kale, both regular and organic; it stocks red, gold and striped beets - regular and organic - and yellow, orange, purple and white carrots.

Depending on availability, it carries mushrooms that include shitake, chanterelle, king oyster, enoki, oyster, lobster, morel and porcini.

Marina Strauss

The ideals are fine. The sushi isn't
Just Sushi has an important goal: to commit to sustainable fishing. Too bad the food doesn't reach so high
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M4

You can sometimes tell as much as you need to know about a restaurant from the "about" page on its website. At the "about" page for Just Sushi, a high-profile takeout spot that opened last fall near Humber Bay, the most promising thing you learn is that the business uses only fish that's been certified sustainable by Ocean Wise, a Vancouver Aquarium conservation program.

This is a big deal. Just Sushi was the first Canadian sushi shop to sign on 100 per cent to the Ocean Wise standard. (Another place in Vancouver has since followed.) The vast majority of sushi places turn up their noses at questions of sustainability, as if it isn't their problem. They are the problem. Here at last is a place that's willing to act.

Yet the rest of Just Sushi's about page is not reassuring - not if you cut through all the marketing to read what it actually says.

The restaurant's founders (the website calls them "masterminds") have zero restaurant management experience. Ian Clifford started Zenn Motor Company, a "preeminent electric vehicle company" that - and you have to Google for this next part - hasn't made an electric vehicle since 2010. Co-founder Evan Clifford, who is Ian's nephew, also worked at Zenn.

The restaurant's third partner, Gabrielle Charlebois, has taken a lead role in the creation of Just Sushi's menu, that webpage tells us. Her qualifications: she is "a highly creative individual." Ms. Charlebois is also "a recently Ontario-certified paramedic with a passion for nutrition." None of this brings images of sushi nirvana to my mind.

As for Just Sushi's head chef, whom that about page eventually gets to, it's complicated. Though Just Sushi opened last fall, it is already on its second head sushi chef. (The first one left a few months ago.)

The website doesn't say that. What it says about the new guy is that he "spent eight years studying the art of sushi," and that "along with his Just Sushi colleagues, the team have individually held the positions of head sushi chef at some of Toronto's leading sushi restaurants."

I spoke with the new guy on the phone this week, after I'd already been twice to Just Sushi.

The new guy has not worked in even one of Toronto's leading sushi restaurants. The best thing on his résumé: he worked at Bento Nouveau, a company that makes packaged sushi for hospitals and grocery stores. So let me be clear up front: I do not entirely blame the new guy.

Just Sushi's sushi is a disgrace.

The sliced fish here was mushy-textured and ragged, and in many cases barely held together both times I visited. I've seen tidier cuts in slasher flicks. The slices were notably stingy: just eight grams on some of the nigiri (I weighed them with a digital scale), or about half what you find at many places. A few of them were cut so thin and so narrow that it would be hard to tell them from scrap.

The white rice under the fish was cold and lumpy and had no discernible vinegar in it. The organic purple rice, a popular menu option was so strongly flavoured that it was all you could taste.

The wasabi was grayish green, as though it had spent the night on a park bench.

The nori around the hand rolls was so chewy that I had to pull, hard, with my teeth to tear off a bite.

The sushi chef kept a wet, dirty white kitchen towel next to him as he sliced and rolled and sprinkled. He used it periodically to wipe his hands and his knife and his cutting board. It was covered in bits of food and sauce. I had to stop watching him work after that.

None of this comes on the cheap. Just Sushi's nigiri pieces sell two to an order. An order of nigiri costs between $4 and $7. Considering the varieties of fish that Just Sushi serves - it's mostly the same sorts of fish as other sushi places serve, minus the Bluefin tuna, the farmed salmon, the boxed urchin, the grilled eel, etc. - this is about as expensive as Toronto sushi gets. When I spent $46 on a dozen sorry pieces of Just Sushi's nigiri one night recently, no one thought to offer soup. (I ate in for that visit.) They did offer tea, however. It comes from a can. "We can heat it up for you," the counter man told me. It costs $2.50 for a can of tea.

The tempura at Just Sushi sells for $9 an order. The order I had included three thin, pathetic pieces of squash and sweet potato, two tiger prawns from Southeast Asia (sustainable, technically, according to Ocean Wise, but seriously?) and a few lumps of an indeterminate substance that might have been a form of mushroom. I ate it in my car after my second visit, not two minutes after it was handed to me in a takeout bag. The tempura was cold and soaked with grease and nearly as tough as doggie chews.

The seaweed salad was excellent. It was a mix of oranges, yellows, light and deep greens, with a dressing made from tamari and balsamic vinegar. It was nutty, pleasantly chewy, gently grassy, bright-tasting, iodine. I could eat more of that.

There are also vegetarian "garden" sushi: heirloom carrot rolls with tarragon; tomato and mozzarella in a non-GMO soy wrap; mango with cayenne. These were not awful.

The spinach and asparagus roll has walnuts in it and is made with purple rice. My wife said she loved it. I would eat more of it if I were stuck at Humber Bay in a natural disaster situation and all of the other restaurants and corner stores and edible weeds and Labradoodles had already been wiped out.

All this matters because there is no legitimate reason why a sushi shop that uses only ocean-friendly fish shouldn't be able to thrive in this city. It matters because Just Sushi has sucked up so much attention (the press coverage has without exception been a) fawning and b) entirely credulous) not just for itself but also for its cause.

It matters because the food that Just Sushi serves sets that cause back, not forward. It's sustainable sushi that isn't worth eating.

Which, when you think about it, is maybe the most sustainable sushi of all.





12A Brookers Lane (at Lake Shore Boulevard West),


Atmosphere: Take-out focused sushi counter meets Green Living Show, in a two-storey, warehouse-like space. Hootie & The Blowfish in very heavy rotation.

Wine and drinks: Coconut-aloe water, organic lime lemonade and the like. Tea comes in cans. Not licensed.

Best bets: n/a

Prices: Combos for one, $10 to $30; seafood sushi, $4 to $8 for two pieces.

NB: Very limited seating for dine-in customers.

'He's a rock star and I am not'
You live in your parents' basement, while your successful older brother heads out on tour with his hit band. What can you do? If you're Tom Berninger, you snag a gig as roadie, get fired and turn the whole experience into a moving, hilarious documentary
Thursday, April 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

There's a point in the sweet, offbeat music documentary Mistaken for Strangers when director Tom Berninger despairs, "I don't know what I'm doing here." He was not the only one confused.

In 2010, Berninger was living in his parents' basement in Cincinnati, Ohio, while his older (by nine years) brother Matt was preparing to hit the road with the National, the ruminative rock quintet he fronts. At the time, the indie darlings were breaking into the mainstream with the release of their brooding thriller of a fifth album, High Violet.

With hapless Tom in a rut, his rock-star sibling hired him as an underling roadie. Tom took along a small video camera in order to stockpile footage that was originally planned to be used as a tour diary for the band's website, but eventually became the basis for the feature film. Turns out he was such a bumbling roadie - slow with the water and towels for the musicians, unable to manage the guest list properly and partying so hard that he missed the call for the bus - that he was relieved of his modest duties before the tour was complete. He was fired, which gave him more time to devote to filming.

Initially, he appeared to be just as feeble a documentarian as he was an assistant tour manager. His stuttering conversations with band members made Chris Farley and his star-struck Saturday Night Live interviews look like Scorsese in comparison. (Sample question: "On tour, it's day in and day out - does that ever make you sleepy onstage?") And yet the film, which opens Thursday for an eight-day run at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto, turned out to be affecting and charming, with enthusiastic reviews citing its laughs and quirks. Director Judd Apatow called it a "classic," documentarian Michael Moore hyped it as the "one of the best documentaries about a band that I've seen," and the indie-music taste-makers at Pitchfork hailed it as the "funniest and most meta music movie since Spinal Tap."

Mistaken for Strangers succeeds because of its originality. Fans of the band might wish for more live performances, but mainstream audiences will likely prefer the deft handling of the sibling rivalry at the film's core.

More than anything, the unexpected development of guileless novice filmmaker Tom as his own protagonist is the movie's heart. Tom, an artistic man-child as comfortable with a beer in his hand as a camera, had yet to figure out his purpose in life. In trying to get himself in focus, his film becomes less about touring musicians and more about a man fumbling in the shadow of a public-figure brother while floating through life without a map. And so, a slacker struggles, and improbably succeeds.

"There have been people who see how Tom is in the movie and they think, 'Well, that person could have never made that film,'" says Matt. The brothers are sitting in the same room in New York for our phone interview. "And it's true. Tom probably couldn't have made this film alone. We brought in my wife and a couple of other smart people that helped him craft a story arc."

Matt's wife is Carin Besser, a former fiction editor for The New Yorker. She was among the film's editors who played up Tom's awkward interviewing style that supplies many comic moments. (Example: Tom, to his brother, "So, how famous do you think you are ... you're way more famous than any of my friends.") And perhaps it was her idea to turn the focus away from her husband and the band and onto her lovable, unaccomplished brother-in-law.

"We cut for comedy," says Tom, 34, when asked if he was as inept as the film sometimes portrays him to be. "It's an exaggeration of me, but it is me."

A tour in support of the National's Grammy-nominated Trouble Will Find Me album from 2013 brings them to Toronto's Massey Hall for three nights this week (April 9 to 11). The group will also be on hand for the film's opening night at the Bloor - a sharing of the spotlight between brothers that would have been unthinkable until recently.

In our chat, the alpha-male Matt does most of the talking, more than once mentioning his wife's role in the completion of the film. Tom doesn't disagree, but does stick up for himself. "I stepped away from the editing chair, and Matt's wife helped find the film's tone and the humour," he acknowledges. "But some of the questions I asked turned out to be interesting questions. I wasn't wrong all the time. It took us a while to figure that out."

In the film, Tom encapsulates his brotherly dynamic morosely: "He's a rock star and I am not, and it's always been that way." More than one scene involves the taller, slimmer Matt scolding his shorter, rounder brother. "Do you have any kind of organization for this film?" he asks, exasperated.

On the phone, Matt talked about how the film had changed his understanding of Tom. "He sees the world through different coloured lenses, and he reacts to the world very differently than I do," he explains. "I've stopped trying to shape him to be more like me. I started loving, understanding and respecting him for who he is."

The Berningers's mother makes an appearance in the film. She tells Tom that she always felt he was the "most talented" of her sons, but that he had a long history of quitting projects and pursuits. By the film's end, the viewer is struck with the realization that Tom had indeed accomplished something: He had completed the film - the movie represents the triumph.

"We feel it's a perfect film to accompany the band," Matt says. "It feels like one of our songs. It's about all the weird, awkward things and how hard it is as human beings in the world, with all the little details on how we're our worst enemies at times."

So, what comes next for younger brother? "I'm more confused about where I'm going than ever," Tom admits. "People are calling, but this is all brand new. Whatever I've achieved, how do I call it up again? It's a little scary."

One imagines Matt smiling upon hearing that. His lyrics increasingly reflect the anxieties involved with being an adult - in the film-ending song Terrible Love, he sings about walking with spiders and not being able to sleep "without a little help" - while the band itself has grown slowly and steadily, building upon each album and increasing its draw on the road incrementally. One hurdle cleared leads to another. Welcome, Tom, to your brother's world.

Mistaken for Strangers opens April 10 (with the National in

attendance) at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto.

The National plays Toronto's

Massey Hall, April 9 to 11


Five tips to tame your e-mail inbox
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, April 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B5

Does your e-mail system need a better toaster? Information overload expert Nathan Zeldes believes so.

When alerts in Microsoft Outlook pop up, they can look like a piece of toast rising from the bottom of your screen. Most people by now have heard, and accepted, the advice to turn off alerts.

But the Israel-based consultant, who got started confronting the information deluge while working for Intel 20 years ago, believes your Outlook needs to be fine-tuned so it can tell whether or not to interrupt you, based on what you're doing. So a better toaster, or in the language of techies, a contextual alert routing system.

When the e-mail comes in, the software determines whether to pop the toast or save it for later, based on the sender and topic, and what you are doing at the time.

This can be discerned from your calendar or your keystrokes or even a microphone picking up your conversation. "It knows whether it's a good time," Mr. Zeldes said in an interview. "This is doable - it's being done."

He said investment bank Morgan Stanley has developed an experimental system, called Sift, which senses the user's work context and prioritizes messages using various parameters. Microsoft Corp. has also released a research paper on a version called Priorities, but not yet unveiled a commercial product.

In a recent self-published e-book bringing much of his writing together, Solutions to Information Overload, Mr. Zeldes points to a bevy of products that can help you tame your e-mail.

"The solutions are getting better and better. More applications are being built to deal with information overload from the ground up rather than just tacking something onto Outlook," he said in an interview.

An important step is to treat e-mails as tasks, not merely messages. He is watching with interest the development of Handle, which makes it easy to turn e-mails into appropriate tasks, for which you can assign urgency and timing restraints. It also can fill your calendar with the message-tasks you need to deal with. "This elegant application recognizes the often-needed fact that clearing the inbox is just half of the equation, the rest being work on the inherent tasks it brings in," Mr. Zeldes writes.

He's also a fan of Skimbox for mobile devices, which automatically sorts your messages into two heaps: Those you need to act on soon, the Mainbox, and those you can just skim through or ignore completely, the Skimbox. It uses factors such as your past interactions with the sender and keyword cues to sort; and it improves over time, based on how you react to its decisions.

Mr. Zeldes spells out five steps you can take to stop drowning in e-mail:

1. Boost inbox efficiency

This is an individual, not organizational, effort to improve how we handle e-mail. "It's the easiest to attack, as you don't need other people's help," he said. Yet he believes most of us are still failing to take the most significant step: reading e-mail only during a few designated slots during the day, so we can focus more intently on other work. Mr. Zeldes also recommends the "five weeks folder" approach he developed at Intel: If a message comes in and you are uncertain whether to delete or return to it later, put it in a folder that purges messages after five weeks (if it's a monthly report, a new one will have come by then).

2. Reduce quantity of e-mail

This involves an organizational effort, even if only at the team level, to cut the amount of e-mail. Best bet: Remove the Reply All button from your corporate e-mail software, so if someone wants to reply to everyone, they have to go through some hoops to accomplish that, rather than simply hit a convenient button. A more limited approach is to automatically remove "cc" recipients from Reply All, so that only prime recipients are involved. He also likes the idea of teams establishing "no e-mail" days, during which colleagues must talk to each other in person or by phone. "It's a big one that most organizations won't do," he said.

3. Improve quality of e-mail

A poorly worded, overly complicated e-mail wastes the time of all recipients, so organizations need to educate staff on how to send effective e-mail. "This is the highest leverage action you can take," he said, because so much time is spent decoding messages and issuing other e-mails asking for clarification. This effort must come from the top down, and probably should include training classes. Templates can also be developed so writers simply fill out designated sections such as what, when, why and details.

4. Stop interruptions by e-mail

A group can decide on quiet times when they will not interrupt each other by e-mail, which he said will increase productivity significantly.

5. Change organizational culture

This digs deeper, and involves changing ingrained patterns of behaviour so that people no longer send self-promotional e-mails (which nobody reads), and people don't feel they must respond immediately to every message, 24 hours a day.

Information overload keeps getting worse, but Mr. Zeldes is optimistic. "We aren't complacent. Things are changing," he said. "Many smart people are putting their brains to this issue and over the next 20 years, we'll see a lot of change."




Tackle your must-do tasks first

Start today by prioritizing before you prioritize. Without looking at e-mail or your calendar, write down three tasks that must be done - which you probably already thought about over coffee or in the shower - and do them first. Then develop a to-do list, marketer Emma Zimmerman advises.

Brazen Careerist


Bad decisions can be undone

To overcome your decision-making fears, remember you can hit the undo button. Consultant Mike Figliuolo says we tell ourselves that big decisions can't be undone but if we're willing to drop our pride and admit a mistake to ourselves and others, we can change course.



Ads haven't kept pace with women

Marketing expert Roy H. Williams says the success of movies such as Twilight, Hunger Games and Divergent shows society believes in heroic women - and advertisers must wake up: "To assume you need to reach 'the man of the house' is slightly insane. Even if you're selling engagement rings."

Monday Morning Memo


Ease your tension by chewing gum

It may not be helpful during stressful meetings with big clients, but researchers from the Tokyo Dental College found that chewing gum continuously for 10 minutes to 15 minutes reduces stress. They speculate the same effect may work by chewing food.


Delete junk with CCleaner for Android

If you like CCleaner for keeping clutter off your desktop computer, you can now use it in beta form for your Android device, obtaining it through Google Groups.

Not straight acting, or appearing
A new HBO drama delivers sweetly lost characters who refuse to succumb to gay clichés
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R2

SAN FRANCISCO -- Like Sex and the City - only set in San Francisco! Like Girls - only with guys! Gay guys! In broad strokes, those were probably the elevator pitches for HBO's new drama Looking, which premiered this week and tells the story of three gay men, each lost in his own way.

The show does owe obvious debts to those pioneering series. Without the raunchy antics of Kim Cattrall's Samantha, you likely couldn't, even on cable, begin a TV show with its lead character (Jonathan Groff, formerly of Glee) hooking up with a stranger in a park. (The way we live now: During his quickie, his mobile goes off, and he takes the call.) More broadly, Girls' Lena Dunham has arguably made it possible for this species of dry, knowing wit to reach the air.

Like Dunham, Looking writer Michael Lannan mercilessly bares his characters' faults, efficiently setting out the traps from which they're trying to escape. Patrick (Groff) is a computer-game developer on the cusp of 30, looking for love but sabotaging himself at every turn. "Why," he asks, "do I go on so many bad dates?" The hunky Dom (Murray Bartlett) wants to stop waiting tables before he exits his 30s, and finds a possible career mentor in a bathhouse. Frustrated artist Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) draws closer to his boyfriend (O.T. Fagbenle) by moving in with him - so far, so conventional - and then by trying their first threesome. (The clincher: Both Agustin and his boyfriend are attracted to the third man's new tattoo of Dolly Parton's signature.)

Looking's relatively sexy content isn't used just to titillate and set up good punchlines, as the exploits of Samantha so often were. The show's bawdiness seems an authentic reflection of the gay community's obsession with finding yourself through pushing and playing with your sexual limits. Patrick's queasiness about man-on-man sex and his awkward dating failures reflect his discomfort with his own sexuality, and his desire to somehow please a demanding (off-screen) mother. But why be a mild disappointment, his friends tell him, when you can be a big, outrageous flaming one? And so they push him to cruise that park on a dare - "Do they even still do that?" - and to try on a leather vest, and a leather persona, in the annual celebration of all things fetish, the Folsom Street Fair.

Looking's San Francisco feels right, too. There's a decadent tech launch party, complete with a rented destroyer to celebrate the release of a Navy-themed game. There are yoga-meets-Zumba classes. There's the ultraserious approach locals take to food. (A restaurant patron solidifies Dom's desire to leave off waiting tables with an aggressively pretentious order; Patrick is more shocked when Agustin eats meat than when he proposes to hire a male prostitute for an art project.)

Director Andrew Haigh served up an unvarnished vision of his native Nottingham, England, in Weekend, and his presentation of the City by the Bay is grubby, its mood dark; its frequent fogs obscure the cityscape. A former local, writer Lannan approved of Haigh's unglamorous approach: "We wanted to shoot what it's really like on the street here, in a bar, an apartment, to feel those spaces in the way people who live here feel them."

Although the series brings much that is its own to the table, it owes one more obvious debt: to Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, first brought to TV in the early nineties. Back in the day, HBO balked at making a miniseries of Maupin's serialized novels. There was too much marijuana, network executives felt, and they decided against airing a show that celebrated gay sexuality at the height of the AIDS crisis.

In the end, the network left it to Britain's Channel 4 to do a bang-up job, and Looking feels, in a way, like elaborate penance for HBO's long-ago failure of nerve. Dom bears more than a passing resemblance to Maupin's most charming invention, Michael (Mouse) Tolliver, and the bathhouse scene in the new show follows directly from some scenes set in a similar steamy locale in Tales.

Lannan does pay tribute to Maupin here, but moves smartly on to present his own updated tale of this city. His and Haigh's San Francisco is a sadder, less exuberant, somehow more sour place. In this steam room, Dom says to another, older man, "It was cool back then, wasn't it?"

Still, the show enjoys milking what absurdities there are in this moment, and the argot is spot-on. Here is Patrick reviewing the photos on a dating site: "Instagram filters have ruined everything and I can't tell if this guy's hot or not." When Dom, the oldest, most stereotypically masculine of the trio, scowls at Agustin and Patrick, one of them takes him down, "Ooh, Daddy's in a mood." When a hesitant Patrick keeps his T-shirt on as he tries on that leather vest, his friends mock him. "What?" he rejoins. "It's leather casual."

The cast are the beneficiaries of the strong writing - and they've found the characters, if not yet settled into a groove with each other. One stand-out among the lesser characters is naturally funny Lauren Weedman, playing Dom's wry roommate, Doris. She steals nearly every scene she's in.

Growing up in the 1980s, I had mainly coded gay novels like Brideshead Revisited and some equally encrypted films along the lines of Breakfast at Tiffany's in which to try to see myself, my possible future; almost none of them ended well for the desperately unhappy heroes. Looking's characters even come a distance from the chief gays on nineties TV: None of the trio is at one extreme of the self-loathing, stuck-up Will (of Will & Grace), or the cartoonishly out-there Jack. And they all get to kiss, and more, onscreen.

Looking's characters aren't all things to all people - there will doubtless be carping in some quarters that, while the cast is more diverse than that of Girls, there's no transsexual character. But these men are living complicated, rounded lives. And the show's message is not "Gays, they're just like us"; Looking is not (at least not yet) about same-sex marriage and two-mommy, two-daddy child-rearing. These are not Modern Family's cuddly, neurotic gay dads.

Looking's subject is the radical seeking that can happen when more conventional paths are closed off. Patrick, Dom and Agustin will need to improvise their way toward more satisfying careers, to go after the love and sex lives they ultimately decide they want.

To complete a profile on OkCupid, Patrick's dating site of choice, you have to specify what you think you're looking for - the source of the show's title. To that and other questions, Looking, so far, refuses to supply easy answers for its lost boys.

Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R21


Sometimes you know you're in the hands of a master. In his third novel, Dinaw Mengestu beautifully weaves together two very different stories - one set in middle America, one set in war-ravaged Uganda - through intense, nuanced characters and simple, mesmerizing prose. But his greatest achievement is in his deft handling of time. One story careens toward the other, and when they finally meet, the impact is heartbreaking.

Jared Bland



1 1 3 Shadow Spell, by Nora Roberts (Berkley, $19).
2 - 1 I've Got You Under My Skin, by Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster, $32.50).
3 - 1 The King: A Novel Of The Black Dagger Brotherhood, by J. R. Ward (Signet, $32.95).
4 3 5 Power Play, by Danielle Steel (Delacorte, $32).
5 2 3 NYPD Red 2, by James Patterson and Marshall Karp (Little Brown & Company, $31).
6 6 2 Whirlwind, by Rick Mofina (Harlequin MIRA, $8.99).
7 4 4 Be Careful What You Wish For, by Jeffrey Archer (St. Martin's, $31.99).
8 7 21 The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simison (HarperCollins, $19.99).
9 9 2 The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules, by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg (HarperCollins, $19.99).
10 - 18 Dark Witch, by Nora Roberts (Berkley, $18).


1 - 1 Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, by Michael Lewis (W. W. Norton & Company, $32.95).
2 2 22 An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Earth, by Chris Hadfield (Random House Canada, $32).
3 - 1 Listen To The Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's A Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of), by Elaine Lui (Random House Canada, $27.95).
4 1 3 Up, Up, And Away, by Jonah Keri (Random House Canada, $32).
5 - 1 The Women Of Duck Commander: Surprising Insights From The Women Behind The Beards About What Makes This Family, by Kay Robertson, Korie Robertson , Missy Robertson and Jessica Robertson (Howard, $29.99).
6 10 28 A House In The Sky, by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett (Scribner, $29.99).
7 3 2 Thrive: The Third Metric To Redefining Success And Creating A Life Of Well-Being, Wisdom, And Wonder, by Arianna S. Huffington (Harmony, $31).
8 7 2 A Call To Action: Women, Religion, Violence, And Power, by Jimmy Carter (Simon & Schuster, $34).
9 8 25 I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb (Little Brown & Company, $29).
10 - 1 Wish You Happy Forever: What China's Orphans Taught Me About Moving Mountains, by Jenny Bowen (HarperCollins, $21.99).
The bestseller list is compiled by The Globe and Mail using sales figuresprovided by BookNet Canada's national sales tracking service, BNC SalesData.


1 The Orenda, by Joseph Boyden (Penguin Canada, $22).
2 Whirlwind, by Rick Mofina (Harlequin MIRA, $8.99).
3 Still Missing, by Chevy Stevens (St. Martin's, $9.99).
4 Somewhere In France: A Novel Of The Great War, by Jennifer Robson (Avon, $17.99).
5 Empress Of The Night, by Eva Stachniak (Doubleday Canada, $24.95).
6 Medicine Walk, by Richard Wagamese (McClelland & Stewart, $29.95).
7 Frog Music, by Emma Donoghue (HarperCollins, $29.99).
8 The Bear, by Claire Cameron (Doubleday Canada, $22.95).
9 The Troop, by Nick Cutter (Pocket, $18.99).
10 Annabel, by Kathleen Winter (House Of Anansi, $14.95).
1 An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Earth, by Chris Hadfield (Random House Canada, $32).
2 Listen To The Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's A Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of), by Elaine Lui (Random House Canada, $27.95).
3 Up, Up, And Away, by Jonah Keri (Random House Canada, $32).
4 A House In The Sky, by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett (Scribner, $29.99).
5 Orr, by Bobby Orr (Viking Canada, $32).
6 The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account Of Native People In North America, by Thomas King (Anchor Canada, $19.95).
7 When All You Have Is Hope, by Frank O'Dea and John Lawrence Reynolds (Penguin Canada, $18).
8 David And Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell (Little Brown & Company, $32).
9 Waking The Frog: Solutions For Our Climate Change Paralysis, by Tom Rand (ECW, $29.52).
10 Mother Nature Is Trying To Kill You: A Lively Tour Through The Dark Side Of The Natural World, by Dan Riskin (Touchstone, $28.99).


