'We have the evidence ... Why aren't we providing evidence-based care?'
Mental illness affects one in five Canadians and costs us nearly $50-billion a year. So why aren't we treating it like any other health-care crisis? Erin Anderssen explores the case for publicly funded psychotherapy
Saturday, May 23, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F1

It's 4:30 on a Friday afternoon at her Sherbrooke, Que., clinic and Marie Hayes takes a deep breath before opening the door to her final patient of the day, who has arrived without an appointment. The 32-year-old mother immediately lists her complaints: She feels dizzy. She has abdominal pain. "It is always physical and always catastrophic," Dr. Hayes will later tell me. In the exam room, she runs through the standard checkup, pressing on the patient's abdomen, recording her symptoms, just as she has done almost every week for months. "There's something wrong with me," the patient says, with a look of panic.

Dr. Hayes tries to reassure her, to no avail. In any case, the doctor has already reached her diagnosis: severe anxiety. Dr. Hayes prescribed medication during a previous visit, but the woman stopped taking it after two days because it made her nauseated and dizzy. She needs structured psychotherapy - a licensed therapist trained to bring her anxiety under control. But the wait list for public care is about a year, says Dr. Hayes, and the patient can't afford the cost of private sessions.

Meanwhile, the woman is paying a steep personal price: At home, she says, she spends most days in bed. She is managing to care for her two young children - for now - but her husband also suffers from anxiety, and the situation is far from ideal. Dr. Hayes does her best, spending a full hour trying to calm her down, and the woman is less agitated when she leaves.

But the doctor knows she will be back next week. And that their meeting will go much the same as it did today.

In its broad strokes, this is a scene that repeats itself in thousands of doctors' offices every day, right across the country. It is part and parcel of a system that denies patients the best scientific-based care, and comes with a massive price tag, to the economy, families and the health care system. Canadian physicians bill provincial governments $1-billion a year for "counselling and psychotherapy" - one third of which goes to family doctors - a service many of them acknowledge they are not best suited to provide, and that doesn't come close to covering patient need. Meanwhile, psychologists and social workers are largely left out of the publicly funded health-care system, their expertise available only to Canadians with the resources to pay for them.

Imagine if a Canadian diagnosed with cancer were told she could receive chemotherapy paid for by the health-care system, but would have to cough up the cash herself if she needed radiation. Or that she could have a few weeks of treatment, and then be sent home even if she needed more. That would never fly. If doctors, say, find a tumour in a patient's colon, the government kicks in and offers the mainstream treatment that is most effective.

But for many Canadians diagnosed with a mental illness, the prescription is very different. The treatment they receive, and how much of it they get, will largely be decided not on evidence-based best practices but on their employment benefits and income level: Those who can afford it pay for it privately. Those who cannot are stuck on long wait lists, or have to fall back on prescription medications. Or get no help at all.

But according to a large and growing body of research, psychotherapy is not simply a nice-to-have option; it should be a front-line treatment, particularly for the two most costly mental illnesses in Canada: anxiety and depression - which also constitute more than 80 per cent of all psychiatric diagnoses.

Mental illness affects one in five Canadians. It is a factor in 90 per cent of suicides. And its cost to the economy in health-care dollars spent, and in lost productivity, amounts to nearly $50-billion a year.

Yet, no province currently pays for therapy provided by a private psychologist or social worker.

Low-income Canadians - who are three times more likely to report poor to fair mental health, and yet are the least likely to be able to afford private psychotherapy - are suffering disproportionately. At the same time, an inaccurate and damaging message is being broadcast to all Canadians: that therapy isn't a valid treatment; that it's more Woody-Allen ruminating than science-based solution.

Another major side effect: Canada is becoming one of the most pill-popping nations in the world. A 2012 survey by Statistics Canada found that, while only 65 per cent of patients reported getting the therapy they sought, 91 per cent received the drugs they wanted. Family doctors, meanwhile, faced with managing the bulk of Canada's mental-health burden, are often going it alone, and working on the fly.

"We have the evidence," says Paul Kurdyak, the director of health-systems research at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

"Why aren't we providing evidence-based care?" ..

The case for psychotherapy

Research has found that psychotherapy is as effective as medication - and in some cases works better. It also often does a better job of preventing or forestalling relapse, reducing doctor's appointments and emergency-room visits, and making it more cost-effective in the long run.

Therapy works, researchers say, because it engages the mind of the patient, requires active participation in treatment, and specifically targets the social and stress-related factors that contribute to poor mental health.

There are a variety of therapies, but the evidence is strongest for cognitive behavioural therapy - an approach that focuses on changing negative thinking - in large part because CBT, which is timelimited and very structured, lends itself to clinical trials. (Similar support exists for interpersonal therapy, and it is emerging for mindfulness, with researchers trying to find out what works best for which disorders.) Research into the efficacy of therapy is increasing, but there is less of it overall than for drugs - as therapy doesn't have the advantage of well-heeled Big Pharma benefactors. In 2013, a team of European researchers collated the results of 67 studies comparing drugs to therapy; after adjusting for dropouts, there was no significant difference between the most often-used drugs - selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) - and psychotherapy.

"The issue is not one against the other," says Montreal psychiatrist Alain Lesage, director of research at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute. "I am a physician; whatever works, I am good. We know that when patients prefer one to another, they do better if they have choice."

Several studies have backed up that notion. Many patients are reluctant to take medication for fear of side effects and the possibility of difficult withdrawal; research shows that more than half of patients receiving medication stop taking it after six months.

A small collection of recent studies has found that therapy can cause changes in the brain similar to those brought about by medication. In people with depression, for instance, the amygdala (located deep within the brain, it processes basic memories and controls our instinctive fight-or-flight reaction) works in overdrive, while the prefrontal cortex (which regulates rational thought) is sluggish.

Research shows that antidepressants calm the amygdala; therapy does the same, though to a lesser extent.

But psychotherapy also appears to tune up the prefrontal cortex more than does medication. This is why, researchers believe, therapy works especially well in preventing relapse - an important benefit, since extending the time between acute episodes of illnesses prevents them from becoming chronic and more debilitating. The theory, then, is that psychotherapy does a better job of helping patients consciously cope with their unconscious responses to stress.

According to treatment guidelines by leading international professional and scientific organizations - including Canada's own expert panel, the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments - psychotherapy should be considered as a first option in treatment, alone or in combination with medication. And it is "highly recommended" in maintaining recovery in the long term. Britain's independent, research-guided scientific body, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, has concluded that therapy should be tried before drugs in mild to moderate cases of depression and anxiety - a finding that led to the creation of a $760million public system, which now handles therapy referrals for nearly one million people a year.

In 2012, Canada's Mental Health Commission estimated that only about one in three adults and one in four children are receiving support and treatment when they need it. Ironically, anti-stigma campaigns designed to help people understand mental illness may only make those statistics worse. In Toronto, for instance, putting up posters in subway stations in 2010 had the unexpected effect of spiking the volume of walk-ins at nearby emergency rooms by as much as 45 per cent in 12 months. Dr. Kurdyak treated many of them at CAMH. The system, he says, "has been conveniently ignoring this unmet need. It functions as if two-thirds of the people suffering won't get help." What would happen if the healthcare system outright "ignored" two-third of tumour diagnoses?

Essentially, argues Dr. Lesage, adding therapy into the health-care system is like putting a new, highly effective drug on the table for doctors. "Think about it," he says. "We have a new antidepressant. It works as well as many others, and it may even have some advantages - it works better for remission - with fewer side effects. The patients may prefer it. And [in the long run] it doesn't cost more than what we have. How can it not be covered?" ..

A heavy price

This isn't just a medical issue; it's an economic one. Mental illness accounts for roughly 50 per cent of family doctors' time, and more hospital-bed days than cancer. Nearly four million Canadians have a mood disorder: more than all cases of diabetes (2.2 million) and heart disease (1.4 million) combined.

Mental illness - and depression, in particular - is the leading cause of disability, accounting for 30 per cent of workplace-insurance claims, and 70 per cent of total compensation costs. In 2012, an Ontario study calculated that the burden of mental illness and addiction was 1.5 times that of all cancers, and more than seven times the cost of all infectious diseases.

Mental illness is so debilitating because, unlike physical ailments, it often takes root in adolescence and peaks among Canadians in their 20s and 30s, just as they are heading into higher education, or building careers and families. Untreated, symptoms reverberate through all aspects of life, routinely trapping people in poverty and homelessness. More than one-third of Ontario residents receiving social assistance have a mental illness. The cost to society is clearly immense.

Yet, when family doctors were asked why they didn't refer more patients to therapy in a 2008 Canadian survey, the main reason they gave was cost. For many Canadians, private therapy is a luxury, especially if families are already wrestling with the economic fallout from mental illness. Costs vary across provinces, but psychologists in private practice may charge more than $200 an hour in major centres.

And it's not just the uninsured who are affected.

Although about 60 per cent of Canadians have some form of private insurance, the amount available for therapy may cover only a handful of sessions. Those with the best benefits are more likely to be higherincome workers with stable employment. Federal public servants, notably, have one of the best plans in the country - their benefits were doubled in 2014 to $2,000 annually for psychotherapy.

Many of those who can pay for therapy are doing so: A 2013 consultant's study commissioned by the Canadian Psychological Association found that $950-million is spent annually on private-practice psychologists by Canadians, insurance companies and workers compensation boards. The CPA estimates that 30 per cent of private patients pay out-ofpocket themselves.

When the afflicted don't seek help, the cost isn't restricted to their own pocketbook. People with mental-health problems are significantly more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and to become physically sick, further increasing health-care costs. A 2014 study by Oxford University researchers found that having a mental illness reduced life expectancy by 10 to 20 years, roughly the same as did smoking and obesity. A 2008 Statistics Canada study linked depression to new-onset heart disease in the general population. A 2014 U.S. study found that women under the age of 55 are twice as likely to suffer or die from a heart attack, or require heart surgery, if they have moderate to severe depression. The result: clogged-up doctors' offices, ERs, and operating rooms. And an inexorable burden for the patients' families forced to fill the gaps in caregiving - or carry on when they lose a loved one.

Canada's investment does not match that burden. Only about 7 per cent of health-care spending goes to mental health. Even recent increases pale when compared to other countries: According to a study by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Canada increased per-capita funding by $5.22 in 2011. The British government, meanwhile, kicked in an extra 12 times that amount per citizen, and Australia added nearly 20 times as much as we did.

Falling off a cliff, again and again

In Winnipeg, Dr. Stanley Szajkowski watched for months as his patient, a woman in her 80s, slowly declined. Her husband had died and she was spiralling into a severe depression. At every appointment, she looked thinner, more dishevelled. She wasn't sleeping, she admitted, often through tears. Sometimes she thought of suicide. She lived alone, with no family nearby, and no resources of her own to pay for therapy.

"You do what you can," says Dr. Szajkowksi. "You provide some support and encouragement." He did his best, but he always had other patients waiting.

These are the patients that family doctors juggle, the ones who eat up appointment time, and never seem to get better, the ones caught on waiting lists.

Sometimes, they have already been bounced in and out of the system, received little help, and have become wary of trying again. A 40-something mother recovering from breast cancer, suffering from chronic depression post-treatment, debilitated by fear her cancer will return. A university student, struggling with anxiety, who hasn't been to class for three weeks and may soon be kicked out of school.

A teenager with bulimia removed from an eatingdisorder program because she couldn't follow the rules. They are the ones dangling on waiting lists in the public system for what often amounts to a handful of talk-therapy sessions, who don't have the money to pay for private therapy, or have too little coverage to get the full course of appointments they need.

Patients refer to it as falling repeatedly off a cliff. And they can only manage the climb back up so many times.

Family doctors interviewed for this story admitted that they are often "handholding" patients with nowhere else to go. "I am making them feel cared for, I am providing a supportive ear that they may not get anywhere else," says Dr. Batya Grundland, a physician who has been in family practice at Toronto's Women's College Hospital for almost a decade. "But do I think I am moving them forward with regard to their illness, and helping them cope better? I am going to say rarely." More senior doctors have told her that once in a while "a light bulb goes off" for the patients, but often only after many years. That's not an efficient use of health dollars, she points out - not when there are trained therapists who could do the job better. However, she says, "in some cases, I may be the only person they have."

Family doctors aren't the only ones struggling to find therapy for their patients. "I do a hundred consultations a year," says clinical psychiatrist Joel Paris, a professor at McGill University and research associate at the Montreal Jewish General, "and one of the most common situations is that the patient has tried a few anti-depressants, they have not responded very well, and from their story it is obvious they would benefit from psychotherapy. But where do they go? We have community clinics here in Montreal with six-to-12-month waiting lists even for brief therapy."

A fractured, inefficient system

"You fall into the role that is handed to you," says Antoine Gagnon, a family doctor in Osgoode, on the outskirts of Ottawa. He tries to set aside 20-minute appointments before lunch or at the end of the day to provide "active listening" to his patients with anxiety and depression. Many of them are farmers or self-employed, without any private coverage for therapy.

"Five of those minutes are spent talking about the weather," he says, "and then maybe you get into the meat of the problem, but the reality is we don't have the appropriate amount of time to give to therapy, even to listen, really." Often, he watches his patients' symptoms worsen over several months, until they meet the threshold of a clinical diagnosis. "The whole system could save on productivity and money if people were actually able to get the treatment they needed."

One result can be overloaded family doctors minimizing mental-health problems. "If you have nothing to offer someone," asks Dr. Anderson, "how much are you going to dig around to find out what is going on?" Some doctors also admit that the lack of resources can lead to physicians cherry-picking patients who don't have mental illness.

And yet family physicians alone bill about $361million a year for counselling or psychotherapy in Canada - 5.6 million visits of roughly 30 minutes each. This is a broad category, and not always specifically related to mental health (some of it includes drug counselling, and a certain amount of coaching is a necessary part of the patient-doctor relationship). When it is psychotherapy, however, doctors admit it's often more supportive listening than actual therapy.

Except for a small fraction of GPs who specialize in psychotherapy, few family doctors have the training - or the time - to provide structured therapy. Saadia Hameed, a GP in a family-health team in London, Ont., has been researching access to psychotherapy for an advanced degree. Many of the doctors she has interviewed had trouble even producing a clear definition of therapy. One told her, "If a patient cries, than it's psychotherapy." Another described it as "listening to their woes."

A 2007 survey of 163 family doctors in Ontario found that almost four out of five had not received training in cognitive behavioural therapy, and knew little about it. "Do family doctors really need to do that much psychotherapy," Dr. Hameed asks, "when there are other people trained - and better trained - to do it?"

What further frustrates treatment for physicians and patients is lack of access to specialists within the system. Across the country, family doctors describe the difficulty of reaching a psychiatrist to consult on a diagnosis or followup with their patients. In a telling 2011 study, published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, researchers conducted a real-world experiment to see how easily a GP could locate a psychiatrist willing to see a patient with depression. Researchers called 297 psychiatrists in Vancouver, and reached 230. Of the 70 who said they would consider taking referrals, 64 required extensive written documentation, and could not give a wait-time estimate. Only six were willing to take the patient "immediately," but even then, their wait times ranged from four to 55 days.

Psychiatrists are in increasingly short supply in Canada, and there's strong evidence that we're not making the best use of these highly trained specialists. They can - and often do - provide fee-for-service psychotherapy in a private setting, which limits their ability to meet the huge demand to consult with family doctors and treat the most severe cases.

A recent Ontario study by a team at CAMH found that while waiting lists exist in both urban and rural centres, the practices of psychiatrists in those locations tend to look very different. Among full-time psychiatrists in Toronto, 10 per cent saw fewer than 40 patients, and 40 per cent saw fewer than 100 - on average, their practices were half the size of psychiatrists in smaller centres. The patients for those urban psychiatrists with the smallest practices were also more likely to fall in the highest income bracket, and less likely to have been previously hospitalized for a mental illness than those in the smaller centres.

And those therapy sessions are being billed with no monitoring from a health-care system already scrimping on dollars, yet spending a lot on this care: On average, psychiatrists earn $216,000 a year. There is nothing to stop psychiatrists from seeing the same patients for years, and no system to ensure the patients with the greatest need get priority. In Australia, Britain and the United States, by contrast, billing for psychiatrists has been adjusted to encourage them to reduce psychotherapy sessions and serve more as consultants, particularly for the most severe cases, as other specialists do.

As the Canadian system exists now, says Benoit Mulsant, the physician-in-chief at CAMH and also a psychiatrist, the doctors in his specialty "can do whatever they please. If I wanted, I could have a roster of actor patients who tell me entertaining stories, and I would be paid the same as someone who is treating homeless people. ... By treating the rich and famous, there is zero risk of being punched in the face by a patient."

Left out in all this, by and large, are other professionals who can provide therapy. It doesn't help that the rules are often murky around who can call themselves psychotherapists. While psychologists and social workers are licensed under their professional associations, in some provinces a person can call himself a marriage counsellor or music therapist with no one demanding they be certified. In 2007, Ontario passed a law to regulate psychotherapists, requiring them to register with a provincial college that would set standards and handle complaints. Currently, however, the law is in limbo, although the government has said it will finally bring it into force by December.

The brain keeps many secrets

Psychotherapy was already getting a bad rap - Freud's fixation with penis envy didn't help - even before the 1980s, when today's go-to medications for depression and anxiety first hit the market. If the alternative was a psych ward run by Nurse Ratched, a quick fix taken in the privacy of one's bathroom was understandably compelling. The new drugs, Prozac among them, quickly became the most lucrative prescriptions to pass across the pharmacist's counter. They worked for many people, especially those with severe mental illness, and were better tolerated than their predecessors, most famously Valium, although patients complained of weight gain, drowsiness and lower libido. And they are considered less than ideal for teenagers and pregnant women. Still, Canadians lined up for such drugs. In a 2013 OECD study, Canada ranked third among 23 countries in the use of anti-depressant prescriptions. Here, anti-depressants are a $1.4-billion market, with doctors handing out 40 million prescriptions a year. Almost one in 10 Canadians are on antidepressants; two-thirds of them are women.

Given the billions spent to sell pills, the pharmaceutical industry has been heavily invested in advancing the notion of depression as a chemical imbalance - and thus, a problem to be solved by chemicals. Tinker under the hood, and off you go, good as new. Well-meaning anti-stigma campaigns have also latched onto the biological theory; if depression is like diabetes, it can't be a shameful weakness of character.

Science, however, has yet to find depression's equivalent of insulin. Despite being scanned, poked and stimulated over and over and over again, the brain keeps its secrets. The "chemical imbalance" theory is now viewed as simplistic at best. It may not do much for patients, either: A 2014 study published in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy suggested that, rather than reassuring them, focusing on the biological explanation for depression actually made patients feel more pessimistic and lacking in control.

SSRIs work by increasing the amount of serotonin, a chemical that helps deliver messages within the brain and is known to influence mood. But researchers aren't sure why the drugs help some patients and fail with others. "Basically, it's like we have a bucket of water and we pour it over the patient's head," says Dr. Georg Northoff, the University of Ottawa's Michael Smith chair of Neurosciences and Mental Health. "But you want a drug that injects the water in a very specific brain regions or brain system, which we don't have."

Critics of therapy have argued that it's basically "good listening" - comparable to having a sympathetic friend across the kitchen table - and that in the real world of mercurial patients and practitioners of varying abilities, a pill just works better. That's true in many cases, especially when the symptoms are severe and the patients is suicidal: a fast-acting medication is safer, and may even be necessary before starting talk therapy. The staunchest advocates of therapy do not suggest it should be the first course of treatment for psychosis, or debilitating chronic depression, or mania - although, in those cases, there is evidence that psychotherapy and medication work well in tandem. (A 2011 meta-analysis found that patients with severe depression who received a combination approach had higher recovery rates and were less likely to drop out of treatment.) But drugs also don't work as well as the manufacturers would like us to think. Roughly one-third of patients given a drug will see no benefit (although they often respond to a second or third medication). In randomly controlled trials, drugs often perform only marginally better than sugar pills.

Yet it's talk therapy that the public often views most skeptically. "Until you go to a therapist, or a member of your family has a serious psychological problem, people are unsympathetic [about therapy]," says Dr. Paris, the Montreal psychiatrist. "They are very skeptical, and they don't believe the research. It's amazing, because pharmaceutical trials will get approval for a drug on the basis of two clinical trials that they paid for. And we have 100 clinical trials and no one believes us."

Dr. Ajantha Jayabarathan, an assistant professor at Dalhousie University's medical school, spent her early years as a family doctor in Spryfield, N.S., trying to manage an overload of mental-health cases. Most of her patients had little insurance; there was one reduced-cost counselling service in town, but the waiting lists were long. In 2000, her group practice became a test site for a shared-care project, which gave the doctors access to a mental-health team, including weekly in-person consultations with a psychiatrist. "It was transformative," she says. "We looked after everything in-house."

Over time, Dr. Jayabarathan says, she learned how to properly assess mental illness in patients, and how to use medication more effectively. "I just made it my business to teach myself what to do." It's the kind of workaround GPs are increasingly experimenting with, waiting for the system to catch up.

Who would pay - and how?

The case for expanding publicly funded access to therapy is gaining traction in Canada. In 2012, the health commissioner of Quebec recommended therapy be covered by the province; it is now being studied by Quebec's science-based health body (INESSS), which is expected to report back next year. A new Quebec-based organization of doctors, researchers and mental-health advocates called the Coalition for Access to Psychotherapy (CAP) is lobbying the government.

In Manitoba, the Liberal Party - albeit well behind in the polls - has made the public funding of psychologists one of its campaign platforms for the province's spring 2016 election. In Saskatchewan, the government commissioned, and has since endorsed, a mental-health action plan that includes providing online therapy - though politicians have given themselves 10 years to accomplish it. Michael Kirby, the former head of the Canadian Mental Health Commission, has been advocating for eight annual sessions of therapy to be covered for children and youth in need.

There are significant hurdles: Which practitioners would provide therapy, and how would they be paid? What therapies would be covered, and for how long? Complicating every aspect of major mentalhealth change in Canada is the question of who should shoulder the cost: the provinces or Ottawa. In a written statement in response to questions from The Globe and Mail, federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose lobbed the issue back at her provincial counterparts, pointing out that the Canada Health Act does not "preclude provinces and territories from extending public coverage to other services or providers such as psychologists."

But these issues aren't insurmountable, as other countries have demonstrated. Britain, for instance, has trained thousands of university graduates to become therapists in its new public program, following research showing that, as long they have the proper skills, people don't need PhDs to be effective therapists. Australia, which has created a pay-for-service system, also makes wide use of online support to cost-effectively reach remote communities.

So how would Canada pay for access to such therapy? It wouldn't be cheap, in the short term. The savings would come from what Canadians would not have to spend in the long term: in additional medical and drug costs, emergency-room visits and hospital stays, and in unnecessary disability payments, to say nothing of better long-term health outcomes for patients given good care earlier. Some of the figures being tossed around sound staggering. Rolling out a version of Britain's centre-based program across Canada would cost $950-million. Michael Kirby's plan would amount to $1,000 annually per patient. A 2013 report commissioned by the Canadian Psychological Association calculated that, based on predicted need, and assuming no coverage from private health-care plans, providing an average of six sessions of therapy a year would cost an estimated $2.8-billion annually.

But any of those figures would still be a fraction of the roughly $210-billion that Canada spends annually on health care.

Figuring out how to make the system most costeffective is, according to sources, currently delaying the INESSS report to the Quebec government. "You need to facilitate the government," says Helen- Maria Vasiliadis, a professor of community health at the University of Sherbrooke. "You can't be going to policymakers and showing them billions and billions of dollars. People start having heart attacks. With evidence in hand, we have to present possible solutions."

An insurance-based plan is the proposal that has emerged from the Quebec-based CAP group, which sent its proposal to Quebec's health minister last month. In its design, the system would work much like Quebec's public drug plan - Quebeckers not covered through work plans would contribute to a provincial insurance program for therapy. That would be similar to the system that Germany has used for decades.

One step forward, one step back

Last year, the Sherbrooke clinic where Marie Hayes works received provincial funding for a part-time psychologist and a full-time social worker. With a roster of 25,000 patients, the clinic team laid out clear guidelines for the psychologist, who would consult on cases and screen patients, and be limited to a mere four sessions of actual counselling with any one patient. "We wanted to be careful she didn't become a waiting list - like everything in the system," says Dr. Hayes. The social worker helps guide patients into services such as housing and addiction counselling. They have also offered group sessions for depression management at the clinic.

As stretched as those new professionals are in such a large practice, Dr. Hayes says the addition of that mental-health team is improving the care she can provide patients. Recently, for instance, the 32- year-old mother with anxiety attended sessions with the psychologist. "She is making progress," says Dr. Hayes, "slowly."

At Women's College Hospital in Toronto, Dr. Grundland is not so lucky. Asked to describe a difficult case, the family-practice physician mentions a patient suffering from depression after a lifechanging accident. Every month, doctor and patient would repeat the same conversation they'd already had more than a dozen times - and make little real headway. Her patient, says Dr. Grundland, needs a trained therapist: someone she can see regularly, to help her move past her frustration, counsel her about addiction, and ease the burden on her family.

But there's no extra money in the patient's budget for a psychologist. "I do my best," Dr. Grundland says, "but it's not my area of expertise." Meanwhile, the patient isn't getting better, and in the time that it takes to make it through one appointment with her, Dr. Grundland could see three other people with problems she was actually trained to treat. "But," says Dr. Grundland, "she has nowhere else to go."

Erin Anderssen is a feature writer at The Globe and Mail.

OPEN MINDS How to build a better mental health care system

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has purchased advertisements to accompany this series. While CAMH professionals are quoted in this story, the organization had no involvement in the creation or production of this, or any other story in the series.

$20.7-billion The cost, according to a 2012 Conference Board of Canada report, of lost productivity each year due to mental illness. What else does $20-billion represent?

$20B: Canadian spending on national defence, 2012-13 $20B: Market valuation of Airbnb, 2015 $21B: Kitchener-CambridgeWaterloo region's GDP, 2009 $21B: Amount food manufacturing contributed to the economy, 2012

Associated Graphic

General practitioners bill provincial governments for hundreds of millions of dollars of psychotherapy every year. They often have neither the expertise nor the time to provide it, but their patients have nobody else to turn to.


Psychologist Ève Larochelle (centre) at the Clinique de Santé Jacques-Cartier; the clinic has 25,000 patients on its roster.


Left: Social worker Céline Beaudoin and Dr. Marie Hayes at the Clinique de Santé Jacques-Cartier in Sherbrooke, Que. Above: Ève Larochelle, who has worked as a psychologist at the clinic since July.



General practitioner Dr. Saadia Hameed works in a family-health team in London, Ont., that includes access to a social worker, a mental-health nurse and the weekly support of a psychiatrist. It has reduced pressure on the clinic's other staff, and made it easier to consult on complicated cases.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015


A Saturday Focus feature on mental health incorrectly suggested the family practice clinic at Women's College Hospital in Toronto doesn't include mental health-care professionals; in fact, it does. It also incorrectly described an Ontario law to create a regulatory college for psychotherapists as being in limbo; it was brought into effect in April.

Those who leave and those who stay
Forget oil prices or the environment - the real tension in a maturing Fort McMurray, Peter Scowen finds, is between newcomers looking to cash in and move on and residents who want to build something that lasts
Saturday, June 13, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F1


A year-long project about Fort McMurray, Alta., which has come to be the emblem of Canada's energy sector - and all the issues that surround it.

It's a cold Saturday evening but, inside the night club, things are getting hot. Prostitutes in racy underwear are gyrating on customers' laps while the band plays loudly on the balcony and the emcee simulates obscene acts with two dancers. Some of the regulars are drinking themselves into oblivion. Who knows? Maybe they just lost their jobs. The economy is tanking, after all. But what good is sitting alone in your room?

Welcome to Fort McMurray, the 2015 version. The night club in question is the infamous but fictional Kit Kat, and its louche decadence - once the trademark of this northern oil boom town - exists only on stage in an amateur production of the musical, Cabaret.

At the intermission, the audience of 600 sips white wine in the lobby.

After the final curtain, they get in their SUVs and pickups and go home to liberate the babysitter and walk the dog. Maybe home is one of the new detached houses in Thickwood and Timberlea, the quiet suburbs north of the Athabasca River. Maybe it's a nice condo overlooking the Clearwater River, or one of the fancier places in Waterworks, the oldest part of town.

Compared with the Kit Kat, the city's real bars and clubs are quiet, and it's not because of the current drop in oil prices.

The truth is, the lurid 2006 version of Fort McMurray embedded in the Canadian imagination - the wild-west town where transient oil workers with pockets full of cash abuse drugs and alcohol, and prostitutes solicit clients outside the 7-Eleven on Franklin Avenue - is gone. Less than 10 years after being swallowed whole by the social disruptions inherent to boom towns, this city has pulled itself together.

Today, Fort McMurray is a family town. Nestled along the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers a half-hour drive south of the oil sands, it's a city of 75,000 with an aging, slightly seedy downtown surrounded by comfy suburban developments and dotted with large, pleasant green spaces. Indie coffee joints and hipster eateries compete with the usual food franchises and family-run ethnic restaurants. There are shiny new schools as well as elaborate recreational and arts facilities, almost all sponsored by industry.

A whopping 69 per cent of residents are married, according to an eyeopening survey done last year by the Canadian Index of Wellbeing at the University of Waterloo. (The national average is 47 per cent.) There are more than 100 live births a month at the hospital. The local malls and grocery stores suffer stroller gridlock.

But as Fort Mac grows up, new fault lines are being exposed. There is a growing gap between the living conditions of newcomers and lower-income earners and those who own homes or condos in the subdivisions.

As well, the results of the wellbeing survey point to a potential mentalhealth crisis. People here work long, gruelling shifts while trying to raise a family, and they are clearly feeling the stress.

Then there's the question of the future.

On Wednesday, a group of prominent Canadian and U.S. scientists and academics called for a moratorium on further development of the oil sands. On Tuesday, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said the industry faces a decade of slow production caused by falling crude prices and worries about higher royalties and environmental costs under the province's newly elected New Democratic Party government.

But possibly the biggest blow came Monday, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed a declaration committing G7 nations to the "decarbonization of the global economy" by 2100.

He subsequently qualified the goal as "aspirational," but that doesn't change the fact that the world has basically put an expiration date on Fort McMurray just as a new generation of residents is more determined than ever to bring a sense of permanence to their home.

The unresolved tensions between Fort McMurray's past, present and future have led to a bitterness among many residents. There is an abiding suspicion that people in the "south" deliberately discount the fact that Fort Mac has become a modern, livable city, preferring to see it only as the remote headwaters of a river of oil royalties.

In fact, Alberta doesn't even consider Fort McMurray a city, even though it's far bigger than officially designated cities such as Airdrie, Grande Prairie and Medicine Hat. It used to be a city, until the province amalgamated it as one of eight "hamlets" in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in 1995. Most of the RMWB, a giant inverted apostrophe the size of Nova Scotia, is muskeg and boreal forest. The next-biggest hamlet, Fort Chipewyan, has a population under 1,000.

The region's total population is approximately 116,000, including the work camps in the oil sands.

But most of the roughly 35,000 workers in those camps at any one time never even see Fort McMurray; the planes bringing them in from across the country land at an industry airfield well north of the city.

"There's three kinds of people who come to Fort McMurray," says resident Peter Fortna, a historian and consultant, and an active supporter of the provincial NDP. "There's people who come to make a quick dollar and get out. There's other people who come with a five-year plan - 'We're gonna make our money and then we're going to move back.' And then there's people who come here and want to make a community of it.

"Those first two types of people put a lot of pressure on the third type, because it takes a lot to build a community. There's a lot of people in Calgary, Edmonton and elsewhere who are depending on Fort McMurray. Somebody's gotta be here to answer the bell."

The residents vented their frustrations on the Progressive Conservative Party in last month's historic general election. Both of the PC incumbents in the provincial ridings that represent Fort McMurray and the rest of Wood Buffalo were turfed. Voters instead elected the Wildrose Party candidates, with the NDP a close second.

"All kinds of people have opinions about Fort McMurray, and nobody's ever been here, right?" says Mr. Fortna.

From boom to bust (repeat) Massy Boucher is mad - at an otter. "Son of a gun," he mutters.

Then, "I'll get him!"

The object of Mr. Boucher's ire has made a detour around one of the traps he has set beside a rambling stream near his cabin. The wiry 73-year-old Métis trapper dives into the low branches surrounding the stream and, in a few minutes, has moved the trap to intersect with the otter's tracks.

Then he stabs long twigs into the ground on either side, saying: "That way he won't go round it."

Behind him is the sound of traffic on Highway 63, which connects Fort McMurray to Edmonton, 436 kilometres to the south.

When Mr. Boucher was young, back in 1960 before the oil-sands industry took off, Fort McMurray was a Métis trapper town of 1,200. He grew up in the area, working out of Fort Mac on railway jobs, and trapping. There were Dene and Cree, too. The place was remote and small, crammed into a narrow plain on the south side of the Clearwater, where the river winds into the Athabasca like a sine wave.

The arrival of the Great Canadian Oil Sands (later Suncor) and Syncrude changed everything.

The population of Fort McMurray more than doubled between 1971 and 1976, going from 6,847 to 15,424, according to Statistics Canada. Then it doubled again between 1976 and 1981, rising to 31,000. There was a pause in the 1980s and 90s, though, when the price of oil plummeted from $35 (U.S.) a barrel to less than $10. A major oil-sands project was cancelled and, for a while, Fort McMurray was on hold.

But it didn't last. The industry took off again in the 1990s after Ralph Klein became premier and changed the royalty regime in the companies' favour. The result was $150-billion in development between 2000 and 2008. Output jumped from 375,000 barrels a day in 1992 to 1.1 million in 2006.

(Today the figure is approaching two million.)

The oil sands were exploding once more, and Fort McMurray was a mess. The population went nuclear, going from 33,078 in 1996 to 61,374 in 2011. The city was in the impossible position of trying to keep up. This boom hit harder than any of the previous ones because, by this time, there was a generation of young people who'd grown up there and thought of it as home.

"I graduated high school in 1998, and I could not move out of my parents' house," says Colleen Tatum, who co-owns an automotive-services company and was elected to the Wood Buffalo council in a by-election in late March.

"No one would rent to me because I wasn't a contractor.

They wanted all the people with the 'living out allowance,' "she says, rolling her eyes.

Those "LOAs" of the 1990s remain an object of scorn in Fort McMurray. Transient workers from across the country were given huge living allowances, so landlords jacked their rents. The city was then largely confined to the downtown core - Thickwood and Timberlea were still nascent.

People were desperate for housing of any kind. Ms. Tatum and her husband had to buy a home in order to live on their own.

"Everyone said we were crazy," she says. "A single-family house with a double attached garage, 1,500-something square feet for $206,000. Best thing we ever did and, thank goodness, because we would never have been able to afford the rent increase, rent increase, rent increase, rent increase."

Everyone who lived through that boom has stories about the madness. "Trying to go to the grocery stores or any of the stores in town, it was like Boxing Day every day," says Matt Youens, a Suncor human-resources employee who arrived in 2006.

"Like, you just had pallets on the middle of the floor, empty shelves, huge lineups."

And then came Al Gore and the world's sudden awareness of the perils of climate change. The international media turned their gaze on the city just as it was struggling, and failing, to cope.

Suddenly, Fort McMurray was the poster child for climate change and boom-town excess. The images of the tailing ponds around the mine sites, and of the muddy, stark landscapes of the open-pit mines themselves, became symbols of our overreliance on fossil fuels at any cost.

At the same time, Canada's new western prime minister was selling the oil sands as the motor driving the country's economy.

In one of his first major speeches after being elected in 2006, Mr. Harper called Canada an "energy superpower" and boasted to a London audience of "an ocean of oil-soaked sand ... under the muskeg of northern Alberta - my home province."

Al Jazeera, the CBC, the BBC, Vice and The Guardian - they all came between 2006 and 2008 to report in sensational tones on the classic downsides of a boom town: drugs, prostitution, homelessness, aboriginals left out of the economy, people living in trailers or crammed into apartments and houses, paying mad rents.

Since 2010, rocker Neil Young, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Titanic director James Cameron and his leading man, Leonardo DiCaprio, have used their star power to draw negative attention to the oil sands by visiting Fort McMurray and the mine sites. "The fact that this filth is being created now, when the link between carbon emissions and global warming is so obvious, reflects negligence and greed," Bishop Tutu said when he was here last year.

It has reached the point that, when you see the oil sands for the first time after hearing so much about them, it's like meeting a celebrity. There's a frisson of excitement. The mammoth scale adds to the moment: the towering cokers belching thick clouds of smoke, the 30-metrehigh berms holding back the tailings ponds, the massive machinery. Especially the machinery.

The giant trucks that can haul 400 tonnes of bitumen each cost $7-million; the shovels that load the stuff into them cost $40-million. The pressure on the tires of a fully loaded haul truck is so great that they can spontaneously catch fire inside. Drivers call these "puffers" and keep an eye out for them, watching for smoke from one of the six $50,000 tires on their co-workers' trucks as they go back and forth.

Then there's the smell coming out of the cokers that upgrade the bitumen. The stench is a combination of pulp mill and curry fart. It's memorably unpleasant - powerful enough to overwhelm the senses when first experienced and cause a panic attack, complete with an elevated heart rate.

Blessedly, you can smell it only when directly downwind from one of the coking units. The stink rarely makes it to Fort McMurray - at least not in the wind.

"When I was a little kid growing up here, Dad would come home with his lunchbox and his boots, and there'd be that smell on his clothes," says Jared Collins, who moved to Fort Mac in 1977 with his family, when he was 3, and who now works for a company that supplies heavy equipment, haul trucks included.

"Smells like home. Anybody that grew up here would say the same thing."

Mad shifts and Australians Brad Enright, one of the young bartenders at the hip Wood Buffalo Brewing Company in downtown Fort Mac, makes a drink for a regular and, as he sets it on the bar, says in his Australian accent, "I saved a life today."

It turns out that, when not shaking martinis, Mr. Enright, 23, lifeguards at the MacDonald Island recreation centre, a giant complex of pools, rinks, a library and other facilities, all sponsored by industry. A mother turned away for a second and her toddler sank to the bottom like a stone. Mr. Enright jumped in and pulled the girl out.

On-site or off, people in Fort McMurray work hard. Many of the transient younger crowd working in bars and restaurants rent single bedrooms that cost as much as $1,100 a month; they need more than one income to survive. Some stay for longer than others; a lot of them make money and then travel, like Sydnee Porter, a popular server at Wood Buffalo Brewing who has big plans to see the world.

For people working on-site and trying to make Fort McMurray their permanent home, life can be gruelling, even if the pay is high. Jennifer Best, senior director of community services at the Wood Buffalo YMCA, knows this all too well. Her husband drives a haul truck on the "14 and seven shift." That means he works seven days straight, then seven nights straight, and then has seven days off.

"We can go essentially 14 days without seeing each other, if I'm working late and he's going to work," Ms. Best says. "It's really really tough on him."

The hardest part of the 14-andseven shift is the "short change" when workers switch from days to nights. Back when the boom was peaking, men doing a short change would finish work, drink all night in a bar, then pass out, sleep it off and wake up in time for work that evening.

"There was no ownership to what Fort McMurray was in 2008.

It was just a place to come and make money, and leave," says Ms.

Best, whose employer is one of the city's main providers of social services.

That has clearly changed. There are kids everywhere: teens walking to the mall in open jackets when it's minus 25 (why do teens do that?); toddlers splashing in the pools at MacDonald Island; boys draining jumpshot after jumpshot during open hours on the basketball court at the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre at Keyano College, the city's only postsecondary school.

"The party's leaving Fort McMurray," says Ms. Best. "We're more family-oriented now."

But the shift work and daily commutes are hard on families trying to make a life in Fort McMurray. "We have very young mothers raising children essentially as a single parent, because the other person's out at site working those long shifts," she says. "When they actually do have time together, they're kind of in their own worlds. They're not a functioning family unit.

And then the breakdowns start to happen."

The Canadian Index of Wellbeing revealed that only half the working population in Fort McMurray has a regular daytime shift, well below the Canadian average of around 70 per cent. The other half is working evenings, nights and rotating shifts that routinely last 12 hours (one in five respondents said they work more than 60 hours a week).

Shift work is hard on employees and has been associated with health issues including injury, heart disease and cancer.

It makes child care difficult, weakens a person's sense of connection to the community (20 per cent of respondents complained of this) and causes people to feel rushed - all of which, and more, were reflected in the survey.

"Fifteen per cent reported that they could not get going in the morning - that was one of the big alarm bells," says Ms. Best.

Another alarm bell was that 2.6 per cent of the respondents said they had "poor" mental health, a level she calls "concerning."

"It would be better if industry was willing to adjust work times, even make them eight-hour shifts or something that would help offset the time away," she says.

"But money doesn't pay attention to sleep deprivation."

The new inconvenient truth The other major problem facing the new Fort Mac is the growing income gap. In a city where half the households earn more than $200,000 a year, people are being left behind. A tragedy that captured international attention in February was sadly emblematic of this reality.

Nida Habib and her husband, Syed, had a basement unit in one of the older buildings downtown.

Their five young children were being ravaged by bedbugs, so Ms. Habib sprinkled a pesticide in the corners of the apartment - an illegal and deadly pesticide that relatives had given her on a holiday trip home to Pakistan. The pellets gasified and poisoned all the children. The two youngest died in hospital.

The day of the tragedy, two young Mounties posted down the hall from the Habibs' apartment said that, when they started their shift, they had thrown out garbage left rotting on a stairwell floor.

Conditions like these are a hangover of the boom years and living-out allowances. Most of the social services like the YMAC are still downtown, so that's where newcomers settle. They take what they can get, apartmentwise.

The maddening thing for Ms. Best is that the rents downtown remain high even as the city expands into the new suburbs.

She feels "rage against the landlords ... who are charging the equivalent of a three-bedroom townhouse mortgage. They need to start investing the money that they're receiving into maintaining these buildings.

"In the boom time, people turned a blind eye. It was just accepted. But as we start to become a community, we will not accept that sort of failing attention."

Ms. Best has an interesting theory - that it has been in the provincial government's interest to let the old narratives of Fort McMurray boom-town insanity stay in place. "We keep getting stolen from by government," she says of the oil royalties that flow to the province and Ottawa.

"They just keep raping, for a lack of a better word. We've kind of been kept a little bit of a secret.

That, you know, media has portrayed us as this crazy town - there's hookers and blow.

"I believe that there was a certain element [for whom] it was okay, so that there was no value put on what was actually happening here."

Others say the same thing - that the provincial government ignores the fact that a new generation of residents is turning Fort McMurray into a viable, long-term community. It's the new inconvenient truth.

Ms. Tatum, whose automotiveservices business saw its first year-on-year sales decrease in a decade in February, says she has long pushed for some clarity about what the province and Ottawa see as the future of the city where she was born.

"What is our plan long-term, going forward? Is industry going to work with us to create a sustainable community? Are we going to be able to achieve that?

Or are we going to continue these boom-and-bust cycles that never really address the core issues of housing, stability, livability?" But how does a government plan the future of a single-industry town that produces a controversial, non-renewable resource whose price is set by capricious global forces? Does it build longlasting infrastructure, or procrastinate and wait to see what happens next?

"If that's your plan, be honest," responds Ms. Tatum. "Let's just be honest about it and say, 'You know what, we're never going to invest that money there because we don't see the value in it.' I won't agree, but at least we can stop hoping and trying."

Squeezed out In the meantime, Fort McMurray is getting on with it.

The city is as diverse as Toronto. There are more than 100 ethnic communities, with the latest influx of immigrants coming from East African countries such as South Sudan and Somalia. But whereas Toronto's communities tend to be more segregated over the vast expanse of the country's biggest city, in Fort Mac everyone is shoulder to shoulder.

If there is one place where this is most apparent, it's in the Catholic schools. The publicly funded Catholic system now has more students than the Fort McMurray Public School District. This is partly because of the city's large Filipino and Newfoundland populations. But it's also because parents from the growing Muslim community like the idea of a faith-based education for their children, even if the faith isn't their own.

Thirty per cent of the Catholic board's students are non-Catholics, says George McGuigan, the superintendent of schools. They, too, attend liturgical events every month and have to take religion class.

The Catholic board is also reaching out to aboriginal students, graduating them at a rate that is significantly higher than the provincial average.

"We pay attention to them," Mr. McGuigan says. "It's a conscious, targeted effort that everybody inside the system knows and understands, that we are here for the aboriginal students and we need to keep working with them and making sure they're being successful."

In Fort Mac, aboriginal people make up 10 per cent of the population but 40 per cent of the homeless. If you meet First Nations people here who are in their 50s or 60s, chances are that they were taken from their families in the terrible "Sixties Scoop" and put in residential schools hundreds of kilometres away.

The legacy of destroyed aboriginal families is as deeply felt here as anywhere, and all the riches flowing from the oil sands can only do so much.

The Fort MacKay First Nation, which lies in the heart of the oil sands north of Fort McMurray, has made millions, thanks to the companies it created.

The reserve of 600 has its own hockey arena, an outdoor amphitheatre that seats 1,200, and dozens of new homes for band members.

Other reserves in and around the hamlets of Wood Buffalo have seen their situations improve, due to oil-sands money.

Many aboriginal people work in the industry.

But some reserves, such as Janvier, are still decades behind - many homes have no running water and there are no paved roads. In Fort Chipewyan, band members are concerned about a high rate of cancer that they believe is being caused by oil-sands pollution of the Athabasca River.

And everywhere, the land that aboriginal trappers and hunters rely on to provide for their families is being squeezed.

Mr. Boucher is one of the remaining few who try to make a living off fur. Last year, he earned $2,700. This year, it will be less, because his harvest has been unusually low - only one lynx, and fewer martens, otters and fishers.

"They didn't find my traps," he says by way of explanation. But others blame all the development, the constant highway construction, the oil and gas extraction and the increase in the human population for the decline of the animal population.

Paul Cree, a former band chief who lives in Anzac, south of Fort Mac, says that he now has to drive 200 kilometres from the oil sands to find a moose.

You only need to look at a map to see what has happened. When the First Nations and Métis of the Athabasca region signed Treaty 8 with Ottawa in 1899, they were told they would always be able to use their lands in traditional ways - except for any areas needed for development or settlement.

Now, when you lay a map of the government's oil-sands leases over the traditional traplines and hunting grounds along the Athabasca River, every single inch is taken. There is almost nowhere left to be an Indian any more.

From Argos to Aerosmith This weekend, Fort McMurray is playing host to a Canadian Football League pre-season game between the Edmonton Eskimos and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The teams will play at Shell Place, a brand new, $127-million outdoor stadium beside the MacDonald Island rec centre. Two weeks later, the Eskimos return for a regular-season game against the Toronto Argonauts; on July 19, the Jurassic-period rock band Aerosmith is coming.

The arrival of Shell Place is another moment in Fort McMurray's transition from boom town to comfortable Canadian city. But where other cities of its size may become a little, let's say, staid, Fort Mac still has that frontier edge.

Cabaret was community theatre on a par with professional work: raunchy, funny, unselfconscious, dark, fearless, expertly staged and wonderfully acted. The audience cheered on the actors, occasionally letting out a catcall at a scantily clad friend. The abrupt, dark ending - an empty stage, projected documentary images of a Nazi concentration camp, and the sound of a train clacking on the tracks - was remarkable for its willingness to forgo a curtain call for the deserving cast.

Afterward a woman in the lobby said the fact that a community theatre troupe could produce such professional work was a "Fort McMurray thing."

When you remember that Fort McMurray has gone from 1,200 people to 75,000 in 55 years, you understand what she means.

Everyone here is from away, or one generation removed from it.

People literally reinvent themselves in Fort McMurray, leaving behind old lives, go-nowhere careers and, in the case of many immigrants, trouble.

"You don't pick up and move your family to Fort McMurray just because," says Mr. Fortna, who works with many aboriginal and environmental groups.

"You're coming from economically depressed areas ... sometimes, war-ravaged areas.

"A lot of people saw what bad really looks like, and they're much more willing to be part of something good, and they can see it in Fort McMurray."

"It's all opportunity," says Mr. Youens, the former Suncor employee, who moved to Calgary this spring after his wife was transferred there. "It is here for you to take, if you work at it and you're open to saying yes when things come your way.

"It's almost like dog years.

Like, for every year that you're up here, and you've got your teeth in something, it's like two or three years' experience elsewhere."

No one was more emblematic of the "Fort McMurray thing" than Diana Moser, who starred in Cabaret as Sally Bowles, the role made famous by Liza Minnelli.

Ms. Moser, 28, came from Hamilton in 2011 fresh out of university to work as a curator at the Oil Sands Discovery Centre.

Her previous stage experience had been as part of musicalensemble shows in high school.

A year ago she appeared in the chorus in another ambitious Keyano production, Les Misérables.

"What have you got to lose" is how she described the attitude required to perform a revealing and difficult musical role with no formal training.

"I think it's because so many of us come from different places but for similar reasons. And so, when we're all together in this community, we just think, 'Well, I've made this choice to come here and I'm going to make it the best that I can.' " In a way, Fort McMurray is the Hollywood celebrity of Canadian cities: overanalyzed, hypercriticized and suspected of only being in it for itself by people who've never come within a hundred miles of it.

And then you go there.

"You think you know Fort McMurray," Ms. Moser says, "but you never know what to expect."

Peter Scowen is a member of The Globe and Mail's editorial board.

Associated Graphic

At 34, Colleen Tatum, above, is a multitasker typical of her community: mother of three, business owner and local councillor.

Photography by Peter Power

Massy Boucher, above, is 73 and one of the few area residents still trying to trap furs for a living. Lately, things have not been going well.

A digital greeting suggests not everything about Fort Mac has matured; business owner and regional councillor Colleen Tatum chats with her husband while at home with their kids.

Colourful Parkview Manor is one of the core-area apartment blocks where newcomers tend to settle; Gemechis Deressa, who arrived 18 months ago from Ethiopia, helps his son board a mall ride.

Chef Kishor Singh, above centre, is originally from Jaipur and once cooked for Indian royalty; streetlights await the arrival of houses and traffic in the city's ever-expanding north-end suburbs.

Dogs frolic in a spring puddle in a rare local green space that allows them to do so off-leash; two of Fort Mac's less fortunate wait with their haul for the bottle depot to open for business.

Australian import Brad Enright pulls a pint at the Wood Buffalo Brewing Company; Shell Place, a $127-million sports complex on MacDonald Island officially opens this weekend with a CFL game.

Harvey Sykes lives off the grid in a cabin in the oldest part of town - for more about him, see our video at; trees line the Clearwater River, which winds into the Athabasca.

Tueday, June 16, 2015


A Saturday Focus article on Fort McMurray incorrectly said Matt Youens worked for Suncor. In fact, he worked for Syncrude.

Cry of the tiger
AGF head Blake Goldring once boasted that the mutual fund giant was on the prowl. Now it looks endangered
Friday, August 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page P24

In early December of last year, as the investment community was starting to gear down for the holidays, Blake Goldring quietly prepared to drop a bomb. As a dim morning light spread over Bay Street, the CEO of AGF Management Ltd. got ready to announce the most contentious move of his 15-year reign.

A fierce debate among investors and analysts had presaged the decision. Simple math suggested there was no other option but to cut AGF's dividend: By December, quarterly payments to shareholders ate up virtually all of AGF's free cash flow, leaving nothing to invest back in the business. Still, there was a major unknown: Would Goldring have the nerve to chop the payout? Few things irk investors more than dividend cuts, and the CEO was already under siege for AGF's ugly investment performance.

The uncertainty ended with an explosion. At 8 a.m. on a Tuesday, Goldring slashed AGF's payout by an astounding 70%. Caught off guard, investors struggled to digest the news. When the stock market opened for trading an hour and a half later, the company's shares tanked 21% in three minutes compared to the previous day's close.

Goldring had plenty of reasons to want to keep the dividend intact. As an investment manager with $35 billion in assets under its watch, AGF is an institution that Canadians count on to safeguard their retirement savings. Slashing the payout could send a message that the company couldn't manage its own finances. A cut would also personally look bad for the CEO. Blake's late father, Warren, co-founded the firm, and AGF was in fine form when Warren handed the reins to Blake, who is now 56, at the start of the century. By at least one reckoning, AGF was Canada's best-selling mutual fund company in both 2000 and 2001.

And regular investors wouldn't be the only ones to feel the pain. Of 82.9 million outstanding common shares in AGF, the Goldring family directly or indirectly own more than 13 million. The wealth generated by this stake, notably $14 million in annual dividend income, accounts for a large part of the Goldring fortune.

But in the end, Blake decided he had no other choice. Despite AGF's historic brand name, the company was in free fall, enduring a run of retail net redemptions--that is, those from mom-and-pop investors--that would stretch to 30 quarters. That meant more client money had gone out the door than had come in for seven years in a row. The only way to save face was to completely retool; the dividend cut offered up the cash necessary to start investing in a new strategy.

AGF's profits have long undulated, and Goldring has done his best to stir up hope in light of the dividend cut. "We've been down before. We've come back in a spectacular way," he says during a July interview. "You're talking to the quintessential comeback kids."

This time, few people are buying it. Two camps have emerged on Bay Street: those who think the company has had it, and are happy to say so--albeit in private--and those who are loyal to the Goldring family but still think a turnaround will be incredibly tough. Full-blown believers are virtually impossible to find.

Because the Goldrings control AGF through special voting shares--a class of stock the general public can't own--the family has an iron grip over the company. (Blake's sister, Judy, became chief operating officer in 2009.) Deep corporate change is often created by tossing out the old guard and installing new faces, but no activist or disgruntled shareholder can make the Goldring family do anything it doesn't want to do. Blake's leadership skills and strategy are constantly questioned, but he'll be in power as long as he and his family want.

The business of selling mutual funds isn't what it used to be, either. AGF is now an endangered species, one of the last big independent companies left in a business that has been gradually taken over by the Big Six banks and major life insurers. In the middle of this battle, the industry's rule book is being rewritten. For many years, AGF made a killing charging high fees to retail clients, but regulators are mandating changes that might make that much harder to do. Industry watchdogs are also debating whether to crack down on the way independent fund companies like AGF persuade investment advisers to sell their funds.

All of which is to say: Even if AGF has a history of recovering, and even if the company rallies behind a leader, is the task too gargantuan this time around?

Founded in 1957, AGF was the first firm to offer ordinary Canadians a way to invest in a pure U.S. equity mutual fund (AGF stood for American Growth Fund). That gave it an edge. The mutual fund industry also looked very different back then, with only 65 competing portfolios in Canada at the end of 1960. Independent companies ran the show, largely because the country's banks had yet to consolidate the world of financial services. Top mutual-fund players of the day operated as an oligopoly of sorts, which allowed them to charge prodigious fees. Simply buying into a mutual fund could cost an investor up to 9% of the investment, and he or she then had to pay annual fees of as much as 2.3% on top of that.

As the industry matured, fund performance cycled through hot flashes and dark decades. The late 1960s were phenomenal; the 1970s were mostly rough; and the 1980s were largely prosperous. Whatever the returns, the industry's fees barely budged. Blake, who completed his MBA at INSEAD and worked for five years at Bank of Montreal, joined AGF in 1988 after his father had heart-bypass surgery. Even then, 30 years after the company was founded, its fees hadn't changed much. "I remember coming in this business when there was just one way to buy a fund," Goldring recalls with a laugh, marvelling at how egregious the industry used to be. "Somebody had paid 8% for one of our funds back then, and I thought, 'Wow, they got a discount from 9%.' "

The industry benefited from dramatic growth in the 1990s. At the start of the decade, the total amount of money stashed in investment funds--a category dominated by mutual funds--came to 6% of the Canadian financial wallet; by the end of 2011, that figure had jumped to 31%. As AGF grew over the decades, Warren Goldring's stature did too. In Toronto, he was a member of the ultra-Establishment National Club, and he was deeply involved in fundraising for the United Way and the University of Toronto. The AGF co-founder said he wanted to create the next great Canadian family--the next Westons, the next Desmarais.

By 1995, AGF had hit a rough patch, struggling to reinvigorate its fund sales growth. For a boost, the firm made its first major acquisition of a mutual fund company, paying about $100 million to acquire 20/20 Financial. The deal added $2.9 billion in assets, taking AGF's total to $7.3 billion. Five years later, Blake took over the company at the end of the market's technology bull run. The new leader was tested early. The same year he took the reins, CI Financial, then Canada's seventh-largest fund company, bid for bigger rival Mackenzie Financial Corp. Worried about being left behind in a consolidation war, Blake had already bid on Trimark Financial but ultimately lost. Eventually he settled on acquiring Global Strategy Holdings for $438 million.

Body blows followed. Like nearly everyone in the business, AGF was bruised by the dot-com crash. Then, in the spring of 2002, Goldring had to grapple with the news that Brandes Investment Partners, which oversaw the AGF International Value Fund, was cancelling its contract so it could set up a rival firm in Canada--a move known as the "Brandes Bomb."

From there, the problems kept stacking up. In 2004, Manulife Financial Corp. pulled $900 million it had asked AGF to manage. Retail investors kept fleeing, resulting in 16 consecutive quarters of net redemptions. Less money to manage translated into fewer fees for AGF. By 2004, profit per share plummeted 54% from its peak in 2001.

Instead of capitulating, Goldring dug in. "We are tigers on the prowl," he would say, playing off AGF's striped mascot. In 2003, he began a hiring spree, scooping up star Trimark portfolio manager Keith Graham. To run sales and marketing, Goldring brought in Randy Ambrosie, a former Canadian Football League player who had made a name for himself in asset management. That same year, Goldring presented an ambitious turnaround plan to 150 company executives and managers at Toronto's Four Seasons Hotel. Everything was on the table. "This is the beginning of the new AGF," Dan Richards, a part-time adviser to the company, said. "There are no sacred cows and there is nothing people are not willing to talk about."

Goldring had no choice but to go all in because the industry kept consolidating and AGF couldn't afford to stand on the sidelines as newly merged players muscled ahead. Mutual fund companies were buying rivals (Franklin acquired Bissett, Amvescap bought Trimark); insurance giants were scooping up mutual fund companies (Power Corp., the majority owner of Investors Group, bought Mackenzie, while Sun Life Financial acquired a 37% stake in CI Financial); and the banks were also invading (National Bank of Canada acquired Altamira, Royal Bank eventually bought PH&N). To counter, AGF acquired 80% of Highstreet Partners Ltd. in 2006, adding $4.8 billion in assets under management. Goldring also touted AGF's investment-lending arm, AGF Trust--a unique business line that would help the company grow.

The combination of aggressive sales strategies, soaring stock markets and a measure of luck did the trick. By 2007, AGF was at the top of its game, sporting $56 billion in assets under management. That December, Goldring was named the Canadian Investment Awards' Person of Influence, one of the industry's highest accolades. And it was a meaningful one, since his father had won the Career Achievement Award from the same organization years earlier. Jet-lagged after flying in from Singapore, Goldring got up on stage to accept his award at a gala dinner in Toronto. In his black tuxedo, he looked like a king standing over the industry.

The glory didn't last long. The global financial crisis was starting to unfold.

For years, AGF had struggled to find the right replacement for Brandes, and by 2006 they thought they had it in John Arnold. After winning awards for his AGF European equity fund, the Dublin-based portfolio manager was handed responsibility for the International Value Fund, along with his partner, Rory Flynn. He quickly revamped the portfolio, replacing 41 of its 50 holdings and seeing returns of 41% in 2006.

But soon the bet backfired; when the euro crisis hit, Arnold's funds were heavily exposed to financial institutions. His European equity portfolio lost 37% in 2008, made some of it back in 2009, and then continued to lose 20% or more in the next two years. (Arnold left in 2011.)

By now, this was familiar territory for AGF. Just as happened in the tech bubble, the company's scorching returns were obliterated almost overnight. Other financial services firms were also hurting. Even the once-legendary AIC Ltd., run by Michael Lee-Chin, was sold to Manulife Financial for a pittance. But AGF's slump was particularly bad because it never ended. Keith Graham, the onetime star portfolio manager, left. Randy Ambrosie did too. AGF Trust, the investment-lending arm, worried investors, because, unlike a bank, it didn't have a massive balance sheet to absorb losses in a down market. Worst of all: AGF's poor investment performance started another run of redemptions.

The company's been trapped in a downward spiral ever since, leading to a sea of troubles. Top talent started leaving in 2009--notable portfolio manager departures include Christine Hughes and Patricia Perez-Coutts--and the company's investment performance continued to be disastrous. By the end of 2013, only 30% of AGF's managed assets outperformed the median returns in the industry on a one-year basis, according to Morningstar Canada. That track record fell to only 15% above the median when looking back three years.

With such a spotty track record, it's nearly impossible for AGF to justify its fees. In an era when exchange-traded funds charge as little as five basis points, or 0.05%, annually, AGF routinely charges 2% to 2.5% to its retail investors--and sometimes more. The company's obsession with high fees is at odds with the industry's leading players, who continue to slash their own. CI Financial, Bay Street's current darling, started its fee-cutting campaign more than a decade ago. The gulf between the two companies is now so large that if AGF were to immediately cut its retail fund fees to match CI's, an estimated 50% of its cash flow would evaporate overnight.

With all these woes, it's tough to convince retail advisers that AGF funds are still worth buying. And the company's livelihood depends on them. Unlike CI, which built a distribution network for its funds by acquiring the likes of Assante Corp. in 2003, AGF has always been content to rely solely on other firms to sell its products. This isn't the sure bet it used to be--not when the big Canadian banks are hell-bent on creating their own proprietary products. By selling their own funds, they are able to reap better margins. And they're starting to dominate. In 2000, banks controlled 23% of all long-term mutual fund assets in Canada against 64% for independent firms. By June of this year, the banks' market share had jumped to 48%, while the independents' share was 42%.

Even more worrisome: Since 2012, the patchwork quilt of provincial securities watchdogs has been studying whether trailer fees should exist in Canada. These annual payments, made by mutual fund companies to advisers, are capped, banned or otherwise restricted in most other countries, including the United States. Should they be outlawed here, AGF will have fewer tools to persuade retail advisers to put their clients into its funds. At the moment, the company has the luxury of paying a Royal Bank adviser, say, 1% annually for simply choosing an AGF fund over another firm's.

AGF won't say much about the banks, likely out of fear of alienating a crucial partner. But Lee-Chin is much more vocal about current market realities as he tries to build a new firm. He says that it's now nearly impossible to go toe-to-toe with the banks on ordinary mutual fund products. Because the Big Six own major distribution channels in the form of their branch networks, they have an enormous leg-up. "The banks will be the best 'commodity' player," he argues, meaning they will own the game for plain-vanilla funds. "If you don't build your reputation as being're going to be obsolete."

What lies ahead for AGF is the equivalent of war for a financial services firm. Winning the battle will require a phenomenal leader--someone who is just as deft at inspiring the troops as he is at developing a winning strategy. Goldring has struggled to prove he's that person.

"Every conversation about Blake starts out with what a great guy he is," explains a former senior AGF insider, accurately describing all the conversations that went into the reporting of this story. "People go out of their way to point that out, if only because there's a 'dot-dot-dot' behind it." Their next thought, the insider says, is almost always a comment suggesting the CEO's leadership is lacking.

Some people think Goldring would much rather do something else. A major supporter of the military--he is Honorary Colonel of the Canadian Army--his eyes light up when talking about the armed forces. The CEO himself has admitted he originally had no intention of joining the family business. Others say Goldring isn't a good enough communicator. Indeed, when speaking, he can seem nervous, even when he isn't.

Another concern: Goldring is "too nice." Even though returns had been rough for years, Goldring was loyal to his portfolio managers, often treating them with kid gloves, according to people who know the company well. Internally, it fostered a deep rift between the sales team and the portfolio managers, in the way of children competing for daddy's attention. Goldring was not one to lay down the law. "AGF has a long history of giving their portfolio managers almost carte blanche," says the former insider. "They are allowed to run their funds however they want." Goldring had a particular fondness for Martin Hubbes, whom he promoted to CIO in 2005. During the Hubbes era, AGF had lax rules around what managers could or couldn't buy in their funds. Hubbes considered portfolio construction--the process of determining what securities were bought and sold--to be more of an art than a science.

By 2013, there was enough pressure to force Goldring to do something radical. Too many fires had blazed. One of the worst: AGF had bought asset manager Acuity in 2011, and the acquired company's returns soon went south, fuelled by the collapse of the mining supercycle. Arguably, this performance wasn't Hubbes's fault, because Acuity had just been acquired, but the CIO still parted ways with the company in December, 2013.

People who know the two men say the change must have "killed" Goldring. "Those are always tough decisions," he explains. "It was very clear as we started to move past the crash that we needed to take a hard look at how we were operating the business. ...You always hope that the strategy that you have is going to work, but at a certain point it's clear you've got to take a different direction."

In June, 2014, Goldring hired Kevin McCreadie, a wiry Wharton MBA, as his new president and chief investment officer. The two men are near-polar opposites: While Goldring is nice to a fault, McCreadie, who for the first year on the job commuted to Toronto every Monday morning from Baltimore, doesn't appear all that interested in winning anyone over. Together, they are a classic good-cop, bad-cop combo.

Under the Hubbes regime, AGF's CIO would sit and chat for an hour with whomever was in his office; with McCreadie, important conversations last eight minutes. This style is on display as he sits beside his boss in the conference room to explain his turnaround plan. McCreadie waits for Goldring to finish his rambling paragraphs-long answers before giving his own take in 13 words. He has the air of a professor listening to a student.

Watching the two men interact, it's clear that while Goldring is CEO, McCreadie has considerable say. AGF is trying to transform itself to restore its former glory, and the new CIO is the one responsible for executing the game plan. Before getting hired, he and Goldring exchanged ideas for five months. "We spent a lot of time together," the CEO explains. Those conversations, coupled with the company's string of rough results, made Goldring come to the "realization that we had to do something different" --a nice way of saying the situation was dire and a shakeup was necessary.

Instead of rifling a cannon shot through the industry to make sure everyone knows AGF is still kicking, McCreadie is relying on basics to turn the company around. "This is a pretty simple business when you think about what we do," he explains. "The product we make is about return on people's assets...I'm very simple-minded about that. If we drive investment performance, we do two things: We keep our clients, and we get new ones." Formerly the CIO of the American firm PNC Capital Advisors, McCreadie has three goals: improving investment performance; pushing for new products outside mutual funds; and putting an increased focus on risk management. Of these, he spends the most time talking about performance and risk.

"Where the industry has gotten offside, I think, is not understanding that clients don't want to go through 2002, 2008 again," he says. McCreadie, who is 55, spent much of his first year at AGF travelling across the country, meeting with more than 1,000 advisers. That's where he learned that investors can't bear another shock. "The world has changed, so risk has become the first part of the conversation, not the last." The new CIO isn't looking for the best returns--he simply wants to consistently be in the industry's top two quartiles.

McCreadie is also big on accountability, particularly for portfolio managers. He wants to hold them responsible for their returns. No one was quite sure of what that meant in his first year on the job, but by June he started sending messages. Marc-André Robitaille, who ran the Dividend Income Fund, left the firm after racking up a poor investment performance.

Then, in July, AGF announced internally that Gordon Forrester, the head of its dwindling retail arm, would leave--no small matter, considering this business generates an estimated 80% of AGF's revenues.

It could be that McCreadie is there to do all the things Goldring knows he himself isn't capable of. Whereas Goldring is personally invested in AGF, his CIO favours a systematic approach--something that matches his personality. McCreadie shows little emotion as he talks, rarely smiling or pausing in his no-nonsense delivery.

As for product lineup, AGF seems to adhere to Lee-Chin's theory that mutual fund companies will struggle to compete with the banks on plain-vanilla products. AGF is trying to look more like a specialized money manager; it spent much of the past year raising money for an infrastructure fund that will invest in toll roads, airports and the like--safe, stable assets that Canada's pension funds continue to gobble up. December's dividend cut freed up some cash that helped AGF to seed the fund's initial investment: joining the consortium buying the passenger terminal at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

AGF is also trying to expand its institutional and high-net-worth businesses, meaning it hopes to manage money for big groups such as pension funds and for wealthy Canadians who want to invest in more than simple stocks and bonds. Until now, AGF's retail arm, with its high annual fees, has dominated profits, but it will be hard to keep these fees so high as rivals continually cut theirs. As well, the industry is emphasizing better disclosure. Thanks to new regulations taking effect in 2016, retail investors will receive annual tallies of how much they pay to advisers each year. The initiative, known as CRM2, has caused much consternation--the industry's Y2K moment, perhaps.

Sitting together, Goldring and McCreadie continually brush off questions about being flustered by the negative spotlight. The only thing they admit to getting frustrated by is the market's refusal to ascribe any value to anything but their retail business--something that is especially frustrating because the other arms are the focus of their growth plan. "If you really dissect it, the sum of the parts is worth more than where the stock price is today--I don't argue that with them," says Scott Chan, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity. "But the problem is that AGF has that dual-class structure and Blake...doesn't seem to want to sell the company or divest some of these business units. So there's no real catalyst to unlock the value." In other words, investors only see a long slog ahead--one where many rivals are trying to market themselves as alternative asset managers, including Lee-Chin.

The obvious question, then, is why not sell--if not the whole business, at least some divisions?

If only there were a simple answer. Right before the financial crisis, when AGF was trading around $38 per share, CI put in an offer, according to people familiar with discussions at the time. Some of the banks also circled AGF. For the Goldrings to have rebuffed those overtures and then sell the business today, when AGF's shares are trading around $6, may simply be too hard for them to stomach. AGF's market value, as of early August, is roughly $500 million, down from $3.4 billion in 2007.

Family dynamics also loom large. If Blake threw in the towel, it'd be much tougher to fulfill his father's wish of creating a dynasty. AGF is what keeps the Goldring name in the headlines--for better or worse. The Goodman family proved willing to sell its stake in DundeeWealth to Scotiabank in 2011, but the Goldrings don't seem willing to let go.

There is also the possibility that AGF may not be able to sell, even if it wanted to. Buying the company probably doesn't make sense for CI or a Canadian bank today because the differential between their fee structures and AGF's is so large. It'd be tough to pay a premium to acquire AGF and then turn around and slash its fees in half to make them palatable for the buyer's existing clients. Maybe there's an insurer who sees a scarcity of wealth management assets available in Canada and is willing to do it for the sake of bulking up--traditional life insurance is a tough business because interest rates are so low--but that's a big maybe.

Asked why he doesn't just sell, Goldring won't admit that he's even thought about it, instead opting for the canned response about being comeback kids. He also says his company has a lot of things going for it--some of which are undeniable. In an era where six big banks dominate Canadian's financial decisions, he believes investors will look to independent firms. AGF is also diversifying its product offering and has boots on the ground in different parts of the world, with offices in places such as Singapore, Beijing and London, which he believes adds global expertise--something his father specialized in. And there are signs the emphasis on performance is paying off: 45% of the company's assets now sport returns above the industry median over the past three years. Not exactly stellar, but an improvement.