1 The Doctors Diet: Dr. Travis Stork's STAT Program To Help You Lose Weight & Restore Your Health, by Travis Stork (Bird Street, $28).
2 Wheat Belly, by William Davis (HarperCollins, $17.99).
3 The End Of Dieting: How To Live For Life, by Joel Fuhrman (HarperCollins, $33.50).
4 The Gifts Of Imperfection: Let Go Of Who You Think You're Supposed To Be And Embrace Who You Are, by Brené Brown (Hazelden, $17.50).
5 Seat Of The Soul: 25th Anniversary Edition With A Study Guide, by Gary Zukav (Simon & Schuster, $18.99).
6 I Can See Clearly Now, by Dr. Dyer (Hay House, $27.95).
7 The Reboot With Joe Juice Diet: Lose Weight, Get Healthy And Feel Amazing , by Joe Cross (Greenleaf Book Group, $18.95).
8 Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, And Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers, by David Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg (Little Brown & Company, $30).
9 The Coconut Oil Miracle, by Bruce Fife (Avery, $19).
10 10% Happier: How I Tamed The Voice In My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, And Found Self-Help That Actually Works, by Dan Harris (Harper Entertainment, $31.99).


1 An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Earth, by Chris Hadfield (Random House Canada, $32).
2 Philomena: A Mother Her Son And A Fifty-Year Search (Movie Tie-In Edition), by Martin Sixsmith (Pan Macmillan, $16.99).
3 Listen To The Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's A Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of), by Elaine Lui (Random House Canada, $27.95).
4 12 Years A Slave, by Solomon Northup (HarperPerennial, $16.99).
5 The Women Of Duck Commander: Surprising Insights From The Women Behind The Beards About What Makes This Family, by Kay Robertson, Korie Robertson , Missy Robertson and Jessica Robertson (Howard, $29.99).
6 A House In The Sky, by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett (Scribner, $29.99).
7 Thrive: The Third Metric To Redefining Success And Creating A Life Of Well-Being, Wisdom, And Wonder, by Arianna S. Huffington (Harmony, $31).
8 I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb (Little Brown & Company, $29).
9 Wish You Happy Forever: What China's Orphans Taught Me About Moving Mountains, by Jenny Bowen (HarperCollins, $21.99).
10 Orr, by Bobby Orr (Viking Canada, $32).
The bestseller list is compiled by The Globe and Mail using sales figuresprovided by BookNet Canada's national sales tracking service, BNC SalesData.

How low will Don go?
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R10

In the first episode of the first season of Mad Men, Don Draper is convinced that he is, in the parlance of the times, a big fat zero: "I'm over," he laments, "and they're finally going to know it." It is March, 1960, and the creative genius of the Sterling Cooper advertising agency cannot imagine a new way to sell the pleasurable death sticks that have kept his company afloat for years. Until he does. Lucky Strike tobacco, he thinks, in a pure spasm of inspiration: It's toasted.

Now it's Don who is toasted. Six seasons later - nine years in the show's chronology - he has finally run out of road. When we last saw Don, magnificently played by Jon Hamm, he was stripped bare: loathed by his oldest child; a stranger to his other children; pitied by his ex-wife; abandoned by his current wife; his friends - well, Don never had friends. He only ever had his bottle, and his secrets, and his job. By the end of Season 6, even that had disappeared, as his fellow partners gave him the boot, furious not at Don's boozing or womanizing - there would be no one to turn on the lights at the office if they got rid of the boozers and womanizers - but at the fact that he seemed no longer to believe in advertising. That was the one transgression they couldn't forgive.

That's right: At the end of last season, in arguably the show's finest moment, Don began to change. A pitch meeting for Hershey's chocolate bars went disastrously wrong when he decided that he could no longer sell the nostalgic lie that advertising loves; he told the stunned Hershey's executives that he was rewarded with a chocolate bar by the whores who raised him. At that moment, Don Draper's greatest advertising project - himself - came unwrapped. Is being naked the beginning of truth? Is this Don's first step, long overdue? And, if it is, is Mad Men itself toasted? Will Don keep us watching now that he may be on the road to recovery?

The greatest show in television's history (I will fight you on this) begins its last season on April 13. Or at least half of it begins: Its 14 episodes will be split in two, with seven episodes airing this spring, and seven next. The show's creator and main writer, Matthew Weiner, has said he has had the final image in his head for a long time. Could it be Don dead? In a pit of flames? (Don's been reading Dante's Inferno, a gift from another ill-chosen girlfriend.) Where will Don's journey take him?

Nowhere, most likely. One of the greatest things about Mad Men is its stubborn rejection of the journey of self-improvement. John Slattery, who plays charming rake Roger Sterling, described Mad Men's characters this way: "They continue to make the same mistakes, only in slightly different form." Or as Weiner said recently, "We repeat things in life all the time."

For a show that is fixated on transport - key scenes take place in cars, trains, planes and airports - it's remarkable how little ground the characters actually cover, in terms of emotional progress. Don, in particular, has been resistant, pinned in place by the secret he carries. (He has stolen the identity of a dead man; every day is a lie.)

Look at the promotional stills for Season 7, which are set in an airport. All the characters are dressed in late 1960s psychedelia: Don's wife, Megan; his daughter, Sally; his co-workers Stan and Harry. Even Roger's wearing Chelsea boots. Everyone's embracing grooviness with open arms.

But Don? Don is dressed almost exactly as he was in the series premiere, in a conservative boxy suit, fedora in hand. His hair is still parted with a razor. He's like a chameleon who's found safe camouflage, and is terrified to change colours in case he's discovered and trapped. But now, just maybe, he's free of that.

There is one movement the characters can't avoid: They are propelled into the future, whether they like it or not. The last season ended around Thanksgiving, 1968, with Don finally admitting to his children that his fairy tale was only a cover, by bringing them to the cat house where he was raised. The disruptions of 1968, the riots and assassinations and protests, were explicitly manifest in Don's downward spiral. (How bad did it get? Well, you probably don't want your pubescent daughter catching you offering pants-free comfort to a neighbour's wife.) As Weiner has said, "Don was going to be out of control because the culture was out of control."

Unless Weiner is being a very cheeky monkey, the new season will begin in 1969, and the series will span one of the most tumultuous decades in modern American history. A decade that dawned with John F. Kennedy's election has now faded out with the triumph of his former rival, Richard Nixon. Don, a pragmatist as all survivors are, has no patience with idealism, unless it will help him sell a product. "I'm doing just fine," he said in last season's finale. "Nixon is president, everything is back just the way Jesus wants it to be."

There's one lie in those sentences, and possibly two, but Don, in the manner of many great fictional characters, is an exceptional truth-teller except when it comes to himself. According to Weiner, the historical record won't intrude as heavily this season, but there will have to be some reckoning with 1969, the year America came to terms with stories it told itself (precisely as Don is having to reconcile with his own tattered myth). It was the year of the moon landing and the inaugural flight of the 747, but also the year of the Manson murders, the Zodiac killer and Altamont. The story of the My Lai massacre broke. The Stonewall riots provided dawning recognition that people like Sterling Cooper's tragic art director Salvatore Romano would no longer lie down and take a kicking.

So where will Don be in 1969? He has always been confounded by the future; he listened to the Beatles' trippy Tomorrow Never Knows and walked away in exasperation. But one of the Season 7 promotional videos provides a clue. It shows an animated Don, in all his boxy-suited glory, walking through a psychedelic doorway to the sounds of David Bowie's The Man Who Sold the World, released in 1970. Now that Don realizes he was the man who sold the world - and now that he seems to be leaving that business behind - is there anything left for Mad Men to sell? Unless it's the message, bleak but true to the show's vision, that when Don takes one step forward, he inevitably takes two back.

Addressing the Leafs' off-season concerns
New president Shanahan will have his work cut out for him after a trying year and another late-season collapse
Monday, April 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S4


The latest new era for the eternally struggling Toronto Maple Leafs begins Monday when Brendan Shanahan meets the media for the first time since taking the job as president.

Beside him will be Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president Tim Leiweke and Leafs general manager David Nonis. While Nonis has taken his share of shots for the late-season collapse, all indications are that he will survive to sift through the smoking ruins.

Otherwise, there is uncertainty in every other quarter of the organization, from head coach Randy Carlyle, whose survival would be a big surprise, to radio analyst Jim Ralph, who kept fans laughing through their tears for years. An MLSE source said Ralph, who had a brush with the axe a year ago, has already been told he won't be back next season. Ralph declined to comment.

Shanahan knows full well he is coming into a job where advice rains down from everywhere. So who are we to stand in the way? Here is a list of what should be done with the meat of the Leafs roster, taking into account they have $22.38-million (all currency U.S.) to spend if next season's salary cap is $71.1-million. There are currently 12 players signed for 2014-15.


Dion Phaneuf - At $7-million per for the next seven years, the Leafs are stuck with him. Take away the captaincy and get him to work solely on his game. He makes way too many mistakes for a 29-year-old NHLer. As with a lot of his teammates, he is higher on the roster (No. 1 defenceman) than he should be.

Carl Gunnarsson - Keep him, as he is a solid defenceman with a decent cap hit at $3.15-million for two more years. But he should be a No. 4 or 5, not on the top pair.

Cody Franson - He is a restricted free agent July 1 and it's time to trade his rights. After a solid 2012-13 season and playoffs, Franson regressed. Space is needed for a physical, defensive-minded blueliner such as farmhand Petter Granberg, who made an impressive NHL debut Saturday.

Tim Gleason - He did not bring the hoped-for stability to the Leafs defence but was not a disaster either. At $4-million, a tad over-priced for a bottom-three guy but worth keeping for his play in the Leafs' zone and his work ethic, a rare commodity on this team.

Paul Ranger - Pending unrestricted free agent. If he is willing to take a pay cut from this season's $1-million salary, he could be a depth player but looking for an upgrade should be the priority.

Jake Gardiner - He is not developing as quickly as hoped and it appears his game will always be all offence. But he finished the season well and will remain part of the team's core of young players rather than leave as a restricted free agent.

Morgan Rielly - The rookie showed he has the tools to be the No. 1 defenceman the Leafs badly need. But he's still a few years away. A keeper.


Phil Kessel - He is an important piece of the puzzle rather than a leader, but his scoring skills dictated the team's fortunes. Kessel is locked up at $8-million a year through 2022 so he's settled.

Tyler Bozak - Another one who stays, although his relationship with Kessel, rather than his size and skill, dictates his role as the No. 1 centre.

James van Riemsdyk - Solid season with 30 goals, developing well despite quibbles with his consistency. Good value at $4.25-million for four more years.

Nazem Kadri - Fifty points in his second full season looks good but too often he disappeared at key times. Much patience is needed here because he's too young to discard. He has the talent but has yet to develop a two-way game. Someone needs to read him the riot act and get him in step with whatever program is in place next season.

Joffrey Lupul - His heart seems to be in the right place but injuries weaken his contributions. Four years left on his contract at $5.25-million means someone might be interested so a trade should be explored.

David Clarkson - Yes, an unmitigated disaster at $5.25-million with six years to go. But he didn't forget how to play the game at 30. He can't be traded so the Leafs have to get him to hit the reset button. Can still be an effective player.

Dave Bolland - This is a tough one. The pending unrestricted free agent is unquestionably the two-way gritty player the team needs. But not at $6-million a year or more if that is what he wants in a new contract. The Clarkson contract makes this a tough negotiation for Nonis. Keeping Bolland would be nice but it looks like it's impossible at the right price.

Mason Raymond - Provided decent value on a one-year deal for $1-million but less so as the season went on. Worth a stab at re-signing for similar money but a more physical replacement would be better.

Nikolai Kulemin - His 30 goals in 2010-11 sparked hopes he would develop into a good power forward but it never happened. Could be part of a revitalized fourth line, but if he isn't willing to take a pay cut from $2.8-million, it's time to say goodbye when free agency hits on July 1.

Jay McClement - He helped improve the penalty killing in 2012-13 but both special teams fell apart this season. The Leafs are in flux at centre on the third and fourth lines thanks to the Bolland situation, so it's worth keeping McClement, who is a pending unrestricted free agent.

Colton Orr - A spot on the Toronto Marlies to work off the last year of his contract.

The rest - The Leafs have a group of young players who spent time with them this season and are headed to free agency. Peter Holland and Carter Ashton are the most notable. Holland could play as high as the No. 3 centre, depending on what happens to Bolland. Ashton never got much of a chance under Carlyle but has scored in the American Hockey League. Both should be re-upped. Troy Bodie put in some decent work on the fourth line and should be brought back, too.


Jonathan Bernier - He provided the elite goaltending Nonis and Carlyle wanted. Only question is when does he sign a long-term contract extension.

James Reimer - He is bitterly disappointed about losing the No. 1 job to Bernier and reluctantly realized it is time to move on with restricted free agency approaching. Leafs fans have to realize his trade value was never that great and there won't be much coming for him.

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Teach children about money by age 10
Though the stakes are higher for wealthy families, all children need to learn how to manage money, financial advisers suggest
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B14

We all have heard the stories: Young adults who come into tremendous wealth too early and unprepared - and proceed to squander their fortunes.

It's a thorny problem that financial institutions and advisers involved with wealth management are confronting at the request of their affluent clients. How do you teach children to be rich? How do you know when the next generation is ready to properly handle wealth?

It's an issue that is growing as the number of affluent Canadians increases. The number of high-net-worth individuals here - those with investable wealth of $1-million or more - grew 6.5 per cent over the year before to a record 298,000 in 2012, according to the 2013 World Wealth Report by Royal Bank of Canada's RBC Wealth Management and Capgemini. The number of ultra-rich individuals - with wealth of $30-million or more - increased 11 per cent to 4,500 people.

And that means more wealthy Canadians who are looking to pass on those assets to their children. According to a study released this week by the Bank of Montreal's wealth management arm, BMO Harris Private Banking, affluent Canadians plan on leaving, on average, 30 per cent of their wealth to their children. The online survey of 305 Canadians with at least $1-million in investable assets also found that parents are taking the time to educate their children about finances - 65 per cent said they do.

"There has been a lot of focus on that kind of education in the last five or 10 years," says Yannick Archambault, vice-president and chief operating officer at BMO Harris Private Banking. "The larger the dollars, the more complexity there tends to be. ... High-net-worth parents or clients want to make sure that the second or third generation is well-equipped to handle it."

Mr. Archambault is referring to programs such as BMO Harris's Financial Fluency, aimed at children of clients who are in their late teens or early 20s that teach the principles of debt, credit, investing and risk tolerance. Financial Fluency was introduced in 2008, and has been bolstered regularly since.

Programs like these help, but Mr. Archambault and others have seen financial advisers tackle more and more of the educational role - bringing in the adult children of clients and explaining to them aspects of their parents' finances.

That's certainly the case with Phil Tippetts-Aylmer, a Vancouver-based financial adviser with Nicola Wealth Management, who says a large number of clients he works with have introduced their children to the firm or have brought the children in for extensive discussions about the family's financial situation.

"There is the understanding that the children are going to inherit a sizable amount of money and there is a desire to have them be financially literate by the time that event occurs," he says.

One way to help is to give children control gradually. For example, university students might be given responsibility for the money the parents have saved for their education, with a financial planner to help. Some parents bring their children to sit in on regular review meetings that deal with their assets.

"If the parents are happy with that and the child is keen, we're happy to do that," Mr. Tippetts-Aylmer says.

In the case of estate planning, parents might restrict when children get the assets - or set up a trust in which there is a co-trustee for a certain length of time.

But Mr. Tippetts-Aylmer says that for most children in affluent families, understanding finances comes in the same way that it does for most people - when they come up against major financial decisions for the first time, such as when getting married, landing their first job, buying a house or having children. How they tackle those events is a great indicator of whether they can handle the legacies their parents will eventually leave.

Other indicators of whether they can handle finances are if they save and if they undertake financial planning on their own. Warning signs include carrying a lot of debt.

Mr. Tippetts-Aylmer says that most of the children who meet with him are 20 or older. Participants in the BMO Harris Financial Fluency program are between the ages of 15 and 30, Mr. Archambault says, with the average age about 22 or 23.

But many personal finance experts believe that there is work to be done before that - that teaching children to manage money should start before the age of 10, says New Jersey-based personal finance author Jonathan Clements, echoing many others who advise people on finances.

"The stakes are higher for parents with lots of money who plan to bequeath substantial sums to their kids, but I think the issues facing wealthy parents are the same that face all parents," says Mr. Clements, who was director of financial education for Citi Personal Wealth Management and just left to write a column for the Wall Street Journal.

The one lesson that parents need to teach their children early, he says, is how to delay gratification.

Most children, he says, grow up spending their parents' money so they have absolutely no incentive to curb their desires. It's like going out to dinner when you know someone else is going to pay: "Of course you're going to order dessert."

Parents need to set up a system where kids feel like they're spending their own money - and making some financial decisions of their own, Mr. Clements says. When his children were small and the family went to restaurants, he would offer the kids $1 if they drank water with meals instead of pop. It was their choice: Take the money or the drink.

When his daughter Hannah was 13 and his son Henry was 10, he started bank accounts for them and got them ATM cards. He then deposited their pocket money into the accounts four times a year. This had two benefits, he says: The kids stopped asking him all the time for money and they learned to budget.

Mr. Clements says it's also important to instill values in your children, and those are best passed down "in the stories we tell."

Parents can talk about the financial struggles they had when they first started out, for example. Describe the first apartment you lived in as a student - with cockroaches or mice.

Children will take these stories to heart. "A great family story is far more powerful than any lecture on financial prudence you could ever deliver," he says.

The family story he heard growing up definitely set him and his three siblings on the right path. It's a doozy.

His maternal grandfather inherited millions and blew it all. "We grew up hearing about how the great family fortune was squandered." All four children ended up being responsible with money, he says. "Let me tell you, it was a very powerful story to hear."

Endangered species?
In theory, the GTA's suburban sprawl is giving way to compact, walkable new neighbourhoods. But in Vaughan, developers and multimillionaires are going big - very big - while they still can. Dakshana Bascaramurty reports from the land of the five-car garage
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M1

Sometimes freshly married couples, closely tailed by their wedding photographers, would sneak on to the grounds of 90 Rocmary Place to snap a few pictures in front of the hulking marble statues, which were imported from Europe. There were also the drive-bys, where passengers would gawk from car windows at the brass-flecked wrought iron gate and the 24,000-square-foot house that was set behind it. When the palatial Versailles-inspired mansion in the tony development of Vaughan Wood Estates - sometimes called the Bridle Path of the North - was listed for sale, it wasn't just those in the neighbourhood who took notice, but anyone curious about just how lavish a house with $17.8-million price tag on it could be.

It's the most expensive house that's ever been put on the market in Vaughan - and a style of abode on the brink of extinction. In the past eight years, since the introduction of the Places to Grow Act, a provincial strategy for growth management, municipalities across the province have amended their official plans to encourage compact urban form, transit-oriented neighbourhoods and more density. That means the end of cul-de-sacs lined with sprawling five-car-garage houses: more common in Vaughan than in most other parts of the GTA.

Paradoxically, these dying days of the mansion neighbourhoods coincides with a boom in their construction. Many subdivisions whose plans were approved before the Places to Grow Act came into effect in 2005 are only being built now.

"Trying to get those large estate home subdivisions approved is really difficult because we're trying to intensify more and more. Wherever they're existing, they're a hot commodity," said Marilyn Iafrate, the city councillor for Ward 1, where many such developments have been built.

Subdivisions dotted with large, detached homes have always existed here; they're a fixture of the 905 region. But this latest generation of the so-called "monster home" takes the style to a more extreme level. Many start at about 5,000 square feet and some, such as the one on Rocmary Place, are much larger. The average size of a new detached house in Ontario, meanwhile, is 2,050 square feet, according to the Canadian Home Builders' Association.

This shift is taking hold of cities across the region and pushing luxe estate development farther out to the smaller towns on the outer limits of the GTA, such as in Caledon, Gormley and King City.

Most of these subdivisions are in north Vaughan, including the village of Kleinburg, which are covered by wide expanses of farmland. Other parts of the city, including Concord and Maple, are decidedly more middle-class: mid-sized detached houses and town-home developments.

Photos of the flamboyant home at 90 Rocmary went viral last fall, inspiring a gallery in the British tabloid the Daily Mail and inviting comparisons to the infamous "Versailles House" in Windermere, Fla. - the largest and most expensive house in the United States - which was the backdrop of the documentary The Queen of Versailles.

The homeowner at 90 Rocmary, a European-Canadian entrepreneur who asked to remain anonymous, said the decor was inspired by her and her husband's annual trips Paris. The house boasts 12 bathrooms, six bedrooms, an expansive pool and a Ferrari room. Nearly every surface of the master ensuite is done up to the luxe extreme with gold-plated faucets shaped like swans in mid-flight, an ornate chandelier over the whirlpool and floors made of gleaming marble. On the wall of the master bedroom is an enormous oil painting of the homeowners on the day they married in period costumes to match their Louis XIV-themed wedding.

Last fall, sales agents Ora Sibilia and Michelle Schipper with Harvey Kalles Real Estate gave tours of the palatial residence to a handful of couples, many of whom are recent or prospective immigrants.

"They've all been foreign buyers: Chinese, Persian and one Russian couple," said Ms. Sibilia.

The house is being sold furnished and with its very specific aesthetic and hefty price tag, hasn't yet found new owners.

"It's not for everybody, we do understand that," the homeowner said.

John MacKenzie, Vaughan's commissioner of planning, said the mansion subdivisions such as Vaughan Wood Estates are a relic of "planning policies of the nineties."

Churchill Estates, the 15-house development near King Vaughan Road and Keele Street by Vaughan-based developer Greenpark, sold out in late 2012, said Marino Farano, a broker for Homelife/Metropark Realty, who handled sales of homes in the subdivision. The homes are massive: many boast large first- and second-floor decks and generous frontage, much larger than the modest semis or detached homes Greenpark typically builds. The developer has another project, Kleinburg Heights, in the works, to be built on the former Kleinburg Golf Course. The homes will be up to nearly 8,000 square feet and start at almost $2-million.

These communities are surrounded by farmland and that, says Ms. Iafrate, is one of the biggest attractions for Vaughan residents who have made enough money to afford a luxury living in Toronto but have chosen Vaughan instead. Since the Oak Ridges Moraine Protection Act was introduced in 2001 and the Greenbelt Act in 2005 (both to protect agricultural and ecologically significant land from development), the rural setting surrounding the homes now will be preserved.

Most of the people moving into these massive estates are fourth- or fifth-time home buyers who are upgrading from smaller homes in Vaughan, says Chris Saccoccia, vice-president of SkyHomes Corp., a developer headquartered in Vaughan.

The homeowner at 90 Rocmary said she has lived in Vaughan since 1999 and upgraded to several homes since then. They stayed in Vaughan because they saw it as a growing city and liked that it "caters to Europeans" (Italian and Russian are the largest minority languages in Vaughan, according to the 2011 census).

Today, progressive planning trumps all else: rather than focusing on selling some of those large tracts of undeveloped land in north Vaughan, the city is now prioritizing intensification projects at Highway 7 and Jane Street, Centre Street and Yonge and Steeles, Mr. MacKenzie said.

This shift isn't just happening because of city policy, he said. It's coming from builders, too.

"Nobody's even asking for it now. If a developer had that much land, they would probably want to chop them up into smaller lots and then try to build those big homes," Mr. MacKenzie said.

What frustrates Mr. Saccoccia is there are hundreds of acres of undeveloped land in Kleinburg - the city just won't allow the traditional style of development to continue on it.

"All the land prices going up is pretty much being artificially controlled by the government," he said. "They're putting a freeze on the land to create this scarcity. It's really cause they want the higher density."

PM sees Israel as light amid darkness
Stephen Harper bases his unwavering support for the Jewish state on the values, cultural links and democracy it shares with Canada
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A4

AMMAN -- On a first foray into the Middle East, most leaders would tread with caution. But Stephen Harper came to show where he stood. In the process, through his words and in his deeds, he provided a new rationale for his strong views about the region.

This wasn't just Mr. Harper's first visit to Israel. It was his first visit to the Middle East, with a stop in the West Bank, a visit to King Abdullah in Jordan, and a trip to a Syrian refugee camp. And in the Middle East, Mr. Harper picked his favourites - the partners he sees as sharing values and the forces of moderation that Canada can bolster.

This is a region that Mr. Harper views in contrasting darkness and light, with a duty to encourage the glimmers. His recipe is about stabilizing aid, encouraging economic development that he sees as promoting modernization and moderation, and offering unwavering symbolic support. The Prime Minister didn't describe hopeful futures. Instead, he prescribed how to confront a difficult world, with a Middle East he sees as mostly dark.

"The threats in this region are real, deeply rooted, and deadly," he told the Knesset, Israel's parliament. "And the forces of progress often anemically weak."

For Mr. Harper, that makes Israel an exception. It's a country with shared values, cultural links, and democracy - one that must be supported, for moral and strategic reasons, as a front-line state that faces threats "for many of the same reasons we face them." While Mr. Harper made a call for peace, he did not press for it. That, he indicated, waits on Palestinian will.

It was, one editorialist put it, a "yes-yes" message when Israelis are used to "yes-but."

In Israel, the Prime Minister came for a celebration after eight years of staunch support. And he got one. Israelis, along with some of the 200 invitees he brought with him, cheered him as he spoke to the Knesset and visited the Western Wall. At a celebratory ceremony at Tel Aviv University where he received an honorary doctorate, speaker after speaker heaped praise on Mr. Harper.

At the centre of the celebration, though, was Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who pitched a tent outside his office for a welcome ceremony, and dined elbow-to-elbow with Mr. Harper three nights in a row.

Their comments bounced off each other's comfortably.

There were, in Mr. Harper's agenda, few places for dissenting voices.

He was heckled by Arab-Israeli legislators in the Knesset, including Ahmad Tibi, who argued Mr. Harper was blind to the reality of discrimination against Arab-Israelis and separate justice for Palestinians. Israel is "a democracy for Jews, not for all of its citizens," Mr. Tibi told The Globe in an interview.

Israel's left-leaning Haaretz newspaper lamented that Mr. Harper failed to speak against settlements and push for peace now, adding that he was not Israel's friend, but Mr. Netanyahu's.

In the West Bank, meeting Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, Mr. Harper heard no public criticisms. Mr. Harper came carrying a $66-million aid package, an effort to turn the page on disputes over the 2012 Palestinian bid for observer-state status at the United Nations. Mr. Abbas diplomatically called for dialogue over differences.

But the nature of Mr. Harper's aid sent a signal, too. The Palestinians had asked for social aid, such as education, but Mr. Harper delivered aid focused on private-sector economic development. It was in line with how Mr. Harper promotes the forces of progress: economic development, in his view, leads to good governance, and moderation will follow.

When he looked to the broader Middle East, Mr. Harper voted with his feet, for the same reasons.

He could have visited Egypt, the region's most populous nation, split by bitter tensions between the Muslim Brotherhood and the army-backed regime. He didn't. Instead, he said Canada welcomed the army's return after ousting elected president Mohammed Morsi, who, he said, was using an election to create an authoritarian Islamic state.

He could have gone to Saudi Arabia, a wealthy power, to engage what is surely one of the countries he was referring to in Tel Aviv when he said extremist opponents of Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria were being funded by Sunni countries. But he didn't do that either.

Instead, he chose Jordan, a small, poor country with a moderate regime led by a Western-educated king. Jordan isn't a true democracy, but it is a relatively open society, and is willing to promote the peace process and co-operate with Israel. And it is led by a king pledging democratization and economic development - what Mr. Harper responds to best.

But King Abdullah also faces a delicate internal political balance, stretched by the economic and social stresses from an influx of 600,000 Syrian refugees. To that end, Mr. Harper brought aid not just for refugees but for Jordan's education system.

Business ties, too, are part of Mr. Harper's effort to strengthen the "forces of progress" - an extension of the government's push to make "economic diplomacy" the centrepiece of Canada's foreign policy.

Mr. Harper brought his Industry Minister and Natural Resources Minister to meetings with King Abdullah in Jordan - a country looking to develop shale gas to fill a power shortage. Among the issues discussed behind closed doors: a plan to build a gas pipeline from Israel to Jordan promoted by a Jordanian firm partly owned by Saskatchewan's Potash Corp. - a plan that would also tighten Jordan's strategic ties to Israel.

On Friday, Mr. Harper travelled to the Zaatari refugee camp in the country's north to announce $150-million in new aid for Syrian refugees. He described the camp as the "tip of the iceberg" in a crisis that has displaced millions.

Targeted aid has become a major part of Canada's foreign policy in the Middle East. In geo-political terms, it's a deliberate effort to help prevent the refugee crisis from destabilizing the region, especially in moderate Jordan, which now houses 600,000 displaced Syrians.

Outside the compound, some of those refugees said the money is appreciated, but what they really want is Western efforts to help remove Mr. al-Assad's regime in Syria, so they can go home. "As soon as possible," said one.

But it's a course that Mr. Harper rejected, in a conflict that he said pits "extreme and brutal elements on both sides." Canada can't change the course of the war; it can only encourage moderate elements and conciliation, and offer help for its victims.

"The brutal reality of the world is that we do not control the actions of others," he said. "And sometimes the actions of others impose realities on others that we have to deal with."

Marge Gunderson will be missing in action, but a new 10-part TV series, starring Billy Bob Thornton and executive-produced by Joel and Ethan Coen, promises to capture the spirit - and smarts - of the Oscar-winning, aw-jeez movie. Marsha Lederman goes on set in Calgary
Monday, April 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

This is a true story.

The Fargo snow globe sat in his office for years, a reminder of the time Warren Littlefield flirted with bringing the frigid, folksy, murderous world of Joel and Ethan Coen's iconic 1996 film to television. Then president of NBC's entertainment division, he ended up "respectfully" passing, worried that a network TV adaptation might disappoint the audience that had deeply loved the dark comedy. Later, CBS made a Fargo pilot, which aired as a 2003 TV movie, starring Edie Falco as Marge Gunderson and directed by Kathy Bates - but it never became a series.

Just over three years ago, Littlefield, by then head of his own production company, was looking at that snow globe, which he has always kept nearby, and thought, "Ah, it's time." The renaissance of television, he felt, would provide the opportunity to do a Fargo adaptation properly. Not that it would be easy: With a property like Fargo, there would be high expectations, and deep concerns about cheapening its Oscar-winning legacy. The TV series would have to hit just the right note.

Littlefield brought Noah Hawley (a novelist whose TV work includes Bones and the short-lived series My Generation and The Unusuals) on board as show runner. And MGM, which controlled the property, thought it might work for its FX network. But in an early phone call about the project, an MGM executive told Littlefield the studio wasn't sure if it was possible to do Fargo without the character of supersmart small-town cop Marge. "The word 'disappoint' again stuck with me," recalls Littlefield.

But, in fact, it was when he went back to Hawley and told him about that disappointing conversation that a new Fargo was born. "His mind just started to explode," says Littlefield. "And he said: 'So, all new characters, a new crime saga, all with Fargo as a state of mind: Honour the thematic, honour the world that the Coens created.' "

Hawley, you might say, was thinking outside the snow globe.

And soon enough, so were Fargo's original creators. "The Coens read the script, and said, 'We're not big fans of imitation, but we feel like Noah channelled us,' " says Littlefield. "'And we would like to put our names on this.'"

Fargo the series - executive produced by the Coens - premieres on the just-launched FXX Canada specialty channel on April 15. (Described by Rogers as a younger-skewing, "funnier" extension of FX Canada, FXX is available only to Rogers customers; in fact, viewers in parts of Canada that don't have access to Rogers cable - including Calgary, where the show was shot - will not see it.)

In the 10-part series, a mysterious man named Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) finds himself in the small town of Bemidji, Minn. - there really is a Bemidji, by the way - where by chance he encounters local hen-pecked and down-on-his-luck insurance salesman Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman).

When bodies start piling up, various police officers - played by the likes of Colin Hanks, Allison Tolman and Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad's Saul Goodman) work to solve the crime spree. Fans of the movie may be wary, but in early episodes, the series delivers with a smart script, intense performances and gorgeous cinematography.

From the opening shot, it is clear that this is an homage, not a rip-off. "Noah managed to do something very hard," said Thornton, on set at a former medical facility in Calgary earlier this year. "Without copying the Coen brothers, he got their vibe and their tone and made a whole new animal."

Still, some cast members had concerns about the project when they were initially approached. "When I got the call, I probably responded the way most people do when they hear about something like this: 'Uh oh - that movie was amazing. What are they gonna do? How can they possibly live up to that?' " recalls Keith Carradine, who plays the father of Tolman's character. "Well, let me just say that we haven't lived up to it; we've lived beyond it."

While it's fair to say there are shared characteristics between Tolman's Molly Solverson and McDormand's Marge Gunderson, between Thornton's Lorne Malvo and Steve Buscemi's hapless criminal, Carl Showalter, and between Freeman's Lester Nygaard and William H. Macy's Jerry Lundegaard, the characters themselves are new inventions, albeit ones born in the spirit of their big-screen predecessors.

The series' scripts, says Freeman, are also "strongly independent" of the big-screen Fargo. "So when you read them, I'm certainly not thinking of anything else other than our project," adds the actor, best known for his work in The Hobbit and the TV show Sherlock. (Now just try to imagine his Watson or Bilbo Baggins with that "Aw jeez" accent - which Freeman nails.)

A number of members of the cast, including Freeman, said they went out of their way to avoid rescreening the film when they first embarked on this project. "I saw the film when it came out," says Tolman, whose background is in comedy, and who seems bound to be the series' breakout star. "Didn't watch it while I was auditioning and while I was testing for the role, and waited about five weeks into filming before I Netflixed it. I wanted to give myself a little bit of distance."

Odenkirk, who plays her partner, revelled in a different kind of distance: that between his role of trusting rube on the new show and his shamelessly oily lawyer in Breaking Bad and its upcoming spinoff, Better Call Saul: "Saul is mostly a cunning operator who is manipulating everyone around him and is very cynical in how he operates," says the actor. "And this character, Bill Oswalt, is the polar opposite. He holds so tightly to his innocence and his belief in the sweetness and goodness of the community that he can't see what's in front of his face."

Thornton, too, took pleasure in playing a less familiar role - Malvo, he says, "absolutely has no conscience whatsoever." He calls the series "a dream" for an actor, but he and his cast mates will be playing these roles for a limited time.

"We have a beginning, middle and an end," says Littlefield. While he doesn't rule out a future Fargo with yet a different set of characters, "we want the audience to feel they had their time with these characters, and there's a conclusion. There's no cliffhanger. It's a sense of a satisfying conclusion, and a lot of people are dead." Even if Fargo, at least in spirit, is once again very much alive.

Fargo airs Tuesdays on FXX Canada at 10 p.m. ET beginning April 15. The first episode only will also run on FX Canada.

You don't need to let your kids fail
Thursday, April 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L3

As parents, many of us choose to spend our five minutes of free time drinking in the latest theories on child-rearing. Depending on the day, it's about fostering grit and remembering not to overpraise, or fretting over the endless flow of trophies our kids bring home just for showing up.

But in his new book, education and parenting author Alfie Kohn says underlying much of the reigning wisdom around parenting is a conservative - even punitive - view of children. Kohn proposes we think a little harder about adopting every new gospel about child-rearing. We might not like the ugly right-wing parent we're accidentally becoming.

We spoke to Kohn about The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom About Children and Parenting from his home in Boston.

There is a never-ending flow of theories on parenting. It's exhausting. But clearly you hit a boiling point and felt like you had to write this book.

What put me over the edge was the fact that beliefs about children and parenting that are not only unsupported but deeply conservative in their ideology are uncritically endorsed even by people who are more liberal on other political issues.

It's a rage that you find expressed when we give a trinket to the kids on the losing team. When people claim that kids feel too good about themselves when they haven't earned that right. Any time people try to step in to alleviate children's pain or try to soften the ugly blow of competition, there is a huge push back from people who think that kids have it too easy. And that the best way to prepare children for the unpleasantness of life is to make them as unhappy as possible when they're young.

Isn't that just the old farts?

You find the same sensibility among people who would never vote conservative, who take the enlightened line on global warming and multicultural activities and so on but nevertheless blast teachers or parents for being too permissive or for being helicopter parents. Who make wild unsupported statements about millennials who are entitled and have been coddled their whole lives.

Some of these ideas are ubiquitous, like the notion that we don't let kids fail enough.

The two assumptions that are made these days are, one, that kids don't experience enough failure and frustration, which suggests to me a lack of understanding of children's inner lives if people really think that's true, and two, that more failure is good because kids will pick themselves up and try harder next time. The reality is, according to decades of psychological research, that what conduces to success is past success.

So letting a kid fail on a test doesn't teach him or her to study harder next time?

Anyone who hangs around real kids knows that the more likely outcomes are that kids come to think of school as something they're not good at. Or to lead them to resent the teacher. Or to cheat if they're under a lot of pressure to perform well. And with some good reason, to doubt the validity of tests.

If you look below the superficial results, you've got a lot of miserable kids studying very hard who are hating learning and not feeling great about themselves.

Is there a middle ground?

Parents need to think about how best to support their kids. To ask questions such as, how do I help my kid keep his excitement about figuring stuff out? How do we revive that sense of curiosity and support depth of thinking?

In a related matter, what about those trinkets for the losing team?

Giving a recognition trinket to the losing side is a tiny step in the direction of minimizing the inherent harms of unnecessary competition. People are somehow criticizing this as trying to persuade the losing team that they didn't really lose, as if kids didn't know the difference. There's this mindless macho sensibility that we must do nothing to moderate the ugly effects of competition. Otherwise children won't be prepared for "real life."

In the book you say the notion of spoiled kids in general 'twas ever thus.

People claim that kids are indulged and that parents are spoiling their kids and failing to set limits - unlike the good old days. And then you go back a couple of decades and find that people were saying exactly the same thing and you go back another couple of decades and you find the same thing again.

What about the kid in The New Yorker piece Spoiled Rotten who demands his father tie his shoes.

We can always come across ridiculous examples of parents who do silly things. But we have an obligation to look past individual anecdotes and not overgeneralize. Are there kids who run wild in public places and make a nuisance of themselves while their parents ignore them? Sure. But for every example like that there are hundreds of examples of kids who are bullied, bribed, yelled at or threatened by parents whose only apparent objective is to get mindless compliance.

You take on Jean Twenge, the researcher behind the millennials-are-narcissists trope and

author of Generation Me.

Younger people tend to score higher on narcissism measures than older people; that's always been true. When older people look at young people and see what they think is narcissistic behaviour, they incorrectly attribute this to a change over generations. In reality it's a developmental change. Jean Twenge has become this one-woman crusade to see young people in the worst possible light and claims to have data to support it. But when experts in data analysis review her studies carefully or try to replicate those studies they come up empty-handed.

Maybe parenting - and parenting media - involves some sort of amnesia?

We often forget the way things were for us. Baby boomers were accused of being shiftless hippies by their parents and turned around and accused Generation X of being slackers. Now, we both unite and accuse millennials of very similar things. Some of it may just be amnesia. Some of it may take on a more ominous cast, which is that we tend to reproduce some of the disturbing things that were done to us by our parents when we have children of our own, as if to erase any possibility that our parents didn't do what was best for us. That was psychoanalyst Alice Miller's hypothesis - that we're desperate at an unconscious level to believe that our parents did what was in our best interest. So to avoid having to confront that, we just do it to our kids.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Pressure on the Habs: Who will step up against Tampa Bay?
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

TAMPA -- Writer and adventurer Rudyard Kipling rendered the thought so eloquently that it's become a splendid cliché - if you can keep cool when everyone else is freaking out, you can be the man.

Okay, okay, maybe that's not quite what he wrote. And fair enough, he arranged his words a smidge more poetically. The point is Kipling's oft-cited poem If contains lots of reasonable advice, much of it relevant to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Poise is a quality some athletes are born with, but more frequently it is acquired at the cost of previous failure and disappointment.

"I wasn't [calm] early in my career, I remember those games ... where you pretty much play your game before it starts. Then the game starts and you're exhausted. It's learning to manage your nerves, your excitement," said 35-year-old Montreal Canadiens forward Daniel Brière.

That resonates as the Habs prepare to open their first-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, because a question hangs over Canada's lone entry in the NHL playoffs: How good is this team, really?

They've had inspirational moments, such as the night they trailed the Ottawa Senators 4-1 with barely four minutes to play and pulled out an overtime win. They've also had long stretches where they struggled to play .500 hockey.

Montreal finished the season as a bottom-six team in terms of advanced statistics - puck possession correlates strongly with success, and the Habs have been out-possessed consistently. And their even-strength scoring over the whole season was 26th in the 30-team NHL (they scored one more goal than the Los Angeles Kings, who are possession monsters).

But they're also a stingy defensive team - their 2.45 goals-against-per-game average was eighth in the league (Tampa Bay, meanwhile, had the 11th best offence at even strength, and the 11th best defence). And the Habs' penalty kill, which can patch up a lot of cracks, is among the league's very best.

A good part of evaluating this team's chances lies in composure, and whether the Habs' key players will be able to maintain it.

Somewhat paradoxically, the person about whom there are no reservations is Brière, the veteran free agent signing who has spent the season playing limited minutes, flitting around the lineup and in an out of coach Michel Therrien's good graces.

But Brière was signed for precisely these circumstances - he has 50 goals and 109 points in 108 playoff games, and has at points in his career led the playoffs in both points and goals.

He won't play top-line minutes, but if the Habs are to fulfill their ambitions - and don't be fooled by the even-keeled talk about one game at a time, they are not satisfied with merely making the postseason - he will participate in a balanced scoring attack.

Goaltender Carey Price's hallmark is calm, phlegmatic play - his 9-17-3 career post-season mark (.905 save percentage, 2.90 goals against) is largely a function of an unflappable guy getting flapped at inopportune moments.

Case in point: then-Ottawa Senators forward Jakob Silfverberg's back-breaking goal in game one of the first round last season. Silfverberg was plainly surprised Price didn't stop it.

Doubters tend to forget that Price, who is now 26 and coming off the finest season of his career, saw his first postseason action in 2008 (he beat Boston in a seven-game series) and is now in his seventh go-round in the searing cauldron that is the NHL playoffs.

The belief he doesn't get it done in the playoffs has proven difficult to dispel; the alternative view is that, in 2011, he was bested by Tim Thomas, then in the midst of one of the greatest statistical seasons in NHL goaltending history, and in 2013 he was outdone by Ottawa's Craig Anderson, whose save percentage in the shortened season was over .940.

Price, who passed the pressure test at the Sochi Olympics, considers his time is now. "After that whole experience, it helps you stay calm, being able to take in how a bunch of leaders on other teams that have won carry themselves. I think that was a very valuable learning experience," he said recently.

Price knows about winning, and when he looks at the Canadiens, he sees possibilities.

"We've got a lot of good parts. We have guys who can grind, guys who can put the puck in the net, we have offensive defencemen, defensive defencemen ... the team that wins the Cup is the team that puts [the] intangibles together," he said.

Another Canadian Olympian who's well-stocked in intangibles is P.K. Subban. The animated 24-year-old didn't score in his final 19 regular-season games, but still managed to finish near the top of the scoring charts among NHL defencemen.

Despite what some term a late-season funk and a tumultuous relationship with Therrien - he was benched for most of the first period in a recent game against Ottawa - Subban has played the kind of low-risk hockey his coaches demand for much of the season.

And the playoffs, where he established himself as a full-time NHLer in 2010, don't exactly make him quake with fear. "I enjoy playing under pressure, I think that's why I've had individual success in Montreal. I love playing here, I love playing underneath the microscope all the time, it just makes me better," he said.

Conventional wisdom holds that hockey teams adopt the tone set by their veterans and best players.

Leave it to Brière to tie it up in a neat little parable: The Habs'uncontested top player is Price, who acts as a human stress reliever.

"You'll look at him after we've made a catastrophic mistake, and he's just like, whatever, I've got it," Brière said. "It's as if nothing happened. We'll be sitting on the bench and the other team gets that chance and everyone tenses up, he just deals with it, makes the save. You think maybe it wasn't so bad, then you see the video the next day, and it wasn't pretty. He can paper over a lot of things, and that's where he makes a difference."

Another of Kipling's stanzas holds that "if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you," it will nudge you on the path to become "a man, my son."

If the Habs goaltender and his acolytes follow that injunction, who's to say what sorts of men they might become.

A 'cinematic poem' captures Afghanistan
Thursday, April 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

If Hollywood ever makes a movie about Cédric Houin - and based on his exploits so far, there's no reason why it shouldn't - it's certain to have one of those child-is-father-to-the-man epiphany scenes. The kind that announces to the viewer, "Destiny alert! Portent ahead!"

In Houin's case, the scene would occur in 1983 when he's five, an only child living in Paris. His father, Jean-François, a peripatetic hotelier, described by Houin today as "handsome, sportif, my own Crocodile Dundee," has just returned from some foreign adventure, this time in Zambia. As Jean-François walks toward his son, the viewer notices one of his arms is crooked behind his back. Something is hidden in his fist! When Jean-François swings his arm around to open his palm to his expectant son, that something is revealed to be a large leopard tooth. At that, young Cédric's eyes would glisten; string-laden music would swell and the leopard's tooth would give off an almost diamond-like gleam. "Merci, Papa!" Cédric would cry. "Merci! Trés magnifique!" Shortly after, there'd be a scene of the tyke proudly wearing the tooth as the pendant of a necklace, romping with his playmates as they call out to him: "Rahouin! Rahouin!" - a riff on the name of the popular French comic-book character Rahan, a bearclaw-necklace-wearing prehistoric fighter, created in 1969, with a golden mane worthy of the Mighty Thor.

Cut to the present. Houin's 35, movie-star handsome, with Wakhan: Another Afghanistan, "a multiplatform art-documentary project" opening today at Toronto's Arsenal Contemporary Art. But instead of being called Rahouin, he goes by the "artist's name" Varial, after the kick-flip he used to perform as a skateboarder. The necklace is still around but he never wears it.

Varial's "very much against hunting" now, a vegetarian, in fact. Nor is he entirely sure, it seems, of the tooth's precise location. It's just "somewhere in a box" in his home in Montreal, a memento of "another consciousness." If he couldn't find it, the lapse would be understandable. Especially in the last four years, Varial has been very much the nomad, making infrequent, often rushed stops in Montreal, where he pitched up in 2001 as a finance and marketing intern, only "to improvise myself into a visual artist."

Varial has wandered far from the realms of finance and marketing into what in the 19th century would have been called "the exotic" - those far-flung, off-the-beaten-pathway places where smartphones, iPads, even mirrors are non-existent. While he still takes the occasional advertising assignment, whatever's earned is ploughed into personal projects and travel. Today, says Varial, "I'm putting my artistic chops at the service of the planet." Wakhan: Another Afghanistan - an installation of photographs, videos and a luminous 76-minute film/"cinematic poem," narration-free, that recently took best documentary honours at the Rendez-vous du cinéma québècois - is the distillation of a 24-day trek, by foot, horse and donkey, through the 300-km-long Wakhan Corridor of northeastern Afghanistan that Varian and fellow adventurer/"cultural entrepreneur" Fabrice Nadjari made in summer 2011.

Sparsely populated, windy, hemmed in by mountains, road-free and nearly inaccessible, the corridor is so isolated that neither the Taliban nor the government in Kabul nor NATO forces has paid it any mind. Its 12,000 inhabitants are divided mostly between two major tribes, the Wakhis, Ismaili Muslim farmers, and the Kyrgyz, Sunni Muslim herders, each living in calm and harmony with the other, bartering goods to sustain themselves.

Varial and Nadjari were inspired to visit the Wakhan after reading an article about it in The New York Times in the fall of 2010. Giving motivated their adventure as much as taking: Rather than just take photographs and footage of the scenery and the inhabitants, they hit upon the idea of bringing two Polaroid cameras and about 150 packages of compatible film with them. Whenever they encountered a willing tribesperson, they'd take his or her instant colour photograph, then, before giving the image to the subject to keep, pose him or her for another portrait, this one in black-and-white, holding the Polaroid. Varial found this "ceremony of the snapshot . . . touching and humbling. Most of the people we met had never seen an image of themselves, had not even seen mirrors in the Wakhan Corridor."

It was, unsurprisingly, a hard trip. Living mostly on bread and tea, trundling along difficult paths 10 hours a day and longer, Varial dropped 15 kilograms. Once he and Nadjari agreed to kill a sheep "because we felt we were starving and in need of protein." The next day, however, "we were all sick. Our bodies were not able to process the meat. So I killed an animal to take its energy - for nothing!" That realization, he says, made him a vegetarian.

Since returning,Varial has thrown himself into a variety of projects "at the service of the planet" even as he's "personally in huge debt." There's been a visit to India "documenting humanitarian actions with the Dalits," 170-million strong and the lowest-ranking members of Indian society, "the poorest of the poorest." He's been taking photographs and footage of the Waorani tribe in Ecuador's Amazon rainforest, its traditional ways and land endangered by deforestation and aggressive resource development. Late last year, on assignment for Smithsonian magazine, he travelled with Vanity Fair contributor Alex Shoumatoff to Borneo to document the struggle of 500 Penan nomads against the exploitation of wood and palm-oil companies. "I'm not a war photographer," he observes. "The only conflict I'm interested in are cultural conflicts."

Coming up - or so Varial hopes - is a project that will see him travel down the spine of the Andes where he'll collect stories from indigenous peoples about Pachamama, the Incan goddess/"world mother" worshipped before the Spanish conquests in the 16th century.

"Borneo, Ecuador, Afghanistan - all these trips have been extremely enlightening for me in terms of connecting to nature, of course, and living better on this planet," Varial attests. "I've been through different experiences, not only physical journeys but spiritual journeys. I've been through psychedelic experiences like peyote, ayahuasca, San Pedro [cactus] . . . ancient medicines that reconnect you to the cosmology, to the essence of life." He adds: "I am far from being perfect . . . my carbon print is awful with all the planes I take every year . . . but I am trying."

Wakhan: Another Afghanistan is at Arsenal Contemporary Art, Toronto through Aug. 15.

Koh sees the light
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R5

Soft! What sound from yonder cemetery was breaking earlier this week? It likely was Robert and Signe McMichael rolling in their respective graves upon hearing that one-time art-world enfant terrible Terence Koh is presenting two new works on the bucolic grounds of the eponymous gallery they founded northwest of Toronto.

In fact, one of the works, titled a way to the light, will be installed this June at the very cemetery site on the grounds where Robert has been buried since 2003, and wife, Signe, since 2007. As visitors to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg know, the small cemetery also is the final resting place of six members of the Group of Seven - A.J. Casson, Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer, and Frederick Varley - and, in four instances, their wives. If there's a sacred grove of Canadian art-making, this is the place.