Eventually Goldring admits any turnaround won't be easy. "I'd love to just snap my fingers and have everything done in a quarter, two quarters," he says. "But it's not that way." McCreadie is on the same page, ruling out any transformative acquisitions for the sake of bulking up quickly. AGF's done that, and it's been burned. Acquiring Highstreet in 2006 added about $5 billion in assets under management, but nine years later only $1.4 billion remain. "There's no Hail Mary pass that wins the game overnight," McCreadie says.

Ironically, it's possible the company's incredible recovery leading up to the global financial crisis was the worst thing for AGF in the long term. Getting out of that rut made Goldring believe anything's possible. This time around, as sound as AGF's performance-driven strategy seems, it may not be enough because the competitive landscape looks entirely different than it did a decade ago, and AGF's current downturn is about twice as long as its last one. During this drought, AGF's hype has lost its edge. No matter how good its new products are, it will be a struggle to win back public opinion. Ask anyone at BlackBerry Ltd. how hard that is to do.

People who know Goldring well say everything that's transpired has personally wounded him. McCreadie's in a different boat. He could have stayed in Baltimore, but he wants to take a run at one more major challenge before he retires, and hopes the rest of the company also revels in the complexity that lies ahead. "The journey is what this is all about. The fun is taking the Cubs to the World Series." (They haven't been there since 1945.)

In a funny way, it's an apt analogy for what AGF must endure if its recovery is going to happen. McCreadie still thinks like an American, and the mutual fund market south of the border is dramatically different. The banks and insurers have much more power here, and the new guy calling the shots has to learn to navigate the Canadian market. Our culture is different, too, and he'll have to make the adjustment to win over the retail advisers AGF relies on to sell its funds.

No sooner is the Cubs comparison out of McCreadie's mouth than Goldring jumps in to politely tell him the better analogy is the Toronto Blue Jays.

They haven't made the playoffs since 1993.

Associated Graphic


'If I send him, he may die. But if I keep him here, he will die'
Gang violence in El Salvador is so severe that parents are putting kids as young as 9 in the hands of smugglers heading north. Stephanie Nolen reports on impossible choices in one of the world's most violent nations
Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F1

AGUILARES, EL SALVADOR -- The last time Irma Avila's son was deported back to El Salvador, the officials who handed him over to her delivered a harsh rebuke: You're a terrible mother, they told her. You can't keep sending your child with the coyotes like this. Horrible things could happen to him on the trip to America. It's your job as a parent to protect him - not to risk his life this way.

Ms. Avila listened stoically. And when they were done with their scolding, she answered like this.

"I have reasons," she said. "They are good enough to send him away."

Then she turned with Fernando and led him out the big metal doors of the deportation centre to catch a bus back to their town, with the single goal of keeping him alive long enough to hand him over to another smuggler, just as soon as she could arrange it.

The journey to the United States, which Fernando, 15, has attempted twice, is almost unimaginably perilous. Here is a short list of some of the fates that regularly befall migrant children travelling alone: Kidnapping for ransom. Kidnapping to be used as slave labour packing cocaine for Mexican drug traffickers. Drowning in a river crossing. Death by dehydration in the desert. Getting separated from the group when walking at night, and dying in the fields.

Sexual or other physical abuse by authorities in Mexico if you are caught.

Ms. Avila knows all this. She, and the tens of thousands of other parents who have made the choice to entrust their children to coyotes, have no illusions. But they send their children anyway. This is what it is like to have children in El Salvador today: You feel you are a better parent when you hand your children to a smuggler than when you keep them with you, where you can see them, where can you stand over them at night and watch as they sleep.

"If I send him, he may die," Ms. Avila says. "But if I keep him here, he will die."

There is a war under way in El Salvador, between street gangs whose members kill each other in a senseless battle for territory and retribution, and between the gangs and the state, which eight months ago launched a crackdown that has served only to enflame the violence. Seven hundred and sixty-three people were murdered here in the first 28 days of this month; El Salvador will almost certainly overtake next-door Honduras as the homicide capital of the world this year. The country has the same population as greater Toronto, yet more people died here on some weekends this summer than in Toronto in all of last year.

The gang problem is not new - tens of thousands of Salvadorans fled to the United States during the civil war in the 1980s, and some wound up in Latino street gangs in Los Angeles.

In the 1990s, the U.S. government carried out mass deportations of gang members, many by then hardened criminals, to El Salvador and neighbouring countries - into unsteady new democracies where police forces had no experience with this kind of organization. These have been deeply violent places ever since.

But the killing has never been as fierce as in the past 18 months, when, first, the government pulled its support from a gang truce that had been negotiated by church and other community leaders, and then launched its "iron fist" crackdown. The resulting death rates and the siege mentality give the gangs a rapacious need for new recruits. And they have a preferred demographic: The average age of formal gang recruitment is 15, according to the charity Save the Children - but long before that age, the gangs enlist kids as couriers and scouts.

'We will cut your ears off'

They first came for Fernando Avila two years ago. (The Globe has changed the names of the family in this story, and is not publishing photos in which they can be identified, because they face a risk of violent retribution for talking to a reporter.) It started with the standard mix of intimidation and enticement. And when Fernando resisted, it escalated to phone calls at all hours of the night: "We will cut your tongue out. We will cut your ears off. We will dig out your eyeballs.

We see you walking to school. We are coming." A car with tinted windows crept along beside the path where he walked to class each morning.

The Avilas understood that these were not exaggerated threats. "You just get crazy, when you hear things like this: because you know if you're receiving these threats, they will kill you," Ms. Avila says. There was no help to be had from the police, who almost never investigate these crimes - and if the gang knows you have reported them, it means certain death.

So Fernando, who dreams of being an engineer, stopped going to school.

And his family started the hushed, frantic conversation that takes place inside houses across this country: It was time for him to go. He was too young to go. He had to get out. He had never been away from home for a single day. He might never come back. It would cost thousands of dollars. They didn't have a penny.

They called the coyote - the same one who had taken Fernando's cousins, when the gang came for them a year ago - and they called the moneylender, who took the deed to their small house in exchange for $7,000 (U.S.). And in June, Fernando joined a flood of children, travelling alone, from El Salvador, and from Honduras and Guatemala, with their similarly pathological levels of violence, trying to reach the United States.

It is impossible to know how many children leave: 57,045 unaccompanied minors were apprehended in Mexico or at the U.S. border in the financial year that began in September, 2013 - up from 13,865 in 2012. But that figure does not include the children who managed to enter the United States undetected, the ones who made it. By July of this year, 28,626 children had been caught travelling alone; now the majority of apprehensions are in Mexico, because the U.S. crackdown on immigration includes "outsourcing" - pushing Mexican authorities to intercept migrants before they ever get near Texas.

"The surge," as it is called, of children travelling alone, and of parents (mostly young mothers) with children, overwhelmed the U.S. immigration system and provoked bitter debate in the United States, including considerable commentary that asked "what kind of parent" would send their child on a three-country journey alone.

Yet the surge was driven in part by changes to U.S. immigration law. President Barack Obama has focused much of his efforts at immigration reform on the ostensibly less controversial area of children. In 2012, he issued an executive order that allows undocumented migrants to remain in the U.S., for the time being, as long as they arrived as minors before 2007. A further order, two years later, stayed the deportation of undocumented migrants who had children born in the United States. These changes do not apply to children who go to the U.S. now - children such as Fernando - but they combined to create an impression in Central America that there would be leniency for minors.

The changes came even as the Obama administration accelerated deportations of undocumented adults to record numbers. Just 2 per cent of Salvadoran adults have their asylum claims accepted. The rest are deported. The net result has been a perverse incentive for parents to send their children alone.

The consequences can be read in Central American newspapers every day. A pair of Honduran brothers, 15 and 17, were shot crossing Mexico in March; the older one died. Eleven-year-old Gilberto Juarez, from Guatemala, starved to death lost in the desert last July, the phone number of his brother in Chicago stitched into his belt. Jaqueline Carpio, a 15-year-old Salvadoran, drowned last month, when the truck she was in plunged into a river, trying to evade Mexican authorities.

Gangs, extortion, hefty loans

The Avilas live in Aguilares, a small town a couple of hours' drive from the capital. Twentyfive years ago, Eduardo's and Irma's families were peasant farmers in a valley not far from here. At the height of El Salvador's brutal civil war, the U.S.backed right-wing military and leftist guerillas took up positions on opposing hilltops above them - and their families fled as the shells rained down.

They found a place to live on the edge of town. Eduardo never went to school, but eventually got a job as a labourer with a road-construction company. Irma got to fifth grade, by the time she was 15, but then she met Eduardo, and she was pregnant and married by 17. Over the years, he built their two-bedroom house, where wedding pictures have pride of place on the rough cement walls, and their daughters, 6 and 4, stuff their giggling friends into the woven hammock on the front porch and swing until the beams creak.

Huge bougainvillea bushes bursting with dark purple flowers hang over the dirt streets here, and chickens and stray dogs nose in and out of the gates. The neighbourhood is in the control of the Barrio 18, one of the two main gangs in El Salvador. Two streets over, it's the territory of the Mara Salvatrucha 13. Gang members cannot cross the invisible border; a civilian also stands a reasonable risk of murder for crossing - no matter if your school or your job or the bus stop is on the other side. Extortion, kidnapping and robbery happen in every part of El Salvador, but it is blue-collar neighbourhoods like this one that the state has essentially ceded to the gangs.

About a year ago, a childhood friend of Fernando's paid a discreet visit with a warning: The mara had their eye on Fernando.

Ms. Avila started walking him to school and back. "He wasn't actually any safer," she acknowledges with a small, bitter laugh - at 5-foot-2, she was then only an inch taller than her son.

"But at least I could see him."

The gangs derive a significant portion of their income from extortion: Every business pays, in a regular envelope collected by a child of 6 or 7.

And individuals must pay, too, for the privilege of not dying. The Barrio 18 went after Ms. Avila's brother Antonio six months ago, demanding he pay $1,000. He has no children - and so the threat was to Fernando, and a cousin of his. The frantic family scraped up $500 in loans from friends and begged for time; Antonio pleaded that the gang take him instead. The offer was refused.

One option, of course, would have been to let the gang recruit Fernando. He would have to undergo an initial ritual, of being beaten by other members, and before too long he would have to do something - an assault, a robbery, maybe worse - to prove his loyalty. But the threats would stop, the extortion would stop; they would live under a weird sort of protection. El Salvador's gangs have an estimated 60,000 members, and another 500,000 people - parents and children and spouses - who are supported by them, a total of 9 per cent of the population. Fernando could likely have gone back to school, for a couple of years.

Ms. Avila, in a low-voiced conversation on the bench of their front porch a few days ago, said she did not consider it for one moment. "I can't send him to go join a gang - they'll just kill him.

The gang is three choices - hospital, death, or jail." Her son is a sweet boy, who swings around the baby sisters who adore him, tolerates the mess they make in the room they all share, works hard to help his parents. She could not bear to think of him, tattooed and in the uniform of board shorts and Adidas, standing laconic guard on the corner.

But the Barrio 18 had already bankrupted them. The family lives on the $300 Mr. Avila earns each month, barely scraping by.

Some years they also earn another $400 or so from a plot of land they rent to grow corn. But this year the crop failed in a drought.

So when the moment came to call the coyote, there was no money saved at all.

Ms. Avila dug out another phone number, the kind every family has these days, for a moneylender. He took the deed to their small house and gave her the $7,000 she needed for the coyote. She has two years to buy the house back. With interest, she expects it to cost more than $10,000.

Then she called the smuggler.

Sometimes parents ask around, to see whose children got to the States quickly, safely. The more you can pay, the better the coyote.

Parents must put half the money upfront. Demand pushes prices up, of course, so a trip that was $3,500 two years ago is $7,000 now. If you can afford a "full extra" package, for $9,000, your kid won't have to walk much, and will stay in hotels. Every package these days comes with three tries: If you're caught and deported, you try again.

'They put us in cages for dogs'

A day after they sold away rights to their house, Mr. and Ms. Avila borrowed a car from a friend, and, early on the morning of June 17, drove Fernando up to the border with Guatemala. He had a backpack with a change of clothes and some crackers, his birth certificate, a cheap Nokia cellphone, and the phone number of his Aunt Rosa in Miami, on a tiny slip of paper he kept deep in a pocket. A few minutes from the border, they parked the car and called a number the coyote had given them. A man rode up on a bicycle, put Fernando on the back, and pedalled away.

They crossed into Guatemala on a dirt road a few hundred metres from the border post. The U.S. government is pushing the Central American countries to tighten border control, but as Fernando would soon discover, the borders are not the complicated part of the trip. In Guatemala, he got into a minivan with two teenage Salvadoran girls, and in a day, they drove across the country. Near dusk, they were in sight of the Mexican frontier. He and the girls were instructed to get out and walk, at a distance of two metres apart, along a dirt track running down into a gully parallel to the border.

Ten minutes away, a taxi was waiting with the motor running, and it drove them up a dirt road, into Mexico, where another minivan was waiting.

The next few days were a mix of trips in a van driven by a 25year-old Mexican, down dirt sideroads (to avoid Mexico's Federal Police and evade the attention of the narco-traffickers), meals in local houses where the coyotes had connections, rides on makeshift ferries across rivers, and nights in hotels where the arrival of a vanload of teenagers raised no eyebrows. "Everyone else in the hotel is migrants, too," explains Fernando.

His mom called every day.

"Even if I didn't have food to eat," she says, "I paid for those calls.

Because I needed to know he was okay."

When they reached Ciudad Valles, they stopped, and for 20 days they waited in a small house with a Mexican family. Fernando watched movies, and sometimes explored the neighbourhood with the kids who lived there, who were about his age. Then they got word, and headed north again - to Monterrey, where, the coyote said, they were just four hours' drive from the border.

They checked into a hotel; the coyote told Fernando they were waiting for a guy who would put them in the false back of a trailer and take them into Texas.

That afternoon, he was lying on the hotel bed watching SpiderMan - the cartoon, not the movie, he clarifies - when suddenly the door opened and two men wearing badges walked in. "They said, 'Pick up your things, you're going now.' " Dazed, Fernando followed them to the parking lot.

There, he found a truck like the one the dog catcher uses back in Aguilares, except the mesh cages in the flatbed were bigger. Big enough for teenagers. They put Fernando in one, with another boy. "I was okay until then - but that made me cry," he says, a bit fiercely. "They put us in cages for dogs."

He spent 10 days in a detention centre nearby before being shipped south to another one in Chiapas, bordering Guatemala.

Sleeping on a thin mat on the floor, he awoke one night to find an older migrant with his hands in Fernando's pyjamas. He leaped up shouting, and both were threatened by guards with solitary confinement. He turned 15 in the detention centre, the next day.

Finally, on Aug. 11, two months after setting out, he arrived in San Salvador, on an overnight bus from Mexico - the buses come twice a week, up to six in a day, packed with kids. The Avilas got the call the day before, to come to the migrant-reception centre and get him, and they were there in the morning, carrying the matching copy of his birth certificate.

The kids clambered down the bus steps, backpacks swung over their shoulders, their faces pleated in the universal wary smirk of teenagers in an unfamiliar situation. Their shoes flapped on their feet: The Mexican migration officials who loaded them on the bus 24 hours ago had taken away their laces, afraid of suicide attempts.

Government officials registered them and gave them a packet with breakfast; the staff has a swift efficiency honed in the last two years, as the numbers of deported kids has grown steadily.

The children - the youngest 12, the oldest 17 - were taken into a sort of group-therapy session, where they slumped in their chairs looking tired and dazed while a psychologist said how happy she was that they had survived. One by one, they were called out for an interview - about three minutes long - with a social worker from the National Council on Children and Adolescence, intended to screen for those who have been abused or suffered trauma on the journey.

They saw a nurse for another three minutes. The psychologist got them playing Jenga.

The Avilas were outside, in a row of mothers and uncles and grandmothers in white lace kerchiefs - all of their faces a shifting mix of joy that their children were safely back home, and horror: Their children were back home.

When Fernando emerged, Eduardo wrapped an arm around his son's shoulders, and Fernando's studied bravura fell away; he began to sob. The little girls were tugging at his hand, but fell silent when they realized that their father was weeping, too. Ms. Avila kept her face resolute, and herded them toward the door.

They took the bus back to Aguilares - they had nowhere else to go. But now Fernando's risk was infinitely greater: The Barrio 18 knew where he had gone, of course. And his attempted flight would be seen as an act of treachery.

Mr. Avila called the coyote, to book try number two.

Denial - and lies

If he had made the border, Fernando's instructions from his coyote were to walk until he found la migra, as the border patrol is universally known, and turn himself in. A 1997 U.S. court settlement determined that minors detained crossing the border alone must be released to the care of a relative in the U.S., if one is available, or foster care, while they await an immigration hearing. Fernando would probably be released to the care of his Aunt Rosa - who is herself undocumented and who would have to reveal her presence in the U.S. to authorities and risk deportation by claiming him.

At that point, much in his fate would depend on whether the family could take on even more debt to get a lawyer: Non-citizens have no right to state-provided counsel in the United States. Elizabeth Kennedy, a Fulbright scholar who studies the issue of child migrants from Central America, describes cases of unilingual Spanish-speaking six-year-olds "representing" themselves in court cases. A Syracuse University monitoring project found that 47 per cent of children with counsel are able to stay in the U.S. - but 90 per cent of those with no lawyer are forced to leave.

A lawyer could try a number of legal avenues to help Fernando stay, such as a "special immigrant: juvenile" visa. Under international law, he could apply for asylum, as a refugee, fleeing persecution, whose government could not or would not protect him. Fernando might seem like an obvious candidate, but lawyers use this as a last resort, Ms.

Kennedy explains, because it so rarely works. The terms of asylum law essentially don't apply to Central Americans, she said, so rarely do judges recognize their cases - 98 per cent of Salvadorans are rejected.

Their case is not helped by the fact that the Salvadoran government downplays violence and insists that family reunification is the primary cause of most of the child migration - that, with an estimated two million Salvadorans in the United States, the surge is driven by a "pull" factor of parents paying to bring their children to join them. "Calling violence the only cause of migration is a grave mistake, and could lead to the adoption of misguided policy," Zaira Navas, the director of the government's children's council, said in a public presentation last September.

"Reunification, and the economic and social situation in our country, mean that people go searching for better opportunities for their life, because the country is not providing that."

Ludin Chavez, director of operations for Save the Children in El Salvador, dismisses this idea with a brisk shake of her head. Poverty and family reunification have historically been the main "push" factors for migrants, she says. But that changed two years ago; the sharp spike in numbers of unaccompanied minors leaving, paralleling the end of the truce and the renewed gang war, make that clear, she says. "Violence is the primary reason now."

El Salvador has the highest rate of child murder in the world, according to Unicef. In interviews with The Globe, more than a dozen children who had attempted the trip told stories that echoed Fernando's - of classmates disappearing or shot; of seeing a parent or a sibling beaten or killed. All but one said violence was their main motive for leaving. And it isn't just boys: More than a third of the unaccompanied minors are females, girls evading both gang membership and rape. Gang members pick the girls they want, the female migrants explained, and declare them "girlfriends" - i.e. their property. And a girl can no more refuse this than she can any other gang order.

Since the surge began, the government, and those of Honduras and Guatemala, have mounted public-relations campaigns, including radio and television ads, that spell out how dangerous the journey is. Save the Children's research has found sexual abuse of migrant children; enslavement of children by drug cartels; and even the harvesting of teenagers' organs for trafficking, says Ms. Chavez. Data on how many children experience these things are, of course, almost impossible to compile, because the migrants avoid authorities at all costs, and indeed often are abused by officials themselves, who know they are utterly powerless victims.

The ads also warn parents that coyotes are lying - the usual promise from the smuggler is that any child who reaches the U.S. will be able to stay. (Of 16 families interviewed by The Globe and Mail, 15 believed this to be the case.) Ms. Chavez points out that parents have often attempted or made the journey themselves, so they know the dangers, and when the need to get out is so urgent, the coyote's promises are almost irrelevant.

Yet other than the scare tactics, Ms. Chavez says, the government is doing little to address the explosion in child migration.

"Calling it a humanitarian crisis," she says, "is like calling it an act of God, like an earthquake - not something with well-known causes."

No one tracks the well-being of the children who reach the U.S., and no one monitors what happens to the ones who are brought back into El Salvador. "No one follows up with these kids - because they don't want to know," Ms. Kennedy says.

Anecdotally, she tries to follow some of the hundreds of children she has interviewed. "There are deportees who've been sent back and been murdered within hours or within days. And no one is tracking those."

In June, 2014, the Obama administration requested $3.7-billion (U.S.) in new spending on immigration to address the surge, but Congress has yet to release much of it; most of what has been spent has gone into enforcement measures. There have been no significant policy changes that reflect the dramatic shift in push factors. Yet, deportation is no longer a deterrent.

"It's not uncommon for the deported to turn around and leave again the same day," says Ms. Kennedy. "You can't stay."

A dubious gift

The Avilas were hopelessly torn when Fernando came home the first time, two weeks ago: He was in terrible danger, and yet it felt like such a gift, to have him there where they could see him, his big flip-flops in the row by the door, next to the small pink ones - after weeks when they had tried to get used to the idea that they would not see him home again for years. But ultimately, there was no question but that he must go again: The coyote had been paid. Fernando had to get to the United States to evade the gang, and so that he could start to work and send money so they would not lose the house.

Fernando left on a second attempt a week later. He made it four days into Mexico, and was caught entering Chiapas. He was deported and arrived home this past Tuesday. And now they wait.

He sits beneath the tin roof of their house, while the little girls swing in the hammock, and they wait for the coyote to call. He has one chance left.

Stephanie Nolen is The Globe and Mail's Latin America correspondent.

A child's journey from - and back to - El Salvador

1. The Avilas drive to within a few kilometres of the border crossing. They meet a coyote, who takes Fernando, on the back of a bicycle, along a dirt road that crosses the frontier. He is put in a minibus, and travels the length of Guatemala in a day.

2. Within sight of Mexico, Fernando walks through a ditch parallel with the border to a dirt road, where a taxi is waiting to take him and other migrants around the border point. They meet up with a new bus on the Mexican side.

3. They sleep in a hotel, before setting out for Villahermosa.

4. Travelling on dirt roads and taking makeshift ferries over rivers, the minivan takes them to Tierra Blanca.

5. Using vans, taxis and a boat, they reach Ciudad Valles, and wait 20 days here in a safe house.

6. They arrive at Monterrey. Waiting for a van to take them across the border, Mexican migration officials conduct a raid. Fernando is caught and taken to a detention centre for 10 days.

7. Fernando is shipped south by bus for two days, then held at a migrant station in Veracruz with hundreds of other children for 13 days.

8. Eight weeks after leaving home, Fernando arrives in San Salvador.

Associated Graphic

Fernando Avila and his mother, Irma, walking in San Salvador (for safety reasons we have changed their names). Mexican authorities deported the 15-year-old back home after a failed attempt to escape to the United States; his family is waiting for another chance to send him.


A teenager returning home after a failed escape attempt waits as his parents are interviewed at the Care Center for Migrants in the city of Santa Tecla, El Salvador.


A gang member in a prison in Quezaltepeque, on the outskirts of San Salvador, in 2012.


Relatives wait as a bus arrives with a group of children being sent back from Mexico at the Care Center for Migrants in Santa Tecla, El Salvador.



Glamour, pride and cash: why cities compete to put on a sports spectacle
Saturday, July 4, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F1

Here they were, with sweaty palms, patriotic red scarves and ties around their necks and $9.7-million invested in a big idea. The group from Toronto had crowded into a hotel ballroom in Guadalajara, Mexico, in November, 2009, with several hundred others to watch votes being counted in a way that suggested a student council presidency was on the line rather than a multibillion-dollar sports event.

In the previous 18 months, members of Toronto's Pan Am Games bid team, doing their best imitation of political party leaders at election time, had flown to such destinations as Paraguay and Ecuador in hopes of convincing the group of 51 Pan Am voters to back the Toronto ticket. On that day in November, they delivered an elaborate 50-minute presentation: a final splashy sell of their city capped with a moving short film about average kids from the Americas growing up to be athletes and competing in the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto.

The bid team, made up of politicians and business people, and endorsed by both the federal and provincial governments, wanted this. Badly. The city was haunted by two failed bids for the Olympic ("beaten by Atlanta in 1996 and Beijing in 2008).

Jagoda Pike, the bid team's president, sat in the first row of chairs, watching officials count the votes. They called out what was written on each ballot before placing it on the table in front of them in one of the three piles that represented the three finalists: Toronto, Lima and Bogota.

Ms. Pike anxiously watched as one of pile grew faster than the others. Soon, she and a few others clued in to the fact that the tall pile was Toronto's.

Even as she and her entourage rose to their feet amid cheering, hugging and the kind of smiles that hurt your face, nearly 4,000 kilometres away, the naysayers were piping up. Had Toronto actually won something of value or had it been caught in a $1.4billion boondoggle?

Six years later, nearly 7,000 athletes are about to descend on the TO2015 Athletes' Village located in a downtown neighbourhood built from scratch - and the budget has swollen to $2.5-billion. The last time the Toronto region played host to a sporting event of this magnitude was in 1930, when the inaugural British Empire ("now Commonwealth) Games, came to Hamilton.

Come fall, when the bunk beds are removed from the athletes' village, sports venues convert to their long-term use, and final medal counts are forgotten, the lasting legacy of the games may be more apparent.

But for now, cynics are still asking why Toronto, or any city, would want to take on something so colossal, so logistically complex and frightfully expensive - unless perhaps it had a greater prize in sight.

In many ways, the Pan Am Games are the little sister of the Olympics in the Americas. For the past 64 years, they have been staged every four years ("always the year before the Summer Olympiad), showcasing many of the same sports but not always the same calibre of athlete. ("Swimmer Michael Phelps won't be in Toronto, nor will sprinter Usain Bolt.) They're governed by the Pan American Sports Organization, but follow the same charter as the Olympics and are largely organized by the same tribe. Many of the executives on Toronto's Pan Am organizing committee worked with the team that put together the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.

These major sporting events typically run for just a few weeks but their allure to host cities goes well beyond that: They can be a catalyst for building transit and new facilities, and offer emerging municipalities a chance to get on the map.

In playing host, Toronto is putting a lot on the line: It hasn't taken on an event of this scale in 85 years and is spending far more to do so than any of its predecessors. Just a week before the opening ceremonies, organizers are praying the gamble has been worthwhile.

Sparked by sports

Late on a Friday afternoon in mid-June, Toronto Mayor John Tory is making dinner, to a soundtrack of camera shutters.

He isn't going to eat it, of course - he never allows himself to be photographed doing that. Flanked by the chief executive officer of the Pan Am Games and its chef de mission, he is placing slices of pepperoni on a sauced-up round of dough to show off the expansive food hall in the new athletes' village. This photo op is followed by another: a ribbon cutting on Queens Quay, the waterfront boulevard finally open after years of construction - just in time for the Games.

This is supposed to be a good press day for Mr. Tory, for the city and the Pan Am organizing committee. Hey, look at all this city building we're doing. We have new things - we're a world-class city! But both projects, as well as others expedited for the Games, have long been on Toronto's to-do list. Only an infusion of cash from upper-level government ("the province has even assigned Pan Am a cabinet seat) and a firm deadline have spurred them to completion.

That is how it goes with major athletic events.

Their popular appeal crosses party lines and serve as tools for communities to pry generosity from otherwise stingy upper levels of government. Vancouver knows this all too well. The Olympics attracted cash injections to accelerate major infrastructure projects so it could show its best self to the world. It upgraded its Sea-toSky Highway and built the Canada Line extension to its Skytrain. The Olympic Village spurred building in the False Creek area, long a target for redevelopment.

Similarly, the Pan Am village is in the West Don Lands, an area Toronto had a long-term vision to revamp. After the cyclists and sprinters decamp, it will be an instant neighbourhood composed of community-housing towers, condominiums, a YMCA, a student residence for George Brown College and an award-winning park. The development sprang up in record time, again due in large part to a gift of capital from the province. Without it, Waterfront Toronto, the agency representing all three levels of government that oversaw the project, anticipated it would be completed between 2020 and 2025.

Queens Quay had encountered setback after setback for three years after work began. After several deadlines were missed and with the Games creeping closer, Waterfront Toronto put its foot down.

"We said to our contractors, we said to our partners ... You cannot delay now.

You can't come to us in a couple months and say, 'We need longer,' "said Meg Davis, the agency's vice-president of development for the West Don Lands. The cost of the village and other infrastructure ordered to be ready for the Games has almost doubled the original Pan Am budget, bringing it to no less than $2.5-billion.

Weeks before the Mayor's pizza demo, there was much fanfare in the city over completion of the Union Pearson Express, a rapid-transit shuttle that transports people 24 kilometres between the downtown train station and Pearson International Airport northwest of the city - another longawaited project expedited for the Games. Media coverage of these shiny, new things has taken on a celebratory tone, but some ask why it took a multibillion-dollar sporting event to make them happen.

"Do you really need a mega-event to catalyze spending and to get projects built that really we should've been building all along?" asks Matti Siemiatycki, an associate professor at the University of Toronto who specializes in planning and says the city has "missed a generation of infrastructure."

Mayor Tory, however, sees the situation as inevitable: "In business, half the time when you say you're rolling out a new product, there's a date by which you have to do it - the show must go on. I think it's human nature that you put off these things until you no longer can put them off."

In Toronto, even with Pan Am Games pressure, not all the projects on the city's wishlist have been finished in time. A new concourse at Union Station - the major downtown Toronto transit hub - was to be done by now but a new target date of 2017 has been set. The pedestrian tunnel that was to connect Billy Bishop Airport, located on Toronto Islands, to the mainland terminal, also won't be open until after the Games have wrapped despite ambitions to have it ready for crowds arriving for Pan Am.

A promise of major infrastructure upgrades may encourage public backing for a Pan Am or Olympic bid, but there is no guarantee it will be kept. The original budget for the 2007 Pan Am Games in Rio was $162-million, the true cost may have exceeded $1.6-billion. Rio's promises included an expanded transit network, a ring road, a new highway and, most important for residents, the cleanup of sewage going into beautiful Guanabara Bay. None of it materialized.

The federal and provincial governments pledged so much support for Pan Am on condition the wealth be spread throughout the Golden Horseshoe. So, while four new venues have sprung up in Toronto, others are scattered across southern Ontario: a velodrome in Milton; a soccer stadium in Hamilton; a badminton, table tennis and water polo venue in Markham.

But some still saw missed opportunities.

A vision for the much-needed redevelopment of Hamilton's waterfront was central to a bid Ms. Pike had helped put together to have the city hold the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The plan died after that prize went to Delhi, then was revived for the Pan Am bid, which proposed a lakefront stadium for track and field.

Instead the stadium went to York University's campus in north Toronto again denying Hamilton's waterfront the dramatic transformation it seems only a major sporting event can make a reality.

Instead of lamenting missed opportunities, Mr. Tory looks to the future.

If things go well at Pan Am, he says, the city should "be looking for other events that will help us to keep focus on building more infrastructure, developing more neighbourhoods and doing things."

Yet this phenomenon also has a downside: Organizers rush to finish projects that might be better following a slower, marketdriven timeline. In Vancouver, the city took four years to pay down the debt it took on to build the Olympic Village on False Creek. It was to be converted to condominiums, but the recession hit during construction and developers went bankrupt. The city inherited $690-million in debt and struggled to sell pricey units in what was routinely described as a "ghost town." Only last year did it finally get rid of the last of them. The village is now considered a success story, albeit one with a tumultuous past.

Madcap mascot

Pachi is working up a sweat, or rather whoever is in costume as the seven-foot ("maybe eight with the yellow ball cap) porcupine who looks like Chip 'n' Dale's flamboyant cousin. The Games' mascot is dancing in front of the bleachers of the venue where the soccer events will be held. The city lost its shot at a waterfront makeover, but it did get the $145-million Hamilton Pan Am Stadium.

Pachi tries to spark some excitement among the dozens of children who have been bused in to fill the stands, and surprises unsuspecting reporters with unwanted hugs: a one-rodent cheerleading squad. The fanfare stems from the fact the stadium is officially finished - in late May, almost a full year after its original target date. After the crowd hears from a soccer star and the province's Pan Am minister, Mayor Fred Eisenberger, in mirrored shades and an unbuttoned navy jacket, takes the podium and expresses how excited he is. It's a sharp change of tone from the previous week, when he'd sent a blunt letter to the premier's office complaining about all the delays.

Then, after obediently kicking around a soccer ball for the cameras, he joined a reporter to vent further about how the process had tested his patience and that of the city, which had sunk $54-million into the venue, which is to become the home of the Tiger Cats - the city's storied team in the Canadian Football League.

"There's going to be lessons to be learned after all this is over. I have no doubt there may even be some lawsuits," he says.

Asked what lawsuits, he sees the city communications official standing beside him is alarmed, and doesn't elaborate.

Builders encountered a multitude of complications, from replacing faulty caulking that caused leaks in offices to 11th-hour modifications to make sure the stands could support thousands of spectators. The builder will cover the cost, but these setbacks became a year-long headache for subcontractors, city councillors, the Tiger-Cats and Hamiltonians.

The same rang true in Rio, when the Brazilian metropolis parlayed being a Pan Am host into a winning bid for last year's World Cup of Soccer and next year's Summer Olympics - except on an even larger scale. In fact, Brazil is the poster child for sports-sparked development, and now has more soccer stadiums than it knows what to do with. One that cost $900-million U.S. in Brasilia, the capital, is now a parking lot for buses.

Rio also won the Pan Am Games by pledging to build several expensive sports venues, the crown jewel being the oblong Estadio Olimpico Joao Havelange which, with its partial white roof, looks from the sky like a powdered donut. Originally it was to cost about $24-million, which rose to six times that - $152-million - by completion. Proponents said Brazil's secondlargest city long needed such a venue, which helped Rio win the Olympics.

But it, like many of Rio's "Olympics-calibre" facilities, has not held up over the years, and is now undergoing extensive renovations for the Olympics.

It's a concern that New Democrat MPP Peter Tabuns has for Toronto: "I worry that, if they use up the cash on simply construction and operation and don't have the money to endow the facilities so they're there for people to use in the long run, that will be a huge waste of the investment."

Alberto Murray Neto, a former member of the Brazilian Olympic Committee based in São Paulo, says the Summer Games bid by Rio was a way to justify the enormous expense and has just drained its coffers further. Many in Brazil bitterly criticize the decision to sink billions into big sports events when there is so much need for spending on health care, public transit and education in a country where so many still live below the poverty line.

The notion of turning a profit on something like the Pan Am Games is a thing of the past. Winnipeg cleared a modest $8-million in 1999 - not bad for a relatively small investment of $130-million. But four years later, Santo Domingo had major cost overruns, a trend that continued with Rio and then Guadalajara in 2011.

Mr. Murray Neto also scoffs at the desire expressed by many host nations to increase interest and participation in athletics. Why, he asks, was programming for Brazil's impoverished youth not the starting point and why were facilities not designed for broader use by the public?

"They are trying," he explains, "to start to do a house from the roof."

The Montreal factor

The sky was falling. The billowing blue Teflon cover on the main venue of the 1976 Summer Games had buckled under the weight of the winter and torn open. A small avalanche of ice and snow tumbled 61 metres to the floor of Montreal's Olympic Stadium. The auto show inside had to be cancelled.

Rio is far from the only city that knows what happens when a legacy proves to be an albatross.

Mayor John Drapeau, renowned for the successful Expo 67 World's Fair, boasted in 1973 that "the Montreal Olympics can no more have a deficit, than a man can have a baby." Famous last words. The original budget ballooned from $360-million to $1.5-billion, and took the city three decades to pay off.

Montreal is hardly alone. An analysis of all Olympic host cities from 1960 to 2012 by researchers at Oxford University's Saïd Business School found cost overruns in every case.

They identified the Montreal overrun - 796 per cent - as the biggest ("since eclipsed when Sochi spent a reported $51billion on last year's Winter Games).

Although "seen to be a very inexpensive bid at the beginning," says Allison Stewart, one of the report's authors, Montreal's effort accelerated. "It wasn't just enough ... to be sufficient. It had to be really special." The city had been caught up in the Olympics culture of peacocking.

Then there are the long-term costs.

When the sky fell in January, 1999, it was just the latest of many disasters to plague the on the Olympic Stadium. Key parts of its design, including the spage-age, retractable roof, weren't even ready for the opening ceremonies in 1976.

Home to the baseball Expos from 1977 to 2004, the "Big Owe" has since fallen from glory and mostly been used to host trade shows that don't cover its operating costs, let alone the $700,000, orange Kevlar roof added in 1987, the Teflon replacement in 1998 that cost a whopping $37-million or the $220-million in repairs the province now says are required over the next decade - and don't include the roof.

Also, for years after the Games, the city didn't know what to do with the velodrome it had built because normal cycling demand wasn't nearly enough ("a similar fear looms over the new Milton facility). In the 1980s, it became the Montreal Biodome, an indoor, multi-ecosystem tourist attraction.

Despite the cautionary tale presented by past hosts such as Montreal, the prestige seems priceless to those vying for the honour, says Curt Hamakawa, director of the Centre for International Sport at Western New England University.

A member of the U.S. Olympic Committee from 1990 to 2006, he says that, while intellectually, both bid organizers and the public understand the "social and economic ills" that come with events of this size, the chance for fame and notoriety often outweighs them. Especially for emerging cities, such as Seoul, Rio and Beijing.

"It's like getting something precious, a crown jewel, if you like, for their city," Mr. Hamakawa explains. "Most people are proud of the place that they call home and they want to boast about the specialness of their city. Hosting an Olympic games does that like almost nothing else."

Despite having been a booster of the Olympics institution for 16 years, he can't cite a single city that has fully utilized all the expensive, expansive facilities it built.

For Pan Am, the Commonwealth and Olympic Games, venues are always overbuilt to meet the capacity of such major events - and there is little opportunity to have anything else of that magnitude afterward. The stunning Ai Weiweidesigned Beijing National Stadium, better known as the Bird's Nest, was built for the 2008 Summer Games with a seating capacity of 91,000. It has sat virtually empty since then, hosting a handful of events of much smaller scale.

There are really only two bona fide success stories: Los Angeles and Barcelona, says U.S. economist Andrew Zimbalist, author of Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup.

Los Angeles won the 1984 bid because it had no competitors and was therefore able to get away with using existing venues; communication and transportation infrastructure were also already in place.

In 1992, Barcelona took on the Summer Games because doing so aligned with a long-term vision rebuild various rundown parts of the city. From the outset, legacy was the priority.

"They took the Olympics and folded it into the city plan, and they made the Olympics work for the city," Mr. Zimbalist says.

"That reverses the typical sequence."

Build it, but will they come?

In March, basketball phenom Andrew Wiggins, the pride of Vaughan, just north of Toronto, arrived with the Minnesota Timberwolves for a much-hyped game against the Raptors. During practice at the Air Canada Centre reporters asked whether he'd be wearing a Team Canada jersey at the Pan Am Games.

The bashful 20-year-old was noncommittal, saying he would make the call after the season. In the end, the league's rookie of the year passed on the opportunity.

While the Olympics may draw many professional athletes, the much smaller stage the Pan Am Games offers doesn't have the same pull. They couldn't even land a hometown boy.

A poll conducted in May highlighted the plain reality that the Pan Am Games are seen, at best, as a second-tier sporting event even in their host region.

About four in five adults in southern Ontario said they did not plan to buy tickets to the Games. A local paper ran the results with an unapologetically harsh headline: "Most of us not interested in Pan Am Games: Poll."

Since Toronto won the bid, the most coverage Pan Am has received in Toronto media has focused on steadily growing security costs and expense scandals involving members of the organizing committee.

This past week, most Pan Am-related stories were about driver complaints about the region adding new high-occupancy vehicle lanes on many major highways and restricting their use to vehicles carrying three or more passengers.

Despite this, the organizing committee hasn't tempered its ambitious expectation to see Pan Am fever break out. From the start, it has said its goal is to sell out every single event - 1.4 million tickets in all. At last count, sales were less than half of that - just shy of 650,000.

So why did Toronto bet so large on an event with limited appeal?

Winnipeg - the only other Canadian city ever to be a Pan Am host, which it has done twice - had a modest goal as well as a modest budget.

Sandy Riley, chief executive officer of its 1999 operation, says the ultimate objective was to build community in a city that needed a boost after having lost the Winnipeg Jets hockey franchise in 1996. A new athletic centre was built on the campus of the University of Manitoba, but the rest of the spending mostly went to minor upgrades on existing facilities or the construction of temporary ones, such as the velodrome, which was dismantled soon after the closing ceremonies.

Toronto, however, still clings to its Olympic dream.

"I think there was a sense that ... if we were ever going to move into the conversation again, we were going to have to demonstrate that we could actually pull this off," Mr. Siemiatycki says. "That was another longer-term reason to be bidding for this."

The term "Olympic-calibre" has been used by many members of the TO2015 team to describe Pan Am facilities and many of the senior executives from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics team were hired to work on Pan Am.

For now, though, they shy away from questions about the prospect of an Olympic bid. When asked in May if the Olympics would be his focus after the Pan Am Games wrapped, CEO Saad Rafi bristled.

"No," he replied bluntly. When pressed on whether Toronto had what it took to host an Olympic Games, he remained reticent.

"I don't know. I've never hosted an Olympic Games. I wouldn't know."

Before joining the Pan Am venture, Mr. Rafi was Ontario's deputy health minister in Ontario, getting his current job, which paid him $438,718.52 last year, the original CEO, Ian Troop, departed amid accusations of improper spending and rumoured clashes with the Pan Am board's chair, former Ontario premier David Peterson.

And Mr. Rafi is right to be cautious about any Olympic ambitions before the Pan Am has even held its opening ceremonies. It's believed that Delhi's poorly run 2010 Commonwealth Games ("similar to the Pan Am in size) tainted its chances at an Olympic bid for 2024.

Changing Olympic landscape

So much depends on how things go at Pan Am. Then again, a cultural change is afoot at the International Olympic Committee that could bode well for Toronto. Last year, largely in reaction to the reported $51-billion cost of the Sochi Winter Olympics, which has discouraged others from bidding on the Winter Games, the IOC passed Olympic Agenda 2020.

This new legislation is meant to discourage the construction of white elephants and, in the bidding process, give credit to cities who have existing sports venues that would only require minimal upgrades to make them "Olympics-ready."

"Sustainability and legacy are at the core. Really, the event has to serve a longterm purpose," says Christophe Dubi, executive director of the Olympic Games, in an interview from Lausanne.

Even so, cities are waking up to the realities of the costs and benefits. The allure of playing host is waning. The organizing committee in Boston behind the city's bid for the 2024 Olympics has called for a statewide referendum to gauge public opinion - polls have shown very low support among residents so far.

Last year, a host of European cities including Munich, Stockholm and Davos, Switzerland, all contemplating a bid for the 2022 Winter Games pulled out, many due to lack of public support.

But not everyone is having second thoughts. Last month, the head of the Canadian Olympic Committee told a reporter he plans to start bid discussions later this summer.

"My view," Marcel Aubut explained, "is this country should look at the Summer Games as a priority - and there's not any city in the country other than Toronto that could offer the site to do this."

Dakshana Bascaramurty reports on the Greater Toronto Area for The Globe and Mail.

Associated Graphic

Pan Am-orama: the Toronto skyline, above, as seen from the balcony of an apartment in the new athletes' village.


Pachi, the Games' madcap mascot, in action in Hamilton.


Clockwise from top left: Newly revitalized, Queens Quay opened in time for the Games. Mayor John Tory preps promotional pizza while flanked by cyclist Kurt Harnett, right, and Saad Rafi, the event's chief executive officer. The new express train races between Union Station and Pearson International Airport. Canoeist Mark Oldershaw carries the Canadian flag and sprinting great Glenroy Gilbert carries the Pan Am torch during Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill this week.


From left: Montreal's 1976 opening ceremony, repair work at one of Rio's problem-plagued stadiums, and Milton's new velodrome.


Friday, July 10, 2015


A Saturday Focus feature on sports events incorrectly referred to the former mayor of Montreal as John Drapeau. He was Jean Drapeau.

After the flood
Ten years later, The Globe's Gary Mason returns to find a city on the mend - at least for some residents. But the benefits of the recovery aren't distributed equally, and New Orleans won't be healed until they are
Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F1

It's a mid-summer evening at Alice M. Harte elementary and many of those jammed into the school's gymnasium are fanning themselves with anything they can find. The city is in the midst of a nasty heat wave, with scorching temperatures made worse by wilting humidity.

The few hundred people occupying rows of neatly aligned aluminium chairs and side-court bleachers are getting restless.

Soon, the city's mayor, Mitch Landrieu, steps up to the dais at the front of the room, his tie loosened, the sleeves on his white dress shirt rolled up over thick forearms, his bald head glistening under the lights. "Y'all so quiet," he begins, while pulling the microphone out of its holder. "Guess that's going to change."

The mayor is accompanied by the heads of every department at city hall, including his chief of police. It's a meeting Mr. Landrieu and his staff hold twice a year in the five biggest districts in the city, this one being in Algiers, a working-class neighbourhood on the west bank of the Mississippi River that was largely spared the devastation wrought when Hurricane Katrina hit the city 10 years ago today.

While the gatherings are ostensibly to seek the public's input ahead of the next city budget, they're just as importantly a means for Mr. Landrieu to gauge how he's doing. And this year, it's an opportunity to massage a theme he has been promoting: New Orleans as a post-Katrina exemplar of resilience and determination; a city that overcame a near-death experience to become great again.

"We came out of 9/11 weak because our tourism economy stopped functioning. Just when it got strong again, Katrina hit, then [Hurricane] Rita hit, then [Hurricane] Ike hit and then [Hurricane] Gustav hit and then the national recession hit, then the BP oil spill hit. I'm waiting for locusts." He pauses for effect. "No physical space in America has gone through as much trauma as we have, and there is no group of people who have come back from as far as we were."

But the mayor also knows that journalists descending from all corners of the globe to look at how his city has recovered a decade out from the worst weatherrelated disaster in American history are going to expose ugly truths.

The two-hour meeting in Algiers will be an opportunity for residents to vent about problems shared by many living in New Orleans: crime, blight, bad roads, unemployment and racial inequality.

"Mayor, I don't feel safe in my city," says one man, whose sister was shot and killed while sitting on her front porch. "Crime is out of control."

Another woman recounts how two bullets recently entered her home from the street. People talk about having cars and homes broken into. A few in the largely black audience reference the lack of jobs for African-American men. Some mention that they haven't had working street lights since Katrina hit. The most common complaint, however, concerns the state of the streets.

Many are so riddled with pot holes they are almost impassable.

"They were bad before Katrina," the mayor says. "That's what happens when your city is built on a swamp."

"I don't care," says one man. "I pay taxes. I want my street fixed.

This isn't good enough."

The crowd erupts in a boisterous cheer.

I've been to New Orleans three times. The first was for the National Football League's Super Bowl in 1997. The second was for Katrina. And now I am back to see where the city is 10 years after.

It certainly looks more like it did the first time I came. Bourbon Street is Bourbon Street.

Tourists pack the restaurants and jazz joints along the strip. As you walk, you can still detect the smell of vomit and urine, an olfactory delight that is part of the Bourbon Street experience.

It is easy to see how far the city has come from those dark days of a decade ago. The economy seems vibrant. Real-estate prices, often a sign of fiscal health, are steadily increasing. Education reforms have been heralded nation-wide.

And yet, as one prominent citizen tells me, New Orleans is still "the city that everyone wants to date - but not marry."

As I soon discover, that is largely because deep and disturbing issues linger behind all the gains it has made. Racism is endemic - a problem that is not just refusing to go away but getting worse.

Violent crime is eating away at the fabric of the community and scaring people off. Those holding the guns are often disenfranchised blacks, the majority of whom continue to live on the margins of society.

Too many are being left out of the city's inspiring renewal.

When the community meeting ends, the mayor and I sit in the bleachers to talk. He looks drained and exhilarated at the same time. Elected to a second term last year, Mr. Landrieu took over in 2010 when New Orleans was being likened to Detroit for the scope of its urban decay, including rot at the political level.

His predecessor, Ray Nagin, was found to be lining his pockets with bribe money from contractors hoping to cash in on the tens of billions in federal aid pouring into the city. He's currently serving a 10-year prison term, and wasn't the only public official on the take.

"When I came to office," Mayor Landrieu tells me, "we were hundreds of millions in debt, we didn't have enough money to meet payroll ... We had to completely reorganize city government because, frankly, it was a dysfunctional mess."

While he wouldn't be the first politician pleased to look like a redeemer, few would disagree that he inherited a mess.

The city is on a much sounder fiscal footing now, but the mayor has had to say no - a lot. Take the roads.

True, they were bad before Katrina: New Orleans is the only American city below sea level.

For 300 years, it has slowly been sinking, which wreaks havoc with the infrastructure. But the big storm also brought in saltwater that sat for weeks, eating away at the asphalt, creating pot holes big enough to swallow cars.

A recent report rates more than half of the streets as "poor."

Mr. Landrieu says it costs $7-million to fix one mile of road. To fix them all would cost $9-billion.

Recently, the mayor gave his annual state-of-the-city address, which trumpeted many of his achievements: the addition of 9,100 jobs; the reduction of homeless numbers to 1,900 from 10,000; lower incarceration rates; better education outcomes.

But he's also being forced to talk about less-flattering aspects of the post-Katrina resurgence.

For instance, murder rates are as high as ever - already 114 this year versus 150 for all of 2014 (although that was the lowest total since 1971).

According to the mayor, crime is cyclical. This year homicides are up and other crimes are mostly down. Last year it was the reverse. But he also draws a straight line between crime numbers and the disparity evident in his city. "A lot of income inequality, housing, poverty, all of those things lead to crime, and crime shuts down economic opportunity, it feeds off of it," he says.

"What we see in New Orleans is a symptom of a weakness that America has had in the last 30 or 40 years by not targeting its investments in human capital. Of course, the poor get the shorter end of that, and most of the poor are African-American. We call it income inequality but it could be called opportunity inequality."

The next day I visit Michael Hecht, chief executive officer of Greater New Orleans Inc., an economic-development organization that has helped to shape the city's turnaround. Many believe the 45-year-old graduate of Yale and Stanford has the smarts, charisma and ambition to become a political force beyond Louisiana one day.

We meet in a boardroom overlooking the Louisiana Superdome, home of the NFL Saints and, during Katrina, a refuge for thousands dislocated from their homes.

"New Orleans never really recovered from the oil bust of 1980," Mr. Hecht says, pointing to a graph on his laptop. So, many thought the hurricane would be the city's death knell. But "as it turns out, Katrina was like pruning the bush," he says. "It was what was needed in order to blossom."

Well, that and about $140-billion (U.S.) in disaster aid, with about half coming from the federal government and the rest from insurance companies, philanthropic organizations and other private-sector outlets. The cash allowed the city to reimagine itself. A $2.5-billion medical complex has replaced the old charity hospital system. More than $1-billion went into building new schools, which accompanied a transformation of the education program. Hundreds of millions went into replacing ancient, deteriorating infrastructure.

"I like to compare what happened post-Katrina to a privateequity takeover," Mr. Hecht says.

"We threw out the old management at the political level, business level and community level.

That's incredibly important because ... everybody was protecting their own little empires."

I ask what is going to happen now that the aid taps have been turned off.

"That," he replies, "is the key question."

Still, he is optimistic the city can continue to ride the economic edge that money provided. For one thing, its economy is more diversified. The city boasts the fastest-growing tech area in the country in terms of jobs, and is now marketing the water-management expertise developed in the wake of Katrina - knowledge increasingly in demand as the oceans rise, forcing coastal cities to protect themselves. Also, millennials have poured into the city, bringing an entrepreneurial spirit that has been instrumental in the rebirth.

Mr. Hecht hopes that, eventually, the city can expand its image beyond Bourbon Street. "To change a brand takes time and money - it usually requires 30 years," he says, adding that his wife "gets mad" when he calls New Orleans the city everyone will date but not marry. However, it's true, and, he says, "we need to change that."

Of all the areas damaged by Katrina, none received more attention than the Lower Ninth Ward.

On one side it has the Mississippi, while its western flank is bordered by the Industrial Canal, a shipping channel connected to the Intracoastal Waterway that effectively separates the Lower Ninth from the rest of the city.

The waterway, in turn, is linked to the 122-kilometre Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet built in the 1960s as a commercial short cut between the Gulf of Mexico and the New Orleans inner harbour.

Instead, it funnelled Katrina's rage into the heart of the city.

The Industrial Canal ruptured, propelling a massive barge into the Lower Ninth and leaving the district completely under water.

There were more Katrina-linked deaths there than in any other part of town.

Those still in their homes scrambled to their rooftops for safety. Robert Green Sr. took refuge on his mother's roof, along with several family members, including three small grandchildren. His mother collapsed and died amid the tumult. As the house fell apart, he and the others had to abandon her, seeking sanctuary atop houses nearby.

One granddaughter was swept to her death.

Today, Mr. Green lives in a new home on the same street. A cross made of light bulbs sits outside as a memorial to those who died.

On his front lawn, he has a table with Katrina-themed coffee mugs and T-shirts for sale. I purchase a shirt emblazoned with The Original Roof Top Riders. The words sit over a drawing of a family on a roof with water nudging the eaves. The man holds a flag.

"People need to understand what happens," Mr. Green says.

"It's important people know, so it never happens again."

While distinctly black, and distinctly poor, the Lower Ninth also had one of the higher rates of home ownership by AfricanAmericans anywhere in the U.S.

According to The Data Center, a locally based news and information collective, the city has regained 94 per cent of its prestorm population of 484,674 while the Lower Ninth's return is just over 35 per cent.

To find out why, I visit M.A. Sheehan, a community lawyer and a director of the non-profit agency, House the 9 Program.

"Welcome to our headquarters," she says with a laugh when I find her tiny, cramped office in the back of a Lutheran church.

Her organization is almost entirely focused on helping residents navigate the dark labyrinth of regulations for getting money out of Road Home, a federal program set up in 2006 for homeowners who want to rebuild.

Road Home will pay whichever is less: the repair bill or what a home was worth before Katrina.

In the case of the Lower Ninth, where the damage was most extensive and home values the lowest, residents inevitably do not get nearly enough.

The money, in most cases, is dispensed in instalments. But after Katrina, many in the neighbourhood found themselves out of work, and so used some of it to pay the rent. This, in turn, kept them from ever being able to fix their homes properly.

At the same time, there has been little replenishing of the services the community lost.

Where once there were seven schools, now there is one. A fire station recently opened. There are two corner stores, attached to gas stations, and no supermarket.

"People have been reluctant to come back because there just isn't anything here," Ms. Sheehan says. "There have been a whole lot of things stacked against the people here, and you can't separate race from what's happened."

History is rife with decisions feeding a belief among AfricanAmericans that white America wishes the Lower Ninth would just go away. During the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927, government officials blew out a levee and swamped it in order to protect downtown New Orleans.

When Hurricane Betsy struck in 1965, the levees failed, many believe suspiciously, flooding 80 per cent of the area.

In 1960, the Lower Ninth became the first neighbourhood in the Deep South to desegregate its schools. White residents fled, and the African-American segment of the population soon went from 31 per cent to 73 per cent. By 2000 it was 98 per cent, and the neighbourhood was among the most impoverished and crime-ridden in the country.

After Katrina, the Lower Ninth didn't have water for almost a year. "Why?" Ms. Sheehan asks.

"So there could be better water pressure in other parts of the city. Consequently, with no water, the folks here missed the volunteer groups who arrived after the storm to help rebuild homes."

Actor Brad Pitt's foundation, Make It Right, has put up 120 homes here (30 more are on the drawing board). But they have been criticized for their unorthodox design, not to mention the cost of making them environmentally leading-edge. In fact, the homes are so valuable that some fear their owners, having been heavily subsidized by the foundation, may turn around and sell to wealthier white people moving in as part of the broader gentrification of New Orleans.

"The joke in the neighbourhood is they should call the organization Make It White," says Laura Paul, executive director of, a non-profit that helps area residents rebuild by providing volunteer labour.

"Look, I think they are full of good intentions, and it's not the biggest concern here, not by a long shot. I think the recovery in the Lower Ninth provides lessons for the country and makes the point that institutional racism is alive and well in America."

After Katrina, water sat in the streets for weeks, and today the Lower Ninth remains a blighted mess, with many lots unoccupied and now overgrown, bug-infested swamps.

The home owned by Darrial Sharp is the only one on his side of the street (the other side has two). He has been trying to rebuild - first on his own, now with the help of Ms. Sheehan and House the 9.

The home was constructed by his father in 1964 for what was once a large family, but now only he and his older brother remain.

Clarence Sharp is 68 and suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Darrial wants the house restored to help bring back old memories for his brother.

Road Home gave him the home's pre-Katrina value, which was less than half of what he needed to cover $200,000 in damages. He went as far as he could before the money ran out.

About two years ago, he became aware of Ms. Sheehan and her organization. By then the home had been sitting unoccupied for some time. Rot had set in, and vandals had smashed windows and stripped out the copper wiring. Ms. Sheehan had someone from Habitat for Humanity see how much work was needed to make the place livable.

The verdict: It should be torn down.

As he recalls hearing that, Mr. Sharp bows his head and gently starts to cry.

"He's working so hard," says Ms. Sheehan, sitting across the room. "He's working so hard" Mr. Sharp looks up. "But the closer I get," he says, "the farther it goes away."

There are similar stories - discouraging, yet inspiring - all over the Lower Ninth.

Errol and Esther Joseph are rebuilding with the help of Laura Paul's organization. While some homes nearby floated away during Katrina, theirs (built by Mr. Joseph's father, who knew which end of a hammer to use) shifted barely four inches off its foundation. Even so, the damage was so extensive that they are in a position to go ahead only now - and only with the help of volunteers.

For 20 minutes Mr. Joseph walks me through his agonizing fights with Road Home bureaucrats unsympathetic that the amount he was receiving didn't even cover the expenses he'd incurred while waiting for the money to arrive.

Mr. Joseph is big and strong, but clearly the past 10 years have taken a toll. He stops, sighs and shakes his head as he details the many dead ends he encountered.

He tried the banks, only to discover there "weren't no loans for our community out there."

"The black community?" I ask.

"You're a wise man," he replies, with a smile.

A few steets over, I find the home of Baptist minister Charles Duplessis and his wife, Lynne.

Just a block from where the Industrial Canal ruptured, it was a complete write-off, but they rebuilt with with some Road Home money and the kindness of strangers. Then they learned about the drywall.

Because of the high demand for building products after Katrina, contractors imported drywall from China that had high amounts of sulphur, which didn't mix with the moist, humid climate of the U.S. Southeast. People started getting sick and eventually it had to be ripped out of every home - thousands of them.

"So," says Rev. Duplessis, "we had to start all over again."

His church was even harder to fix - it had to be rebuilt from the ground up. Today all that Mount Nebo Bible Baptist has is a foundation and some metal girders. It will take hundreds of thousands of dollars to complete the job, money Rev. Duplessis doesn't have. Sunday service is held in his home.

Erika McConduit-Diggs embodies the spirit of many people here: To live in New Orleans you have to be a bit of a risk-taker.

When Katrina hit, the 38-yearold lawyer and head of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans was nine months pregnant. She couldn't imagine staying at the Astrodome in Houston, where she first found herself, so she kept going - to New York City, where she had extended family.

The drive took two and half days, with her five-year-old daughter and a dog in tow.

She gave birth a couple of days after arriving - the first Katrina baby in the Big Apple. "People thought I was crazy driving all that way," she says.

What would she have done, had she gone into labour?

"I have no idea," she howls.

Perhaps, but now she, if anyone, understands one thing: the true state of black New Orleans. In less than two years at the helm of her organization, Ms. Conduit-Diggs has earned a reputation as a fair-minded but relentless fighter on behalf of African-Americans.

I read to her a quote from an essay on the subject: "Black New Orleans suffers from deepening marginalization due to institutional discrimination based on race, class and gender. As New Orleans has become whiter in population and higher in income, its black citizens have become fewer in number, poorer, more jobless, more incarcerated, and priced out of the city."

An accurate depiction? "Yes," she replies. "I'd have to say it is."

The numbers speak for themselves: Life for black New Orleans has got no better since Katrina.

In many ways it is worse. The income gap between whites and blacks in the city has grown. In 2005, the median income for African-Americans here was $23,394 - 47.5 per cent of the $49,262 that Caucasians earned.

In 2013, the percentage had dropped to just 41.5 per cent ($25,102 versus $60,553).

In the same period, the percentage of black children living in poverty rose from 44 to 50. In 2011 (the last year for which statistics are available), 52 per cent of African-American men were unemployed, while last year, one in seven was either in prison, on parole or on probation.

One of the few positive stories is that while only 56 per cent of black children finished high school in 2004-05, by last year the number had climbed to 73 per cent.

"That is why our message to the rest of the world is we're still a work in progress," says Ms. McConduit-Diggs. "Even though we're 10 years from one of the biggest disasters in our nation's history, we are still not done.

This is not a completed story, certainly not from our perspective."

The systemic racism that exists in New Orleans was decades in the making, she explains. The problem for blacks will not be addressed until whites understand that the city will never truly rise again until everyone shares in the gains being made.

Since Katrina, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working on a $14.5-billion storm fortress around the city. Unlike its predecessor, which was supposed to prevent catastrophic damage, it's being called a "risk reduction" system, "prevent" having been banned from the storm-defence lexicon.

Rene Poche, a public-affairs official with the corps, pulls out a large map with a green line around the city marking a 214kilometre-long barrier dubbed The Great Wall of New Orleans. It is a sequence of concrete and earthen levees and flood walls, iron gates and enormous pumps able to discharge water at rates never seen before.

"This is a 100-year system," Mr. Poche explains. "That means it was built to prevent the kind of flooding that has a one-per-cent chance of occurring in any given year."

Not surprisingly, that level of defence has drawn criticism from those who point out that Katrina was a 400-year storm. On top of that, climate change is likely to make weather patterns, and storms, more harsh and unpredictable.

"That's why it's now called a 'risk reduction' system," Mr. Poche says. "We get asked a lot, 'Can New Orleans survive another one?' The truthful answer is: It all depends on where it comes in."

The new system has already encountered its first major problem: The delta it sits on is sinking faster than anyone thought. Consequently, many of the levees will have to be raised, costing tens of millions of dollars.

So just how safe is New Orleans today? Mr. Poche sits back, places his arms on his chair and recalls a comment made by a former corps commander.

"He was asked if there was a weak spot in the new system. His answer was: 'Yes, between people's ears - because they think, because we have this expensive new system, nothing can happen.

But that's just not the case.' "

Gary Mason is a national affairs columnist for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver.

Associated Graphic

Clockwise from far left: Robert Green Sr. sits with his cross - a memorial to those who died - on the steps of the home he lost 10 years ago; Army Corps spokesperson Rene Poche and his map showing 'The Great Wall' of New Orleans; Rev. Charles Duplessis in the shell of his Mount Nebo Bible Baptist Church; Darrial Sharp and the house he hopes to restore for his ailing older brother.


Residential school reboot
More than 150,000 children were forced into a system designed to strip them of their identities. As Madeleine White discovers, a new generation is trying to reimagine indigenous education Photography by Fred Lum
Saturday, June 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F4

THUNDER BAY -- In the girls' washroom on the first floor of Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School, the lighting is harsh. There's a communal sink for handwashing and a row of aging toilets. In the stall at the end of that row, the door doesn't quite fit the frame. In other words, it's like high-school girls' washrooms everywhere - right down to the graffiti on the wall of that final stall. But rather than calling someone a slut or spelling out random vulgarities, this bit of scrawl asks a simple (if exuberantly punctuated) question: Do you know your potential?!

Getting students to answer that question in the affirmative is what DFC High is all about. The school is one of two (the other is almost 400 kilometres away in Sioux Lookout) run by the Northern Nishnawbe Education Council, a First Nations nonprofit organization established by the bands of more than 20 fly-in reserves in Ontario's northwest.

The organization's "vision statement" aims to help bring into being "a world in which First Nations people succeed without the loss of their identity, and have the courage to change their world according to their values."

DFC students come from those same reserves - some of the most isolated communities in Canada.

The school sets them up in Thunder Bay boarding homes, assigns them a "prime worker" (equal parts guidance counsellor, social worker and parental figure), and enrolls them in courses approved by the Ministry of Education.

It also strives to have graduates leave not only with a diploma but the skills, knowledge and confidence to help their home communities heal - by setting positive examples, showing a pride in indigenous culture and identity, and fostering employment on reserves.

About 2,000 students have walked its halls in DFC's 15 years of existence. They come from families that have survived the destructive legacy of the residential school system, but DFC is a residential school in name only. It is funded by the bands it services, its direction and administration is run by aboriginals, and the students leave home to attend this high school by choice, and with their families' permission.

"Most of us, as parents, would not choose to have their kids up and moved from their community and home at the age of Grade 9," says Sonia Prevost-Derbecker, vice-president of education for Indspire, an indigenous-led charity based in Toronto. She realizes that boarding schools present a challenge to remote communities but, in some cases, sending children away to school is their parents' only option.

"The experience can be most isolating and terrifying and, without some sense of belonging, kids fall through the cracks all of the time," she says. "It's a risky time in a kid's life to be doing that."

Unfortunately, many of the grandparents of the students at DFC are all too aware of this, as they are survivors of a residential school system that saw more than 150,000 youngsters torn from their homes. For the century it was in existence, it employed shame, violence and deprivation to teach indigenous children that their traditional way of life was not only wrong, but evil.

That abuse, disguised as legitimate education, led to the loss of countless cultural traditions and many indigenous languages. It also left a legacy of broken families. Students were robbed of the experience of growing up in a loving home; then when they had children, they often didn't know how to be parents. It is a pattern, survivors say, that continues to repeat itself.

"How do you learn in an environment of trauma, fear and shaming?" asks Marie Wilson, a member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), which released its momentous final report on the legacy of the system this month.

Ms. Wilson sees in experimental initiatives like DFC the potential to help to heal the lasting trauma.

As well, the new schools can play a role in erasing the stigma around education for many indigenous people who still distrust the system.

DFC has had its share of tragedy, and is by no means a perfect solution - but Ms. Wilson says any experience that "helps to put students' minds to learning as opposed to protecting themselves and surviving," is a great opening, adding that schools like DFC "definitely have to be better than the historic alternative and [should] be appreciated in being bold and therefore important."

Principal Jonathan Kakegamic also believes his school can help with the healing, and says the key to that process is rebuilding a connection between culture and identity because, without it, students can't be successful.

"For residential schools to say, 'You're no good, you can't speak your language' - that does something to your identity, to your psyche," he adds.

Mr. Kakegamic is originally from Keewaywin First Nation northwest of Thunder Bay near the Manitoba border, but grew up in the city. Although his parents went to residential school, they didn't tell him about their experiences until he was in his 30s.

Hearing their stories of survival helped him to solidify his identity. And he hopes that fostering a positive learning experience for the kids at DFC will have a similar effect.

"They know who they are when they leave here. ... They need to know they are First Nations, that you can be proud of who you are."

Appearances and assumptions

DFC is housed in a former vocational school that, from the street, doesn't look much different from nearby Sir Winston Churchill Collegiate. But around back is the first clue that this is a unique place. There is an open tepee and fire pit, where Bella Patayash, the in-house elder responsible for teaching traditional skills, sometimes cooks.

When the bell rings in the morning, students funnel in after cascading off public buses. They shuffle-walk down the halls, and file neatly into their classrooms.

With only 150 kids (ages 14 to 21) in the entire school, the classes are smaller than normal, maxing out around 20. That allows for more bonding between teachers and students.

DFC follows a curriculum the province sets out and has a full roster of teachers for all the standard topics: English, math, business, gym, science and shop. In addition, students study indigenous language and spend their spares in the Elders' Room, where they sip Red Rose tea and practice traditional activities, such as beading and bannock-making.

In so many ways, however, it is just like every other high school - kids hang out in the hallways during lunch, goofing off and giggling; they populate the gym after school, practicing basketball. If one thing sets the atmosphere apart, it's the quiet, calm vibe that permeates the building.

The students are soft-spoken and more polite than most teens - opening doors for teachers, patiently waiting in line for lunch, and paying attention during school assemblies.

"When the school first started, the Thunder Bay police wanted to put an office in here - a gang office," says Mr. Kakegamic.

"They thought they knew us.

They had assumptions of how it was going to be."

But the school has not been without its troubles.

Since it opened, seven students have died while enrolled, in many cases found in one of the rivers that run through the city.

Students and staff believe these deaths were accidental - the victims were probably intoxicated and fell in. But one student was found hanging from a tree in a public park with a noose made of Christmas lights around his neck.

In 2011, the province's chief coroner heeded indigenous leaders and called a joint inquest into the deaths, with hearings to begin this fall.

Two years earlier, the situation was so grim there was talk of closing the school. Instead its leadership was changed - Mr. Kakegamic was put in charge - and new support teams were developed to help the students deal with some of the challenges they face: loneliness, addiction issues and depression.

"For students who are away, it doesn't change one element of the residential-school period, which is that emotional distance between the student who is away and the parents left behind," says Ms. Wilson. "The issue of homesickness is still a factor."

Daniel Levac wasn't homesick.

"He was one of the students I never had to worry about, whether he was in class or at home at night," says his prime worker, Lyle Fox. "He was the kind of guy who would ask how your day was - but he wasn't just asking, he would sit and listen. And he did that to everybody. It wasn't just me or just his friends. It was the quiet student in the corner, too."

But Daniel's time at DFC ended abruptly last fall, when he was fatally stabbed on the steps of the SilverCity cinema. A young man also from a remote northern reserve has been charged with second-degree murder.

Mr. Levac, 20, was set to graduate this year. In his honour at last month's ceremony, the school had a memorial cap and gown placed on a chair alongside the other grads as his parents watched from the audience.

The cap and gown were brought on stage by his grieving prime worker. "It took a lot out of me because I have a lot of guilt that comes with it," says Mr. Fox, 32.

He realizes he couldn't have stopped what happened. "But I was responsible for him; he was in our care."

Breaking the cycle

Juliet Aysanabee's favourite saying is "Just kidding." In fact, she says it after pretty much every sentence, whether she means it or not. It's almost like a special teenage punctuation - part goofy, part shy, part playful.