Reverence, by contrast, is not something that's usually associated with Koh. Ten years ago, the Beijing-born, Mississauga-raised, Vancouver-educated artist scored international headlines when he installed in London's trend-setting Saatchi Gallery a giant chandelier covered in hair (human and horse), vegetable matter and his own blood and feces. In 2007 at Art Basel, he caused another fuss by exhibiting and selling, at $500,000 a pop, sculptures of his own excrement covered in gold leaf. There have been other exploits since, including collaborations with Lady Gaga, but you get the picture: No bodstily fluid, precious or otherwise, has been alien to Koh's multidisciplinary practice - a practice that has earned him, in addition to controversy, berths in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Tate Modern and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Urging calm the other day at a media conference at the McMichael was Jorn Weisbrodt, artistic director of Toronto's annual Luminato Festival. He commissioned the two Kohs - the other is a performance piece called tomorrow's snow - as part of Luminato 2014. Indeed, the Koh project is the first in the festival's eight-year history to occur outside Toronto's municipal boundaries, and the first solo showcase in Canada for Koh, who graduated in 2002 from what now is the Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

Formerly calling himself Asian Punk Boy, Koh has mellowed, Weisbrodt insisted - "really, completely shifted gears and become much more interior." Now 37, the former self-described "Naomi Campbell of the art world" has left his residence in New York's Lower East Side to live in rural upstate New York, where he's severed all Internet connections and adopted an organic diet. Gone, too, are the all-white outfits he once favoured; now you're just as likely to see him in plaid shirts and brown overalls. "I think it's important for me to be as immaterial as possible," Koh remarked recently. "Maybe in this immateriality there's spirituality, and maybe in this spirituality there is humanity."

Weisbrodt, a friend of Koh from his own New York days, has long wanted to work with the artist. A year ago, as he was about to mount his second Luminato as artistic director, he received a note from Koh in which the artist told of his desire to realize a scene he says he read at age eight in Margaret Atwood's 1988 novel Cat's Eye. Eight is regarded as the luckiest number in Chinese culture and, in the note, Koh envisioned a scene taking place in a public square surrounded by trees where two white-clad eight-year-olds, a girl and a boy, would make snow angels for eight minutes. Of course, there would be just eight performances, one per night over eight evenings.

Weisbrodt was intrigued, and enchanted. But where to find such a space in Toronto? He got his answer a few months later when he accepted an invitation from Victoria Dickenson, McMichael executive director and CEO, to visit the collection. A Luminato fan, Dickenson had for several years harboured a desire to host one of its events, "to use the grounds as an extension of the gallery space." When he mentioned the Koh idea, "she immediately leapt at it," and two months after that, Weisbrodt was wandering the McMichael site with an enthusiastic Koh.

Besides tomorrow's snow, they agreed another project ought to be done there, this one at the cemetery. Eventually, they hit on an installation honouring West Coast painter Emily Carr. An exhibition of Carr's at the 2012 dOCUMENTA in Kassel, Germany, had made "a huge impression" on Weisbrodt. Though never an official member, Carr has been closely associated with the Group of Seven and was championed by them during her lifetime (1871-1945). The serendipity had to be embraced.

Details of a way to the light are still being worked out, but Weisbrodt insists whatever is installed come June 6 will be respectful and won't "disturb the peace of the actual graveyard." Details, too, still have to be worked out for tomorrow's snow, especially with how to make credible, lasting snow in early June. In his original proposal, Koh thought the boy and girl could make their angels out of tapioca powder. More recently, there's been talk of using the "warm snow" Toronto's IceGen manufactured for the Sochi Winter Olympics, "but unfortunately it is quite expensive," Weisbrodt says. More likely, he adds, is "this biodegradable paper kind of snow that comes, I think, from somewhere in B.C."

Even with all these good intentions, would Robert and Signe McMichael approve? Probably not. The contemporary, be it benign or aggressive, was never their thing. In 2000, the McMichaels got the Ontario government to appoint them as lifetime trustees on the collection's art advisory committee after convincing then premier Mike Harris's Conservatives that the gallery had strayed too far from "the spirit of its original focus" since becoming a Crown agency in 1965. Indeed, of the 6,000-odd works that made up the permanent collection in 2000, at least half violated that ethos, the couple said.

One piece that especially drew their ire - Robert McMichael publicly described it as "an eyesore"- was Babylon, a multi-part outdoor sculptural installation by John McEwen, positioned alongside the driveway into the museum. Made in 1991, the site-specific work was removed from the grounds in 2003 and loaned to the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie. There it stayed until new governing legislation, passed in 2011 allowing the McMichael "an unrestricted exhibition mandate," paved the way for the work's restoration last year in pretty much its original location.

Luminato Festival runs

June 6-15 in Toronto.

Builders soak up the Vancouver model
At the Urban Land Institute annual meeting, one of the world's hottest real estate markets is on display
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S6

Andy Yan, a senior urban planner and adjunct professor at UBC, stood in front of about 50 American developers and planners at a workshop this week and watched their jaws drop. He compared Vancouver's median household income, about $57,000, alongside the average detached house price - $1.36-million.

"They were floored," Mr. Yan says. "We have profound economic challenges."

Mr. Yan was one of the presenters as the U.S.-based Urban Land Institute held its annual meeting this week in Vancouver, with 3,000 delegates from around the world descending on the convention centre.

It was the first time that the ULI held its spring conference outside of the U.S., and it was more than a symbolic gesture that Vancouver is, in real estate terms, one of the most economically thriving cities in the world.

"It's taken me five years of my life to get the conference here, and I'm pretty proud," says local architect Alan Boniface, chair of the BC chapter of the ULI. "I lobbied hard, to be frank. The poster child for the ULI is Vancouver - it has real estate up the ying yang, so that certainly helped."

From a global perspective, Vancouver is booming, a leading example of a thriving foreign real estate investment market. But as Vancouverites are well aware - and Mr. Yan pointed out - there's been a price to pay, particularly in the form of unaffordable housing.

Of the positives, says Mr. Yan, we can lay claim to smart use of surplus industrial land. Areas that were once dead zones, such as the Olympic Village/Flats and Railtown areas, are now destination neighbourhoods, made interesting because of tech, design and artisan industries that have set up shop. While several cities in the U.S. still suffer the repercussions of the recession, they look to Vancouver as an example of a city that's at the top of its game.

Mr. Boniface is an architect with the Vancouver office of national firm Dialog, and he's definitely feeling the love. Dialog is the firm responsible for Granville Island, which is, unbeknownst to nearly everybody, the second hottest tourist spot in Canada, outside Niagara Falls. It is the jewel of destination spots, with more than 12 million visitors traipsing through Granville Island each year.

Dialog architects Norm Hotson and Joost Bakker conceived of the master plan for the peninsula back in 1975, transforming it from industrial to mixed-use with an emphasis on local marketplace, education, arts and artisans, and gritty work life carried out in the open. They wanted a place that didn't hide its industry, and they elected to keep housing at its fringes to avoid any pushback from strata boards that might oppose the sights and sounds of it. Instead, Granville Island is surrounded by dense condo development that supports its economy. It's the perfect example of complementary mixed-use housing, industrial and retail development.

It was a hugely winning formula, which lead to Dialog helping other mixed use markets get off the ground, including Seattle's Pike Place, Ottawa's ByWard, and Toronto's St. Lawrence markets, and in the early days, the Distillery District. The firm is also helping with the new Great Northern Way neighbourhood that is anchored by the new Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

Now, Memphis, of all cities, has come calling, and Mr. Boniface finds himself the lead architect on a massive one- million-square-foot mixed-use project there that takes its inspiration from the Granville Island model.

"We're intellectualizing what we did right there so many years ago," Mr. Boniface says. "We did the master planning, the food markets, and we've been overseeing the place since its inception."

Memphis officials discovered Mr. Boniface when he gave a speech there two years ago to 300 people, including city planners, impressing them with his firm's "urban magnets" model of planning design. The idea is to create certain key components that will draw people to an area. On Granville Island, the magnets have been food, and all aspects of boating and art, for example. The aim is to prevent a sterile environment, which comes about from massive chain stores and too many cool high-end shops. Once those stores move in, the neighbourhood goes dead from a cultural perspective. Instead, the firm lobbied hard to keep blue-collar work, such as Granville Island's boat makers and the big concrete plant. It was a relatively low-cost project that made the most of old, cheaply constructed warehousing.

In Memphis, a group is doing the same with an old Sears distribution centre that's been sitting empty and derelict for 20 years.

"The Urban Magnets concept has now been implemented through our city government, through the planners," says Todd Richardson, project leader for Memphis's Crosstown development project.

"I love it, because I go and sit in on meetings through the mayor's office, and they don't know who I am. And they are talking about the Urban Magnets concept and how they have to implement it. They have no idea where it came from.

"They are implementing it because Memphis is a very blue-collar place, where we like to get our hands dirty. It's not a place where high-rises and high-level expensive development is going to be a success. Memphis is one of the poorest cities in the nation."

Mr. Richardson toured Granville Island last year and also checked out Toronto's Distillery District.

"It's not like Granville Island is an incredible architectural gem. But it's a mix that makes for a user experience that you can't get anywhere else."

Mr. Boniface concedes that Emily Carr's relocation from Granville Island will be a major setback. But Mr. Hotson and Mr. Bakker are working to find replacement tenants for the former campus, perhaps creative companies in the flourishing high-tech industry.

As he told the ULI conference Thursday, the idea is to plan these areas according to a specific vision.

"Most designers and developers don't think about things as cohesively, so it becomes kind of random, and it may not work because of that.

"Mostly, we want people to think about place making as a vehicle. I've spoken to all over the U.S. and Canada. And it's starting to get some life. People are starting to understand it. In Memphis they enacted a bylaw called the Urban Magnet Bylaw. In Nashville, the Urban Land Institute there is taking the idea and trying to apply it.

"So everywhere it lands, it seems to sprout a bit."

Auto parts: a good way to ride industry rally
These Canadian companies - two established players, and one riskier bet - are among the cheapest of stocks on the TSX
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B8

The auto industry has been slowly and surely recovering since the financial crisis, building and selling more new cars each year. That's been good for the General Motors and Fords of the world - and it's also been good for the companies who make the parts that go into the vehicles.

Two Canadian companies that fit that bill - Magna International Inc. and Linamar Corp. - have rewarded their shareholders, rising roughly 90 per cent and 70 per cent over the past year. And yet they're still among the cheapest of stocks on the Toronto Stock Exchange, based on expectations for their earnings next year.

There is a small Canadian auto-parts maker that's even cheaper, however. It's called Martinrea International Inc., and its shareholders haven't participated in the boom in the sector, owing to a recent sharp decline in its stock price.

The current environment sets up an interesting choice for investors intrigued by the sector: Pick from the two bigger, more stable players and bet on future gains from a continuing auto rebound; or wager on the much riskier Martinrea, and hope to generate even more sizable returns - if the company can get its house in order.

For the past 15 years, Martinrea has grown through a series of acquisitions, particularly the 2002 deal for Rea International Inc. that gave it the latter half of its name. With a variety of products, including an aluminum die-casting business set for growth as car makers explored lighter-weight vehicles, Martinrea was a full participant in the industry's rebound. By the late summer of 2013, its shares were close to double the levels of the prior year.

Then, some bad things happened. In September, Martinrea's former vice-chairman, Nat Rea, filed a lawsuit in Ontario Superior Court that accused company officers and directors and a former chief executive officer with breaching their fiduciary duties and engaging in corrupt practices. Over the course of the next few months, the company filed a counterclaim seeking damages for abuse of process, and Mr. Rea updated his lawsuit with additional allegations. (None of the allegations, by either party, has been proved or examined in court.)

In December, the company acknowledged that it will miss fourth-quarter earnings expectations due to litigation costs and operational issues at a plant in Kentucky. It also said it had discovered one of its Canadian plants misreported financial results from 2005 to 2012, which led Martinrea to overstate its profits by $10-million to $18-million in total.

The shares have regained a portion, but not all, of the 21-per-cent tumble they took on that news. But at Friday's close of $8.59, they remain well below their 52-week high and trade at a significant discount to nearly every peer in the industry.

Justin Wu of GMP Securities, who has never backed off a $14.50 target price for the shares, believes Martinrea's actions to form a special board committee to oversee the case and add two new independent directors "will help dispel much of the concerns shareholders have." New contracts from GM, Ford and Chrysler and a new financing package "give confidence that it will be business as usual despite the litigation."

Canaccord Genuity's David Tyerman offers a more conservative $10.25 target price, but notes it represents an enterprise value, or market capitalization plus net debt, of just 4.5 times his next 12 months' forecast of EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization). The industry average multiple, he says, is 6.5. He believes Martinrea can dispense with all the recent issues in the first half of 2014.

Peter Sklar of BMO Nesbitt Burns provides a contrary view, however. He cut his earnings forecast for the company, so when he uses the same 4.5 EV/EBITDA multiple that Mr. Tyerman does, he derives a $9 target price and "underperform" rating. He believes Martinrea will struggle for quite some time with a discount to the Canadian auto-parts makers, which already trade below U.S. peers' shares.

Mr. Sklar notes Martinrea, which carries a heavier debt load than the other Canadian parts makers, had problems at two U.S. plants in 2012 and worries "there may be a pattern of operational issues and equipment failures out of the norm." The accounting problem at the single plant may cause investors to question the overall accuracy of Martinrea's numbers, he feels. And the litigation? "Our concern is that the costs related to the litigation are likely to continue for some time."

His recommendation for investors is to look at Magna and Linamar; he has "outperform" ratings on both.

Mr. Sklar raised his target price on Magna to $98 (U.S.) from $92 last week on the strength of the company's investor presentation at the Detroit Auto Show. (The U.S.-listed shares closed Friday at $86.56). The company's new 2014 earnings guidance, revealed there, was a step up from expectations. The company also said that it would take advantage of its nearly debt-free balance sheet by borrowing more. Mr. Sklar says the company should take on somewhere between $1-billion and $2.5-billion in debt and use it for dividends, deals, higher levels of growth, or share buybacks.

Linamar, he says, should be able to maintain its strong margins through 2014 (its EBITDA margin is nearly twice Magna's and Martinrea's). It should also post superior growth because it focuses on engine and transmission parts, areas that will benefit as the manufacturers design new transmissions that meet stricter fuel economy standards. His target price is $46, which seemed more aggressive before Linamar went on a run of more than 20 per cent over the past two months. (It closed Friday at $43.02 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.)

You might say the buy case for Magna and Linamar isn't missing quite as many parts as Martinrea's.

Magna Int'l (MG)

Close: $95.95, down $1.95

Linamar (LNR)

Close: $43.02, down $1.21


Close: $8.59, up 1¢


Martinrea offers the potential for a bigger gain than its larger Canadian peers.


Linamar Corp. ..................................$2,888.........................$3,426...............$192..............12.7........0.7%


Magna International Inc. ...................21,831........................37,513..............1,619..............12............1.4


Martinrea International Inc. ...................716...........................3,069....................62................7.3........1.4


Currency figures in thousands of dollars

Revenue and net income for last 12 months



Mill invested in production, not safety
WorkSafeBC concludes safety committee overlooked the sawdust problems at Lakeland
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

VICTORIA -- The owners of the Lakeland sawmill in Prince George invested millions of dollars in recent years to boost production, but didn't put the same effort into safety measures, an investigation into the explosion that killed two workers has concluded.

Greg Stewart, president of the company that owns Lakeland Mills, said Tuesday his company will embrace a culture of safety when a new replacement mill opens this fall, but maintained management "did everything reasonable to ensure our mill was safe."

The WorkSafeBC investigation noted there had been five fires involving sawdust at the mill in the months before the incident - including one the same day a dust-fuelled explosion flattened the Babine Forest Products sawmill in Burns Lake, killing two workers at that facility. There were known problems with the dust collection system, and numerous violations of the safety standards for electrical equipment.

Money was being spent on upgrades, but the priority was on producing more lumber. WorkSafeBC found that the mill had expanded its production capabilities, but the waste conveyors for those new systems were not installed. "There had been little work done on the sawmill dust collection system and the problems that this wood waste was causing," the investigation said.

The mill's own safety committee overlooked the problems, the investigation found.

"The accumulation of sawdust and the urgent need for its removal appears to have gone unnoticed in these inspections," the report says. "Dust was permitted to accumulate even in plain sight ... Some workers may have become complacent, whereas others stated that they were tired of complaining about it as nothing was ever done."

But WorkSafeBC's own inspections also glossed over the dust problem. On Feb. 3, 2012, a Lakeland employee anonymously called the agency to complain about excessive sawdust buildup on horizontal surfaces in the mill. The whistleblower said he was concerned about it "turning into the next Burns Lake sawmill." WorkSafeBC's inspectors, however, found no reason for alarm, and no violation orders were issued.

On Monday, the Criminal Justice Branch announced the company will face no charges in connection with the deaths of Glenn Roche and Al Little. Crown Counsel found that WorkSafeBC's failure to warn the company about the explosive risk of sawdust blunted the chances of a successful prosecution - a key reason no charges were laid.

Mr. Stewart welcomed the Crown's decision, saying it is impossible to pin the blame on one person or entity. However, he said the the company "failed the expectations" of its workers to keep them safe, and said he is "eternally sorry" for the deaths and injuries that occurred at his mill two years ago.

At a news conference in Prince George, he acknowledged the incident has undermined confidence in the company's safety record, which he said has always been central to operations. He said when the new mill opens, "we are going to make sure they understand they are safe, and they can refuse work if they are unsafe."

But Steve Hunt, regional president of the United Steelworkers' union, said the failure to bring forward charges in either of the deadly mill explosions demands a complete overhaul of the province's worker protection system that is failing in its primary task.

"You need very strong regulations that are prescriptive and enforced and that didn't happen here," he said. He added that WorkSafeBC should not be trusted to handle investigations into serious injuries and deaths in the workplace - something that should be left to the RCMP.

NDP Leader Adrian Dix, who met Tuesday with the injured workers and families of the workers who were killed at Lakeland, dismissed the government's promise to revamp WorkSafeBC, with a new administrator to look at a new structure to improve prevention efforts and investigations. Mr. Dix said that the government wants to "tinker" to avoid a public inquiry that might expose its own role in reducing workplace safety to ease the regulatory burden for employers.

"This isn't in any way sufficient," he said. "WorkSafe gets a tip about sawdust and nothing happens? There was clearly a policy decision not to deal with dust. And they don't want an independent assessment of that."



Jan. 19, 2012: A fire breaks out at Lakeland Mills Ltd. in Prince George. An equipment malfunction has caused sparks, which set fire to sawdust situated on a headrig. No workers are injured, though one describes a "big ball of flame." Fires are not infrequent at sawmills and at Lakeland they date back as far as 1999.

Jan. 22, 2012: An explosion at the Babine sawmill in Burns Lake kills two workers and injures 19.

Feb. 3, 2012: An anonymous Lakeland worker calls WorkSafeBC to complain about excessive buildup of sawdust. The worker expresses concern the sawdust will turn "[Lakeland] into the next Burns Lake."

Feb. 6, 2012: Two WorkSafeBC officers attend Lakeland to investigate the complaint. One says there does not appear to be excessive dust and the situation does not call for issuing an order. The other officer says Lakeland is a clean mill in comparison to other operations.

April 23, 2012: An explosion at Lakeland kills two workers and injures 22 more. In the five years before the explosion, WorkSafeBC has cited Lakeland for 15 violations, but none were related to sawdust.

Nov. 29, 2012: WorkSafeBC announces it will prepare and forward a report on potential charges to the Crown.

Jan. 10, 2014: The Crown announces it will not approve charges in the Burns Lake explosion and points to a botched WorkSafeBC investigation.

Feb. 19, 2014: WorkSafeBC formally submits its Lakeland report to the Crown. It recommends four charges, two under the Workers Compensation Act (failing to ensure the health and safety of workers, and failing to remedy hazardous workplace conditions), and two under Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (failing to prevent the hazardous accumulation of material, and failing to safely remove combustible dust). The maximum cumulative fine is $2.6-million. There is no possibility of a prison term.

April 14, 2014: The Crown announces it will not approve charges in the Lakeland explosion. It says there is not a substantial likelihood of conviction, and that Lakeland would likely succeed on a defence of due diligence since WorkSafeBC's own officers hadn't flagged a risk.

The Crown says the manner in which WorkSafeBC conducted parts of its investigation likely would have rendered some evidence inadmissible. It says WorkSafeBC left a number of areas unexplored, including whether Lakeland officials had direct knowledge of the sawmill conditions and likelihood of an explosion.

Criminal Justice Branch

A premium problem
Insurers and critics agree Ontario's system is 'broken' - but are at odds on how to fix it
Thursday, April 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page D3

The Fraser Institute's landmark 2011 study on public-versus-private delivery of auto insurance in Canada concluded that Ontario's private-sector insurance regimen enjoyed the questionable distinction of being the most expensive in the country - a conclusion even more damning because the report's major takeaway was the overall superiority of the private system in other parts of Canada.

The Ontario government's 2010 reforms to private insurance were supposed to address the system's problems - high premiums, fraud, over-regulation, a punitive cost structure - but have they? As it stands "post-reform," the insurance industry and many of its major stakeholders are in a state of undeclared war. And the government is caught in the middle, dodging volleys of angry rhetoric from opposing sides.

Ontario's private auto insurance industry is a train wreck. "When we concluded our study, Ontario had the most expensive system in the country due to regulatory severity and massive fraud," says Emrul Hasan, an economics instructor at Vancouver's Simon Fraser University and one of the author's of the Fraser study.

Another out-of-province expert is even more frank. "Insurance company margins have increased incredibly over the last decade," says British Columbia-based Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers' Association of Canada. "The companies are making a lot of money and people are getting less benefits ... to be perfectly honest, I don't know how you're going to fix Ontario."

The battle lines are clearly drawn between The Industry and The Stakeholders, but who is manning the barricades? Leading the charge for the insurance industry is the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), one of the savviest and best-financed lobby groups in the country. On the other side are the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA), representing lawyers who negotiate and litigate for accident victims, and the Fair Associations for Victims of Accident Insurance Reform (FAIR), the victims' lobby group.

This standoff was borne out of the 2010 reforms that generated billions of savings for the industry - and the targeted 15-per-cent reduction in premiums that the NDP secured from a minority Liberal government in the 2013 budget as part of the price for its ongoing legislative support. The industry loved the former and is less enthusiastic about the latter; vice versa for accident victims and trial lawyers. The 2013 reductions were meant to address issues pinpointed by reports such as Fraser's, notably excessively expensive premiums. To date, rates have gone down just 4.66 per cent.

But the story doesn't end there. Insurers demanded, and received, a pound of flesh for their lost revenue. Benefits for minor injuries were slashed from $30,000 to $3,500, deductibles were ratcheted up to $30,000 to deter litigating contested claims. And here's the nut of the problem: 80 per cent of accident claims are deemed to fall within the minor injury guidelines, with its small cap. Unsurprisingly, accident victims pushed back. There's a backlog of more than 30,000 accident claims in mediation and a further 16,000 in compulsory arbitration. Even the IBC admits the status quo is a mess.

"What is clear is that the system we have today, and what the government is trying to fix, is a system that is broken," says Ralph Palumbo, the insurance lobby's Ontario vice-president. How to fix it is tricky because the industry and some of its key stakeholders are at loggerheads.

Victims believe the insurance industry is making out like proverbial bandits. "They made over $2-billion after the 2010 cuts," says OTLA president Charles Gluckstein. But Palumbo says it's impossible to ask for a massive reduction in rates (insurance company revenue) without looking at the cost side of the equation. "Otherwise it's not sustainable," he says. To critics who argue the industry made billions in the wake of the 2010 reforms, Palumbo says poppycock. "If you say it long enough, people start to believe it," he says. He cites two commissioned actuarial studies that claim auto insurers' return on equity hovers between 3.9 and 4.9 per cent. "Compared to the banks in the high-teens - say, around 17 per cent - that's pretty modest, though some observers claim it's as high as 25 per cent, which is ridiculous. All our critics ever talk about is the benefit side, never the cost side. And it's a little tiring, and tiresome, coming from guys who are enriching themselves from the system."

Palumbo is referring to the trial lawyers, and it should come as no surprise that they don't buy the argument about the industry's relative penury.

"The government is at the mercy of the industry and their view of their profits," says Gluckstein. "That's why the transparency aspect of the 2010 reforms is so vital because independent auditors will investigate the profits of the insurance industry."

As part of its reform package, Ontario agreed to commission an annual Automobile Insurance Transparency and Accountability Expert Report. The first, from KPMG, is pending.

From the OTLA's perspective, the industry camouflages its robust financial health with accounting chicanery. "All sorts of tax manoeuvring, underwriting adjustments, carried forward losses et cetera," says Gluckstein. "The industry's view is that if you want reduced premiums, you have to cut costs. So what happened to all the saving they earned on the backs of victims who had to give up all their coverage?"

Gluckstein says that comedian Rick Mercer brilliantly captured the present stalemate in one of his epic CBC rants: "We are your insurance company, we will take your premiums but if you have a claim, we will give you nothing - that's how it works."

Caught in the middle are accident victims. Part of the problem, says FAIR's Rhona DesRoches, is the public's relative disengagement and passivity on the issue. Maybe that's not surprising: Ontario has nine million drivers but only 60,000 accident victims.

"No one ever thinks they'll be in an accident, that it will happen to them," DesRoches said. "Until they are and it does."



ProvinceAverage Annual Premium
New Brunswick$728
Nova Scotia$736
British Columbia$1,113


Friday, April 18, 2014


An article on automobile insurance in Thursday's Drive section refers to a backlog of 30,000 accident cases in mediation. The backlog has been cleared by a government-appointed consultant, however 16,000 cases remain in non-compulsory arbitration.

Harper tells state funeral that his former finance minister 'sacrificed himself' for his country; family members pay tribute, with son saying, 'He showed me what it takes to be a man'
Thursday, April 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

TORONTO -- Stephen Harper bid a final goodbye to a central player in his eight-year-old government, delivering a tearful and highly personal eulogy to Jim Flaherty that shed new light on the partnership that steered Canada through tough economic times.

He revealed that Mr. Flaherty, who suffered health problems in recent years, had wanted to quit in 2010 but stuck to the finance minister's job because he wanted to balance the books before leaving - a stubbornness the Prime Minister suggested had cost him physically.

"He believed he had taken on a responsibility for all of our families, not just his own and he was prepared to make sacrifices - ultimately, although he did not know it, to sacrifice himself," Mr. Harper told a crowd of more than 1,800 at St. James Cathedral in Toronto.

Mr. Flaherty died April 10 of an apparent heart attack only weeks after announcing he was leaving the Finance portfolio and politics for private life. He was given a state funeral Wednesday that attracted former prime ministers and dignitaries.

Mr. Flaherty's wife, Christine Elliott, and two of their three sons - Quinn and Galen - paid tribute to their father's hard-driving personality, which saw him work as hard in public life as he did raising a family.

"Dad, I love you. We love you," said Quinn Flaherty, who was flanked by his mother and brothers. "Put your feet up, lay your head back, close your eyes and relax. We will take it from here."

Ms. Elliott recalled first meeting her husband when they worked at the same law firm. That first day they spoke, she said, he barely looked up from his work.

"That was Jim: driven, intense, a perfectionist," she said. "He was the most intelligent man I ever met and his clarity of thought was unparalleled."

Partly inspired by his son John, who has a developmental disability, Mr. Flaherty cared about helping people of differing abilities. Even as he was working to balance the books in Ottawa, he and Ms. Elliott helped set up the Abilities Centre in Whitby, Ont.

He was close with his sons, she said, recalling the many times he would bond with John at live sporting events.

"Jim wanted to make a difference in people's lives - that's why he entered public life," Ms. Elliott said. "He wanted to make sure that everyone, regardless of their varying abilities, have the chance to live happy lives of purpose and dignity."

Mr. Harper, for his part, used an 18-minute address that was by turns poignant, funny and sad to offer Canadians a glimpse into his relationship with Mr. Flaherty.

The Prime Minister said that his finance minister hung in the job despite informing him four years ago that he would prefer to quit were it not for the fact Ottawa's finances were in deep deficit.

"He deliberately set his own plans aside and put off his goals for his family," Mr. Harper recalled.

"And every year after that, without any prompting from me, the call would come and Jim would say, 'Prime Minister, I'm still worried about the global economy and we're not yet in balance. I want to do one more budget.' "

Mr. Flaherty resigned in March, shortly after tabling a budget that forecast balanced books by 2015, if not earlier.

In recent years, however, he suffered a serious physical toll. Mr. Flaherty was afflicted by a rare skin disorder, one that required strong steroid treatment with side effects that included facial swelling, bloating, puffiness, difficulty sleeping and significant weight gain.

Mr. Harper said Mr. Flaherty insisted on remaining as finance minister throughout. "And so he did year after year, work away on the next phase of the Economic Action Plan, even as, in the past couple of years, it became more and more difficult for him, and sometimes hard to watch, as every one of you could plainly see."

Mr. Harper also revealed he and Mr. Flaherty regularly locked horns about policies in private, even though they shared the same underlying conservative philosophy.

"On the specifics of the many and complex priorities before us, we often had, at least initially, different views."

He said their differences normally disappeared during budget-planning negotiating sessions. "When they didn't, occasionally, I imposed a final decision," Mr. Harper said.

"Occasionally, I decided he was probably right. And occasionally, I decided he was wrong but let him have his way, but I just got so damned tired of arguing with him," he said to laughter from the assembled crowd.

Mr. Flaherty was known for self-deprecating jokes about his height and Mr. Harper took a page from his former finance minister, offering an observation about the Whitby politician at his own expense.

Calling Mr. Flaherty a principled, yet "ruthlessly pragmatic" man, the Prime Minister noted he was combative and had a "quick and biting temper but also a "deep and gentle sense of humour."

At the same time, Mr. Harper said, even Mr. Flaherty's enemies admired and respected him.

The Prime Minister joked that he was jealous of his finance minister in this respect.

"That's something in this business, something I envy - I can't even get my friends to like me," Mr. Harper said to laughter from the crowd.

He also revealed a more personal side of himself as he addressed Mr. Flaherty's triplet sons and shared the pain of losing his father in an effort to console them.

"I lost my own father almost exactly to the day, 11 years ago," Mr. Harper said. "From that period, I remember almost nothing of what I said or what was said to me, so powerful were the waves of emotion."

But, he assured them, it gets better. "Once that passed, and perspective took hold, I came to appreciate my father's place in my life, probably even more fully and deeply than if he were still here.

"And it is all good. And it will be for you," he said.

Galen Flaherty said that of Mr. Flaherty's many titles over the years - from Ontario attorney-general and deputy premier to federal finance minister - his most important was father.

"My father was a politician because he loved his country. He was my dad because he somehow won my mom," he said. "But at the end of the day, he was my father because he showed me what it takes to be a man. He gave me an example that I will aspire to for the rest of my life."

Business acumen and a love of fine liquor
An entrepreneur, a professor and son with a passion for craft spirits created Dillon's Small Batch Distillers in Ontario
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B6

You could easily pass the unassuming barn off the highway in Ontario's Niagara Region and miss the alcohol alchemy going on inside.

Or you could see Geoff Dillon, an unassuming 28-year-old local, sporting a black tuque and working around the barn with his black poodle Sam.

Or you could look past the bottle he offers with its unassuming label and not get around to trying the gin he produces.

But you'd be missing the story of Dillon's Small Batch Distillers, operating out of that modest blue barn in Beamsville, nestled between Hamilton and St. Catharines. Running a distillery has been more than just Mr. Dillon's obsession since college. The business is also a blend of his father's and father-in-law's disparate interests.

Sitting in the distillery's simply decorated and welcoming sipping room, Geoff describes how his father Peter Dillon, an environmental chemist who teaches at Trent University in Peterborough, Ont., and specializes in pollutants such as acid rain, always emphasized to his children to do something in life they love. For the father, that meant continually experimenting with ingredients in the kitchen. In Peter's words, "cooking, beer making, wine making, all these things are just another kind of chemistry, in a way."

He's also a collector, amassing a selection of one bottle from every whisky distillery in Scotland. He's nearly there with 90 to 95 bottles, roughly 20 short of a full collection. This passion seeped into Geoff's own interests, he says.

On the other side of the family, Geoff's father-in-law Gary Huggins is a Toronto entrepreneur who has created and managed businesses in the technology and consultancy sectors including DHR International Inc. and Insight Business Consultants.

Even if Geoff hadn't married his daughter Whitney, Mr. Huggins says he has a soft spot for anyone so obviously following his life's passion. Both fathers have been working with Geoff since the distillery opened in late 2012, Mr. Dillon doing R&D and experimenting with flavours in a little lab built for him at the distillery, and Mr. Huggins handling much of the business side as chairperson.

Mr. Huggins, who still works in Toronto as a business consultant, pushed the younger Mr. Dillon early on to write the business plan, and helped bring in some friends to provide extra financial backing, topping off the money the family was investing. They expect to bring in more backers in the coming year as the young company grows. "He had this dream and he was very passionate about it, and as I learned later, his father was passionate about it. And I thought, 'My gosh, that's a great combination,'" Mr. Huggins says.

Among only a few notable craft distilleries in Ontario, Dillon's Small Batch has already cultivated a growing market.

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) sells Dillon's gins and rye in its liquor stores across the province. Williams-Sonoma stocks its bitters throughout North America. And the company's spirits can be found in most upscale Toronto bars, Geoff says. The company is now looking to make inroads along the Atlantic seaboard. On the cusp of turning a profit, Dillon's is anticipating a big year coming up, when its first batch of whisky aged the necessary three years - as required in Canada - will become available.

Geoff describes it all with a young man's staccato. And it's in the back of the barn with the towering distillery where he becomes more animated.

"I love every single aspect of the way it was built and how it works," he says over the gentle rumble and sloshing of the tanks and pipes at work. "We designed it with a German firm [distillery fabricator Carl GmbH]. It's a complete one-off. There's never been another one exactly like it. We designed it for exactly what we want."

Dillon's ethos is to use local ingredients as much as possible. The gin is distilled from locally grown grapes. Wineries in the region love this. Dillon's is buying some of the harvest the wineries would otherwise throw away. And instead of eliminating flavours from the alcohol to get a purer taste, Dillon's is all about keeping flavours in and adding hints of others.

Geoff points to the distillery's network of curving pipes angling out of the two main vats and tall vertical columns. "You see that stainless steel elbow? That open pipe? We have four different elbows up there, so every day we can climb up, move elbows around. Right now we're distilling right up to 94, 95 per cent alcohol. Tomorrow we can go, 'You know what? Let's move some elbows. We don't want it to get that high [in alcohol levels]. We want to make a gin, we don't want to lose flavours. We'll bypass both of these columns and it'll just be a pot still, we'll put some botanicals in the helmet and make a gin.'

"The next day, we want to do a pear eau-de-vie [distilled from Niagara pears]. We want mid-70s-per-cent alcohol. It's going to get us a smooth product that has lots of flavour. So we move some elbows around," Geoff says. "We've got so much freedom with this guy, we can do anything."

This is home for Geoff, although his actual home is an old schoolhouse on an adjacent property, which he is renovating with his wife, who is studying to become a family doctor.

After attending the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont., for a double major in biology and economics, Geoff held a series of jobs, all with the end goal of starting the distillery, he said. One year he worked in equities trading in Toronto, another he worked a harvest at a winery, all while gradually introducing himself to the Niagara business community.

"I fell in love with the idea of distilling, understanding the process behind it and how interesting it really is. I never really thought we would make a business out of it. But then seeing this explosion during university in craft distilling around North America, mainly in the U.S., it started to become more and more real." That's when he says he realized, "I think this might actually work."



Part one of a three-part series on entrepreneurs who have built businesses based on personal hobbies or passions.

Priorat may be the country's most expensive wine region, but you needn't spend $800 for a taste of its cellar-worthy offerings
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L4

Some things are expensive because they're famous. Priorat got famous for being expensive.

The little Spanish wine region, not far from Barcelona in the northeast, was a viticultural ghost town 25 years ago. There were vines on the parched, lunar landscape, but many had been abandoned by struggling locals seeking more fruitful -pardon the pun -work elsewhere.

Today Priorat is home to what is often cited as Spain's highest priced wine, L'Ermita (though the red usually ranks neck-and-neck with Dominio de Pingus from trendy Ribera del Duero). L'Ermita is yours for $800 a bottle when you can find it. Pressed mainly from the low-yielding, concentrated fruit of 75-year-old grenache vines, it was created by Alvaro Palacios, a dynamic member of an established winemaking family from Spain's best-known region, Rioja, far to the west.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Palacios was part of a small band of merry Priorat visionaries who saw gold in them thar hills where others saw misery. First among the five modern pioneers was Rene Barbier, whose name now graces a brand owned by the big local sparkling-wine producer Freixenet. But it was L'Ermita, with its impressive inaugural 1993 vintage, that put the place on the map.

Within short order, Palacios's dense, intensely fruity yet fresh and marvellously elegant red garnered gushing reviews, most notably from powerful U.S. critic Robert Parker, who immediately took to the oaky, voluptuous profile. As sharp a salesman as he is a vintner, Palacios began jacking up the price. Eye-popping prices sadly soon became integral to Priorat's identity and cachet.

Mind you, the wine is indeed handsome, and the region had a good backstory. Many of the vineyards had been tended as far back as the 12th century, when Carthusian monks founded a priory that gave rise to the name (Priorato in Spanish and Priorat in the local Catalan). Grenache, a key variety of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in nearby southern France, loves Mediterranean sunshine but also needs parsimonious soils to achieve satisfying structure and avoid the pitfall of simplistic, raisiny ripeness. It finds that discipline in the stony substrate of slate and quartz known locally in Priorat as llicorella.

Add a modern touch of maturation in fine new French-oak barrels, for vanilla-like richness and tannic backbone, and the resulting wine can be sublime and cellar-worthy. The largely grenache-based wines of Priorat (often blended with French varieties cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah) are versatile but particularly compelling with stews, roast lamb and roast pork.

Finding good Priorat for less than the price of a couple of tapas plates at a Spanish restaurant can be challenging. For that reason I'm impressed with several of the selections released last week at Vintages stores in Ontario. The products are joined by a few equally attractive selections from Rioja (mixed in below, along with a Scotch-whisky nod to Robbie Burns Day) as part of a spotlight feature on modern Spain. Nothing famous. But nothing too expensive.

La Perla del Priorat Clos Les Fites 2006 (Spain) SCORE:93 PRICE:$30.95 This is an ideal 8-year-old: displaying attractive traces of age yet still tight and astringent with cellar-worthy tannins. It might, in fact, improve with up to 10 years of rest. For current enjoyment, this ripe mix of mainly grenache with carignan, cabernet sauvignon and syrah measures 15 per cent on the alcohol scale and comes across with cherry, black pepper, incense and church-pew wood.

Mas Perinet Perinet 2005 (Spain)

SCORE:91 PRICE:$16.95

There are five grapes here: carignan (a. k.a. mazuela), syrah, cabernet sauvignon, grenache and merlot. The cab and merlot might have yanked this Priorat red in a French direction, but the wine is strongly Spanish. It's also showing its age, with a leafy, dessicated quality, which pleases me but which may ward off some consumers. The fruit is tangy, backed by a tannic spine and spice.

Planets de Prior Pons 2009 (Spain)

SCORE:91 PRICE:$24.95

The vines range from 10 to 60 years of age, comprised of grenache, carignan, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah. This Priorat red's on the fresher side of the spectrum, full-bodied and juicy with cherry-berry fruit and lively spice. Serve with pork loin or grilled pork chops.

Clos Gebrat CG+ 2010 (Spain)

SCORE:91 PRICE:$20.95

Clos Gebrat exemplifies Spain's capacity for fetchingly youthful fruit in a country sometimes criticized for clinging to old-school oxidized flavours. That's interesting given that it hails from a winery, Vinicola del Priorat, that -in contrast to most others in the region -dates back almost a century. Full-bodied and concentrated, the blend of grenache, carignan, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and syrah shows succulent plum, cassis, cherries and herbs on a supple body.

La Cartuja Tinto 2012 (Spain)

SCORE:87 PRICE:$18.95

A Priorat blend of grenache and carignan, it's juicy, with a kick of spice. Main problem: It tastes like a $16 Côtes du Rhône.

Ontanon Reserva Rioja 2004 (Spain)

SCORE:92 PRICE:$25.95

Ten years old and going strong, here's a pretty Rioja, medium-full-bodied and juicy, with notes of plum and dried cherry backed by sticky tannins and a mineral-like tingle. Leg of lamb would be a nice accompaniment.

Baron de Ley Gran Reserva Rioja 2007 (Spain)

SCORE:91 PRICE:$29.95

A whiff of coconut from the oak adds a pleasant top note, along with a hint of cedar, to the plummy, dried-cherry characters in this aromatic red. More leg of lamb, please.

Hart Brothers Finest Collection Aged 14 Years Single Malt (Scotland)

SCORE:92 PRICE:$119.95

Robert Burns, born 255 years ago today, would have toasted the modern Scotch whisky boom, which -if industry projections can be relied upon -is set to continue well into the future. Independent bottlers the Hart Brothers sourced this spirit, made in 1998, from Clynelish Distillery, which is about to embark on an expansion to meet anticipated global demand. That's one fine single-malt distillery, owned by giant Diageo, and a key source of spirit for Diageo's leading blended-Scotch brand Johnnie Walker. The classic Clynelish sea-breeze saline quality is in evidence here, along with toasty-bread, smoke and caramel flavours. It's delectably oily yet not heavy, even at 46-per-cent alcohol.

The Bank of Canada and beyond
Western's golden age of economics
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B4

Forget the Calgary School. The maverick campus in southern Alberta may still influence policy among Stephen Harper's Conservatives, but the economists holding the levers at the powerful Bank of Canada are products of the Mustang campus in Southern Ontario.

Last week's appointment of Carolyn Wilkins to the No. 2 position at the central bank - senior deputy governor - puts yet another Western University economics graduate in the upper echelons of the country's monetary-policy brain trust, joining Governor Stephen Poloz and deputy governor Timothy Lane. Together, they account for half of the policy-setting Governing Council. The man she succeeds, Tiff Macklem, is another Western economics grad.

All four are products of a golden era of economics at Western in the late 1970s and 1980s that made the sleepy London, Ont., campus a global hotbed for monetary theory and inflation research. A fortuitous combination of a young, energetic and talented faculty, an influx of exceptional graduate students and the burning real-world economic questions of the period came together to create a rich atmosphere for debate and discovery that produced exceptional work, launching a generation of Canadian economic leaders and building the intellectual base on which the central bank sits today.

"In retrospect, I think the department did catch lightning in a bottle," said Bank of Montreal chief economist Douglas Porter, who earned his master's degree in the program in 1984.

And the spark for this lightning came from two talented and ambitious British economists named David Laidler and Michael Parkin - who might have never ended up in Canada, but for an inflation crisis an ocean away.

In 1975, Mr. Laidler and Mr. Parkin, both in their mid-30s, were working together at the University of Manchester, and were rising stars on the global economics scene. Their passion was inflation, which by that time had ballooned into the world's most critical economic issue. They had established the Manchester Inflation Workshop in the early 1970s, which gained international attention for ground-breaking research. The young academics were routinely rubbing shoulders with the luminaries of their profession.

But their professional passion was also their personal problem. The inflation rate in Britain surged above 25 per cent in 1975; strikes were rampant and budget deficits were soaring. Britain's government sought to rein in wages - including freezing those of university professors. As a result, Mr. Parkin and Mr. Laidler were seeing their real income dropping by 25 per cent a year. At the same time, funding for universities, and their research, was drying up. They began looking for greener pastures.

"We were definitely pushed," Mr. Parkin said in a recent interview.

Meanwhile, Grant Reuber - the provost at Western who had been the head of the economics department (and would later become federal deputy minister of finance and then chief operating officer at Bank of Montreal) - was on a mission to turn Western into a leading school for economics, not just in Canada but the world. He and Mr. Laidler had crossed paths at the University of Chicago in the early 1960s; he made an offer.

And when Harry Johnson, the legendary Canadian economist who was a friend and mentor to Mr. Parkin and Mr. Laidler, convinced them that Western would be a strong fit for their talents, that cemented the move.

They came to a department that was a powder keg of young talent; Mr. Laidler and Mr. Parkin, at 35, were the elder statesmen on faculty. The arrival of the two internationally known inflation researchers propelled the school to the global stage, and the two new stars quickly became a draw for top-notch graduate students and researchers.

"Economics was very exciting at that time," Mr. Laidler said. "The inflation of the 1960s and early 1970s had generated a whole passel of new research problems for people to work on. There was Milton [Friedman] and his whole monetarism counter-revolution. This was generating controversy. The subject was wide open. A lot of bright people were attracted to economics."

The economics department thrived on a youthful exuberance and collegiality that would be near impossible to duplicate today. There was little age gap between the students and the mentors - they were a group of peers, both at work and at play. Mr. Porter recalled that on the department's intramural basketball team, three of the five starters were professors.

"There was only sort of 10 years between us and the graduate students," Mr. Laidler said. "There were lots of parties, and lots of sitting in the bar until one in the morning. We all had lots of energy."

At the core of Mr. Laidler and Mr. Parkin's inflation work were ideas that over the past two decades have become widely accepted, and today form the heart of policy at the Bank of Canada and many other central banks. They helped popularize the notion that inflation was a monetary matter - that by influencing the growth of money supply, via interest rates, central bankers could tame inflation. They explored the concept that specific inflation targets could be a stabilizing basis for monetary policy.

It all sounds obvious now; indeed, the Bank of Canada has operated with an inflation target since 1991. But in the mid- to late 1970s, all this was pretty radical thinking. Elected officials and public policy makers saw inflation as "a sociological phenomenon that might be contained through direct controls on wages and prices," Mr. Parkin said.

"About three months after I got to Canada, Pierre Trudeau was on my television telling me that inflation was being caused by trade unions and aggressive firms' pricing," Mr. Laidler recalled. "I don't think he mentioned monetary policy at all. I had a purple fit!"

Mr. Parkin and Mr. Laidler's proteges at the Bank of Canada face a different problem today; rather than runaway inflation, they are wrestling with unusually low inflation levels. Still, the country's ongoing lack of business investment is, at its root, a money-supply issue; Mr. Poloz's concern about low inflation boils down to the stability of price expectations. The issues debated at Western three decades ago remain central to Canada's current monetary policy discussion.

"Bottom line is that inflation needs to be well anticipated to deliver strong growth and low unemployment," Mr. Parkin said. "If Steve remembers properly the lessons of [Milton Friedman's 1963 book] A Monetary History of the United States and follows its advice, we'll be fine."

Everyone's a critic
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R18

Let's Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste

By Carl Wilson

Bloomsbury, 320 pages, $19.95

When Carl Wilson's Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste was first released in 2007, it garnered a flurry of well-earned praise. Although it was an entry in 33 1/3, a series of mini-books about individual records, and was putatively about the eponymous 1997 Céline Dion album, Let's Talk About Love doubled as a thoughtful, wide-ranging exploration of the meaning of "taste" - why we like what we like and hate what we hate, with Dion, one of the biggest-selling and yet most-loathed singers of all time, employed as a jumping-off point. Wilson, a former Globe and Mail editor, left few stones unturned, mining everything from French sociology to Québécois kétaine to his own divorce in his search for an answer. Ultimately, although he didn't quite come to love Dion's music, he became a more careful, compassionate listener. "I would be relieved to have fewer debates than over who is right or wrong about music," he wrote, "and more that go, 'Wow, you hate all the music I like and I hate everything you like. What might we make of that?'"

In the interest of what Wilson calls "taste biography": I was in my early 20s when Let's Talk About Love came out. I was primed to have just about any core belief upended, especially if that core belief stood to be replaced with something appealingly contrarian, populist, and rooted in rigorous social critique. A reflective, politicized defence of Céline Dion - I was helpless before it, quavering like a diva's vibrato.

Now, Continuum has re-released Let's Talk About Love, newly subtitled Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste and backed up with a swath of essays by other writers, musicians, and thinkers. Some of these contributions (author Mary Gaitskill's) are more valuable than others (former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic's). The reissue is an interesting exercise - at a time when technology is rapidly changing both the way we listen to music and the way we talk about it, it's worth pondering just what has shifted in the seven years since Wilson's book was first unleashed.

So what's different now? For one, some of the transformations he noted - music criticism's move away from "rockism" toward "poptimism," the Internet's championing of individual songs over whole albums, the decimation of large record companies' stranglehold over distribution - have only deepened. As Wilson points out, cultural consumers are now expected to "code switch" - to seamlessly weave between highbrow and low, "to manipulate signs and symbols, to hitch them up and decouple them in a blink of an eye, to quote Homer but in the voice of Homer Simpson."

In 2007, a rock critic defending Céline Dion was brave, almost unprecedented. Today, though, cultural cachet comes not from slagging Dion and praising some once-obscure indie band but from sly, counter-intuitive assessments of same. Lambaste Dion or Nickelback or Avril Lavigne at a certain kind of cocktail party and, instead of being met with haughty agreement, you'll collect a bunch of blank stares. After the Internet ended the rock snob's gatekeeper status, "being cool was no longer about what you knew and what other people didn't," the critic Alexandra Molotkow has written in the New York Times Magazine. "It was about what you had to say about the things that everyone already knew about."

Such omnivorousness - this ability to "code switch" - can quickly turn into laziness. "Part of the problem with anti-rockism is that while it usefully argues that a Britney Spears, Justin Bieber or Céline Dion should be taken just as seriously as a Bob Dylan or a Stevie Wonder, it is a huge leap to then treat the works of these artists as equally meaningful in the historical trajectory of musical output," the musician and academic Jason King writes in his Let's Talk About Love essay. "At its worst, anti-rockism becomes a poor excuse to relativize musical content and to celebrate the mediocre as if it were indeed artistically transcendent." Instead, he insists, when evaluating pop music (or just about anything else, for that matter), "you always have to ask, 'Compared to what?'"

Here, I think, is a crucial point, and the way forward for music critics and fans. If there is no such thing as an objective standard, then the best tools we have are the questions we ask. So, rather than artificially pitting Dion against a confessional singer-songwriter like Elliott Smith (to cite an example from Let's Talk About Love), we'd be better off meeting artists on the terms of their efforts. Does this pop song do what a pop song is meant to do? What about this black metal song, or this Ethiopian funk song, or this ethereal, ambient soundscape? Does it succeed or fail within its own limits, skilfully employing or updating or subverting its genre's tropes? Although taste will always be slippery, and genres will always be fluid, asking these questions leaves room for judgment without devolving into the rockist, disco-sucks model of music criticism.

Ultimately, it's not very useful, or interesting, to become a prisoner of your own self-awareness; we still need to like some things and dislike other things, without constantly wringing our hands about our own discursive privilege. Indeed, the "we" here is exclusive in its own right, referring to an elite subset of cultural producers and consumers with the time, inclination, and education to sit around fretting about all this stuff. Wilson's book is so good, in part, because it's a frank, conscientious call for this kind of criticism - one that's open-minded but still, fundamentally, critical. "You can't go on suspending judgment forever - that would be to forgo genuinely enjoying music, since you can't enjoy what you can't like," he writes. "But a more pluralistic criticism might put less stock in defending its choices and more in depicting its enjoyment - to show what it is like for me to like it, and invite you to compare." In other words: let's talk.

Drew Nelles is a senior editor at The Walrus.

Goalie troubles on the road to the Cup
Netminding uncertainties among intriguing storylines for 2014 post-season
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

Just as real estate is all about location, the NHL playoffs are all about goaltending. Epecially this year: So many teams started the season with one goaltending plan and, at the 11th hour, had to switch to Plan B. Things are so unsettled in Anaheim, San Jose, Minnesota and Tampa Bay that their teams may be starting goalies in the playoffs who began the year in other organizations or far down their own depth charts.