She is tall and thin, mostly limbs. Her long brown hair is pinstraight and generally hangs over her glasses. She likes to wear leggings and hoodies, and she carries headphones wherever she goes. When she arrived, she was shy, but has opened up, and especially enjoys drama and gym classes. After school, she hangs out with her friends at the mall; in the evenings, she plays sports.

Like some of her classmates, Ms. Aysanabee, 18, came to DFC after spending most of her youth in foster care. She cannot pinpoint exactly when she left home in Sandy Lake First Nation (across the water from Keewaywin, about 600 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay) and her six siblings, but knows she spent eight or nine years being bounced from foster family to foster family, sometimes spending as little as a month in one home. "For as long as I can remember, I was always moving around," she says.

"But here I am." She is embarrassed by this part of her history.

"When my friends talk about what their moms did when they were younger," she says, "I don't really have anything to talk about."

Ms. Aysanabee wasn't reunited with her mother until she was in Grade 8. And then, just two years later, she was off again. But this time, things were different. This time, the move was her own choice, part of a bigger decision she had made: to get her highschool diploma.

Since arriving, she has integrated herself into the school's family. She has participated in plays, joined the broomball team, made friends. She even got a job with the foot patrol, a group of current and former students hired to walk the downtown core and riverbanks Thursday, Friday and Saturday night during the fall and spring terms - on the lookout for classmates up to no good.

"We're walking around and telling on people who are drinking.

Being a rat - a snitch," she says with a giggle. "I just hope I don't bump into any of my friends."

Prime worker Lyle Fox's sister Clarissa is part of another team, one made up of adults who patrol the city in minivans all night responding to student emergencies.

She, too, is motivated by personal experience. "My father has shared his stories with me," says Ms. Fox, 39, referring to the "mental, emotional, physical, sexual and spiritual" abuse he says he endured while at Shingwauk, a residential school in Sault Ste.

Marie, Ont. "He was basically broken down."

After growing up, "my father didn't know how to be a parent how to love people. So when he and my mom got together, all they did was drink and fight. I think a lot of families were like that."

By understanding this legacy, Ms. Fox is able to relate to the students who come to DFC. She knows what it is like to be stuck in the destructive cycle from the residential school system. She knows what it is like to have a broken family and loved ones who struggle with addiction. But she also knows that people can be healed, as her father has. And as a result of his strength and his story, she and most of her siblings don't drink.

"We are breaking that cycle," she says.

Finding roles within the school

Mr. Fox also understands the importance of breaking that cycle and reclaiming his indigenous identity. He says that learning about a traditional way of life saved his life when it was spiralling out of control.

Now he is working to bring cultural teachings to the school that go beyond the current program, through which an in-house elder teaches students such traditions as beadwork and bannock.

But at 21, he had been an addict for nine years. Using drugs (such as cocaine and Percocet) and alcohol, he says, "filled a gap in my self-esteem. It made me feel good, made me feel better about myself. It gave me courage so I didn't have to walk home at night feeling scared."

Mr. Fox hit bottom after three suicide attempts that followed his 19th birthday - the day his older brother, Darryl, died of lymphomatic cancer. But his life turned around at the Benbowopka Treatment Centre in Blind River, Ont., a facility that combines traditional indigenous health practices with Western medicine.

"That's where I was introduced to the traditional side of me. I started to learn about my culture, my identity and the spiritual side of our life," he says. "My culture saved me. My teachings saved me." Now sober and a father of four, Mr. Fox is being initiated into the Midewiwin, a society that practises traditional medicine and healing through ceremony.

For him, part of the antidote to the poison that was the residential-school system is providing students with opportunities to discover their heritage of harmony, respect and spirituality; his efforts at DFC have prefigured part of what the TRC has asked for in its report. The 64th of its 94 recommendations calls on all levels of government to work to provide indigenous students with instruction in traditional spiritual beliefs and practices.

This past school year, Mr. Fox built a grandfather drum (big enough to be played by several people) with the help of students, many from reserves where traditional lifestyles are neither common nor celebrated. Next year, he hopes to hold afterschool sessions so students can learn to make and play smaller drums of their own.

But he has a lot of convincing to do. "In our area in the North, a lot of young people are following the footsteps of their parents and grandparents - the residential school system told them that our ways are evil," he says.

In fact, the first time he held a drumming session, only four or five students came by and, the next time, there was just one. "I think that whole mentality is still lingering."

Downright Dirty

The lingering is hardly limited to indigenous people. The residential schools were built on racism, and created ripples of damage, violence and entrenched prejudice.

"Sometimes, I feel like people judge me cause I'm aboriginal. I don't like the way they look at me. They look so grossed out or something," says Ms. Aysanabee.

"I was walking on the sidewalk, and some person walked by me and pointed at me and called me a butthead."

To say she feels alienated from the city at large is an understatement, and perhaps not surprising, considering the existence of something like Thunder Bay Dirty. Comprising several Facebook pages, a Twitter feed and YouTube channel, it is effectively an online forum for shaming indigenous people who are either in desperate situations or appear to be.

Thunder Bay Dirty is full of racist assumptions, one of which had a direct impact on DFC student Frank Kakepetum, a friend of Ms. Aysanabee. He was featured in a photograph that was snapped as he happened to being leaning against a brick wall, his head tilted back, his mouth agape and his eyes closed.

In person, he seems very much like a normal high-school kid - as the spring term wrapped up, he kept busy by building a tikinagan, a traditional bassinet, for his sister's baby. But the caption for the photo on Thunder Bay Dirty accused indigenous people of being so lazy, they can sleep on their feet. "Ha ha lil Oxy nod," read one particularly caustic remark.

Mr. Kakegamic realizes that stereotypes die hard. "A citizen of Thunder Bay, a non-native - if he doesn't know anything about us, he is probably going to be on guard. And he is going to have these presumptions of how Indians are. When you have that assumption, you're already eliminating any acceptance."

There are, though, benefits to having DFC located in Thunder Bay, according to Ms. Prevost-Derbecker of Indspire.

"They have the ability to retain teachers and they are in a city with a fairly significant indigenous population, so they have the ability to get some demographic representation in the classroom, which is very important," she says.

Having indigenous teachers, even if they are from the city and not from the students' home communities, she adds, can make it easier for the kids to connect, build trust and act as a role model.

But one criticism of the school is that even city residents who want to get to know its students don't have the opportunity. To one observer, it's a "reserve bubble" sitting in the midst of the city.

And it's true, says Mr. Kakegamic, that, when classes are out for the day, many students stay on the property. Rather than, say, participating in local sports leagues, they take part in afterschool programs run with the help of the Dilico Anishinabek Family Care group.

When the bell rings at the end of the school day, Dilico workers set up shop in a dedicated room.

What they offer is more somewhere to hang out - with TVs, video games, and plenty of popcorn and hot dogs - rather than a set of activities. They also help out with the sports teams and attend school dances.

But in reality, at least part of the reason the school shelters its students so closely is to provide a greater degree of safety. If they go to after-school jobs or an outside community centre for programming, there are many unknowns to take into account.

Measuring success

In 2011, the National Household Survey conducted by Statistics Canada showed the high-school graduation rate among non-aboriginal Canadians sat at about 89 per cent. In 2012, Statistics Canada found that the graduation for off-reserve indigenous people was 72 per cent.

At DFC, though, Mr. Kakegamic doesn't measure success using percentages, in large part because his students arrive with a broad range of educational backgrounds and progress at a pace that is more fluid than in a regular high school. Instead, he points to the actual number of students that his team has managed to help make it through to graduation. This spring, there were 20 - about the average in recent years, although 2014 reached 29, setting the record.

Graduation rate is only one measure of success, says Ms. Wilson of the TRC.

"There is room at this point in our history for lots of [indigenous education] models. I think this is a time for bold experimentation and patience for things that may or may not be perfect off the top.

"But we do know that doing things the same old way, with the same old structures and the same old people in charge is not leading us to good results."

And it is true that the school is not perfect yet. Every year, anywhere from 30 to 50 students return home before classes end.

Some leave by choice, usually citing homesickness; others, because of their behaviour (usually related to acting recklessly while intoxicated).

Getting to the roots of that behaviour can be a complex task, but according to many who work with DFC students, it can also involve basic building blocks, such as one truly important part of their identity: the Oji-Cree language.

Sarah Johnson teaches it and says that "the federal government's aim" with the residential schools "was to have the language disappear. But it survived because those students that survived were able to speak the language among themselves under their blankets in their beds."

Respecting language is one of the key elements of healing pointed to by the TRC, which calls for "protecting the right to aboriginal languages, including the teaching of aboriginal languages as credit courses."

Ms. Johnson is originally from Weagamow Lake First Nation, and her classroom looks like any language-teaching space.

At the beginning of each term, DFC students are given a worksheet and a speaking activity to assess what they know. "Most come in with very little knowledge," she says. "There are some who understand what is being said, but they cannot speak it. It seems language is not valued, especially by young parents - and the elders are slowly dying."

One encounter still bothers her a decade later. She was working at a language centre in Sioux Lookout when a young boy asked: "How come you're teaching us a foreign language?" "It was upsetting," she says, "because that's who we are."

For Ms. Johnson, it's simple: If you erase the language, you erase the culture.

Graduation day It's a sunny Wednesday afternoon as this year's 20 graduates shuffle into a conference room - a space usually off-limits to students - to change into red and black gowns and don feathered and beaded mortarboards. Once everyone has put on the celebratory garb, the photos begin: both official group shots and then a whole lot of selfies.

As the graduates spill out into the hallway - giddy, and a bit nervous - as smiling, teary-eyed staff fuss with the caps and gowns, making them just right.

But with the arrival of summer, there is also a tinge of worry in the air. "We do so much work with them through the year and then they have to go back," says prime worker Saturn Magashazi.

"There's no continuity through the break."

Still, for the students, summer promises exciting times - and a chance to be with their families.

Ms. Aysanabee is especially pumped to see her mom and her siblings back home. And this summer, she plans to work so she can save for her final year at DFC.

After that, she has big plans.

"Sometimes, I think about what I can do when I grow up - I mean, I am grown up - so when I get older," she says with a smile, sitting on the floor in the hallway, her legs wrapped up under her. "Maybe I'll be a teacher. I've been thinking about that. Or a hair stylist. I don't really know yet."

One thing she does know is that graduating is key to even the most basic of her goals. "I am the first one to come out for school. My mom and my older sister dropped out when they were in high school," she says. "I don't think anyone in my family ever graduated."

Despite their long separation, Ms. Aysanabee's mother fully supports her life in Thunder Bay, and hope it brings her daughter closer to her dreams.

"She is proud of me," says Ms. Aysanabee. "She was telling me over the March break that she wants me to do this for me."

Madeleine White is a digital editor with Globe Video.

Associated Graphic

Since arriving at DFC, Juliet Aysanabee has integrated into the school's family, joining teams and the foot patrol.


Principal Jonathan Kakegamic presents a grinning Kaiyah Duncan, 21, of Muskrat Dam First Nation, with her diploma.

Proud graduate Kyle Kakekagumick, left, shows Mr. Kakegamic a certificate for his partication in a youth leadership program.


Samson Fiddler, 19, of Bearskin Lake First Nation models his cap and gown.

Teacher Sarah Johnson is battling to keep native languages alive.

Above: Lyle Fox carries in the gown that Daniel Levac would have worn: 'It took a lot out of me,' he said later.

Left: Mortar boards are tossed in the air by students after they graduated from Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School on May 13.

Saturday, July 04, 2015


A Focus article Saturday on the Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School incorrectly said the bands it services fund the school, and that aboriginals run its direction and administration. In fact, the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development funds the school, and the indigenous community runs its direction and administration. And the story incorrectly said one student was found hanging from a tree with a noose made of Christmas lights around his neck; in fact, one graduate was found under those circumstances.

As he heads to the polls, Stephen Harper's accomplishments in controlling the national conversation are remarkable. His economic record, not so much
Friday, August 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page P33

One day over lunch in Ottawa, Ralph Goodale, the warhorse from the flatlands of Saskatchewan, was stomping all over the Conservative record on economic management. The battering the economy had taken in the early months of 2015 was further evidence for the steadfast Liberal that Canadians had been fooled all along into believing the Tories knew what they were doing.

When I pointed out that, compared to his time as finance minister under Paul Martin, the Conservatives had done quite well electorally with their economic record, Goodale's mood turned.

The difference, he grimly explained, was that Harper knew how to market his work but Goodale's own party didn't. The Liberals blew it, he conceded. The economy was blooming when they were beaten by the Tories in the 2006 election, he said. But in the campaign, the Liberals had barely even talked about it. "We didn't get the message out. We made the operating assumption that it was understood. That tactical decision was mistaken."

For the Conservatives, Goodale said, "Spin is the number one priority, policy secondary. It's been clear all along."

Clear all along?

"Look at the record. Not since the 1930s have Canadian economic growth numbers been so bad as this last decade under Harper." And no, Goodale argued, you couldn't blame it on "global conditions," as the Prime Minister liked to do. The downturn from the financial crisis ended several years ago.

Now, in 2015, as an election approached, there was a new downturn. The Tories' economic narrative turned sour. Where once Canada was doing better than all the G7 countries, now it was the only country among them with an economy sputtering out recession-like numbers.

The bad news kept rolling in. Oil prices had plunged. Growth numbers fell. Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz called the country's economic performance in the first quarter "atrocious." Uncertainty prompted a delay in the budget delivery date. The country's merchandise trade deficit reached an all-time high. A balanced budget, the muchballyhooed promise of the government, looked less and less likely, given revenue shortfalls. Labour union economists Jim Stanford and Jordan Brennan did a statistical analysis in which they examined 16 indicators of economic progress for all Canadian governments since the Second World War. Their conclusion: The Harper Tories ranked last.

It wasn't just labour economists who were doubting the Conservatives' record, but the Harper team blew off such studies as being biased.

The dogs barked, the caravan moved on. Through the run of bad news, Finance Minister Joe Oliver showed little concern, maintaining a low profile. When the 75-year-old did appear for Question Period in the House of Commons, pitbull Pierre Poilievre, 36, often stood in his place. The young enforcer had been named the new employment minister.

Poilievre, with scant life experience outside politics, had frequently been the subject of unflattering press reports. But he was regarded as one of the party's best pitchmen by the Prime Minister. Poilievre was not in the job long before it was revealed that he had used a team of public servants, who weren't supposed to engage in partisan activity, for overtime work on a Sunday. They were called in to film Poilievre glad-handing constituents and promoting the government's Universal Child Care Benefit plan. Not one to brook criticism, Poilievre then took things a step further, wearing a shirt with a Conservative logo on another round of promotion. His government, a Globe and Mail analysis found, funnelled 83% of the projects under its signature infrastructure fund to Conservative-held ridings.

While one wag suggested the Tories should be hit with a "crass-action" suit, they plunged ahead, eyes firmly fixed on the Oct. 19 rendezvous with voters. Their opponents could gripe all they wanted. They weren't going to change their ways. They would pound the airwaves with the message that they were doing great things for Canadians. If the experts were saying their balanced budget was not achievable, it didn't matter; they clung to the boast.

Economic performance, as Goodale noted, was highly susceptible to spin. Harper may never have worked as an economist, but his two degrees in the field taught him an important political truth: Statistics could be found to prove or disprove most any theory one wanted. It was all about who had the biggest megaphones.

In preparations for the 2011 budget, Alan Freeman, then-assistant deputy minister for communications at the Finance Department, noticed something odd. On the jacket design for the budget, he saw that the word "budget" was missing. In its place were the words "The Next Phase of Canada's Economic Action Plan: A Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth."

Freeman wasn't opposed to the application of a little snake oil to fiscal proceedings. That, after all, was part of his job. But as a public servant rather than a member of the Conservatives' political operation, he viewed things in a broader perspective.

He went to take it up with Dimitri Soudas, who was then Stephen Harper's communications director. "Shouldn't we have the word 'budget' somewhere on this thing?" Freeman asked. The Prime Minister's top pom-pom shaker looked at him coldly. He explained how people like Freeman, formerly a journalist with The Wall Street Journal and The Globe and Mail, were caught up in old inside-the-beltway talk. Didn't he understand that regular Canadian people "didn't know what a budget was?"

Freeman wasn't sure he was hearing right. Did these guys in the Prime Minister's Office really think that way about the Canadian voter? Further conversation made it clear Soudas was not going to be putting the word "budget" on the budget. Freeman walked away, shaking his head.

For Freeman, the incident was a small illustration of the mindset of the governing team. Reflecting now from his perch as a senior fellow at the University of Ottawa, he is still shaking his head at how the Harper team worked the public-relations levers. "It was quite brilliant, actually. Anything they did that had something vaguely to do with the economy, they branded as part of an Economic Action Plan. In fact, there wasn't much of an economic plan, "just a political plan. All of their economic policies became instrumentalized toward getting them re-elected."

The Conservatives brought to Canada a style of government often described as the permanent campaign. Governing was turned into an around-the-clock marketing enterprise. Everything was about controlling the message. They changed the system so that all communications were centralized through the PMO and the Privy Council Office. Even the most minor of press releases--right down to one on the mating season of the black bear--had to be vetted by the centre. The PMO increased in size by 38% from the previous government. New limits were placed on media access. Public servants were muzzled. Conservative caucus members spoke not from their own scripts but from PMO talking points.

At the Finance Department, Jim Flaherty tried to hold his ground, recalled Freeman. But Flaherty too had to buckle under. "Harper would get involved in the most minute stuff. Flaherty would sign off on things he didn't think were major, but they would come back to us with the message that the big guy didn't want it."

Mark Cameron, who worked as a policy adviser at the PMO, came to see Harper and Flaherty as respecting one another. But Flaherty freelanced too much for the boss's liking. "He didn't necessarily check before he went out and made statements. That aggravated us."

It aggravated them to the point where Flaherty's office was not even allowed to write his own budget. In 2014, for Flaherty's final budget, over from the PMO came Scott Anderson, one of Harper's top speechwriters.

Harper wanted the system geared to elevating his own stature. He didn't appoint a deputy prime minister. He kept his caucus on a tighter leash than any previous prime minister. Documents and press releases that had once been issued under "Government of Canada" now came from "The Harper Government."

For the 2009 stimulus budget, Freeman was told by the PMO to prepare not only the usual documents but separate booklets on aspects of the stimulus plan. He did so, finding appropriate images of Canadians at work on infrastructure projects and the like, and sent them up for vetting. When the brochures came back, he noticed his pictures had been replaced by photos of Stephen Harper. Freeman went to Flaherty's deputy minister, Rob Wright, and suggested this was not a good idea. Wright protested and got most of the booklets returned to their original format. But at least some of the brochures, produced at whatever the cost, were never used. "PMO had clearly lost interest once the Harper pictures were gone," Freeman recalled.

Bureaucrats like Wright and Freeman didn't have the easiest of times with Flaherty. He could be the jolly Irishman at public events. With the twinkle in his eye and rapier thrusts in the Commons, he was an effective retail politician. But behind the scenes he was on edge, often in a state of irritation. Behind his back, members of his road team referred to him as Krusty. At his sessions with assistant deputy ministers, Flaherty would be flanked by a half-dozen young political aides. The ADMs would present their briefs and there was very little open discussion. They were supposed to know where Flaherty stood and not disagree.

On the broad outlines of policy approach, Flaherty and Harper generally saw eye to eye. They were at one with the underpinnings of conservative economic dogma--low taxes, open markets, smaller government, balanced budgets. That was the plan, said Cameron: "Sound economic fundamentals any free-market economist would support, with middle-class populist initiatives focused at the consumer and household level. A combination of the two."

But unforeseen developments and the ever-present pull of political self-interest demanded detours. The Tories had to zig-zag so much, said economist Donald Drummond, who prepared budgets for Paul Martin, that "it's hard to think of a philosophy in terms of what they've done."

The Conservatives' hand was forced over and over again. Their initial slowness in recognizing the sinking world economy in the fall of 2008 was mystifying. Drummond, by then chief economist at the TD Bank, recalled warning them at the time, as did Kevin Page, head of the Parliamentary Budget Office. But they remained obstinate. As Page recalled, their economic update that fall was authored primarily in the PMO, not by Flaherty. On the big decision to reverse the position taken in the document and go the Keynesian stimulus route, Flaherty was reluctant. Harper was the more avid of the two, according to Cameron.

In fact they had little choice but to reverse themselves. Not only had the government made commitments to the G20 on stimulus, but the opposition parties held a gun to their heads. If they didn't bring in a large-scale market intervention, their minority would be defeated. It would be "fair," Cameron candidly acknowledged, "to say events dictated our actions. But we could have screwed up and didn't, so we deserve credit for that."

Yet the Tories made great political mileage with the measure they were forced into. They could boast also--and they never let anyone forget it--that Canada did better than other G7 countries through the great downturn. But they had inherited a sound banking and regulatory system as well as a $13-billion surplus and the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio since the 1970s. Given Canada's positioning ahead of other countries at the outset of the global crisis, and given the good fortune of having resource prices remain high, doing better than other G7 countries--comparisons to the G20 weren't so flattering--was more a logical outcome than any great feat of governance.

Exceptionalism on the economic front served as a strong weapon in the 2011 election. At the same time he was spending great sums to spur the economy, Harper was able to hold to his promise to cut taxes--and to poison the atmosphere for anyone wishing to raise levies. Through history, the Liberals had used taxation to build their idea of an equitable Canadian society. They were now left spinning their wheels and tongues. In the 2011 election campaign, Michael Ignatieff couldn't put forward any big new national programs, like a high-speed rail system, because of the cost.

Yet the large deficit the Conservatives had run up, much of it a result of the GST cut and excessive spending in their first two years in power, hardly hurt them on the campaign trail. Nor did the Tories pay a price for Harper becoming the first PM in history to be found in contempt of Parliament. It was for excessive information control--his hiding from Parliament basic costing information on corporate tax cuts, combat jets and other programs.

In governance, the best communications plan is sometimes non-communication. The fewer details provided on financial management, Harper reasoned, the better. The PM had stoked a heated controversy when he killed the mandatory long-form census. Academics like Paul Saurette of the University of Ottawa theorized that today's Conservatives, unlike the Progressive Conservatives of old, suspected that too much information could too easily contradict gut-driven ideology.

Flaherty wasn't intellectually curious, recalled Freeman. With the odd exception, only the like-minded were invited to his policy retreats."The idea was you create your own truths. Don't be bogged down by studies." In keeping, the public service, which Harper suspected was overweighted with a Liberal mindset, saw its role changed: Now it would counsel on policy less, and simply follow orders more. Kevin Page noticed the switch right away. "There was a sea change with a capital C." Nuanced debate was discouraged. "You could see it, the lack of analysis, in the documents, in the language."

Harper created the Parliamentary Budget Office in 2006, appointing Page to head it in 2008. But when Page started challenging the government's numbers, Flaherty and the PMO tried to undermine Page's credibility, even as his numbers held up better to scrutiny than their own. In his book UnAccountable, to be published in September, Page writes that he was told that Harper operatives tried to find dirt in his background to discredit him. He was also brought before a parliamentary committee that, he said, was tantamount to a kangaroo court. "It became very personal," he writes. "Intimidation and fear-mongering were all-too-common tactics by the Harper government."

The PMO's control fixation brought on a marked reduction in parliamentary oversight. Flaherty's budget bills were turned into sweeping omnibus bills containing hundreds of clauses and measures, such as downgrading environmental oversight, that had little to do with a budget. On top of that, scrutiny at the committee level was further short-circuited by the Tories' use, in degrees rarely seen, of closure, time limitations, in-camera sessions and heavy-handed tactics to block witnesses.

Harper control required media control. Having spent many years in the media, Freeman now observed from the inside how the press and public could be easily hoodwinked. "One of the impacts of the new media is that nobody has any attention span," he said. "So the Harper people realized quickly that if they stonewalled or didn't answer questions, there was a good chance that within two or three days the story would be dead." The Tories put up any number of new roadblocks to reporters' accessing information. "Their goal was to make the media instruments of Tory propaganda."

In some respects, Freeman said, the Conservatives succeeded. When they took away most-favoured nation trading status for China, it meant prices were going to go up on a range of consumer products. "But they did an exception for hockey equipment. They leaked it systematically to the media: We are going to cut the tariff on hockey equipment. It was in the budget as a tiny part of what they were doing. But they spun it so that it became the big story. As a journalist, you should be asking, Do I really want to be used like that?"

With the recession over and with a majority government in hand following their 2011 election triumph, the Tories could return to core principles like budget-balancing. They began aggressively attacking a deficit that had topped $55 billion. A series of tight budgets would ensure the books would be back in balance by the 2015 campaign.

The trick was to do so while continuing with tax cuts and creating a good level of economic growth. As the Harper team discovered, however, this was no small challenge. The growth strategy became overly reliant on private-sector investment, which wasn't forthcoming. Bank of Canada then-governor Mark Carney chastised corporate Canada on this front, using the phrase "dead money" in reference to the lack of investment from Bay Street towers. Profits coming their way from Tory tax cuts weren't being re-invested.

The Harper tax scalpel was wielded widely. His government had brought in the two-percentage-point reduction in the GST, introduced the popular Tax Free Savings Account, sliced corporate taxes and given selective breaks to groups favoured in their electoral math. In addition, they broadly expanded the Universal Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Expense Deduction and they pledged to introduce the income-splitting tax bonus.

Progressives contended that most all of the tax breaks worked more to the benefit of the wealthier segments of society. Critics got a big boost when Flaherty, in an indication he had had enough of taking orders from on high, broke ranks on income-splitting, beginning 2014 by saying, "I'm not sure that over all it benefits our society." It was a rare example of a senior minister going off-message--on a major platform plank, no less. Shortly thereafter, Flaherty stepped down from the Finance post.

It wasn't just the left that questioned the wisdom of some of the cuts. The GST reduction was roundly denounced by mainstream economists, who favour cuts to income taxes rather than to consumption taxes. Political motivation was seen to be at the heart of many of the other cuts. The Tories sliced and diced a tax system that observers like Paul Boothe of Western University's Ivey Business School said needed simplification, not increased complication. Drummond was not on side either. "Our biggest problem in the tax system in Canada is the extraordinarily high marginal effective tax rates paid by people in low- and middle-income ranges." Referring to most of the Tory measures, he said, "None of that stuff does anything for that problem."

But with the opposition parties putting up only meek resistance, the Conservatives had made headway not just for the moment but in the long game, persuading Canadians that a smaller state was inherently virtuous.

Still, there were conspicuous weak spots, above all an energy file marred by declining oil prices and stalled pipelines. "The Conservatives had a three-pronged strategy," said Liberal Finance critic Scott Brison. "Oil, oil and oil." They were a one-trick pony, charged NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, and now they were paying the price, as were Canadians. The resource exploitation focus, he said, came at the expense of the environment and the country's manufacturing sector.

Conservatives, naturally, contested the interpretation. Finance committee chairman James Rajotte cited the auto bailouts, the Economic Action Plan and the Capital Cost Allowance program for manufacturers. "That's hardly ignoring manufacturing," Rajotte told me. He had done yeoman work for the party and was respected even by opposition critics. But on being overlooked yet again for a cabinet post as the PM turned to the likes of Pierre Poilievre in the lead-up to the election, Rajotte announced he was leaving politics. The Prime Minister also lost his Industry Minister, James Moore, who cited family reasons for stepping down.

With economic pressures piling up as 2015 began, Harper tried to turn some of the public focus away from the economy to the management of the terror file and to sabre-rattling abroad.

On the economy itself, he was not for turning. While economists suggested stimulus was needed for growth and while the Bank of Canada chimed in with rate cuts, team Harper held to a lean approach and pounded the airwaves in defence of it. And he could indeed point to some good markers: interest rates the lowest in many decades, inflation way down, unemployment below the average of the last 30 years, new free trade deals, middle-class incomes stable, a budget close to balance and taxes way, way down.

To Goodale, the record didn't sound so good. Under nine years of Conservative rule, job creation, he noted, was a mere half of what it was under the last nine years of Chrétien/Martin governments. The Liberals left office with nine straight years of the budget in surplus. There were seven straight deficits under Harper. The national debt went considerably down under the Liberals, considerably up under the Tories. Trade deficits were non-existent under the Liberals, but a common feature under Harper.

What concerned economists like Boothe, Drummond and McGill's Christopher Ragan was the long run of low growth, the continuing economic stagnation. Should the below-2% growth rate persist, there were a lot of emerging economies, they said, that could pass Canada by. Jobs would be harder to come by. Living standards would languish.

There are no easy solutions. "Our level of productivity is low relative to everyone else and our growth rate is one of the worst in the developed world," said Drummond. "It's not obvious how you tackle these problems." Ragan agreed, adding that the deficit obsession didn't make sense in a low-growth environment. Whether the budget was a few billion in surplus or deficit was "frankly immaterial," given that the debt-to-GDP ratio was in very good shape. Without a change of pattern, he was not optimistic the country could find its way out of the trough in the years to come.

Harper's "stay the course" rhetoric was mocked by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. He pointed out that "the course we're on has led us back into recession." The line had some bite. The opposition parties spotted vulnerability in Harper's economic armour. In response, he made an extraordinary move. Recent election campaigns had hewed close to the legislated minimum of 36 days in length. Harper more than doubled the 2015 clash to 11 weeks. We're in the midst of the longest election campaign in 143 years.

No one was fooled as to the reason why. The Conservatives' purpose was to maximize, with their superior financial resources, their marketing advantage. The longer campaign would allow them to rack up the type of spending on a breed of attack ads and self-promotion spots that had never been seen north of the border.

They were confirming Goodale's postulate. Policy was secondary. It was primarily about marketing. You spin to win.

Associated Graphic


Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B6

On an early summer evening in June, Kelly Bowers packed up her Dodge Ram pickup with the tools of her trade: a laptop, a mobile scanner and a homemade stew.

She drove to a grain farm near Saskatoon and met a farmer in his field. There, she completed a mortgage application for the farmer, who wanted to buy a house for his son - and she shared the food she had brought with her.

"There's nothing better than going out to a field and having your supper," she says. "Growing up, that's what we did. We'd always go to the field with my mum and she'd feed my dad.

That's what farmers do."

Except that Ms. Bowers is not a farmer. She's a mobile adviser with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. She uses her home near Saskatoon as a base to travel throughout the region, including Prince Albert and Lloydminster, meeting customers who either can't get to a bank branch or simply don't want to.

"I'll meet you anywhere you want to go," she says. "Farmers can't just jump off the tractor and zip into town. So if they want to meet, I'll meet them in their field."

It's a good service. But it also signifies an astonishing shift in the way banks are interacting with their customers as technology, consumer behaviour and tech-savvy new competitors drive what many observers believe are the biggest changes ever seen in the financial services industry.

Just as disruptive new technologies sank firms such as Blockbuster and Tower Records, some observers believe similar forces are lining up against the financial sector.

The threat is most noticeable at bank branches. Once the strongest connection with customers, branches are now trying to find their way in a world where most of us bank online.

Yet banks are investing in them: Old edifices that appear hopelessly out-of-touch with our digital world are slowly being replaced by revamped formats that are borrowing concepts from Apple's retail stores.

"We are catching up. The branch format is changing," says Tim Hockey, the group head of Canadian retail and wealth management at Toronto-Dominion Bank. Sometime in the future, "there will be fewer branches, and that's partly because consumers will not see as much need to have one close at hand."

According to the Canadian Bankers Association, 55 per cent of Canadians are doing most of their banking online. Mobile banking is taking off too: 31 per cent of Canadians are using their smartphones to check balances, move money, pay bills and deposit cheques, up from just 5 per cent in 2010.

For those who can't complete complex procedures online or need advice, mobile advisers like Ms. Bowers suggest that visiting a bank is no longer the only alternative - explaining why some bank branches look awfully quiet during some hours of the day. That puts branches in an awkward place, especially when you consider their cost.

According to Meny Grauman, an analyst at Cormark Securities, a transaction at a bank branch costs the institution about 50 times what a mobile banking transaction costs. If banks cut their branch footprint by just 10 per cent - through either closures or smaller formats - the savings in rent, salaries and equipment would drive up their earnings by an average of 2.7 per cent, Mr. Grauman estimates.

"The cost of operating bank branches is significant," says Ian Cunningham, chief operating officer at Tangerine, a branchless division of Bank of Nova Scotia.

"You need to have expertise in all these different locations to provide financial advice and product advice. It's very difficult and expensive to do."

U.S. banks appear to have done this math, and have been cutting branches even as the economy improves and the once-rattled banking sector stabilizes. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., U.S. banks closed 1,400 more branches than they opened in 2014, five years after the depths of the financial crisis. JPMorgan Chase & Co. has announced plans to shut 300 branches, or 6 per cent of its footprint, in 2016.

However, Canadian banks have been moving in the other direction, expanding their networks under the belief that branches remain integral to their operations. They operated a total of 6,348 branches in 2014, up 127 from the previous year and more than 400 since 2006, according to the CBA.

"People are not going into branches as much as they used to," says James McPhedran, executive vice-president of retail distribution at Scotiabank. "But we're having a significantly higher number of advice conversations in our branches now. They are relevant and they are where big things happen."

But branches sure don't look or feel the same. Austere teller wickets are being replaced with open spaces that promote interaction with bank professionals, in an attempt to make branches less about paying last month's cable bill and more about engaging customers with mortgage options and retirement plans.

Some banks call their branches "stores," in an obvious nod to retailers. And those tellers are "client advisers."

Rather than waiting in line to see a teller, customers at some branches are now greeted by advisers on the floor. A couple of decades ago, these employees were hired for their proficiency in math and accounting; now, according to Royal Bank of Canada, they're hired for their ability to engage people.

"The model of what a branch is, is being blown up," says Lian Zerafa, a partner at KPMG who specializes in financial services.

The fintech wave

Rob Galaski, the national bank and securities leader at Deloitte Canada, barely pauses when asked to describe the changes in the banking sector. "I would say it is unprecedented, in terms of the impact we're about to see on the industry," he says.

The industry has encountered upheaval before, of course: ATMs and telephone banking looked as though they could upset an industry not known for being nimble.

But this is different. Now, technology is not only making banking more convenient for consumers; it is also encouraging established tech behemoths and tiny upstarts to look at what the banks do, and try to do it better. Bharat Masrani, TD's chief executive officer, warned in May that banking "is changing in fundamental ways and at breakneck speed, as new technologies lower the barriers to entry and innovative competitors emerge."

Apple Inc. is one of them. It launched its Apple Pay service in the United States and the United Kingdom, allowing consumers to make small purchases using their iPhones, pushing traditional banks into a more subservient role. Google, another potential rival, is offering a similar service for Android devices.

Peer-to-peer lenders, allowing people and businesses to get loans online, are gaining traction because they circumvent typical red tape at the banks. San Francisco-based Lending Club has made more than $11-billion (U.S.) in loans since 2007, and says its annual loan volume is doubling each year.

Thousands of so-called fintech startups - some led by university students, others by seasoned bank veterans - are busily looking at other ways to take a piece of the banking industry or fill gaps. Venture capital firms are providing billions of dollars in assistance.

Brett King, chief executive officer of Moven, a mobile banking app that partners with existing banks, told a New York conference recently that technology companies will become the world's biggest banks in five years.

Younger consumers may help drive that shift. Millennials are emerging as the largest cohort in the North American work force, bringing with them what many believe are radical new approaches to technology and brand loyalty.

A 2013 survey by Scratch, a brand-consulting unit of Viacom, found that leading U.S. banks were some of the leastloved brands among 15- to 34year-olds. Millennials were more excited about new financial services coming from the likes of Google, Amazon, Apple or Square, suggesting that Mr. King's audacious prediction of technology companies becoming banking giants might not be so farfetched.

"I think that's why we're working with banks," says Scott Robinson, a director at Silicon Valley-based Plug and Play, which assists startups and introduces them to corporations.

"They certainly see the same sort of doomsday scenario occurring."

While Canadian bankers might not throw around words like "doomsday," they are aware of the challenges they are facing.

Mr. Hockey points to an enormous 100-year-old book in his office. It's a ledger where bankers used to record transactions, neatly printed in lines and columns.

It's one reason why branches existed in the first place: Ledgers were the financial technology of the day and they needed to be located where the customers were. Branches also held the money that was necessary for most purchases.

"Those things are no longer true: Technology can go with you and you don't really need cash," he says.

"So that means you experiment dramatically with different types of formats."

The experiments are happening on a global scale. Deloitte's Mr. Galaski pointed out that a discussion among senior financial executives at the World Economic Forum in Davos a few years ago revolved around financial disruption, but they didn't attach a particular sense of urgency to it.

"Fast forward to Davos just last year, where the same group got together, and the CEO of one of the world's largest financial institutions characterized the mood of the group as 'unhealthy paranoia,' " Mr. Galaski said.

"They all agreed that they had to disrupt themselves before being disrupted by others."

With that in mind, Canadian banks have been trying to remove just about any barrier to the way their customers want to do their banking.

Aayaz Pira, vice-president of digital channels, retail and business banking at CIBC, notes that digital banking used to be handled by IT departments, and chief information officers decided what would be made available.

"That model is completely different now," Mr. Pira says. "We are bringing innovation to market because our clients want it and they expect it."

On the April day that Apple launched its Apple Watch, both CIBC and Scotiabank announced apps that would allow their customers to check balances, look for nearby ATMs and transfer funds. Banks are also rolling out mobile payment technology and promoting e-mail money transfers and mobile cheque deposits - and some banks are experimenting with conceptual stuff that is still in the labs.

Besides building their own impressive technology departments by scooping up hires that might have contemplated careers at Google or Facebook, banks are also fostering outside partnerships so they can gain additional expertise. Some of their innovations are already seeing the light of day.

TD and President's Choice Financial have backed UGO, a digital wallet that has attracted 50,000 users since its launch in December. "The fact that our separate structure may better enable innovation, or be quicker to respond to opportunities, is something we think we're beginning to demonstrate," Alec Morley, UGO's chief executive officer, says in an e-mail.

Just about every top bank executive is making trips to Silicon Valley, and the banks are maintaining strong ties to startup centres such as Waterloo region's Communitech and Toronto's MaRS Discovery District.

"Sometimes it's very difficult for institutions to build some of these new technologies inhouse, so we're seeing a lot of the Canadian banks partnering with innovation hubs to get access to this technology," says Adam Nanjee, head of financial technology at MaRS.

Counters gone, branches smaller

Where does this innovation leave branches? For all the new gizmos and apps and self-serve capabilities, Canadian banks have shown a remarkably strong attachment to good old handshakes and name tags. Surveys tell them that this is the right approach because people need a human touch for many of their financial decisions.

"I think Canadians still want banking to be demystified, and reassurance that what they are doing today is preparing them for the future," says Kim Mason, RBC's regional president for Greater Toronto.

According to Bank of Montreal, 74 per cent of customers prefer to open an account in a branch; 85 per cent prefer to visit branches to buy mortgages.

CIBC came to a similar conclusion. Even though 77 per cent of Canadians believe that remote banking is important for day-today transactions, 67 per cent prefer to talk to someone about more complex matters.

But branches in which these discussions take place are starting to look very different.

RBC's new 5,000-square-foot branch at the base of its Canadian banking headquarters in Toronto has eliminated traditional counters. Offices are alcoves with desks that look like warm kitchen tables. Off-hours, you might find a few dozen people attending a financial event.

Ms. Mason says that sales transactions have risen 115 per cent since the new branch replaced a 20-year-old version down the street. On a Tuesday afternoon, it's quite busy.

BMO's flagship branch at the base of First Canadian Place in Toronto was made over on a grander scale, incorporating every conceivable financial service into more than 20,000 square feet of open, airy comfort.

Client conversations can start on the floor with a tablet, then move to a more private area with swivel computer screens, oval tables and even cool-looking chrome-plated staplers. BMO believes that the transformation reflects its brand, and it carries over to other types of branches that can be as small as 1,000 square feet.

"When you put in impervious counters or you hide people behind walls and doors, it makes it practically impossible to see that brand aspiration," says Paul Dilda, head of North American branch and ATM channels at BMO.

Even branchless banks are getting in on the action. Tangerine has five cafés that serve up fresh-squeezed juice along with iPad demonstrations. The bank is also experimenting with a pop-up branch that is housed in a converted shipping container, offering a striking contrast to the grey pillars that made old banks look stolid.

The snazzy new branch formats have one big common element, though: They all work in conjunction with digital banking to create, ideally, a seamless experience for customers who might do their banking on any number of devices. Bankers are calling this an "omni-channel" experience - an aspiration that reflects how dramatically the financial landscape is shifting.

But omni isn't cheap, making banks that rely upon branches vulnerable to competitors who can tempt consumers with lower-cost, virtual options. Banks know this, which is why they are experimenting with smaller branches, many of which are attached to new condo developments in high-traffic urban neighbourhoods.

BMO's newer branches average about 2,200 square feet, or about half the size they were five years ago. CIBC recently opened a branch on Toronto's trendy Queen Street West that can offer every retail financial service with just three employees - or "universal agents" - in 1,400 square feet.

However, no one is ruling out the possibility that a smaller branch footprint could one day also mean a smaller number of branches.

"Everybody is trying to figure out what is the digital solution to provide the right experience to clients," says Mr. Cunningham of Tangerine. "And the general direction points to fewer branches and better technology."

That might be easy for someone from a branchless bank to say, but others are contemplating a similar future.

"Among the Big Five, BMO is the smallest in terms of the number of branches," Mr. Dilda says. "We're not looking to quickly catch up or leapfrog anybody."

Associated Graphic

CIBC mortgage specialist Kelly Bowers works recently from the back of her pickup truck at a client's farm near Delisle, Sask.




Tangerine employees Aaron Maharaja and Yvonne Zhou work inside an experimental pop-up bank branch in a trailer at the Centerpoint Mall parking lot in Toronto.


The revamped Bank of Montreal branch at First Canadian Place, in the heart of Toronto's financial district, is an open-concept design that allows people to walk right through.

Gateway to freedom
Their journey is gruelling. Tens of thousands of migrants travel routes as long as 7,000 kilometres - on foot - exhausted and hungry and sometimes hunted by police, for havens in Western Europe and even Canada. The Globe's senior international correspondent Mark MacKinnon spoke with several migrants along the Serbia-Hungary border in a place called the Jungle and reports on their harrowing overland journeys
Saturday, July 11, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A10

Turn off the highway that winds among the farms near Serbia's border with Hungary, walk into the shoulder-high weeds and you find them: hundreds of people, nearly all of them young men, clustered in makeshift camps. They're hiding here - near the end of epic overland journeys - waiting for the right moment to continue their march north, toward what they hope are new and better lives in the European Union, or even Canada.

The migrants call this place the Jungle, which is more a reflection of the palpable edginess here than the density of the foliage.

The Jungle is just 10 kilometres from the Hungarian border and the gateway to the 26 countries in Europe where people can move across state lines without visas. The migrants have been dreaming about reaching the Schengen Area since they left their homes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Iraq. Once they get across the Hungarian border, they feel closer to their goal.

They talk of jobs in Germany, distant relatives in Sweden.

They walked most of the way here. "It took us six months," said an exhausted-looking Sajid Khan, a wiry 18-year-old from Paktia province in eastern Afghanistan who made the almost 7,000-km overland journey via Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece and Macedonia with four other young men. Swollen and blistered feet poke out from their battered plastic sandals.

Mr. Khan and his fellow travellers spent a recent afternoon waiting in the sparse shade of the forests here, each sitting beside a backpack full of belongings they carried on their journey. A short walk away in the next clearing sat another group of perhaps 20 men, most of them Syrians and Pakistanis. A little further into the trees behind an abandoned brick factory were three other makeshift camps, where dozens more Afghan men waited for nightfall and the chance to continue their journey north. There were several more camps deeper in the woods, one migrant said, explaining that they sleep outdoors in small groups so they can scatter more easily if the police approach.

The migrants clustered at the Jungle are part of an unprecedented wave of tens of thousands of asylum seekers from the Middle East and Central Asia who have arrived in Europe this year.

The overland route they took is the second prong of the great migration under way from the war-torn regions of the world toward the relative stability and prosperity of Europe.

The arrival of more than 150,000 people this year who crossed the Mediterranean Sea to reach the islands of Italy and Greece has captured international attention and provoked heated debate within the European Union over how to deal with the crisis. However, the flow of refugees overland via the Balkans is nearly as rapid - more than 60,000 migrants crossed from Serbia into Hungary in the first five months of this year - and just as overwhelming to the countries trying to deal with this new front in the drama.

"Some of them were university professors, some of them were poor in their own countries. It's a mixture of everyone. It seems like a migration of peoples, of nations," Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said in an interview at his office in the capital city of Belgrade. "This is something that hasn't been seen in the last several centuries."

It's a situation Mr. Stefanovic said he expects to continue for several years. Serbia is now dotted with impromptu camps such as the Jungle. Two parks adjacent to the main train station in Belgrade - once a stop on the famed Orient Express route connecting Europe to Istanbul, which served as an entry point to the Middle East - are full most nights with hundreds of sleeping migrants.

While countries such as Hungary and Slovakia to the north have seen mass anti-immigrant protests in recent weeks, Serbians have largely remained tolerant so far. Mr. Stefanovic said Serbs are broadly sympathetic to the migrants' plight because many Serbs still remember being forced from their own homes during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s.

But Serbs also know the migrants aren't here to stay; they're just passing through on their way north.

Border wall planned Across the border in Hungary, the mood is full-blown paranoia.

On the day Mr. Khan was interviewed in the Jungle, The Globe and Mail followed a pair of green police paddy wagons as they patrolled the border towns of Morahalom and Asotthalom, their presence during daylight hours doing more to reassure local residents than deter the migrants who invariably wait for nightfall to make their move.

"If you come to Hungary, do not take the jobs of Hungarians," reads one billboard in Morahalom. "If you come to Hungary, you must respect our culture," reads another. A thousand such signs have recently been erected around Hungary by the National Consultation on Immigration and Terrorism, a government body launched earlier this year that has been criticized by other EU governments for its explicit linking of migration to a supposed threat from "terrorists." "People are scared," a waiter in Morahalom admitted.

Hungary announced in June that it was suspending participation in a key EU rule requiring that migrants' asylum claims be processed in the country in which they first arrive, a rule the migrants were already going around by avoiding authorities in EU member states such as Greece and Bulgaria along their route.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has further rattled Serbia and the EU by vowing to build a 200-km wall along his country's southern border with Serbia. "The boat is full," Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs explained. Hungary, Austria and Germany have also sent border police to help Serbia better patrol its border with Macedonia.

But the migrants at the Jungle are confident that a Hungarian border wall wouldn't stop them.

Not after they've come this far, not after all they've been through.

"Two people who were walking with us died in the mountains between Iran and Turkey because they didn't have water. I was lucky because I had this much water left," Ali Husseini, a 16year-old Afghan, said, holding his fingers a pencil's width apart to illustrate his own margin between life and death.

He said he'd been walking for five weeks straight since leaving the Pakistani city of Quetta, where his family has been living to escape the war in Afghanistan.

The thin and muscled Mr. Husseini - who worked in a clothing shop while attending school in Quetta - has travelled nearly 6,000 km since leaving home. He said he didn't plan to stop walking until he reached his final destination of Sweden, which he has heard (correctly) has Europe's most welcoming asylum laws.

Well aware of the EU's policy about applying for asylum in the country of first arrival, he and many others in the Jungle say they plan to keep a low profile even after they're inside the Schengen Area.

Only when Mr. Husseini reaches Sweden will he walk into a police station and formally declare that he wants political asylum from Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he says he and his family face persecution and violence because they are from the Hazara ethnic minority group.

"We want to go to Hungary, but we want to pass through without giving our fingerprints," he said, speaking for a group of a dozen Afghans he was travelling with.

Among the group, only Mr. Husseini spoke English. But Sweden, they'd all heard, offers free language lessons to new immigrants.

Criminal abuse The migrants' desire to avoid the authorities makes them extremely vulnerable to abuse by both criminals and police along the way. Mr. Husseini said men in police uniforms raided the Jungle one recent night. But rather than detaining the migrants, or directing them to Serbia's formal system for asylum seekers, Mr. Husseini said the uniformed men took money and mobile phones from those they caught, then released them to continue their journey. Losing the mobile phone was as much of a bother for Mr. Husseini as the stolen cash. Many of the migrants use apps such as Google Maps to make sure they're headed in the right direction across unfamiliar terrain. Another English-speaking migrant - a Pakistani who gave his name as "Peter Diamond" - was sporting two fresh black eyes and a badly cut face the morning after the raid.

Laughing bitterly, he said he'd hurt himself while "hugging a tree." Mr. Diamond, who said he was persecuted in Pakistan because he's Christian, said his end goal was to get to Canada and then bring his family there.

Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have recorded testimonies of migrants abused by police in Serbia, as well as in Macedonia and Greece, including bribe-taking and illegal "pushbacks," where migrants were driven back over the border they had just crossed and dropped off, in contravention of national and European laws on the treatment of asylum seekers.

Mr. Stefanovic, Serbia's Interior Minister, said he was aware of the allegations and had ordered an investigation into the "isolated incidents." He said that Serbian and Hungarian police, working together, had broken up 40 smuggling rings in the past year. "These are the people trying to misuse the bad fortune of the migrants and take as much money as they can from them," he said.

The overland route to Europe can be as dangerous as the Mediterranean Sea crossing. For those with money, smugglers can be hired to take migrants from one border to the next. But even the rich migrants travelling with their whole families have to dismount and sneak across each border on foot.

"At the Iranian border, the police shot at us. I didn't stop, I just kept running," said Mr. Khan, the 18-year-old from Paktia province, speaking in broken English. Other migrants say the hardest part was wading across the Evros river that forms Turkey's border with Greece, where every year police find bodies of those who failed to make the crossing.

Others paid smugglers to take them across the Aegean Sea on rickety boats. Several migrants admitted they'd never heard of Serbia, Bulgaria or Macedonia until they were told they were in those countries.

The route from the Middle East to the Balkans shifts with the seasons. In the winter months, migrants who reach Turkey have little choice but to take their chances crossing either the Evros or the Aegean. But summer has melted the snow in the Balkan mountain range between Bulgaria and Serbia, opening an arduous alpine route for the next few months.

For much of the way, the migrants follow the train tracks, leading to an epidemic of broken ankles and twisted knees among the travellers. "Most of them have blisters on their feet, joint pains, bone pains, respiratory issues, skin problems like scabies, fleas and lice," said Milena Radosavljevic, a doctor with Médecins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders) who gives free consultations at the Jungle several times a week. "I think they just go on adrenalin. The human body is not built for this, walking hundreds, thousands of kilometres."

'We are not animals' In Belgrade, where the government and police have largely taken a laissez-faire attitude to the camps near the train station, many migrants pause and gather intelligence from other travellers about the latest situation at the Hungarian border and beyond.

"We'd go to Sweden if we had the money, but we don't have anything left," Ibrahim Mohammed said, speaking in Arabic as he sat sharing crackers with seven other family members - including three girls under the age of 12 - in the park across from the station.

The family, Palestinian refugees who lived in a camp on the outskirts of Damascus until the outbreak of Syria's civil war, all had badly blistered feet after their 2,800-km overland journey.

"Right now, we don't know where we're going tomorrow, except to keep going north," said the 49-year-old Mr. Mohammed, a factory worker in Damascus before the war.

Though the Serbian government has recorded a spike in official asylum applications - from 5,000 in 2013, to 16,500 last year, to more than 35,000 in just the first five months of 2015 - only a tiny fraction of those truly want to stay in Serbia. (Serbia's official figures do not include the thousands of Kosovars who have also headed north this year, fleeing economic collapse in their country. Belgrade does not recognize Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia seven years ago.)

Serbia has been criticized for approving just one asylum request in 2014, while granting temporary protection to only five others. But Mr. Stefanovic said Serbia - which is still home to tens of thousands of people who are designated as refugees from the wars in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo - cannot do more.

"We do not have enough space to shelter everybody," he said.

"We are already stretched to the maximum. We are trying to expand our asylum centres to take some more, but to be quite realistic, many of these people say, 'Listen, we don't want to live in Serbia, we are just passing through your country. We want to go to Germany, Sweden, France.' Freedom of movement tells us that we have to let them go."

Few here believe Hungary's planned wall will deter that flow of people.

"If they build it, they [the migrants] will just find a way to cross it. It will raise the level of corruption, but it will not change anything," said Jelena Hrnjak, program manager for Atina, a Serbian non-governmental organization that works to combat human trafficking and genderbased violence. "I don't see how it will help the situation at all."

Baryal Hussein Khil scoffs at the idea a wall would keep him or any of the others camped in the Jungle from pushing forward.

Remarkably, Mr. Khil is in the middle of his second overland journey from Afghanistan.

The previous time, Mr. Khil said, he made it as far as Wolverhampton in central England, where he spent two years working at a car wash before he was captured in a police raid and deported back to Kabul. But the Afghan capital, he said, is even more dangerous now than when he first fled it seven years ago. So he started walking again.

This time, Mr. Khil - his dark hair greying at just 27 years old - said he wants to go through the asylum process legally. He said he'll take up residence and look for a job in any EU country that will take him.

"All the European countries are safe. ... In England, you go to jail if you kill a cat or a pigeon. In my country, hundreds of people are killed every day," Mr. Khil said, mixing expletives with English he learned at a United Nations school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. "If you want freedom, you have to come [to Europe].

We are not animals."

Associated Graphic

Migrants prepare to board a train north to Serbia and beyond in the town of Gevgelija, Macedonia, on the border with Greece, on Thursday.


A Syrian migrant shows his bandaged feet near a police station in the southern Serbian town of Presevo, near the border with Macedonia and Kosovo, on July 2.



Migrants from Afghanistan gather near an abandoned brick factory in Subotica, Serbia, in June, as they prepare to cross into Hungary, where reaction to them has led to full-blown paranoia.


A migrant family rests on a local road on the Hungarian side of the border with Serbia on Tuesday. Over the past two years, Hungary has been one of the main overland routes for people hoping to reach Western Europe.


Migrants travel on a train bound for the northern Serbian city of Subotica, which is near the border with Hungary, in June.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015


A Saturday news feature on migration included a map that omitted the country of Montenegro.

Gateway to freedom
Their journey is gruelling. Tens of thousands of migrants travel routes as long as 7,000 kilometres - on foot - exhausted and hungry and sometimes hunted by police, for havens in Western Europe and even Canada. The Globe's senior international correspondent Mark MacKinnon spoke with several migrants along the Serbia-Hungary border in a place called the Jungle and reports on their harrowing overland journeys
Saturday, July 11, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A10

Turn off the highway that winds among the farms near Serbia's border with Hungary, walk into the shoulder-high weeds and you find them: hundreds of people, nearly all of them young men, clustered in makeshift camps. They're hiding here - near the end of epic overland journeys - waiting for the right moment to continue their march north, toward what they hope are new and better lives in the European Union, or even Canada.

The migrants call this place the Jungle, which is more a reflection of the palpable edginess here than the density of the foliage.

The Jungle is just 10 kilometres from the Hungarian border and the gateway to the 26 countries in Europe where people can move across state lines without visas. The migrants have been dreaming about reaching the Schengen Area since they left their homes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Iraq. Once they get across the Hungarian border, they feel closer to their goal.

They talk of jobs in Germany, distant relatives in Sweden.

They walked most of the way here. "It took us six months," said an exhausted-looking Sajid Khan, a wiry 18-year-old from Paktia province in eastern Afghanistan who made the almost 7,000-km overland journey via Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece and Macedonia with four other young men. Swollen and blistered feet poke out from their battered plastic sandals.

Mr. Khan and his fellow travellers spent a recent afternoon waiting in the sparse shade of the forests here, each sitting beside a backpack full of belongings they carried on their journey. A short walk away in the next clearing sat another group of perhaps 20 men, most of them Syrians and Pakistanis. A little further into the trees behind an abandoned brick factory were three other makeshift camps, where dozens more Afghan men waited for nightfall and the chance to continue their journey north. There were several more camps deeper in the woods, one migrant said, explaining that they sleep outdoors in small groups so they can scatter more easily if the police approach.

The migrants clustered at the Jungle are part of an unprecedented wave of tens of thousands of asylum seekers from the Middle East and Central Asia who have arrived in Europe this year.

The overland route they took is the second prong of the great migration under way from the war-torn regions of the world toward the relative stability and prosperity of Europe.

The arrival of more than 150,000 people this year who crossed the Mediterranean Sea to reach the islands of Italy and Greece has captured international attention and provoked heated debate within the European Union over how to deal with the crisis. However, the flow of refugees overland via the Balkans is nearly as rapid - more than 60,000 migrants crossed from Serbia into Hungary in the first five months of this year - and just as overwhelming to the countries trying to deal with this new front in the drama.

"Some of them were university professors, some of them were poor in their own countries. It's a mixture of everyone. It seems like a migration of peoples, of nations," Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said in an interview at his office in the capital city of Belgrade. "This is something that hasn't been seen in the last several centuries."

It's a situation Mr. Stefanovic said he expects to continue for several years. Serbia is now dotted with impromptu camps such as the Jungle. Two parks adjacent to the main train station in Belgrade - once a stop on the famed Orient Express route connecting Europe to Istanbul, which served as an entry point to the Middle East - are full most nights with hundreds of sleeping migrants.

While countries such as Hungary and Slovakia to the north have seen mass anti-immigrant protests in recent weeks, Serbians have largely remained tolerant so far. Mr. Stefanovic said Serbs are broadly sympathetic to the migrants' plight because many Serbs still remember being forced from their own homes during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s.

But Serbs also know the migrants aren't here to stay; they're just passing through on their way north.

Border wall planned Across the border in Hungary, the mood is full-blown paranoia.

On the day Mr. Khan was interviewed in the Jungle, The Globe and Mail followed a pair of green police paddy wagons as they patrolled the border towns of Morahalom and Asotthalom, their presence during daylight hours doing more to reassure local residents than deter the migrants who invariably wait for nightfall to make their move.

"If you come to Hungary, do not take the jobs of Hungarians," reads one billboard in Morahalom. "If you come to Hungary, you must respect our culture," reads another. A thousand such signs have recently been erected around Hungary by the National Consultation on Immigration and Terrorism, a government body launched earlier this year that has been criticized by other EU governments for its explicit linking of migration to a supposed threat from "terrorists." "People are scared," a waiter in Morahalom admitted.

Hungary announced in June that it was suspending participation in a key EU rule requiring that migrants' asylum claims be processed in the country in which they first arrive, a rule the migrants were already going around by avoiding authorities in EU member states such as Greece and Bulgaria along their route.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has further rattled Serbia and the EU by vowing to build a 200-km wall along his country's southern border with Serbia. "The boat is full," Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs explained. Hungary, Austria and Germany have also sent border police to help Serbia better patrol its border with Macedonia.

But the migrants at the Jungle are confident that a Hungarian border wall wouldn't stop them.

Not after they've come this far, not after all they've been through.

"Two people who were walking with us died in the mountains between Iran and Turkey because they didn't have water. I was lucky because I had this much water left," Ali Husseini, a 16year-old Afghan, said, holding his fingers a pencil's width apart to illustrate his own margin between life and death.

He said he'd been walking for five weeks straight since leaving the Pakistani city of Quetta, where his family has been living to escape the war in Afghanistan.

The thin and muscled Mr. Husseini - who worked in a clothing shop while attending school in Quetta - has travelled nearly 6,000 km since leaving home. He said he didn't plan to stop walking until he reached his final destination of Sweden, which he has heard (correctly) has Europe's most welcoming asylum laws.

Well aware of the EU's policy about applying for asylum in the country of first arrival, he and many others in the Jungle say they plan to keep a low profile even after they're inside the Schengen Area.

Only when Mr. Husseini reaches Sweden will he walk into a police station and formally declare that he wants political asylum from Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he says he and his family face persecution and violence because they are from the Hazara ethnic minority group.

"We want to go to Hungary, but we want to pass through without giving our fingerprints," he said, speaking for a group of a dozen Afghans he was travelling with.

Among the group, only Mr. Husseini spoke English. But Sweden, they'd all heard, offers free language lessons to new immigrants.

Criminal abuse The migrants' desire to avoid the authorities makes them extremely vulnerable to abuse by both criminals and police along the way. Mr. Husseini said men in police uniforms raided the Jungle one recent night. But rather than detaining the migrants, or directing them to Serbia's formal system for asylum seekers, Mr. Husseini said the uniformed men took money and mobile phones from those they caught, then released them to continue their journey. Losing the mobile phone was as much of a bother for Mr. Husseini as the stolen cash. Many of the migrants use apps such as Google Maps to make sure they're headed in the right direction across unfamiliar terrain. Another English-speaking migrant - a Pakistani who gave his name as "Peter Diamond" - was sporting two fresh black eyes and a badly cut face the morning after the raid.

Laughing bitterly, he said he'd hurt himself while "hugging a tree." Mr. Diamond, who said he was persecuted in Pakistan because he's Christian, said his end goal was to get to Canada and then bring his family there.

Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have recorded testimonies of migrants abused by police in Serbia, as well as in Macedonia and Greece, including bribe-taking and illegal "pushbacks," where migrants were driven back over the border they had just crossed and dropped off, in contravention of national and European laws on the treatment of asylum seekers.

Mr. Stefanovic, Serbia's Interior Minister, said he was aware of the allegations and had ordered an investigation into the "isolated incidents." He said that Serbian and Hungarian police, working together, had broken up 40 smuggling rings in the past year. "These are the people trying to misuse the bad fortune of the migrants and take as much money as they can from them," he said.

The overland route to Europe can be as dangerous as the Mediterranean Sea crossing. For those with money, smugglers can be hired to take migrants from one border to the next. But even the rich migrants travelling with their whole families have to dismount and sneak across each border on foot.

"At the Iranian border, the police shot at us. I didn't stop, I just kept running," said Mr. Khan, the 18-year-old from Paktia province, speaking in broken English. Other migrants say the hardest part was wading across the Evros river that forms Turkey's border with Greece, where every year police find bodies of those who failed to make the crossing.

Others paid smugglers to take them across the Aegean Sea on rickety boats. Several migrants admitted they'd never heard of Serbia, Bulgaria or Macedonia until they were told they were in those countries.

The route from the Middle East to the Balkans shifts with the seasons. In the winter months, migrants who reach Turkey have little choice but to take their chances crossing either the Evros or the Aegean. But summer has melted the snow in the Balkan mountain range between Bulgaria and Serbia, opening an arduous alpine route for the next few months.

For much of the way, the migrants follow the train tracks, leading to an epidemic of broken ankles and twisted knees among the travellers. "Most of them have blisters on their feet, joint pains, bone pains, respiratory issues, skin problems like scabies, fleas and lice," said Milena Radosavljevic, a doctor with Médecins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders) who gives free consultations at the Jungle several times a week. "I think they just go on adrenalin. The human body is not built for this, walking hundreds, thousands of kilometres."

'We are not animals' In Belgrade, where the government and police have largely taken a laissez-faire attitude to the camps near the train station, many migrants pause and gather intelligence from other travellers about the latest situation at the Hungarian border and beyond.

"We'd go to Sweden if we had the money, but we don't have anything left," Ibrahim Mohammed said, speaking in Arabic as he sat sharing crackers with seven other family members - including three girls under the age of 12 - in the park across from the station.

The family, Palestinian refugees who lived in a camp on the outskirts of Damascus until the outbreak of Syria's civil war, all had badly blistered feet after their 2,800-km overland journey.

"Right now, we don't know where we're going tomorrow, except to keep going north," said the 49-year-old Mr. Mohammed, a factory worker in Damascus before the war.

Though the Serbian government has recorded a spike in official asylum applications - from 5,000 in 2013, to 16,500 last year, to more than 35,000 in just the first five months of 2015 - only a tiny fraction of those truly want to stay in Serbia. (Serbia's official figures do not include the thousands of Kosovars who have also headed north this year, fleeing economic collapse in their country. Belgrade does not recognize Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia seven years ago.)

Serbia has been criticized for approving just one asylum request in 2014, while granting temporary protection to only five others. But Mr. Stefanovic said Serbia - which is still home to tens of thousands of people who are designated as refugees from the wars in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo - cannot do more.

"We do not have enough space to shelter everybody," he said.

"We are already stretched to the maximum. We are trying to expand our asylum centres to take some more, but to be quite realistic, many of these people say, 'Listen, we don't want to live in Serbia, we are just passing through your country. We want to go to Germany, Sweden, France.' Freedom of movement tells us that we have to let them go."

Few here believe Hungary's planned wall will deter that flow of people.

"If they build it, they [the migrants] will just find a way to cross it. It will raise the level of corruption, but it will not change anything," said Jelena Hrnjak, program manager for Atina, a Serbian non-governmental organization that works to combat human trafficking and genderbased violence. "I don't see how it will help the situation at all."

Baryal Hussein Khil scoffs at the idea a wall would keep him or any of the others camped in the Jungle from pushing forward.

Remarkably, Mr. Khil is in the middle of his second overland journey from Afghanistan.

The previous time, Mr. Khil said, he made it as far as Wolverhampton in central England, where he spent two years working at a car wash before he was captured in a police raid and deported back to Kabul. But the Afghan capital, he said, is even more dangerous now than when he first fled it seven years ago. So he started walking again.

This time, Mr. Khil - his dark hair greying at just 27 years old - said he wants to go through the asylum process legally. He said he'll take up residence and look for a job in any EU country that will take him.

"All the European countries are safe. ... In England, you go to jail if you kill a cat or a pigeon. In my country, hundreds of people are killed every day," Mr. Khil said, mixing expletives with English he learned at a United Nations school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. "If you want freedom, you have to come [to Europe].

We are not animals."

Associated Graphic

Migrants prepare to board a train north to Serbia and beyond in the town of Gevgelija, Macedonia, on the border with Greece, on Thursday.


A Syrian migrant shows his bandaged feet near a police station in the southern Serbian town of Presevo, near the border with Macedonia and Kosovo, on July 2.



Migrants from Afghanistan gather near an abandoned brick factory in Subotica, Serbia, in June, as they prepare to cross into Hungary, where reaction to them has led to full-blown paranoia.


A migrant family rests on a local road on the Hungarian side of the border with Serbia on Tuesday. Over the past two years, Hungary has been one of the main overland routes for people hoping to reach Western Europe.


Migrants travel on a train bound for the northern Serbian city of Subotica, which is near the border with Hungary, in June.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015


A Saturday news feature on migration included a map that omitted the country of Montenegro.

The quest starts here
As Canada prepares for an Olympic qualifying tournament, Toronto's influence on the rise of the sport in the country becomes ever more apparent. Anchored by several NBA stars, most born and bred in the Toronto area, Canada is fielding its most talented team ever in the FIBA Americas tournament, where the competition will be fierce
Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

TORONTO -- At the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre, in the Toronto suburbs, Andrew Wiggins first played organized basketball. It was September, 2004; Wiggins was 9 and already 5-foot-7.

After he practised once with his under-10 novice team in the Ontario Basketball Association, coach Arie Mazur called a friend, Phil Dixon, a Toronto basketball phenom from a generation earlier.

Mazur brashly predicted the quiet, humble boy would, in a decade's time, become a No. 1 NBA draft pick.

"He had a grace about him," Mazur says.

Wiggins today is the face of an emerging basketball city. The arrival of Toronto, and Canada, on the sport's global stage faces its greatest test yet as September begins. Wiggins and a cadre of young players, most born within a couple years of each other and raised in a span of 70 kilometres along Lake Ontario, aim to bring the national men's team back to the Olympics for the first time in 16 years.

A Canadian, James Naismith, invented the game in 1891 at a YMCA in Springfield, Mass. The sport was a hit and, when basketball debuted at the Olympics in Berlin in 1936, the United States defeated Canada 19-8 for gold on a rain-drenched outdoor court. Naismith, three years before he died, presented the medals.

Basketball flourished in the United States but not in Canada. While the first game of the league that would become the NBA was played in Toronto in 1946 (the local Huskies losing to the New York Knickerbockers), Canada on the amateur level won no more Olympic medals after Berlin. In the past half-century, the country has qualified for the men's tournament in only four of 12 Summer Games.

Now comes its current squad, carrying high hopes - general manager Steve Nash and coach Jay Triano have proclaimed it the best Canadian basketball team assembled to date. Immigration from the Caribbean is an essential root to its makeup. Another is the arrival of the NBA to Toronto in 1995, the year Wiggins was born. The showmanship of the Raptors' Vince Carter in the early 2000s was a beacon, and British Columbia's Nash was an icon.

As teenagers, the national team members of today played for Canada internationally, and most spent their final years of high school at elite basketball prep schools, in the United States before college hoops there and onward to the NBA.

The FIBA Americas tournament, which begins Monday in Mexico City and concludes Sept. 12, will be a stiff test of how far they've come. On the plus side, Canada won a tune-up tournament in Puerto Rico this week, going undefeated in four games.

The youth movement is in full force, promising fresh legs but also inexperience at the highest levels of international play. Wiggins is just 20 and point guard Cory Joseph is the veteran leader at 24. Another top Canadian, Tristan Thompson, won't play, mired in an NBA contract dispute. Rivals include savvy teams such as Argentina, hardened in the international game. There will be eight games in nine days, after which 10 countries will be whittled to four. Should Canada, as expected, make it that far, it would face a must-win semi-final.

The two finalists secure berths at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. If Canada qualifies, Nash believes the squad has an outside shot at a medal.

While Nash knows his team's strengths - rising stars and a deep bench, with two-thirds of the squad playing in the NBA - the leader of Canada's last Olympic team recalls how daunting this challenge can be, physically demanding and with little margin for error.

"It is an absolute grind," Nash says. "It is not normal basketball."

Making a pact

Three decades ago, there were flashes of Canada rising. In 1983, a squad of young Canadians, led by Triano, won gold at the World University Games in Edmonton.

In the semi-final, Canada defeated a U.S. team featuring future NBA stars Charles Barkley and Karl Malone. The next year at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Canada lost the bronze-medal game to finish fourth, as it had in 1976 in Montreal.

The last time something big felt possible was 2000 at the Sydney Olympics, where Nash, after four NBA seasons, began to ascend.

The team, coached by Triano, was captained by Rowan Barrett. In a scrappy, stirring performance, Canada won its round-robin group - but lost in the quarterfinals to France, by five points, and France went on to win silver.

"Those things you never forget," Barrett says.

Three years later, the team failed to qualify for the 2004 Olympics in Athens. In defeat, Nash and Barrett made a pact: that eventually they would help lead Canada to basketball glory.

A dozen years later, Barrett sits behind his desk in his small windowless office at the worn headquarters of Canada Basketball, on the edge of Toronto. He is assistant general manager of the men's team. After a pro career overseas, he worked as a Royal Bank branch manager and got his MBA. The national men's program was in tatters. Triano in 2004 had been fired, and Nash, a close friend of his, cut ties.

Barrett watched what was happening in Toronto, the boys coming up. He remembers Cory Joseph as a kid, on the sidelines dribbling and shooting when Barrett played pickup basketball with Joseph's dad. He remembers watching Nik Stauskus play for Loyola Catholic Secondary in Mississauga. He remembers tutoring Wiggins on the court when Andrew was a young teen.

"I know these kids," Barrett says.

In 2011, Barrett wanted to act. The timing wasn't good for Nash, still an NBA star. But, Nash says, "I realized the immediacy." Money was the big problem. Nash and Barrett knew the struggle of a threadbare national team. When the team flew to the Sydney Olympics, Nash, at 6-foot-3, had to take a middle seat.

Meetings followed and Wayne Parrish, a media executive and head of Canada Basketball, outlined a plan to drum up dollars from corporate donors, Canadian executives such as David Kassie, John Bitove and George Cope. It worked. In 2012, Nash and Barrett signed on, and Triano returned as head coach.

In early May that year, among Barrett's first official duties, he flew to Dallas to see a 17-year-old Wiggins play in a tournament.

The official work to building a team was on.

The coffers of Canada Basketball do not overflow, but the annual budget of $1.2-million or so for the men's team is roughly triple what it had been, enough for the necessary coaching, camps and support. "We're still under budget by international standards," Nash says. "By a long shot."

Barrett's office has a depth chart of dozens of players on one wall and a Canadian flag behind him; he unfurls a three-metrelong laminated scroll, five years of international play broken into columns of advanced statistics.

It's a display of capacity Canada Basketball hasn't had before. It's also proprietary information - Barrett carefully tucks it away.

"We never won the Olympic gold medal," he says. "Whether you win it as a player or not, that passion is always there. You want to go back and right the wrong."

'All of my friends are immigrants'

The undercurrents of Canada's resurgence in basketball first stirred in 1962. Jamaica gained its independence, as did Trinidad and Tobago. Britain tightened its immigration law, and Canada started to liberalize its rules.

"It was a pivotal year," says Valerie Knowles, author of Strangers at Our Gates, an immigration history of Canada.

Barrett was born in Canada to Jamaican immigrant parents, and it was during his playing days that Toronto's Caribbean ties first made an impact on the court.

The influence has grown since then. The parents of today's crop of players arrived when they were young: Wiggins's mother, Marita Payne, from Barbados; David Joseph, Cory's father, from Trinidad; Andrea Brooks, mother of Tristan Thompson, from Jamaica; Dwight Powell's mother, Jacqueline Weir, from Jamaica. Andrew Nicholson's family has Jamaican heritage, as does Tyler Ennis's; Edith Bennett, mother of Anthony, the first No. 1 NBA draft pick from Canada in 2013, settled in Toronto after leaving Jamaica at 19.

It was often a difficult move: working menial jobs, fighting for legal status, staking out a life in a foreign country. "It was really hard," Edith Bennett says.

The metropolis and country were changing. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA), in the early 1970s, was predominately white, home to 2.6 million, smaller than such cities as Philadelphia, Detroit and San Francisco. In the 1990s, in five years, the Caribbean population jumped to 240,000 from about 80,000 as Toronto reached 4.2 million people, surpassing once-larger American cities. By 2014, the GTA's population, nearly half visible minorities, crested six million.

Five per cent - roughly 300,000 - had Caribbean roots.

"All of my friends are immigrants," says Powell, who went to Stanford University and plays for the Dallas Mavericks. "We all just thought of ourselves as Canadians. What a Canadian is is someone who lives in Canada, and loves the nation, and who respects it."

Going the U.S. prep school route

The sound was distinct: glass breaking. Andrew Wiggins, at 14, was 6-foot-6 and able to leap like he had a personal trampoline. He had first dunked a year earlier.

On this afternoon, after school at the Dufferin Clark Community Centre near his home in the Toronto suburb of Vaughan, there were a few people in the gym when Wiggins slammed one down. "We heard the crack and we looked up and the glass was busted," recalls Vaughn Parsons, a youth outreach worker. "I don't even think Andrew believed he did it."

Wiggins, whose mother Marita won two sprint-relay silver medals for Canada at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and whose father Mitchell reached the NBA finals with the Houston Rockets in 1986, was a prodigy who moved to the United States when he was just 16, starting with two years at Huntington Prep in West Virginia.

"Andrew was very serious about what type of player he wanted to become," his father says.

U.S. prep schools were an essential step for this generation, as junior hockey teams in Canada are for some young American and European players.

Cory Joseph, who had already been a two-time Ontario provincial champion at Pickering High School, moved south in 2008, winning a scholarship to powerhouse Findlay Prep near Las Vegas, where he was soon joined by Thompson. Anthony Bennett later followed. "It was the best thing for him," says Connie Joseph of her son's move, saying the academics at the school were as important as the basketball in qualifying for a top U.S. university.

"Always treated it like college," says Mike Peck, coach at Findlay at the time. "That was our objective: that when they left us, we didn't want them to be surprised by anything at college."

This is what separates the current Canadian men's national squad, even with its senior-level inexperience, from teams of the past. The players have tested themselves against top-tier Americans for years, a foundation of the climb to the NBA. The 1984 team that came close to winning bronze had one player go on to the NBA. In 2000, Nash was one of two NBA players on the Olympic team.

The intersections of the current generation stretch back several years.

Among parents, Connie Joseph and Arlene Olynyk - mothers of two team leaders - played together on the women's hoops squad at the University of Lethbridge.

Their boys, Cory Joseph and Kelly Olynyk, were on a Scarborough Blues club team that rarely lost in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

One defeat came against rival Toronto 5-0, led by Steph Curry, the NBA's 2014-15 MVP. Curry was in Toronto as a kid for a couple years when his dad, Dell, played for the Raptors. The early experiences, says Ken Olynyk, Kelly's father, forged a "very strong feeling of place" among the boys.

Then there was a Toronto teammate of Dell Curry's: Vince Carter. "I know I watched so many games with my boys," Mitch Wiggins remembers, "and you see Vince do something and we're going, 'Oh my gawd!' It sparked my boys. Even though I played, I played a generation before. My boys saw Vince Carter right there in downtown Toronto."

The Falstaff Community Centre, off Jane Street up against Highway 401, was an essential gathering place. The gym is small, the court tightly hemmed in, the walls barely a metre outside its bounds. It was here, under the guidance of Ro Russell, that a bulk of Canada's national team came through as teenagers: Joseph, Thompson, Powell, Wiggins, Stauskas, Brady Heslip (Jay Triano's nephew).

Joseph made the long trek from Pickering, east of Toronto. "Train, bus, hitch a ride, it didn't matter, as long as I got there," he says.

Before the rise of the CIA Bounce club - which became another pillar of Toronto basketball - it was Russell's Grassroots that made a name for the city. A victory in 2008 in Las Vegas at a tournament for elite teenagers was a demarcation point. "It was ridiculous what we did," Russell says.

"We didn't just beat teams, we dominated."

Russell recalls the first practice Stauskas attended at Falstaff. In one of the regular drills, the ball was inbounded to Thompson, several years older and several inches taller than Stauskas.

Thompson thundered a dunk over the newcomer. Russell smiles at the memory: "Welcome to Grassroots."

"I don't think any of us knew at that point what was in the making," Stauskas says.

'We're the best team'

The national squad has potential, but it remains in the category of what-might-be. Canada failed to qualify for basketball's 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, after placing sixth in 2013 with Thompson and Joseph at FIBA Americas, the same tournament it returns to on Monday.

The NBA has been a challenge, too. Bennett and Wiggins were back-to-back No. 1 picks, but Bennett's play was poor and only recently has improved. Wiggins, the league's near-unanimous rookie of the year in 2014-15, has been a standout. Thompson was a key contributor on the Cleveland team that lost to Golden State in this year's finals. But the norm for young Canadians in the NBA has been struggle, and not a lot of time on the court.

Without Thompson for this tournament, the spotlight focuses squarely on Wiggins. He quietly relishes the role. In his rookie NBA season, leading the woeful Minnesota Timberwolves, Wiggins rapidly emerged as the emphatic force critics believed would never arrive. Preparing in Toronto in August, he said: "I want to win. With all the talent we've got, I believe we're the best team."

Triano is well aware of the potential and the pitfalls. The captain of the men's national team for most of the 1980s, he sees a long-building wave. The only country to upend the United States since the Dream Team era began in 1992 was Argentina in 2004. If Canada's golden generation is to rival Argentina's, prime time is 2020 at the Olympics in Tokyo. But the mission to deliver on the promise begins in Mexico City.

"This group of Canadians," Triano says, "has the chance to do something very special."

Associated Graphic

Andrew Wiggins is the new face of Canadian basketball.


'We're still under budget by international standards,' says Steve Nash, GM of the Canadian men's basketball team.


He respected risk, and he pursued it too
Backcountry guide Robson Gmoser loved the world and his family, yet crafted a life in the crosshairs of danger. His friend and client Ian Brown asks why
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F1

By general agreement, the most effective skill that mountain guide Robson Gmoser possessed was his laugh. This is not a sentimental observation. It rose quickly and frequently from somewhere between his Roman nose and his bottomless lungs, and seemed to take him by surprise. Clients of wilderness guides tend to ski in places where you can fall headfirst into a threemetre tree well, or disappear down a crevasse, or ski off a cliff, or be buried in an avalanche. Robson Gmoser's laugh told you not to worry.

But when a guide dies in an avalanche, as Robson did on March 10 - when a person revered for keeping others safe slips over the lip into the silence - everyone who loves the mountains takes notice. A worm of doubt begins to turn in the collective mind of an otherwise practical, flinty community. Robson was one of the best known and most accomplished mountain guides in the country - a small but storied club of wanderers that poses an existential question to every person it encounters: If intensity of feeling increases with risk, how much risk should you shoulder to feel sufficiently alive? He ran a B.C. mountain lodge, and infused thousands with his addiction to the wilderness. He was a father, a husband, a brilliant skier. That he was Rocky Mountain aristocracy - a son of Margaret and Hans Gmoser, who invented helicopter skiing in Western Canada - meant his death attracted even more attention.

Beneath the tragedy, of course, is another question: Why him? Or, to ask it a different way: Why do people of such talent and character feel compelled to put their lives in the path of danger? Was his decision worth it? He was only 45.

The shock of the random

The avalanche occurred less than a kilometre from Sorcerer Lodge, a remote ski cabin northwest of Golden, in B.C.'s Selkirk Mountains. You reach the lodge by helicopter, then spend gorgeous days climbing up and swooping down the surrounding slopes.

I skied with Robson (my third tour with him, a piker compared to many others) at Sorcerer two springs ago. It's a heartbreakingly beautiful place, a lodge on a ridge below a vast theatre of snow-upholstered peaks and bowls and valleys and spires.

The red trim of the lodge stands out, a tiny human dab on huge and haughty nature. A friend of mine from Edmonton, John Mitchell, remembers that 12 centimetres of new powder had fallen around the hut the night before our last day there with Robson. The new snow and the sunny day made us optimistic. Nothing could go wrong.

"We were all so excited," John reminded me when I called him after hearing last week's news.

"We were going up high to play in the snow. I exited the hut, and approached Robson to have him conduct the usual morning avalanche beacon check. He leaned in and said, in his quiet tone, 'This should be an okay day!' Then he burst into his laugh. That laugh. It was his greeting."

Robson's accident occurred on a Tuesday at approximately 5:30 in the afternoon. He had returned a group safely after a day on a nearby glacier, and carried on to prepare a nearby slope for the next day's outing.

He was with a guide-in-training, a fellow named Darren, who was working on the uptrack while Robson cut a narrow trail - a rail of a platform barely two skis wide - across a steep slope known locally as the Heinous Traverse.

"We never go in there blind, because it's so hard to turn around," Tom Raudaschl, Robson's long-time co-guide, told me the other day.

The traverse is a shortcut to Mount Iconoclast, a peak that offers luscious descents: You hold your breath and step daintily to get to the good stuff. Robson had set the uptrack, and was skiing back on it when a Size 3 avalanche swept him down the hill.

A Size 3 can slide for a 1,000 metres and have a mass of 1,000 tonnes, enough to bury a car, destroy a small building, break a few trees.

Darren tried to reach Robson on his radio, twice, to no avail - Tom could hear that on his own radio, back at the lodge - and set out along the track to see what was wrong. He saw a crown (the fracture line) and avalanche debris, radioed back to the cabin (Tom was already preparing rescue gear), and skied down the runout path, using his avalanche beacon to find the one strapped to Robson. It was Darren's first ski tour as a guide-in-training.

He did everything he was supposed to do, and did it well, but he was alone and it took 30 minutes to clear Robson's face from under almost a metre and a half of snow. Ten minutes is considered the outside margin of survivability, though there are exceptions and even miracles.

By then, Tom had arrived from the lodge, accompanied by Sorcerer's cook. It was Tom who dug Robson's body clear and continued compressing his chest until the helicopter arrived. There were nearly a dozen doctors skiing at the lodge, including two ER physicians; the squad was carrying adrenalin and oxygen. None of it was enough. "He was really the first person I found in an avalanche," said Tom, who has been a guide for three decades, "and the first dead person I had to dig out of the snow." He'd known Robson for 22 years.

According to Tom, the slab of the avalanche that smothered Robson wasn't thick - 25 cm, "not a deep release or anything." But it was enough to sweep Robson over a 25-metre cliff. "He still had a pack on. And there was no obvious sign of trauma." Tom and I were talking on the phone, three days after it happened. It was late at night. He was having a whisky and thinking about Robson. "Just his overall personality; nothing would stress him out, really. And he had some really bad farts the night before. I remember that, too. I asked him if he was taking his enzymes." It was an old joke of theirs.

Tom was heading into the mountains again the morning after we spoke, to lead a new party of expectant skiers. That's the life of a mountain guide. The accidents are shocking in their randomness and tragic in their effect, but they do not delay the next group. Within six days of Robson's death, his wife, Olivia Sofer, herself a guide, was on e-mail, arranging replacements for her late husband's upcoming tours. People were still counting on him.

At 15, alone in the backcountry

Some friends and I once spent a few days in a tent with Robson in a whiteout on the Columbia Icefield. When we weren't playing cards or telling jokes or checking the weather, we talked about what you talk about in a tent, which, depending how long you're stuck, can be just about everything. Every time I remember that conversation, I think of something else I want to tell Robson.

He was born June 20, 1969, while his father was climbing Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies - hence his son's name. The usual joke is: Thank goodness the old man wasn't climbing Mount Assiniboine.

Growing up, Robson and his older brother, Conrad, spent so much time outdoors they were almost feral. This was near Canmore, Alta., and at their father's fledgling lodge in the Bugaboo Range to the northwest, where Hans was determined to establish helicopter skiing. The boys had a pair of coyotes as pets. As he approached his 15th birthday, Robson was allowed to take a two-week ski tour in the backcountry, on his own. One doubts that happens much these days.

As a skier, his physical grace was unmatched. He made you want to move the way he did, but you never could. Everyone in a ski party wants to be like the guide, and that was especially true with Robson.

Robson earned a degree in forest ecology from the University of British Columbia, but what he wanted to be was a mountain guide, like his father. He started with hikers at Mount Assiniboine Lodge, to the west of Canmore, in 1985, and later worked in the heliski business. But after Hans sold his heli-skiing company, Canadian Mountain Holidays, for a reported $15-million in 1995, Robson began to lead his own ski tours out of Battle Abbey, a remote backcountry lodge of which he would eventually inherit half-ownership from his father.

I first met Robson at Battle Abbey, on one of the trips he guided there and elsewhere every year with Tom Raudaschl and Eileen McKie, their cook. Eileen always said he had a guide's enviable all-round capability: could build anything (a wood-burning oven, a sauna, a pumphouse), was resourceful (he used a sawed-off hockey-stick blade to cut uptrack turns in hard-slabbed snow), took care (he liked to stuff his infant son, Max, into a backpack and take off down a pitch, Max shouting "More! More! More!" all the way).

He liked to memorize poems on the uptrack - William Henry Drummond's The Wreck of the "Julie Plante" and Service's The Cremation of Sam McGee were favourites - to recite in the evenings back at the lodge. "Back at the lodge" was a concept that mattered to him: He had a talent for creating comfort where you wouldn't expect to find any, and a need for groups of people to enjoy it.

Once, his mother made a winter ski-camping trip from Jasper to Lake Louise with the writer and explorer Chic Scott. Before she left, she wanted to see what it was like to sleep outdoors in the winter, so Robson lent her a sleeping bag. The temperature dropped to minus 40 overnight, and Robson found his mother tinged with blue in the back yard the next morning. He'd inadvertently given her a summer-weight bag. He was exceptionally well organized but could be absent-minded.

We think of (male) mountain guides as manly types with technical skills, but it is their caring side, their ability to comfort nervous people in subtle ways - their mothering, if you will - that distinguishes the best ones. Robson's father was one of the more famous he-man mountain guides on Earth; his mother, who spent more time raising him, is one of this country's most adventurous women. (Last summer, at 69, she toured Nepal on foot, walked across a good chunk of Europe, and spent the rest of the season hiking in the Rockies.) That strange combination of solid softness, of gentle reliability, of daring plus caring, was one of Robson Gmoser's notable traits.

The other was humility. There's an old joke about mountain guides: The difference between God and a mountain guide is that God doesn't think he's a mountain guide. Robson wasn't that type. Olivia, his wife, met him in 2005, at Bugaboo Lodge. He was working as a lawn boy.

"I had no idea he was a ski guide or of his background in relation to CMH," Olivia says. "He never said anything. I only found out after a few weeks of being there, from someone else." She liked his "calmness" and his "great looks."

The risk we all face

Robson was no stranger to avalanches: He broke his femur in one a few years ago, and avalanche deaths were a regular feature in the early days of heli-skiing. The deaths deeply upset his father, who became a nervous wreck when snow conditions were shaky; partly because of Hans's influence, accredited Canadian mountain guides are among the best trained and most rigorously tested avalanche analysts in the world. Hans had a ready reply when he thought Robson had done something questionable in the mountains: "Don't be a fucking idiot." Years later, when Tom and Robson discussed a potential route, the conversation often boiled down to a single question: "You're not being a fucking idiot, are you?"

To someone who spends no time in the high wilderness, the motive for adventuring might seem indulgent, or moot, or even illogical: Why do dangerous things at all, if you love life or have children or don't want to die? Why try to feel more alive by trying stuff that could end your life?

The answer is not recklessness or endless adolescence or selfishness: guides try to beat the odds by being extra careful. They do a good job of it. Robson Gmoser was the fifth avalanche fatality in Western Canada this winter; the average at this point in the season is 12. There is no evidence he was careless. There had been very little fresh snow for four weeks, and while the skiing was lousy, Tom Raudaschl says, "the stability was very good. So there's no way you could have triggered any of it." Karl Klassen, the manager of the Public Avalanche Warning Service at Avalanche Canada, himself a guide for 37 years, agrees: "I'm not convinced that anybody would have predicted that large an avalanche at that particular time."

The avalanche that killed Robson, in other words, was the kind that every guide fears - the "lowprobability, high-consequence event."

The rogue no one sees coming.

"Most of the risk you can calculate, right?" Tom said over the telephone - he meant, by examining the snowpack and the slope and the terrain and the weather: the standard moment-bymoment assessment of risk that is the tireless routine of winter guiding. "But there's always the rest of the risk you can't calculate. It's part of the job."

He was talking about the nonnegotiable risk that we all face, driving to work, crossing the street, taking a bath.

I might be wrong, but I had the impression Robson Gmoser went into the mountains because he had to. Maria Coffey, the author of Where the Mountain Casts its Shadow: The Dark Side of Extreme Adventure, who lost a partner, mountaineer Joe Tasker, to a climbing accident, called the urge "a search for transcendence" when I called her the other day.

"It's a moment everyone craves - when you're lifted out of the ordinary into something sublime.

It's the moment when the traffic stops and the mind stills. Focus is probably one of the most satisfying experiences there is."

Skiing in the high country, you have to pay attention. The confusing flurry of life, its extraneous detail, is clarified to essentials.

You focus on necessities and proceed step-by-step; gradually, life below seems more manageable by comparison. It's a form of liberation. The only catch is that, once in a rare while, for all the precautions, someone still dies, due to the incalculable risk.

Of course, if you worried about that possibility all the time, you'd never go skiing again. Robson would never have agreed to that. I wish he were still alive, but I'm glad I got to ski with him anyway. He showed me a way through the danger.

Ian Brown is a feature writer at The Globe and Mail.

Associated Graphic

Mr. Gmoser liked to memorize poems on the uptrack to recite in the evenings back at the lodge.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015


A Saturday Focus story on the death of backcountry guide Robson Gmoser incorrectly suggested that Tom Raudaschl finished digging Mr. Gmoser's body out of an avalanche on his own. In fact the group that worked to free Mr. Gmoser included, at various points, two doctors and three guides, as well as Mr. Raudaschl.

Rising rents, excessive noise, public-health problems. While artists in affordable spaces at Artscape's Wychwood Barns grapple with liveability issues, the non-profit organization that manages their homes has become a name brand to the city's top developers and creative class. As Artscape grows, can it remain committed to its daily role as landlord?
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, July 25, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M1

On most Saturday mornings, the grounds of the seven-year-old Artscape Wychwood Barns hum with activity. With stalls featuring fresh produce and baked goods, the farmer's market attracts locals who come to shop or just chat. Musicians play at one end, while children run around the playground at the other.

It all presents a tableau of gentrified urban cool - one that has drawn thousands of visitors to the former streetcar repair shop near St. Clair and Bathurst.

But behind the scenes, the city-owned hub, which has won numerous design and sustainability awards, is anything but blissed out. In the past two months, artists and community groups that rent affordable space in the Barns from Artscape, the non-profit that operates the facility, have been hit with bracing property tax bills for thousands of dollars. As a result, one tenant says, the rent on a 316-square-foot studio will rise from $740 a month to more than $1,000.

The reason: Following a contested property reassessment, Artscape received a tax arrears bill of $350,000. Since Artscape informed its tenants they'd have to pony up, several have left or are actively looking for less expensive space elsewhere.

While stressed-out Barns tenants have been grappling with these and other headaches - several have had to vacate their live-work apartments multiple times in recent years, due to repairs necessitated by high lead-paint levels and excessive noise - Artscape itself has grown into a highly visible player straddling the city's real estate and cultural industries. The growth-minded organization now employs 113 staff full- and part-time, and earned $12.8-million in revenue last year, partly due to partnerships with condo developers and the sale of studio condos.

As well, Artscape's events income has grown tenfold since 2004, to $1.5-million annually. It launched a "creative place-making" consultancy that brought in more than $300,000 in 2014 and management fees generated a further $1.4-million. Artscape's foundation has raised nearly $10million since 2012, almost all of which goes to a few new projects.

The corporation's assets are valued at $44-million, with several projects in the pipeline. Artscape, however, remains heavily leveraged, with over $12-million in long-term debt, including a $7-million mortgage on the Barns.

Yet, Artscape's relentless focus on expanding its footprint and brand may have compromised its less sexy responsibilities as a landlord. Indeed, the Barns' simmering problems came to a head earlier this month, when the artists who live in the Barns' rentgeared-to-income, live-work apartments learned that some of their dwellings still contain high levels of lead paint dust, despite a remediation ordered by the City of Toronto in 2009 after a tenant complained. The Barns received a LEED Gold certification for sustainable design in April, 2013.

Despite that seal of approval, samples taken last November from roof joists above several apartments showed lead levels well in excess of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards used by Canadian consultants, including one unit where a dust wipe revealed concentrations 56 times above the limit, according to documents obtained by The Globe and Mail.

Barns residents, however, didn't get the results until this month; indeed, Toronto Public Health officials were only notified in June. Many have had blood tests, with most coming back negative but some showing elevated levels.

The contamination is of concern given that several children live in those units. Associate medical officer of health Howard Shapiro says the health risks are slight, but include elevated blood pressure and potential concentration deficits in young children. "If there's lead there and the potential for people to be exposed, we do recommend that it be cleaned up." A second remediation is now under way.

"Anybody would be concerned" about the lead, says Peter Gillett, a landscape artist whose unit was cleaned up over two days earlier this week. He had his blood checked, but the slightly elevated levels didn't concern his physician. The sound issues, Mr. Gillett adds, "concern me more than anything else."

In fact, persistent "sound transfer" problems are a major irritant for occupants who've complained about the situation for years.

Late-night noise from the Barns' private events - the weddings and corporate functions that help cover operating costs - wafts into the apartments.

Those units, in turn, have such thin walls that some tenants say they hear everything their neighbours do - a design flaw that has fostered tension and even police calls. "You can hear your neighbour's microwave," one says. "It feels like a giant experiment."

Some Barns tenants do like their digs, despite the problems.

"I don't want to move out," says Alma Roussy, a graphic artist.

"Artscape is doing the best job it can under the circumstances."

Artscape chief executive officer Tim Jones also points to surveys showing that nearly 80 per cent of Artscape's tenants are satisfied with their accommodations.

Yet, others have reached the end of their tethers. "It seems like the place is just falling apart," says Bernadette Peet, a sculptor who rents a small Barns studio.

The occupant of a subsidized live-work apartment, who didn't want to be identified for fear of eviction, put it this way: "Moving into that building is one of the biggest mistakes I've made in my adult life. It screwed up everything for me."

Mr. Jones insists his team is trying to address the concerns at the Barns, including the taxes, which, he says, were originally pegged at $700,000 but have since been reduced because council exempted part of the property. "We have a long history of solving problems and no history of project failure," says Mr. Jones, who notes that Artscape is pressing ahead with a new "stewardship" plan for the Barns. He stresses that no tenant should fear losing their unit "for having an opinion."

(Last week, after a Globe reporter was asked to leave a Barns tenants' meeting convened to air these issues, Mr. Jones posted a statement on Artscape's website saying, "we deeply regret the distress that these challenges have caused [tenants].") Mr. Jones also contends that some of these dilemmas are the responsibility of the City of Toronto. He blames city officials for providing poor advice on how Barns tenants could avoid a tax hike by shifting their leases to "licences." Deborah Blackstone, a city spokesperson, says no such advice was ever provided.

During a June meeting with tenants, Mr. Jones also said city officials "attempted to block" a new lead cleanup and speculated that "the City may be concerned about setting a precedent with this building in regards to lead management, which could come with significant costs if similar work has to be done at other Cityowned sites," according to minutes obtained by The Globe. Ms. Blackstone says those statements are "incorrect" and points out that remediation is Artscape's responsibility under the terms of its council-approved lease.

Even Councillor Joe Mihevc, who fought for the Barns restoration in the early 2000s and is now an Artscape director, concedes the organization's focus on rapid expansion may have come at the expense of stabilizing existing projects such as the Barns, which has received none of Artscape's recent fundraising revenue. "It's hard to get money for what we would normally call state of good repair," he says. "This is hurting the brand."

"I would dispute that," Mr. Jones responds. "The facilities are in fantastic shape."

Many people assume Artscape is a city agency. But while the municipality provides hundreds of thousands of dollars in subsidies and loan guarantees, and more public dollars flow in from the other levels of government, Artscape is an independent development and property-management organization, albeit one that describes its mandate as fostering "creative communities."

It has a complex corporate structure with three boards dominated by builders, prominent artists, philanthropists and "ambassadors" such as creativeclass guru Richard Florida and author Margaret Atwood. UrbanCorp owner Alan Saskin heads Artscape's fundraising arm and has also done deals with Artscape. Besides Mr. Mihevc, Councillor Ana Bailao is also on the board.

A former general manager of the theatre company Buddies in Bad Times, Mr. Jones has been the driving force in Artscape since 2008. He is not a public servant and declined to reveal his salary or disclose whether he receives bonuses for completing projects.

While an Artscape spokesperson acknowledged its overall salary and benefits expenses exceed the amounts cited on its financial statements, the organization would not provide details about its total annual payroll outlay.

Mr. Jones's vision of Artscape bears scant resemblance to its roots. With $1-million in seed funding, the Toronto Arts Council in the mid-1980s established Artscape with a mandate to rent industrial space and make it available to artists at below-market rates. "Artscape was seen as the agency that would assist artists and hold head leases," recalls Ian Murray, a video artist who had a studio in a Liberty Village industrial building at 60 Atlantic Ave. for nearly 20 years.

During the 1990s, Artscape amassed a portfolio of properties, including 900 Queen West, 60 Atlantic and a nature school on the Toronto Islands, among others. It still runs some of those and several newer ones. Three years ago, it vacated 60 Atlantic, an 1899 Liberty Village factory built by St. David's Wine Growers Co., after the city sold the structure to an office developer for $8.9-million.

While city officials wanted to unload 60 Atlantic for years, some tenants say Artscape hustled them out. Mr. Murray spent $5,000 to store his gear and has been unable to find the funds to secure a new studio.

Others had more luck. Sandra Bell, general manager of Array Music, an Artscape tenant at 60 Atlantic since 1991, says her group faced a tough slog finding new space because it needed a soundproof venue. It found a west-end landlord prepared to invest in sound abatement, as well as a performance space that allows Array to mount shows and lease studio space. "We were extremely lucky," Ms. Bell says. "It was a difficult transition."

Such industrial buildings still exist, but artists now have to go farther afield. A few private firms, such as UrbanSpace, rent affordable arts space downtown.

Artscape competes with these organizations in the studio-rental market but is the only outfit that provides government-subsidized live-work lofts to artists. Using revenue from events and other sources, it claims to provide $3.6million in subsidies to its tenants, who, on average, pay 42 per cent of rates in Class B and Class C commercial buildings, according to its surveys.

Yet, some Barns tenants feel the price gap has narrowed because Artscape rates have risen steadily.

Ms. Peet, who rented a small studio in the Barns, says she can find space for less than what she must pay Artscape after the tax hikes kick in.

In fact, Artscape, with its close ties to Toronto's development industry, has focused increasingly on securing apartments in new condo towers. It will operate 80 affordable rentals in a 225-unit Tridel/Hines project planned for the East Bayfront and has 68 apartments in UrbanCorp's Triangle Lofts.

Increasingly, Artscape sells those units instead of renting them. It earned $4.9-million from selling condo studios at Youngplace, an $18-million project. Eligible buyers include not just artists but also employees of arts organizations. By selling studios, Mr. Jones says, "it's become much easier to make projects viable."

The buyers, he adds, tend to be "senior artists."

Visual artist Barbara Astman bought a space in Youngplace after leasing for years in a Junction factory that had been full of artists but was being taken over by a games developer. "The biggest difference between this studio and my past studios is the fact that it is well maintained," she says.

Yet, others balk at the costs. The asking price on a 490-square-foot studio, one of the smallest in Youngplace, was $210,000, with owners paying $350 a month in fees. "I don't know any artists who could afford to buy a workonly studio," a long-time Artscape tenant says.

It's not the only way the organization's business model chafes.

Artscape rents its spaces out for private functions. But in the Barns, several tenants say, those events have created excessive noise, as well as conflicts over access to common space. An artist who once rented a studio that opened onto the Barns' main event area says her clients were turned away because a private function was taking place. "That's unheard of," she says.

The fundraising has also raised eyebrows. A tenant in one downtown building says Artscape officials bring wealthy prospective patrons through the premises.

While Artscape's foundation has raised millions in recent years, this tenant points out she's had to fight with Artscape's managers to approve routine repairs, including fixing an elevator that was out of service for years.

The persistent sound issues at the Barns are another example of nickel-and-diming, some tenants say. Asked why a long-recognized problem still hasn't been fixed, Mr. Jones replies, "It's taken a long time to get expert [acoustics] advice and, to be honest, we're not there yet." He provided The Globe with recent quotes for test repairs, most under $20,000.

"It would be absolutely inaccurate to say we've done nothing."

For all the controversy, some in Toronto's arts world back Artscape but say it shouldn't be the only entity delivering subsidized space. "It's essential that Artscape exist and we should support it," Array's Sandra Bell says. "But we shouldn't put all our eggs in one basket."

Others have had enough. As one Barns tenant says of the hefty bill for back taxes she received in the spring, "This is the straw that broke the camel's back."


Artscape properties with long-term live/work units: 5

Total number of units: 143

Rented: 78 Owned: 65

Rent geared to income (subsidized): 39

Below market/affordable: 104

Rental income: $3.5-million (2014)

Revenue from events: $2.1-million (2014); event revenue in 2004 was $147,000 and $362,000 in 2009.

Revenue from fundraising: $2.9-million (2014); $1.2-million (2010)

Revenue from sale of condo studios at Artscape Youngplace: The renovation cost $18-million; the sale of 21 units raised $4.9-million.

Revenue from federal and municipal grants/subsidies: $791,000 (2014)

Revenue from consulting: $304,916 (2014)

Revenue from management fees and project recovery: $1.34-million

Full-time staff: 45

Part-time staff: 68

Source: Artscape

Associated Graphic

Visitors to Wychwood Barns can see a kaleidoscopic art installation in the main common area. However, private events often disturb the artists who live there.


Artist Ruth Tait walks through her live-work studio at Artscape Wychwood Barns in Toronto on Thursday. She is not worried about reports of high levels of lead found in the building.


Landscape painter Peter Gillett has registered slightly elevated levels of lead in his blood because of the paint at Artscape Wychwood Barns, but he's more concerned with the lack of sound proofing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


A Saturday Globe TO article on Artscape included information from environmental assessment documents on lead levels in roof joists. While there is no accepted EPA limit on lead levels in roof joists, Canadian consultants use EPA limits for windowsills as a benchmark. That information was not included in the article.

The battle of Gallipoli serves as a milestone in nationhood not just for Australia and New Zealand, but Turkey, as well. But this marker coincides with another campaign in the country's history that led to the Armenian genocide. As 'martyr tourism' at Gallipoli grows in popularity, Joanna Slater examines how a new narrative emphasizing pride and sacrifice is also seen as a political tactic that distorts history
Saturday, April 25, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A10

It is the eve of the battle of Gallipoli. A lone soldier stands on a cliff singing a call to prayer while an enemy navy masses on the sea below. Huddled in a line of trenches, young men prepare to meet a hail of gunfire. Images of their descendants living in modern Turkey flit across the screen.

A voice filled with emotion - belonging to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - begins to recite a poem: "Do not leave this motherland, moulded by Muslims, with no Muslims, my Allah! Give us strength. ... Let us have the courage to fight back, do not leave us lifeless, my Allah!"

Designed to leave no viewer unmoved, the three-minute television commercial, which aired earlier this week, is a striking mix of patriotism and religious themes.

The stirring background music swells as the advertisement reaches its conclusion: the President himself standing before the graves of Ottoman soldiers killed in the battle of Gallipoli, praying and paying his respects.

A hundred years after one of the bloodiest campaigns of the First World War, leaders from more than 20 countries have gathered in Turkey, Friday and Saturday, to commemorate the centenary of the battle of Gallipoli. The battle was a seminal event for Australia and New Zealand, which paid a heavy human toll that became central to their sense of nationhood. But it is also a crucial piece of history for Turkey, where the continuing struggle over what the battle means reflects a bitter debate over national identity.

In recent years, Mr. Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has moved to alter the way the battle of Gallipoli is discussed and experienced, eliciting praise in some quarters and disgust in others. At the local level, it has mounted an unprecedented - and publicly funded - initiative to send Turks to visit the battlefields. It has de-emphasized the role of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey's secularist founder, who was a hero of the battle. And it has highlighted the place of Islam in motivating the Ottoman soldiers who fought there. Two years ago, for instance, Mr. Erdogan referred to Gallipoli as a modern-day Crusade.

"Every regime rewrites or distorts history," said Ayhan Aktar, a professor at Istanbul Bilgi University who has studied Gallipoli. The current narrative emphasizes a conservative, religious-minded view, he said. "It's extremely militaristic, emphasizing sacrifice and praising death," said Prof. Aktar during an interview at Istanbul's Taksim Square. He paused, smoked his cigarette and looked out on Gezi Park, the site where anti-government protests were violently suppressed two years ago.

"There has to be a new narrative asking why we entered this bloody war," he said.

"But anyone who asks this question will be treated like a lunatic."

For Mr. Erdogan, the anniversary is an opportunity to advance his vision of a Turkey with a strongly Islamic character and neo-Ottoman aspirations. In particular, he is moving to cement his popularity ahead of critical parliamentary elections in early June. Mr. Erdogan is asking voters to give his party a majority large enough to amend the constitution in order to create a newly powerful presidency. If successful, such a move would continue what critics see as a dangerous slide in Turkey toward illiberal democracy, where one man - Mr. Erdogan - wields excessive power.

The anniversary also provides Mr. Erdogan with a chance to burnish his nationalist credentials. His government refuses to use the word "genocide" to describe the killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians starting in 1915, eight years before the creation of a fiercely secular, independent Turkey that rejected the faded Islamic pretensions of the Ottoman Empire.

In a move that enraged Armenia, Mr. Erdogan scheduled the international commemorations of Gallipoli for Friday, rather than on the traditional date of April 25. On April 24, 1915, the Ottoman Empire began imprisoning Armenian leaders. That date has long served as the commemoration of the subsequent mass killings.

The 'Fifteen Generation'

At the tip of the Dardanelles peninsula stands a massive monument, a stark and modernist arch visible to all ships in nearby waters. Known as the Gallipoli Martyrs Memorial, it is Turkey's tribute to those who fought and died there. On a recent afternoon, crowds of students and visitors roamed the area. Beyond it, the Aegean Sea sparkled under a powder-blue sky.

The battle started from those waters. A French and British naval assault on March 18, 1915, was repulsed by Ottoman forces.

Then a new land offensive involving troops from Australia, New Zealand, Britain and France began on April 25. For months, battles raged across the peninsula. In September, a regiment from Newfoundland joined the fight. Soldiers endured trench warfare, hunger, disease, a searing summer and a brutal winter before the Allied forces withdrew in January, 1916.

An estimated 87,000 Ottoman and 44,000 Allied troops died. At least 200,000 more soldiers were wounded.

The battle occupies a central role in Turkey, where it is known as Canakkale and considered a precursor to its own war of independence. It is the subject of countless books and films; when a soccer team here is mounting a robust defence, viewers comment that the players are engaged in a "Gallipoli defence."

For years, Gallipoli was part of the project of building a secular, nationalist Turkey in the shadow of its larger-than-life founder, Ataturk. The teaching of the battle inflated his role and Gallipoli was presented as a fundamentally Turkish struggle, ignoring the fact that Ottoman troops came from all over the then-empire (and that the empire lost the broader war).

Under Mr. Erdogan, the narrative has shifted to highlight the role of faith and sacrifice. Mr. Erdogan came to power in 2002 as a reformer who represented a brand of Islam at ease with democracy. His critics now say he intends to rival Ataturk and become a new sultan. (Of course, his version of Islamist politics is very different from the visions of a repressive caliphate based on seventh-century precepts that are promoted by groups such as the extremist Islamic State, which are alarming and disturbing to Turks.)

A recent visit to Gallipoli revealed how the older narrative about the battle has receded. In a dozen interviews, no visitor mentioned Ataturk. Instead, many talked about how visiting the battlefield filled them with respect and appreciation for their forefathers and expressed militaristic pride.

"I get very proud when I get here," said Huseyin Kocyigit, smiling broadly, flanked by his wife and son. All three wore red caps identifying them as part of a bus tour organized by their municipality in Istanbul.

"We have some peace in this country due to their sacrifice," he said. His wife, Nurten, who was seeing Gallipoli for the first time, said her grandfather had died in the battle and she grew up hearing stories of the difficult life her grandmother led as a widow.

Ali, an imam from the city of Tekirdag, 200 kilometres away, was visiting for the third time with his wife and two children (he declined to give his last name). He said he speaks to his congregants each year about the lessons of Gallipoli. "Our religious spirit and our nationalism are one." he said. "Our Islam is in the head and the heart at the same time, and that is the spirit of Canakkale."

Not long after he spoke, a group of about 30 teenaged boys gathered near the entrance to the memorial. Dressed in Ottoman soldier uniforms, they marched down a path through the grave markers carrying a banner and Turkish flags. The banner proclaimed their solidarity with the young soldiers - some no more than 15 years old - who fought in the battle. These boys, too, were 15, from the city of Turhal in central Turkey.

"I'm very proud to be in this uniform, to be a son of Turkey," said a 15-year-old in the group named Mert. "We have beaten the entire world and taken control of our land."

A half-pilgrimage

Beylikduzu. Bagcilar. Gungoren. Avcilar. Sultangarhi. Bursa. In the parking lot leading to the memorial sit tour buses bearing the names of cities and towns from around the country. Many are painted with special images and slogans honouring the 100th anniversary of the battle.

In recent years, visits to Gallipoli have exploded. More than two million people are expected to visit the battlefields this year, according to the local tourism authority. That's more than double the number of visitors recorded by the national park service in 2011, and 10 times the number in 2002.

The vast majority of the visitors are Turkish, and the increase is not serendipitous.

To understand the phenomenon, it helps to visit Zeytinburnu, one of Istanbul's numerous municipal districts and a stronghold of Mr. Erdogan's party. Murat Aydin, the long-serving president of the borough, greets visitors in a brand new eight-storey headquarters.

Fifteen years ago, Mr. Aydin travelled to Australia and was struck by the deeply felt connection to the battle of Gallipoli. He resolved to bring the residents of his municipality to the battlefields, about a fivehour drive from the city. "Canakkale is the womb out of which the Turkish Republic came," said Mr. Aydin. "Our forefathers united and fought together."

Zeytinburnu, a working-class district not far from one of Istanbul's airports, began sending residents on free day-long bus tours to Gallipoli. The tours begin in late April and run for four months. Every day, several busloads of people depart from the municipality. The budget for this year's trips is 780,000 Turkish lira ($350,000).

According to Mr. Aydin's rough estimate, to date about 200,000 of his constituents have participated in the tours - or two out of every three people in Zeytinburnu.

It can be an emotional trip. Some visitors liken it to a half a pilgrimage to Mecca, Mr. Aydin added. "They cry, they want to go back again. They empathize with those who died."

The trips have been replicated by municipalities across the country. The ruling party has also found other novel ways to incorporate Gallipoli into its religiousminded nationalism. The Istanbul branch of the party has begun organizing an event during the month of Ramadan where thousands attend an iftar meal - the breaking of the daily fast - at the Gallipoli Martyrs Memorial. The menu is a crust of bread, a couple of olives and a bowl of weak soup, a simulation of the meagre fare eaten by Ottoman soldiers during the long, terrible battle.

Some Turks find such events reprehensible. Serdar Degirmencioglu, a professor at Dogus University in Istanbul, recently published a collection of essays on Turkey's approach to martyrdom. It includes a chapter on what Prof. Degirmencioglu calls "martyr tourism" at Gallipoli.

The battle is now being portrayed as "a victory of faith," he said. "How is it won?

By dying. The emphasis is on dying for a larger cause." The government is also hoping the free trips turn into votes and support for the ruling party, he added. "I see no end to it. It's clear that this is a very useful game for the current government."

Politics and tactics

On Friday, the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand, Britain's Prince Charles and Prince Harry, and representatives of a host of other countries took part in solemn commemorations at Gallipoli. Back in Istanbul, the Armenian community gathered in Taksim Square in the evening to remember the victims of what they call "the genocide."

Pakrat Estukyan, a writer and editor at Agos, an Armenian weekly in Istanbul, criticized the Turkish government's scheduling gambit as "a political, tactical move."

The weekly put out a special issue to commemorate the centenary of the start of the killings. It included remembrances from those who heard stories from their parents of what happened; 100 years later, many refused to allow their full names to be printed out of a sense of fear.

Across town, at the offices of Dirilis Postasi, a new newspaper that supports the ruling party, Hakan Albayrak, its energetic editor, expressed both regret and dismay.

"Of course there were mass killings," he said. But who killed whom and in what numbers, he declined to specify. Meanwhile, by focusing on the acknowledgment of genocide, Armenia "has chosen not to be a nation but a sad memory of a nation of the past," he asserted.

A hundred years after Gallipoli and the beginning of the Armenian genocide, Turkey continues to grapple with the consequences of those events for its politics. Sometimes, said Prof. Aktar of Istanbul Bigli University, it almost seems like a contest of pain - "not a beauty contest, but a death contest."

Associated Graphic

The Canakkale Martyr's Memorial, right, serves to remember the 87,000 Ottoman troops who died at Gallipoli, which is known as Canakkale in Turkey. The effort is considered by some to be a precursor to the country's war of independence.


The battle of Gallipoli marked a coming of age for both Australia and New Zealand. On Anzac Day, April 24, soldiers marched in a street parade in Wellington, New Zealand, to commemorate the 1915 Gallipoli landing.


Fifteen years ago, Murat Aydin, right, visited Australia and was struck by the deeply felt connection to the battle of Gallipoli. He resolved to bring the residents of his municipality, Zeytinburnu, to the battlefields to share that history, and several busloads now depart daily on free tours. 'Canakkale is the womb out of which the Turkish Republic came,' said Mr. Aydin. 'Our forefathers united and fought together.'


Turkish tourists, above left, file past a relief at the Turkish 57th Infantry Regiment Memorial erected in honour of the battle of Gallipoli. The centennial of the battle has sparked a tourism boom among Turks who, seeing it as a key moment in their national history and their faith, liken the trip to a half pilgrimage to Mecca.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015


A photo caption on Saturday incorrectly said that Anzac Day is April 24. In fact, it is April 25.

Local lingerie's big reveal
So long, pushup padding. Indie undies are having a moment, Laura Beeston writes, and their makers - a growing group of young female entrepreneurs from Saskatchewan to Montreal - are putting handcrafting, custom sizing and a natural silhouette first
Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L6

Carrie Russell spends most of her week surrounded by underwear.

She's the owner of With Love Lingerie, a company she founded five years ago. In the beginning, she sold her bras, nighties and panties through a handful of lingerie boutiques, the odd pop-up and her Etsy shop. That's until her wares caught the eye of a buyer who contacted her this summer and helped ink a contract with Nordstrom come September. It is poised to give her business a serious boost, and yet Russell is still producing 95 percent of her pieces, as she always has, in a small studio in her Forest Hill apartment in Toronto.

The vintage-luxe inspired undergarments hanging from her studio's ceiling - featuring delicate, hand-dyed French lace, a modern approach to appliqué and plenty of sheer stretch mesh - are a far cry from what Russell was creating in her former life as a technical producer of "adult lingerie." The 33-year-old describes that world as "a whole different scene."

Uncomfortable watching intimates being developed cheaply and in a rush, and fatigued by taking direction from "men talking about what's really hot on a woman and what women want... and then [asking me] to cut the ass out of a panty," Russell broke out on her own in 2010. After careful planning and with strong connections in her pocket, she decided to make underwear on her own terms - and to make it better.

As it turns out, Russell is one of several young indie entrepreneurs in Canada who are applying a slow-living, small-batch ethic to underwear and, in the process, overturning established ideas about what lingerie is, how it should fit and who it's really for.

Alesha Frederickson started March & August Underthings on January 1, 2014, with a resolution to shift the panty paradigm. She believed the lingerie available in her hometown, Winnipeg, left a lot to be desired: It was off-the-rack, unflattering and there wasn't much variety between babydollstyle teen-focused items and the offerings from fast-fashion brands. Both, according to Frederickson, were "designed to be like a present to unwrap, like a gift to the person who was viewing, not wearing, it."

Against those mainstream standards, the 28-year-old says, she "just didn't feel like a lingerie person." So she began to make undies herself, calling them "underthings," since typical lingerie wasn't a desirable category to anyone she knew.

Of the many sartorial sins that Frederickson and other indie-lingerie crafters believe bigger production houses should repent for: Cheap bondage knockoffs, preposterously padded push-up bras, the overuse of synthetic fabrics and that one particular shade of garish red lace, a hue Victoria Secret calls "Hot and Spicy."

The reaction to March & August Underthings has been positive. In the past eight months, Frederickson went from having a personal Facebook album of designs liked by a handful of friends to nearly 2,000 Instagram followers; she had negotiated her first point-of-sale with a boutique Winnipeg hair salon by April 2014, and has hand-sewn and sold over 1,000 units.

Frederickson's first line included cosmic, hand-dyed jewel-toned longline bras and high-waisted panties, her latest collection, which she's calling "Witchy Woman" is retro-modern, largely fashioned in midnight blue and black, with an emphasis on structured sheers and hints of gold hardware. Pieces run from $50 for a low-rise panty to $200 for a bespoke set.

Custom sizing, according to Frederickson, is the most important facet of her brand. "How can you tell someone to love the body they have, but too bad if they don't conform to a standard fit?" Because she crafts each item by hand, sewing-to-fit makes sense. "For all orders, I add a little bit here or take in an inch there. Most people are really excited to have underwear that doesn't pinch or cause a muffin top."

Frederickson also makes bespoke underwear to measure, in addition to exclusive lines for special events and bridal gifts.

She also makes a point of featuring locals in her photoshoots who aren't the typical underwear-model size or shape and is unequivocal about her desire to empower where possible. Her message seems to have hit a nerve: The March & August Instagram account features photos of satisfied customers showing off their new lingerie and celebrating their bodies in it.

As Frederickson sees it, the wearer, not the viewer, comes first. "If you are going to show someone what you are wearing under your clothing," Frederickson says, "you better damn well feel good in it."

In Montreal, 28-year-old designer Sofia Sokoloff has identified a similar niche.

Formerly a technical designer for La Senza, Sokoloff was witness to an industry that has long held two extremes: the mass-produced-in-China bra-and-panty brands carried by Walmart, La Vie en Rose and Victoria's Secret versus high-end lines that are made in France and out-of-reach to the average consumer - think Simone Pérèle, Chantelle Paris or Aubade, whose lace thongs can run $135 apiece.

In 2011, she started Sokoloff Lingerie for the middle market. She was 23 years old at the time and studying industrial management at the École supérieur de mode de Montréal. In the past four years, her brand has grown quickly: She now has two seamstresses and her own production floor that regularly makes more than 1,000 units per month. She went from two points of sale in 2011 to nearly 30 today, and most recently found a distributor in Dubai to sell her collections come fall.

The Sokoloff Lingeire look is urban and feminine. Her fall pieces feature a mix of delicate lace and light bamboo jersey, peek-a-boo hip detailing and bralettes that celebrate the side-boob and sell for $25 to $70.

Sokoloff was recently recognized as an industry leader when she was named the Les Offices jeunesse internationaux du Québec 2015 prizewinner - a provincial award for young entrepreneurs who are helping to make a name for Quebec on the international market. She also represented Canada earlier this month at the Curve Expo lingerie and swimwear showcase in New York City.

With a finger on both Instagram and the international pulse, Sokoloff believes "lingerie is returning to a look that's really natural and real; the American pin-up girl just isn't in style any more." This could explain a widespread return of unstructured, soft-cup bralettes that forgo underwire and padding, as well as the demand for bodysuits, slips and rompers in everyday wear, not to mention the undeniable rise of granny panties.

Colleen Hill is an associate curator at the Fashion Institute of Technology who put together a history of lingerie exhibit at the State University of New York in 2014; she agrees with Sokoloff. While two types of lingerie - hard (corsets, bustles and structured bras) and soft (slips, bralettes and nightgowns) - continue to cycle through the trends, and have throughout history, she says, one of the hallmarks of contemporary lingerie is that "it's all about personal preference."

"To a great extent, it is understood that women today do not buy lingerie exclusively for their partners: They buy whatever makes them feel beautiful or sexy," she says. From a business perspective, the small-batch approach makes sense, she believes, because it feeds into the fast-fashion backlash and caters to "women who are looking for more and better options" - those who see this intimate purchase as an investment.

Sarah Norwood, who operates Ohhh Lulu from Orillia, Ont., believes small-batch underwear is a force that is driven by the maker movement, the cultural return of attention to traceable local wares and artisanal-quality goods.

Her handmade lingerie is fun, feminine and a little bit retro; luxe lounge and sleepwear round out her fall and winter offerings. The price points of her made-to-order collections range from $38 to $150 and, for the D.I.Y.-inclined, she sells sewing patterns for the pieces from her collections from $9 to $15.

"What woman doesn't love good lingerie?" she asks aloud. "My customers [who range from women in their 20s to their 60s] will invest because they like to own something that is well-made, unique and is something they can customize. They feel like they have a hand in creating something that's just for them."

"It's definitely one of those garments where you get what you pay for," says Christina Remenyi of Toronto's Fortnight Lingerie, which she established in 2010 and whose latest collection is inspired by the costumes and colours of the Ballet Russes. "A throwaway mentality has been applied to something enjoyable and intimate, something you should want to buy and keep, something that can be made with care and not just stretched over a machine and doused in chemicals," she says. "So many women are coming to us and saying, 'Thank you for providing something else.'"

Cora Harrington, the editor in chief of the blog The Lingerie Addict, sees why some women are seeking out an alternative. "I would not call the lingerie industry a particularly progressive industry," she says. "I love intimate appparel, but as a sector, it is somewhat resistant to change and, especially in the U.S., is centred on the narrative of 'solving' body problems."

Does that make it hard for body-positive indie-under makers to break in? "There's a definite tension there," she says. "Many retailers won't stock a brand if their imagery is perceived as too 'divergent,' and in a marketplace prone to conservatism, the bar is set very low."

That said, she believes that in addition to the growing demand for body-positive brands, fashion is driving the shift to alternative lingerie: "I would definitely say I see more articles from mainstream news and fashion sites focusing on the fashion of lingerie. People are more willing than they used to be to consider lingerie in a more erotically neutral context."

Another boon for small-batch lingerie producers, as Harrington sees it, has been the rise of e-commerce. "That's what has really led to this 'artisanal' lingerie movement. Before Etsy, eBay, BigCartel and Shopify, a small designer had to invest a lot of money in either a secure webstore or a bricks-and-mortar retail location. Now, you can set up a digital storefront in a matter of hours and use social media to advertise your business. It's never been easier to break into the market."

Deanna Tanner, a lingerie maker in Regina, Sask., believes that, from a business perspective, Canadian lingerie makers in particular are in an advantageous position right now. She has run a bricks-and-mortar lingerie boutique for the past two years but took the artisanal plunge and launched her own line, PrimaDeanna, a month ago because of the costs associated with importing quality products.

"The last package [I brought in] from the States cost me 60 per cent of the list price just to get it in the door," she explains. "I realized I can put that into manufacturing and still be competitive with my prices. And with small batch, [customers] like that it's made here or it's an indie label, and they are willing to pay for that. They know they're supporting the local economy, fair labour... good sourcing and responsible waste practices."

Conservatively responding to her efforts to push the envelope, Tanner says part of her job is to educate clients coming through her boutique. "Most consumers never even think about all this stuff," she says, "but the amount of waste that can be generated or avoided by even one little store is tremendous."

Though these indie-undie industrialists have yet to displace the big-box giants, there is clearly a shift happening on the lingerie scene.

We are now transitioning into what Carrie Russell jokingly calls "the good fast fashion" - the kind that is nimble and local, that celebrates small and ephemeral capsule collections from community artisans, and consumer support for stores and boutiques that carry quality products.

"The appetite is there," Russell says. "It's a perfect storm for local lingerie."


Take a tour of With Love Lingerie's tiny Toronto studio and watch owner Carrie Russell stitch a pair of handmade panties.

Associated Graphic

OHHH LULU This floral one-piece romper ($154 through http://www.etsy. com), like all the pieces produced by Ohhh Lulu owner Sarah Norwood in Orillia, Ont., is handsewn and made-to-order.

FORTNIGHT The most established brand on the indie-undie scene, Fortnight, founded in 2010, is run by Christina Remenyi. Its pieces, including this Vega slip in Sable ($178) from the fall/winter 2015 collection, are made in Toronto and are carried by stockists throughout North America.

MARCH & AUGUST Just a year and a half old, this label, founded by Alesha Frederickson and based in Winnipeg, is gaining fans for its made-tomeasure service and its size-positive messaging. Frederickson features locals in her marketing photos and encourages customers of all shapes to Instagram images of themselves in their purchases.

SOKOLOFF LINGERIE This four-year-old Montreal brand, founded by Sofia Sokoloff to bridge the gap between fast-fashion offerings and high-end lines, has grown quickly: Its points of sale have leapt from two to 30 and international distribution begins this fall. It is also known for promoting shape diversity and using non-models in its campaigns. (Marianne Roussety, shown here, is a 20-year-old artist from Quebec City.)

WITH LOVE LINGERIE Carrie Russell's five-yearold company has just inked a deal with Nordstrom, who will begin carrying her collection - which she currently sews by hand in her Toronto apartment - come September.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Speech therapy can prevent a lifetime of struggles, but an early start is crucial. So why are Ontario kids waiting months, even years, for publicly funded help? Oliver Sachgau reports.
Monday, August 31, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

Four-year-old Eddie Hopkins is focused on a game of I spy. The object of his attention is a tube of lipstick in a picture.

Can he say what it is?

"Lipstick," he says, but it sounds more like "lit-git."

Maybe lipstick is too hard.

Can he say stick?

"Sti-ck," he says, hesitating before the k sound.

One more try.

"Sti-ick!" he shouts confidently, dividing the word into two.

It seems like a small accomplishment, but for Eddie, it's the first and major step toward speaking normally.

Like tens of thousands of children in Ontario, Eddie is in need of speech therapy. He has problems pronouncing the hard k sound, known as an unvoiced velar stop. He often switches it with the voiced velar stop, which most people know as the soft g sound, bringing him from "stick" to "stig." He also switches his sh and s sounds, and has issues with pronouncing two consonants together, such as the "cl" in "clown."

Eddie gets his speech therapy at Toronto's Canoe Therapy, a clinic in Etobicoke. Each session costs about $130 and is covered by his mother's health plan.

For many other children who aren't covered by health plans, the only option is to go through the publicly funded speech-therapy system. Children of school age can get therapy either through speech pathologists in school boards or through Community Access Care Centres in Ontario (or similar community-care agencies in other provinces), depending on the type of speech problem.

But the wait lists for in-school speech therapy can be exorbitantly long, leaving children without care for months, or even years. When the children do get therapy, it's only within a finite amount of sessions, which are often not enough to treat the child completely. It has many in the field calling for an overhaul of a fragmented system that is slow to respond to children looking for care during a critical time in their development.

In Ontario, if a child needs speech therapy, they first get assessed by a speech pathologist. If they're of school age, they are divided into two categories. Those with language concerns - that means major problems speaking, go to their school board's speech pathologist.

That leaves a large portion of Ontario children whose problems don't qualify as language concerns. These children, whose problems include stuttering, articulation, voice and fluency, get referred to the Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) in their region. Depending on which CCAC region they live in, their wait time can range from nonexistent to two years.

The average number of people on wait lists as of May, 2015, is 611. Some regions have shorter wait lists, such as Toronto Central, which currently has zero.

Others are in the four digits, such as the Central East CCAC, which stretches east from Victoria Park Avenue in Scarborough and north to Algonquin Park, and has 1,516 children waiting for speech therapy.

Waiting that long can have a large impact on a child's ability to do well in school, according to Anila Punnoose, a director of Speech-Language and Audiology Canada. During the months or years children are waiting to get speech services, they can quickly fall behind in school, she said. A 1996 study found children with language deficits are more likely to experience social difficulties including interacting with their peers, which impacts their behaviour. Other studies have shown that children who don't get speech therapy early are at a greater risk of problems in their academic performance and mental health.

A lot of speech problems carry over to literacy, because a knowledge of speech sounds is crucial when learning to read, Punnoose said.

"It's all about what you hear in those sounds. ... Do you know the beginning sounds in that word? A child who doesn't have good phonological awareness doesn't understand any of that," she said.

When looking at school performance, Punnoose said early struggles carry through to later years. A child with speech problems who has difficulties learning in the early years won't be able to build on those lessons in later years as effectively as their peers, she said. Early intervention can mitigate and prevent those problems, she said.

"If children are having severe difficulties with speech in kindergarten, it's a predictor that there's going to be academic difficulties, and especially reading and writing difficulties, by Grade 3," she said.

Jocelyn Fedyczko, Eddie's speech pathologist, has worked in a range that includes children from preschool all the way to teenagers. She said early intervention is crucial with young children such as Eddie.

"The earlier you can help a child out, the more progress you see," she said.

When a child gets to the top of the wait list, they get assessed again, and receive a block of treatment, usually around 10 or 12 sessions, says Peggy Allen, president of the Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (OSLA).

That's often not enough to treat even minor to moderate issues such as Eddie's. Fedyczko said she can get through two to three sounds in that time, depending on the child. Many children have problems with more sounds than that, she said.

But when a child finishes their block of treatment and needs more, because they haven't worked through all the sounds, for example, they go back to the bottom of the wait list, Allen said.

A spokesperson for the Toronto Central CCAC said they do not have an upper limit to the number of sessions per block assigned by a speech-language pathologist. The pathologist determines three goals for a child to achieve and assigns the number of sessions according to that. If after these sessions more goals are identified, the child is re-referred to the program, the spokesperson said.

Parents who are worried about the impact waiting can have on their child can go to private clinics, if they have coverage or can afford the sessions out of pocket. Trish Bentley, Eddie's mother, decided to go for private therapy with Eddie's older brother Oliver.

He was put on a six-month wait list for speech problems slightly more acute than Eddie's.

Rather than wait those six months, Bentley took him to Canoe.

"As time went on, we said enough of this, he's going to be past the point of catching the problem," she said.

For families who don't have coverage and who can't afford private services, though, the only option is to wait.

Finding the cause of the long waits is hard, but one thing is certain: It's not due to a lack of speech pathologists, according to Shanda Hunter-Trottier, the owner of S.L. Hunter Speechworks, another private clinic in Toronto. She used to have problems finding qualified speech pathologists, but now she's facing the opposite problem.

"I've been practising for 26 years. ... In the last five years, [I] have more résumés than I can keep track of," she said.

Rather, she says, it's a large web of problems that slows down the system. First among these is a lack of public funding.

"There's a lot of speech pathologists that don't have jobs, but these places aren't hiring. The cutbacks have been atrocious," she said.

But the problems go deeper than a lack of funding, according to Allen. She said many of the issues in Ontario stem back to a series of agreements in the 1980s between the provincial Ministry of Long-Term Care, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Community and Social Services. These agreements divided up who is in charge of different treatments, between the school boards and the CCACs. At the time of their creation, these agreements made sense, but times and needs have changed, she said.

"It's difficult when ministries make agreements that are frozen in time. It's very difficult to provide the kind of services that we all expect and want Ontarians to receive," she said.

Dividing up the services is necessary when trying to manage resources, but the fragmentation is hurting children more than it's helping, Punnoose said.

Dividing services by language issues and other issues doesn't make sense when treating a child, she said.

"You shouldn't be splitting up the kid," she said.

Punnoose said she wants to see speech therapy come together under one roof. It would mean co-operation from all three ministries, as well as a major reorganization of the funding, but she believes it would be a better model for children.

"Students are in schools the better waking part of their lives.

Why wouldn't we have the services right there in an authentic environment where it's totally accessible," she said.

There are changes coming.

Last December, the Ontario government announced more funding for preschool speech and language programs, as well as efforts to integrate speech services better, through its Special Needs Strategy.

Punnoose says it's a good step.

"The government recognizes that the system was broken," she said.

For now, the choice for parents in many CCACs will be between long wait lists and paying for private service. Hunter-Trottier said many parents, even those with coverage, don't know about the latter option.

"We sometimes get parents here in tears, saying, 'Oh my goodness, the services here, I wish I had known about that a year ago,' " she said.

Bentley said she won't be looking at public services for Eddie, as she's happy with the service she gets at Canoe.

"I'd be open to it, but I'm not going to actively seek that out," she said.

For Eddie, what matters is the progress he makes.

Within 10 minutes of his trouble saying "lipstick," he was opening up a treasure chest, with a key. With little prompting, he used the same technique as before, separating the sounds of the word.

"Kuh-ey," he said. Could he try it all together?

He pauses for a second.

"Key," he says, almost flawlessly, beaming at his success.


Speech therapy, like all healthcare matters, is regulated differently in each province and territory in Canada.

Information on how each system works is difficult to come by. But generally, most provinces have very similar systems - and challenges - according to Joanne Charlebois, CEO of Speech-Language and Audiology Canada. Charlebois said Ontario's wait times are probably worse than those in other provinces, but she's spoken to people across Canada who tell her similar stories.

Here's a breakdown of how it works across the country.

Ontario: Speech therapy for children falls under the responsibility of three ministries: the Ministry of Long-Term Care, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Children in Ontario are divided by age and by the nature of their speech problem. Children under school age qualify for Ontario's preschool speech and language program.

Once in school, those children with language problems - major problems speaking or understanding words or sentences - go to a school speech pathologist, while any other problems, such as pronunciation, stuttering, voice and articulation are referred to the Community Care Access Centres, which employ contract speech pathologists.

B.C.: Children's speech therapy is organized through the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and through the Ministry of Education by way of school districts. Children are divided between preschool and school age. Preschool children go through regional health authorities. School-age children go through the school boards, but the pathologists there will often offer consultative services, rather than oneon-one speech therapy. B.C. also has a "no-wait-list" policy for children with autism, which translates to parents getting around $22,000 a year for therapy until the age of six, and $6,000 a year after that.

Alberta: Health Services is in charge of speech therapy in that province. It offers both a preschool and a school program. The school program, unlike Ontario's, is done completely through the schools, with no CCAC-type system to refer out to.

Saskatchewan: The school districts are responsible for speech therapy. Each school district divides up services slightly differently, though they all differentiate between children under three years, from three to five years, and from six to 18 years.

Manitoba: School districts are also in charge here. The inschool speech-language pathologists offer services from classroom-based programming to individual therapy.

Quebec: The system here is more like Ontario's. Speechtherapy services are offered through the local community service centres (CLSC), similar to Ontario's CCACs. The CLSCs are not obliged to provide speech therapy in English, though some, especially in areas with a large anglophone population, usually do.

Nova Scotia: The province has 28 speech and hearing centres, with 35 pathologists in total. They assess and provide treatment for children and adults. School boards in the province also have speech-language pathologists who also have a teacher's certificate.

Prince Edward Island: The province provides free speech services for children until they enter school.

Northwest Territories: Speech therapists are only able to visit some remote communities once or twice a year. Instead, the province offers a service called Telespeech, where pathologists can help people without having to be physically present.

Nunavut: The territory had no speech pathologists in 2013, according to Statistics Canada.

Associated Graphic

Four-year-old Eddie Hopkins works with speech-language therapist Jocelyn Fedyczko in Toronto.


Rather than wait for public speech-therapy services Trish Bentley, right, took her son, Eddie Hopkins, to a private clinic.


It's time to reconsider the nature of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
There is simply too much at stake now for the world to entrust its fate to any system in which the winner takes all, argues William A. Macdonald. Taking a more in-depth look at his theory that only by mutual accommodation can nations survive, let alone thrive, he kicks Charles Darwin, John Stuart Mill and even Donald Trump to the curb
Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F10

Charles Darwin's ideas about evolution and the survival of the fittest portray a world that is competitive, one divided into winners and losers. On this basis, co-operation and accommodation are - as Donald Trump, the champion of unbridled competition, might put it - for losers.

And, of course, they are not. In fact, two simple words, "mutual accommodation," seem to resonate as a way of going about big things in a much better way. They also reflect the broadly shared way in which Canadians have made their country work - not always, but more often than not.

Mutual accommodation has been the focus of my previous essays, but now that the country faces a pivotal federal election and the world grapples with social upheaval and economic turmoil, it is time to look at the concept more closely.

The simplest way of thinking about mutual accommodation is that it helps to get things done by making room for others. It is often about compromise, and always requires an understanding of what each side needs . Inclusion is the key driver. Mutual accommodation may be about shared purposes, values, interests, and beliefs; it may simply make room for different approaches; or it may just make a particular goal possible. Each objective may be very hard to achieve - indeed, impossibly hard at times . Although mutual accommodation is big and its reach inexhaustible, it does not always work, and force may be needed along the way.

The big challenges facing mutual accommodation traditionally involve clashes over nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, language, territory, status, resources and money - and how best to overcome them. In the early 21st century we are seeing the resurgence of some of these clashes with potentially dangerous intensity, as well as the addition of new challenges posed by population growth and the use and abuse of the planet. At some point, and in many different ways, these dual challenges are likely to bring enormous pressures on our ability to achieve mutual accommodation.

And this is not a case when doing well most of the time is enough. Throughout history there have been admirable examples of the achievement of mutual accommodation. In terms of individual countries, Canada is probably the standout. As Ken Dryden, the hockey great who became a federal cabinet minister, once put it, Canada has become a "do what it takes" country. However, to continue to succeed, we need to understand not only our mutual-accommodation triumphs but our failures, too.

In 1859, English political philosopher John Stuart Mill published his famous, 50,000-word essay On Liberty, and the same year Darwin's Origin of the Species appeared, describing evolution as the product of "the struggle for life." But just as liberty was no more important an idea in Mill's day than mutual accommodation is (Donald Trump aside) for our times, U.S. journalist Robert Wright has quite a different interpretation of Darwin's thinking.

In his 2000 book Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, he argues that biological and cultural evolution are shaped and directed primarily by what he calls "nonzero-sumness" - a term used in game theory to describe co-operative games in which both sides win (two sums rather than the zero-sum conclusion in competitive games). Although he accepts the idea of natural selection, he argues that throughout human history we have evolved to states of increasing complexity - and greater rewards for complexity.

This evolution has been more adaptable and inclusive (both/ and) than rigid and exclusive (either/or) - but always involves both. We have reached the stage where we need to move beyond winners and losers to inclusion and collaboration.

The deepest, broadest mutual accommodation would be a world where there is room for everyone to be a winner - if they so choose. This goal may forever be beyond humanity's reach.

Grasping for it would transform the world. If the success of some groups or countries over a full life-cycle did not blunt the potential for success of others, then all the winners could participate in a world of progress and accomplishment akin to the mature stage in human development described by German-American psychoanalyst Erik Erikson.

Shared and separate stories Some people worry that a shared story will exclude all others. They see separate stories as a source of Canadian strength. So do I. The co-existence of many separate stories is one form of mutual accommodation. Non-inclusive societies like only one story.

Separate stories are stronger if there is a real shared story (not one constructed for political or self-serving purposes) that includes all of them. Mutual accommodation is about opening up the possibilities, not narrowing them. Canada's shared mutualaccommodation story excludes no particular separate story, but it can change the historical and conceptual contexts in which these separate stories are perceived. Or, as Austrian psychotherapist Alfred Alder put it, what happens is important, but how it is perceived can have even more important consequences. We must pay attention to perception.

The separateness of things is more than the breakup or disruption of their everyday connectedness, and the connectedness of things always reconnects what is separate. I have observed this dynamic at the heart of everything that happens and use it to figure out what is really going on.

It has never let me down and applies to how separate and shared stories relate.