If you factor in Pittsburgh, where there are recurring questions about Marc-André Fleury's playoff struggles, or St. Louis, where the Blues acquired Ryan Miller at the trade deadline, the outcome of this year's playoffs could hinge on how those teams handled - or mishandled - their netminding uncertainties.

With a passing nod to Ken Dryden, who had exactly six NHL regular-season games of experience under his belt before he backstopped the 1971 Montreal Canadiens' Stanley Cup victory, here's a look at eight intriguing storylines for the 2014 post-season.

A welcome Bryz

Ilya Bryzgalov was on the NHL scrap-heap last fall after being bought out by Philadelphia, where he failed to stabilize the Flyers' goaltending. In October, he tried out with the ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers; a month later the Edmonton Oilers took a chance and signed him to a contract. Going nowhere, the Oilers flipped him to the Minnesota Wild, where injuries and illnesses to the goalies ahead of him on the depth chart (Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding, Darcy Kuemper) left Bryzgalov with the job. He was 7-1-3 in his 12 starts with the Wild, providing stability and helping Minnesota earn the Western Conference's first wild card.

Duck hunting

The Anaheim Ducks emerged from a scrambled stretch drive to land the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. But starting goalie Jonas Hiller has struggled, and rookie backup Frederik Andersen is just back after missing time with what were described as headaches. It meant that another raw rookie, John Gibson, made his NHL debut last week, played three games out of four and was Monday named one of the NHL's three stars for the week. The betting is the Ducks opt for Andersen, who hardly gets mentioned in the rookie-of-the-year conversation despite a sparkling record of 20-5-0 with a 2.29 goals-against average and .923 save percentage.

Will Sharks tank?

San Jose has a reputation as a playoff underachiever, but if the Sharks are ever going to win with the current Joe Thornton-Patrick Marleau group, this might be their best chance. Thornton, Dan Boyle and Logan Couture all used the Olympic break to get rested, and Joe Pavelski scored 40 goals for the first time in his career. But Antti Niemi, who was so good last year, has been so-so this year. Logically, the Sharks need to start Niemi in the opener against Los Angeles to keep his confidence up, but the hook could be quick.

Bishop will be missed

Ben Bishop is the Tampa Bay Lightning's MVP and the main reason they're in the playoffs, but he likely won't be available in the first round because of a left elbow injury. That means the Lightning will turn to Anders Lindback, who had a good finish after a mostly rocky season. Tampa Bay-Montreal would be a pick-'em series if the match-up was Bishop versus Carey Price, but now you'd have to give the goaltending edge to the Canadiens.

March of the injured Penguins

No team this season has endured a more devastating set of injuries than Pittsburgh. Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang and Pascal Dupuis are among the key players who missed significant stretches. Sidney Crosby was mostly healthy and the Penguins received another quality regular-season performance from goaltender Marc-André Fleury, though he faltered in each of the past two playoffs seasons (4.63 GAA in '12, 3.52 GAA in '13). Pittsburgh needs Fleury to rediscover his 2008-09 form, when he was excellent in leading the Penguins to back-to-back appearances in the Stanley Cup final, including a championship in 2009.

Can Toews and Kane catch up?

The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks looked to be mounting a strong title defence until injuries knocked both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane out of the lineup down the stretch. Some may see that as a blessing in disguise - with last year's four-round playoffs and their participation in the Olympics, Toews and Kane have played a lot of hockey in the last two years, so their forced absence might help them recharge. But it may also take time to get back up to speed, and Chicago's path back to the final will be a difficult one. Coach Joel Quenneville claims that both his stars are ready to start the playoffs.

The Olympic factor

The playoffs in 2006, after the last time the NHL interrupted its schedule for a European Olympics, were among the most unsettled in history: The top four seeds in the West all lost in the first round. Current teams such as Chicago and St. Louis had a lot of players in Sochi; the Blues, who work so hard under coach Ken Hitchcock, were decimated by late-season injuries, with Olympians David Backes and T.J. Oshie among the wounded. That turned the Blues from the sexy pick to win the Stanley Cup to a team that most view as an underdog in their first-round series against the Blackhawks.

Jarome Iginla as the new Ray Bourque

Back in 2000, nearing the end of a Hall of Fame career, long-time Bruin Ray Bourque consented to a deal that would send him from the rebuilding Bruins to a Stanley Cup contender, the Colorado Avalanche. Bourque didn't win in his first playoffs after leaving Boston, but he did the following season. Iginla left Calgary late last season under similar circumstances to join Pittsburgh, but lost in the third round. This season in Boston, where he signed as a free agent, Iginla led the Bruins in goal-scoring. Boston won the President's Trophy as the NHL's top regular-season team, and something would have to go badly off the rails for the Bruins to fail to reach the finals again.

'The thrill is in the hunt'
Wheeler and dealer puts 400 vehicles up for bid at auction
Thursday, April 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page D6

Montrealer John Scotti may be selling more than 400-plus of his collectible cars, but one thing he is not selling is a piece of his heart.

Emotional connection to coveted old cars and trucks is what Scotti leaves to buyers. Their yearning will fuel bidding for his vehicles at Auctions America's sale May 8-10, at Auburn, Ind.

On offer without reserve, all going to the highest bidder, are an astonishing variety of vehicles. The Scotti offering is the largest consignment of vehicles from a single Canadian collection ever to go to auction, says Gord Duff of RM Auctions, the Blenheim, Ont.-based global auctioneer and parent of Auction Americas.

Two Acura NSX are expected to command $25,000-$45,000, a Ferrari 308 GTS $30,000-$35,000. But American cars predominate. A total of 83 Chevrolets are on offer, from a Corvair to multiple Corvettes and enough Impalas to sate several prides of lions. A 1934 Chrysler Imperial Airflow is the prize of the bunch, at $100,000-$140,000. A 2002 Camaro Z28 is as low as they go, $8,000-$12,000.

Scotti's focus has been steely-eyed since he bought/fixed/sold his first Ferrari at age 23. "I've never owned a car, never had a car in my name," he says in a telephone interview. "Always it's business: In business I may have a car two days, a week, 10 days. We don't keep any car.

"For me, the thrill is in the hunt. I do 60,000 km a year driving to places like Goderich, Ont., on weekends, making five or 10 stops along the way."

Scotti's driving a Mercedes-Benz wagon his Subaru dealership took in as a trade. As you read this, it might be something else. He's always looking for opportunity.

He'll pay $10,000 or $5 million, he says. "If I can turn a profit, I'll buy it." The most he's paid: $1 million, three years ago, for a 1933 Duesenberg.

"Every car guy has a crystal ball, story, right? If only I'd had a crystal ball.

"In 1977, a friend calls, says he needs money and he has a Ferrari 275 GTB/4 alloy body, he's asking $15,000. I offered him $12,000, a lot in 1977, and we made the deal.

"I put it in the Globe and Mail classifieds asking $15,900, and the very first call, from a gentleman in Toronto, I sold it for $15,000. So, $3,000 in profit in three days, pretty good - but today that car probably would sell for $3 million."

At age 58, he owns 14 Montreal dealerships, including the John Scotti Collection that specializes in exotics and collectibles. He's energized now as older cars gain new currency with international auctions, yielding stratospheric prices. Duff says enthusiasts need to put pleasure first when making purchase decisions, then enjoy the consequences. "Buy what you love ... no question, that car is always going to go up in value," he says. The evidence is at hand.

A Ferrari 275 GTB NART Spyder sold for $27.5 million at a RM auction at Monterey, Calif., last August - reportedly to Lawrence Stroll, the Montreal fashion mogul - establishing a record for a U.S. auction sale. In July, at Goodwood, England, a 1954 Formula One Mercedes-Benz W196 raced by the great Juan Manuel Fangio commanded $29.6 million at a Bonhams auction.

But one needn't stand among the rich and famous to see old cars as attainable sculpture. Ordinary car buffs are emerging in such numbers that NBC Sports Network is covering the Auburn auction. Fox Sports featured the Jackson-Barrett auction at Palm Springs, Fla., this month.

And these Chevrolets, Fords, MGs and even Bentleys from Montreal are ordinary cars for ordinary enthusiasts, destined to be driven, not hermetically sealed in anticipation of another auction. They'll be seen at weeknight cruises rather than international concours. There are cruises where Ralph Lauren is worn, after all, and events where Ralph Lauren appears in person with his own cars. He's a better bet at RM's auction at Monaco than at Auburn.

Scotti grew up in Ville Saint-Michel, now part of Montreal, home of Cirque du Soleil, where Dingy's garage formed him. "The late John Dingman was my mentor," he says. "I started as a mechanic - I still wrench - but got into buying and selling cars, and drag racing, working for Dingman while I was finishing high school."

He loves drag racing so much, the memory of doing the quarter-mile in 8.08 seconds at 170 mph so strong, he hardly ever sells anything from his collection of 51 race cars, although one raced by Quebec legend Alban Gauthier was a notable exception.

Duff grew up in Chatham, Ont., and at 18, drove trucks for RM, going on to become a "car specialist," engaging with both buyers and sellers.

Duff spent last week driving his 1966 Shelby GT350 in the Copperstate 1000 rally in Arizona, for the third straight year, great fun and value in terms of contact with prospective clients. "It's 100 per cent relationships," he says of his work. "You don't keep up with collectors by telephone or e-mail, you go to see them, spend time with them."

A year and a half ago, Scotti ran into Duff at an auction. They already knew each other well. "Gord said, 'What have you got right now?' and one thing led to another, to the idea of one big auction," Scotti says. "I've known Rob Myers (RM's founder) since 1977, but Gord is a good asset for that firm, he was the key to this coming together.

"Normally I sell 600 classics in one year. With this, I can sell 400-450 in a one-shot deal, with the U.S. exchange rate 10 per cent, I'm taking advantage of all that. If it goes well, I'll repeat the auction in a year."


1967 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster

1966 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

1987 Porsche 930 Turbo Slant Nose Coupe

1987 Buick GNX

1969 Ford Mustang GT

1934 Chrysler Custom Imperial Airflow

1939 Packard Super Eight Convertible Sedan

1994 Land Rover Defender 90

1970 Plymouth Barracuda

Michael Lewis thought he knew Wall Street - until he met a Canadian who uncovered how high-frequency trading was gaming the system. The bestselling writer talks to Omar El Akkad about massive market mischief
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F3

LOS ANGELES -- Michael Lewis has a softball emergency.

Midway through an interview in the lobby bar of a Los Angeles hotel - part of a multi-week press tour for his new book on high-frequency trading, a staggering and possibly illegal loophole in the world of stock trading - he receives a text from a parent who coaches a girls' softball team with him. There's a game today, and his fellow coach has forgotten all the equipment.

Given the gregarious 53-year-old's role as perhaps the most famous decipherer of America's myriad financial calamities over the past half-decade, it is somewhat surprising to discover that this is what constitutes a crisis for Mr. Lewis. And he is quite content to let the other coach handle it.

Indeed, while his new book has shaken Wall Street - the U.S. Department of Justice recently announced that it is investigating the practice of HF trading, and a major HF trading firm, Virtu Financial, which was set to go public this month, has postponed its initial public offering until some of the chatter surrounding Mr. Lewis' book subsides - he rejects the notion that he's on any kind of anti-capitalist crusade.

"The misperception," he says, "is that I wrote a book because I wanted to blow the world up."

Certainly, the free market has been exceptionally good to Mr. Lewis. The one-time fine arts student at Princeton has had several bestsellers, and his books have been turned into blockbuster movies (Sony has rights to this latest, too). But the father of two teenagers and a seven-year-old is laid-back and warm, coming across more Average Joe than Superstar Author or Renegade Journalist.

Still, every few years, Mr. Lewis temporarily abandons his otherwise serene California lifestyle of coaching softball and forest walks to lob a grenade of explanatory journalism at one of America's hallowed institutions.

In 2003 he did it with Moneyball, the story of a man's quest to completely redefine the way baseball teams measured the value of their players. Following the financial crisis of 2008, he wrote The Big Short - an attempt to explain to the average reader the roots of the Great Recession.

Now, with Flash Boys, Mr. Lewis takes aim at Wall Street. Specifically, the phenomenon of high-frequency trading. That's what happens when traders find miniscule time and speed advantages in automated, computer-led trading systems - then game them to get ahead of their competition. For example, while another trader is still waiting for his order for a block of $100 shares to get to the stock exchange, an HF trader can use a digital advantage to speed ahead of the order and buy up those stocks; that forces the trader with the original order, in turn, to pay for any stocks they want at a slightly higher price.

On individual trades, HF traders might make a few dollars by exploiting this speed advantage - in aggregate, however, such run-arounds can generate tens of billions of dollars a year. And because it relies on extremely sophisticated software and expensive hardware, HF trading is essentially off-limits to all but the most powerful players on Wall Street.

But Mr. Lewis is not interested in the minutia of algorithms and network latency alone: His book is really a narrative about good versus evil. The baddie is a broken financial marketplace, in which HF trading not only creates an unfair playing field, but also a deeply unstable one, liable to so-called "flash crashes." The hero: an unlikely character, 35-year-old Brad Katsuyama, a trader at the Royal Bank of Canada.

Flash Boys centres on Mr. Katsuyama's discovery of HF traders' advantage and his outrage at what he sees as a rigged system - which prompts him to quit his million-dollar-a-year job with RBC to start a new stock exchange with a mandatory delay (thus quashing the capacity to play off speed) on all trading requests. He then goes to Wall Street's power players to try to sell them on the idea of more ethical trading.

"This Canadian guy was in the offices of some of the most prominent investors in America, telling them how their stock market worked," Mr. Lewis says.

It's a "metaphor" for the relationship between the two banking systems, he adds. With Canada - "very sane, well-regulated" - at the mercy of "all this crap" that happens in the U.S. The fact that it's a Canadian who sees how the market is being gamed?

"To have one of your guys wander in and be the new sheriff in town, that's kind of great."

But Flash Boys isn't just about power plays between the good and evil on Wall Street - it's about their impact on all of us.

"I think the most corrosive part of this story is much more personal," says Mr. Lewis. "I think there's a poison right now in our society and the poison is the relationship of the elites to the rest of the society, and it's because the financial sector has created a lot of perverse incentives for elites.

"There are lots of ways that rich and powerful people have advantages over everyone else. In this case what's peculiar is that it's literally built into the structure, it's systemic."

The part-time softball coach is quick to note that his problem is with the rules, not the game itself. Indeed, he is optimistic that the free market can solve the HF trading issue, as major Wall Street players start seeing the advantages of systems such as the one Mr. Katsuyama has built.

That said, Mr. Lewis is done with high-tech Wall Street (for now). His bedside reading these days is a tower of old census documents from the 1920s and 30s - research for a TV show he's writing based on the life of a depression-era stock trader. Convinced he's made an airtight argument against a fundamentally unfair market loophole, Mr. Lewis says if Flash Boys doesn't prompt change, someone else will have to carry on the fight.

"I'm done," he says. "This feels like an open and shut case."

Omar El Akkad is The Globe's Western U.S. correspondent.

Leaving the shadows
Opening Day at Augusta turns into walk down memory lane for golfers from famous families who want to outperform their predecessors
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


Let the U.S. Open finish on Father's Day, June 15.

Here at Augusta National, Father's Day - and Uncles' Day, not to mention Great Uncles' Day - was opening day at the 2014 Masters.

The first-day leader, with a four-under par 68, was 31-year-old Bill Haas, son of Jay Haas, a nine-time winner on the PGA Tour and in his own right a golfer who tied for third in the 1995 Masters won by Ben Crenshaw.

But it doesn't stop there. Jay Haas's other son, Jay Jr., has also played the PGA tour and sometimes caddies for Bill. Jay Sr.'s brother, Jerry, played the PGA tour, as did their brother-in-law, Dillard Pruitt.

Take a breath ... and then there's Bill Haas's great uncle Bob Goalby, winner of the 1968 Masters - sometimes called "The Lost Masters" in that Argentinian golfer Roberto De Vicenzo signed the wrong scorecard and Goalby was declared winner without the necessity of a playoff.

The Haases all owe an exceptional debt of gratitude to Bob Goalby, now 85 and happily pounding the Augusta fairways as he watches his nephew's kid challenge for the family's second Masters title.

Bob is famous in the family for something he claims he said to himself back in 1968 when, on the 18th and final hole of that controversial Masters, he stood over a nine-foot put that he desperately needed. We will use here the somewhat cleansed version Sports Illustrated went with:

"Step in there, you gutless choking [expletive] dog - and make this putt like a man!"

Bob Goalby handed the quote down for future use, and though Bill Haas did not say whether or not he had used it this Thursday, he did say "The putter kind of saved me."

And, rather sweetly, it was a birdie putt on 18 - Great Uncle Bob's triumphant final hole - that put him back to four-under and kept him in the lead.

One stroke back, at three-under, were three golfers of far more Masters experience: 2013 champion Adam Scott of Australia, 2012 champion Bubba Watson of the United States and 2012 runner-up Louis Oosthuizen from South Africa.

Scott had his game to four-under at one point but took a double-bogey on the par-3 12th when his tee shot found the water.

"I hit the one poor shot on 12, which obviously cost me a couple of shots," Scott said. "But very pleased to get off to a good start."

Scott said winning last year had him more comfortable at the start "than I've been in the past - because I didn't have the legs shaking and nerves jangling for six or seven holes, like usual."

In a moment of serendipity, tied in fifth place after shooting a two-under 70 was Kevin Stadler, son of Craig Stadler, the 1982 Masters champion. They became the first father-son combination to play in the same Masters event, though it could hardly be said they played at all the same. The elder Stadler ballooned to an 82.

"I'll take two-under all day every day for the rest of my life," said the son.

"I played like a moron," said the father. "My whole game stinks."

Others at two-under included first-timer Johnny Walker, fellow Americans Gary Woodland and Brandt Snedeker, South Korean K. J. Choi and Sweden's Jonas Blixt, who says he was a much better hockey player but kept playing golf instead of working out in summer.

At one point the 29-year-old Blixt was also at four-under but faltered over the final four holes and lipped out a par putt on 18 for his 70.

Like all players, Blixt found Augusta difficult, something that can only increase as the sun hardens the greens and pin placements become increasingly difficult.

"Every single shot can be the best shot of your life," Blixt said, "and every single shot can be the worst shot of your life."

At one-under par was Rory McIlroy, the popular Northern Ireland golfer whose final-round meltdown cost him the 2011 Masters title.

"The greens are firming up," McIlroy said. "The wind was all over the place. Anything under par today was a good score."

Also at one-under 71 was perennial patrons' favourite Fred Couples, 54 years old and 22 years removed from his own Masters victory. With all the emphasis on youth at this tournament - 24 golfers playing their first Masters - there has been much speculation that this year's green jacket may go to someone in his 20s.

"Can a 50-year-old win here?" Couples asked after his round. "I think so."

Can a 20-year-old, though? Jordan Spieth was only 19 last year when he became the youngest PGA winner in 82 years. If he were to win at Augusta, the now-20-year-old would beat Tiger Woods, who won his first at 21 years, three months. Woods, of course, has had to skip this tournament following back surgery.

Speith began with promise, shooting a one-under-par 71.

Canada's Mike Weir, the 2003 Masters champions, finished with a one-over-par 73.

"It's a brute of a course," said Weir, who was fighting a bad cold, "a long, tough golf course. Anywhere around par is good.

"I'd have loved to be a couple better. I could have been a few better, but still a nice little round."

The same could not, unfortunately, be said for the only other Canadian in the field, Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., who was playing in his very first Masters.

DeLaet was six over through his opening nine and ended up with an eight-over-par 80.

"It just exposed me," DeLaet said of the famous course. "It was tough. I got on the wrong side of the hole a few times.

"I just got behind the eight-ball early and wasn't sharp by any means."

DeLaet will now be hard-pressed to make Friday's cut for weekend play. "It might be a total beast tomorrow, who knows?" he said with a smile.

"I had a great time out there - I mean, this is the Masters."

It 'is going to be smaller, it's going to be faster, it's going to be engaging,' says Heather Conway, the face of the new CBC
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A8

Nothing focuses the mind like a crisis.

That seemed hold true for Heather Conway, the executive vice-president of English-language services at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, on Friday morning, less than 24 hours after helping break the news to employees that 657 of them will be laid off to deal with a $130-million budgetary shortfall.

"Obviously, it's sobering," she said in an interview. "At the same time, inasmuch as I'm very aware of the size of the challenge, I'm not daunted by it, because I think that, now that I've had a chance to get to know the team a little bit, and the capabilities here, I think we can figure out and reimagine a future for the CBC that can be engaging and compelling for Canadians."

Ms. Conway is an unconventional choice to be the face of the new CBC, a newcomer who has little time to not only reimagine but reinvent. On Thursday afternoon, Ms. Conway's boss, Hubert Lacroix, the president and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada, told staff that the new round of cuts - the third since 2009 - will be noticed by viewers and listeners. The twin pillars of news and sports will be hit especially hard, along with music programming.

If loyal audiences become disenchanted and wander away now, the public broadcaster could be stuck in a dangerous downward spiral. Even Ms. Conway can't tell you what the future holds. But she knows how the CBC is going to get there.

"If you said to me five years ago, 'What is your vision?' I wouldn't have mentioned an iPad, because they didn't exist. So it's very, very difficult for me to tell you, in five years we will have an iPad version of this, or an app that does this or that," she said. "But what I do know is, you have to create an infrastructure of an organization that can adapt to whatever it is. And that's a challenge around how do we think about ourselves, and our role, and how do we make ourselves as agile as we can?" In big-picture terms, she said, the CBC "is going to be smaller, it's going to be faster, it's going to be engaging."

And for those who feel the CBC's TV programming has been too conservative, Ms. Conway promised this: "I think we need to start taking some risks and being bolder."

Strong words from someone who has never been a programmer. Although she is the effective head of English-language programming, her sole experience in the industry was at the TV production and broadcasting company Alliance Atlantis, where she oversaw marketing and communications. She was also an executive vice-president of corporate and public affairs at TD Bank Financial Group. Most recently, she served for two years as the Art Gallery of Ontario's chief business officer.

She joined the CBC in December. As an outsider, critics say she is not beholden to the special interests inside the CBC that could prevent it from being as daring as it needs to be.

Under Ms. Conway, the CBC will strike more partnerships with private Canadian broadcasters and its foreign counterparts. It will also work more with marketers to create so-called branded entertainment (a.k.a. product placement) shows. Some of those will find their way onto the daytime schedule. During a town hall on Thursday, Jennifer Dettman, the CBC's executive director of studio and unscripted content, told staff that programs airing outside of primetime needed to produce "a positive margin. Bluntly, if it isn't generating revenue for the CBC, it's not going to be part of the daytime schedule."

Other partnerships will provide programming but no revenue. In November, after Rogers Communications Inc. nabbed the NHL rights away from the CBC in a 12-year/$5.2-billion deal, the CBC struck an unprecedented arrangement that will allow it to continue carrying Saturday night hockey games. While the CBC will not pay Rogers a licence fee, it will provide technical expertise, staff and other in-kind contributions to the broadcasts. Rogers, meanwhile, will keep all the advertising revenue.

Ms. Conway said there might be other, even less traditional partnerships. She cited Vice, the notorious Canadian-born, New York-based media organization that grew from a small music magazine distributed free on the streets of Montreal to a high-energy globe-straddling news and lifestyle brand, favoured by millennials, whose investors include Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Vice makes programming for HBO as well as its own online sites. "I think we would be open to partnering with them," she said.

"Organizations like Vice seem to be resonating with a lot of young people around a lot of news content," Ms. Conway added. "Part of what they're doing is shorter pieces, they're doing a lot of digital pieces. They're doing it not as: Let's create a linear product and then make it digital. They're saying, Let's create a digital product, and then let's partner with - as they recently have - a giant global media organization to disseminate that."

But even as she promised change, she pleaded for patience, especially among TV viewers.

She would like to see more comedy shows, and "high-impact, low-cost reality shows" along the lines of Dragons' Den. But she knows the odds are slim of creating a buzzworthy water-cooler TV show right out of the gate. "There are 750 ideas for shows that are put up every year for the American market, and only about 75 or 80 make it to a pilot," she noted. "Of those, maybe 20 to 25 shows get on the air. And then, you know, a lot of those don't make it back for a second season. You're actually talking about failure on a staggering level to get the success that you get."

Canadian TV, she says, can't afford that level of failure. "It's not just a CBC issue," she said. "I hope in the Canadian industry we can give people a little bit of tolerance and a little bit of ability to be experimental in an industry that's changing at a staggering pace."

A student house party turns deadly
Every year on the last day of classes, University of Calgary students celebrate with Bermuda Shorts Day and lots of parties. Early Tuesday morning, five young people were stabbed to death, allegedly by an invited guest to one of those celebrations
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A8

CALGARY -- It was a last-day-of-school celebration with close to 30 young people gathered in the backyard of a northwest Calgary home. Many were University of Calgary students and some were wearing Bermuda shorts, a school tradition on the final day of classes.

As Monday evening came, most everyone moved inside the bi-level house to warm up from the chill and continue a party that was so quiet the neighbours weren't even aware it was going on.

Everything changed with the late arrival of an invited guest who police say didn't leave until he had stabbed five people, killing them all in what the city's chief of police called the "worst mass murder in Calgary's history."

Police officers, investigators and EMS personnel responded en masse early Tuesday morning after receiving a 911 call from someone at the scene of the tragedy, only minutes away from the university. As soon as they got there, police found three people dead and two others who would die later from their wounds. Four of the victims were men; the other a woman. All of them were in their 20s.

Police deployed their canine unit and quickly tracked down Matthew de Grood, 22. Police allege Mr. de Grood fled the house and threw away the knife used in the slayings of his fellow party-goers. The son of a 33-year veteran of a police inspector, he was charged Tuesday night with five counts of first-degree murder.

"He's heartbroken, as his wife is," Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson said of Insp. Douglas de Grood. "He asked me to please pass on to the families our sorrow and condolences. They [the de Grood family] are devastated."

How something as joyous as a school's-out party could turn so deadly was a question that wasn't answered Tuesday. It appeared there had been no warning of the attack, no apparent reason for Matthew de Grood to do what police allege - turn on people he knew and go after them, one by one, stabbing them repeatedly.

Police did not officially release the names of the five who died, saying only that the woman was 23 years old and from Calgary, while three of the four men were from Calgary and one hailed from Priddis, Alta. The men ranged in ages from 22 to 27.

Two of the men were identified by friends as Josh Hunter and Zackariah Rathwell. They were both part of a local musical band, Zachariah and The Prophets. The band had a release party for their EP on Saturday, said friend Suzanne Alexander. "Zack just always knew how to say the stupidest, funniest things at just the perfect time," she said. He attended Alberta College of Art and Design, she added

Mr. Hunter was "quieter, but had this great smile," Ms. Alexander said. "He would ask you what's going on in your life."

The other three were later identified by media reports as Jordan Segura, Lawrence Hong and Kaitlin Perras.

There were no reasons to think the worst of the students who were renting the Brentwood community home. Their neighbours never had to complain.

John Pruzinsky said he drove by and saw people both outside and inside the house at about 10 p.m. Monday night. Mr. Pruzinsky, who moved into the neighbourhood in 1976, said not many students live on the crescent and most people are homeowners.

"It's very quiet, very nice," he said.

The landlord who rented the home to the students said he had no problems with them. He wasn't sure how many people were living there - four or five - and he didn't have names signed to a lease. But that never became an issue.

"Every month I'd go and grab the rent cheques," said the landlord, who declined to give his name. "They never didn't pay. ... They were really nice guys to me. They seemed like they were industrious and hardworking."

The landlord added, "[The house] was nicely decorated for a 20-year-old renting a house."

Not one of the renters, or even Mr. de Grood, had experienced any prior run-ins with the police. The victims, in the words of Chief Hanson, were "good kids. They did nothing wrong ... At this point in time, we can't say the reason why [they were killed]."

Mr. De Grood was a former U of C student and had been working at a grocery store on Monday. He arrived after the party had moved indoors. Police allege that he carried a "weapon," but grabbed a knife from inside the house and used it against his victims. Chief Hanson described the crime scene as "horrific. It's extremely difficult, regardless of who the perpetrator is, to go into a scene like that with young people who have been killed, who've been murdered."

The news of the killings brought about statements from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Southern Alberta MP Jason Kenney, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Alberta premier Dave Hancock. All expressed their condolences. The University of Calgary scheduled a gathering Tuesday in honour of the five who died. Students signed a U of C banner when they walked into the hall.

"Jordan, you will be missed," one student wrote in a message surrounded by a heart. Another message read: "Lawrence, you were full of life + laughs. I will never forget you."

The university's Wellness Centre director Debbie Bruckner said students and their families had been coming in throughout the day.

"What we're doing right now is ensuring we're responsive to students who are feeling grief or trauma or confusion," she said, noting chaplains, psychologists and nurses are all available, as well as a meditative room. "It impacts the community because [the neighbourhood] is across the street from the university."

Third-year Greek and Roman Studies student Sarah Robb had celebrated in the sun during Bermuda Shorts Day, a 54-year-old tradition that now includes an on-campus beer garden, bands and DJs. In stark contrast, she said the mood at the university was gloomy on Tuesday.

"It's just a shocker. It's brought a shadow over the U of C," she said.

With reports by Tu Thanh Ha and Jill Mahoney

Made for war, condemned to peace - the curious case of the Jeep Wrangler
Thursday, April 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page D1

As I piloted the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon through downtown Toronto, an odd thought popped into my head: What would it be like to be a killer whale stuck in the display tank at MarineLand? Or a Bengal tiger condemned to a zoo cage?

The comparison made a weird kind of sense: like the killer whale and the tiger, the Rubicon is a highly evolved creature, with a set of special adaptations that allow it to dominate its chosen environment. Unfortunately, that environment isn't downtown Toronto.

Working through stop-and-go traffic on Yonge Street, I was struck by the ridiculousness of my mission: The Rubicon was outfitted with long-travel suspension, locking differentials and a set of 4:1 reduction gears that allow it to ford streams and climb sheer walls like a mechanized mountain goat. I was driving it to lunch on a road where the biggest obstacle was a badly parked Hyundai Accent.

The rational side of us knows that the ideal vehicle for our daily lives is a pragmatic, fuel-efficient machine that carries out our mission at minimum cost. But then there's our other side - the questing, restless soul that rebels against the relentless, deadening tedium of life. Hence the Jeep's appeal: the idea that nothing can stop you. We may have mortgages and a job in a cubicle, but we'd like to believe that if we really wanted, we could light out for the wild territories.

The Jeep Wrangler is built for journeys that most of us will never take. It is one of the finest off-road vehicles built to date. Because of that, it has also become a potent fashion symbol, serving as a badge of ruggedness for countless drivers whose most challenging mission consists of a trip to the mall.

With the possible exceptions of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle and the cowboy hat, no fashion accessory has ever been more misused than the Jeep Wrangler. Last year, Jeep built 223,000 Wranglers (up 14 per cent from 2012.) There are no definitive figures for how many of these are actually used off road but, according to a survey by J.D. Power and Associates, only 5 per cent of all sport-utility vehicles go off the paved road with any regularity.

This disconnect has always fascinated me, so when offered a new Rubicon for a test drive, I jumped at the chance. I've driven a number of Jeeps over the years, and have always found them to be interesting machines, with a distinctive character and classic, pragmatic style.

One of my friends has owned a series of Jeeps, and we've had a lot of fun driving them on trails down in the southern United States. At my friend's place in Georgia, a Jeep makes sense. He's surrounded by mountain trails and he operates a hang-gliding business - the Jeep is excellent for hauling gliders and reconnoitering new flying sites in the mountains. In Toronto, I am not exactly in prime Jeep country. My everyday driving world consists of city streets, underground parking garages and 400-series highways that reward slick aerodynamics, high-speed stability and effective braking. And now I found myself in a battleship grey Rubicon with Dana 44 axles and gigantic lugged tires.

Although Jeep engineers have done a remarkable job of taming it, the Rubicon is not an ideal vehicle for smooth roads. The heavy axles that excel on a rutted trail rebound on their springs like a pair of massive barbells - going quickly through a bumpy corner was like riding a drunken rhinoceros with a bad-fitting saddle.

The Jeep's mass and blunt aerodynamics also made for less-than-ideal fuel economy. The best I managed on the highway was 15 litres/100 km, and it was worse in town. And yet I found the Jeep deeply endearing. Driven properly (at moderate speeds), it was a rewarding vehicle, with a distinctive character that few vehicles possess. Looking out over the stubby hood made me feel like a battle commander, riding into action in the turret of an Abrams tank.

When I found places to take the Jeep off road, it was a revelation - I climbed a pile of construction rubble under the Gardiner Expressway, then headed to Durham region, where I drove along dirt trails under the power lines. No longer was I limited to the stripes of tarmac that society had deemed acceptable for cars - I was a four-wheeled Columbus, setting sail across an infinite ocean of dirt.

The Wrangler comes by its rough-hewn style honestly. It is the direct descendant of the Willys MA, a vehicle designed in 1940 for the U.S. army. Dubbed the "Jeep" by U.S. serviceman, it was renowned for its versatility and toughness. The Jeep could carry soldiers and supplies through deep mud and rutted battlefields, and became an icon of the Second World War - by the time the war ended, more 600,000 had been built.

Legendary war correspondent Ernie Pyle immortalized the Jeep in one of his dispatches from the front: "It did everything," Pyle wrote. "It went everywhere. Was a faithful as a dog, as strong as a mule, and as agile as a goat. It constantly carried twice what it was designed for and still kept going."

The Jeep has been refined considerably since Pyle wrote his encomium, and yet it remains essentially the same vehicle: it may have air conditioning and a fuel-injected motor now, but its slab-sided shape and flat, flip-down windshield would make it instantly recognizable to a 1940s G.I.

As I drove the Wrangler, I thought about Pyle's words, and the Jeep's place in the North American consciousness. It was built for war, yet finds itself condemned to a peacetime mission as a fashion accessory. And yet, it is also a genuine icon, with a style that reaches back more than 70 years. And when you finally get the chance to roll off the pavement and into the dirt, you will understand the Jeep's primal allure: you are a tiger sprung from its cage; Shamu, finally released into the infinite green kingdom of the sea.

Region steeped in history and hardship
Bas-du-Fleuve area has been in steady decline for decades as the young leave for urban centres
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A8

L'ISLE-VERTE, QUE. -- Before the blaze struck, it was the only three-storey building in town. The reason why is across the street, off in the middle distance.

The austere, rocky sweep of the St. Lawrence River is the defining landscape of the Bas-du-Fleuve region, one of Quebec's oldest, both historically and demographically. Residents of this stretch of eastern Quebec can be forgiven for thinking that tragedy and hardship take up more room in their region than most.

While the cause of the blaze remains under investigation and the search for victims continues, the shocking loss of life in the fire that destroyed the Résidence du Havre this week has shaken a community and resonated across the province and beyond.

The area, where Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain are said to have spent time, has been in steady decline for decades. And in a broad sense, according to one of the region's best-known literary figures, the hurt in L'Isle-Verte compounds a calamity afflicting large swaths of rural Quebec. Put simply: rural depopulation, especially of young people, and the relentless erosion of traditions and culture as the elderly die off.

"Our societal fabric is being ripped apart. It's being pulled from both ends; we put our children in daycares all day, we leave our old people in old-age homes all day, so we're left with what? A broken society," said Victor-Lévy Beaulieu, an author, screenwriter and polemicist who lives just up the line, outside the village of Trois-Pistoles. "It's an absurdity that our society has seen fit to create. ... We are bringing our elderly into death's ante-room, where we leave them to wait."

The average age in the Bas-du-Fleuve is over 60 - the median age is nearly 50 - and the region has a higher proportion of residents aged 65 or older (one in five) than all but two of Quebec's administrative districts.

"I'm not worried about the hollowing out of this region, I'm living it," said Mr. Beaulieu, who is 68 and once ran for premier as an independent candidate. "The local high school here was built for 2,000 students, and there aren't even 600 today."

The area around L'Isle-Verte, inhabited by Basque whalers as far back as the early 1500s, has the violent - and colourful - history that one would expect of one of the country's oldest settled regions: from the French explorers who first colonized the area through the decades of seigneurial rule, the Irish potato famine (L'Isle-Verte was a way station) and industrialization.

That history has spawned some of Quebec's grandest literary works (Anne Hébert's Kamouraska, a classic of the province's canon, is about an 18th-century love triangle that turns bloody) and inspired authors like Bealieu (whose historical fiction series l'Héritage tackled the theme of incest) and visual artists like Pierre Gauvreau and Jean-Paul Riopelle.

"People who live there are very strong, and its beauty in summer truly makes it universal. I think National Geographic once said it has the most beautiful sunsets in the world," singer and poet Chloé Sainte-Marie told Radio-Canada this week.

Ms. Sainte-Marie has deep ties to L'Isle-Verte - she and her late husband, the filmmaker Gilles Carle, had a house on the small island for which the town is named - and is an outspoken advocate for the rights of the aged. She and Mr. Carle ended up selling their property in 2004 to pay mounting health-care bills - he had Parkinson's disease - but she recently purchased a small lot where, she said, she hopes to live out her life.

"We live by the tides, not by the clock. We live on the rhythm of the tide, fog and wind. You feel like you're apart from the world while being, deeply, a part of the world," she said.

The economic decline of the Bas-du-Fleuve region isn't a new story. At the turn of the 20th century, many people in L'Isle-Verte turned to harvesting eelgrass, a marine plant used for padding car upholstery and insulation. The work, which could only be done when the tide was low, paid so well many who did it abandoned their fishing or farming jobs. The good times didn't last. Blight wiped out the species, and the people returned to the woods and their boats.

"It was an industry that came and went, just like that," said Daniel Gauthier, a forestry technician who lives in the L'Isle-Verte area and was visiting the local church.

Some of the catastrophes that the people of the Bas-du-Fleuve have endured had human causes.

Most of Rimouski, about 70 kilometres to the east, burned to the ground in 1950, when a fire that started with a ripped electrical wire in a huge lumber yard. Somewhat amazingly, no one died, although more than 300 homes, a church and a hospital were destroyed. In the same way that Hébert was able to turn tragedy into literature (Kamouraska was also adapted into a feature film by legendary Quebec auteur Claude Jutras), the Rimouski fire inspired a well-known stage play by Denis Leblond.

In the late 1960s, nearly 40 seniors perished in a fire at Le Repos du Vieillard, an old-age home in Notre-Dame-du-Lac, a village on Lake Témiscouata that lies about 40 kilometres from L'Isle-Verte.

"I was only a child when it happened, but in the past couple of days I've had people who were there tell me about the Havre fire 'that's us,'" said Jean D'Amour, the provincial MNA for Rivière-du-Loup and the city's former mayor.

Mr. D'Amour said, "We have big hearts, and that's something nothing can take away. When we go through difficult times like this, we link elbows and stick it out. This isn't anyone's idea of fun, but in the last two days I've lived through the most intense moments I've ever experienced. But we'll get through it."

With a report from Les Perreaux

Greece inches toward a comeback
Relatively positive numbers emerge from the ashes of Hellenic downturn, but many hurdles remain
Thursday, April 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B8


In 2012, when Greece was on the verge of bolting from the euro zone and riots turned the streets of Athens into war zones, little Hellas Trekking, an outdoor holidays company, saw its sales collapse as foreign tourists sought adventures in saner parts of the planet.

"Because of the strikes, the instability and the fear that the drachma was coming back, Americans and Canadians didn't want to come to Greece," said marketing director Loukia Leonidou. "We let go a couple of employees, moved to smaller offices and took half-salaries and didn't spend a thing."

The picture couldn't be more different this year. Hellas Trekking's sales bounced back by 30 per cent in 2013 and should improve by the same amount this year. Two more employees have been hired, taking the total to nine. "We're hiring and we've started to invest. We've changed our computer system and we're going to travel shows," Ms. Leonidou said.

The mood is newly upbeat at Greece's Association of Chief Executive Officers. George Ghonos, a board member on the association who runs McCain Foods's operations in Greece, Cyprus and the Balkans, said employers are on the verge of hiring again.

"At our last meeting for the first time, there was no discussion about job reductions," he said. "Gradually our companies will start to recover."

Employers still face horrendous problems, ranging from the largely unreformed public sector to rising taxes. On Wednesday, as if to prove the point that all was not well in Greece, the largest public and private unions launched a 24-hour strike to protest austerity measures. Athens and other cities were once again paralyzed.

Still, there is a sense that Greece is finally on the mend after the deepest and longest economic downturn since the Second World War. The Greek government apparently feels the same. On Thursday, it plans to sell long-term bonds for the first time since 2010, when soaring bond yields pushed it out of the debt markets and into a sovereign bailout sponsored by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

The €2-billion ($3-billion) of five-year bonds will probably be sold with yields of about 5 per cent. While that's still high by euro-zone standards - the debt costs in Portugal, another bailed-out euro-zone member, are less than 4 per cent - the level is a remarkable turnaround from the height of the crisis. In 2012, yields on 10-year Greek bonds were 30 per cent or more.

The five-year debt sale, if it succeeds, will be a huge vote of confidence in both Greece's revival and the revival of the euro zone's other economic weaklings, including Ireland, Spain, Italy and Portugal. But some economists and strategists think investors have become overly bullish.

"The Greek bond sale would mark the official end of the euro-zone crisis," said Nicholas Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy, a London debt investment firm. "Greece has been the most conspicuous example of improvement in the euro-zone periphery. Still, a cursory glance of the underlying fundamentals suggests there is a big disconnect between the bond markets and the economic and political reality."

There is little doubt that the worst is over for Greece. While the country's gross domestic product shrank 3.9 per cent in 2013, marking the sixth year of recession, the pace of contraction slowed in each quarter. The Greek government forecasts 0.6-per-cent growth this year. That's hardly enough to make a dent in the record 27.5-per-cent jobless rate, but in Greece, any good news is welcome after an era best described as an economic depression.

There's more. Greece posted a small current-account surplus in 2013, its first since 1948, and should produce a primary surplus - the budget surplus before debt payments - of 1.6 per cent of GDP this year. Tourism has come roaring back and manufacturing is no longer in free-fall.

The bad news, however, is ample. The economy is deflating and the debt load is rising. Public debt is now equal to 175 per cent of GDP, by far the highest in the euro zone. Unless growth comes roaring back and deflation is replaced by inflation, Greece may require another bailout or a second debt restructuring. Economic reforms have hardly been sweeping. "The public sector is still huge and we have to pay those people who are doing nothing," Ms. Leonidou said.

Greece's political situation is also shaky. The ruling coalition, led by the New Democracy party, has a bare majority in parliament and the junior partner, Pasok, is losing ground. The coalition could easily lose its majority before the scheduled 2015 election. If so, the anti-austerity radical left party, Syriza, which is rising in popularity, could force a snap vote. Syriza's near victory in the June, 2012, election sent international investors fleeing and triggered a bank run that almost wrecked the banking system.

Greece, in other words, remains a huge potential risk for investors even as the economy stumbles out of recession. "We've gone from paranoia to complacency in a worryingly short period of time," said Mr. Spiro.




Q3 2013

Germany 78.4%

Netherlands 73.6%

Ireland 124.8%

U.K. 89.1%

Belgium 103.7%

Luxembourg 27.7%

France 92.7%

Spain 93.4%

Portugal 128.7%

Sweden 40.7%

Finland 54.8%

Denmark 46.3%

Estonia 10%

Latvia 38%

Lithuania 39.6%

Poland 58%

Czech Republic 46%

Slovakia 57.2%

Hungary 80.2%

Romania 38.9%

Bulgaria 17.3%

Italy 132.9%

Malta 76.6%

Greece 171.8%

Cyprus 109.6%

Austria 77.1%

Croatia 61.7%

Slovenia 62.6%


Austria 4.8%

Belgium 8.5%

Cyprus 16.7%

Estonia 8.7%*

Finland 8.4%

France 10.4%

Germany 5.1%

Greece 27.5%*

Ireland 11.9%

Italy 13%

Latvia 11.6%*

Luxembourg 6.1%

Malta 6.9%

Netherlands 7.3%

Portugal 15.3%

Slovakia 13.9%

Slovenia 9.8%

Spain 25.6%

*Dec. 2013



The stories they tell
Tales of Toronto are all around us, just waiting to be noticed. Staring at our phones and living in the moment, we tend to miss the possibilities of the city's historical monuments. But when you walk Toronto's streets with a more attentive eye, the past can look more vivid than the present. John Allemang offers insight on six characters in search of a Toronto audience.
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M5

Alexander Wood

The dashing figure seen striding along his pedestal at the corner of Church and Alexander since 2005 carries himself with a kind of effortless style. Alexander Wood, a merchant and magistrate in the rough early days of colonial Upper Canada, looks extremely debonair and confident with his top hat in one hand and his walking stick in the other. But the plaques below sculptor Del Newbigging's graceful statue flesh out a more complicated narrative. While investigating a rape allegation, magistrate Wood decided to examine the genitals of several young men for evidence of their involvement - you can see the naked buttocks of one suspect, which have been caressed by passers-by into a state of brazen shininess. A whispering campaign about Wood's homosexuality reached a mocking crescendo, and he exiled himself from uptight Old York in 1810. But just as the War of 1812 broke out, he returned. In 1826, he bought property northeast of Yonge and Carlton - now the heart of gay Toronto, where two streets honour his name.

Sir Adam Beck

His towering statue, sculpted in 1934 by Emanuel Hahn (who also designed the caribou on our quarters) shouldn't be so easy to miss. It's standing there in the very centre of University Avenue just south of Queen - glaring up the avenue toward the provincial legislature at Queen's Park. The traffic hurries by, and almost no one pauses in the median to study this pioneer of modernity rising above a triumphant list of Ontario rivers. Through sheer force of will, Adam Beck created the public hydroelectric system in Ontario and the brash sense of prosperity that came with it. A populist bully with a passion for horse breeding (he also outfitted Great War cavalries with their mounts), Beck had an astonishing talent for overcoming the kind of status-quo inertia that says it can't be done. Important people didn't like him, but you don't harness the force of Niagara without being a monumental pain to the powers that be.

Edith Cavell

The moody bronze bas-relief standing outside Toronto General Hospital clearly depicts a woman who's meant to be viewed with reverence. Edith Cavell was an English nurse working at a Red Cross hospital in occupied Belgium during the First World War when she was captured by the Germans. She was charged with treason for helping Allied soldiers escape and quickly executed in 1915. It was considered one of the greatest atrocities of the war - her death fuelled recruitment drives and reassured British Toronto of the war's necessity. But Florence Wyle's sculpture, commissioned in 1919, quietly rises above propaganda's noise. The calm, compassionate Cavell is linked with the Canadian nurses, "who gave their lives for humanity" and becomes a symbol of the caregiver's desire to comfort the weary and wounded.

Alexander Dunn

Canada's first Victoria Cross recipient grew up near King and Spadina and is commemorated by a monument at the northwest corner of nearby Clarence Square. The discrepancy between the dog park's ordinariness and Dunn's outlandish heroics is extreme. This is a man raised in what we now call the entertainment district, who set the standard for bravery in the Crimean War's Charge of the Light Brigade. The bedroom-eyed Dunn was tall for his time and wielded a specially made sword that he used to cut down Russians who were attacking British soldiers isolated in the suicidal charge. Queen Victoria personally presented him with her newly created medal in 1857. Fearless in peace as in war, he ran off with the wife of a fellow officer, but never felt at home in low-adrenaline Toronto. And so he rejoined the army - only to be, as the plaque says, "accidentally killed while hunting in Abyssinia." Not everyone believed it was an accident - suicide, murder, whispers about romantic entanglements all surfaced. He's buried in what is now Eritrea, far from his condoland marker.

Robert Burns

On July 22, 1902, The Globe published an immense front-page story bearing the headline Honoring Their Poet - Toronto Scotchmen Unveil a Statue of Robert Burns. When you approach the northeast corner of Allan Gardens near Carlton and Sherbourne, you immediately catch the eye of the demotic poet who once beguiled the city and the world. Saturday is Robbie Burns Day, the 255th anniversary of his birth, and a dependable troupe of cold Scots in kilts will pay tribute at the statue before smartly retiring to a nearby pub. Burns is now such an icon of Scotland, rivalling single malts for symbolic potency, that it's hard to remember when he was regarded as the bard of all humanity. The statue in Allan Gardens, originally unveiled to the sounds of bagpipes played by the 48th Highlanders, was certainly meant to assert ethnic pride. But the lost message is how his rough, joyous verse once spoke to everyone - including Toronto's erstwhile People's Poet, Milton Acorn, who in 1962 was ticketed by police for leading a free-speech demonstration at the base of Burns's statue.

Sir John Colborne

The statue of the founder of Upper Canada College isn't all that easy to get at, which is as it should be. But talk your way into the inner quadrangle at the exclusive private school and you'll see one of those larger-than-life colonial potentates who tried to impose his proper values on our messy rough-hewn world. Sir John was a soldier first of all, working his way up through the Napoleonic Wars and leading one of the more successful charges at Waterloo. In 1828 he was made lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada and a year later he founded UCC in order to create an elite leadership class. As a member of the conservative, anti-democratic, staunchly Anglican Family Compact, he had a definite them-and-us approach to his fellow Torontonians, so maybe it makes sense that his stern visage is now sheltered from the rabble. But he was also a builder, the kind of tireless improver who transforms his province and leaves his name on streets and towns - he signed the charter of cityhood that turned sleepy York into booming Toronto.

'Profound despair can strike anybody'
In the wake of her sister's suicide, Miriam Toews found herself writing her way toward real-life redemption - again
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R3

If you ask Miriam Toews about the difference between fiction and non-fiction, she pauses, makes a few false starts, offers a thought or two, and finally dismisses the question. "All of these terms, I don't really care much about them," she says, leaning back into the couch in the living room of her home off Toronto's Queen Street West. "I feel they are a little bit irrelevant in terms of talking about literature, because I think so much of what we do is a combination - whether it's non-fiction or fiction - of truth and imagined."

It's a telling observation - Toews has just published her most autobiographical novel to date. All My Puny Sorrows is the story of how a Toronto writer named Yolandi tries to save her sister, a Winnipeg pianist named Elfrieda, from depression and suicide. The disorganized and frantic Yoli, herself in the midst of a divorce, shuttles to and from her Toronto house (where she has left an 18-year-old supervising a 14-year-old) and a psych ward in Winnipeg. Like all Toews's work, the novel is at times very funny, but the threat of tragedy hangs heavy: Yoli and Elf have already lost their father to suicide.

In 2010, Toews's older sister, Marjorie, orchestrated a copycat suicide: Twelve years after their father, Melvin, put himself in the path of a coming train near his home in Steinbach, Man., she did the same thing. In 2000, Toews had published Swing Low, a memoir in which she adopted her father's voice, in the first person, to examine a productive and loving life lived under the continual shadow of depression.

So, is this new novel actually fiction?

"It's a combination of things that happened, conversations that happened, but I call it fiction because not all of it is verbatim," she replies. "This is a cliché, but in fiction I feel it is easier for me to get to some sort of truth, some kind of more honest writing."

The honesty here is all about mental illness: Toews is well-acquainted with the real pain felt by the depressed, and the fear and frustration their families experience in the face of it. "For my father and my sister, they had struggled so long and so hard. I think that is what people don't understand," she says. "When Yoli says to Elf, 'Now, you have to start fighting,' Elf says, 'Yoli, I have been fighting for 40 years.' The fact they lived for as long as they did, accomplished what they did, had relationships, had joy when they did, is remarkable.

"The isolation, the inability to function, to feel anything, any happiness, any spark - you just feel dead inside. The psychic pain is as palpable as physical pain."