A world of two sums (win/win) that add up to a more than one zero sum (win/lose) moves beyond the political compromises that have made Canada possible. It leads to a more inclusive Canada that affects everyday life and cultural attitudes. Canadians today are more familiar than ever with the need for political compromise. We are not likely to see any major political party push for a divisive program based on its own narrow-base prejudices, as the Conservatives did with conscription during the First World War. It took the party 65 years to recover in Quebec. Mackenzie King learned that lesson as prime minister, and became the great consolidator of Sir Wilfrid Laurier's political vision of public purpose through compromise.

And a solid majority of Canadians like inclusion - witness the fact that Canada is one of few Western countries without serious divisions over immigration.

Throughout our history, political leaders devoted to mutual accommodation and their followers have made Canada a coast-tocoast country, despite the pressures of an expansionist United States and the challenges of French-English and Catholic-Protestant divisions. Without war or even much violence, Canada became a country - and stayed together. It overcame the same kind of national and religious differences that most countries find very hard to manage do.

Canada's mutual-accommodation challenges between 1867 and 1945 were primarily political. They revolved around French and English, Quebec and the rest of the country, language and schools - all deep, fundamental issues that were settled through compromise. The arrival of waves of immigrants from all over the world in the 20th century moved Canada beyond these issues.

Since 1945, Canada has used political compromise and inclusion to consolidate two great strategic and structural achievements - the embracing of the differences we now find in our society and the handling of the Quebec separatist threat to the nation's future.

But Canada has also had its failures, most enduring in its relations with the First Nations (which I now believe are about to improve). Others episodes include the racism that excluded a shipload of Sikhs from landing in British Columbia in 1914; the antiSemitism that kept out Jews who had escaped the Nazis in 1939; the internment of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War and the confiscation of their property; and the confinement of Doukhobor children in the 1950s so they could be forced to go to school. As everywhere in the world, there has also been some violence in individual labour disputes. The positive news is that, apart from the unfinished business with First Nations, these sorts of regressions have not occurred during the last half-century in Canada. Over all, the magnitude of our achievement outweighs the shortfalls.

Canada and the world We engage in many voluntary acts of mutual accommodation every day, such as letting people with disabilities go first in line. These acts are easy. Even letting one's spouse have her or his way is not really that hard most of the time.

However, the kind of lasting mutual accommodation that involves political compromise, compassion, freedom and the law can be hard, at least at the start.

Canada's mutual accommodation has focused on the big, hardto-manage divisions within societies and between countries.

Before 1867 there was the Quebec Act of 1774 and the LafontaineBaldwin partnership around 1848.

Then followed Confederation itself (in a form flexible enough to centralize for war, counter economic catastrophe and return to a more decentralized world as times changed), a French-Catholic prime minister (Laurier) only 29 years later, and getting through two divisive world wars. More recently there has been the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, with its notwithstanding clause - which was forced upon Pierre Trudeau by the provinces but went on to save the country by allowing Quebec to pass Bill 101 and protect the French language.

A similar clause in the U.S. Constitution would negate the rightwing claim that the courts are overriding elected representatives. In Canada, however, the courts can be overruled if politicians think the electorate is ready to see the Charter overridden. The asymmetric elements in national medicare and the Canada Pension Plan also are ways of accounting for differences among provinces.

The pursuit of public purpose through compromise is harder for Americans for two main reasons.

First, public purpose runs against the grain of many Americans, although they have still managed to achieve a lot of it at the federal level (too much for some). Second, the fact that the country got started with one war and was preserved with another has put force in the driver's seat in a way that has never happened in Canada.

Still, the United States has also had its own great mutual-accommodation moments: 6 crafting the Constitution, with rep by pop winning for the presidency and the House of Representatives, and equality of the states winning for the Senate; 6 leading the great post-1945 achievement based on broadening the inclusive order in the world, containing what cannot be included, and acting collectively; 6 expanding civil rights, as the U.S. political system responded a mostly non-violent movement.

The key mutual-accommodation challenges in the United States are unresolved racist attitudes, equal race-related rights protection, and the current divisive turmoil of its politics. No other country, however, has ever had/ accommodated so many separate and diverse sources of initiating action. Also, the United States probably has more individuals capable of being leaders in mutual accommodation than any other country. Unfortunately, a broad swath of public opinion does not yet accept the necessity of compromise and flexibility.

Following the continent's near suicide - two wars and the Holocaust - the rise of the European Union represents another great achievement in mutual accommodation. There is still a lot of unfinished business, however, particularly in the economically strained Eurozone. It is likely now in the early uncertain stages of its own existential crisis. But Germany's recent decision to accept 800,000 refugees is remarkable by the standards of all history.

The big challenge today is a crowded world - there are too many people, too many ideas, too much change and too much carbon to continue with the present order. We must move to a system of broader mutual accommodation in order to build the foundation for a better world of wider prosperity - where more people will live in peace and safety. Over the last two centuries Canada has been able to find its way to mutual accommodation, in part because it developed in a place and at a time that had none of these problems of overcrowding: Its physical space was huge for its sparse population; change was slow, and new ideas had the time to take hold.

Nowhere in the world today is there anything like the usable physical space Canadians and Americans had during their formative years. It is imperative we find ways to create more safe, socio-cultural space where individuals and groups can find, and be, themselves. Confident self-responsibility is the surest path to workable mutual accommodation - and much else.

Neitzche's will to power was based on his stated rejection of compassion and mutual accommodation (he used those two words). The will to power underlay the European hell of the first half of the 20th century. It is mutual accommodation's opposite. Power to contain - and in rare cases, to win - is crucial. The power to impose, no matter the purpose, is what the 21st century cannot accommodate.

Next: How three leaders outside Canada recently saw the need for accommodation and collaboration.

William A. Macdonald is president of W.A. Macdonald Associates Inc., which consults on government relations and economic policy, and has an extensive record of public service.

To bolster his campaign for a coastto-coast conversation about the state and nature of the country, he and his associate, William R.K.

Innes, have created The Canadian Narrative Project, with assistance from Trent University. For more about the venture, please visit

Associated Graphic

Charles Darwin, John Stuart Mill and Donald Trump: Today, evolution, liberty and unbridled competition must all take a back seat.


Slowly, new attitudes taking root across America's Old South
Tuesday, September 1, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- In the early hours of April 12, 1861, shots rang out over the harbour of Charleston, S.C. The bombardment of Fort Sumter, the federal stronghold on a manmade island, signalled the start of the bloodiest conflict in American history: the Civil War.

On June 17 of this year, another set of shots rang out in Charleston. A young white man walked into a historic black church, sat with parishioners during an hour of Bible study, then opened fire with a handgun, killing six women and three men. The individual accused of the murders had posted racist materials online and posed with a Confederate flag.

Within days, a campaign was under way to take down the flag from official sites and remove flag merchandise from store shelves. Suddenly, Southerners were talking not just about the flag but about the meaning of a conflict that has been over for a century and a half.

In the aftermath of the Charleston murders, I travelled the back roads of the southern United States, asking everyone I met for their views on the flag and on Southern history.

In the course of a 1,500-kilometre trip through five states, I paused at gas bars and tobacco stores, car-wash joints and antique sellers, little thrift shops and giant Wal-Marts. I talked to pastors and policewomen, beauticians and antique dealers, judges and historians.

I saw a South that often seems a caricature of itself, with holy-rolling preachers blasting from the radio, tobacco-chewing farmers cursing the name of Abraham Lincoln and flag-worshipping loyalists of the Confederate side insisting that the Lost Cause was a just cause. But I also found a new South, a place of changing demographics and evolving attitudes that is trying to face up to its poisoned past.

As an outsider, I had always thought that the history of the Civil War was essentially settled.

The South tried to break away from the North when the election of Lincoln heightened its fear of losing the institution that supported its economy and way of life: slavery. In the titanic struggle that followed, the South was defeated and slavery ended.

In the South, it is not quite so simple. Talk to white Southerners and a good number of them, young and old, will tell you that the Civil War was not about slavery at all. Or, as a fall-back position, not just about slavery.

It was about money. It was about the North imposing taxes and tariffs that were sucking the life from the South. It was about "states' rights" against an overbearing federal government.

Those beliefs remain surprisingly strong, despite the volume of evidence on the war - more than 60,000 books have been written on the subject.

At the Museum and Library of Confederate History in Greenville, S.C., retired teacher Rossie Meadows, 58, led me through the fusty exhibits dressed in full Confederate regalia: grey battle cap, grey tunic and kilt. Only a minority of Southerners owned slaves, he said, and some slaveowners treated their slaves as family. "I'm not saying it was a bed of roses for the blacks," he said, straight-faced. "I'm not saying they weren't mistreated. But it was tough times for everyone.

The Irish caught heck, too."

Up the road in the town of Travelers Rest, I stopped at Dixie Republic, a roadside store selling Confederate merchandise, from bumper stickers and coffee cups to bikinis and boxer shorts. The store even carries DVDs of The Birth of a Nation, the groundbreaking 1915 D.W.

Griffith film that glorified the Ku Klux Klan, and copies of The Story of Little Black Sambo, the children's book long vanished from most libraries.

Dalton Simpson, a 22-year-old from Tennessee's Morgan County, paid about $40 for a Confederate hoodie, lighter, mouse pad and sticker. "God bless those men who chose to defend our freedom," he said. If ever a time came again when the states were up against an oppressive Washington, he said, "I believe we should pull that flag out again and fight big government."

Attitudes like that spring from deep roots. The Civil War raged from 1861 to 1865 and claimed the lives of about 2 per cent of the U.S. population. Most of the battles were fought on Southern soil. The war ended in a catastrophic defeat for the Confederacy. "That is not something that you quickly forget," says Tony Horwitz, author of the 1998 book Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War.

In the century that followed, the South remained a region apart, guarding its distinctiveness and nursing its grievances.

Monuments to Southern heroes such as general Robert E. Lee and president Jefferson Davis arose all over the region. Organizations such as Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy tended Confederate graves and watched over Confederate museums.

Even Northerners were drawn to the romance of the South, especially after the success of the Civil War classic Gone with the Wind. "The South lost the war but won the memory of it," Mr. Horwitz said. "Former Confederates created this ideology that really whitewashed the Confederacy and made the war seem a noble defeat in pursuit of freedom."

Because the South absorbed fewer immigrants than the North, a large proportion of its white population could trace its roots to soldiers who fought and bled for the South. "Their pictures are on our walls. Their names are in our Bibles. Their DNA is in us," an official with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Randy Burbage, told me.

But the DNA of the South is mutating. A robust Southern economy has attracted millions of newcomers: Latinos, South Asians, Americans from other regions in search of jobs or a sunny retirement.

You can see the change in Greenville, a hub of South Carolina's new economy. Most of the textile mills that used to supply jobs and money are gone, victims of international competition. In their place have come big global companies such as Michelin and BMW, which has an enormous campus at nearby Greer.

When I arrived in Greenville to look in on the Confederate museum, visitors and locals were crowding into the sprucedup downtown, which is anchored by a magnificent riverside park. On the bridge that spans that river, families and couples who reflected the growing diversity of the South were buying cupcakes and ice cream from mobile stands. A mixedrace couple - black man, white woman - strolled with their three kids. A dad with pierced ears and tattooed arms pushed a stroller.

At the Army Store, owner Jeff Zaglin was hawking surplus helmets, knives, boots and other military paraphernalia - even Confederate flags, if his supplier could keep up with demand. His grandfather, the first rabbi in Greenville, once ran a popular meat market nearby. Jews were a curiosity in town in those days. Today, said Mr. Zaglin, "Nobody bats an eye if a mixed couple walks down the street or an Indian guy owns the 7-Eleven."

Things are changing so fast, he said, that he almost felt sorry for the Old South true believers who cling to the flag. "They feel squeezed," he said. "You've got a changing population here and they see stuff their daddy would never have imagined."

Daddy would certainly have never imagined a place like Los Dos Hermanos (The Two Brothers), a convenience store in Greer run by a family from Honduras. When I stopped in, Elmer Lemus, 18, a soccer-loving high school senior in a Chicago Bulls ball cap, was behind the cash listening to reggaeton, a mix of Latin-American, Jamaican and hip-hop influences. He said he wanted to study to be a sports physiotherapist. Just across the street stood a yellow clapboard house with folding chairs on the lawn and a rebel flag flying from a tall pole. It is pretty clear which place represents the future of the region.

Not that living Southern stereotypes are entirely a thing of the past. Beside the main street in Richton, Miss., I met a 77year-old watermelon seller who really did spit a brown stream of tobacco juice into the sand at the mention of Lincoln's name.

He felt the same way about that "OH-bama," reminisced about the days when black people "knew their place" and said anyone who tried to take down the flag "ought to be shot."

But people of that ilk seem more and more like relics. For a more current version of the South, listen to Agee Broughton.

I spoke to him in Perdue Hill, a tiny place in southern Alabama.

The proprietor of a family general store that sells everything from postage stamps to cold beer to crickets for fish bait, Mr. Broughton knows a thing or two about Southern heritage.

When he is buried in an old cemetery down the road, he will be the seventh on one side of the family to lie there. His great-grandfather started the business in the late 1800s. Six of his ancestors fought in the Civil War. Three came home; three did not.

"I'm not ashamed [of] it. I'm proud of it in a lot of ways," he said. "But that flag has become a symbol of hate and it has got to go." Race relations have improved since he grew up, he said, "and I think in time it's going to become better. We all have to live together and we have to figure out a way to do that and do it peacefully. Fighting over a flag is a not very productive way to spend our time."

Inside the store, Marcus Rivers, 37, was of the same mind.

The rebel flag "don't bother me," he said. "If you want it to make you angry, I guess it will."

He agreed that race relations in the community were generally good. Though he is one of only two black people among the 40 men in his work unit at the local pulp mill, he said everyone got along fine, even hunting and fishing together.

Most of the black Southerners I talked to felt strongly that the Confederate flag should come down, at least from official sites such as the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse (where it was lowered for good on July 10). The flag, after all, was raised there as a symbol of Southern defiance when civilrights leaders were struggling to end segregation. Hate groups brandished it, too.

In Greeleyville, S.C., I asked retired guidance counsellor Marva Session, 72, what she thought of the argument that the Confederate flag was about "heritage not hate," a favourite slogan of flag defenders. She was blunt: "The heritage is hanging black people. You look at that flag and you just think of your greatgrandfather hanging from a tree."

But quite a few black Southerners also took a page from Rhett Butler and said that, frankly, they don't give a damn about any old flag. That, too, may be a sign of progress.

On my final stop, the Whitney Plantation just outside New Orleans, I met John Cummings.

A wealthy white lawyer, he bought the place in 1998 as a real estate investment, then started reading up on the history of the lives of the slaves who worked there. He opened it in December as the first restored plantation dedicated entirely to the slave experience. Visitors get a guided tour of the site, with its big white mansion house, little slave cabins and grim iron slave jail. I found Mr. Cummings greeting visitors from a golf cart, sounding and looking very much the Southern gentleman in his white beard and white shirt.

"In Germany," he said, "they have 200 memorials and museums that are dedicated to the Holocaust. They were built by the children and grandchildren and the great-grandchildren of Nazis who swore to kill every Jew and participated in the death of another 15 million people, and yet the German people have embraced their history.

They own it. They're not proud of it, but they own it. It's their history, and this is our history and we have not embraced it and we have not been educated on it."

It seemed a fitting place to end. Mr. Cummings is part of a new movement to give an honest accounting of Southern history, with its horrors as well as its glories. To match all those Confederate monuments and museums, a host of new memorials have gone up in recent years, these to honour civilrights heroes and document the toll of slavery.

More are planned. In Charleston, Joe Riley, the long-time mayor of the city, is leading an effort to build an African-American museum telling the story of the millions of slaves who came to the United States through Charleston. The museum is to rise near the site of an old wharf where ships unloaded their slave cargo. Just steps away, visitors board a parksservice vessel that takes them to Fort Sumter, where the war that ended slavery began with a volley of shots on that long-ago day.

Associated Graphic

A guide explains the use of the holding cells for black children to visitors at the Whitney Plantation museum in Wallace, La.


Dixie Republic, a roadside store in Travelers Rest, S.C., sells Confederate merchandise ranging from bumper stickers and coffee cups to bikinis, boxer shorts and copies of a controversial children's book.


Writer created three publishing houses
The 'whirlwind of energy' and man of many talents won a Governor-General's Award for his first novel
Saturday, July 4, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S11

Dave Godfrey may have been physically short and wiry, but the 76 years of his very full life bring to mind Walt Whitman's famous self-description: "I am large, I contain multitudes."

As Ellen Godfrey, his wife of 52 years, said recently: "He had more energy than any two or three people put together." That energy coalesced in many forms, many careers - scholar; Governor-General's Award-winning author; publisher of writers as varied as Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood and Northrop Frye; mentor, teacher and administrator; Canadian nationalist; cultural-industries advocate; Internet pioneer; new-media expert; owner of an organic vineyard; and vintner. Somewhere in there, too, he found the time to become a proficient jazz trumpeter as well as the father of a daughter and two sons.

When in the early 1980s, an episode of ventricular fibrillation nearly killed Mr. Godfrey, friend and writer W.D. Valgardson voiced the surprise of many at the time: "God, I thought he was immortal."

Mr. Godfrey went on to make a full recovery and to live more than 30 productive years longer.

But when the end finally came, it came swiftly, in a Victoria hospital on June 21, just seven weeks after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

William David Godfrey was born Aug. 9, 1938, in Winnipeg. He was the second of three children born to Marguerite ("née Hutchison), a teacher, and Richmond Godfrey, a Saskatchewan native who practised law with future prime minister John Diefenbaker. Both parents had literary inclinations: As Dave Godfrey's daughter, Rebecca, a novelist and creative writing professor at Columbia University, noted in her father's eulogy, Marguerite "could recite Shakespeare sonnets from memory," while Richmond "in his own last days wrote these lines from King Henry VI, Part 3: 'Yield not thy neck/To Fortune's yoke. But let thy dauntless mind/Still ride in triumph over all mischance.'"

In 1946, the Godfreys moved to Cooksville, Ont., 30 kilometres west of Toronto ("now part of Mississauga). Dave Godfrey aspired to be a mechanical engineer, but a summer creative writing class at Harvard at 18 changed his mind and in fall 1957, he entered the honours English program at University of Toronto's Trinity College. That academic year was an unhappy one. He dropped out and, under the auspices of Frontier College, headed to an Alberta lumber camp where he felled trees by day and taught literacy at night.

Mr. Godfrey briefly returned to Trinity, but was asked to leave after he vigorously protested against the electroconvulsive therapy prescribed to a fellow student for depression. Mr. Godfrey then left for the United States, where he would stay for almost seven years, returning to his home and native land only during the summers to work as a "gandy dancer," repairing and maintaining railway tracks.

His time in the United States was life-changing. He obtained a BA in English from the University of Iowa in 1960, an MA from Stanford the next year, an MFA in creative writing from what is now the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1963 and a PhD from there in 1966. He was mentored by the novelist Hortense Calisher, taught by Malcolm Cowley, played tennis with Philip Roth, hung out with Larry McMurtry ("Lonesome Dove) and Ken Kesey as Mr. Kesey worked up the manuscript for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and made wine with Raymond Carver.

In 1960, at a reception for firstyear Stanford students, his blue eyes locked with those of fellow freshman Ellen Swartz. They joined a poker game - a game she neither knew nor cared to play.

"But you know how people can click when they just see each other? That's what happened with us," the former Ms. Swartz recalled recently. Mr. Godfrey taught her the rules, whereupon Ms. Swartz proceeded to "thrash him," with positive results: "He was just enchanted!" "Now tell me: How many guys in 1960 would be enchanted when someone, especially a woman who's never played poker before, wipes the ground with you? Dave was the first man - and I would have to say one of the few men in that era - who treated women as people."

The couple married in 1963 and soon found themselves in West Africa, where Mr. Godfrey had agreed to teach for Canadian University Services Overseas. Two years later, they returned to academic life in America. By this time, Mr. Godfrey had grown disillusioned. Initially, America had excited him: It represented a way to "rebel against the British colonial attitude that characterized the Toronto of his youth," he told Silver Donald Cameron for a profile published in 1971. Now, though, he saw America's "dynamism" as nothing short of a "catastrophe," manifested by the Vietnam War, the nuclear arms race, the ghettoization of America's cities and the suppression of the civil rights of African-Americans.

Meanwhile, Mr. Godfrey's stories were appearing in Canadian literary magazines. And as Roy MacSkimming wrote in The Perilous Trade: Publishing Canada's Writers ("2003), he had "refused an invitation to appear in an anthology of best American stories" when the publisher wouldn't honour Mr. Godfrey's request to "change the title to Best American and Canadian Stories." By 1966, with his wife and two-year-old son Jonathan in tow, Mr. Godfrey had returned to Toronto to teach at Trinity College. ("Daughter Rebecca was born in 1967, another son, Samuel, in 1971.) Visiting the U of T Book Room one day, "surrounded," Mr. MacSkimming said, "on all sides by [stacks filled with] American and British titles, [Mr.] Godfrey came to a startling realization: Canada was invisible." Something had to be done.

Mr. Godfrey's path crossed that of Dennis Lee, a lecturer at U of T's Victoria College who had written a collection of poems, titled Kingdom of Absence, that he was keen to publish. The prospects looked grim: Margaret Atwood's first book of poems, The Circle Game, had recently received the Governor-General's Literary Award, but no copies of it were to be found. Its small Montrealbased publisher, Contact Press, had only printed 200 copies and, as Mr. Lee recently recalled, "didn't do reprints." Over drinks, Mr. Godfrey and Mr. Lee agreed to start their own press to publish Kingdom of Absence, perhaps followed by The Circle Game, a collection of Mr. Godfrey's stories and one or two other titles.

The press, Mr. Godfrey said, would be called House of Anansi - Anansi being the mythological West African spider-god "who'd roam the countryside playing practical jokes and telling stories." And so it issued 300 copies of Kingdom of Absence in spring 1967. Pioneering Canadian publisher Jack McClelland said the imprint - operating with one paid employee ("salary: $20 a week) out of the funky basement of the Godfreys' rental house on the edge of campus - would be lucky to last 18 months.

Today, of course, Anansi still exists, home to the acclaimed writers Rawi Hage, Lynn Crosbie, Kathleen Winter and Lynn Coady.

"Dave instituted most of the practical steps that turned Anansi into a reality," Mr. Lee said. He was no "idle theoretician," more a "whirlwind of energy." Mr. Lee recalls ...

how his partner made Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada Anansi's first big bestseller in 1968, and invited Michael Ondaatje to bring his manuscript for The Collected Works of Billy the Kid to Anansi.

Mr. Godfrey wasn't satisfied to start just one publishing house; he went on to create two more.

The first, in 1970, called New Press, saw him partner with Mr. MacSkimming, who'd worked for Clarke, Irwin & Co., educational publishers, and former Macmillan Canada editor James Bacque, to create an imprint more professional and political than Anansi.

Its first title was The Struggle for Canadian Universities. Soon, communications giant Maclean Hunter offered to buy a 30-per-cent stake in New Press. The prospect pleased Mr. Godfrey, who was, in Mr. MacSkimming's formulation, "an anti-capitalist social idealist," but was not above playing the stock market or giving friends investment advice. "Wear masks of capitalism," he would advise his confreres. When 26-year-old Mr. MacSkimming blurted out, "What's a cash flow?" during a meeting with Maclean Hunter executives, it was Mr. Godfrey who kicked him under the table.

In late 1970, Mr. Godfrey published his first novel, The New Ancestors. Dense, difficult, experimental, set in the fictional African country of Lost Coast, the book was deemed "brilliantly accomplished" by novelist Margaret Laurence in The Globe and Mail. The Toronto Star called it "a grand novel in the Dostoyevsky manner - only more ambitious than The Brothers Karamazov." It soon won the Governor-General's Award for fiction and was selling "fairly well" for an unabashedly literary tome.

Three years later, Mr. Godfrey and his family were living in Erin, a farming community 80 kilometres northwest of Toronto. It was a sentimental journey for Mr. Godfrey who, "ever since his grandfather had lost his farm in Saskatchewan during the 1930s," had wanted to own rural land, Ms. Godfrey explained. The family raised cattle and grew wheat and, predictably, started a publishing house, Press Porcépic. Mr. Godfrey also helped form both the Independent Publishers' Association ("precursor to the current Association of Canadian Publishers) and the Association for the Export of Canadian Books ("now Livres Canada Books) while co-editing Read Canadian, a 276page "hitchhikers guide to the unknown galaxy of books" by and about Canadians.

In 1972, thanks in part to Mr. Godfrey's lobbying, the Canada Council created its first major programs to fund Canadian publishers. Around this time, he and fellow nationalists urged federal legislation to ensure that by 1977, "all book publishers publishing in Canada would be 100-per-cent Canadian-owned." For ambitions such as this, author Scott Symons dubbed him a "mystical Canadian nationalist Maoist."

Porcépic continued to operate out of Erin for several years, publishing up to 17 titles a year. The enterprise shifted to Victoria, however, in 1977, when Mr. Godfrey was named head of the creative-writing department at the University of Victoria. He held the job until 1982 and continued to work in the department until his retirement in 1998.

By this time, Mr. Godfrey's wife had become an acclaimed writer of mystery fiction. Mr. Godfrey himself, however, was becoming less enamoured of the idiom and in 1978, Porcépic issued his last work of fiction, the story collection Dark Must Yield. Ms. Godfrey says his motivation for abandoning fiction was "a big mystery. ... He didn't seem to know, himself.

Perhaps he felt fiction separated you from real life. Whatever the reason, his later writing was very experimental, very abstruse, as if he'd lost interest in the storytelling part of fiction. Perhaps it was just Dave moving on; I used to tell him he seemed to have a sevenyear interest span and then he'd be on to something else."

This next something turned out to be computers and their cultural implications. In 1979 and 1981, he co-wrote, respectively, Gutenberg Two: The New Electronics and Social Change, and The Telidon Book: Designing and Using Videotex Systems. In 1983, he and his wife started Softwords, a technology company focusing on distancelearning software. It soon had 22 employees and annual sales of $1-million, according to B.C. Business. Softwords served as the springboard for Pacific Interconnect, one of Vancouver Island's most successful Internet service providers. In 1995, it merged with two other ISPs to become CSP Internet, later renamed Entirety.

The Godfreys sold their stake in 2002 for what Mr. Godfrey said was "a couple of million dollars."

After retiring from UVic, Mr. Godfrey again embraced agrarian life, this time as an organic grape grower and vintner in Vancouver Island's Cowichan Valley. His interest in wine, he told wine expert John Schreiner in 2001, dated back to his youth in Cooksville, where "lots of immigrant families [were] making wine with imported grapes." Mr. Godfrey called his 50-hectare operation GodfreyBrownell Vineyards, "Brownell" being a nod to a distant relative who, in the 1880s, had homesteaded the first parcel of Cowichan land Mr. Godfrey bought.

He "mellowed over the years," his daughter said, but in his younger days, Mr. Godfrey could be, even according to friends, "sarcastic," "abrasive" and "bristly." Mr. MacSkimming said: "I think he knew he was smarter than practically anyone else. And sometimes you kind of felt that intellectual arrogance ... I remember [his] legs twisted around each other ... a tightly coiled spring ready to explode.

Sometimes the explosion would be anger, sometimes laughter; you could never be sure." But he was always a good listener, always sincere, polite, and sensitive, more often than not.

After his death, colleagues spoke of his generosity and supportiveness. Marilyn Bowering, a two-time Governor-General's Award nominee who published nine books with Mr. Godfrey as editor, said: "This is a huge loss; I'm afraid he is irreplaceable."

Mr. Godfrey was predeceased by his 16-year-old son Jonathan in 1981. He leaves his wife, Ellen; daughter, Rebecca; son, Samuel; brother, Brock Godfrey; sister, Margo Tooley; and three grandchildren.

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

Associated Graphic

Dave Godfrey, co-founder of House of Anansi press, in a 1977 photo.


After his retirement, Mr. Godfrey started an organic grape vineyard.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015


A photo of Dave Godfrey in Saturday's paper omitted the credit. It was taken by Kurt Knock Photography.

Decision time in the not-so-united kingdom
In a land where no one party can claim to be a countrywide force, voter tension is bubbling
Saturday, May 2, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A6

LEEDS, ENGLAND -- The United Kingdom will hold an election next week, and it's of great importance. That much, everybody agrees on.

But ask voters and politicians what the May 7 vote is about and you get sharply contrasting answers, depending on which corner of this not-so-united kingdom you're standing in. Britain's 55th general election feels less like a country coming together to choose its leaders than a collection of looselylinked debates held in different parts of an increasingly fractious land.

Record numbers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will vote for politicians who say they want fundamental changes in what the U.K. is and how it works.

"If you've travelled around Britain, you've realized we are not one country in the way that we used to be," said Simon Hix, head of the department of government at the London School of Economics.

The contest in London, which is about a recovering economy and how best to ensure continued growth, is at odds with the debate a few hours' train ride north, where a creaking industrial belt feels little of the turnaround London is talking about.

And that clashes with the conversation in Britain's southeast, where the chief concerns are immigration and whether Britain should remain in the European Union.

The votes being held in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are even further disconnected, with questions of national identity mingling with public anger over government austerity programs.

One poll this week suggested the separatist Scottish National Party could win all 59 seats up for grabs in Scotland.

The big parties are struggling to grasp what's happening. Conservatives wonder why Prime Minister David Cameron isn't 10 points ahead in the polls, given the reasonably good economic story he has to tell - Britain boasts the fastest-growing economy in the G-7 after five years of Conservative-led government - and the fact that he is running against Labour's uncharismatic leader, Ed Miliband. There are reportedly plans afoot to replace Mr. Cameron as leader if he can't deliver a majority.

Labour supporters, meanwhile, speculate they'd be winning this election in a walk if David, the more charismatic Miliband brother, had won the party's fratricidal leadership race five years ago.

Such recriminations miss the big picture. The Conservatives' struggles are due to the rise of the radical UK Independence Party, not Mr. Cameron; polls suggest he is actually more popular than his party.

Labour is going to fall short of a majority not just because Ed Miliband looks awkward on television, but because Scotland's nationalists are in the process of redrawing the country's political map.

"There's something bigger going on. There are issues of leadership, but there's a general feeling that the Labour Party, even if Ed Miliband were replaced, and the Conservative Party, even if David Cameron were replaced, are unable to represent large sectors of society," said Victoria Honeyman, lecturer in British politics at the University of Leeds.

If the polls are even close to accurate, the next parliament - and the government it produces - will have more in common with the multiparty coalitions often seen in Italy or Israel than the stable British governments of decades past. Both parties look set to claim about a third of the overall vote, well short of a majority in the 650-seat House of Commons.

So there's a crippling logjam ahead. And the stakes have rarely been higher.

If Mr. Cameron is eventually able to cobble together enough seats to remain prime minister, he has vowed to hold an in-orout referendum on Britain's membership in the EU by 2017. If Mr. Miliband moves into No. 10 Downing Street, it will almost certainly be via an informal deal with the SNP, speeding up talk of another referendum on Scotland's independence after last year's narrow win for the No campaign.

Worryingly, neither big party can truly claim to be a countrywide force any more. In much of east and southeast England, Labour is on the outside looking in on a contest between the Conservatives and UKIP. The Conservatives, meanwhile, have been politically irrelevant in Scotland - except as a focal point for anger - since the Margaret Thatcher years. Neither party directly fields candidates in Northern Ireland.

It's less a national election, then, than half a dozen regional elections, with different two- and three-way battles in each of those regions.

"We now have different party systems in different parts of the country," Prof. Hix said.

Remarkably, the two main party leaders are doing little to try and reverse that trend. Mr. Cameron has spent the campaign mainly in London and southern England, making only token appearances in Scotland, Wales and Northern Island while trying to fend off the UKIP threat to Conservative strongholds in middle England.

In defending his right flank, Mr. Cameron has taken the calculated risk of stirring up English nationalism. He has questioned the legitimacy of a potential Labour government supported by the SNP, and said he'll change the way parliament works so that only English MPs can vote on laws that pertain only to England - arguably making Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs into second-tier parliamentarians.

Mr. Miliband's campaign travel map is even more striking in its omissions. Despite forecasts that the Scottish National Party is set to romp to victory in the longtime Labour stronghold of Scotland, Mr. Miliband has made just one appearance in Edinburgh since the start of the campaign.

He's skipped Northern Ireland entirely.

Only in London and centrewest England does is the old dichotomy of Conservatives-versusLabour still relevant.

On the gentrifying fringes of London, and the affluent countryside just beyond, Mr. Cameron's argument that Britain's economy is slowly recovering makes sense.

Led by a resurgent financial services industry, and a wildly booming real estate market, the 2008 financial crisis feels like the distant past for the British capital.

That better times haven't reached the north of England yet is evidenced by the giant "Vote for change, Vote for hope, Vote Labour" banner hanging from the downtown Leeds office of Unite, Britain's largest trade union.

Mr. Miliband barely needs to make the argument here that a Labour government is needed to protect the beloved National Health Service and to end the Conservative reliance on trickledown economics.

While both parties are promising to invest billions more in the NHS (one of the few issues uniting Britons), they differ in how they say they will raise the extra money.

The Conservatives say they will cut personal income taxes to boost growth, and thus government revenue. Mr. Miliband has vowed to raise the needed billions by cracking down on rich tax-dodgers, and by introducing a "mansion tax" on properties worth more than £2-billion ($3.7billion).

Britain is changing rapidly, but the core ideological debate - Conservatives cut taxes, Labour tax the rich - could have been borrowed from almost any previous decade. "I don't think either of the parties can quite believe the situation they're in," Dr. Honeyman said.

Ramsgate, England

Take the same two-hour train ride from London, but head southeast rather than north, and the election gets turned on its head. Yes, there's still anger at the state of the economy. But the blame is directed elsewhere - at immigrants, at the EU, at rapid changes in the nature of British society, and, increasingly, at Scotland.

With Scottish nationalism ascendant, and Wales and Northern Ireland lining up to get the new powers promised to Scotland as part of a lure to keep it in the kingdom, it's little surprise the concepts of England and Englishness are also rebounding.

Flag-waving patriotism is still uncommon outside of Scotland - where the blue-and-white Saltire is now a common sight - but since the acrimony of the Scottish referendum, the white-andred English flag is an increasingly common sight in pub windows and taxi cabs.

The capital of the emerging, angry entity sometimes dubbed "Little England" is a collection of seaside towns in the east and southeast. Once - before there was a visa-free EU or budget airlines - this was where middleclass Londoners came to holiday.

Now it's the economically hurting, inward-looking heartland of UKIP.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage presided over a St. George's Day celebration on April 23 at a flag-bedecked pub in Ramsgate with fish and chips, a pint of bitter and boisterous talk about the need to preserve "Englishness."

He has chosen the coastal constituency of South Thanet for his seventh, and he says final, stab at winning a seat in the House of Commons.

While UKIP looks set to finish third nationally with an historic 14 per cent of the vote - a leap up from barely 3 per cent in 2010 - Britain's first-past-the-post electoral system looks set to reward the party with just a handful of seats. The polls in South Thanet are mixed, with some giving Mr. Farage a wide lead, and others suggesting he'll narrowly lose.

"I can't get my head around it, but I think Nigel Farage will win here. There's a lot of disgruntled folks, a lot of xenophobes ... People are jumping up and down saying these Polish people stole my jobs," said Philip Coll, a 53year-old taxi driver and Labour supporter who - as a Scot who immigrated to Ramsgate 20 years ago - cringes at some of the "racist" talk he hears from his passengers.

UKIP's founding raison d'être remains taking Britain out of the European Union. But with only 4 per cent of voters telling pollsters the EU is the most important issue for them, Mr. Farage and his party now spend most of their time talking about the dangers of unfettered immigration, the top concern for 14 per cent of voters.

Since the referendum, Mr. Farage has found another target: Scotland, and the rising clout of the SNP.

"We've just about had enough," Mr. Farage told his fellow St. George's Day revellers. "We want a fair deal for the English."

Aberdeen, Scotland Nobody in Aberdeen is talking about immigration, the EU or the economic recovery. There are few immigrants in northeast Scotland, and those who have moved this far north did so for jobs in and around the oil industry.

They're generally well-liked. So is the EU, which Scots favour more broadly than do the English.

The economy, meanwhile, is in free fall along with the oil prices.

Just last fall, when oil was $110 (U.S.) a barrel, Aberdeen's oil industry was the centre of the SNP's economic argument for going it alone. Today, with oil trading at closer to half that price, many in Scotland are breathing a quiet sigh of relief that they still have tax transfers coming from London.

Despite the near miss, the SNP is more popular than ever, and poised to storm Westminster, hoping to extract sizable concessions from Mr. Miliband in exchange for supporting a Labour-led government. The leftof-centre SNP has ruled out backing a Conservative-led coalition.

The disintegration of the old party system has also given a boost to the nationalist movement in Wales, with Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood earning an invitation to appear in the campaign's lone televised (seven-party) leaders' debate. And, during coalition talks, either Mr. Miliband or Mr. Cameron may find themselves having to negotiate with not just the SNP, but one or more from a mess of parties from Northern Ireland.

The party expected to win the most seats in Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party, has indicated that, while its policies are closer to the Conservatives', Mr. Cameron's embrace of "English votes for English laws" has it considering supporting a Labour government. Meanwhile, the second-largest party in Northern Ireland is expected to be Sinn Fein, which favours union with the Republic of Ireland and has a policy of leaving empty any seats it wins in Westminster.

The situation is a shock to much of Britiain. "Ten days to save the union" read a blaring front-page headline this week in The Times newspaper.

"I have no idea where this is going to end up, and nobody else does, either," said David Seawright, senior lecturer on British politics at University of Leeds.

"There are undoubtedly consequences for the union, whatever happens."

Associated Graphic

Conservative Party activists await the arrival of Prime Minister David Cameron in Wetherby, England, on Thursday. Britain will elect its next parliament on Thursday.


David Cameron is seen at a campaign visit on Monday. There are reportedly plans afoot to replace him as leader if he can't deliver a majority.


Beverly Emans, left, a UKIP supporter, engages with an unnamed man who feels her party is no different than the British National Party.



Tuesday, May 05, 2015


A Saturday news story on the U.K. election incorrectly said Labour leader Ed Miliband has proposed a mansion tax on properties worth more than £2-billion ($3.7-billion). In fact, both numbers should be million.

To some, he is a symbol of unchecked privilege and sexism. To others, he's the Great American Novelist. But as the Purity author reveals in an exclusive Canadian interview with Mark Medley, Jonathan Franzen is far too busy perfecting his craft to worry about what anyone else thinks
Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R1

Last Friday, social media erupted when it was reported that the novelist Jonathan Franzen once considered adopting "an Iraqi war orphan." His rationale was a hope it would alleviate his "sense of alienation from the younger generation."

Within minutes, Twitter was inundated with one-liners from journalists, critics, readers and fellow writers, and Franzen was soon a trending topic.

"Are you saying Iraqi war orphans don't exist solely for the education, moral edification of white men?" asked novelist Jennifer Weiner, a long-time adversary.

On the surface, Franzen's comment was tone deaf, smug and patronizing, but the fact that he admitted in the same interview - in the same sentence, specifically - that the idea was "insane" and lasted "maybe six weeks" did not stem the outrage.

Mocking Jonathan Franzen - or at least rolling your eyes so far back you can see your brain - has become a cottage industry.

It sometimes feels impossible to discuss Franzen without talking about his reputation. To some, he represents everything wrong with contemporary literature, a symbol of unchecked privilege and unexamined sexism; to others, he's the Great American Novelist, one of the most skilled sentence builders of his time, a writer who can internalize the foremost issues of the day and bring clarity to them through his fiction. The fact that an unabashedly highbrow (though also populist) literary novelist was trending on Twitter on a lazy Friday morning is evidence of both his fame and infamy. Purity, his fifth and latest novel, which arrives in bookstores on Tuesday, won't end the debate.

Not that he pays attention to any of the debate, most likely.

"I have people who say, 'But you've got to engage with this stuff because all these people are saying all these things that are untrue, and you've got to rebut every one of them.' And I feel that there is a cost to me not doing that."

This was Franzen, on the phone from Santa Cruz, Calif., where he's lived part-time for many years with his partner, the writer and editor Kathryn Chetkovich.

(While they used to split their time between New York and Santa Cruz, Franzen became a fulltime Californian in March so the couple can remain close to Chetkovich's elderly mother.) It was a little more than a week before his thoughts on adoption appeared in The Guardian, yet he already had plenty of experience being roasted on social media. He mentioned the essay he published in The New Yorker in April about climate change in which he argued, more or less, that attention should be paid to the present-day plight of birds - Franzen is an avid bird watcher and sits on the board of the American Bird Conservancy - instead of focusing on how they'll be affected by climate change; almost immediately, Franzen was lambasted by journalists, environmentalists and fellow bird lovers, who accused him of selfishness and of misunderstanding the science, among other things. In response, as with the comment he'd later make regarding Iraqi orphans, many people had opinions, almost all of them negative.

"I didn't read the stuff, but I heard enough about it, and I saw enough of the headlines, to realize people hadn't actually read the piece. There were a lot of lies about what I actually said. It might have behooved me to wade into it and respond, and try to set the record straight, but it resembles nothing so much as a protection racket. I have to invest that psychological energy. I have to read all this crap, which will be upsetting. I'll have to put lots of time into it - just to protect me from the irresponsibility that those platforms foster.

"I chose, as I keep choosing, not to engage," he explained. "But I know that there's a cost to that."

Franzen is a very private author with a very public profile. ("People show up at my front door, ring the doorbell, and tell me, 'You ought to do something about how easy it is to find you,' " he told me.) When I asked him about the verified Facebook page in his name, he scoffed: "I've never been to it. I believe I now have a Twitter account, as well. All it says is that it's not active. That was because people kept impersonating me. It's like taking burrs off a shaggy dog to get someone who's impersonating you off Twitter. Literally, I had to photograph myself holding my passport to get them to take it down. Eventually, we just caved in and created an account. I was hearing from friends, 'Oh, I really liked what you said on Twitter.' It's like, 'Well, I didn't say anything on Twitter.' " There is a general perception that this is Franzen's Internet novel - more specifically, his antiInternet novel - and Purity does indeed focus, in part, on the machinations of the Sunlight Project, a WikiLeaks-like organization operating in Bolivia under the leadership of the charismatic Andreas Wolf, a former East German dissident with secrets of his own he'd rather not see the light of day. During last week's pile-on, a recurring theme was that Franzen is simply a grumpy old man, one with a fundamental misunderstanding of online culture. (He turned 56 earlier this month.)

While discussing the novel's origins, he brought up former Google CEO Eric Schmidt's 2009 comments regarding online privacy: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

"It's kind of a crackpot notion that anyone could be pure enough, clean enough, that having absolutely everything about their lives online would be okay," he said. "You have to either be 22 or think like a 22-year-old to float something like that. It's crazy. It's insane. That's one of the places the title came from, and it explains why I decided to keep writing about the Internet, and the culture of leaking, and the culture of the exposure of secrets."

Every character in Purity has a secret. The novel revolves around Pip Tyler, née Purity, who at the book's outset is living in a foreclosed squatter's house in Oakland alongside a motley group of activists (including the married man she's in love with), working for a morally dubious ecofirm ("She could never quite figure out what she was selling, even when she was finding people to buy it," Franzen writes), and crippled with $130,000 in college debt. Her family life is even more uncertain; she's the only child of a single mother who has cut herself off from society, living in a small cabin in rural California, and who refuses to divulge the identity of Pip's father, whom Pip believes could aid her financially, if not emotionally. Annagret, a German activist "vacationing in various American slums, ostensibly to raise awareness of their international squatters' rights organization," who is crashing in Pip's house, encourages her to apply to the Sunlight Project; Andreas Wolf and his organization, claims Annagret, will help Pip uncover the biggest secret of all: Who her father is.

Purity explores issues of identity, examines the way secrets are hidden and spilled and hidden again, and questions the seemingly limitless power of modern technology, which, said Franzen, is "a natural subject to address in a book that's about youthful idealism in all different forms.

Because so much of the idealism today is focused on what tech is going to do for us. And what the Internet, in particular, is doing for us."

What it is doing to us, on the other hand, remains to be seen.

"If you look at what happened after the First World War, suddenly everyone was smoking cigarettes. It was like, 'Cigarettes are great! I was feeling sleepy and it woke me up,' or, 'I was feeling anxious and it calmed me down.' 'They sure do taste good after dinner.' It takes a while for things to sort themselves out. In the U.S. it took until 1964, with the surgeongeneral's report, for people to realize this was fun, but this has its costs. And I think it's a little early for all of the true costs to be making themselves felt."

Purity is about many more things, too, including the unique relationship between mothers and sons, economic inequality, the challenges facing journalism and, like much of Franzen's recent fiction, what constitutes a family. "I do like family dynamics," he conceded. "I wasn't really consciously trying not to write another family novel, but I was tired of being asked about the American family. And so I wanted to write a book in which there was not an American family - there are only these weird fragments of families." Later, he expanded on why he's repeatedly drawn to certain subjects and themes: "There's so much to be made up that when you know something about a subject, you're going to choose that rather than the subject you don't know anything about. Or I'm going to. Maybe I should speak for myself. I'm a lazy novelist. I'm not a lazy novelist - I'm lazy where I can be.

Because the other work is really hard. Keeping it all in your head for a couple of years - that is the hardest work I've ever encountered."

Although it feels, oddly, quieter than his past two, bestselling novels (2001's The Corrections, which won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and 2010's Freedom), it's still a sprawling, 563-page, Hydraheaded work, with multiple primary characters and jumps from postwar Germany to the rain forests of South America to Denver's high altitudes. It might not always reach the lofty heights of those past two novels, but Franzen, even when he's not perfect, is better than most, and the early reviews, for the most part, have been stellar. (Even The New York Times' Michiko Kakutani, whom Franzen once called "the stupidest person in New York City," praised the novel as his "most fleet-footed, least self-conscious and most intimate novel yet.") "I wish that I could just write short novels," he told me at one point in our conversation, but, in a way, that's exactly what he does - he writes several short novels and then stitches them together.

Like Freedom and The Corrections, Purity is several novels in one, weaving together a number of disparate genres. There's a murder mystery, a coming-of-age story, a romance, a thriller. "It so accords with the fundamental way I think of novels, which is as a collection of a few, strong, complicated characters who I really love. If I'm going to go to the trouble of developing a character like that, I'd like to give him or her their own say, give them their own short novel." Besides Pip, Annagret and Andreas Wolf, whom Franzen partly based on the political dissidents he met while living in Germany in the early eighties, Purity also tells the stories of Tom Aberrant, the head of a non-profit investigative news operation; Tom's mother, Clelia, and his exwife, Anabel, an experimental filmmaker with whom he pursues a damaging and tumultuous affair; Leila Helou, Tom's lover and an investigative journalist following the trail of a possibly misplaced nuclear warhead; and her husband, Charles, a wheelchair-bound author trying to write "the novel that would secure him his place in the modern American canon."

Franzen should have no such worries about his place. Love him or loathe him, he's established himself as one of the pre-eminent voices in literature, which is why so much attention is paid when he puts his foot in his mouth. His work and his words are subject to more scrutiny than just about any novelist writing today. Consider this: The day before our interview, the Washington Post published a short article about the young woman who graces the cover of the American edition of Purity. (Canada shares the same cover as Britain, which is faceless.) Who is she? The creative director at Franzen's U.S. publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, refused to say anything except that it was "a friend of the photographer's and wishes to remain anonymous." When I relayed the story to Franzen, who hadn't read it, he sighed.

"To judge from the Internet, people have a lot of time on their hands."

Read an exclusive excerpt from Purity in The Globe and Mail on Sept. 5.

Associated Graphic


Jonathan Franzen, right, drew criticism for a recent New Yorker article on whether climate change is the most dire threat facing birds.


Before the flood: grave fears
For 12,000 years, people have roamed Peace River Valley, leaving traces of their presence. BC Hydro's dam proposal threatens to obliterate that heritage
Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

PEACE RIVER VALLEY, B.C. -- Gerry Attachie stood beside the small, unmarked grave that was overgrown with Saskatoon berry shrubs and looked out over the Peace River Valley.

He knew that if BC Hydro's $9-billion Site C dam is built one day, the water level would rise to cover Bear Flats below, long a sacred gathering place for the Dane-zaa people. It would climb up to the top of the knoll where he was gathered with a small group of elders and honoured guests, and would flood the grave of his grandmother.

"There are lots of graves all over," he said of the land that would be inundated by the planned reservoir.

The threatened inundation of graves and other culturally important sites has taken on a new sense of urgency with First Nations in the Peace River Valley since the government issued authorizations in July allowing BC Hydro to start construction of the massive project. Preliminary work, including construction of an $8-million access road, is expected to begin soon, and BC Hydro has been holding job fairs this summer in small northern communities.

First Nations are divided on the project, with some signing impact benefit agreements with BC Hydro, while others launching court challenges to stop the dam.

One point all parties agree on: If the valley is flooded, the cultural and historical loss will be unavoidable and significant.

Besides gravesites, the creation of the dam will flood a cave where artifacts dating back more than 10,000 years have been found, as well as the oldest fur trading post in the province. BC Hydro has promised to mitigate damage wherever possible, but the solutions aren't simple.

Prior to contact, aboriginal groups placed the dead in trees or on raised platforms, leaving no permanent grave markings. And those buried in historic times were often interred not in church graveyards, but out on the land in places considered sacred, with their locations kept secret by families. In an archeological survey, BC Hydro has identified five graves, but its search has been limited because First Nations declined to point to sites. An unknown number of burial sites exist in the flood zone, including at least one mass grave.

"The burial sites are associated in Treaty 8 oral history with the 1919 flu epidemic," BC Hydro says in its environmental impact statement (EIS). "Multiple burials are also reported to be at Halfway River, although no specific locations are given. No physical indications of burial sites have been found at these locations."

But the graves certainly exist, as the one at Mr. Attachie's feet attested. Deeply cut into the earth, and long overgrown, it was missed in BC Hydro's extensive archeological survey of the valley.

On the slopes near where Mr. Attachie stood is a grave holding the remains of his grandfather, one of seven chiefs who in 1899 signed Treaty 8, which guaranteed native people could continue their traditional way of life.

Mr. Attachie asked the elders to hold hands and then they all bowed their heads.

"We just pray that they could build the dam somewhere else," he said. "Site C ... I feel bad about it ... It's going to cause a lot of grief among aboriginal people," he added, his voice choking off.

"This will be underwater forever.

We'll never see it again."

Shortly after Mr. Attachie left his grandmother's grave, George Desjarlais arrived, clambering up a steep bank from Highway 29, which passes below. The spiritual leader had seen the gathering atop the knoll and wanted to mark the grave with prayer flags.

"I want to keep this place sacred," he said. "So that this place, and places like this along the river, will be protected."

Among the Dane-zaa, the location of gravesites aren't shared outside families, but with the Site C project about to begin, people are being urged to volunteer that information so the graves can be blessed with prayer flags, which are thought to offer protection.

"Gravesites like this are hallowed ground and should not be destroyed," Mr. Desjarlais said.

Karen Aird, an archeologist and member of the Saulteau First Nation, said it isn't known how many unmarked native graves lie in the flood zone of the Site C dam, but it could be thousands.

BC Hydro has identified more than 300 culturally important locations in the flood zone, including camp sites and gathering places, Ms. Aird said, but the survey is incomplete because First Nations wouldn't divulge the locations of many sacred places.

BC Hydro was unable to provide a spokesperson to answer questions, but offered Web links to filings made in the EIS. They show the utililty did extensive archeological research, but its work was handicapped by a lack of detailed information from First Nations.

"Ceremonial and sacred areas, medicinal plant gathering sites, burial sites, and other places reportedly of spiritual or cultural use importance were described to BC Hydro, but not always with geographic precision ... such that the location or nature of the site is unidentified," BC Hydro states.

If a site can't be avoided by construction or flooding, BC Hydro says it is ready to move graves, if family members wish, or it will cap them. The utility also says it has spent years on archeological research in the valley, "digging approximately 60,000 subsurface tests ... [in what is] likely the largest investigation undertaken in British Columbia."

It turned up everything from dinosaur teeth to ancient stone tools and old fur trading posts. In all, it identified 173 paleontological sites, 251 archeological sites and 42 historical sites.

Not far from where the dam is to be built lies a small cave that illustrates how archeologically rich the area is. Leading the way to the Charlie Lake Cave, which is a few kilometres outside the flood zone, Ms. Aird said digs by Simon Fraser University unearthed what may be the oldest bead yet found in North America - dating back 10,700 years - human remains and signs of religious ritual.

"The landscape has changed dramatically," she said, looking out from a sandstone cliff hidden among poplars to a busy highway.

"Twelve thousand years ago, people would have looked out and seen huge, glacial Lake Peace." Near the cave, archeologists found burned human remains 8,000 years old and two raven skeletons. "Ravens are sacred animals [that] take care of the transportation of the spirit to the underworld," she said.

Also at Charlie Lake cave were 10,500-year-old stone implements that have been tied to Paleo-Indian sites in Montana, and ancient bison bones from even farther south. The find provides the first proof that early humans moved from south to north, not just in the opposite direction, which Ms. Aird said makes Charlie Lake Cave one of the most important archeological sites in North America.

She said the valley is so rich in artifacts "it's just a giant cultural landscape," but it has barely been touched by scientific research.

Much of the work that's been done has been funded by industry - both BC Hydro and the booming oil and gas sector - because archeological surveys are required before land is disturbed.

Ms. Aird welcomes the research, but says it is directed by the needs of industry, not science, and nobody is putting the finds into broader context. How does the Charlie Lake cave relate to the ancient sites within the flood zone? No one knows and, once the area is flooded, important sites that might explain that link could be lost.

Stopping at the offices of Archer CRM Partnership, an archeological consulting firm in Fort St. John, Ms. Aird asks Mike Elvidge, field director for the company, if she can see his latest finds. He pulls out dozens of bags containing stone spear points, arrowheads, broken knife blades and razor-sharp pieces of obsidian, a glass-like stone that was a valuable trade item among early peoples. Finding stuff such as that is routine for the Archer team.

"We have sites from 12,000 years to 250 years ago and there doesn't seem to be any gap [when people weren't living in the region]," Mr. Elvidge said.

He said the petroleum industry, for which Archer does a lot of work, is responsive when research shows a development threatens a culturally important site. A gas company recently realigned a well site to avoid an area after Archer consultants turned up artifacts. Pipeline and road routes have also been altered.

But BC Hydro's Site C project is on such a massive scale, flooding more than 5,000 hectares of land, that it can't help but destroy important cultural sites.

A federal-provincial joint review panel concluded BC Hydro had achieved "best practice" with its study. But it added: "The Panel determines that the effect of the Project on cultural heritage resources to be adverse and significant."

Among the sites to be flooded will be Rocky Mountain Fort, the oldest fur trade post in B.C.

Alexander Mackenzie identified the site when he first paddled up the Peace in 1793, and the following year a fort was established near the mouth of the Moberly River, just upstream from where the Site C dam is to be built.

Mike Meirs, a welder and member of the River Rats, a boating club, scanned the shoreline as he searched for the old fort. There was no sign of any structures, but he spotted flagging tape tied to a willow. That is how B.C.'s 221-yearold trading post is marked.

Tramping through the bush, Mr. Meirs located the site, now just a few depressions in the ground, and shook his head.

"The sad part is the B.C. government will not recognize this as an historic site. There's nothing here to mark it," he said. "It's so overgrown with brush it's pretty obvious they want to forget it, because their long-term plans are to put it underwater and bury it."

BC Hydro has funded archeological research at the old fort site and has proposed mitigation measures, "including relocation, systematic data recovery, capping, monitoring, and compensation-in-kind," states the joint review panel report. Recovered artifacts would be placed with the Fort St. John North Peace Museum.

The panel concluded, however, that such measures wouldn't fully mitigate the damage. "The Panel determines that the loss of the cultural places as a result of inundation, for aboriginal and non-aboriginal people, to be of high magnitude and permanent duration and be irreversible ... the existing historically valuable cultural sites would be permanently lost," the report states.

Although BC Hydro has cleared all regulatory hurdles, many people remain convinced the project will be halted.

"I am optimistic this project will never get built," said Ken Boon, a farmer, as he stood in one of his hay fields on the banks of the river. He and his neighbours often find prehistoric arrow and spear points while working the land, which will be drowned if the dam goes ahead.

"This will be under 100 feet of water," he said looking down at the rich soil beneath his boots.

Mr. Boon thinks legal challenges and "the court of public opinion" will stop the project.

B.C. Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson, of the Assembly of First Nations, said aboriginal people aren't about to give up their opposition. "When you are born First Nations, you are born to fight," he said, speaking on the banks of the river to about 300 people at a recent Paddle for the Peace event.

Mr. Gottfriedson reminded the crowd of the Oka crisis of 1990, when police, the army and Mohawk protesters clashed in Quebec over a proposed development on a native burial site. "I see another uprising happening right here," he said.

"It's hard to explain how offensive it is," Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations said of BC Hydro's plan. "It's like someone telling you you don't matter. It's a spit in the face."

After the native leaders finished speaking, the crowd launched about 150 canoes and kayaks and floated quietly off. Hours later they pulled out at Bear Flats, where elders said the nearby forest hid many graves.

Associated Graphic

Drummers from Doig River First Nation drum on the Bear Flats near Fort St. John. Native people and archeologists are concerned about the impact that BC Hydro's Site C dam project will have on the Peace River Valley and the centuries-old graves and trading artifacts.


'Gravesites like this are hallowed ground and should not be destroyed,' spiritual leader George Desjarlais says.


Some of Ken Boon's land will be underwater.


Veteran became proponent of social justice
A teacher at home and abroad, he objected to military operations by withholding income tax and sending it to a peace fund
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, July 13, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S8

Eldon Comfort, a reluctant young soldier who became an outspoken campaigner for peace and social justice in later life, embraced pacifism as a result of what he witnessed following Germany's surrender in the spring of 1945.

"[O]ur unit was stationed up in Wilhelmshaven [Germany], just to try to keep the peace for a while. The Germans had been disarmed, of course, but there were still a lot of them around and a lot of them were still in ... prison enclosures," he told the Memory Project, which has recorded Canadian veterans talking about their wartime experiences. "To see those young men, boys really, behind barbed wire, dispirited, bedraggled, hungry, disorganized ... I thought to myself, surely, these guys aren't my enemy. ... [A]nd I couldn't help but wonder how many of those youngsters had been reluctant soldiers themselves, that were simply obeying orders."

Mr. Comfort's moral objections to war continued and deepened as he grew older. He died on June 2 at North York General Hospital in Toronto, a month after he was admitted to hospital following two strokes and a heart attack. He was 102.

At his memorial service on July 4, his daughter Janet Bojti read excerpts of his letters to family, friends and Canadian officials, including one sent to the minister of revenue in April, 2008, to protest Canada's military operations.

"Today, modern technology has introduced weapons of mass destruction. Their cost is staggering.

... So, in a very real sense when I pay my income tax, I am complicit in the deployment of such armaments.

"I am, therefore, claiming conscientious objection to the conscription of my tax for military purposes. The percentage of the federal budget designated for DND is deemed to be 8.1 per cent, so I have reduced my income tax by that amount. This portion is being directed to Conscience Canada's peace tax fund.

"When the Canadian military operations were restricted to peacekeeping (in its restricted sense), to search and rescue, and to succour during national natural disasters, I had no quarrel with paying my taxes in full.

When the priority for the resolution of conflict, once again, becomes a peaceful and diplomatic enterprise, I shall resume full payment."

Eldon Byron Comfort was born in Saskatoon on Oct. 4, 1912. His father, Ellwood Comfort, had moved the family to Saskatchewan when he took up a position as assistant principal in Nutana.

He was an industrial arts teacher, and built a new home every summer to accommodate his growing brood. In the 1920s, the family moved back to Lincoln County, Ont., near Niagara Falls, to save the family farm, which was struggling because of the Depression and the failing health of young Eldon's grandparents.

The Comforts eventually had seven children who, by the interwar years, were engaged in farming and getting an education, says Iain Taylor, Mr. Comfort's son-inlaw.

"For the growing Comfort boys, it was work, work, work, seemingly occupying nearly every waking hour of every day. For the girls it was [household chores] and cooking for the nine around the table every morning and night, with packed lunches every day," he says.

Besides a rural childhood that taught him everything from milking cows to managing a horsedrawn wagon, Mr. Comfort was a devoted member of the United Church since its inception. He was active in church committees all his life - doing everything from balancing the finances to managing the Sunday school. At the former Westminster United Church on Toronto's Bloor Street, Mr. Comfort met Betty Bonsall, who sang in the choir.

After graduating from high school in Beamsville, Ont., Mr. Comfort attended a teachers college, then called Toronto Normal School. From 1931 to 1934, he taught elementary school in oneroom school houses across Ontario. He then graduated from the University of Toronto with a bachelor's degree in physical education and started teaching high school students.

He had been teaching at a Port Hope, Ont., high school when he enlisted. He had played it smart, signing up for the army in 1941, Ms. Bojti says.

"If you volunteered, they gave you a choice to apply for officers' training. If you waited until you got conscripted, you didn't get a choice," she says. "He was in the reserves, while he was teaching.

So on the weekends, he would go around and march somewhere."

After courting Ms. Bonsall for nearly a decade, he married her on Dec. 5, 1942, the same day he received orders to attend officers' training in Brockville, Ont.

"With his university degree and aptitude for science, he got into signals training. Signals corps didn't put you in the direct line of fire. ... [They] kept lines of communication open between different units, and [intercepted] German communication. But he was attached to an artillery unit."

As a lieutenant with the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, he received his first assignment in British Columbia in 1943, where he trained others to do signals work, Ms. Bojti adds. The army officer in charge was at his wits' end figuring out a schedule for all the training programs at the massive training camp.

"It was getting late in the day and he was starting to panic, so he yelled: 'Comfort! Here, figure this out.' When my father showed him the schedule he'd mapped out the next day, the [officer] was really pleased. He asked my father how he did it. And he said it was just like a high school timetable," Ms. Bojti says.

Like many of his contemporaries who served in the military, Mr. Comfort didn't like to talk about the war with his children, Ms. Bojti says.

"One time my brother - he was around five then - got out my dad's medals and was parading around with them. My dad saw him and just scoffed, 'You get one of those for being there.' It wasn't until we were teenagers that he really talked about it," she says.

"He told us about the time they wintered over in Holland. He'd never been been so cold in his life. He was billeted with a young couple, the Wolfs. The young woman was pregnant in the extreme, and they didn't have two cents to rub together. So my father wrote home. My older sister, Nancy, would have been a year old. My mother packed up a little box with nighties, sweaters, layettes. Years later we visited them and they remembered every item in that box."

Besides witnessing the horrors of war, Mr. Comfort was homesick. He was desperately in love with the woman he married, and eager to meet the daughter he'd never seen. When he returned home to Toronto from war, Mr. Comfort was offered a veteran's allowance to go back to school.

He pursued a master's degree in botany from the University of Toronto, and got a job as a science and physical education teacher at Danforth Technical School (now Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute). He went on to become a principal there, and then at Downsview Secondary School (previously Downsview Collegiate Institute).

In 1949, he bought a two-acre plot in Markham, Ont., and built a house with some help from his brothers and friends. The family moved into their new home in 1953. Mr. Comfort served as a municipal councillor in Markham for two years, attending meetings late into the night. He also made sure the kids had fun in the backyard, setting up bales of hay for archery practice and building ice rinks.

In 1960, Mr. Comfort moved his family to Tanzania to establish a new science wing of Mpwapwa Teachers College. The sojourn changed the Comfort family.

"I used to joke that it was his missionary complex," Ms. Bojti says. "He just wanted help people who were struggling in a society that was much poorer than our own. He wanted to be of service.

And it was an excellent opportunity for us three kids - we were 17, 14 and 11 - to travel and have an adventure. ... Everybody had to learn Swahili. Electricity only came on in the evenings. But we did not want for anything."

The family returned to Canada in 1962, when Mr. Comfort was offered a position as principal of Yorkdale Secondary School.

He stayed there until he retired in 1972.

The stay in East Africa deepened Mr. Comfort's sense of despair about the world and social justice. He kept an eye on the U.S. civil rights movement through the 1960s, but he was still a "pretty straight" high school teacher, Ms. Bojti says. In fact, Mr. Comfort wasn't impressed at first with Mr. Taylor, who was then courting his daughter Nancy, when he saw him participating in an anti-Vietnam War demonstration.

It was only after retirement that a geriatric rebel came out of the closet, she says. Mr. Comfort had been following the news out of Central America and got interested in the struggle in Nicaragua.

He travelled there in 1984 as part of a Witness for Peace delegation.

The group, which included many fellow veterans, went to Nicaragua to try to prevent the U.S.backed contras from committing human rights violations against civilians. Mr. Comfort returned there annually for six years on various humanitarian projects. In 1990, he was selected to monitor the national elections as a UN observer.

"I first met Eldon at a panel discussion on Nicaragua; this was in the 1980s," says Matthew Behrens, a writer and organizer with Homes Not Bombs. "And he made a joke that if Canadians were to go to heaven and there was a fork in the road - one leading to eternal paradise and other to panel discussions - Canadians were likely to go to panel discussions. We immediately hit it off.

He had a terrific sense of humour, but also a strong moral grounding. There was no pretext with Eldon."

In 1998, when Canada supported a U.S.- and British-led bombing campaign against Iraq, he joined a group from Homes Not Bombs to deliver a letter to Art Eggleton, who was then defence minister.

"When we were told that Mr. Eggleton won't respond, we decided to stay there. There was some media there, and they asked Eldon what he's going to do now. He told them, 'I'm going to take off my pants.' He said it with a twinkle in his eye, and immediately every camera was on him.

He then took off his snow pants that he was wearing on top of regular pants. It was a lovely moment."

At the same time, Mr. Comfort was also active in civic groups such as the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee. From 1995 to 2002, he protested the lack of affordable housing and the rising problem of homelessness in Toronto by standing vigil outside Queen's Park.

"Every Tuesday, after playing tennis, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., he'd be there," Mr. Behrens says.

"He'd pick up a banner at the Geology School at U of T and bring it across. Sometimes a security guard would come and say, 'You have to move.' And he'd respond, 'No, we don't.' Security wouldn't know what to do with him," Mr. Behrens says.

In the spring of 2001, Eldon Comfort received an honorary degree of Doctor of Sacred Letters from Victoria University (University of Toronto). A biographical sketch circulated to university officials before he received the honour noted "his tireless commitment to the cause of justice."

Mr. Comfort was predeceased by his wife of 63 years, Betty; and his siblings Rodger Comfort, Elva Moyer, Ralph Comfort, Helen Arthur and Maurice Comfort. He leaves his youngest brother, Clarence Comfort; his children, Nancy Taylor, Janet Bojti and Jim Comfort; five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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

Associated Graphic

Eldon Comfort became an activist in his retirement, beginning with a trip to Nicaragua in 1984 as part of a Witness for Peace delegation. In 1990, he monitored the country's elections as a UN observer.


When Mr. Comfort returned from the war, he was elated to be reunited with his wife, Betty, and to meet his infant daughter Nancy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


A Monday obituary of Eldon Comfort incorrectly said he moved his family to Tanzania in 1960. It was Tanganyika at that time. In 1964, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form Tanzania.

MP 'inspired people from all walks of life'
Trailblazing parliamentarian took greatest satisfaction in NGO she founded to educate women and to make development durable
Monday, July 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S8

If Flora MacDonald had been born 20 years later, she might well have been Canada's first female prime minister. As it was, the Cape Breton, N.S.-born politician, who died early Sunday morning at the age of 89, broke down the invisible door that barred women from high office in Canada.

The political path she blazed led her to become the first woman in the Western world to serve as foreign minister and the first to challenge for the leadership of Canada's Progressive Conservative Party.

In her post-parliamentary years, she travelled the developing world empowering women as she fought poverty and injustice.

According to long-time friend and aide David Small, Ms. MacDonald died at 4:30 a.m. in Ottawa.

"She inspired a whole generation of young people to get involved in their communities and politics," said Mr. Small, who was the youth chair of Ms. MacDonald's leadership campaign.

Her slogan when she first ran in 1972 was "Flora power," he said.

For many Canadians, a key moment in her career happened in February, 1976, when she made her entrance at the leadership convention in Ottawa. She was one of 12 candidates vying for the party's top job.

When her name was called, the room fell silent and a lone bagpiper began playing the Skye Boat Song, which eulogizes the first Flora MacDonald, who saved the life of Scotland's Bonnie Prince Charlie. Forty-eight more pipers gradually joined in and Ms. MacDonald walked regally to the stage.

She told the audience: "I am not a candidate because I am a woman. But I say to you quite frankly that because I am a woman, my candidacy helps our party. It shows that in the Conservative Party there are no barriers to anyone who has demonstrated serious intentions and earned the right to be heard."

Growing up during the Depression in one of Canada's poorest areas, Ms. MacDonald knew the hardship people faced. As a teenager during the Second World War, she watched the ships set sail from Nova Scotia's Sydney Harbour carrying coal and munitions to the Allied forces in Europe.

Her enduring interest in world affairs was instilled during this period.

For a girl in North Sydney in the 1930s and 40s, school after Grade 10 meant the Empire Business College, where Ms. MacDonald learned the skills of a secretary.

She worked as a teller for the Bank of Nova Scotia, lived frugally and saved enough money to travel to Britain in 1950. Ms. MacDonald bounced around England and Scotland, and hitchhiked across war-torn Europe.

"Flora was daring," said John Meisel, an eminent political scientist at Queen's University who met Ms. MacDonald in 1957. "She tackled things other people didn't have the guts to try."

Ms. MacDonald returned to Canada and plunged into politics.

She worked in Robert Stanfield's victorious 1956 campaign in Nova Scotia, then landed a job at the PC party's national headquarters in Ottawa.

She helped John Diefenbaker, the prairie populist, win a minority government in 1957 and the largest majority ever in 1958. As secretary to the party's chairman, Ms. MacDonald became, effectively, the Tories' national director.

"Flora impressed me a great deal," said Mr. Meisel, who was writing a book on the 1957 election. "Clearly she was meant to be more than just a secretary."

In the course of numerous election campaigns, "she got to know everyone in the country," said Lowell Murray, a long-time Tory activist and eventual senator.

When "the Chief" learned that Ms. MacDonald was supporting a fellow Maritimer, Dalton Camp, in his effort to become party president and to seek a leadership review, Mr. Diefenbaker had her fired. Mr. Meisel quickly brought her to Queen's as an administrator in the department of political studies.

There, she rubbed shoulders with some of the brightest political minds in the academy and worked to advance the anti-Diefenbaker movement in the PC Party. She helped Mr. Stanfield capture the party leadership in 1967.

In 1971, Ms. MacDonald became the first woman to participate in the year-long program for senior public servants and promising laypeople offered by the National Defence College in Kingston. The students travelled the globe and met many world leaders.

It would be one of the most formative experiences of her career.

She no longer saw herself in a supporting role, said Mr. Meisel.

She was a player.

The course hadn't even finished when Ms. MacDonald captured the 1972 federal Tory nomination in Kingston and the Islands, the riding represented by Sir John A. Macdonald a century before.

She won the seat - the only woman among the 107 Tories elected and one of only three women in Parliament during the minority government of Pierre Trudeau. She won again in 1974, when another Trudeau victory spelled the end of the line for Ms. MacDonald's role model, Robert Stanfield.

Then, with barely three years as an MP under her belt, she sought the party leadership.

"In my view, the party needed a leader who could carry on where Stanfield left off, who would emphasize progressive values and continue his efforts to appeal to Canadians of moderate views," she wrote with former Ottawa columnist Geoffrey Stevens in her still unpublished memoir.

"When Flora gets committed, she really locks in and pours all her energy into whatever the cause may be," said Mr. Stevens.

True to form, Ms. MacDonald travelled cheaply and minimized costs at the convention. People volunteered their services.

Instead of serving liquor at her hospitality suites, Ms. MacDonald served coffee and cookies baked by friends. Supporter David Crombie, then mayor of Toronto, hosted soup kitchens in Ottawa church basements, inviting delegates to join the homeless and hear about Ms. MacDonald.

"There was something in Flora that inspired people from all walks of life," said Hugh Hanson, former deputy to the cabinet of John Robarts in Ontario, who had met Ms. MacDonald on the Defence College course, and joined her leadership campaign as political adviser.

Ms. MacDonald also insisted the campaign make public the source of all contributions over $20 and before the convention, the first Canadian leadership campaign ever to do so.

Even John Diefenbaker told her how proud he was of her campaign.

Ms. MacDonald, however, was in for a shock on voting day at the 1976 convention.

Delegate tracking by her staff and surveys by various television networks had found 325 delegates who insisted they would cast ballots for her. That would be enough to put her in third place on the first ballot, ahead of the other progressive candidate, Joe Clark, and in position to face off with the right-wing Claude Wagner from Quebec.

However, when results of the first ballot were announced, Ms. MacDonald received only 214 votes, 63 fewer than Mr. Clark, who sat in the third spot.

The phenomenon became known as the Flora Syndrome.

(Joe Clark would defeat Claude Wagner on the fourth ballot 1,187 to 1,112.)

"I was very much in the progressive wing of the Progressive Conservative party - a Red Tory, and proud of it," Ms. MacDonald said later. "I was opposed to capital punishment when most Conservatives were in favour of retaining it. I believed abortion should be left to the decision of the woman and her doctor - which was very much a minority view in our party in those days. In the eyes of many Tories, I was a little too radical," she reasoned.

Perhaps, but from that moment on, the party and the country took Ms. MacDonald more seriously.

"From being the person who used to take dictation, she became the one who dictated," said Mr. Meisel. "From being a secretary, she became Secretary of State for External Affairs."

When Joe Clark formed his minority government in 1979, he made Ms. MacDonald foreign minister, even though diplomats in the Department of External Affairs didn't know quite what to make of her.

The department biography omitted the section on the new minister's education, since they deemed the Empire Business College not fit to include.

"Flora was adamant," recalled Michel de Salaberry, a diplomat and close friend who met Ms. MacDonald at Queen's. "She insisted on including the school - she was very proud of it."

Ms. MacDonald faced two major foreign crises during the shortlived Clark government and distinguished herself in both.

The first involved the flood of refugees fleeing Vietnam in the wake of North Vietnam's victory over U.S.-backed South Vietnam.

Together with Ron Atkey, another Red Tory who held the Immigration portfolio, she launched a scheme whereby the government allowed Canadians to sponsor refugees to Canada and then matched the public's total with an equal number of unsponsored refugees.

In that way, more than 60,000 "boat people," as they were known, came to Canada - the highest per capita refugee influx of any country during the crisis.

The second issue concerned the small group of U.S. diplomats that escaped capture in Tehran when radicals took over the U.S. embassy in 1979 and were hidden by Canadian diplomats in the Iranian capital. Behind the scenes, Ms. MacDonald secretly authorized false Canadian passports and money transfers to the group, while in public she couldn't say a word about it.

As Minister of Culture and Communications during the first Brian Mulroney government, Ms. MacDonald found herself at odds with the leader's position on free trade with the United States.

She lost that battle and lost her seat in the 1988 election after 16 years as MP.

"She could have had any appointment she wanted," recalled retired senator Mr. Murray. "But she turned everything down." Mr. Murray, who along with Mr. Clark will be giving the eulogy for Ms. MacDonald, said her rise into politics was unparalleled.

"This is a girl who started out as a bank teller in ... Cape Breton.

It's the most remarkable career," he said.

"She found new life in international development," said Mr. de Salaberry. "She became more fulfilled, more genuinely happy."

As former foreign minister, Ms. MacDonald found herself in demand to travel the world on behalf of charities such as Oxfam, CARE and Médecins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders).

She was appointed by the UN Secretary-General as a member of the Eminent Persons Group studying transnational corporations in South Africa and travelled to Pretoria with former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, with whom she became friends.

The work that gave her the greatest satisfaction, however, was with the NGO she founded: Future Generations Canada. As director from 1997 to 2007, she sought to educate women in places such as Afghanistan and to introduce participatory systems that make development durable.

"In the villages we're in, the women and girls participate alongside the men and boys - that's different from most other places in Afghanistan," Ms. MacDonald recalled.

"Flora gave out mixed messages on feminism," noted Marcia McClung, granddaughter of activist Nellie McClung and former spouse of Mr. Hanson, Ms. MacDonald's closest adviser.

"She wanted more women in office" in Canada as well as in Afghanistan, she said, "but she didn't want to be defined as an advocate for women.

"She was a great dame," said Ms. McClung, "and a great example for others." Rising from those three female members of Parliament in 1972, Canadians elected 76 women MPs in 2011.

In her Ottawa apartment, overlooking the canal on which she often speed skated to her parliamentary office, Ms. MacDonald kept a photograph of the gravestone of the woman for whom she was named: "Flora MacDonald, preserver of the life of Prince Charles Edward Stewart. Her name will be mentioned in history, and if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with honour."

Ms. MacDonald wished for nothing more.

Associated Graphic

Flora MacDonald, seen in the House of Commons in 1985, was the first woman in the Western world to serve as foreign minister.


Among other firsts, in 1976 Ms. MacDonald became the first woman to challenge for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015


A Monday obituary of Flora MacDonald incorrectly said she was one of three female MPs elected in October, 1972. In fact, there were five: Ms. MacDonald, Grace MacInnis, Jeanne Sauvé, Monique Bégin and Albanie Morin.

How UBC lost a president
Dr. Arvind Gupta seemed the right man for the times, an innovator hired to connect academics with industry and students with jobs. But behind the scenes, the president was fighting political battles on multiple fronts. As Simona Chiose and Frances Bula report, it's been a month since his sudden resignation and UBC is still grappling with the fallout
Thursday, August 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A6

An unusual group had assembled at the Point Grey campus residence of Arvind Gupta, the president of the University of British Columbia. The gathering was made up of professors and associate deans from the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses, from science to arts and humanities. For a few hours last March, they had the president's undivided attention.

Dr. Gupta's spring session on the leafy UBC grounds was atypical in that it did not include administrators, staff and students who generally advise a university president.

"The argument that he made was that he was looking for advice that was [different] ... from what he would normally get from his other vice-presidents and administrators," said John Klironomos, a biology professor and the associate dean of research at the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences. "We sat there and brainstormed and agreed on many things and we had interesting debates. He mostly listened."

But while Dr. Gupta was spending time with professors - and he invited administrators to the next session - behind the scenes there were smouldering fires. The president had let go several highranking executives in the administration; he'd also had disagreements with the board of governors over how much he needed to consult on key decisions.

On July 31, five months after the faculty brainstorming, Dr. Gupta resigned - only one year into what was supposed to be a fiveyear term. When the departure became public a week later, the campus erupted into rumours and recriminations that threaten to damage the reputation of one of Canada's globally ranked universities. In the resulting row, faculty demanded to know more about why the president left, but the event has remained shrouded in mystery, protected by non-disclosure agreements that have silenced Dr. Gupta, the university and its board of governors.

The Globe and Mail has talked to more than two dozen sources, including university administrators - deans, vice-presidents and the former provost - as well as faculty members. Most requested anonymity because they feared harming their careers. Several argued that Dr. Gupta focused too much on building links with professors and didn't communicate with senior administrators. The university had taken a risk in hiring an innovator, but fatally underestimated his lack of administrative experience, they said. While Dr. Gupta is a computer science professor at UBC, his reputation largely rested on his building of Mitacs, a nonprofit powerhouse that had broken down walls between academia and industry. The announcement of his hiring cited his "courage to chart a bold course."

"The argument [in hiring Dr. Gupta] would have been that we have somebody who is an established researcher, who is an established fundraiser and has good connections to the outside, but he's from UBC. ... It's an exceptional case because he had no experience as a dean or vice-president," said Ross Paul, a former university president and the author of Leadership Under Fire: The Challenging Role of the Canadian University President.

The prevailing sentiment on campus now is one of regret.

"From the inside, it's been a tough year," one senior administrator said. "I would have hoped that had Arvind stayed on, the university would have pulled together and made it work."

The candidate

Across the country, governments and parents are anxious about the state of higher education in a challenging economy. They are asking for reassurance that the Ivory Tower is not just a place of abstract learning, but one that opens doors to well-paying jobs or helps students become entrepreneurs who can create their own employment.

When Stephen Toope resigned after seven years at the helm of UBC, he left a university facing those pressures head-on: The B.C. government had announced last year that it would tie 25 per cent of public funds to the labourmarket outcomes of graduates.

Dr. Gupta seemed like the right man for the times. In his 14-year stint as chief executive and scientific director of Mitacs, he had helped link up thousands of graduate students and researchers with internships in industry.

In 2013, Ottawa rewarded the group with $35-million over several years.

The future UBC president was well connected to the federal government in other ways as well: In 2011, he served as a member of the Jenkins panel on innovation, which recommended closer collaboration between the National Research Council, universities and business.

"We are in a province where everything seems to be oriented toward LNG and pipelines," one administrator said. "If what you think you need is better representation in government and in the private sector, Arvind [was] a pretty interesting choice."

Many in the UBC administration were far more skeptical, describing the hire as a "flyer."

For them, running Mitacs, with its 2014 budget of approximately $100-million compared with UBC's $2-billion, was not nearly enough preparation.

The first year

The departure of a president so soon in a mandate is unusual, but not unprecedented. In 2010, Concordia fired former French literature professor and experienced administrator Judith Woodsworth halfway through her term. As at UBC, it was Concordia professors who first demanded to know why.

Even before the March meeting, Dr. Gupta had begun building support with professors. He brokered a compromise with the faculty association around how the university could use faculty-created course materials. He protected academic programs from cuts to the university's budget and argued for closer community connections for researchers.

"As faculty we are skeptical of business, but he was bringing us along," one science professor said.

But to those who watched him make the rounds, the president looked exhausted. "He probably heard 10,000 opinions on what the university should do," one senior administrator said. "Symbolically, it was interesting; practically, it was not that helpful."

Dr. Gupta apparently didn't treat administrators with the same care. Instead, firings were done in a brusque manner, without sufficient recognition of the contributions of those who left, sources said. The senior ranks began to fear for their jobs.

"Arvind was alienating people one at a time," is how one administrator described the environment.

There was also resentment of new hires. Political strategist David Hurford, who had worked with former federal Liberal minister Allan Rock and former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan, joined as executive director of the president's office. Mr. Hurford was known for promoting his political masters aggressively and doing whatever it took behind the scenes to help them drive through their agendas. He continued that approach in the president's office.

"We have to have [the president] in the news, we have to have a photo-op every week," one source said of how the office was run. (Mr. Hurford left UBC after Dr. Gupta.)

Although things were rocky, by late winter a consensus was forming that these were merely the growing pains of a first year.

Then, in April, the president asked David Farrar to step down from his job as provost and take on a new post as a presidential adviser. Dr. Farrar's departure was a turning point.

"After David Farrar was moved out of the provost's office, the tone shifted," one person familiar with the situation said.

In the eight years he had been provost, Dr. Farrar had recruited and groomed some of the university's top administrators. He also led the school's successful aboriginal education strategy, which culminated in UBC being the only university that suspended classes this June, when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its findings.

It was one of his proudest accomplishments, Dr. Farrar said in an e-mail answer to a series of questions from The Globe.

He never applied for the job of president and has no plans to do so in the upcoming round, he added. "He was an extraordinary team player," one administrator said of Dr. Farrar.

The deans of many faculties felt adrift after the departure. They e-mailed the president, requesting a meeting. A copy of that note made its way to the chair of the board, John Montalbano.

Some deans had already informally talked to members of the board of governors over what they saw as lack of communication from the president's office.

But the goal was never to force the president to step down. Mr. Montalbano would not say how many issues had been raised with him.

"Anything anecdotal would not be something the board would consider seriously," he said.

He added that the board offered the president all the help it could muster, from inside and outside the university. Mr. Montalbano declined to say whether Dr. Gupta made use of that help.

"I can't speak for Arvind. ... The board made it abundantly clear at any point that Arvind had all the resources available to him to succeed, to allow him to succeed."

Former administrators and faculty at UBC have said relations between the board and the president could get heated. A former administrator who attended an in-camera board meeting last spring described it as "really ugly." The chair's concern, the administrator said, was that Dr. Gupta was making announcements about changes and directions that Mr. Montalbano believed should have been cleared with the board.

Mr. Montalbano rejects that claim: The board and the president had a "cordial" relationship, he said.

On the other hand, a colleague of Dr. Gupta's said the former president had to deal with an inordinate level of interference by the board chair.

Exactly what happened in the last few weeks is unclear. According to Dr. Gupta's contract, a performance-review process was to start in June. No such formal review ever took place, according to Mr. Montalbano.

The next president

On Sept. 1, the university will begin the process of closing this chapter in its 100-year history. Martha Piper, who already served as president from 1997 to 2006, will take over as interim leader while a new presidential search begins.

The ramifications are lingering: On Tuesday, Mr. Montalbano temporarily stepped down as chair of the board of governors while the university investigates allegations that he and others infringed on the academic freedom of a business professor who blogged about Dr. Gupta's resignation.

Many on campus are angered by the entire episode.

"Given the price tag of the search, [the resignation] seemed to have come out of nowhere.

You're way over a million dollars in terms of this search," said Joey Hansen, president of the university's staff union. Mr. Hansen says as many as 5 per cent of the university's workers could be laid off by the end of the year due to budget cuts.

Increasingly, research has found, Canadian university presidents today are less experienced and last a shorter time in the job than a prior generation.

"A lot of change-making is happening ... once they've gained the trust of stakeholders, once they've built those relationships," said Julie Cafley, who wrote her dissertation on Canadian university presidents and is a vice-president at the Ottawa-based Public Policy Forum. "It's a shame for our system that we are not able to hire well, to transition well, to retain well and really be more supportive of this complex leadership role."

"From the inside, it's been a tough year. I would have hoped that had Arvind stayed on, the university would have pulled together and made it work." A senior administrator

"I can't speak for Arvind. ...The board made it abundantly clear at any point that Arvind had all the resources available to him to succeed, to allow him to succeed." John Montalbano, UBC board chair

"Given the price tag of the search, [the resignation] seemed to have come out of nowhere. You're way over a million dollars in terms of this search." Joey Hansen, UBC staff union executive director

"It's a shame for our system that we are not able to hire well, to transition well, to retain well and really be more supportive of this complex leadership role." Julie Cafley, vice-president of Public Policy Forum

Associated Graphic


A FENCE SEPARATES THE SAUGEEN-OWNED PART OF SAUBLE BEACH, BUT THE FIRST NATION IS FIGHTING FOR ANOTHER 2.4 KILOMETRES OF BEACHFRONT.; The claim, one of more than 300 across the country, is a based on Treaty No. 72, signed in 1854 - and a draft map drawn in 1855
Monday, August 31, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A6

SAUBLE BEACH, ONT. -- The Crowd Inn may not look like much: just a little beachfront shack that serves foot-long hot dogs and crispy-yet-stillgreasy French fries. But it has been here in the middle of Sauble Beach ever since 1948, when two brothers from nearby Port Elgin, Ross and Harold Dobson, saw an opportunity in the growing number of city folk pulling up to the lengthy, sandy beach in cars and looking to splash in Lake Huron's waves.

The joint's current owner, 53year-old David Dobson, runs the business every summer with his wife, 20-year-old son and 13-yearold daughter helping out. He first became a partner in the business with his father, Ross, back in 1983: "I have been working here since, oh my God, I was doing the garbage pickup when I was 5."

But how many more summers the Crowd Inn will sit on this particular patch of sand at Sauble is unclear.

Forming the political backdrop to this idyllic summer spot, an 11-kilometre beach about three hours from Toronto, is a divisive conflict - a conflict older than Canada itself.

Just a few Frisbee-toss lengths away from the Crowd Inn, past the large, arched "Welcome to Sauble Beach" sign, lies what is known as South Sauble Beach - on the reserve lands of the Saugeen First Nation. And in a land claim that has dragged on for decades, the band insists its actual boundary should be another 2.4 kilometres up the beach, which, besides a handful of private landowners such as Mr. Dobson, is largely owned by the local municipality.

It is just one of more than 300 aboriginal land claims across the country, including many in cottage country. Despite more efforts by Ottawa to settle such disputes through streamlined negotiations rather than court battles, these fights can take years and often leave private land owners in limbo, caught up in a historic battle between governments and First Nations.

At the heart of the fight over Sauble Beach is Treaty No. 72, signed in October, 1854, with a preamble that says the Saugeen confide "in the wisdom and protecting care [of] our Great Mother across the Big Lake," referring to Queen Victoria. It was a deal made amid increasing pressure from the growing number of white settlers looking for land in the Bruce Peninsula, then known as the Saugeen Peninsula, which had previously been set aside in its entirety for the area's aboriginal people. The Saugeen agreed to surrender almost all of that land to the Crown, except for several smaller reserves.

In court filings, the Saugeen First Nation, which now counts about 1,800 registered members, argues their ancestors never surrendered this stretch of beach, a key fishing ground they called Chi-Gmiinh, or "sandy shore on water of the large bay." They say the official 1856 survey of what was then called Amabel Township, conducted by veteran surveyor Charles Rankin - who also mapped Muskoka Township and other parts of Ontario - does not reflect the treaty they signed.

Treaty No. 72 says the reserve's eastern boundary should be "a line drawn from a spot on the coast at a distance of about nine miles and a half " from the reserve's western boundary. The current line at Sauble's main street, and as depicted on the official Rankin map, is only about eight miles away. So the Saugeen First Nation claims it is owed another 11/2 miles of beach.

They also point to other evidence. In one rough 1855 draft map, found in Mr. Rankin's notes, he placed a post further up the coast, at about the 91/2-mile mark, and labelled it: "NE < Ind. Res." It is this spot, the Saugeen First Nation argues, that denotes the northeast point of the real boundary.

The federal government agrees and, in an unusual move, is supporting the land claim.

The local town of South Bruce Peninsula, as well as Mr. Dobson and other private landowners and the province, argue the official map signed by Mr. Rankin - who personally attended the signing of the 1854 treaty - is the only map that counts.

There is evidence the Saugeen were complaining about access to their fishing grounds on the beach as early as 1890. But the current court fight dates back to the early 1990s. Since then, it has simmered though various attempts at negotiations. It hit a rolling boil last summer, when a tense public meeting was held to reveal a proposed deal resulting from a mediation overseen by former Supreme Court of Canada justice Ian Binnie.

The proposal, meant to avoid a costly court fight, would have handed formal title for the disputed 2.4 kilometres of beach - from Sauble's Main Street up to its 6th Street North - to the Saugeen First Nation. But it also would have created a joint management board with three representatives each from the town and the reserve to run the beach and approve any changes. If the deal had been approved by all sides, the town would have received $5-million, the First Nation an undisclosed amount.

The deal was meant to address widespread fears among the many who own family cottages on private land and walking distance from the water. On South Sauble, the reserve charges admission to recoup the costs of maintaining the beach, it says.

(Pedestrians are charged $5 a day, cars cost $20 on weekends.)

Sauble cottagers feared the Saugeen First Nation would want to raise revenue in the same way on the beach's northern stretch, which vacationers have always been able to stroll along for free.

(The town does charge $12 a day for parking near the beach to help cover the $300,000 it costs to maintain it and keep it clean.)

Some feared the band would also start allowing cars to drive up and down the beach, as it now permits on South Sauble. Others raised the spectre of a casino or a large resort complex, plans the band has floated for its other lands.

The idea of handing the beach back without a fight kicked up a political sandstorm last year with a municipal election just a few months away. Justice Frank Newbould, a very senior Ontario Superior Court justice with a cottage at Sauble, wrote a sevenpage letter to the town council pointing out flaws in the evidence provided by the federal government and urging the town to reject the deal and fight. (Justice Newbould declined to speak to The Globe for this article.)

The town's previous mayor, who supported the deal, narrowly lost re-election to current mayor, Janice Jackson, a marketing director for a local retirement community who traces her family roots in Sauble Beach to the mid-1800s. She and her new council have vowed to fight, retaining one of the country's top litigators, Jonathan Lisus of Toronto firm Lax O'Sullivan Scott Lisus LLP. A trial is not expected until 2018.

Ms. Jackson said the town still hopes to be "great neighbours" with the First Nation, whatever happens, but said the deal floated last year would have left the town little say in the beach's future: "If you have a dispute, and if it were to go to court, the very first thing any judge is going to say is, 'Who owns this land?' you know, and then we're sunk."

The rejection of the potential settlement has Chief Vernon Roote of the Saugeen First Nation, who first began researching the land claim in 1970, warning that he and others on the reserve are losing their patience.

"We've gone so far over the past years to provide a good relationship with people," he said in an interview. "We offer a beach for entertainment and whatnot.

We don't have to. That's the whole point, we don't have to.

And what do we get in return?

Well, I hate getting a little slap in the mouth once in a while, and this is what I feel like right now."

If the Saugeen First Nation wins the beach, Mr. Roote refused to rule anything out, including charging admission, or development or a casino, but he said he doubted allowing cars to drive on the north stretch would be feasible: "This is our land.

And if we need to develop it for our own purpose, for our own revenue, then our people will decide that."

Before now, tensions between the two communities had calmed since the 1990s, when a fishing-rights fight around the Bruce Peninsula saw a nativeowned fishing boat destroyed by an unexplained fire in Owen Sound. (In 1999, the Ontario government bought out most of the area's non-native commercial fishing operations.)

But also complicating matters further is yet another land claim, filed by both the Saugeen First Nation and the nearby Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation. This claim, filed in 1994 and not set for a trial for another three years, demands $90-billion in compensation for the proceeds of sales of Crown land on the Bruce Peninsula the First Nations say they are owed.

Treaty No. 72 promised the First Nation "the interest of the principal sum arising out of the sale of our lands" that were handed over to the Crown.

That claim also demands the return of unsold Crown lands, including 20-metre "shore road allowances" left by surveyors around many lakes. The details of this massive claim remain unclear, but it is certainly possible it could again put the ownership of a large portion of Sauble Beach in doubt.

Meanwhile, the Crowd Inn - the only privately owned structure on the beach - keeps serving up its locally famous French fries, for now.

Mr. Dobson did not participate in the talks that led to last year's deal. He said he was told after a failed round of talks in 2006 that under that proposed deal he would have been allowed to continue running the Crowd Inn, but that he would no longer own the land and so could not sell it and retire. And he fears he could face the same offer again, despite the fact that in other land claims, private landowners are often compensated.

"You know what really bothers me is people don't seem to see that there is another wrong being committed here," said Mr.

Dobson, who also stresses that he doesn't blame the Saugeen First Nation or feel any animosity toward them. "It is the exact same wrong that the natives are complaining about. The exact same thing."

Associated Graphic

To the left of the fence is the Saugeen First Nation-owned portion of Ontario's Sauble Beach. To the right is the start of a two-kilometre stretch of beach for which the Saugeen First Nation is making a claim based on a 19th-century draft map and survey.


Chief Vernon Roote of the Saugeen First Nation, who began researching the land claim in 1970, warns he and others on the reserve are losing patience as the Sauble Beach dispute drags on. If the Saugeen First Nation wins the land, Mr. Roote said developments could include charging admission or developing a casino.

Sauble Beach, on the shores of Lake Huron, has been a popular site for tourists for decades. The idea of handing the disputed portion of land back to the Saugeen without a fight sparked a political battle last year that saw the incumbent mayor of the town of South Bruce Peninsula, who supported the move, ousted.

David Dobson operates the Crowd Inn French-fry shack, the only privately owned building on the portion of the beach being claimed by the Saugeen First Nation. Mr. Dobson says he has been told he would not receive any compensation if the beach were to be handed over.

'This project, this adventure, this commitment here isn't finished'
As Matthew Teitelbaum leaves the AGO to head up Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, he reflects on his accomplishments, and the challenges confronting all museums in the 21st century
Friday, June 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L2

Friday is Matthew David Teitelbaum's last day at the Art Gallery of Ontario, where for the past 22 years he's spent most of his waking hours, working first as the Toronto gallery's chief curator, then, from July, 1998 onward, as director and CEO. Effective Aug. 3, he's the new director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. A Toronto native and graduate of London's Courtauld Institute of Art, Teitelbaum, 59, has never been less than an engaged and engaging presence. Under his auspices, the AGO got bigger in almost every way - in clout, ambition, audience reach, in the size of its collections and importance of its exhibitions and, of course, in physical size. The Globe and Mail recently met Teitelbaum in his office where he was cleaning house and eagerly anticipating a fishing trip with his son, Max, to Ontario's Baptiste Lake, former stomping grounds of a Teitelbaum art hero, David Milne.

What are you feeling at this point? Is it a mix of being eager or anxious to go and being reluctant to leave?

I've never experienced the combination of sadness and excitement at the same time the way I have over the last couple of months. And it's only intensified over the last week. Obviously, there's the excitement of Boston, but you get concentrated pretty quickly on what you're leaving behind. In practice, there's not a single thing that is pushing me away, nothing that is unsettling, nothing that is a qualification to what is possible. This project here, this adventure, this commitment here isn't finished. I can see the next step; I can see the step after that; I can see how the AGO can get to the next level both nationally and internationally.

But I have to leave that behind.

What is going to be most on the plate of your successor when he or she arrives?

At a meta level, the challenge is the one I'll have in Boston and that all museum directors have: to stay focused on what is the purpose of the museum in the 21st century. Or to put it differently, why should people come? How do you stay in that question? On the more strategic level, my successor will have to think specifically, what does this institution mean to Toronto? It's important that its commitment to growth is tied to a notion of what Toronto can be. Something like the AGO exists in a particular context, with all those things that make it work - artists, non-profits, governments, cultural advocates. Somebody needs to know the local conditions to maximize those elements.

If you could change Toronto's cultural scene, what would you change or like to see change?

I'd hope for three things that are happening, that I'd just want to encourage to happen more and more deeply. One is to create a philanthropic community that believes in culture and cultural institutions, that sees in the mix of all the various things we support - hospitals, education - that the arts are seen as even more worthy than perhaps they sometimes they are. I'd hope to develop a more sustainable commercial culture for art - more collectors, more dealers, more activity, a broadening of the market.

I'd like to encourage politicians to think about cultural institutions as useful, so that art goes back into the teaching curriculums more confidently and assertively; that the mayor articulates and owns the issue that culture is part of a tourism strategy and business relocation strategy; and when the Premier talks about innovation and thinks about new ideas, she thinks about artists.

Do you think that, since the AGO reopened in 2008 after its Transformation AGO renovation/ expansion, the gallery has achieved a kind of groove or, say, an effective balance between self-generated shows and imports, more scholarly exhibitions and popular presentations, between Canadian shows and non-Canadian?

Post-2008, I had colleagues say to me that we had prepared as much as anybody had to move into a new building. But the reality is, nobody's prepared. It took us a couple of years to get our rhythm, to know how to use this building.

I would hope people agree with me that there is momentum, that we've got the programming right, that we use the building well.

What I think we've done particularly well is we've thought about how we can be engaging for our range of visitors. Our audience is more diverse than it's ever been [attendance in 2014 was 760,000], our membership numbers are the highest they've ever been [more than 100,000 in 2014-15].

The conceptual hump was, if you say to your audiences, "This is your home; you belong here; come; be welcome," and then you have all these rules about how you're meant to behave, you're into an institutional contradiction. Which is why, early on, we allowed cellphone use in the gallery; why two years ago we decided to allow photography throughout the building except where it's protected by copyright.

It's why we have very generous incentive pricing for family attendance. Because we want people to come and be the way they should be without feeling there are 27 rules to be met before crossing the front door.

Your father, Masha, who died in 1985, had, as an artist, a fraught relationship the AGO. He even picketed the place for not showing enough local artists. Was he ever a voice in your head during the last 22 years?

Every day. First of all, I live in a house filled with his paintings.

Secondly, I remember things that he said and they pop up, often at unexpected times. Sometimes, I'll be in a meeting and I'll think: "That person doesn't know why he or she is doing this; so what they're saying lacks consistency or doesn't make sense." And then I'll remember he said to me that he spent 95 per cent of his time thinking about what to do and 5 per cent doing it because if you didn't know why you were doing it, you'd end up creating the wrong thing. His fraught relationship with the AGO was only a subset of his relationship to authority and institutional power.

"Fraught" doesn't mean "dismissive;" it means "contradictory" and "complex": He wanted the recognition that he rejected. He was asked to be an official war artist [during the Second World War] but rejected it, only to later realize that that was a huge mistake. It would have given a life experience that could have been extraordinary, as it was for Alex Colville.

Are there any exhibitions during your tenure that you regard as game-changers?

They'd fall into the category of projects that positioned the AGO to be advocating for art in a new way. Those were the ones that mattered most to me, where people came out and felt art could liberate feelings for them, give them permission to think differently. David Bowie [in fall 2013] certainly did that. With Ai Weiwei: According to What? [August through October 2013], demonstrably more families came to that exhibition than any other exhibition in recent memory. I think it prompted a cross-generational conversation; it got people talking about the role of art, China, political art, is it art? That sort of dialogue also happened with Basquiat: Now's the Time [February to May 2015].

Museum planner Gail Lord has indicated that the AGO and the Royal Ontario Museum should be regularly reporting annual attendance of one million visitors or more and she's argued that admission prices have had a negative effect on attendance. What's your view?

I don't think price is the barrier that many people think. The great barrier is, is your programming interesting enough? That's the great question of whether people will come. Remember: We pretty consistently have 100,000 visitors coming in free each year through things like our free Wednesdays. I get the point of access, particularly for those who can't afford it.

And any ticket taker at the AGO knows that if anyone comes up to him or her - because it's a value of mine - and says, "I can't afford it; can I come in?" the answer is yes. Why do people go to museums? They don't actually go because they're free. They go because they want to see what's there. Do we have to be thoughtful on price? We try to be. But we want to make sure our revenue model allows us to afford great programming [the AGO's 2015-16 budget is $61.5 million]. Our attendance is robust and we think, so far, we have it right.

You announced your departure in April and, shortly thereafter, the AGO announced the creation of a rather eccentric administration regime, a triumvirate of sorts with the board of trustees, a leadership team of eight AGO staff and something called the interim governing council (with three trustees and three gallery staff). How big a say did you have in that transition mechanism?

I recommended the interim structure. Now, the board didn't have to accept my recommendation, but they did. I recommended it for a couple of reasons. I've seen very few of what I'd call "heroic interim structures" work very well. What usually happens is the single person alters his or her relationship sufficiently that it's hard to sustain after the new person comes in. No. 2 - and people have debated me on this - I think we have a truly extraordinary board, truly experienced, incredibly thoughtful. So the idea of having board members closer to operations did not worry me. It does worry some other people in my field. At the same time, I was very clear that I would not support a board member as an interim lead. The interim governing council [IGC] suggests a group of people will come together to make a certain number of recommendations, not necessarily decisions, at key moments in a way that truly blends the expertise in the institution. Every issue coming to the IGC would normally come to the board or a board committee anyway. It also releases professional staff into another level of responsibility.

But do you feel that people in this interim period are going to be wondering who's the pitcher, who's on first, who's the one who's going to make the decisions in the day-to-day flux?

I think that's a reasonable concern or reasonable question.

Whether it's a concern depends on what happens; the test of the pudding is in the taste. I had a management guru early on who said to me something I believe is fundamentally true: The better director you are, the fewer decisions you make. Translation: Your institution would have the capability of leading at different levels; you wouldn't have to be the heroic leader. So that's what I hope we're going to find.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Associated Graphic

Matthew Teitelbaum worked for 22 years at the Art Gallery of Toronto, including 17 years as its director and CEO.


Saturday, June 27, 2015


An Arts story in today's paper on the Art Gallery of Ontario includes an incorrect first name for Matthew Teitelbaum's father. It is Mashel, not Masha as published.

Medium rare
San Francisco's Tenderloin is a neighbourhood in flux - an enclave of energy fighting to honour its gritty history while still moving forward. It's not polished, and it's far from perfect, but that's exactly what makes it so interesting
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, September 1, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

SAN FRANCISCO -- There's a drama playing out here of a progressive city trying to save its soul.

Concierges in downtown San Francisco hotels have long warned visitors against the Tenderloin - don't go there, just don't - which is a shame because there's something remarkable happening here. New businesses and attractions are opening at a breakneck pace. While the area is still a little rough, there are now schoolchildren on the streets and some money is flowing in, along with something else less tangible bubbling up: local pride of place.

Over the years, residents have fought hard to keep the Tenderloin an enclave that's affordable for the lower and lower-middle classes - and some of their solutions have been innovative, perhaps even likely to hold as tech firms, such as Twitter and Zendesk, set up shop on the neighbourhood's fringes. The Tenderloin has the highest percentage of housing in non-profit hands of any downtown neighbourhood in the United States, according to activist and local historian Randy Shaw, something he hopes will help to insulate it from gentrification, along with the fact that its historic buildings with tiny apartments aren't exactly what the rising tech execs want.

In addition to its interesting present, what a past it has. Evocative vestiges of San Francisco's history seem to hide out in the Tenderloin, ones that have largely been purged from the rest of the go-go city.

The mid-century modern of Alfred Hitchock's Vertigo? It's here, in the area's 409 historically designated buildings, all but one built after the 1906 earthquake levelled the area. The noir nightclubs of Dashiell Hammett? They're here, too - atmospheric neon makes the night feel very Maltese Falcon.

"The Tenderloin was a jewel once," local activist and tour guide Del Seymour says. "A place where people came from far and wide to gamble, to eat good food and drink, to have fun. If we make the right choices, the Tenderloin can be a jewel again."

"Any city that doesn't have a Tenderloin isn't a city at all," Herb Caen, San Francisco's legendary columnist, once wrote, and the dictum is on stickers they give out once you've paid the admission at the brand new neighbourhood history museum.

Created at a cost of $3-million (U.S.), it occupies a corner between an old boxing gym where Jack Dempsey and Muhammad Ali once trained, and one of the residential hotels, with their SRO setups - single-room occupancy, shared bathroom, no kitchen.

The museum tells of how the Tenderloin became a distinctive area - how, after the 1906 quake and resulting fire, the city banned the single-family wooden houses that fill much of the rest of San Francisco, how officials zoned the neighbourhood for a density of high-rises.

The Tenderloin Museum runs a series of walking tours, and ours is led by Pam Coates, a long-term resident, a survivor, she says, of domestic abuse and a couple of years on the streets.

She shows us the next-door SRO, the Cadillac Hotel (1907), with its donated 1884 Steinway grand piano in the high lobby ("the concerts are open to the public - sometimes residents, sometimes pros - always a good time").

We visit a new park, built by the city at a cost of $9.3-million, named for the saintly Franciscan Rev.

Alfred Boeddeker, who long ago founded St. Anthony's, a soup kitchen that serves nearly 3,000 meals a day. In the park, four teens hustle on the multicoloured basketball court, the plants are droughttolerant and the glass clubhouse offers Internet access and yoga classes.

A park worker hustles a man with a sleeping bag out of the fenced-in park's one entrance. "Not here, man." Coates walks us by St. Boniface Catholic Church, which allows the homeless to stay, and a non-profit where they can store their belongings.

("Everyone used to have shopping carts. No more.") We pass by one of the country's first porn theatres ("they passed the first film off as a documentary on sex in Denmark"), umpteen chihuahuas ("that's our district dog") and the old recording studio where much of the soundtrack of the late 1960s and early 70s was laid down. It saw the likes of Neil Young, the Pointer Sisters and Jefferson Airplane record, the latter band's charismatic lead singer, Grace Slick, leaving her Aston-Martin illegally parked out front.

Just around the corner is what locals call The Rock Star Hotel, the Phoenix, an old spiffed-up motor lodge with space for tour buses in the parking lot. It's long hosted bands but had fallen on hard times before neophyte hotelier Chip Conley took it over in the midnineties. It became the first hotel of a small chain of mainly West Coast-based boutiques, Joie de Vivre. The place has an outof-Palm Springs courtyard and a funky Asian-fusion brunch spot and bar, Chambers, with shelves full of old records lining the wall.

Opposite the hotel entrance are two pedestals with marble Vietnamese lions snarling atop them, marking the entrance to the two blocks of Little Saigon, the first American home of many Vietnamese refugees who fled here after the Vietnam War - along with subsequent waves of Cambodians and Laotians.

The Tenderloin has given refuge to many over the years - and part of that is due to Glide Memorial Church, the largest private provider of social services in the city. At the Sunday service, a year to the day after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Mo., there are searing images of the aftermath projected above the altar, while the choir sings gospel, "Do not pass me by, saviour."

A parishioner tells his story to the congregation, of coming to San Francisco to come out into the Tenderloin's relatively welcoming gay, black community ("God brought me here"), of falling into meth addiction, nearly dying of AIDS and then coming back from both. "They gave me six months to live in 1990 and it's 2015 and I'm still here."

The parishioner is one of many social outcasts who washed up here and started again. In the 1910s, the Tenderloin hosted single women, who, to the horror of social reformers, lived alone and often gathered together in cafés - without men! Three years before the Stonewall riots in New York City in 1969, the trans clients of Compton's Cafeteria in the Tenderloin refused to be rousted by the police. "We fought," a riot participant recalls in a documentary snippet on view at the museum. "There were sugar canisters going through the plate-glass windows. All of us were arrested, sent off in paddy wagons, but it was right."

What is likely the country's oldest gay bar, the rakish Gangway, is still operating here, with a morning as well as an evening happy hour. Where the Castro has gone corporate, more than a little bland, there's still some of the original energy that made the city a gay-lib capital in the Tenderloin.

It's at the Gangway that I meet Del Seymour for a museum-sponsored tour of the area's nightlife. The Vietnam vet and former drug dealer turned himself around, worked on engineering projects around the world and now sits on the boards of an alphabet soup of service agencies. On our evening together, he looks sharp with a burgundy silk handkerchief poking from the pocket of his gabardine blazer. We pass an old apartment building with scaffolding out front - "Looks like we lost that one. They come with a briefcase full of bills, $15G, to offer tenants to move out." The people at the arriviste tech companies sometimes consult with him to see what the neighbourhood wants: "Jobs," he says. "Training. There's talent here. We don't want your dayold food."

Aunt Charlie's Lounge, a tiny gay bar, provides the most extraordinary portal into olden days, in its case the disco era. A big, bearded DJ who calls himself Bus Station John takes over the club on Thursdays, posting 1970s-era beefcake porn on the walls, spinning lesser-known tracks from his youth. "We lost so many artists," he said recently. "This is a way to bring some of them back." The crowd is young, chatty, stylish.

The first funky tune comes on, and two female friends get out on the floor, dancing close - the successors to those long-ago independent women.

Maybe there's somewhere else to be this evening, somewhere even better than this, but somehow I doubt it.



Phoenix Hotel: Small motel rooms tarted up in last year's reno, around a palm- and pool-filled courtyard - with Chambers, a funky resto-bar, attached. From $224 (U.S.). 601 Eddy St., 415-776-1380,


Farmer Brown: Jay and Deanna Foster have adapted the Southern and Creole recipes of their ancestors to the California setting, with fresh ingredients from (as the name suggests) small farms. Start with the barbecued baby-back ribs. 25 Mason St., 415-409-3276, Huxley: The 25 seats at this charming, small-plates boite are always full because the three young owners left jobs at some of the city's best restaurants to start it. 846 Geary St., 415-800-8223, The Market: A multirestaurant food hall in the base of the masterfully converted old Merchandise building where Twitter has set up shop - mainly, it serves the nearly 15,000 tech workers who have flooded the Tenderloin's fringes. 1355 Market St., 415-767-5130,


Aunt Charlie's Lounge: This tiny, sleepy gay bar becomes electric at its Thursday night disco dances and weekend drag shows. Variable cover. 133 Turk St., 415-441-2922, Bourbon & Branch: A bar out of a Dashiell Hammett thriller, a multiroomed, postmillennial speakeasy, with passwords (obtainable from the bar's website) a must for access. 501 Jones St., 415-346-1735,


The Magazine: This stylish shop, opened elsewhere in 1973, retails old issues of Life, Time and other more obscure titles, all of it giving some sense of the 20th century's passing show. 920 Larkin St., 415-441-7737,


Boeddeker Park: Those with an interest in urban writer Jane Jacobs's investigation of parks that do - and do not - work will want to guess at this new, innovative space's future. 295 Eddy St., 415-834-9943 Tenderloin Museum: Opened this summer, the museum adeptly tells the sui generis neighbourhood's story through multimedia exhibits about its past and walking tours through its present. $10, $15 with tour. 398 Eddie St., 415351-1912,

Associated Graphic

At the Phoenix Hotel's Chambers bar, you can brunch during the day or dance come nightfall.

A new park, built by the city at a cost of $9.3-million (U.S.), was named for the saintly Franciscan Rev. Alfred Boeddeker.


The Phoenix is a famous lodge with room for bands' tour buses.


For 51 days last summer, war broke out between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza, turning the frontier separating Palestinian and Israeli communities into a battlefield. Globe correspondent Patrick Martin and photographer Heidi Levine recently visited families in two communities near the border to see how the frontier, history and the scars of war divide them still
Tuesday, August 11, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A6

NAHAL OZ, ISRAEL SHEJAIA, GAZA -- When the smoke of battle had cleared from the 194849 war over the establishment of the state of Israel, Arabs who had lived on the land that is now Nahal Oz had fled to Gaza, taking refuge behind Egyptian lines.

Most planted themselves in Shejaia, a Gaza neighbourhood that looks out on the land they had left.

The years that followed were marked by cross-border raids and uneasy periods of calm. The residents of the Nahal Oz kibbutz enjoyed prosperity and, eventually, a sense of security, until the 51-day conflict in 2014, when a tunnel was dug from Shejaia to the kibbutz. Hamas fighters surfaced in a field and killed five Israeli soldiers before retreating to Gaza. Nahal Oz's sense of invulnerability was shattered, and the refuge of Shejaia was lost in Israel's punishing raids.

A year after the most devastating war between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, The Globe and Mail returned to the two communities most directly affected by the conflict - and found two peoples more committed than ever to the rightness of their conflicting causes.

Among the 70 young Israelis who first settled Nahal Oz in June, 1953, Sarah and Yankale Cohen are two of the five still living. Both were 19 when the project began, and in 1956 they married.

Like all the pioneers here, the Cohens' focus was on security, building communal facilities and farming. Mr. Cohen would eventually become a first-rate agronomist, specializing in potatoes.

Consulted the world over, he even spent three years in Egypt advising vegetable farmers there.

The couple bore four children.

They and the Cohens' 10 grandchildren do not live on the kibbutz. The children say they sought urban lifestyles and greater opportunities. The grandchildren come frequently to visit.

The Nahal Oz founders had wanted to establish their kibbutz on some elevated land farther back from the frontier. It was Israel's one-eyed military commander, General Moshe Dayan, who insisted that they put down roots right beside the border.

Around the country, such communities formed a set of boundary markers. Nahal Oz's proximity to the front line made it a frequent target.

When Nahal Oz's young head of security was ambushed and killed by fedayeen in 1956, Gen.

Dayan came to Nahal Oz himself to deliver the eulogy.

In a brief but famous address heard on Israel Radio, Gen.

Dayan told the mourners not to cast blame on the Arab attackers.

"For eight years they have been sitting in the refugee camps in Gaza," he reminded them, "and before their eyes we have been transforming the lands and the villages, where they and their fathers dwelt, into our estate."

The young people of Nahal Oz, he said, bear "the heavy gates of Gaza on [their] shoulders," a reference to the biblical Samson, who carried the gates to the top of a hill in Gaza that lies in sight of where the kibbutz now stands.

"This is the fate of our generation," he concluded, "to be prepared and armed, strong and determined, lest the sword be stricken from our fist and our lives cut down."

After the 1956 Sinai War, United Nations peacekeepers, including Canadian troops, helped to maintain a peace along the Gaza frontier.

Israel's occupation of Gaza after the 1967 Six-Day War created a period of greater calm on both sides. Palestinians travelled daily to work in Israeli fields and construction sites; Israelis from Nahal Oz and other border communities shopped in Gaza. Mr. Cohen said his dentist was in Gaza City.

People from Nahal Oz visited Gaza, including Ali al-Muntar, the hill where Samson had carried the Gates of Gaza. "From there, we could see right into our kibbutz," Mr. Cohen said.

Relations between the two sides grew worse during the first intifada of 1987-93, the second intifada of 2000-05 and Hamas's takeover of Gaza in 2007. Israeli campaigns in 2008-09 and 2012 against Hamas's firing of rockets at southern Israel caused a large number of casualties in Gaza and some in Israel.

The 2014 war was the most difficult for Nahal Oz's residents.

Shelling by Hamas and other groups was the heaviest ever.

Families with young children were encouraged to take shelter in other communities farther from the frontier.

The Cohens' four children encouraged their parents to move too. "We refused," Mr. Cohen said. "We had built this place and wouldn't be forced out by fear."

"Besides," he added, "we wanted the place to look good for when everyone returned [at the end of the war]."

Not everyone returned to Nahal Oz at the war's end. A four-yearold boy, Daniel Tragerman, was killed when a mortar shell fired from Gaza landed just outside his door. The Tragermans, along with 16 other families, opted to leave the kibbutz. More than the young boy's death, it was the fear of more Hamas tunnels that drove them away, Mr. Cohen said.

Hamas had used tunnels to bring goods into Gaza from Egypt when Israel closed all ports of entry in 2007, and to kidnap and hold for ransom an Israeli soldier in 2006. They also used them inside Gaza to store weapons, and provide an underground network for Hamas leaders during any conflict.

In 2014, more than a dozen tunnels were found to have been dug under the border with Israel, many of them originating in Shejaia. Four of them were used for raids on Israeli forces at various points along the frontier - the most deadly being the July 28 attack at Nahal Oz. "On July 28, everything changed," Mr. Cohen said. "The fear of the unknown gripped everyone."

The successful use of the tunnels to strike fear in their Israeli neighbours delighted Hamas.

Today, an overhead banner reassures people entering Shejaia that the deadly tunnel attack on Nahal Oz "won't be the last."

The Al Arier family owns land on both sides of the 1949 Armistice Line - most of it, they say, lies within what is now the military camp and kibbutz of Nahal Oz. When fighting broke out in 1948, the family patriarch, Mohamed Al Arier, fled into Gaza behind the safety of the Egyptian forces just a kilometre or two away.

Unable to return to the now-Israeli land, he built a home in Shejaia and raised his family.

These days, three of his four sons live in adjoining homes; the fourth moved to the West Bank.

His unmarried daughter, Fayza, lives in what little is left of her father's house. It was heavily damaged by Israeli shelling last year and shot up by Israeli forces who took cover inside it.

Since Hamas's takeover of Gaza in 2007 and Israel's closing of Gaza's airport, seaport and border crossings, the economy has been in a tailspin. Apart from growing some vegetables and raising a few camels on their property adjacent to the border with Israel, none of the Al Arier family members has had a job.

Khamis, 54, the eldest of Mohamed's sons, still is listed as an employee of the West Bankbased Palestinian Authority that used to administer things in Gaza, and he continues to collect a monthly paycheque - though someone from Hamas has actually filled the position.

The destruction of the family patriarch's home in Shejaia makes them thirst for their original land again.

Zarif, 11, and Hadi, 9, collect hay for the camels to eat. Hadi's father, Nabil, 47, said he named his son for "a martyr killed a few years ago." What he didn't say was that the "martyr" was Hadi Nasrallah, the 18-year-old son of the leader of Lebanon's militant Hezbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah.

That young man was killed in September, 1997, in a firefight with Israeli forces in Lebanon.

The Al Ariers appear to be keeping the fight against Israel foremost in the family's minds.

In Nahal Oz, on the Israeli side, many of the families with children have left the kibbutz. Most of the remaining 200 residents are older: Many of their grown children, like the Cohens', have elected to move into Tel Aviv or Jerusalem or to move abroad.

To help develop a new generation, the kibbutz has offered lowcost housing to young people fresh out of the military.

Yuval Levi, 22, was born on the Israeli settlement of Ariel and lived most recently in Modiin, a western-oriented city between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. She came to Nahal Oz because she craved getting away from mainstream Israeli society, she said.

"The sharing, co-operation and intimacy are values that are important to me," she said, adding that "the danger doesn't bother me." ONLINE Video Video: One year after the IsraelGaza war, The Globe's Patrick Martin visited two communities most directly affected by the conflict.

"I run every day around the perimeter of the kibbutz," she said - a practice that horrifies the Cohens, who have adopted her as one of their own.

Ms. Levi and her colleague Daniel Shimshon, 24, said they chose Nahal Oz because of what it went through in the summer of 2014.

They want to help the community recover and to get on with the business of settling the Negev desert area of southern Israel.

Meanwhile, most every evening, the Al Ariers bring their children to the property they own on the Gaza side of the frontier. They play with the camels the family raises and look out over the fields and settlement of Nahal Oz.

"Where's our land?" the parents ask, and all the children point immediately to the kibbutz on the other side.

One gets a very good view of Nahal Oz from the hill called Ali al-Muntar in Shejaia. This is the hill Samson is said to have climbed carrying the massive Gates of Gaza on his shoulder. It is a place that has been respected by Jews, Christians and Muslims for centuries.

Last summer, the mosque that has been atop this hill for 100 years or more was destroyed by Israeli shelling.

Associated Graphic

A painted window and cat adorn the outer wall of Sarah and Yankale Cohen's bomb shelter in Nahal Oz.


In 1948, Mohamed Al Arier fled with his family to Gaza, settling in Shejaia where they built a home. His daughter, Fayza, lives there still, though the home was severely damaged in 2014.

General Moshe Dayan, who insisted Nahal Oz be established along the border, reads a eulogy for a security officer killed near the Gaza Strip in 1956.


Sarah and Yankale Cohen, in their wedding picture from 1956 and today, were two of the original Nahal Oz settlers.


Sharef Yousef Al Arier stands with his children in front of his parent's home, which was severely damaged by Israeli shelling last year.

Yankale Cohen stands next to a sculpture of himself and the other founding members of Nahal Oz.


Courting controversy
Supporters see urban courts as safe spaces for youth to play - and grow. Opponents fear drugs and violence. Dakshana Bascaramurty reports on the standoff over basketball and community
Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M1

Tristen Mason, all bent knees, dangling arms and furrowed brow, takes several decisive steps backwards as he guards an opponent who is dribbling up the court. The 19-year-old's gaze darts around, checking other players in his periphery. The intensity of his movements breaks for a moment - as does game play - when a woman in a salwar kameez obliviously, comically, pushes a stroller right through the middle of the court, her two young children, faces buried in snow cones, shuffling alongside.

Such are the perils of playing pick-up basketball on a "court" that is really just two portable nets set up for a community barbecue in the parking lot of a suburban plaza beside a bouncy castle and shaved ice stand.

On a recent scorching August day, this was one of the few places the basketball-crazed teens in the neighbourhood of Colonial Terrace in south Mississauga could play five-on-five, practice alley-oops and even throw down a handful of dunks on nets that were mercifully lower than NBA regulation height.

But by next summer, Mr. Mason and his crew should have a brand new court to call their own - one where the nets are actually planted into the ground - thanks to a $225,000 grant from the MLSE Foundation.

It took local youth six years to get it. The reasons for the extended delay include a reported lack of available funds and an excess of bureaucratic red tape. The length of the process also highlighted the sometimes racial tensions that surround the sport and the role it plays in the community.

In the GTA, no public park facilities are more fraught than basketball courts - which, despite their popularity, are fewer in number than other recreational facilities. At a public meeting held to discuss the proposed Colonial Terrace basketball court before it was approved, many residents listed off the things they thought a court would attract: drugs, violence, disrespect of older people.

"We know that the first thing that goes wrong in the court, people are going to be up in arms," says Darcy MacCallum, executive director of the Erin Mills Youth Centre, who had advocated for the court.

"Any time this community has been in the news it's been because of violence," Mr. McCallum says. "It overshadows all the resilience and good things around here."

At that meeting, advocates had to reassure residents there would be a fence around the court, it would be locked at certain hours, it would be supervised at all times. It was a hard-won battle, just for a court.

Black youth in Peel Region (composed of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) feel that recreational facilities in their communities don't reflect their interests, according to a May report by United Way Peel. Some specifically noted that hockey rinks and baseball diamonds are plentiful, but basketball courts, the preference of many, are not.

The ones that do exist sometimes suffer from the city's neglect. As a result, some kids use hard-earned cash from part-time jobs to play basketball at the private gyms nearby. Others will bike or take a bus to shoot hoops at public courts across town, where playing every weeknight could mean $30 each week in transit fare.

"Programming, for the most part, does not take into consideration the context and the lived experiences of black youth and black families in the region," says Sharon Douglas, the director of community investment at United Way Peel.

From Mississauga to Brampton, Etobicoke to North York, opponents have decried courts as magnets for drug dealers and violence. Community organizers and non-profits, meanwhile, insist courts have the opposite effect on neighbourhoods: free courts provide a space for black youth to safely gather, United Way Peel's president Shelley White says.

Mr. Mason, the son of Grenadian immigrants, interprets opposition to the court as veiled racism.

"Some people saying that building a basketball court is just gonna bring drug dealers and all that? That's just people who don't like us," he says.

He says he's been hassled by police many times before and made to feel unwelcome by neighbours when hanging out with friends.

"I'll give one of my friends a high five - they think I'm selling drugs," he says.

While a group of white teens gathering at a park or in a mall are "hanging out," if they're black, they are often seen as "loitering," Ms. White says.

At a public court in Mississauga that 16-year-old Shayla Parkinson plays at, unprovoked and unwarranted visits by police became a regular occurrence.

"When they first had the net out, and people started playing later into the night, [cops] would drive by and be asking questions," she says.

Peel Regional Police did not make the force's chief or deputy chiefs available for an interview.

A spokesperson said the force does not have data on policing basketball courts.

To some, the patrolling of courts seems necessary. Opponents point to the gun violence that has sprung up around them in the past decade: between 2008 and 2010, at least four serious shootings happened on basketball courts in the GTA, three of them fatal.

One occurred near Dixon and Islington, a neighbourhood made infamous in 2013 after police conducted a major drugs and weapons raid of six towers - the culmination of a year-long investigation called Project Traveller, which involved the video of former Toronto mayor Rob Ford allegedly smoking crack.

What has happened to the Dixon basketball court suggests that it may not be the sport or the players that are the problem, but rather public spaces that aren't maintained.

A decade before the Project Traveller raids, that same stretch of Dixon was in the papers for another reason: former Toronto Raptors legend Vince Carter, perhaps the most beloved athlete in the city at the time, donated $130,000 through his foundation to open a public basketball court.

At the time, The Globe and Mail described it as the "'Rolls-Royce' of outdoor basketball courts" and more than 1,000 residents showed up for its unveiling.

Community organizer Munira Abukar says when she and her brother would attend Sunday morning Islamic classes in the towers a decade ago, she'd go home right after, but her brother wouldn't return until late in the afternoon. Like dozens of other youth in the area, he was content waiting hours for a chance to play a pick-up game on the famous neighbourhood court.

These days, the backboards are rusted. One rim has no net; the other is torn-up and ratty: like a once-voluminous coif thinned to a comb-over. Empty water bottles, McDonald's cups and even an old 3.8-litre bleach container are scattered over the grass around the court. For a stretch, even the rims were taken down, effectively rendering the cityowned court useless.

Some parents are leery of sending their kids to the court at night, since some of the lights installed there often don't work and its location, right on Dixon, makes it "perfect for a drive-by."

When the nets are cut down or rims go missing, youth also avoid the court. Ms. Abukar can remember at least two shootings that have happened here.

In 1982, George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson popularized the "broken windows theory" in the Atlantic Monthly, arguing that swift repairs to broken windows or cleaning up litter before it accumulated were necessary to prevent damage from escalating and eventually turning a neighbourhood into a hotbed for delinquency.

"There's so many small things that if management took care to, if the city took care to, it would make the space really different," Ms. Abukar says.

All of the city's 133 outdoor courts are maintained and cleaned on a weekly basis, according to the parks department, but Ms. Abukar believes the Dixon one is far more neglected than its downtown counterparts.

Richard Ubbens, the director of parks for the City of Toronto, said maintenance priorities are dictated by use.

"I'd rather fix a light on a tennis court that's in use every day than send a staff person to hang a backboard when I know that there's a small group that's there every other week," he said.

This underscores the need for well-maintained courts. When they're in good shape, they attract exactly what they're supposed to: basketball.

Northeast of Etobicoke, in Humberlea, was a court that received even less love than the Dixon one. In 2008, local Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti famously removed the nets, claiming the use of the court had transitioned from basketball to drug dealing.

"We don't welcome the concept, at all, of gang bangers ... selling drugs on outdoor basketball courts," he said in a recent interview.

Loitering at night was a problem on the court in Strathburn Park, too, he explained, and there was, "a lot of yelling, a lot of screaming, a lot of fights, a lot of guns."

Mr. Mammoliti said he was told by police in 31 Division about the crime happening on the courts.

Following public consultation, the courts were eventually removed and replaced with ball hockey facilities. Crime has dropped dramatically both in the park and across his ward since then, he says.

Constable Victor Kwong, a spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said in an e-mail, "I would not be able to verify that.

Corporately, that is not a stat we keep."

In her community, Ms. Abukar says basketball serves a greater purpose than pure leisure.

"There's actually a real psychological, emotional, spiritual and physical benefit of playing basketball together with your friends. It saves a lot of young lives," she says.

Back in Mississauga, Mr. Mason, who has been playing ball since Grade 1, says his neighbourhood has its share of roughness - there was a stabbing by the townhouses in June; three years earlier, a double shooting - but he doesn't expect that a new court will make those occurrences more common. If anything, it may help to calm tempers, he says.

"People can have problems, but if you get basketball involved, it's like, whatever problem you have outside, it gets dropped when we're on the court," he says, glancing over at the temporary nets where the group he just played with is practising their free throws and layups. "Everyone's gonna leave their drama at home."

Follow me on Twitter: @DakGlobe

Associated Graphic

Youth from the Colonial Terrace neighbourhood will get a new court next year. Until then, temporary nets, private gyms or courts across town will have to suffice.


Kids play on a temporary court set up by the Erin Mills Youth Centre during an event in a parking lot in Mississauga.


Tristen Mason fixes the chain mesh on the temporary rim. Youth in Peel often have nowhere nearby to play the game.

Brilliant biographer relished a challenge
The first female professor at U of T's English department, she eventually took part in a fight for pay equity
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S10

In the weeks before she died, on Aug. 2 at the age of 91, Phyllis Grosskurth constantly chivvied her son about booking a trip for them to Bermuda. Incapacitated and in a wheelchair after a stroke paralyzed her left side 12 years earlier, still she yearned to stay at a lovely hotel and take a ride on a glass-bottom boat.

"I've been checking online," Brian Grosskurth hedged. "Are you up for it?" "Of course," she replied. "What a stupid question."

So it went with Dr. Grosskurth, who spent a lifetime making things happen. Impatient, brilliant and curious, she destroyed barriers she faced, first as a notso-traditional naval wife who raised three children while studying and teaching, and then as an author who won the Governor-General's Award for her first book, a meticulously crafted biography of the 19th-century literary critic, poet and homosexual John Addington Symonds, published in 1964.

Known as Pat to her friends - a shortened version of her childhood nickname, Patsy - she would go on to become one of Canada's pre-eminent biographers, tackling challenging subjects such as Melanie Klein, Havelock Ellis and Lord Byron.

As a young mother newly arrived in London in 1960, when her first husband, Robert Grosskurth, was stationed at the Canadian High Commission, she confronted a city still rooted in Old England. Businessmen went to work each morning in dark suits and bowler hats, decorously carrying wood-handled umbrellas as if they were escorting them to a formal dance, while women mostly stayed at home.

Somehow, she managed to work on her doctorate in literature at the University of London, care for the family and hone her skills in the kitchen with cookbooks by Elizabeth David, whom she revered. "I remember her walking with me to the Tube in the morning, and I thought it was quite normal that she should go off to do research at the library and I go to school," her son Brian, an art history professor at Toronto's York University, recalled.

"She combatted some of those stuffy attitudes in London in her own inimitable way. When she came up against anti-North Americanism at the University of London, for example, she overcame it by impressing a skeptical supervisor by doing a brilliant seminar presentation - period."

With a passion for ferreting out secrets and all things Victorian, Dr. Grosskurth knew she had hit the motherlode in the early 1960s when she found a cache of unpublished letters and documents in a London library by and about Symonds. Although he was married and had four daughters, he was also gay, writing homoerotic poetry, essays and books such as Male Love - A Problem in Greek Ethics and Other Writings.

For a woman who dreamed when she was young of becoming a detective, the project was fascinating as it drew back a heavy damask curtain on an era with strict mores and intolerance for all things considered unnatural. In her 1999 memoir, Elusive Subject: A Biographer's Life, Dr. Grosskurth recalled those years as the turning point of her life: She realized she was the author of her own life and was not dependent on anyone else.

Phyllis Langstaff was born in Toronto on March 16, 1924, the eldest of Milton Langstaff and Winnifred Owen's four children.

Her father helped found Imperial Life Insurance Co., and her early years were spent in a grand house with a modicum of servants and luxury.

When the Great Depression hit, her father's investments proved worthless and the family was forced to move to rented accommodation in the northern reaches of Toronto as they tried to recoup what they had lost. Her father worked hard selling life insurance and encyclopedias and there was some judicious investment in property that brought dividends.

Throughout her elementary and high school years, young Patsy attended St. Clements, an independent Anglican school for girls in Forest Hill, where she was a top student. She studied English literature at the University of Toronto, where Robert Grosskurth, who was a year or two ahead of her at school, swept her off her feet at a Sigma Chi fraternity party. He was charming, ebullient and nearly as voracious a reader as she, and they could discuss, argue and dissect the finer points of a piece of writing for hours.

They married in 1948, two years after her graduation, and for nearly 20 years the lively conversations continued, through moves dictated by his job as a naval officer across Canada and to London and even after there were young children around the dinner table - first Christopher, then Brian, then Anne. "They had adult conversations and they never talked down to us," Brian recalled.

But her husband was also absent from home for long stretches of time, in South Korea and elsewhere, which meant she had to cope with the challenges of single parenting while pursuing a degree.

"She was not a helicopter mother," Brian said. "Her motto was, 'Love your kids and give them a long lead.' When I was 17, for example, she let me go to Paris by myself. Of course, for years afterward, she would say that she'd done so against all her better instincts - and it all worked out." Back in Canada by the mid-1960s, Dr. Grosskurth became the first female professor in the University of Toronto's English department. Bronwyn Drainie, until recently the editor of the Literary Review of Canada, recalls a teacher who never acquiesced to expectations that she tailor her appearance so as to appear serious, with thickrimmed glasses and severely cut suits.

"She was a flirtatious creature and a heavy-duty thinker all at once," said Ms. Drainie, who was a student in Dr. Grosskurth's graduate seminar in 19th-century literature. "She'd sit on the desk at the front of the room, cross her legs in her miniskirt and high-heeled shoes - the guys in the class were not listening to her lecture about John Stuart Mill - and then she'd hit you with her big brain."

As passionate as Dr. Grosskurth was about clothes and designers such as Giorgio Armani, she had to buy them on sale, what Anne Grosskurth says her mother called a "beautiful bargain."

"She was about 5 feet 6 inches, but the way she carried herself in clothes that were colourful and vibrant, and the way she was opinionated and engaged, make people remember her as an outsize character," her daughter said.

According to her children, the only things Dr. Grosskurth didn't like were becoming embroiled in controversy and political infighting. But she didn't shy away from it, either - not when there was something at stake.

That's what happened when she and several other former female professors spearheaded a challenge in 2001 against the University of Toronto on the grounds that years of wage discrimination had left some of them living on the edge of poverty with pensions that were markedly less than those of male colleagues. The women had retired before equal-pay legislation forced U of T in 1991 to review the salaries of female academics and make adjustments for those who were underpaid compared with men: No matter how good or prolific they had been throughout their careers, they were still out in the cold.

At the time, Dr. Grosskurth, who in 2000 had been named an officer of the Order of Canada, stated: "We have exhausted every effort short of this. We have no other alternative."

The women hired constitutional lawyer Mary Eberts to plead their case. In an interview, she recalled that although equal-pay legislation was first enacted in Ontario in 1951, a sociologist she hired to research the case found that until just before the 1991 decision, there had not been a single year when women were paid the same as men at U of T.

"The law as it stood in 1951 was that women had to be paid for equal work, not for work of equal value," Ms. Eberts said.

"The university's position was that we'd have to show the work of each female professor was equal to the work of appropriate male 'comparers.' But what do you do when you're not appointed to prestige committees or were assigned to teach undergraduates, whereas men were giving graduate classes?" While the battle raged in court, Dr. Grosskurth, with her connections, continued the fight in the city's drawing rooms, getting the word out and gaining allies.

In the end, the case was resolved a year later through mediation, the terms of which both sides had to keep confidential. But U of T professor Vivek Goel, then vice-provost, said in a statement: "Despite our efforts to promote and advance genderequity principles, the results ... indicate that the university failed to achieve fairness."

Along the way, Dr. Grosskurth's first marriage ended, and in 1968 she wed Mavor Moore, one of Canada's most influential arts figures; the union lasted 10 years and they remained friendly after they split. He was with her when she bought the little house in Toronto's historic Cabbagetown neighbourhood, in which she would happily spend much of the rest of her life with her third husband, Bob McMullan, a tall, gentle-spoken man whom she had first dated as a student at U of T.

They married in 1986, and until she had the stroke in late 2002 they lived a life filled with parties, friends and acquaintances.

They would come for tea, for Scotch, gin fizzes and sherry, for supper and stimulating talk. The house was her refuge, something she had bought with her own money. She thought she would die there.

Throughout her life, there were challenges: bouts with breast cancer and leukemia; the 2013 death of her eldest son, CBC radio journalist Christopher Grosskurth, at the age of 64; and the death of Mr. McMullan in January of this year. But she always fought back, refusing to give in. She could be abrupt, especially when she moved for good to a nursing home, because she hated being treated like an invalid. But there were still wonderful moments, such as planning trips she would never take or watching all 38 episodes of the TV series The Tudors with her son.

"She was someone who made things happen in her life," Brian said. "Mum made her own luck."

Dr. Grosskurth leaves her son Brian; daughter, Anne; and five grandchildren.

To submit an I Remember:

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

Associated Graphic

Phyllis Grosskurth was one of Canada's pre-eminent biographers, tackling important subjects such as Melanie Klein, Havelock Ellis and Lord Byron. She won a Governor-General's Award for her first book, a meticulously crafted biography of the 19th-century poet John Addington Symonds, published in 1964.


Science in transition
Medical experts have long thought transgender issues are rooted in conditions ranging from chromosomal abnormalities to psychiatric disorders. But as Sarah Hampson reports, research into the biological underpinnings of gender identity is now concluding what transgender people have said all along: It's how our brains are wired
Monday, July 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

In the winter of 1989, a truth emerged about Billy Tipton that shocked his family - and the world. The celebrated jazz pianist of the 1930s was 74 by then, suffering from a hemorrhaging peptic ulcer. He had refused to go to the doctor. Impoverished, he was living with one of his three adopted sons. Paramedics were summoned. It was while they were trying to save his life that they made a shocking discovery. Tipton was a biological female.

His children had no idea. And neither did his ex. He died before he could explain. Born Dorothy Tipton, he had started dressing as a man for professional reasons, but soon lived openly as male. To his female partners - he had had several long-term relationships - he told a story that he had been in a terrible accident that left him with damaged ribs (hence the need for permanent bandages) and genitals.

The Tipton story is one of many that people cite when explaining that transgender figures have always existed - only hidden from view. Today, in part due to the recent emergence of Caitlyn Jenner and shows such as Transparent and Orange is the New Black, they're part of daily life.

That visibility has also come as a result of the community's pentup exasperation about being misunderstood, marginalized and mistreated. Historically, a lack of knowledge about gender identity has resulted in problematic therapies. But now, finally, medical professionals and researchers are starting to pay attention, paving the way for a better understanding of transgender people and how to help them.

Just as homosexuality was once seen as a pathological disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), gender identity issues (called "gender dysphoria" in the DSM) could eventually lose that psychiatric classification.

For years, doctors and scientists had a fixed idea of what constituted a "healthy" expression of gender. People who were pressured to conform to a gender norm included trans people and intersex patients, whose genitals were considered ambiguous or non-normative at birth. According to the Intersex Society of North America, these pressures still exist: 1 or 2 in 1,000 babies undergo surgeries to "normalize" genital appearance at birth.

But now there's mounting evidence that gender identity is rooted in the brain. In January this year, neuroscience researchers at the University of Vienna in Austria discovered "strong differences" in the microstructure of brain connections of cisgender control subjects (men and women who identity with their biological sex) and transgender people.

Using a specialized MRI technique that allows them to study brain wiring, they found "these differences in really almost all networks in the brain. It was quite a huge finding," one of the researchers, Georg Kranz, says in a phone interview. On a spectrum of neurological characteristics, whose two polarities are defined by the cisgender female brain and the cisgender male brain, the characteristics of the brains of transgender people, on average, fell somewhere in the middle.

"We show that trans sexuality is a human biological variation, and I think that is a kind of relief for transgender people," Kranz says.