The anguish can baffle and frighten outsiders. In the novel, Toews has fictionalized the two sisters' career paths for telling reasons. With self-deprecating humour, the author gives Yoli a career writing pulpy teen rodeo novels, although she is now attempting a literary breakthrough. (It's something about boats, and doesn't sound very promising; she lugs the manuscript around in a plastic bag she is always mislaying.) And with thematic purpose, Toews has greatly enlarged on her sister's vocation as a pianist, making Elf a world-renowned soloist whose flamboyant Italian agent is desperate to know if a rapidly approaching tour will have to be cancelled.

"A lot of times people think that it doesn't make sense for people to be depressed when they have everything, a loving husband, a successful career, fame and fortune," she says. "I wanted to make this point that profound despair can strike anybody."

For their nearest and dearest, that despair can remain deeply frustrating. "A depressed person is often a person who will push others away. If you are pushed away, and pushed away and pushed away, you have to have an enormous amount of inner resources to keep going back," Toews observes, recalling a minister who, when most of her father's friends had dropped away, would simply come and sit with him without talking much and without making judgment.

In All My Puny Sorrows (the title is drawn from a poem by Coleridge), it is Yoli who just sits and holds her sister's hand and tries not to judge. She also debates whether she should help the desperate Elf make a graceful exit by taking her to a clinic in Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal.

It is heart-wrenching territory, and the real events seem perilously recent to fictionalize, but Toews explains that is how she processes life. "For the first two years after she died, I wasn't writing at all. I was grieving," she says. Recently separated, and with her children approaching adulthood, Toews had moved to Toronto from Winnipeg about a year before her sister died; her mother joined her soon after Marjorie's death. Living in separate apartments in the same house, Toews once described the pair of them as "refugees from a hard place, the past." But they successfully built new lives.

"I thought I would write another book, but I did not know about what," she says. "At a certain point it became pretty obvious." Writing became both a form of grieving and a path forward: "It was kind of a way of keeping her alive. It was the same thing for my dad when I wrote Swing Low all those years ago. It was a way of being with them. At the same time, when you are writing narrative, there is a certain distance that has to occur so you can focus on the story.

"When everything does seem out of control, writing fiction is a way I can order that chaos and restore some sort of meaning. I like the playful aspect of writing fiction. You know how it is when we are kids and we make up our worlds: You be this guy and I am going to be this guy, and we are going to go slay dragons. It is what my brain needs to make sense of things."

However you define fiction, Miriam Toews is going to keep writing it.

Sex in the Serengeti - it's really wild!
Spending a few days up close and personal with the animals renews your appreciation of life's fundamentals
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F2

Lions are the sybarites of the animal kingdom. When food is plentiful, they enjoy life. Every few days they go out and gorge themselves on a nice fat wildebeest. The rest of the time, they lie around basking in the sun on a big warm rock, looking as contented and harmless as your pussycat.

Also, they enjoy sex - lots and lots of it. One day on safari, we spotted an amorous lion couple in the southern Serengeti, a place as awesome as anywhere on Earth. After they had sex, the lady lion rolled over on her back and gave a growl of ecstasy. During the few days a female is in estrus, she and her suitor will mate several hundred times, or roughly once every 20 minutes.

Spending a few days up close and personal with the animals renews your appreciation of life's fundamentals. It's all about survival. Animal behaviour is entirely governed by reproducing, eating and avoiding being eaten. What's impressive is the variety of strategies the animals have evolved for accomplishing these things. Animal behaviour makes human behaviour seem dull and narrow by comparison.

One thing we learned in the Serengeti is how important the females really are. We'd just assumed that in the animal world, males called the shots. Nothing could be further from the truth. To take just one example, the vast wildebeest migration to their calving grounds - the most impressive animal movement on Earth - is led by the matriarchs. The guys just fall in line behind them. Elephant society is tightly matriarchal - an essential fact that was widely played down in the days when all the animal behaviourists were men. It's the oldest, most experienced female elephants who lead the clan in search of food, water and safety, and protect the family unit.

Female elephants spend their entire lives in the company of their mothers, sisters, daughters and nieces. Their family bonds are extremely warm and strong. The males are kicked out of the family when they're teenagers and become too disruptive. For the rest of their lives they hang out on their own or with other bachelors, inspecting each other's tusks.

The status of a male elephant depends entirely on the size of his tusks - the bigger the better. The biggest tusker gets the girl.

Unlike lionesses, female elephants seem to regard sex as, literally, a distasteful burden. They only mate every four years or so, which is probably a good thing, since having a 7,000-kilogram weight on your back under any circumstances is excruciatingly uncomfortable. Nor are they impressed by the male appendage, which, because of anatomical necessity, is S-shaped and reaches all the way to the ground.

On the whole, guys in the Serengeti have a tougher time than girls. For every male impala with his doting harem, there are a dozen lonely bachelors who can't get a date. The animal kingdom is full of surplus males - small-tuskers and other also-rans who spend their lives desperately competing for status and sex, along with aging has-beens who've been pushed out by younger and more virile rivals. For males, life tends to be nasty, brutish and short. Only around one in eight male lions makes it to adulthood. You don't get to be king of the castle without a fight. And even if you win, one day you, too, will be dethroned.

Of course, it's wrong to anthropomorphize these creatures. As we know, humans are so much more evolved than antelopes and lions that any similarities between our society and theirs are completely coincidental. Still, I couldn't help noticing that we, too, are plagued with more and more young males who seem to be surplus to requirements. We used to send our surplus off to sea, or war, or penal colonies in Australia. Now that those options are off the table, we really have no idea what to do with them.

But if you really want to see abject males, look no further than the hyena - one of the more unpleasant species in all of Africa, anthropomorphically speaking. Unlike the other mammals, hyenas never co-operate - they just compete. They're killing machines. And the females are totally in charge. They only let the males eat after they've had their fill. They are larger than the males, and come equipped with pseudo-scrotums and penis-shaped clitorises that are unusually big. For whatever reasons, hyenas are the most successful large mammal species on the continent.

The sex lives of animals in the Serengeti are as fascinating and baffling as our own. Who knew giraffes were so gay? Certainly not me - or anybody else, until recently. It turns out that male giraffes court and mate with each other at least as frequently as they do with females, and maybe more so. A definitive explanation for this behaviour is not yet forthcoming. No doubt Nature has its reasons, even if we don't have a clue what they are. The more you learn about animal behaviour, the more you realize that the intricate interplay between ecology and animals (even people) is more complex and marvellous than we will ever comprehend.

One day we came across four lions - three females and a male - sunning themselves as they eyed the endless passing parade of wildebeests. They looked stuffed. (For lions, the wildebeest migration is like an all-day buffet.) Our guide, Tim Corfield, who is a walking encyclopedia of animal knowledge, pointed out that the huge male could barely walk because of a dislocated hip, probably the result of a hunting accident. "Fortunately, he's got three females to hunt for him," he said. That lion king had beaten the odds, for now. But soon the wildebeests will be gone and food will become scarce. A coalition of younger lions will challenge him and kick him out and take over his females and kill his cubs. And then he'll turn from predator to prey. He will probably be finished off by the hyenas, just waiting for their chance.

Would you really want to be the king of beasts? Not me. No way.

The payout goldmine that is Potash
CEO has racked up $234-million in profits from stock options in his term as leader, with millions more to come after he departs
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, April 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B9

Departing Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. chief executive officer Bill Doyle presided over a remarkable enrichment of the company's shareholders in his 15-year tenure. At the top of that list is Mr. Doyle himself.

When Mr. Doyle moves into an adviser's role this summer, he will have accumulated roughly $400-million (U.S.) in compensation since he became CEO in July, 1999, we calculate. That includes more than $300-million in profits from stock options, both realized and yet to be used.

Many Potash Corp. investors who bought stock in the first decade of his tenure might have no quibble with those figures, as large as they may be. The stock is up roughly 1,200 per cent since Mr. Doyle assumed the CEO role, and at their 2011 high, the return topped a breathtaking 2,500 per cent.

"The majority of Bill Doyle's compensation is aligned with the long-term interest of shareholders," says company spokesman Bill Johnson. "When you link compensation to performance and executives deliver long-term outstanding results, the compensation follows."

Much of that return, though, has been due to the long-term growth in the use, and price, of potash, the company's key product. Mr. Doyle's option riches raise the question of just how much executives in the resource industry should benefit when the price of their commodity product, over which they have no control, rises.

And the recent woes of Potash Corp. stock - it has underperformed its agricultural peers, as well as the broader markets over the past five years - also illustrate a longstanding problem with aligning option-based compensation with stock performance.

To arrive at the figures, we examined nearly two decades' worth of the company's proxy circulars, as well as stock-sale records filed with securities regulators.

From 2000, Mr. Doyle's first full year as CEO, to 2013, he collected just under $14-million in salary and nearly $15-million in bonuses and other annual incentive payments. Stock awards and other long-term incentive plans yielded another $20-million in compensation over the period.

It is the company's use of stock options, coupled with an escalating share price, that have been the key driver of his wealth: Mr. Doyle has made $234-million in profits on his options so far. (Some of Mr. Doyle's option profits came from awards given before he became CEO, in the first half of his 27-year tenure with the company, Mr. Johnson notes.) Mr. Doyle's current option holdings would yield another $92-million in profit, were they all exercisable at today's prices.

Stock options allow the holder to purchase a share of stock at a set amount, below the current market price. The larger the spread between this "exercise price" and the market price, the more valuable the option is.

Potash Corp. gave its executives annual option grants numbering in the tens of thousands. Through a series of splits, however, a share held a decade ago has now become 18 shares. Options held by executives multiplied similarly, until they numbered in the millions.

The company's stock split as its price and potash prices rose. U.S. government data suggested the typical price of a tonne of potash at the time of Mr. Doyle's ascension was about $150; at its 2008 peak, some trades touched $700. (It is roughly $300 today.)

In an analysis in October, 2010, we found that top executives and board members stood to make more than $700-million, largely from options, from the potential sale of the company to BHP Billiton PLC at a (split-adjusted) price of $43.33 per share.

Stephen Jarislowsky, whose money management firm, Jarislowsky Fraser Ltd., owned Potash Corp. shares for its clients, told The Globe at the time the figure was "absolutely obscene," since Potash Corp. executives "are not responsible for the worldwide demand for potash and the lack of supply, other than what they put out of their own mine."

The passing of the BHP offer - Mr. Doyle argued it undervalued Potash Corp., and the federal government ultimately blocked the bid - in 2010 has been seen as a missed opportunity. The stock has traded at prices nearly one-third below the offer level, and the collapse of the global pricing duopoly has darkened the near-term outlook for Potash Corp. and the industry as a whole.

Investors who bought Potash shares in the heady months after the BHP bid was turned away have seen their investment cut nearly in half, but during that time, Mr. Doyle made well over $100-million in profits from options issued to him nearly a decade before.

"While the optics of a 10-year program paying out right after the stock has gone down for a year or two aren't great, it is simply a misalignment: You're looking at 10-year outcome and comparing it with two years of performance," says compensation consultant Ken Hugessen.

The figure of $92-million in potential profits from options Mr. Doyle holds now fails to include more than one million options with exercise prices above Friday's close of $33.33. Mr. Doyle will not retire until 2015, and he has three more years after that to exercise his options. Were Potash Corp. stock to hit $50 in the next four years, a number still below its 2011 highs, Mr. Doyle's future option profits would be $177-million - and his total earnings would approach the half-billion-dollar mark.

Potash Corp. has not been blind to the issues with options. Starting in 2005, it has used a "Performance Option Plan" that requires the company hit certain targets in order for options to become usable. (So far, Potash Corp. has met its goals.)

In recent years in Canada, and particularly in the United States, companies have shifted away from traditional stock options and toward plans that measure whether a company has performed versus its peers, Mr. Hugessen says. "There's a belief, and it seems sensible, that that might be more closely aligned with whatever difference management is making in how they manage the company."

Potash Corp. (POT)

Close: $33.33 (U.S.), down 36¢

Don't forget women in the Muslim world
'Honor Diaries' is about the challenges posted by cultural practices such as violence, forced marriage and genital mutilation
Saturday, April 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F2

These are tough times for women in Afghanistan. As people head to the polls to choose their next leader, there are widespread fears that women's hard-won gains may not survive the new regime. Forget those inspiring stories of little girls finally going to school. Many of the candidates vying for office want to send them back home so their fathers can marry them off at will.

"Women are not on the agenda now," Huma Safi, a women's activist, told The New York Times. "Every time we turn around, they're passing another law against women."

Now that Western forces - along with Western media - have withdrawn from Afghanistan, we don't hear enough about girls' and women's struggles in the Muslim world. That's too bad, because in many places, things are getting worse.

In Pakistan, the Council of Islamic Ideology, a powerful body that advises the government and parliament on legal issues, has made several devastating pronouncements. It ruled that under sharia law, rape victims can't use DNA evidence alone to prove their case; instead, they have to rely on the evidence of four witnesses. It wants the government to change the law that says a man must get the consent of his first wife before he takes a second one. It also says says the ban on child marriage (the legal age for girls is 16) is un-Islamic.

Welcome to the 12th century.

"They are regressing," says Raheel Raza, a long-time rights activist who was born in Pakistan and now lives in Toronto. Ms. Raza is one of nine women who feature in a powerful new documentary called Honor Diaries. All are activists with roots in the Muslim world. Their aim is to call attention to the immense challenges faced by women in Muslim-majority countries, especially honour violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

Most Western feminists are curiously silent about these issues. It seems they'd rather spend their time warning about "rape culture" and denouncing the misogyny, abuse and discrimination that permeate our society (or so they claim).

"Western feminists have never to my knowledge come out to lobby when we are talking about honour killings or the rights of Muslim women," Ms. Raza told me. "They're probably scared of backlash." And not without reason. People who speak out about abuses in cultures other than their own - particularly white people - tend to get denounced as racist. But, as Ms. Raza responds: "This isn't about brown women or white women. This is about human rights."

Ms. Raza, who does a lot of public speaking, says, "Sometimes it's hard for audiences to hear the harsh realities. But life is not as cozy as it was 50 years ago. We are living in a different world."

Honour crime - committed against a woman who has brought shame to the family - exists in Sikh and Hindu cultures, as well as Muslim ones. Such crimes draw much lighter sentences, and most "honour" crimes are really coverups for rape, domestic abuse, inheritance disputes or punishment of female independence.

Disturbing statistics aren't hard to find. In Egypt, for example, 90 per cent of women have had their genitals cut. More than half the population still support the practice (even though it is illegal), and certain hard-line clerics encourage it in God's name. "Circumcision is the reason why Muslim women are virtuous, unlike Western women who run after their sexual appetite in any place with any man," says Sheikh Yussuf Al Badri, from Al Azhar Islamic University in Cairo, in the film.

In the Palestinian territories, at least 27 women and girls are thought to have been killed in honour crimes last year, says the Washington Post. The body of one young mother of six was found hanging in an olive tree.

The good news is that more and more people are speaking out, including Muslim clerics. But the toll remains high. A draft law that would remove "honour" as a mitigating factor shows no sign of being passed by the Palestinian Authority. Unfortunately, as Ms. Raza notes, Western activists would rather boycott Israel than do something to try to stop the slaughter of these young women at the hands of their own families.

Not surprisingly, these pathologies have made their way in various measures to the West. In Britain, about 4,000 women and girls have been treated for genital mutilation since 2009, according to figures obtained by the British Broadcasting Corp. Campaigners say the public doesn't grasp how big the problem is. According to London Mayor Boris Johnson: "This is a crime basically outlawed in the early-mid 1980s and yet, unlike France, we have not had one single successful prosecution for what is unquestionably a completely barbaric crime."

In Canada, honour killings are rare but not unknown, and girls from honour cultures are frequently in conflict with their families. In Ottawa, a mother and son from Pakistan were recently convicted of threatening to kill the family's daughter, along with her white, non-Muslim boyfriend. In St. John's, a Saudi man who tried to choke his daughter, 30 (she wanted to marry a non-Muslim), was sentenced to probation, on condition he leave the country.

But police and schools don't always know how to respond to these disputes. And Ms. Raza often hears from young women who feel threatened by family.

Predictably, Honor Diaries has been denounced as Islamophobic by people who see it as an attempt to smear Islam. Ms. Raza argues that it is not a film about religion, but about destructive cultural practices. Some Muslims agree. When the film was screened at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, one Iraqi man said he'd like to show it in his mosque.

Ms. Raza has no predictions about what will happen in Afghanistan. If there's no long-term security agreement with the United States, many international aid agencies will pull out and take their money with them. Courageous female activists will be at even greater risk. And the little girls who dreamed of going to school will face a long, cold winter.

Watson masterful in final round, as 20-year-old sputters, for three-shot victory and second green jacket
Monday, April 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


Big deal.

At least that's the way it seemed to the toddler in the green-striped shirt with his hands casually stuffed in his pockets as he waddled up to the 18th green of Augusta National.

But one day it will.

Caleb Watson's father, Gerry Lester Watson, Jr. - now known in golf courses around the world as "Bubba" - had just claimed the Masters green jacket for the second time in three years.

Sure there were tears - Bubba Watson, you sometimes feel, can cry at the drop of a stroke - and the well had broken even before the father bent over to pick up his two-year-old boy. They poured even harder as wife Angie - once Angie Ball, a Canadian basketball star at University of Georgia, where they met - raced over to join in the family hug.

But as far as dramatics went, 2014 just didn't compare to 2012.

This time there was no impossible wedge shot required to win a playoff over South African Louis Oosthuizen and no lung-catching sobs on the final green as the reality of a first major win sunk in.

Instead, Bubba Watson played a businesslike three-under-par final round to finish at 280 and claim a three-shot victory over two players who had never played a Masters before: 20-year-old Texan Jordan Spieth and a 29-year-old Swede, Jonas Blixt.

It was a Masters more intriguing in its possibilities - could a first-time player win? could Spieth become the youngest winner ever? could any of three different over-50 golfers become the oldest winner ever? - than it was in its dramatics.

In the end, it was not a Masters that needed to be remembered for Trivial Pursuit, but a masterful execution of a tournament by a most unusual 35-year-old man who drives scud missiles off the tees and has a surgeon's hands around the green.

In the era of special coaches for every facet of a golfer's life, Bubba Watson has none of it. He has never taken a lesson.

"I never got this far in my dreams," he said two years ago.

That was when he was asked if winning the Masters was a dream come true for the tall, wide-shouldered kid from Bagdad, Fla., who tears up talking about his mother holding down two jobs just so he could chase the small dream of making a living out of golf.

This year the dream was almost a sleepwalk over the final several holes. Walking up the 18th, with the chants of "Bubba!" and the cheers in the air, he told his caddy he couldn't even remember the last few holes - "I was just hanging on."

It was actually more complicated than that. Watson seemed to have the tournament under control only two days in when he was seven-under par. He then briefly took it to eight-under early Saturday, only to fritter away precious strokes and end the day tied at five-under-par with the 20-year-old from Texas.

"He doesn't play like a 20-year-old," Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy said after playing a round with Spieth. "He plays like a seasoned veteran."

For a while on Sunday, it seemed like Spieth would indeed become the youngest golfer to win the Masters since Tiger Woods won his first at only 21.

By the seventh hole, Spieth - cool, calm, collected, unemotional - had a two-stroke lead.

By the ninth, he was down by two strokes to a resurgent Watson.

It was the tournament's one remarkable turn of events. A birdie for Watson on the eighth hole and a bogey by the youngster left them tied at seven-under teeing off on the ninth. Both hit spectacular drives, on the 460-yard par-four, Watson, a left-hander, drawing his drive down the right, Spieth, a right-hander, fading his ball down the right. They were both in ideal position to come in to the sloping green.

Spieth hit first, his high iron shot heading straight for the pin and landing just on the upslope. A couple of bounces and he would be in birdie range. Only it did not bounce.

Instead, the ball rolled, and rolled, and rolled back off the green and considerably down the fairway until finally it came to a rest.

Watson, having watched, hit his iron higher and longer, landing on the plateau above the slope and holding. Watson made his birdie from there; Spieth chipped up, missed his par and settled for bogey.

Another two-shot swing.

"Eight and nine were really the turning point where momentum really went my way," Watson said.

And then came "Amen Corner," the last of No. 11, all of 12 and the first two shots at the long 13th. Spieth found the creek on 12 and ended with a bogey, Watson birdied the long 13th to go to eight-under-par - and it was over.

Blixt finished with a 71 to tie Spieth for second place - impressive for two first-timers - while 50-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez, known to golfers as "The Most Interesting Man in the World," was alone at fourth.

When Jimenez shot a sparkling 66 on Saturday, it raised the possibility that the 2014 winner might be the oldest ever. Former champions Fred Couples, 54, and Bernard Langer, 56, both put up brief charges, Langer finishing at even-par and a tie for eighth, Couples tying for 21st at 290.

Watson denied this second green jacket placed him among the elite of the game, and given that Tiger Woods missed the event following back surgery, that Phil Mickelson missed the weekend cut and players such as McIlroy never challenged, a third jacket down the road might change that perception, but one thing it will not change is Bubba Watson's predictable reaction.

"I'm going to cry," he said, "because 'Why me? Why Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Fla.?'

"I'm just a small-town guy named Bubba who now has two green jackets."

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Scarlett Johansson and the problem with celebrity profiles
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L2

The cover story on Scarlett Johansson in the May Vanity Fair - now online for subscribers - is already drawing fire for being too gooey about the fantastic good looks of its subject. It opens with its writer, Lili Anolik, admitting her own star-struckness, her weakness in the presence of fame, and her enchantment with the star's great beauty. "She looked ravishing, radiant, sublime, good enough to eat. ... And as I joined the small throng that had gathered to watch, throwing subtle elbows to secure a better position, I realized that I was acting the opposite of cool, that I was acting totally and completely gaga. I realized, too, that Scarlett wasn't just a movie star. She was a movie goddess, the purest strain of movie star."

It's this kind of rapturous, almost hysterical writing about the superhuman qualities of stars that gets magazine writers in trouble. Canadian Stephen Marche was ridiculed for growing similarly mystical about the effects of Megan Fox on his psyche when he wrote a profile of her for Esquire in January. His praises of her beauty - comparing her face to "the patterns of waves crisscrossing a lake" and "an elaborately camouflaged butterfly" - were said to be overwrought and sexist.

Of course they were; he's a guy. But Anolik is not. So is her adoration of a woman's sexual charms also sexist? In fact, she addresses her gender head-on, saying that in the presence of such godlike charisma: "You become a man, even if you're not one. You gawk. You gape. You leer."

This admission - which I find rather interesting, the kind of thing you don't hear people admitting to very often - has brought some scorn down on Anolik's head. There is already a backlash to this profile. "Vanity Fair Is Latest Magazine To Reduce Scarlett Johansson Into A Sex Fantasy," reads the headline at online Hollywood gossip mag The Wrap. The complaint is that it's Johansson's acting that should be analyzed, not her sexual charm.

But what, actually, is the difference? Do we not want our actors to have massive sexual charisma?

Anolik's self-analysis is actually de rigueur in the contemporary celebrity profile. Magazine writers are in a bit of a pickle when it comes to these pieces. The reporters picked to do the star piece are generally the best in the business: These articles are the best paid, and so they are assigned to the clever and successful. Those clever writers must establish that they are at least a little bit intellectual - that they are aiming not just to tell you why Scarlett Johansson broke up with Josh Hartnett, but something about the nature of celebrity itself. They want to be seen as sociological as much as prurient. Hence all the writerly self-psychoanalysis, and all the poetry about what it's like to be screened by publicists and sitting in on makeup sessions in the presence of great beauty. It's about the puzzling draw of fame.

Even the cerebral New Yorker tried its hand at a Johansson profile last month, and buttressed all the current conventions of the genre. Witty film critic Anthony Lane spent a lot of time appreciating Johansson's new move; the creepy sci-fi Under The Skin (adapted from the brilliant Michel Faber novel). But he also couldn't resist poetic paeans to the actress's sexual pull. Noting that she is pregnant (and that her publicists have forbidden questions about her pregnancy, in a paradoxical effort to restrain speculation about her personal life), Lane writes: "Would it be construed as trespass, therefore, to state that Johansson looks tellingly radiant in the flesh? Mind you, she rarely looks unradiant, so it's hard to say whether her condition has made a difference."

Lane came under fire, too, even after praising her acting talent, for such a capitulation to mere sex drive. Pervy old guy, just like Marche, etc.

I am puzzled by this sanctimony. The indignation presumes that there is something genuinely substantial that we can learn from the personality profile if it avoids reverence about superficial things, such as beauty. What exactly do we want to know about Johansson? What she reads? Because that would tell us something about her character in Under The Skin? No, it wouldn't. Come on. And what informs her character in a movie isn't what readers of Vanity Fair want to know in the first place. They want to know why she broke up with Hartnett.

Here is a fundamental conflict in educated society: We are not supposed to value beauty so highly, and yet who can defend against its sheer power to move, its rhetorical force? Of course we want to know what constitutes her charisma, this magical beauty; this is the great mystery and the great prize, and it is through beauty that we will not only understand ourselves - what weakens and arouses us - but glean some tips on how to reproduce it. It is partly through current ideas of visual beauty that we will understand the artistic moment, the draw of cinema itself. What the hell is wrong with beauty? We don't mind beauty when it's in poetry, do we? Do we call it superficial there?

Lane, like all profilers, addressed the powerful flexibility of a star's beauty in his New Yorker piece. "After all, film stars are those unlikely beings who seem more alive, not less, when images are made of them; who unfurl and reach toward the light, instead of seizing up, when confronted by a camera; and who, by some miracle or trick, become enriched versions of themselves, even as they ramify into other selves on cue." He describes photographers who exhort the star to make herself expressionless for photographs. He quotes her as responding: "I rarely have anything inside me."

This is why the celebrity profile has become such a personal canvas for writers: It is quite understandably a screen for projection of one's own complexes rather than for deep analysis of another's. Just like movies.

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