One of the leading experts on the subject is Dick Swaab, professor of neurobiology at the University of Amsterdam and author of the book We Are Our Brains. According to his theory, which the researchers at University of Vienna share, the male hormone, testosterone, plays a key role in shaping the parts of our brain that influence gender identities. This happens in the womb during the second of two phases. In the first half of gestation, surges of testosterone - or the absence of it - influence the development of the genitals as male or female. In the second half of fetal development, testosterone surges - or their absence - shape the brain in terms of gender identity in the female or male direction.

His findings in the 1990s led to important amendments in Europe for trans people, such as allowing them to use their gender identity rather than their biological sex on their passports.

But his work has also met with controversy. The idea that male, female and transgender brains are different upsets feminists, for example, who maintain gender is a social construct.

("Nonsense," Swaab says to me, when I float this idea.) In the eighties, he also identified the "gay brain," which caused the homosexual community to suspect that some form of intervention was his true motive.

"It's just a matter of interest in brain development," Swaab explains on the phone. "And let's not forget, it was once said about homosexuality that it was a choice, and some called it a political choice. And when I said the choice was made for you in the womb, people became very angry. But nowadays, it's very well accepted that it's programmed into the brain and cannot be changed."

To emphasize that gender identity is set before birth, Swaab, as well as others familiar with the medical history and work in gender identity, point to the case of David Reimer, a boy born in 1966. A botched circumcision at birth left him without a penis, and John William Money, a psychologist and leader in gender identity issues at the time, convinced the parents that sex reassignment surgery would be in the child's best interest. His testes were surgically removed at 22 months. He was named Brenda, raised as a girl and given female hormones at puberty. Money, insisting that gender identity was learned and not innate, published the case as a success.

It was not. Witnessing their child's distress and trauma, the parents refused to let the doctor create an artificial vagina at a later age. Since the age of 9, Reimer failed to identify as female. At 15, he transitioned to living as male. After a series of hardships in adult life, he committed suicide in 2004.

"This case shows that you can do whatever you want after birth. But you don't change gender identity," Swaab says.

Recently, a study at the University of Washington focused on prepubescent transgender children, which appears to support the notion of innate gender identity. The study sample was composed of transgender children, whose parents support their gender identity, with a control group of children who identify with their natal sex.

Researchers used the children's own self-reporting about gender as well as psychological tests that assess the speed with which they associate various concepts of male and female.

"We were a bit surprised," says Kristina Olson, a social psychologist and the lead researcher on the study. "We found that transgender boys respond like boys, not girls, and trans girls respond like girls and not boys. This suggests that gender identity is not something the kids are just saying or pretending or doing to be oppositional."

The research is the start of a longitudinal study. Olson wanted to help families with transgender children by providing research that could help them make decisions about how to handle the issue. In Canada, 22 to 43 per cent of trans people report a history of suicide attempts, according to Trans Pulse, a research initiative with Rainbow Health Ontario. "These kids are gender pioneers. We want to see if the statistics on mental-health issues will apply or not," Olson says.

The rising awareness of transgender issues is causing changes in medical practices as well.

"Medical schools are going to study this area," says Joshua Safer, a professor of transgender medicine at Boston University, one of the few medical schools to have gender identity on the curriculum. "I'm just an endocrinologist ... I was handed the transgender issue [in 2004] because I'm a nice guy. No one else would do it because of the stigma."

Safer is now a spokesperson for the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, an international, interdisciplinary non-profit medical organization that provides standards of care for the transgender community. "Most medical schools across the U.S. and Canada will have courses on what is called cultural competency - being appropriate to patients who might be different from yourself, and how to be a good professional in that instance. That might be about LGB [lesbian, gay, bisexual]. But that's it."

Now is a sanguine moment in the trans community. There is still much to be done to fight transphobia and provide broad medical support in some parts of the country but society's growing understanding of their reality - and the increasing number of role models - provide valuable support.

Their journey has not been easy. Over the past few months, I sat down with transgender people, young and old, and each time came away with admiration for their courage to live an authentic life - something we all give lip service to, but which, for them, comes with enormous sacrifice and risk.

Susan Gapka is a tall and fit 56-year-old, a grandmotherly figure in the Toronto trans community. Dressed in a dusty-rose business suit, she lays out the trans issues methodically and gently - the lack of access to medical care, the history of electroshock therapy as a treatment, struggles with unemployment and housing due to transphobia. The founder of the Trans Lobby Group in Toronto, she lived the first 41 years of her life as a man. There was a heterosexual marriage, followed by separation and a 10-year period of substance abuse and homelessness. Fifteen years ago, Gapka realized she had to address her distress over gender identity and began to present publicly as a woman.

I met Gapka last month during the week that Bill 77, a landmark piece of legislation passed in Ontario, banning gender "conversion" therapies for those under the age of 18 and protecting gender identity and gender expression under the Human Rights code. "I was shaking. I have seen a lot of change," she told me. For many years, people in the trans community have been concerned about the controversial "conversion" therapy in the Children's Gender Clinic of Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. But no one would listen, they say.

Currently, Bill C-279, which proposes a similar amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, is under debate in the Senate.

While new medical research is validating for transgender people, none of them have been waiting for it to emerge. Few see the emerging science as having any significance beyond helping heteronormative people in the wider culture accept an alternative reality.

"Science is great if people need that kind of authority in order to believe something," one person explained to me, echoing the sentiment of many.

"But I don't need science to tell me who I am."

Associated Graphic

Susan Gapka was happy about an Ontario bill that banned gender 'conversion' therapies for those under the age of 18.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015


A Life article on Monday incorrectly said that Bill 77, a 2015 Ontario statute, protects gender identity and gender expression under the Ontario Human Rights Code. In fact, an Ontario bill of 2012 enacted that. Bill 77 prohibits health-care treatments that try to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of someone younger than 18. The story also said incorrectly that Bill C-279, a private member's bill in the federal Parliament, was under debate in the Senate. In fact, Bill C-279 recently died in the Senate.

A journey up the B.C. coast is a chance to take in some of Canada's most beautiful wilderness - and confront some of our country's turbulent past
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, August 11, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

TELEGRAPH COVE, B.C. -- 'Let's bring lunch to some friends of mine," Gordie Graham, the tall, gruff, grey-haired owner of Telegraph Cove Resort, says as he carries a fishing pole, a stick and his tiny dog, Sally, down a steep metal ramp to a waiting boat. The forecast had predicted 11 degrees and drizzle, but there's warm sunlight on my face as we pull away from the cove and cruise along the shore, my hair blowing furiously in the wind.

The boat slows down and Graham readies his fishing rod as I spy bald eagles landing in the trees above us.

"They know," he says, our boat drifting as he dangles his line in the water, then, almost immediately, reels in a fish, knocks it out and tosses it in a clean curve toward the water. Just as immediately, one of these friends of his, the bald eagles, which have played this game before, swoops down to seize the fish in its talons, then soars away to enjoy its freshly delivered lunch. "A woman said to me once, 'You're going to make those eagles dependent on you,' " Graham says. "I said, 'You don't know what a crappy fisherman I am.'

"The British Columbia coast is renowned for its wildlife and wild places, and for good reason. The densely forested mountains, deep fjords and places in between are just as spectacular on sunny, blue-skied mornings as on grey, drizzly afternoons when the tops of the trees seem to melt into the bottom of the clouds. On my journey from the towns of Telegraph Cove and Port Hardy on northern Vancouver Island to Prince Rupert at the edge of the Alaska panhandle, I hike past black bears, kayak among seals, boat alongside pods of dolphins, and hear and see a humpback whale as it blows, then dives for food.

But it's the people I meet along the way that truly make the trip memorable.

Take Mike Willie, the soft-spoken yet talkative owner of tour company Sea Wolf Adventures and a member of the Musgamagw Dzawada'enuxw nation, a group of four of the 18 tribes of the Kwakwaka'wakw people, the speakers of the Kwak'wala language, whose territory centres on northeastern Vancouver Island and the northern B.C. coast.

I had first met Willie a year earlier in Victoria, at the opening of the Royal B.C. Museum's Our Living Languages exhibit on the province's huge diversity of First Nations languages, which runs through to June, 2017. Then, he was in his role as champion of indigenous language revitalization, the work of facilitating the use of First Nations languages by their communities and, especially, of teaching them to their children. But today, he has on his tourism hat - literally, as he's wearing a Sea Wolf ball cap - as he picks up our group at Telegraph Cove to give us a sample of the cultural tours his company offers to visitors.

Of course, the two roles are strongly connected, although they might fall under separate columns on a government spreadsheet. As an educator in his community, Willie realized two things.

First, learning the language isn't just about grammar and vocabulary - it requires pride in speaking the ancestral tongue, something many elders (the majority of fluent speakers) had lost as part of the legacy of the residential school system, and the community had yet to regain. Second, a new source of revenue is needed for education and cultural programs beyond government funding. "I started the business to try to turn the revenues into opportunities for our elders to get back out there on the land," Willie told me in Victoria.

"It's about reconnecting the youth to the land base instead of being stuck on our little reserves that the government laid out for us. We need to get connected to our ancestors' homelands."

What this means for tourists is exposure both to hard historical truths and to lighter ways of everyday being. Tours with Sea Wolf can be customized and might include a traditional salmon barbecue, dance performances by local children or wildlife viewing. Today, though, we're focused on history, and once we dock in Alert Bay, we head straight for the U'mista Cultural Centre, run by a society whose mandate is "to ensure the survival of all aspects of the cultural heritage of the Kwakwaka'wakw." The centre's main exhibit is a collection of carved masks and ceremonial objects that had been confiscated as part of anti-potlatch persecution in the 1920s and taken to museums in Canada, the United States and England.

While artifacts from institutions such as the Royal Ontario Museum and the Smithsonian Institution have been repatriated (in 1988 and 2002, respectively), many are still missing.

Outside, there's a huge empty space where Alert Bay's St. Michael's Indian Residential School once stood, housing about 200 students from as far as Prince Rupert and Campbell River. Its very recent demolition was a difficult decision in a community split between those who wanted the building gone and those who, like Willie and his brother K'odi Nelson, thought it was an important educational tool. "We literally had travellers in tears because they had no idea what happened to our people," Willie says.

Even for those who are aware of the legacy of the residential school system, the histories and photos on display bring out strong emotions, as do the stories Willie and Nelson share of the burdens their own parents carry from their time at St. Michael's - although many of their tales are positive, examples of the resilience First Nations communities have displayed through these challenging past few centuries.

The most obvious example is Sea Wolf itself, and its model of lowimpact, respectful aboriginal tourism aimed at bringing in income to provide opportunities for the community. "That's what it is like for me - being independent," says Willie. "To go back prior to that 1950 mark, and everybody's working."

We experience another model of sustainable tourism in Prince Rupert, the day after a 16-hour ferry ride northward through the spectacular scenery of the Inside Passage. Like travelling in a bygone age, the route is almost entirely free of either WiFi or cell service, so we fill the time with sunbathing, dining (including an outdoor lunchtime barbecue), gigabytes of photo ops and many games of cribbage.

The next day, our bright yellow boat with Prince Rupert Adventure Tours might be smaller, but it's no less comfortable. As we journey toward the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary, a provincial park established in 1994 to help protect grizzly bear habitat, staff take lunch orders and explain bear etiquette: No food on deck, no loud noise and no flashes are allowed.

Though the breeze is cool, the sky is a brilliant blue - not typical weather here in the rainiest part of the country - and the snowy peaks of the Coast Mountains before us jut into the sky. The first grizzly we spot is a little distant, but the second is easier to see, a blond with big ears munching on huge clumps of protein-rich sedge grass, the bulk of the bears' diet this time of year. The third, a darker-coloured grizzly, is wandering along a sandbar, digging for clams, swatting flies and occasionally plopping down for a rest.

En route back to Prince Rupert, I go up to the bridge for a chat with owner Doug Davis. While he enjoys watching the grizzlies - and has an iPad full of impressive photography to prove it - it's whale-watching season he enjoys the most, which conveniently begins just as the bears head upriver and out of sight to feast on salmon. "Everyone wants to see the orcas, but it's the humpbacks that are remarkable," he says, explaining how groups of the whales will work together to trap fish through a method called bubble-netting. At peak season, he adds, there might be more than 70 humpbacks at a time in the area.

That said, we're focused on the grizzlies right now, and the fact that today, with its multiple sightings, was a light day bodes well for anyone who joins Davis and his team on a tour. "Next year's going to be a bumper year for cubs" because of all the mating behaviour they've been spotting this year. By protecting the bears, letting them live their lives as undisturbed as possible, viewing opportunities - and the revenue that comes with them - are maximized. "It's a bear's world up there," Davis says, "and we get to witness it - that's what's really special."

The writer travelled as a guest of Destination B.C. It did not review or approve this article.


Fly to Port Hardy from Vancouver on Pacific Coastal Airlines ( Telegraph Cove is an hour away. Alternatively, take the ferry to Nanaimo and drive north to Telegraph Cove, about four hours. Air Canada flies daily between Prince Rupert and Vancouver (

Daytime sailings on the BC Ferries Inside Passage ferry between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert run only in the summer, with southbound and northbound on alternating days. Reservations are strongly advised.


Accommodations in the colourfully painted cabins at the picturesque Telegraph Cove Resort offer amenities such as full kitchens and wood-burning fireplaces, as well as on-site restaurants.

From $100 a night. Request a harbour-facing room at Prince Rupert's Crest Hotel for stellar views of the city's waterfront. From $139 a night.


Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures offers kayaking day tours from Telegraph Cove and multiday trips (from four to 15 days, various departure points). Boat-based cultural tours from Sea Wolf Adventures might include traditional dance performances, a totem pole burial ground interpretation or an examination of culturally modified trees. Seasonal grizzly bear and whale watching excursions with Prince Rupert Adventure Tours might include sightings of porpoises, seals, sea lions, bald eagles and blue herons Reservations recommended.

Associated Graphic

Once the site of northern Vancouver Island's only telegraph station, Telegraph Cove is now home to a handful of year-round residents.


Beautiful hiking trails abound in northern British Columbia, including the easy five-kilometre Butze Rapids loop near Prince Rupert, above. Bald eagles, such as the one below, are also common in the area.


Brian Jean enters critical stretch
Wildrose leader maintains campaign focus on health care in memory of son, Michael, who died in March
Thursday, April 23, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A12

CALGARY -- Brian Jean tries to talk about his leadership of Alberta's Wildrose Party but he's overcome by tears.

"It's hard," he says, dabbing his eyes with a tissue. "I'm sorry."

In the throes of a surprisingly competitive provincial election campaign, Mr. Jean's decision to enter provincial politics remains a difficult conversation point. It forces the former Conservative MP to draw on fresh and painful memories of the nearly four months he spent at the hospital bedside of his 24-year-old son, Michael, as doctors tried to diagnose his illness. By the time they identified the problem - lymphoma - it was too late. Michael died on March 20, and his father's experience with the health-care system spurred him to seek the Wildrose leadership.

His son will likely not be far from Mr. Jean's thoughts Thursday night as he faces off against his political rivals in the first televised leaders' debate of the campaign. There is much riding on the event for all four leaders involved, but perhaps more so for Mr. Jean, 52, who is the least known of the group - a fact that defies his party's consistent lead in the polls. If he's asked why he wants to become premier, he will have to recall the heartbreaking loss of someone he calls "my best friend."

"My son's illness was my first real occasion dealing with the health-care system in Alberta and I was utterly shocked and disgusted," Mr. Jean says through more tears. "The system is horribly broken. It's focused on treatment and not focused on actually healing people. We need to put our resources where they matter - on the front line, to serve people.

Michael is why I decided to run."

In talking about his son, the Wildrose Leader chronicles a nightmarish medical experience.

He says Michael was misdiagnosed seven times and was given the wrong medicine on at least two occasions, once creating serious liver problems. He also had nine biopsies. Shortly after the proper diagnosis was reached, Michael had a related brain hemorrhage and died.

"It was tragic," Mr. Jean says.

"There is no other word for it.

Just an awful thing to go through for everyone."

Not surprisingly, Mr. Jean has made health care a major component of his campaign. This week, the party vowed to address waiting times for critical procedures such as hip replacements and radiation therapy. In some instances, the delays are exceeding established benchmarks by as much as 23 weeks, according to Wildrose. Mr. Jean says his party would expand private clinics and ship people out of the province and even the country if that is necessary for them to get access to treatment in reasonable time.

If recent polls are to be believed, Mr. Jean could soon be in a position to carry through on his promise. Almost from the beginning of the campaign, Wildrose has been at the top of virtually every opinion survey taken.

Many people, however, remain skeptical about the numbers - including Mr. Jean. "I don't trust them," he says with a smile.

Still, he does believe there is a strong undercurrent of anger among the Alberta public. He believes people are mad about the early election call by the Progressive Conservatives, about tax increases in the recent provincial budget, about the governing party's perceived role in the mass defection of Wildrosers to the government benches late last year.

Sitting in a modest motor home (his own) that serves as his campaign bus, Mr. Jean recalls one of his father's favourite sayings. "My dad would tell us politicians are a lot like fish left on the counter.

After a while they start to smell bad and need to be thrown out. I think that's what we're seeing in this election. There's a strong feeling it's time to throw these guys out."

While new to provincial politics, Mr. Jean is by no means a political newbie. He represented his home riding of Fort McMurray as a Conservative Party MP between 2004 and 2014. When he resigned, the lawyer thought he was leaving politics for good. But when Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and 10 of her MLAs crossed the floor to sit with the government, he was urged by many people to consider running for the party's top job. Eventually, he did, and won, leaving the leadership race in the final days to be with his dying son.

Mr. Jean fashions himself as a fiscal hawk. The record debt the province is amassing is anathema to everything he stands for, he insists. He came by his pennypinching ways honestly, he says.

Growing up in Fort McMurray as one of 11 kids, he had little. Food was often whatever his dad and brothers could shoot, he says - there was a lot of moose on the table. He didn't taste storebought bread until he was 12 or 13. He never went to a restaurant in the town until he was 18. He didn't get his first pair of new pants until he was 14.

"I wore hand-me-downs," he says. "My brothers went to high school in the 60s, so let's just say that when I wore their clothes in the 70s they were a little bright for my tastes. ... But I wouldn't change any of it. I had a wonderful upbringing. I had great parents." The family eventually opened a convenience store that grew to become the City Centre Group, which owns a number of small businesses in the Fort McMurray region and beyond. Mr. Jean attended a Christian university in Portland and independent Bond University in Australia, where he received an MBA and completed a law degree. He had three children by a first marriage, which ended a number of years ago.

Since winning his party's leadership last month, Mr. Jean has maintained a hectic pace. The party was forced to rush candidates into battle because of the early election call. Many were not properly vetted until after the campaign began. He had to ask one to step aside recently when blog posts he authored were discovered and deemed bigoted against gay people. That was on top of his firing of Bill Jarvis, the party's candidate for CalgarySoutheast. Organizing a photo on stage after Mr. Jean's leadership victory, Mr. Jarvis was picked up by a mic saying: "We need lots of brown people in the front." Mr. Jean turfed him the next day.

Both incidents revived memories of the 2012 election, when it appeared Wildrose would cruise to victory until the last week of the campaign. That's when an old blog post written by a candidate was unearthed. In it, Allan Hunsperger suggested gay people would "suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire." When thenWildrose leader Danielle Smith refused to condemn the remark, it gave the Progressive Conservatives an opening to suggest Wildrose was too extreme to govern the province. It worked.

Last week Mr. Jean had to talk to another candidate, MLA Russ Kuykendall, who caused a stir when he sent out an invitation to a riding meet-and-greet and pie auction. It urged those attending to "BYWP: Bring Your Wife's Pie."

The brochure was denounced as sexist and Mr. Kuykendall apologized. But not before The Calgary Sun crafted the best headline of the campaign, one harking back to Wildrose's 2012 campaign disaster. "Bake of Fire," it read.

Mr. Jean's swift response to these campaign imbroglios illustrates his desire not to see the party framed as extremist.

"I know for certain that I'm not interested in any social agenda," he says, sitting in his motor home, which is driven by a son. "I will not legislate on social agenda. I don't think that's what governments are for. Governments are for making a better quality of life for people, and I think I should stay out of their personal business and that's exactly what I intend to do. That sort of thing only splits Albertans, splits Canadians, and there's no benefit in it."

Barb Schlaht, a Wildrose supporter from Airdrie, has been impressed with the job Mr. Jean has done since taking over the party.

"That man buried his son on a Thursday and won the leadership that Sunday. I'm in awe of his ability to put his grief behind him to work on behalf of all Albertans."

Ms. Schlaht says she was "shocked," "heart-broken" and "gob-smacked up the side of the head" when former party leader Ms. Smith led a mass defection of Wildrose MLAs to the government benches last fall. The new leader, says the RV park employee, has "taken a ship that was kind of like floating loose in the ocean and tied it down and pulled us all together. A lot of the anxiety in the party ended the night he became leader."

Morgan Nagel, a 24-year-old councillor from the town of Cochrane, says he has memberships in both Wildrose and the Progressive Conservatives. Initially, he said he was supporting Premier Jim Prentice but that has changed in recent weeks.

"His messaging and his actions aren't consistent," Mr. Nagel says about the Alberta Premier. "I think right now Wildrose offers a much more clear vision of what they would do. Also, speaking as a municipal politician, Wildrose would put a more reliable funding structure in place from what I can see."

With the campaign more than halfway over, Mr. Jean enters a critical stretch. Increasingly, Wildrose has come under attack from the Conservatives, evidence of the governing party's internal polling which shows them in serious trouble. Before the election was called, Mr. Jean spoke about being happy if his party emerged as the official Opposition again. He doesn't talk in those terms any longer.

He won't dare to imagine how this is all going to end up, mind you. But regardless of the outcome, Mr. Jean will certainly take time to reflect on the person who gave him the strength to wage this fight in the first place. And he'll miss him more than ever.

Follow me on Twitter: @garymasonglobe

Associated Graphic

Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean greets supporters at a campaign stop in Edmonton Monday. This week, Wildrose vowed to address waiting times for critical procedures such as hip replacements.


Friday, April 24, 2015


A story on Thursday about Brian Jean and the Wildrose Party incorrectly said that Russ Kuykendall, a former Wildrose Party candidate, had issued an invitation to a constituency event that included the words "BYWP: Bring Your Wife's Pie," and that Mr. Kuykendall had apologized. In fact, MLA Rick Strankman was the politician in question.

Doctor pushed for screening of newborns
Her medical career began in war-torn Europe and found focus in Canada, researching causes of mental impairments
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, June 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S8

If ever anyone had a calling to be a physician, it was Polish-born Bluma Tischler. Through luck, courage and persistence, she vaulted over all obstacles in her path to study medicine, including poverty, war, anti-Semitism and the postwar confusion of Europe. She began her medical education in Russian in Tajikistan, continued it in Polish in her homeland, then in German in Munich and finally in English in Montreal, where she did her pediatric residency.

A job offer to her psychiatrist husband, Isaac Tischler, took the couple to Vancouver in 1955. There, she was hired as the first pediatrician at the Woodlands School in nearby New Westminster, founded five years earlier as a progressive place to care for British Columbia's mentally handicapped. She expected to stay for a year, but remained for 33, becoming medical director of the institution, which in its peak years in the 1960s had 1,400 residents and a waiting list of 800.

Dr. Tischler co-authored 36 papers in peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals, adding by increments to the overall knowledge of the complex causes and prevention of mental retardation, a condition that began to be understood only in the middle of the past century.

Due in part to her work, Vancouver became an important centre for research into mental retardation, attracting top minds working in this area from around the world.

Dr. Tischler died, at the age of 90, on May 16 at the Weinberg Residence in Vancouver, where she lived for the past five years. According to her elder son, Aron Tischler, she had stopped eating, then drinking.

"She was a lovely person and dedicated physician," said Hilary Vallance, director of the B.C. Newborn Screening Program, whose earliest iteration in 1964 owed much to Dr. Tischler's forceful advocacy.

"Bluma was at the vanguard of 'knowledge translation' and 'knowledge implementation' long before these became popular terms in medicine," said Howard Feldman, a neurologist and associate dean of the University of British Columbia, where she was a clinical professor.

Bluma Gorfinkel was born on June 20, 1924, in Baranowicze, in northeastern Poland, the youngest of three children of Aron and Stera Gorfinkel. Her father ran a bank for the town's Jewish community; her mother was a dentist.

In September, 1939, the German army invaded Poland from the west and the Soviets from the east, dividing the country according to the then-secret MolotovRibbentrop pact. Two years later, the Nazis attacked the eastern half of Poland. Bluma's elder brother and sister were away studying engineering in Lwow, and she and her parents soon fled their home. They headed south and eastward by any means possible - mostly walking. At some point, Stera and Bluma became separated from Aron and never saw him again.

Mother and daughter kept moving, travelling an astonishing 3,700 kilometres before reaching Stalinabad, capital of Tajikistan. According to Bluma's younger son, Fred Tischler, the two made stops along the way so Stera could earn money as a dentist. Bluma's brother and sister eventually joined them in Stalinabad, where 17-year-old Bluma finished high school and began to study medicine.

The Leningrad medical school had been evacuated to Stalinabad and was training doctors to send to the front. As part of the curriculum, Bluma and her fellow students (almost all female) were taught to assemble and use a rifle. In her class she met a handsome Red Army soldier, Isaac Tischler, who had been wounded in the battle for Kiev. They began studying together and fell in love.

When the war ended, they married in a civil ceremony and headed back to Poland. In Lwow, they found a synagogue still standing and approached the rabbi to marry them. According to family legend, the absence of sacramental wine almost prevented the exchange of vows, until Isaac found some kvass, a fermented local tipple made from bread, and tinted it with beet juice.

The couple were continuing their studies in a Catholic hospital in Breslau when news came, a year after war's end, of the Kielce Pogrom in which 42 Jews were murdered while police stood by. "My parents and grandmother saw they couldn't live there. The hatred for the Jews was so strong," explained son Fred.

Using fake papers, they made their way to Munich where Isaac and Bluma were accepted into Ludwig Maximilian University, provided that Bluma learn German, which she did. They did their internships at a Munich hospital but when they learned that Bluma's siblings had made it to Montreal, they worked as cleaners to pay their passage across the Atlantic to join them in 1950. (All of Isaac's siblings died in the Holocaust.)

Once in Montreal, Bluma had to repeat her internship to qualify as a doctor before doing her pediatric residency at Childrens' Hospital. When she and Isaac moved west, her mother stayed in Montreal with Bluma's siblings. Vancouver was the end of the rainbow for the couple. Their two sons were born there, in 1955 and 1957.

"My father was thrilled to discover the ocean in any direction, mountains, parks. They became huge fans of Vancouver," Fred recalled.

Bluma Tischler began working at Woodlands at a time of ferment and discovery, as people grasped that impairments had multiple causes. In 1959, a French team discovered the extra chromosome that results in Down syndrome.

At Woodlands, she became interested in the metabolic errors that resulted in retardation, particularly phenylketonuria, or PKU, a condition in which a child is born normal but soon develops severe intellectual impairment, motor problems and skin abnormalities. In 1943, a Norwegian researcher identified the syndrome in two boys and devised a urine test for it.

In the next decade, J.H. Quastel at England's Cardiff City Mental Hospital gave the condition its name and explained the brain chemistry involved. PKU is caused by an amino acid, phenylalanine, present in meat, milk, eggs and other proteins, that can't be metabolized in the bodies of those affected. The buildup of this amino acid in the blood irreversibly damages the brain.

In the mid-1950s, at the Birmingham Children's Hospital in England, German physician Horst Bickel and British biochemist Louis Woolf figured out how to filter the fatal amino acid from milk, using activated charcoal. It became possible to nourish a PKU infant without damaging the brain.

At Woodlands, Dr. Tischler applied the Birmingham team's findings. She was eager to try anything to improve the condition of the low-IQ children in her care.

She put her nutrition department to work to devise safe nourishment for PKU children, and dispensed it free at the outpatient clinic. She did her own study of residents who tested positive for PKU to try to determine up to what age the special diet might be useful. Half the group ate a normal diet, the other the filtered diet. She found that the special diet had some positive effects up to the age of six, but none thereafter.

The breakthrough in prevention came in 1961, when American physician Robert Guthrie came up with an easy, reliable blood test for PKU, based on a pinprick of a newborn's heel.

Dr. Tischler's sons recall that she went to Victoria and Ottawa to urge health officials to make the Guthrie test mandatory for all newborns. Screening for PKU was introduced in British Columbia in 1964, four years earlier than in England.

"Hundreds of children and adults in B.C. have benefited from newborn screening and treatment of PKU," Dr. Vallance said, noting that newborn screening has since expanded and "now tests for 22 treatable disorders," including cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell disease.

In 1961, Dr. Tischler was appointed to the medical faculty at UBC. Her reputation grew through her publications in peerreviewed journals and many firstrate specialists were attracted to Woodlands, along with medical students who wanted to understand the management and prevention of developmental disabilities.

Dr. Woolf, from England, became her colleague at UBC in the 1970s, as did Dr. Quastel, who became the school's first professor of neurochemistry.

Dr. Tischler worked regularly at the biochemical diseases clinic at B.C. Children's Hospital, and concluded her career as professor emerita of pediatrics at UBC.

In 1977, she received the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal, and in 1978 was honoured by the province with a postdoctoral fellowship in biochemistry and genetics, created in her name.

That same year, the Denverbased American Association on Mental Retardation (now the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities) gave her its annual research award.

By the time she retired in 1988, large, costly institutions such as Woodlands were being dismantled across Canada, and their residents reintegrated into the community. Not all had severe handicaps, and some came forward to describe abuse they had suffered at Woodlands. One man who was in residence in the 1960s said he was wrongly labelled as having PKU, and that Dr. Tischler had experimented unethically on her charges without obtaining their consent.

On the basis of public complaints, the province commissioned a report that described overcrowding, understaffing and incidents of physical and sexual abuse by Woodlands staff. The 2001 report did not mention Dr. Tischler.

"It was a challenging time for her," recalled her son Aron, an ophthalmologist. "Woodlands got a lot of bad press which she felt was unjustified, taken out of context. She felt she and her team did everything to the best of their ability," he said.

"What she emphasized (to us) was that what they did was acceptable at the time," said Fred, a lawyer. "She was never defensive.

There may have been inappropriate actions by staff, and they were disciplined."

A 2002 class-action suit launched against the province by former Woodlands residents was settled out of court in 2009.

Woodlands, which had closed in 1996, was demolished in 2011.

Dr. Tischler, whose husband died in 2003, leaves sons Aron and Fred, their wives and five grandchildren.

To submit an I Remember:

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

Associated Graphic

Bluma Tischler, right, as a medical intern in Munich in 1947. Her husband, Isaac Tischler, is second from left.


Dr. Tischler with Premier William Vander Zalm in May, 1978, when the B.C. government created a postdoctoral medical fellowship in her name.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


A Monday obituary of Dr. Bluma Tischler included a photo with an incorrect caption. In one photo, she is shown with Premier Bill Bennett, not William Vander Zalm as published.

Shaughnessy moratorium debate heats up
While heritage advocates believe saving the prewar houses is vital, one realtor fears a drop in land value and a pricey legal battle
Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S4

Real estate agent Peter Saito has a problem with the city's proposed ban on the demolition of Vancouver's oldest, most prized collection of heritage houses.

The old Shaughnessy estate houses, he says, aren't worth saving. They just don't bring in the money. As is, they're too small.

Mr. Saito says he and his agent partner have sold about $100-million in Shaughnessy property in the past year and a half. But he says home values will drop with a new zoning amendment that would turn First Shaughnessy into Vancouver's first heritage conservation district.

Incredibly, while there are 70 heritage districts throughout the province, Vancouver has none.

"The houses are 5,000 square feet on a 20,000-square-foot lot.

It's not efficient any more," Mr. Saito says. "Those old houses are half the size of the new houses."

Wealthy people want big houses, not heritage houses, he says.

"If you worked hard all your life and you succeed, and if you want to feel like you made it, you buy a big house."

Heritage advocates would argue that New York wouldn't be New York without its brownstones.

San Francisco wouldn't be famous if it weren't for the rows of Victorians lining its hilly streets. And then there are European cities, where houses are 700 years old. Heritage conservation has kept those structures standing. A city's character depends on it.

In Vancouver, demolitions have become a fact of life; about 40 per cent of them were houses built prior to 1940. Our best examples of heritage are the remaining 317 stately pre-1940 mansions located in First Shaughnessy, between West 16th and King Edward avenues and Arbutus and Oak streets. Of those 317 homes, only 11 are protected from demolition.

The rest are demo bait.

Concerned with the rampant demolition of what remains of Vancouver's best heritage stock, under the recommendation of planning director Brian Jackson, the city put a temporary one-year moratorium on demolitions of those particular houses last year.

The moratorium was extended for 120 days on June 15, and the decision to make it permanent goes before council on Sept. 15.

The neighbourhood would become Vancouver's first heritage conservation district. If passed, it would offer the ultimate protection to all pre-1940 houses, which were built with the best craftsmanship and materials that money could buy, circa 1907.

Importantly, the city is offering Shaughnessy homeowners something in return: the opportunity to add infill, coach houses, secondary suites and multiple conversions.

But several homeowners who spoke at a city council hearing on July 28 said they didn't want density. They wanted privacy.

Rich people today care more about space - and they want lots of it, according to Mr. Saito, who also spoke at the hearing. As an agent, Mr. Saito thinks in numbers - specifically price per square foot. With the moratorium, the returns are ridiculously low, he argued.

"This is discrimination against the rich," he said later in an interview. "Guess what? The rich are not stupid. If they feel discriminated against, they will look to the Canadian Charter of Rights.

They'll say, 'I don't want density because I don't want to turn my lovely Shaughnessy neighbourhood into Kitsilano No. 2,' "says Mr. Saito, who lives in Kerrisdale.

"I am looking at a massive court case down the road, at a lot of homeowners with very deep pockets hiring good lawyers to fight the city.

"I'm just a lowly realtor. I don't make that much money. But let's say it's a plumber on the East Side that barely has enough sustenance for his family of five or six.

His property taxes will go up to reimburse all those people living in Shaughnessy."

Mr. Saito isn't the only one fearing lost property values. At the hearing, several people with vested interests in redeveloping First Shaughnessy stood to complain about how the homes were falling apart and had outlived their use.

A woman named Pearl Chow said if people wanted the houses preserved, they would last longer if they were completely rebuilt and made new - an argument that defies the point of heritage conservation.

Judging by the response to the city, including letters sent, the majority of Vancouverites do want the old houses preserved.

The ones against it, however, are a vocal group.

The pro-moratorium side did have defenders at the hearing.

"Nobody is holding a gun to your head to live in a historical neighbourhood," Robert McNutt said in his speech to council. Mr. McNutt works in the antiques industry. He advised people who want massive new houses to go to West Vancouver, where subdivisions are being developed.

It's a reasonable point. As well, there isn't overwhelming evidence that a heritage designation significantly affects a property's value. A Coriolis consulting report commissioned by the city concluded there would be an insignificant drop in value due to the new zoning - a change of plus or minus five per cent, depending on how the market reacts. That's hardly significant when you consider that this year alone has seen a 20-per-cent increase in Vancouver property values. No homeowner could have expected that kind of windfall.

The report also concluded that the conservation of First Shaughnessy could simply create a new buyer for the neighbourhood, one who is willing to pay for the benefit of a steady revenue stream from on-site rental units.

"If there are enough of this type of buyer they will set the market price at a level that reflects the benefit of the extra units," the report says.

I point out to Mr. Saito that the Rosemary mansion - purchased by a man from China last year, who is painstakingly restoring it - clearly illustrates that not every rich person is interested in a new house.

"The Rosemary is the perfect example," he said. "The future office for the planning department should move in there. I bet you in five years they tear it down themselves, because it's not efficient.

"I do have another listing that the city might want to pick up," he added. "It's cheap - 20,000 square feet at 1453 Laurier. It is on the market for $7.398-million. It can't be torn down, so nobody dares touch it. It's been on the market for three weeks."

The 1912 house, recently renovated, is described in the listing as in excellent condition.

Mr. Saito explained that rich people like Shaughnessy because of its brand more than the actual houses. It's about status, as well as the sizable lots.

"They don't buy in Shaughnessy because the houses are old, but because there are big lots. There's a prestige value attached to that.

And the environment is different.

You drive down a street in Shaughnessy and it's different from the street in Kitsilano."

For Mr. Saito, Kitsilano is a lost cause from overcrowding - the opposite of prestige.

Long-time heritage advocate Anthony Norfolk sat next to me at the city council hearing.

"The Shaughnessy brand is what they're selling," he told me.

"But they are then setting out to destroy what the brand consists of."

Mr. Saito says he's only looking out for his rich clients' best interests. And he has his own proof that prices are already dropping.

He cited the example of 1338 Matthews. That house, on an 18,500square-foot lot, sold for $7.38-million. The house is protected by the moratorium, at least for now.

It took two months to sell the house, and the new owner is hoping the moratorium ends so they can rebuild, he says.

The new owners "rented it out for cheap" instead of living there, Mr. Saito says. His tone of voice makes the house sound like a dump.

He compares it with 1341 Matthews, a 1958 house built on a 14,000-square-foot lot. That one is not protected, and it sold for $7.2million. Mr. Saito marketed the house based on the fact it was one of the few in First Shaughnessy that could be torn down. Based on square footage, the protected house should have sold for more, Mr. Saito says.

In the First Shaughnessy case, heritage conservation intersects with the city's critical need for rental stock. It also poses a bigpicture question for the city: Is it government's role to protect a homeowner's equity? Or is it the duty of government to consider the community good above all else - benefits such as heritage preservation, walkable communities and more rentals?

Allowing the destruction of an old house to build a new, bigger house that won't shelter any more people is counter to everything the city needs, says University of British Columbia professor Penny Gurstein, director of the School of Community and Regional Planning.

"I think it is a good move," she says of the moratorium. "But I'm sure what will happen is [the opposition] will get lawyers involved. These people have their minds made up."

By maintaining the character and allowing coach houses and basement suites, the Shaughnessy moratorium would be a move toward the greater good, rather than the interests of a few. Added density is not even new to Shaughnessy. In the 1950s, many of the big houses were carved up into rental suites, religious retreats and retirement homes.

The historic neighbourhood already has had a Kitsilano moment.

If the rest of the city is learning to accommodate more density, what makes Shaughnessy exempt? It simply doesn't make sense that one of the most central neighbourhoods in Vancouver should be allowed to maintain such ridiculously low density. Mr. Saito may cite Kitsilano as a ghetto for the masses, but its RT-2 zoning has made it one of the most walkable and livable neighbourhoods we have, Ms. Gurstein says.

"If you look at the population [in Shaughnessy], and how many people are actually living in these houses, it's probably shocking," she says. "That is some of the most prime property in the city and the density is incredibly low.

That is a problem."

Associated Graphic

Peter Saito opposes a demolition moratorium on heritage houses in Shaughnessy.


There was no single group that spearheaded this week's critical mass of sex ed protests that kept thousands of students out of school. It was concerned parents - from disparate backgrounds, with different personal and cultural values - who formed a surprising united front. Selena Ross and Sahar Fatima report on how they came together
Saturday, May 9, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M1

In March, 12 Chinese-Canadian parents from Thornhill held a meeting and then founded the Parents Alliance of Ontario for Better Education, which grew within a few weeks to 3,000 members.

In April, the Polish-Canadian Parents Association came into being in Mississauga, establishing a mailing list that connects ethnically Polish parents for the first time.

Both groups, like others that sprang up across the province, had a single purpose in mind: to fight the new sex-education curriculum that will be introduced in schools in September.

The new curriculum tackles such issues as masturbation, same-sex relationships, online safety and the perils of sexting, as well as affirmative consent.

Gerri Gershon, Toronto District School Board trustee for a swath of northeast Toronto encompassing Thorncliffe Park, Lawrence Park and York Mills, said in three decades as a trustee she's never seen newcomer parents organize themselves politically in such numbers, alongside many Canadian-born parents.

While the sex-ed protest was not relegated only to newcomers, it brought disparate groups together to form a sizeable coalition on the issue.

There's something unique about sex ed, said one of the Chinese-Canadian organizers, Christina Liu. Until this spring, the people in her group were "normal parents" who held to a firm principle: "Respect teachers," she said. But to parents, how kids think about sex is too important to leave them with lessons that aren't quite right, she said.

"This is the children we're talking about," she said. "There's no second chance."

She and other parents proved to have powerful organizing capabilities, as tens of thousands of Ontario school children were pulled out of class this week in a co-ordinated show of opposition to the curriculum, which is its first update since 1998.

At the TDSB, there were more than twice as many absences this past Thursday as the previous Thursday, with roughly an extra 15,000 children out of school, according to a board spokesman.

At Thorncliffe Park Public School, in a neighbourhood where national statistics show that 70 per cent of residents were born outside of Canada, only about 130 of 1,350 students showed up on Monday.

Ms. Gershon, the trustee for Thorncliffe Park, said she suspects there hasn't been enough communication from the province to parents. "You wouldn't believe some of the garbage that they've been told," she said.

"Unfortunately, a lot of them have been influenced by their friends and what their friends have been saying."

The involvement of so many different ethnoreligious groups in such a protest is "not that common at all," University of Toronto politics professor Nelson Wiseman said. He said in many cultures, talking about sex to children is seen as "mixing the innocent with a thing that still has lots of taboos around it."

But parents such as Ms. Liu say their objections haven't been understood. They describe philosophical differences over sex and how to convey its seriousness to children, rather than whether or not to teach the mechanics of safe sex.

It's not about what's in the lessons, said Michal Szczech, who moved to Canada from Poland in the mid-1990s. It's what's missing from it.

"Take a guess: How many times does the word 'love' appear in the curriculum?" said Mr. Szczech, a father of two.

That word doesn't show up at all in the context of sex or relationships. "People that have Catholic backgrounds and Polish backgrounds ... it's really astonishing, because to us, sex is an expression of love," he said. "And if we're teaching children a curriculum that totally decouples love from sexual activity, we worry that our children are going to become sexually crippled."

Mr. Szczech has been e-mailing 70 or so people about sex ed, who then forward the information to their own networks.

"Love" wasn't the only word missing, he said. The word "couple" shows up only twice, while the word "partner" is used hundreds of times in connection with sex. "Partner" reminded Mr. Szczech of how children are constantly told to pair up for gym, or arts and crafts, and it's the wrong word to use at school when talking about sex, he said.

"It's open to more than one person, and it's very much a temporary, ad-hoc kind of arrangement that can change at any time," he said.

The Ministry of Education didn't respond to a request to discuss the curriculum.

In fact, the high school lessons mention couples at one point and hint at the idea that you should feel love toward someone you have sex with.

The student should "make sure that my relationship with my partner is affectionate and respectful and that we feel comfortable discussing what we find pleasurable and what our sexual limits are," Mr. Szczech said.

But to him, that's not enough.

"There's a really deep, deep meaning of love and sexuality, and I believe this is really a crime to tell children otherwise, that there's no connection there."

Christina Liu helped organize parents across Toronto's suburbs and as far as London and Waterloo. They pulled all-nighters translating curriculum pages, news articles and research papers about teenage sexual health into Chinese, and they communicate with their network of thousands over the Chinese social media forum WeChat.

Ms. Liu said she worries her nine-year-old son will be taught that it's okay to experiment with sex just for pleasure, without thinking of the bigger picture.

"I had sex before I was married, okay? But I knew the man was the one I would be living my life with. I'm committed," Ms. Liu said. "And that's what I taught my son when I took him out of school for the strike," she said. "I taught him, I said, 'Look, you don't make a commitment lightly. And when you make your commitment, you stick to it.

That's your responsibility.' "The curriculum doesn't promote the idea that sticking to a single partner will help reduce risks of infection, she said. She also tells her son there are many things in life that demand his attention: academics, friendships.

"I want to tell him [sex] is pleasurable," she said. "But however, at what age do we tell them it is pleasurable? Like, drinking beer in the summertime can be [a] very fun to do. But do we promote that to children?

"In many things in your life, there is a balance."

Ms. Gershon said she disagreed with the parents' belief that the curriculum discusses sex without love and commitment.

"I don't buy that," she said.

The curriculum is just a guideline, and teachers and principals are "very sensitive" to their students' cultural backgrounds and their parents' fears of the sex-ed curriculum, she said.

"They don't approach these things with a very militant attitude. They're very, very conscious of the communities that they work in," she said.

"They'll talk about healthy relationships, which is what every culture wants for their children," Ms. Gershon added.

For Azeem Mohammed, any indepth discussion of sex in the classroom is a problem.

"Parents should be teaching their kids, not the teachers," the school council chair of Fraser Mustard Early Learning Centre said. "We've said from the beginning: Touch on the bases and then move on. Don't go deep into it."

He said the curriculum normalizes the idea of sex among teenagers and that children need to receive a strong message that it's something that needs to wait until they're married adults.

Teaching the biology of sex and reproduction is fine, he said, but the curriculum should make it clear to students that those who do choose to have sex at a younger age are not the new norm.

He also said that, for him, a main concern is the idea of introducing children to different gender and sexual identities, which he said would confuse children at an age where they can't even dress themselves.

He said he was approached by many concerned Thorncliffe parents, whom he supported as they distributed flyers, posted to Facebook and exchanged instant messages over WhatsApp. They also spread information about the strike through word of mouth, speaking at mosques, churches and synagogues.

"It's a slap to the ministry," Mr. Mohammed said, who kept his three elementary school-aged children home on Monday. He said the Parents Association, made up of residents of various backgrounds, has not distributed summaries of the curriculum for fear of being branded as spreading misinformation; instead they've sent links to the actual online document.

Though some flyers and viral messages in different languages did include inaccurate information, Mr. Mohammed dismissed such actions as the work of a few misinformed people.

Ms. Gershon said many newcomer parents are in favour of the curriculum and she hopes that community-level conversation will help ease some of the opposition before September.

She has already organized sexed training classes for parents with a public health nurse and more Muslim parents tried to sign up than she could accommodate in the first two-day session, she said.

"It's not a quick fix, but we hope over the year we're going to get hundreds of parents."

But an Etobicoke parent who is helping organize the protests citywide says they won't fizzle out. Sarah Rommeo, who belongs to a parent group called My Child My Choice, said about 25,000 parents across the GTA have signed on to pull their children from public school in September if the curriculum doesn't change, turning instead to private schools, home-schooling or community-based home-schooling co-operatives, with the responsibility shared between different parents in the area.

"It's past any race, past any religion," she said.

Associated Graphic

Michal Szczech, a Polish-Canadian parent in Mississauga, is concerned the province's new sex ed curriculum removes the idea of love from sexual activity.


Christina Liu is concerned her son Andrew, 9, will be taught that it's acceptable to experiment with sex just for pleasure without thinking about commitment and relationships.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Due to an editing error, a Saturday Globe TO story about parents' concerns about Ontario's new sex education curriculum improperly attributed a quotation. This quotation (that a student should "make sure that my relationship with my partner is affectionate and respectful and that we feel comfortable discussing what we find pleasurable and what our sexual limits are") comes from the proposed health curriculum and was not said by parent Michal Szczech.

Sable Island is one of the most fabled outposts in Canada, writes Catherine Bush: a barren strip of land home to 500 feral horses. Ten thousand shipwrecks attest to its perils. But a new cruise means its secrets are more attainable than ever
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, April 11, 2015 – Print Edition, Page T1

SABLE ISLAND, N.S. -- Our Zodiac speeds toward the horizon-spanning strip of Sable Island, 160 kilometres off the Nova Scotia coast. We're approaching the fabled island from its protected side, away from the most turbulent wind and waves. Spray dashes our faces yet it's so idyllically sunny and calm that it's hard to believe we're on the ferocious North Atlantic. We peer ahead, eager to catch our first glimpse of one of the island's wild horses, thrilled to be part of the first tour group to come ashore since the island became a national park reserve in 2013.

Someone shouts and points. High on a dune, a lone creature appears in silhouette.

Once our boat, one of a dozen or so, reaches land, we leap onto the beach and strip off our wet gear. Out on the water, Adventure Canada's clipper ship, the Sea Adventurer, our home for this expedition, rides at anchor. On shore, our Parks Canada guides give us our instructions. We are not to eat anything, leave anything behind or remove anything, including any beach debris, which must remain in situ because it's being studied. And we are not to go within 20 metres of the 500 horses who call the island home.

We set off single file into the dunes and, just over a low sandy ridge, spy a family of horses grazing on a small plain of marram grass. Four mares, still shedding shaggy winter coats, munch with their foals, watched by a stallion with sweeping mane and tail like something out of a teenaged girl's horse fantasy. A dead horse lies nearby, testament to the island's harsh conditions. Ingesting tough beach grass and sand wears down the horses' teeth; they have a lifespan of just four to five years.

A second stallion approaches and breaks into a trot, mane rippling across his side. Seconds later, the two stallions rear up in a brief clash before the approaching male backs away.

The horses have never seen a group of 100 humans trekking through the dunes. Last year saw only 13 visitors before our June arrival. When the federal government began the process of making Sable Island a park in 2010, Adventure Canada, known for leading expeditions to the Arctic, approached Parks Canada about starting tours to the island. Our visit is a pilot project that will help determine how to manage visitors and keep our presence low-impact.

We climb the 28-metre rise Bald Dune, the windy, highest point on the island. From the top, we take in both sides of Sable Island's 1.5-kilometre span and much of its ribbon-like 40kilometre length. A single horse follows a man with a camera across an adjacent ridge. I cannot help wondering what these animals think of us.

For years, the horses have lived virtually on their own in family bands, along with the world's largest breeding colony of 50,000 grey seals. A few academic researchers come and go, sometimes staying for a month or so at a time. Environment Canada has a small manned weather station and now four Parks Canada employees live in a cluster of wooden houses in the middle of the island. Supplies arrive by boat and plane. An old Department of Fisheries research station at the east end has already been taken over by shifting sands.

Technically, the horses are not wild, but feral: The original population came from Acadia, brought to the island as a commercial venture in the 18th century. In 1959, after a particularly harsh winter, the Canadian government decided to remove the horses and turn most into pet food. Children from across the country - and around the world - wrote letters to thenprime minister John Diefenbaker, begging him to leave the horses on the island. He did, and wrote their protection into law.

One of those letter writers is on this Adventure Canada expedition, eager to see the animals she helped save, as is a woman who has made it a goal to travel to islands that harbour wild horses. (She's already been to Virginia's Chincoteague, where the famous children's novel Misty of Chincoteague is set.) Others have been tugged by different versions of the Sable Island mystique. A cartographer for the Nova Scotia government hopes to draw on historic lore and create more place names than the seven that exist for a landscape where the sandy topography changes constantly.

Some say that tourists should not be here at all. Anyone who visits must register with Parks Canada, receive approval and go through mandatory on-shore orientation. Camping is not permitted. On this trip, we come ashore for a few hours at a time and spend our nights moored offshore on the 118-passenger Sea Adventurer. The remoteness and difficult weather do their part to keep visits to a minimum.

Our second day dawns fogshrouded and it looks as if we won't leave the ship at all. Late afternoon, the clouds part just enough for our Zodiac drivers to steer us ashore by GPS. Someone remarks how Sable Island is celebrated on placemats and posters across the Maritimes as the "graveyard of the Atlantic."

Ten thousand ships have wrecked on the shoals on the island's ocean side, and as we vanish into fog en route to an invisible island, I understand how easy it is to lose all sense of direction.

Once ashore, we hike through misty hummocks and dips where horses graze. Science writer Jay Ingram, one of the expedition's resource staff, remarks that it feels as if we have been dropped into a geological era before the advent of humans. Tiny wild strawberries grow here, along with blueberries, cranberries and bayberries.

Ipswich sparrows dart among the shrubs. We pass a murky pond, its surface decked with water lilies, the surrounding dirt a sea of hoof prints. The horses dig down through the sand to find fresh water, which floats underground above the deeper saltwater. On the far side of the island sits a great sand plateau - once a freshwater lake that has dried up as sand encroached. Where the sand meets bracing breakers, lolling grey seals raise their heads like periscopes to watch us curiously.

Parks Canada manager Jonathan Sheppard considers the island a testament not to fragility but tenacity. Visitor management takes place against a backdrop of other issues: the loss of fresh water, long-term sea-level rise due to climate change, the carrying capacity of the island for the growing horse population. Oil and gas exploration takes place outside a 1.6kilometre exclusion zone; a platform hovers on the horizon.

Another reminder of human encroachment is the detritus that washes ashore after its own form of global travel: coconuts, dry-cleaning plastic, a crate of Gucci perfume.

On our final shore trip the next day, we meet the remarkable Zoe Lucas, who probably knows more about the island than anyone and is the closest thing to a full-time resident, and wise elder, that Sable Island has. No one can live in a national park reserve but Lucas, who has a researcher's permit, has been grandfathered in and given permission to stay for months at a stretch. She has done so since she first came to Sable Island as a young woman in the early 1970s to cook for a research team.

Lucas, a volunteer research associate with the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, studies the horses and the island's habitat, often for researchers who can't make it to the island, and now for Parks Canada. In the years before digital photography made access to photos easy, she learned to identify individual horses by the underside of their hooves.

Apple-cheeked, a paisley scarf around her neck, she tells us the two stallions that we saw joust were once companions until one bested an older stallion for the mares. She kneels to sketch a horse in the sand.

The next morning, the sun shines again but the wind has risen. It is too dangerous to attempt a landing. With three visits over three days, we have been far luckier than many researchers, who wait days in vain for fog to clear. As the Sea Adventurer pulls away and the island recedes, the fact that we set foot on it at all feels all the more astonishing.

Catherine Bush's most recent novel, Accusation, is now out in paperback. She travelled as a guest of Adventure Canada; it did not review or approve this article.


Adventure Canada's Sable Island expedition departs from St. John's. The nine-day itinerary includes three days in the vicinity of Sable Island, travel through the marineprotected region known as the Gully, which is rich with aquatic and bird life, and various whale species, plus a stopoff on St. Pierre, the tiny French colony off the Newfoundland coast. Fine weather also afforded us a half-day in Francois (pronounced Fransway), a cliffside Newfoundland village only reachable by boat. Hiking on Sable Island isn't rigorous, but you need to be in good shape. Tour prices start at $2,395 (U.S.). The next Sable Island cruise will run June 11 to 19, 2016. Flights to St. John's are not included.

You will likely want to overnight in St. John's before boarding the expedition vessel. Adventure Canada offers a reduced rate for trip members at the Delta, but you might also try the delightful B&B, the Chef's Inn on Gower Street.

Associated Graphic

The Sable Island horses have been protected by the government since 1960, after children around the world wrote letters to then-prime minister John Diefenbaker.


The horses were originally brought to the island from Acadia as a commercial venture in the 18th century.


Visitors to Sable Island must register with Parks Canada, receive approval and go through mandatory on-shore orientation.

Our tour group went ashore for a few hours at a time, and we spent our nights moored offshore on the 118-passenger Sea Adventurer.

Sable Island is home to the world's largest breeding colony of 50,000 grey seals.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


A Saturday Travel story on Sable Island incorrectly said 10,000 ships have wrecked on the shoals on the island's ocean side. In fact, there are more than 350 documented wrecks with an estimate of 10,000 deaths.

2015 MBA Schools Guide
Friday, August 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page P54


(Also see table below)

Asper School of Business: Curriculum allows students to take a variety of elective courses. The Executive Mentor Program matches students with business executives across Canada.

Beedie School of Business: Emphasis on applied learning, including a four- to eight-month internship after the completion of the academic curriculum.

DeGroote School of Business: Offers a co-op, traditional full-time, eight-month accelerated MBA and a part-time MBA.

Desautels Faculty of Management: A 10-day international study trip. In previous years, students have gone to Singapore, Japan and Argentina.

Edwards School of Business: Courses are offered in a consecutive three-week modular format, allowing students flexibility during their MBA.

Goodman School of Business: Co-op and service learning allow students to spend at least 25 hours providing course-based business advice to local non-profits and community organizations.

Haskayne School of Business: Summer exchange programs with over 20 partner universities.

John Molson School of Business: Students can tailor their curriculum with co-ops, internships, international exchange programs, case competitions and community service initiatives.

Levene Graduate School of Business: Emphasis on an integrative, strategic understanding of business and leadership. Mandatory international tour.

Lakehead University: An intensive, case-based one-year program.

Memorial University of Newfoundland: The first MBA program in Canada to have a required business ethics course.

Peter B. Gustavson School of Business: Students participate in a 12-day international consulting project in India, China or Brazil, plus two additional projects within Canada.

Queen's School of Business: Students can personalize their MBA with specializations, international exchanges, double degrees, internships and executive coaching.

Ivey Business School: Canada's original case-based MBA program. Graduates have had the highest starting salary after the program for 15 consecutive years.

Rotman School of Management: Rotman Onboard eight-month fellowship allows second-year students to join Toronto-based non-profit boards, acting as non-voting board members.

Rowe School of Business: Corporate residency MBA combines academics with an eight-month placement. Starting Lean program lets students develop and test product ideas with customers.

Rowe School of Business: Part-time program is designed for mid-career professionals. Blended learning combines online courses with face-to-face intensive components held across Canada.

Royal Military College of Canada: Curriculum is designed for those in the military or those with resource management responsibilities. Courses are offered in seven six-week blocks each year.

Royal Roads University: Designed for experienced managers, the program is delivered through a combination of on-campus residencies and distance learning sessions.

Sandermoen School of Business: Courses are 100% online and incorporate live virtual classes for collaboration among professors and students.

Sauder School of Business: The only Canadian member of the Global Network for Advanced Management, giving students access to 27 business schools around the world.

Schulich School of Business: Two overseas campuses in Hyderabad, India, and Beijing. Students can choose to specialize in up to two of 19 different areas of study.

Shannon School of Business: Specializing in community economic development, students can take courses in First Nations management as well as peace-building and reconstruction.

Sobey School of Business: Opportunity to join the student-run Impact Investment Fund, helping to manage a portfolio of more than $400,000.

Sprott School of Business: Five concentrations, including business analytics, international development management, management and change, financial management, and international business.

Ted Rogers School of Management: Students can choose between the school's MBA in Management of Technology and Innovation or the MBA Global. And 60% of internship placements turn into full-time jobs.

Telfer School of Management: Students can work toward completing the Canadian Association of Management Consultants requirements leading to the Certified Management Consultant designation.

Thompson Rivers University: Students can pursue their degrees on-campus, online or through a combination of both, and they can choose from course-based, project-based or thesis-based completion options.

Trinity Western University: Offers three specializations: management of the growing enterprise, international business, and non-profit and charitable organizations.

Université du Québec à Montréal: Geared toward students with an undergrad in science or engineering. UQAM offers a second MBA specializing in management consulting, where every graduate receives the Certified Management Consultant certification.

Université Laval: Students can choose from more than 15 specializations. Majority of Laval's MBA courses are in French, except for its Global Business program.

University of Alberta: Capstone project lets students work with outside organizations on a strategic issue they're facing. Option to earn an international dual degree from partner schools in France, Germany or Japan.

University of Guelph: Candidates choose to concentrate their MBAs on food and agribusiness management, or hospitality and tourism management.

University of New Brunswick: Through the Activator program, students are paired with entrepreneurs to launch a venture. One year managing the Student Investment Fund prepares students for the CFA Institute's Level I exam.

University of New Brunswick: Includes specialization in international business, entrepreneurship and technology management, and project management.

University of Northern British Columbia: Classes are held once per month in three- or four-day sessions.

Vancouver Island University: Graduates receive an MBA from VIU and an MSc in international management from the University of Hertfordshire in the U.K. Includes a compulsory 16-week internship.

Wilfrid Laurier University: Option for students to combine their MBA and a CPA designation at Laurier's Toronto campus, or pursue a double degree with a Master of Finance, which includes preparation for the CFA Levels I and II exams.

HEC Montréal: The Campus Abroad program offers students the chance to interact with foreign senior executives and government officials, and attend academic conferences. This year's destinations include Colombia, China and Mumbai-Dubai.

Laurentian University: Launching its redesigned program in fall 2015. Students can complete their studies online, on-campus or a combination of the two.

Université de Moncton: Offers MBA students two tracks to pursue, one with a 14- to 16-week co-op placement or a project-based degree. Candidates can also choose to complete their second year in France with a partner institution, where they can earn a joint degree.

Université de Sherbrooke: The French-language program offers a four-month paid internship and a mentor for the duration of study.

| | | | NO. OF | MALE/ | WORK |
| SCHOOL | LOCATION | TUITION | ACCEPTED | RATIO | (years) | (months)
| Asper School of Business (University of Manitoba) | Winnipeg | $36,000 | 55 | 54/46 | 2 | 12
| Beedie School of Business (Simon Fraser University) | Vancouver | $36,000 | 55 | 58/42 | 5.5 | 12
| DeGroote School of Business (McMaster University) | Burlington, Ont. | $38,000 | 375 | 61/39 | 0 | 8+
| Desautels Faculty of Management (Mcgill University) | Montreal | $79,500 | 65-80 | 70/30 | 2 | 20
| Edwards School of Business (University of Saskatchewan) | Saskatoon | $28,000 | 40 | 60/40 | n/a | 12+
| Goodman School of Business (Brock University) | St. Catharines, Ont. | $26,069 | 50 | 59/41 | 2 | 8+
| Haskayne School of Business (University of Calgary) | Calgary | $35,872 | 150 | 69/31 | 2 | 16+
| John Molson School of Business (Concordia University) | Montreal | $16,000 | 170 | 65/35 | 2 | 16+
| Levene Graduate School of Business (University of Regina) | Regina | $32,274 | 20 | 55/45 | 3 | 15+
| Lakehead University | Thunder bay | $18,320 | 30 | 60/40 | 0 | 12
| Memorial University of Newfoundland | St. John's | $4,400 | 50 | 52/48 | 2 | 16
| Peter B. Gustavson School of Business (University of Victoria) | Victoria | $34,945 | 93 | 64/36 | 3 | 17+
| Queen's School of Business (Queen's University) | Kingston | $77,000 | n/a | 69/31 | 2 | 12
| Ivey Business School (Western University) | London, Ont. | $82,000 | n/a | 70/30 | 2 | 12
| Rotman School of Management (University of Toronto) | Toronto | $95,100+ | 350 | 68/32 | 2 | 20
| Rowe School of Business (Dalhousie University) | Halifax | $45,000 | 45 | 56/44 | 0 | 22
| Rowe School of Business (Dalhousie University) | Online | $36,610 | 45 | 62/38 | 5 | 36+
| Royal Military College of Canada | Online | $13,900 | 22 | 69/31 | 5 | 12+
| Royal Roads University | Victoria | $40,817 | 70 | 58/42 | 7 | 18
| Sandermoen School of Business (University of Fredericton) | Online | $19,000 | 103 | 58/42 | 1 | 26+
| Sauder School of Business (University of British Columbia) | Vancouver | $43,883 | 100 | 67/33 | 2 | 16
| Schulich School of Business (York University) | Toronto | $70,710 | n/a | 66/34 | 2 | 16
| Shannon School of Business (Cape Breton University) | Sydney, N.S. | $22,664 | 110 | 47/53 | 0 | 12+
| Sobey School of Business (Saint Mary's University) | Halifax | $22,670 | 27 | 60/40 | 2 | 16+
| Sprott School of Business (Carleton University) | Ottawa | $16,720 | 134 | 52/48 | 0 | 16
| Ted Rogers School of Management (Ryerson University) | Toronto | $21,459 | 125 | 63/37 | 2 | 12+
| Telfer School of Management (University of Ottawa) | Ottawa | $25,116 | 120 | 66/34 | 3 | 12
| Thompson Rivers University | Kamloops, B.C. | $30,787 | 200 | 60/40 | 0 | 20
| Trinity Western University | Langley, B.C. | $34,200+ | n/a | 57/43 | n/a | 12+
| Université du Québec à Montréal | Montreal | $8,100 | 50 | 70/30 | 2 | 24
| Université Laval | Quebec City | $4,500+ | 1,300 | 52/48 | 0 | 16+
| University of Alberta | Edmonton | $28,126 | 80 | 65/35 | 2 | 16+
| University of Guelph | Online | $42,828 | 30 | 54/46 | 3 | 24
| University of New Brunswick | Frederiction | $20,530 | 130 | 50/50 | 2 | 16+
| University of New Brunswick | Saint John | $18,000 | 91 | 60/40 | 2 | 12
| University of Northern British Columbia | Prince George and Vancouver | $37,000 | 30 | 55/45 | 3 | 21
| Vancouver Island University | Nanaimo, B.C. | $20,988 | 180 | 50/50 | 1 | 14+
| Wilfrid Laurier University | Waterloo, Ont., and Toronto | $30,382+ | 250 | 55/45 | 2 | 12
| HEC Montréal | Montreal | $7,500+ | 150 | 67/33 | 3 | 13+
| Laurentian University | Sudbury | $12,625+ | 30 | 60/40 | 0 | 11+
| Université de Moncton | Moncton | $9,810 | 30 | 70/30 | 0 | 20
| Université de Sherbrooke | Sherbrooke | $6,000 | 200 | 60/40 | 2 | 16
Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Retailer helped put Toronto on fashion map
He became world renowned as an innovator while expanding his family's store, Creeds, which sold fur and designer clothing
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, September 3, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S6

Edmond Creed had an infallible eye for fashion and could spot a trend even if it whizzed by him at top speed. In the early 1950s, the Toronto furrier and clothing merchant found himself on the ski slopes in Gstaad, Switzerland, when he saw something astonishing: two young women in brightly coloured ski pants. If you were a skier in Canada in those dreary postwar years, you could buy any colour of ski pants so long as they were black. He followed the women to the base to ask who had made their ski wear.

This is how he discovered Bogner ski apparel, made in the Munich factory of Willy Bogner Sr., a former Olympic skier. Mr. Creed began to import and sell it at Creeds, the store his parents had built on a section of Toronto's Bloor Street called the Mink Mile.

"At first, my father didn't want to go to Germany," recalled Jack, Edmond's elder son. "The war had ended not that long before and he had served in the Royal Canadian Navy." When Mr. Creed saw how many of Mr. Bogner's workers in Munich were missing a leg or an arm, he had a change of heart. He and Mr. Bogner became friends.

In 1959, his brother-in-law, Isadore Sharp, and father-in-law, Max Sharp, who were builders, proposed to construct a hotel on Jarvis Street and asked Mr. Creed and his friend Murray Koffler to invest. Mr. Creed, who regularly travelled Europe to buy clothes and accessories for the shop, suggested that they use the name of a Munich hotel that he liked: Vier Jahreszeiten, meaning Four Seasons.

"My father was 30 per cent partner," Jack Creed recalled. "He saw the name on a hotel in Munich and they went with it. They didn't spend thousands of dollars on a focus group back then."

The first Four Seasons on Jarvis Street was a hit and was eventually sold, as was the partners' second project, Inn on the Park.

"[While] building the first hotel, we had not intended to go into hotels; it was just a real estate transaction," recalls Isadore Sharp, whose Four Seasons chain went on to span the globe. "With the third hotel, I decided to make the hotel business my career.

Eddie was always an investor until he divested his shares [at age 80], but was never involved in hotel operations. The amount of money he invested in the hotel was $90,000 and that turned into a multimillion-dollar return for him."

Mr. Creed died of congestive heart failure at his 200-acre farm in Schomberg, Ont., north of Toronto, on Aug. 12, at 94.

His investment in Four Seasons enabled him to sustain his elegant store on Bloor Street, west of Bay Street, even during downturns in the economy, until he could no longer do so. Creeds, by then run by his son Tom, declared bankruptcy in November, 1990, and closed three months later. It is still mourned by Toronto women of style.

Edmond Martin Creed, called Eddie, was born into the luxury business in Toronto on April 30, 1921, one of three children and only son of Jack and Dorothy Creed. His father had fled Russia in the wake of anti-Jewish pogroms that swept the Pale of Settlement between 1903 and 1906. These bloody events brought a wave of immigrants to Canada, most of them heading for Winnipeg. Jack, however, came by way of Paris, where he stopped to learn tailoring and the furrier craft. Says his grandson Jack: "He started working as a tailor with fur collars and cuffs. That's how he got into the fur business."

He arrived in Winnipeg in about 1910 and, in 1915, wed a Winnipeg girl of impeccable taste, Dorothy Moscoviz. Within a year, having moved to Toronto, they opened the first Creeds store on Bloor Street, near Avenue Road.

Their small store catered to the carriage trade and, in addition to furs, sold a limited amount of conservative fashions, along with accessories all sourced by Dorothy.

Young Eddie attended the private Pickering College in Newmarket, Ont., then went to agricultural college in Guelph intending to become a dairy farmer, before deciding that the fur business offered more scope. There was another benefit: At 26, he met a beautiful 18-year-old saleswoman named Edie Sharp who was working at the store. The two were happily married for 67 years and produced six children.

Postwar, he began going to the European markets with his mother for couture and to the annual Hudson's Bay Co. fur auctions in Montreal with his father, where they mixed with trappers and traders.

"His love of fashion came from his mother - she was unbelievably talented. She bought gloves, huge counters full - purses, jewellery," son Jack says. "His father was the driver for fur coats. He loved to go to the fur auctions for pelts, and would match them, grade them - both Eddie and his father could do that, could take 1,000 mink pelts and grade them.

It took 100 mink pelts to make a coat. Customers would look at the bundle of furs before they ordered."

The coats were made after Eddie's sketches. "Eddie was a real fashion guy," his son says. "He was interested in creating design - I don't know where he got his drawing ability."

"I was in my early 20s when I started at Creeds as a model for Mr. Jack Creed [Eddie's father]," recalled Lisa Dalholt, who worked there 30 years, and eventually became fashion director and vicepresident of the firm. She witnessed the transition from father to son. "When I first joined the company it was mainly a fur store and an accessory store. That's how fashion was - everybody was having their clothes made. It was formal; the salesladies all wore black. It was exclusive, club-like, a small store until Mr. Eddie Creed decided to expand to 30,000 square feet. When he expanded, everything changed."

Furnished with European antiques, Eddie Creed's store was very glamorous, according to Bernadette Morra, the editor of Toronto Life Fashion magazine, at a time when there was not much glamour in Toronto: "The prices were shocking, but when you went through those heavy doors, you were in another world.

"If you were a manufacturer in Canada in the 1950s, you would go to Paris, bring back couture clothes and copy them. In the sixties, things started to change; Yves Saint Laurent and Sonia Rykiel started to do ready-towear."

The younger Mr. Creed, already known to French and Italian fashion houses, was able to bring these designers to Toronto, eventually adding ready-to-wear by Chanel, Ungaro, Kenzo, Miyake, Christian Lacroix, Valentino and Dior, Maud Frizon shoes, Missoni knitwear and jewellery by Beni Sung, displayed in separate instore boutiques. "It was another level above anything available then in Toronto," Ms. Morra said.

"If you carried a Creeds shopping bag, that was a status symbol. It was really sad when it closed."

Ms. Dalholt recalled: "His father worked there until the end [his father died in 1971, his mother in 1955]. In the early 1960s, Eddie Creed took that amazing store and he became world renowned as an innovator. He brought in every label that has major resonance today. He was more aggressive than Holt Renfrew or Eaton's at the time, and he had a certain charisma. He put Toronto on the map as far as the fashion industry was concerned. We had customers from across the country; some came in their private planes."

Mr. Creed himself was perfectly turned out in suits made for him by Tommy Nutter on Savile Row and shirts imported from Florence. Later he wore avant-garde clothes by Japanese designers, but he was just as happy in hunting pinks, ski wear or jeans suitable for baling hay.

He retired at 65 when his son Tom took over the store, but continued to supervise the fur workshop in the store's basement.

The recession and a further costly expansion pushed the store into bankruptcy in November, 1990. In February, 1991, at the end of the liquidation sale, 3,000 people reportedly turned up for the auction of the fixtures - everything from crystal chandeliers to giant perfume bottles - hoping to take home a souvenir of the fabled shop.

According to son Jack, who went into the fur storage and dry cleaning business, the real cause of the closing was the precipitous decline of furs, Creeds's core business: "Today, no one wants to be seen wearing fur except on the most freezing days of winter."

In his last decades, Mr. Creed took up painting and supported amateur sports. He co-founded the Nancy Greene Ski League to encourage young skiers, and started the Tournament of Champions horse shows and the George Knudson Oakdale ProAm, an annual golf tournament that raises money for cancer research. He helped show jumper Eric Lamaze, providing space on his farm for the equestrian's riding operation. Mr. Lamaze won an individual gold medal and a team silver at the 2008 Olympics and a team gold at the recent Pan American Games in Toronto.

Mr. Creed was predeceased by his two sisters, Cimone and Donna, and leaves his wife, Edie; children, Simone, Jack, Tom, Wendy, Dodie and Donna; 16 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

To submit an I Remember:

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

Associated Graphic

Eddie Creed went to agricultural college and intended to be a dairy farmer before deciding to go into the fur business. 'Eddie was a real fashion guy,' his son Jack says. 'He was interested in creating design.'


Consider the biopic
In The End of the Tour, Jason Segel tries to channel the idiosyncratic spirit of David Foster Wallace. But, writes John Semley, the film is utterly misguided, flattening the Infinite Jest author into the same grinding machinery of fame and hypocrisy he so often despised
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, August 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R1

'There's an unhappy paradox about literary biographies," writes David Foster Wallace, reviewing Edwin Williamson's Borges: A Life. For Wallace, readers of such stuff often fell victim to "the intentional fallacy," conflating the personality and peculiarities of the writing with those of the writer. "It often seems," he writes, "that the person we encounter in the literary biography could not possibly have written the works we admire. And the more intimate and thorough the bio, the stronger this feeling usually is."

This disconnect between the impression offered by a given writer's writing and the actual personality of the writer was something to which Wallace was particularly attuned. His anxiety regarding this divide forms the centre of The End of the Tour, the well-meaning but nonetheless abominable new Wallace movie, based on writer David Lipsky's account of his five-day jaunt with the author on the last leg of a tour promoting the novel Infinite Jest in 1996.

"I got a real serious fear of being a certain way," says Wallace, played by Jason Segel in the movie. Wallace's greatest gift was his mindfulness. As both journalist and novelist, he was dazzlingly aware of the world he lived in; a world of media and late-night talk shows and gaudy high-sea pleasure cruises and what he called the "tsunami of stuff" that constitutes the wash of contemporary life. Problem was: This frighteningly acute, devastatingly intense gaze was often turned inward. He worried that his vaunted status as an inheritor to the postmodern legacies of Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo would corrupt him, not just creatively, but spiritually. "You guys made your bones in a different time," Wallace wrote in a letter to DeLillo, in the midst of the Infinite Jest hype, "when the author's own personal person wasn't as necessary a part of the PR machine that itself wasn't necessary to sell books."

Wallace found himself looped in his own unhappy paradox. Not only was he afraid of becoming "a certain way." But he worried that the already very-certain way he was would itself be perceived as a set of media-savvy affectations.

When Segel-as-Wallace describes singer Alanis Morissette as "pretty in a very sloppy, very human way" in The End of the Tour, the movie is nudging us to think that a desire to appear chaotically human dictated Wallace's sartorial choices, if not the whole engineering of his public persona.

In this way, the movie commits its own mawkish version of the intentional fallacy. "This?!" The End of the Tour asks knowingly, "This is the guy who wrote the seminal American novel of the past quarter-century? This guy who guzzles down M&Ms and uses a Barney the Dinosaur beach towel for a curtain?!" But of course this is the guy. This ruffled, Everyman-ish air is why so many people liked Wallace. And it's the awareness of this charm that Wallace found so totally exasperating.

His long hair, his trademark bandanas, his untied work boots and lip stuffed with lumps of Skoal - there was always a fear that his quality of just-a-guy-ness would seem like a preening put-on.

Post-Infinite Jest, Wallace responded to the ever-ballooning Idea Of Himself in two ways. First, he wrote himself into his stories.

In his unfinished final novel, The Pale King, Wallace interjects nearly 70 pages in with an oddly placed "Author's Foreword," intending to clarify that what the reader has so far perceived as an episodic experimental novel about employees slugging away at an Illinois IRS branch is in fact more like a memoir. He assures the reader that he is "the real author, the living human holding the pencil, not some abstract narrative persona." He pops in and out of the story, before receding into the background. It was as if the only way to resolve the nagging presence of the author from the work itself was to remove him from the equation entirely.

"David Foster Wallace disappears," wrote Wallace in notes accompanying the Pale King manuscript, "becomes creature of the system."

I remember where I was when David Foster Wallace disappeared.

Sitting on a busted chair, rolling lopsided on the waxy parquet floor of my first Toronto apartment. The phone rang, and it was my ex, and she asked me if I had heard what happened to Wallace.

I hadn't. And she told me that he had hanged himself. And I was devastated in a way that's tricky to describe. But here goes: It was like when you stomp on one of those discarded tallboy beer cans at an outdoor concert, then kick the crushed piece of hollow, purposeless aluminum along some bleak, smoke-butt-studded slice of grass. Except the scrunched tallboy was all the things I had inside of me and the foot was not my own. It was Sept. 12, 2008, and I was a 22-year-old kid.

I cried a bit, but not too much, and immediately deleted the inprogress novel I was working on.

It was mostly people talking about stuff, like their dads and their crueller urges and their failed marriages, and it was an embarrassingly Wallace-ian affair.

It, too, has now disappeared. If Wallace couldn't find in writing the necessary artillery to fight back against the suffocating, everentreating mess of life itself, what hope was there for the rest of us mugs? Shortly thereafter I had tattooed on my right biceps an image from Wallace's first novel, 1987's The Broom of the System. It's an aerial map of a suburb resembling the actress Jayne Mansfield's head. I liked, and still like, this image. It seems to suggest that if you get high enough above those grand symbolic structures (a suburb, a network of relationships, a grand ideological scheme, whatever) you'll be able to understand things that seem bafflingly complex at ground level. And also: Those workings may be entirely arbitrary, even absurd. To my mind, Wallace was A-1 at understanding the intricacies and convolutions of such systems, whether a private tennis academy, an IRS office, a Hollywood film set, the ethics of seafood eating or the nature of literature and creativity itself.

The sad irony is that now, in death, Wallace is adrift in such a system. The End of the Tour, and the culture and conversation around it - including, I guess, this thing you're reading right here - have flattened him into part of the same grinding machinery of media/fame/celebrity/hypocrisy that he often wrote about.

The vogue of late is to note that Wallace and his writing have become their own pop-cultural affectations. An untouched copy of Infinite Jest adorning the bookshelf of a certain kind of person equals wannabe literary savvy. As New York magazine's Molly Fischer asked earlier this month, "How did poor David Foster Wallace go from dissecting the pretensions and shortcomings of mid-century men of letters to holding a central place in the pretensions of their heirs?" Or as The Guardian's Jeb Lund tweeted this past weekend, "I wish David Foster Wallace was alive and all his fans were dead."

Terms like "literary chauvinists" and "lit-bros" have been deployed to describe these Wallace diehards. This sort of attitude gives me, to yoink a favourite phrase from Infinite Jest, a serious case of the "howling fantods" - a severe pang of physical revulsion, the big-time heebie-jeebies. Using an author, and maybe especially a dead author, as a bludgeon against a certain kind of (non-) reader feels as bad as using that same author as a merit badge.

As Fischer notes, there may well be a certain macho pride in being a Wallace fan. There may be a sense of robust accomplishment in being able to finish a 1,000plus-page novel, and then biceps curling it 900 times. The problem with such arguments is they're their own kind of mutated intentional fallacies: mistaking the fanboys for the author and the author for the work. They seem to intentionally neglect the dense pleasure, humour and rarefied insight of reading - like, actually reading - David Foster Wallace.

Of all the many systems and networks and knotty webs of intricate meaning Wallace almost intuitively understood, the thing he really got was the fundamental ambivalence of life in the spoiled West. He knew that to be alive and aware and at all self-conscious meant that there was always a tug o' war yanking our insides one way or the other, a push/pull "between your deep need to believe and your deep belief that the need to believe is bullshit." And for many of us, Wallace satisfied that need. He was able to, as he once described fiction's function at its most vital, "make heads throb heartlike." His writing managed to reconcile, or at least briefly dispel, that ambivalence. He was something to believe in.

As for the strawman lit-bros using Infinite Jest as a keystone in their barely dog-eared collection of chauvinist novels? Maybe this new, wholly misguided, Wallace movie will push them past the self-important swagger. Maybe they'll end up cracking Infinite Jest's formidable spine some day.

When they do, they'll realize that it's in the writing - and not the bandanas and mock-provocative think pieces and saccharine biopics and polished Ideas of the Author - that the rest of us mugs find hope. If poseurish hypocrisy facilitates such modest lightning bolts of insight, if macho literary chauvinism gets the head to pound at the pace of a racing heart, then, well, I suspect that's just another one of modern life's many unhappy paradoxes.

Ottawa petitions Egypt to deport Fahmy
Canadian journalist's three-year sentence devastates family, prompts calls for stronger federal intervention
Monday, August 31, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

CAIRO, TORONTO -- Ottawa has petitioned the Egyptian government for the pardon and deportation of jailed Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, according to his brother - the latest development in an 18-month ordeal that has highlighted Cairo's crackdown on free speech, sparked widespread condemnation of Egypt's judicial system and put Canada's diplomatic efforts under a microscope.

Canada's move comes one day after the former Al Jazeera English bureau chief was sentenced to three years in a high-security prison, crushing any hopes that a retrial would end the high-profile saga and raising questions about what Canada would do next to try to secure Mr. Fahmy's release.

In an interview with The Globe in Cairo on Sunday, Mr. Fahmy's brother, Adel Fahmy, said Canadian Ambassador Troy Lulashnyk told him he had met with Egyptian officials and that Ottawa had officially applied for the pardon and deportation. Adel Fahmy said he has finally learned where his brother is being held - at Cairo's Mazraa prison - but added the family has been told there would be no visitation for 15 days.

The Canadian embassy, Adel Fahmy said, has submitted a special visitation request so the family can see him sooner. "I just want to comfort him so he knows we are on things and that there are other possibilities," he said.

Mr. Fahmy's wife broke down in tears as she left the courtroom, saying her husband was only doing his job before being arrested in December, 2013, on a range of terrorism-related charges, including fabricating news to harm Egypt's national security. "I don't know how I'm going to survive this without him," said Marwa Omara, who pleaded unsuccessfully with police to let her say goodbye to her husband. "He did nothing [wrong] and all that I'm asking [for] is justice."

The long-running Fahmy case has reverberated across the region and in Canada: Mr. Fahmy has said he and his colleagues are pawns in a rift between Egypt and Qatar, which owns Al Jazeera Media Network; Cairo summoned Britain's Ambassador John Casson Sunday to protest comments he made about the case to local media in Arabic, saying his words marked "unacceptable interference" in the judiciary; and with an election 50 days away here in Canada, Stephen Harper's political opponents reiterated accusations that the Conservatives are not doing enough to secure Mr. Fahmy's release.

Speaking about the application for pardon and deportation, Adel Fahmy said he was "happy that right away there was action from Canada," but it remains uncertain just how responsive the Egyptian government would be to such pressure. Analysts believe Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is viewing the case through the lens of domestic dynamics, rather than of external factors.

"The international relationships that Cairo is building in the West are not threatened by an unsatisfactory resolution to this case, despite the media and public statements," said H.A. Hellyer, a non-resident fellow at Washington's Brookings Center for Middle East Policy and an associate fellow at London's Royal United Services Institute.

Mr. Harper did not immediately offer public comments on the sentence or the government's diplomatic efforts, save for a tweet Saturday. "Canada continues to call on Egypt for the immediate and full release of Mr. Fahmy, and full co-operation to facilitate his return home," the tweet said. Mr. Harper did not have any public events Sunday, so journalists did not have the opportunity to ask him directly about the case or next steps.

Mr. Fahmy, his producer Baher Mohamed and Australian journalist Peter Greste were convicted of a slew of technical charges as well as charges of broadcasting false news. Mr. Greste, who had been deported in January under a presidential decree, was not present for Saturday's proceedings, but was nonetheless sentenced to three years in jail after the judge refused to remove his name from the case.

"They are not journalists," Judge Hassan Farid said in delivering the verdict to a packed courtroom inside Cairo's notorious Tora prison. The defence has 60 days to file an appeal in the Court of Cassation, Egypt's highest appeals court.

Mr. Fahmy and Mr. Mohamed listened from a soundproof cage and were immediately taken away by police. Ms. Omara, Mr. Lulashnyk and Amal Clooney - the human-rights barrister representing Mr. Fahmy internationally - sat together as the sentence was delivered. The trio had to push through a pack of journalists on their way out of the courtroom, where the Canadian ambassador provided a rare public comment on the case.

"Obviously Canada is deeply disappointed in the outcome of this process," he said. "We are calling for [Mr. Fahmy's] full and immediate release and his return to Canada, and this is now the time for the government to make that happen."

Mr. Fahmy faced widely denounced terror charges and spent more than a year in prison before a successful appeal of an earlier conviction resulted in a retrial that culminated in Saturday's verdict. Mr. Fahmy was ultimately sentenced for failing to register with the country's journalist syndicate, possessing unlicensed broadcast equipment and broadcasting "false news" on Al Jazeera.

Canada's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Lynne Yelich, released a statement Saturday saying senior officials were advocating for "the same treatment of Mr. Fahmy as other foreign nationals have received" - an apparent reference to Mr. Greste's deportation to Australia. Asked Sunday about the application for pardon and deportation, a Foreign Affairs spokeswoman would not confirm the formal request, saying in an e-mail that government officials have raised the case with Egyptian authorities at the "highest level" and will continue to provide Mr. Fahmy with consular assistance.

The application marks the second time the Canadian government has applied for Mr. Fahmy's deportation, his brother said, the first having taken place after the journalist gave up his Egyptian citizenship earlier this year in a bid to increase his chances at deportation. Despite being told by Egyptian authorities he would be deported if he relinquished his status in the country, Mr. Fahmy was not sent to Canada. His brother believes the latest application "has a different weight now" because the original verdict was appealed and a verdict in the retrial has been issued.

Mr. Fahmy, Mr. Mohamed and Mr. Greste were sentenced last year to seven to 10 years in prison after a trial largely regarded as a sham. Following that first conviction, Mr. el-Sissi told local media he wished the journalists had been deported after their arrest, rather than put on trial and jailed. The fact that Mr. Fahmy and his colleague were sent back to prison Saturday gave weight to a growing belief among experts that Mr. el-Sissi - seen as a strongman who rules by decree in the absence of a parliament - does not hold control over all state institutions, notably the judiciary.

"The case illustrates, yet again, the fragmentation of power within the Egyptian political dispensation in 2015," said Dr. Hellyer.

"There are different power centres at work here."

In Canada on the weekend, the Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy released a statement saying the verdict is "part of the ongoing human-rights violations, which range from lack of due process to targeted assassinations." The not-for-profit organization called on Mr. Harper to "utilize all possible means" to free Mr. Fahmy.

With an election on the horizon this fall, the federal opposition parties reiterated their calls for Mr. Harper to speak directly with Mr. el-Sissi, urging the Conservative Leader to take time off the campaign trial and focus squarely on securing Mr. Fahmy's return.

Speaking at an event in Halifax on Sunday, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair urged Mr. Harper to "pick up the phone" and call Mr. el-Sissi. In a statement, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau accused Mr. Harper of "inaction," noting Australia managed to secure Mr. Greste's deportation. "Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke with President el-Sissi on three occasions to secure the release of Australian citizen Peter Greste."

National Defence Minister Jason Kenney told reporters in Ottawa he would not reveal whether Mr. Harper had, in fact, spoken directly with the Egyptian President about the case, saying the release of any such details could prove counterproductive.

"It's easy for an opposition leader to stand up with a megaphone, but sometimes a degree of forceful discretion is required in the management of complex consular cases," Mr. Kenney said.

Ferry de Kerckhove, who served as Canada's ambassador to Egypt from 2008 to 2011, said he agrees that quiet diplomacy is preferred - that "low-key intervention is better than big barks."

He also said he was not surprised that Mr. Lulashnyk has sat in on court proceedings; his presence, Mr. de Kerckhove said, speaks volumes. "It does send a very strong signal, in a way, to the importance [Canada attaches] to the trial," he said. "You're making a clear statement that you are there because you expect to take the guy home."

As Mr. Fahmy's family awaits news of whether they will be allowed to do just that, his brother said he wants to deliver clothes and other essential items to his sibling Monday. "We are all trying to hold on - trying our best to stay positive and keep our hope that there are other ways out of this," he said.

Associated Graphic

Al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy, bottom, third from right, flanked to his right by his wife, Marwa, and lawyer Amal Clooney to his left, speaks with reporters on Saturday before being found guilty of an array of terrorism-related charges and receiving a sentence of three years.


The author who kicked the hornets' nest
Lagercrantz describes what it's like to continue Larsson's Millennium series with soon-to-be-released The Girl in the Spider's Web
Thursday, August 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L2

The Girl in the Spider's Web, the fourth entry in Stieg Larsson's Millennium series and one of the most highly anticipated novels of the year, arrives in bookstores on Tuesday, more than five years since the third instalment was published in North America. The latest volume continues the adventures of crusading investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, genius hacker Lisbeth Salander and other characters from the bestselling trilogy, which has sold more than 80 million copies around the world since the first book, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, was released in Sweden in the summer of 2005, less than a year after Larsson's death at age 50.

While Larsson's name still appears on the cover of the latest novel, which will be simultaneously released in 26 countries around the world, this time it is joined by that of David Lagercrantz, who was handpicked by Larsson's publisher to (somewhat controversially) continue the series.

Lagercrantz has a similar pedigree to Larsson; a Swedish journalist-turned-novelist, he's the author of nine previous novels and works of non-fiction, the most recent of which, I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the memoirs of the soccer superstar, is the fastest-selling book in the country's history. Lagercrantz was having a drink with his literary agent a couple of years ago, discussing his next project, when he mentioned that, as a former reporter, he enjoyed getting assignments. Her face lit up, he recalls, and the next time they met she offered him the assignment of a lifetime.

"She asked me if I maybe would consider continuing the Millennium series. I didn't believe it. I thought it was a crazy idea," he says, adding he doubted the veracity of the offer until he met with Larsson's publisher later that summer - a meeting that, in a detail that could have been stolen from Larsson's work, took place "in a cellar," out of view. "It was a [rival] publishing house, so I couldn't be seen. They sort of smuggled me in. And for the first time I started to understand that this was really serious. ... I remember walking home in a sort of fever."

Lagercrantz, who turns 53 a few days after the novel's publication, recently spoke with The Globe from his publisher's office in Stockholm. He was preparing to embark on a months-long global book tour that touches down in Toronto on Sept. 17.

("It's going to be absolutely crazy," he says with a laugh. "I hope I will survive.") Yet, for a man who describes himself as "always a bit of a neurotic," he seemed quietly confident in the book he's produced, the plot of which involves a murdered computer scientist developing a form of artificial intelligence, a gang of underworld hackers, an autistic boy with a hidden ability, an abusive movie star, the U.S. National Security Agency, the shaky financial future of Blomkvist's magazine, and a figure from Salander's troubled childhood.

"To be honest, the magnitude of the project did me good," Lagercrantz says. "I have this reporter's temperament still in me - I thrive under pressure. I was terrified. I had nightmares that the world would mock me and say I'm a disgrace, and how could [I] write Stieg Larsson's book this lousy.

"I worked harder than ever to live up to him. I tried to be worthy of him. He was the brilliant genius who invented this world.

I tried to step into it."

Did you know Stieg Larsson?

No, I'm afraid I didn't. I'm so sad about that. The thing is that I didn't know he existed. Now he's such a legendary figure, of course, not just because of his crime novels but also because of his work against racism. He founded this paper, Expo, but back in his day. Expo was a very small paper and right-wingers and racists were quite few. Now, for God's sake, we have them in parliament. He was such a brilliant person - he saw what was coming. Sweden has changed so much.

Why do you think his work remains so popular?

His stories are so complex. A conventional crime story is simple - it's just a corpse in the river or something, and a detective with an alcohol problem. But the main reason is that he invented an absolutely iconic character. I think we invent this kind of character just a few times every century - in the 19th century we had Sherlock Holmes. Lisbeth Salander [is] a terrific figure in so many ways. I can talk about her forever. I was honestly scared to death, just as the villains are - I was so scared that I couldn't do her justice.

And in the beginning I had problems with her, I put too much emotion in her, and she doesn't really suit emotion. You have to feel her anger, her urge for revenge, between the lines.

She's the underdog, striking back. I had nightmares about not being worthy of Lisbeth Salander. What's extraordinary about Lisbeth Salander is that not only is she a brilliant person, but what makes her interesting is her mythology, growing up in this home with this evil, evil father, raping and abusing her mother. She had to grow up too early and take revenge herself. Just like Batman's mythology - he fights for justice in Gotham, but he still is revenging the murders of his parents. And it's a bit the same with Lisbeth.

She also has her own agenda.

She's the revenging figure.

Is it true that you wrote this novel on a computer unconnected to the Internet?

It's absolutely true. That was kind of crazy, because the NSA has a big role in the book. I sort of lived in the same world that I was writing about. We used code words, we didn't e-mail anything, even the editor couldn't work on a connected computer.

We sent the book with a personal courier. We were really paranoid.

Besides your editor, did anybody else know you were writing this novel? Could you even tell your family?

My family, of course. I must have someone to talk to. My 94year-old mother did as well, because I knew she would keep a secret. But otherwise nobody knew.

Was it a difficult secret to keep?

Yes! I'm not a secretive guy. I'm talkative. You want to come out and tell the world.

The novel's plot hinges, in part, on a computer scientist pursuing artificial intelligence. Do you think it's something you'll see in your lifetime?

The capacity of computers is doubling every eight months.

It's exponential development. I think it's a real threat, actually, that a computer one day will be more intelligent than us. Just a couple of years ago that was just science fiction, but now I think people, clever people like Stephen Hawking, are really worried about it. I'm very interested in the brain - I wrote about Alan Turing, the inventor of AI [in his 2009 novel Fall of Man in Wilmslow]. As Alan Turing said, why shouldn't we create intelligence in materials other than something that looks like a pile of porridge, as our brain does. So I think it's a real threat, and we have to think about that because no one will slow down the development.

You can't say to the guys at Apple or Microsoft or Cisco, 'Come on, don't do your research, take it slow.' The competition is so high. They want to develop the most intelligent machine they can.

Were you trying to write like Stieg Larsson?

I didn't use my most literary prose, as I did when I wrote the Alan Turing book, because Stieg Larsson - he's this great storyteller but he uses journalistic prose. They're fast-written books. I tried not to be too literary.

Stieg Larsson's partner, Eva Gabrielsson, isn't pleased about the novel's release. She told The Guardian that 'I don't think it's okay for people to hijack other people's work.' Do you think that's what you've done?

This has been the thrill of my life. I've never been so passionate about anything in my whole life. The only thing that really troubles me, and makes me sad, is that I make her so angry. But what I know now, for absolutely sure, is that this is good for Stieg Larsson's authorship. Now a new generation is reading his books. I deeply respect her views, and all that she's gone through, but she and her friends keep on [saying], 'Let his books rest in peace.' And I can tell you that I've never, ever, met a writer that wants his [books] to rest in peace. Every author wants to be read and discussed. And now we are reading his books again, we are discussing them again, and we are discussing his life's work - his courageous fight against racism. So I'm sad for her, and I deeply respect her, and I'm so sorry for her. But I'm sure this is good for Stieg Larsson. It will make him even a bigger legend.

The ending leaves open the possibility of further sequels. Are you committed to writing more of these novels?

We are certainly discussing that.

But I will not be Stieg Larsson for my whole life.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Associated Graphic

Swedish journalist-turned-novelist David Lagercrantz was handpicked to continue Stieg Larsson's Millennium series.


The past is his prime
David Ellis possesses the largest collection of books on Western Canadian First Nations ever assembled. Roaming B.C. with his wares, Ellis is not only a bookseller, reports Marsha Lederman, but an on-the-go historical resource, with key documents to use for rights and reparations cases. Yet after 25 years, Ellis is ready to shelve his venture - if only someone would take his place
Wednesday, September 2, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

David Ellis cruises through British Columbia in his tricked-out white van, trying to avoid any bumps in the road. Loaded inside, into compartments he had custom-built, are hundreds of books - a meticulously packed rolling history lesson that he peddles to the people who have lived it.

Ellis roams the province with his wares - an enormous collection of books and documents that he sells primarily to First Nations communities. He goes from reserve to reserve - often very remote communities - or sets up shop at a local chamber of commerce or public library, a little sandwich board outside advertising the rare First Nations books on offer.

As much a self-taught historian as a travelling salesman, Ellis has an encyclopedic knowledge of First Nations history and the inventory to match.

"I've built up a complete bibliography in my head and I've built up the stock," he says toward the end of a long, mostly quiet day at the Squamish Nation's Totem Hall, surrounded by banker's boxes stuffed with merchandise. "I've got at least 2,000 books when I go out."

Compiled over 44 years by Ellis and his father before him, this is the largest and most comprehensive collection of books on Western Canadian First Nations ever assembled, according to Ellis. Not simply a book-selling venture, the collection includes key documents that can be used for rights cases, reparations and education programs.

"My dad always said Canada's only as good as we make it," Ellis says. "So it's not only supplying books, but also I'm an advocate."

To Squamish he has brought everything from YA novels and memoirs by First Nations elders to a detailed 1989 report on herring spawning areas ("It's a very good report; nobody's bought it yet, but they will"), and a U.S. Coast Guard safety assessment on liquefied natural gas.

"I have a hell of a time sourcing this stuff, I tell you," he says, holding up the LNG report in its plastic covering. "I have to dig, dig, dig, dig."

He's also brought old books with some uncomfortable titles and content - such as the 1920s Canadian history textbook All About Indians and a 1975 memoir by Princess Pale Moon, a Cherokee-Ojibwa woman who literally tries to wash the colour from her face, despising her "dark skin, dark hair, dark eyes. Darkness was my curse." It's startling to stand in a First Nations community hall and read such a passage.

"There's certain books people don't really like at all, but I still bring them because people actually want them 'cause they want to study them," says Ellis, who is not native himself, but of European descent. (Sometimes he takes heat for that, he says, being a white guy selling native books.)

"The word 'Indian' you can't get rid of. Otherwise you'd have no books left. Some libraries make the mistake of throwing out all the books with [the word] 'Indian.' They have no native books left. You can't do it, eh?" His stock includes scarce, out-of-print books that he sources primarily from other booksellers - hunting them down online or in person during his travels around Western Canada.

"People think I get them from garage sales, but it's a statistical impossibility to get this rare stuff from them," says Ellis, who is known in many of these places simply as "the book man."

After nearly 25 years in the business, Ellis says he knows exactly what's going to sell where - Shaker Church books do well with the Squamish, Lake Cowichan and Stz'uminus First Nations. The Kwakwaka'wakw have a lot of interest in Franz Boas. Marius Barbeau is the big seller in the Skeena. Ellis calls it "precision book selling."

This business was his inheritance. His father, Bill Ellis, worked with famed Haida artist Bill Reid as an art agent, and through that connection became close to the native community.

After Bill Ellis sold his native art print business, he developed a new vocation - collecting and selling books about First Nations from his home on Haida Gwaii (then officially called the Queen Charlotte Islands).

When Bill Ellis died in 2002, David inherited the books - about 23,000 of them. While the father had concentrated his sales efforts on coastal First Nations, the son spread out across the province, up to the Yukon and Northwest Territories and into parts of Alberta. He has since built up the collection to about 100,000.

"What I'm trying to do is a full bibliography for each First Nation in B.C. It adds up to a lot of books," says Ellis, who has a master's degree in natural resource management. (He's still engaged on environmental issues, regularly sending out lengthy e-mails on matters such as the English Bay oil spill, fish stocks, LNG and pipelines. "I can give you an opinion on everything," he says.)

What he's selling - often historical and rare - doesn't come cheap. In Squamish, for example, he's brought along a 1916 McKenna-McBride Royal Commission document with a $1,000 price tag.

"That's a very important legal document," he says, later noting that some of his books reach that price based on courtroom value and scarcity. More than a good read, Ellis's book stock can be and has been used in legal cases - historical maps and ethnographic data can be important in land claims, and he says his material has come into play for the Tsilhqot'in, Nisga'a and Williams Lake First Nations.

"I wouldn't claim any direct credit, but I'm helping them and their lawyers to get data; that's one of my key selling points.

Because I've got the depth of material," he says.

Further, books on residential schools have been used to prove residency at a school and thus helped determine reparations.

Sometimes the discoveries are happier; Ellis has united people with a book that unexpectedly includes a picture of a family member - maybe an ancestor they never met.

"If I'm doing my job right, it happens every day," he says.

Ellis brings along old newspaper articles for the same reason.

"It doesn't pay, but it's fun."

For his first 14 years as a bookseller, sales to schools around the province accounted for at least half his business, but "that's completely gone now" he says, because of shrunken budgets.

His merchandise isn't all rare and pricey; he also brings along a box of bargain books, priced at $5 apiece. As for the rest, there's so much that goes into the price - his hefty knowledge, accumulated over the years, which informs the acquisitions to begin with. Then there's all the labour - the sorting and storage, the driving and setting up shop from place to place to place, then all that work upon return.

"When I come home I have to put it all away, book by book," he says in his "office" - a Vancouver storage facility where he spends his non-travelling days, filing new acquisitions and packing and unpacking from his road trips. He rents four full units, each outfitted with custom-built shelving and categorized by Nation.

"You're dealing with things that are heavy," he sighs. "I should have gone into real estate. It's lighter."

Some trips are tremendously fruitful - a couple of times he has sold a library worth of stock in a day to First Nations building their own collections. Sometimes, the trips are a bust. There was one remote area he drove out to three times - nearly 500 kilometres each way - and each time, for one reason or another, he had to turn around without even setting up. "And it was a long and bumpy road hammering the hell out of my old van," he says. "Eventually I sold them a lot of books, but it takes a lot of patience, you know?" This season has already been busy - he's travelled to Vancouver Island, Alert Bay and the northern B.C. Interior. In the Yukon, he scheduled a different overnight.

Winters are quieter. Travel being more difficult, he spends time dealing with the collection and at Christmas he sets up shop at a little mall across from Vancouver City Hall.

In truth, it's barely a living.

("What I tell people is my wife pays the rent; I buy the refrigerators.") But it's a way of life.

However, at 64, Ellis is getting ready to shelve the venture: He's looking for a buyer. He has three daughters, none of whom is going to take over the business.

"I can't do this forever," he says on the line from Penticton, during a slow period in mid-July.

He talks about selling in two, maybe three years to somebody who might expand the business to all of Canada - possibly even worldwide.

"Maybe a German guy who likes to visit exotic places and interesting people. Somebody with money," he says. "More

Associated Graphic

David Ellis has built up a collection of 100,000 First Nations books and documents.


David Ellis roams Western Canada selling books to primarily First Nations communities.


A pragmatic, philosophical, altruistic leader
Sophie Brochu, chief executive officer of Gaz Métro
Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B3

MONTREAL -- In a way, Sophie Brochu owes her career steering Quebec's $6-billion energy company Gaz Métro to a plain-talking fisherman in Digby, N.S.

Today, Ms. Brochu is one of Quebec Inc.'s brightest lights, a woman who turned a sleepy natural-gas distributor into an Eastern Canadian energy powerhouse with assets in electricity, wind power and biomethane. In the summer of 1985, however, she was a fresh-faced 21-year-old from Lévis, Que., when she was hired as a liaison agent for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Her job: Travel to Nova Scotia and explain to the local fishermen why Ottawa would soon implement a quota on cod, whose numbers were rapidly dwindling.

The Québecoise had just finished her first presentation to a group of about 30 men in the local church in Digby, and asked if there were any questions. One man raised his hand - Ms. Brochu remembers he had "brick-sized hands," like most of the other men - and lumbered slowly past the cluster of plaid jackets and sea-worn salopettes to the front of the room, where she stood.

He took the felt marker she was holding and began drawing a dotted line on the map she had brought to illustrate her points.

"He said: 'Do you know what this is?' " she recalls. "I said nope.

And he said: 'Well, it's the international boundary of the waters.' And he drew little fish boats on the left, which was the Canadian side, and huge fish boats with the Japanese flag on the right side.

And he said: 'Well, those darned fish don't know they're crossing the line. And they're going to get to Japan if they don't get to us.' "The young woman stood stunned. No one in Ottawa had told her the Japanese fishing fleet was at such close proximity. No one had explained until now that it likely didn't matter whether the Canadian government introduced a quota for the cod; somebody would catch them anyway.

"I felt I was kept in the dark about something very important," Ms. Brochu remembers. She phoned her bosses and told them she felt she couldn't do the job they wanted her to do. Dog and boyfriend in tow, she decamped back to Quebec.

Reflecting about this now over lunch at Le Petit Bistro, an eastend Montreal eatery near Gaz Métro headquarters, she says she wasn't angry at her bosses. Rather, she was sad she wasn't told the whole story. "And I was sad for the people there, because I didn't know what could be done."

The takeaway is you want to know what you're getting into before you do it, she says.

The comments are quintessential Sophie Brochu: equal parts pragmatic, philosophical and altruistic. The meeting with the fishermen turned out to be what shaped the next 30 years of her life. It led directly to a job that same summer at Soquip, Quebec's now-defunct state oil and gas developer, and from there to Gaz Métro, where she's been chief executive for eight years, helming a doubling of assets to $6-billion as the gas company took over Vermont's two big electric utilities. It now has more customers in the United States than Canada.

The thing is, as Ms. Brochu observes, the stats on Gaz Métro, while impressive, really aren't interesting to the average person.

We chuckle about the seemingly endless parade of executives who drone on about their companies during lunchtime speeches on Montreal's rubber-chicken speaking circuit, rattling off facts easily accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. And she tells me she hopes my story will be about her ideas, more than about her life or the company she works for.

She's attracted plenty of attention for those ideas already.

In a rare public undressing of one Canadian company by another, Ms. Brochu took to the podium at a lunch hosted by Montreal's Board of Trade late last year and dismantled TransCanada Corp.'s Energy East pipeline project, a proposal to pump 1.1 million barrels of Western Canadian crude a day eastward to Quebec and New Brunswick.

Her critique was all the more surprising because Gaz Métro buys gas from TransCanada. But Ms. Brochu isn't one for keeping up appearances, not when she believes her customers and her home province will be hurt.

Her main beef concerned pipeline capacity: TransCanada plans to convert part of an existing gas pipeline network to oil and build a gas conduit to supply Eastern Ontario and Quebec.

Ms. Brochu argued the new line's volume as proposed was completely inadequate to meet peak demand and future industrial growth in Quebec. And she said gas customers would be subsidizing the new oil conduit.

In the end, TransCanada relented, this week announcing a deal with Gaz Métro and Ontario's two natural-gas distributors, providing the gas capacity the distributors were seeking as well as a minimum $100-million rate benefit through 2050.

"I'm super happy with the result," Ms. Brochu said. "It's weird that we had to go through this process to reach an agreement that was so obvious to us at the beginning."

Ms. Brochu's dissection of Energy East's flaws earned her scorn in some quarters, particularly in Western Canada, where news headlines painted her as opposed to the project. In fact, she recognizes the need for the pipeline and the desire of Alberta producers to get their oil to tidewater.

She just doesn't think it should come at the expense of eastern Canadian gas distributors and their clients.

A trained economist, Ms. Brochu went public with her critique after more than a year of trying to negotiate something privately with TransCanada and other players. It was an effort to bring "everyone in the middle."

That's why she champions the idea of a national energy strategy - articulating the need for a panCanadian vision long before the provincial premiers made it a priority this summer. And it also plays into her belief that the world needs more "slow companies" - businesses that deliberately sacrifice maximum profit to build wider societal support for their activities.

To make her point, she tells a story about when she started in the gas business in 1987. At the time, gas was selling for a cheap 99 cents per gigajoule, and every oil and gas company in Western Canada had salespeople who made a point of knowing their clients in Quebec and Ontario by name.

When the futures market started around 1990, sales could be made on a screen and producers let those one-on-one relationships wither. Talking to customers became unnecessary.

Ten years later, with natural gas at a punishing $13 per gigajoule, it was left to buyers such as Gaz Métro to explain to exasperated retail customers why the commodity had become so expensive.

The Quebec utility did that and more. It implemented one of the industry's first efficiency programs to help clients consume less of the stuff it sold. At the time, people thought it was nuts.

Today, such programs are commonplace.

"Do we need to extract the customer's last penny all the time? I personally believe not," says Ms. Brochu, winding her way back to a concluding thought on Energy East. "If you build an infrastructure of $12-billion [as TransCanada is proposing], I personally believe it's worth letting go a few basis points of profit to build a consensus."

The server takes away our plates of sweet-and-sour risotto and skate-wing fillet, mine empty, my companion's largely untouched. Ms. Brochu makes a point of thanking her and explaining that the food was great; she's just not big on lunch.

A former amateur actor who studied as a college student under renowned director Robert Lepage and others before she quit the craft ("You meet people who really are artists. And then you realize you're not"), Ms. Brochu gets approached a lot by political kingmakers to test her interest in running for office. Her answer is always no. She doesn't believe she has the required patience, she says. Besides, she insists she can do more for society in her current role and in the significant time she gives to charities like Ruelle de l'Avenir, which encourages students in Montreal's CentreSud and Hochelaga neighbourhoods (among Canada's poorest), to remain in school.

Quebec, in particular, is going through a period of meaningful budgetary cutbacks, but she argues its leaders have been largely obsessed with the process without properly explaining the reward that lies at the end of the difficult journey.

"Everybody's focused on how we need to get there. But we forget what is there. What's there is that the children will go to school with a full stomach and the guy who's worked his whole life will not die in a hospital corridor. That's the beach, [the reward]. Talk to me about the beach. That's what's lacking."

Associated Graphic


One is pedestrian; the other does superb street food
While Città is good, if unspectacular, A3 Napoli - on the back of a deep-fryer - is poised to change the pizza game in town
Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M3

The battilocchi at A3 Napoli, an extraordinary new street food spot in Little Italy, begin humbly enough, as standard rounds of pizza dough. The rounds are floured and stretched and plied with San Marzano tomato sauce, buffalo milk ricotta and provole cheese, and then they're scattered with nubs of the pressed pork terrine the Italians call cicciole. Cicciole tastes like somebody crossed slow-roasted, rosemary and garlic porchetta with a tin of Spam.

That's as good a start as a pizza will ever get, but battilocchi, a beloved street snack around Southern Italy, go one far better still. A3 is Toronto's first proper Neapolitan friggitoria - a specialist in deep-fried cooking. Those loaded pizza rounds are folded in half and formed into long, fat crescents. They're then flash-fried until crisp and bubbly crusted and nearly as tender inside as freshly-cooked doughnuts, but oozing with rosemary-scented pork, sweet, sun-ripened sauce and richly creamy cheese. They come wrapped in brown paper, shaped like comestible boomerangs. They are one of the most perfect, if decadent, street foods I've encountered, although I'd say the same for a lot of what A3 Napoli does.

The restaurant is a project of the Pizzeria Libretto company and Porchetta & Co., the popular Dundas West sandwich shop. It's a fast-food concept, effectively, but with inexpensive beer and wine on tap, a cheery patio, soft, welcoming lighting and communal tables. It's a fast-food concept that uses pristine, seasonal ingredients and employs real chefs in its open kitchen. (Also: A3 Napoli does somewhat more typical - by which I mean excellent - woodfired pizzas, in case deep-fried isn't your thing.) Just two-and-ahalf months old, the little spot is poised to dramatically change the city's pizza game.

You can get other flash-fried snacks here: superb calamari, and arancini rice balls; paper cones of fritti misti, and a terrific $19 gran fritto misto platter for a crowd. A can't-miss: the frittatine di pasta, which is to deep-fried mac and cheese what Enrico Caruso is to Justin Bieber. Or for $4 you can get an order of zucchini fritti, the pale green flesh cooked just enough to warm and sweeten it, and the batter as diaphanous as golden lace.

There are other deep-fried pizza variations: the straight-up pizza fritta is the same as a battilocchio but twice the size and round instead of crescent-shaped; the montanara, by contrast, is as wide around as a tea saucer and puffed up from frying, with a shallow divot in the middle for a daub of buffalo mozzarella and tomato sauce. (Be advised: the montanara is more about the bread than what's on top.) What none of the fried pizzas are is greasy: the restaurant imported a purpose-built friggitrice, a wide, shallow fryer that cooks the pies quickly, before they can absorb too much oil.

Or if you prefer your pizzas baked, there's a roaring, 2.5-tonne wood-burning oven at the heart of the restaurant, in which they do excellent Libretto-style pizzas in all of 90 seconds. A very good Margherita is $11; the $14 specials, which change a couple times weekly, have included burrata and pickled chili, as well as a clam, parsley and lemon version, and roasted eggplant with clouds of whipped ricotta cheese.

My average wait time from order to eating was five to seven minutes, though I'd imagine if the place were crowded that could stretch to 10 or 15 minutes, which is nothing in the pizza game. Can somebody remind me why Pizza Pizza still exists?

Città, a new mid-market Italian spot in downtown's Concord CityPlace development, is owned in part by the restaurant impresarios Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji, whose names were all over the project when it opened last winter. Being there you'd hardly know that they're involved.

Where the duo's other spots, including Byblos, Patria, NAO Steakhouse and Weslodge, are defined by luxe, spare-no-expense design and often ambitious cooking, Città is a far more modest place. A third partner in Città, named Adam Brown, operates the restaurant. Mr. Brown also owns and operates the local Fox & Fiddle franchise. Città feels like a franchise spot, even if it isn't one. It feels like an Italian restaurant that emerged, fully realized, from a box.

The room, built into the ground floor of a condo tower, is almost suburban in scale: the tables are large and sturdy, the ceilings high and the décor is understated. Outside there's a sprawling but comfortable patio with tulip trees growing into it; at least a few of those tulip trees are still alive.

What makes the place notable is who the partners put in charge of running the kitchen. Città's executive chef - at least for the few months after the restaurant opened, when the food press was paying attention - was Ben Heaton, a serious talent who trained at Colborne Lane and Mark McEwan's ONE before opening the short-lived (but much-admired) British spot The Grove, on Dundas West. (Mr. Heaton is now working on a new project for Mr. Khabouth and Mr. Harji.) The partners also hired David Mattachioni, a 14-year veteran of the Terroni company, to train the staff and run the restaurant's pizza oven. (Mr. Mattachioni, too, has since left and is building a pizza spot of his own in the Junction Triangle, near the Farmhouse Tavern.) That's some highly impressive pedigree for a place that strives to show almost no culinary ambition at all.

The cooking at Città is good, if unspectacular, and the menu - of "authentic Italian culinary classics" - as safe as any in town. The pizzas are the highlight here: they're Terroni pizzas, effectively, with supercrisp crusts that crackle like Carr's Table Water Crackers, and with sweet, nicely concentrated tomato sauce. The pastas vary in quality. We had a beautifully creamy carbonara one night, followed by linguine di mare with torrents of spice and red sauce, but no discernible seafood taste. It was fine, but not what it was supposed to be. Another night's ricotta agnolotti were dry at their edges from sitting out before cooking, which happens, often, in restaurants that make their own stuffed pastas. Otherwise the dish was very good.

The fried artichokes I had were as good as I've tried, but the caprese salad - served, I should note, at the peak of one of the best tomato seasons in recent memory - was made with what looked and tasted like supermarket beefsteaks. They were white at their cores still; they hadn't fully ripened. The salad contained four thick slices of tomato, exactly, and three slices of humdrum mozzarella, and cost a ludicrous $14. The half roast chicken sells for $22 (but without any accoutrements, save a few olives and rosemary; contorni go for $8 each) and is seasoned well and juicy enough. The trout fillet was also fine, while the veal scallopini was dry and sad; it was veal scallopini as your Southern Italian nonna might make it, if your nonna didn't love you very much.

What I can't figure out is why - apart from geographic proximity - someone would go to Città before Terroni or Mercatto, which also do safe, mid-market Italian, but exponentially better. And I don't know why a chef like Mr. Heaton, not to mention Mr. Khabouth and Mr. Harji, would want their names attached to Città at all. Each of them is better than this place.

There are excellent cannoli for dessert, as well as bomboloni, which are Italian doughnuts, our server informed us. We shared a bombolone filled with passion fruit curd and it tasted like a doughnut. It was pretty good.

Follow me on Twitter: @cnutsmith



589 College St. (at Clinton Street), no phone, .

Atmosphere: A cheery takeout counter serving Neapolitan pizzas and absurdly decadent deep-fried foods, with seating in the back. No table service.

Wine and drinks: Peroni and Flying Monkeys beer, and a decent white and red wine on tap, served in plastic cups for cheap.

Best bets: Eat it all. And maybe a salad to soothe the guilt.

Prices: Fried pizzas from $4 to $13; baked pizzas are $11 to $14; fritti from $4 to $18.


92 Fort York Blvd.

(at Dan Leckie Way), 416-623-9662, .

Atmosphere: A friendly and casual room at the heart of downtown condoland. Kind service, nice patio, reasonable noise levels.

Wine and drinks: The wine list is decidedly approachable, with lots under $50. So-so cocktails.

Best bets: Any pizza, carbonara, fried artichokes, cannoli, bomboloni.

Prices: Appetizers, $5 to $21; mains, $16 to $29.

Associated Graphic

The gran fritto misto platter, one of A3 Napoli's various flash-fried snacks, is a crowd pleaser.


High and mighty
For beginner climbers, few ranges offer more delights than Ethiopia's Simien Mountains. In these highlands - home to adventurous baboons and rare ibex - a multiday trek means exploring an ever-changing landscape with a constant sense of wonder
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page T1

SIMIEN MOUNTAINS, ETHIOPIA -- When it comes to hiking in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro claims all the fame: Snow-capped and wreathed in clouds, it's the highest peak on the continent and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. As an adrenalin junkie and a hopeless romantic I admit to being tempted, but the price of a climb - up to $4,000 - forced me to look for cheaper alternatives.

I stumbled upon the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia and within a few minutes was utterly sold. A series of jaw-dropping peaks, plateaus and valleys in the northern Ethiopian Highlands, the range is part of Simien National Park, a 1978 UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hills are home to the socially adventurous gelada baboons, the elusive Ethiopian wolves and the shy but regal walia ibex, a goat found nowhere else in the world. Years of plateau erosion have created one of the most spectacular landscapes on Earth, and if you're a beginner on a budget like me, few mountain ranges can offer you more.

My journey began by haggling a price with online tour companies, which quoted me between $600 and $2,000 for an all-inclusive four-day hike. This looked like a bit of a gimmick to me, and I was sure the agents would charge me as much as they could from behind their computer screens. I was proven right, and through the grapevine learned that the cheapest way to book a climb was last minute, upon arrival in the northern Ethiopian city of Gondar.

I took a chance, and at the airport in Gondar met a sprightly young booking agent named Bocata. We negotiated our deal in town: $435 for a four-day hike including food, accommodation, porters, a guide and round-trip transportation from the city to the park. I ordered a beer to celebrate my bargaining skills, sat on a patio and watched livestock scurry through the crumbling streets (I later learned that another couple got the same package for $375 by forcing multiple agents to compete for their business).

Ethiopia, Page 4

My mountain adventure began in the small town of Debarq, also known as "the Gateway to the Simien Mountains." I joined a group of other tourists, accompanied by an experienced guide named Lej and a gun-toting scout who, to our great surprise, climbed the entire range in a pair of plastic sandals. We hiked at our own pace over challenging but manageable terrain, and camped overnight in tents at designated checkpoints. Every meal was a veritable smorgasbord, and we were provided ample break time for lunch, water and photography throughout our climb.

The Simien Mountains are almost uniquely diverse in their geological formation, boasting rippling highlands, cliffs and gorges of overwhelming natural beauty. The scenery changed every few hours from winding forest on the cliffs to rolling hills of yellow barley, almost biblical in appearance. We passed some of the most beautiful flora and fauna I have ever seen - rich eucalyptus groves, giant lobelia, icy-white everlastings, red hot pokers and mountain palm trees. We stopped for a drink at the great Jinbar Waterfall, which tumbles more than 500 metres into the bottomless Geech Abyss, and had lunch by the cool streams that run down the mountain.

Gelada baboons - famous for their protruding, "bleeding heart" chests - became regular company, and we observed their unusual eating, playing and grooming habits from within a few metres almost every day.

Verreaux's eagles, lanner falcons and augur buzzards soared over our campsites, and we kept our eyes peeled for the rare Ethiopian wolves and walia ibexes, both of which are species endemic to Ethiopia.

We never saw the elusive wolves, but on the very last day found a group of male ibexes scaling the slopes. Our guide had insisted we get up at 6 a.m. that day to optimize our chances, and the sight of these powerful goats - their arching, ribbed horns more than a metre in length - made marching through the frigid morning temperatures more than worthwhile.

They were quite a dramatic contrast from the grazing goats we shared the hiking trails with, and it was truly a privilege to have seen them (we were the only climbers who did that day).

But the most fascinating interactions you'll have on the Simien Mountains isn't with the animals - it's with the incredible people you meet along the way.

The Amhara have villages all over the national park and subsistence goat, cattle and barley farmers peppered the hills throughout our hike.

On Day 2 of our climb, we were invited for a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony in the village of Geech, about 3,400 metres above sea level, in the mud-plastered home of the village leader's third wife, a mother of four in her early twenties.

Chickens ran freely throughout the small, dark hut as she ground the coffee beans by hand and told us about the rising prices of oil, barley, millet and teff, and I distinctly remember thinking: You can't get this on Kilimanjaro.

Ethiopia is a mysterious and captivating country, simultaneously progressive yet frozen in time. In the Simien Mountains, little has changed over the past hundred years, and running water and electricity are foreign to its residents, many of whom walk for days to Debarq for supplies despite the availability of trucks and buses. Lej, our guide, is the only member of his family to have ever completed high school and left his village near the mountain camp of Chennek.

At last, on the fourth day, we reached the summit of Mount Bwahit, the third-highest mountain in Ethiopia with an altitude of nearly 4,440 metres. A group of Amhara girls had hiked more than two hours to reach the top before us to sell little baskets, necklaces and religious paraphernalia.

For 50 birr (about $3 Canadian) I bought a solid silver coin emblazoned with the face of Queen Sheba, a token they promised me was an "original artifact" more than 500 years old.

I peered over the peak at the clouds, rifts and valleys below, and couldn't imagine having picked any other mountain in Africa.


Temperatures in the Simien Mountains vary based on altitude, and it is important to pack adequate clothing for cold conditions in the mornings and evenings, and hot conditions during the afternoons.

The best time to book a trip is between October and May, when temperatures are warmer during the dry season. Altitude sickness is rarely an issue.

Bring flashlights and extra camera batteries; there will be no opportunity to charge equipment on the mountains.


Most booking agents or tour companies in Gondar will be happy to include transportation to the park as part of an all-inclusive climbing package, especially if you insist. It is possible to take a bus from Gondar to Debarq for about $3, but the roads are poor and breakdowns are frequent, so consider hiring a private driver through your hotel. The journey will take between two hours and four hours.

Accommodations are available both in Gondar (the L-Shape Hotel costs about $18 a night for a double) and in Debarq at the gates of Simien National Park (the Simien Lodge costs about $200 a night for a double).


Park admission fees will be included in your climbing package, but bring at least 1,000 birr ($60) in cash - 50 birr for your coffee ceremony hosts in Geech, between 100 and 200 birr for souvenirs and the remainder for tipping your guide, scout, cooks and porters.

It's up to you how long and how high you want to climb, but most packages range from three-day hikes to Chennek Camp (about 3,620 metres above sea level) to week-long treks up to Ras Dashen, the highest mountain in Ethiopia (about 4,550 metres above sea level). I found the three-night, four-day package to be the best value for money, which includes most of the best views of in the park (Tiya Afat, Jinbar Waterfall, Imet Gogo Summit and Mount Bwahit).

Associated Graphic

Gelada baboons, known for a distinct heart-shaped mark on the chest, are not found anywhere else in the world.


Top: The Amhara people have villages all over the Simien National Park, and children often wait to watch hikers pass through the trails as a form of entertainment. Above: Gelada baboons are just one of the species that can be observed on the climb. Right: The national park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.


Above: A woman performs a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony in her home in the village of Geech, which is located about 3,400 metres above sea level.

Right: A yellow-billed kite watches hikers at a campsite at Geech. Other birds to look for include Verreaux's eagles, lanner falcons and augur buzzards.

Costly glitches grow as new jail must replace 1,700 windows
Thursday, August 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

Ontario is paying to replace 1,700 windows at its new flagship jail after inmates broke several panes and, in at least one case, weaponized the shards - one of a series of potentially dangerous growing pains that have plagued the country's second-largest jail and compelled hundreds of staff to apply for transfers.

Toronto South Detention Centre, which opened its cells to inmates 20 months ago, has been afflicted by malfunctioning cell doors, poorly placed smoke detectors and tricky computer hardware, according to staff and a list of more than 27 formal employee complaints compiled by the Ontario Ministry of Labour for The Globe and Mail.

"This place was supposed to be a shining example of the future of corrections in this province," said NDP corrections critic Jennifer French. "Instead, we've had very costly problem after very costly problem."

A replacement for the aging Toronto Don and Toronto West jails, the South was touted as a model for both correctional facilities and public-private partnerships in Ontario. In media tours, jail representatives described the complex as a cutting-edge institution with award-winning architecture, top-notch health-care facilities and a progressive supervision model that would benefit staff and inmates alike.

Ontario is locked into a 30-year, $1.1-billion contract with Integrated Team Solutions to build and maintain the structure, which, at 67,000 square metres, is slightly larger than the Air Canada Centre.

Integrated Team Solutions is a consortium of builders and financial backers led by EllisDon and Fengate Capital.

But the consortium's contractual obligation apparently did not extend to the installation of unbreakable windows. Under pressure, the panes - officials declined to say where they are located - have been found to shatter into "small, harmless pieces" like automobile safety glass, according to a spokesman for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

Now, roughly one in five of the building's windows will be replaced with unbreakable polycarbonate sheets. The province will shoulder the cost.

A spokesperson for the consortium's project manager, EllisDon, referred all questions to the province.

In an e-mailed response, ministry spokesman Brent Ross said that "as the original windows met the requirements to maintain the safety and security of inmates, staff, and the institution and were not defective, the costs for the new windows will be covered through the ministry's contingency fund for major projects."

Mr. Ross didn't elaborate on how the panes were broken, but said the work is being done to "reduce the possibility of inmate vandalism and better ensure the safety and security of both staff and inmates." The cost of the replacement won't be known until a final bid is chosen. He acknowledged the jail's growing pains, but said "all products used or installed in our facilities are designed and tested to maintain the safety and security of inmates, staff and the institution."

Sources among Toronto South staff told The Globe that at least 26 windows had been broken and that at one point they were advised to wear shard-resistant goggles to mitigate the safety threat.

One staffer spoke on the condition of anonymity about a window-related incident that sent a scare through the institution several months ago. An inmate unloosened the bolts fastening a food slot to his cell door, the source said. He used the bolts to break his window and crush the glass into a dust. When staff received a tip the inmate planned to blow the powdered glass into a guard's eyes, they moved and searched the inmate, but, according to the source, the glass was never recovered.

The glass was identified as a potential hazard as long ago as July 16, 2014, when an employee refused to work because an inmate had kicked and shattered a pane, according to a complaint made to the Ministry of Labour.

Staff made at least two other complaints to the ministry, including one that specifically identified "shards" of glass on the floor from broken windows.

"We've never heard of glass breaking anywhere else, at any other institution," said Sheldon Small, a guard and vice-president of the union chapter representing Toronto South guards, Local 5112 of OPSEU, which is currently negotiating a collective agreement with the province. "Our place is probably the only jail where staff would look forward to going on strike. We can stay out until they build us a real jail. This one's already falling apart."

The morale problem is pressing.

Of 470 guards working at Toronto South, 260 have applied for transfers, according to the union. The current employee complement is only robust enough to operate half the complex, and even then there have been continual lockdowns owing to staffing shortages. The province has vowed to fill the void with an additional 300 hires for Toronto South before the end of the year.

"People will only work so long in this environment before they decide to move on and try something else," Local 5112 president Rodger Noakes said.

Part of the difficulty rests with an innovative computer system that operates doors, televisions, ventilation, intercoms and other mechanisms. All these functions are controlled by central touchscreen terminals. But that centralized control means that one relatively minor malfunction, such as the intercoms going down, can crash many of the jail's basic operations.

"When that happens, it means you have to revert to a manual key operation for all your doors and everything, which has been fairly constant in there," Mr. Noakes said.

Shortly after Toronto South opened, these computer glitches had a particularly unsettling impact on the segregation unit, home to some of the jail's most dangerous inmates. On three occasions, up to 15 doors in the unit opened - or "popped," to use the jail terminology - without warning, according to sources. In one instance, officers physically held doors shut for several hours to keep inmates confined.

Employees have complained formally about the computerized control system on eight occasions to the Ministry of Labour. According to the ministry document, staff complaints culminated in an informal job action on Nov. 10, when 50 staff refused to work, citing problems with both the computer system and slow emergency response times in the massive facility.

The design issues go beyond computer infrastructure. While other jail designs position smoke detectors beyond the reach of inmates, at Toronto South they're located directly over the toilet and sink area. At least one industrious inmate has used the sink as a stepladder to climb up and blow powdered milk into the detector, triggering the fire alarm. Another inmate broke off a piece of a sprinkler for use as a weapon, according to a Ministry of Labour complaint.

Staff believe such banned items are infiltrating the jail from outside as well. On April 13, 2015, an employee told the Ministry of Labour that the X-ray machine used to scan clothing and other personal effects had been out of service since the facility opened, making it easy to smuggle contraband.

In other Ontario jails, such problems would be addressed by in-house maintenance workers.

Under the P3 agreement, Toronto South staff have to phone in work orders to an off-site agency.

"You can't call for repairs directly any more," Mr. Noakes said.

"You have to go through a chain of phone calls. It's another learning curve when you're dealing with P3 partnerships."

Greg Flood, a Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services spokesman, said the ministry keeps the safety of staff and inmates in mind at all times.

"If health and safety concerns are raised, we work with local staff and health and safety representatives to investigate and resolve the situation, and ensure a safe and healthy working environment," he said.

Still, the steep learning curve has resulted in delays navigating the jail, according to staff. Officers manning control terminals can be so overwhelmed that staff can wait up to five minutes for single doors to open, according to Mr. Small. Considering the size of the institution, any such delays present problems when guards need emergency back-up, or simply when nature calls.

"If you have to go to the bathroom, you're better off using one of the cells," Mr. Small said. "If it's a female staffer, that's a problem."

As the problems persist, staff spirits sag ever lower. "When you see all these deficiencies and faults," Mr. Noakes said, "you lose confidence in the building, lose confidence in the system."

Associated Graphic

Toronto South staff said at least 26 windows had been broken in the facility and that at one point they were advised to wear shard-resistant goggles to mitigate the safety threat.


Some inmates have reportedly tampered with smoke detectors in their cells, including one who broke off a piece of a sprinkler for use as a weapon.

AGO appoints 'interim governing council'
Group of six will oversee Toronto institution as it gears up to find permanent replacement for the departing Matthew Teitelbaum
Saturday, April 18, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R6

In the wake of last week's announcement that Matthew Teitelbaum would be ending a 17year stint as its director/CEO, the Art Gallery of Ontario on Friday morning took the unusual and unprecedented step of creating a six-member council to run the gallery while it looks for Teitelbaum's successor.

The so-called "interim governing council" will be an amalgam of AGO trustees and staff, with Alicia Vandermeer, the gallery's chief organization officer/corporate secretary, and Robert Harding, vice-president of the AGO board of trustees, serving as cochairs. The council is to begin its duties in late June, immediately following Teitelbaum's departure from the AGO and, after a onemonth break, his assumption Aug. 3 of the directorship of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Also named to the IGC by AGO president Maxine Granovsky Gluskin following a hastily called meeting of the board were: AGO chief curator Stephanie Smith; AGO chief financial officer/director, information technology Rocco Saverino; AGO trustees Beth Horowitz and Michael Hasley.

Said Granovsky Gluskin in a statement: "I believe the IGC will provide essential guidance and support to the AGO's strong dedicated team during this interim period. With this structure in place, the gallery's forward momentum will continue, with all of us working collaboratively to ensure the AGO continues to be positioned for continued success."

Times always have been tumultuous at the AGO and Teitelbaum's almost 17-year stint as helmsman has been no exception, not least because much of that tenure was spent preparing for, overseeing and dealing with the consequences of Transformation AGO, at almost $305-million the most expensive and radical renovation/expansion in the gallery's 115-year history.

Yet what Teitelbaum, 59, conveyed through all the upheaval was a sense of stability, purpose and commitment - the kind perhaps only a native Torontonian who joined the AGO first as its chief curator in 1993 could have provided. Indeed, only another Torontonian has had a longer run in the gallery's upper echelons, namely William Withrow who ended an almost 30-year stay, 29 as director, in 1990.

It's unlikely the AGO's board of directors, which recently approved a strategic plan intended to shape the gallery's direction through 2018, hopes for or even expects that degree of investment from Teitelbaum's successor. At the same time, there's no doubt it's looking to avoid what could be called "the interregnum" between the Withrow and Teitelbaum epochs.

Those roughly eight years were split between two directors, Glenn Lowry and Maxwell Anderson. Both were New York natives, each with a PhD from Harvard.

Each came to the AGO from either a mid-sized U.S. institution or a mid-level American curatorial posting: Lowry's arrival, in 1990 at age 36, was from the Sackler and Freer Galleries at Washington's Smithsonian Institution where he'd been a curator, Anderson's in 1995 at 39 from Atlanta's Michael C. Carlos Museum where he'd been director.

Both Lowry and Anderson were picked by the AGO after lengthy, wide-ranging and expensive searches. In Lowry's case the hunt went on for nine months and involved 37 candidates (25 Canadians, 12 non-Canadians), from which a short list of two Canadians and one non-Canadian (Lowry) was drawn. To secure Anderson, who succeeded Lowry, the search lasted six months, drawing 120 candidates. From these, a long list of 10, three of whom were Canadian, was assembled, then a short list of two nonCanadians and one Canadian.

When each was named as director by the AGO, there were yelps of protest. In Canada, that is. Were there no qualified Canadians, some asked. What's with the Ivy League white guy, said others.

Howls were heard again when each decamped for plum jobs in the U.S. before each completed his contracted term: Lowry joined the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1995, where he's been director ever since; Anderson also took to Manhattan, becoming, in 1998, director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, a post he held until 2003. See, said the naysayers, this is what happens when you hire "Yankee carpetbaggers" with no nationalist sentiments to realize some vague longing for international standing! Long-time AGO trustee, benefactor and, from 1997 to 2002, president James Fleck didn't share the outrage. Still doesn't. "The Whitney and MoMA jobs - they don't come around all that often," he said recently. "Both institutions were more prestigious than the AGO" and had their respective directorships not opened up, Lowry and Anderson each might likely have stayed 10 years or so in Toronto.

And instead of feeling used, Fleck said many AGO directors felt "we were being seen as pretty attractive place to be able to staff two major U.S. art institutions." It "burnished" the AGO's reputation, he said. "And we're an even more burnished gem today."

In the case of Anderson's departure, the AGO, fortunately, had been told by Anderson early in 1998 that the Whitney was scouting his services. By that time, it was felt the 42-year-old Teitelbaum was sufficiently seasoned to be considered for the top job, having spent five years as chief curator. The AGO therefore was able to quietly create what Fleck called "a search mechanism" to "update the extensive search that had taken place when Max was hired ..., including external interviews and extensive interviews and discussion with Matthew."

The result? The gallery announced Teitelbaum's ascension as director the same day Anderson officially resigned.

Notes Toronto artist and exAGO board member Joanne Tod: "I remember there was a feeling of rightness, that Matthew was the right person, the right choice.

And why go though a long, expensive head-hunting?... My perception at the time was that the board was maybe tired of results that didn't pan out very well, that they'd gone for the stellar, the glamorous personality, and it was time to go more local."

Fleck thinks the hunt to replace Teitelbaum "will be an international search going after the best person." Previously, search committees were inclined to look for directors among the ranks of senior curators. But the AGOs of the world are now "big artistic businesses," he said, and curatorial strength is "no longer the only thing that's important."

Teitelbaum enjoyed and worked hard to gain the support of the AGO board, earning a $664,500 bonus in 2009 for his efforts on behalf of Transformation AGO.

He also could be a superior schmoozer and fundraiser, a skill perhaps best demonstrated by his courtship of the Kenneth Thomson family to secure both art and money for the expanded gallery.

In addition, he helped make the AGO friendlier, more convivial and popular in terms of exhibitions and its role as a social hub.

Canadian Art editor Richard Rhodes lauds Teitelbaum for the way "his curatorial experiences always fed into his directorial role." However, for Rhodes, the "one soft spot" of the Teitelbaum AGO was the relative lack of attention paid to local artists. "Most places in the world, you can walk into the local art gallery and after an hour you can come away with a pretty firm picture of the current generation of local artists.

I'm not sure you can do that at the AGO."

Another soft spot, according to some, has been in the realm of employee relations. Post-Transformation, the gallery has experienced a tremendous turnover in staff - a result not just of personal career shifts or the effects of the 2008-09 recession or the downs and ups in visitor attendance, but of Teitelbaum's management style, which some former employees characterized as mercurial, controlling, anxious.

A consequence of this churn, some say, is that at present there's no immediately obvious in-house staffer who can be considered a prime candidate to do the job full-time. While there is consensus that Teitelbaum is surrounded by a strong team - it includes Canadian art curator Andrew Hunter, 51, Smith, 44, U.S.-born chief business officer Kate Subak, 53, and modern and contemporary-art curator Kitty Scott, 51, also Canadian-born - none of these individuals has been at the gallery for more than three years.

Meanwhile, the AGO's search committee and whatever headhunting firm it hires are facing a market in which there are "slightly more [openings] than usual" for director jobs, particularly in the U.S., "but nothing outside the norm." So says Christine Anagnos, executive director of the Association of Art Museum Directors. Institutions other than the AGO looking for new heads include the Brooklyn Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

"Museums, like other sectors," notes Anagnos, "are going through a generational shift in leadership."

Associated Graphic

Teitelbaum is leaving on June 26.


Monday, April 20, 2015


In Saturday's Arts section, an article on the AGO described the new six-person interim governing council as being put in place to run the museum after its director/CEO departs in June. The council is made up of three board members and three senior staff members, and will advise the organization's executive Leadership Team. But each of the staffers on the council is also a part of that Leadership Team, meaning that a third of the Leadership Team will make up half of the governing council put in place to advise the Leadership Team.

Leader of landmark orphanage abuse case
A 'very private' woman became the public face of suffering endured for decades at Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, April 4, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S12

Against the advice of doctors, Deanna Smith put her treatments for breast cancer on hold to travel across Canada in a fight for public recognition of decades of physical, sexual and psychological abuse alleged to have taken place in the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children.

An intensely private person, Ms. Smith found the strength to fight not only for herself, but also for hundreds of others who were forced to live in the orphanage.

"She did what she had to do - what she knew was the right thing to do," said her sister Lisa Johnson. "She gave courage for others to come forward."

Ms. Smith, who lived in the orphanage for black children for about four years beginning in 1975, was an instrumental plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against the home and the provincial government. Less than a year before her life was cut short by cancer at age 49, she witnessed the success of her fight.

Ms. Smith died on March 21 at the Colchester East Hants Health Centre in Truro, N.S. Having spent her life struggling with the fallout from the terrible abuse she suffered as a child, she was finally relieved of some of her pain last summer after settlements were reached totalling $34-million, for which about 250 former residents are eligible.

Then came a formal apology from Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil to those who suffered abuse and neglect at the home, and to the African Nova Scotian community for the province's systemic racism and inequality.

When Ms. Smith heard the Premier utter the words "we are truly sorry" last October, she knew she had finally been heard. No longer the discarded and silenced child, she had become a brave woman who had helped achieve something important.

"The money was never what it was about for her," said Mike Dull, one of the Halifax lawyers who worked on the class action.

"What was more profound was the public apology that followed."

Born on Aug. 16, 1965, Deanna and her three siblings spent their early years in the town of Truro, an hour's drive from Halifax. Family life was marked by marital and financial problems.

When she was 10, her parents separated and her mother, Elma, suffered a nervous breakdown.

Unable to look after her four children, she called child welfare services for help. Within days of that call, a child-care worker came to the house to take Deanna and her siblings to the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, which had opened near Halifax in 1921 and cared for wards of the province with government funding.

"My oldest sibling reassured us by telling us that she would take care of us and that everything would be alright as long as we were together," Ms. Smith said in her sworn affidavit in 2012.

"I recall arriving at the Home for the first time. The child welfare worker drove us up to a large white house. A female staff member came outside to greet us. The child welfare worker got out of the car, told the Home staff our names, and then left us," she said. "I spent the next three or four years of my life at the Home. During this time I witnessed many abuses being committed on residents. I was the victim of many such abuses."

Children were repeatedly told by staff that they were "stupid" and "useless" and they "would amount to nothing." But belittling was the least of the abuses they suffered.

"[A male staff member] would enter the bedroom of each female resident. In my case, every evening he entered my bedroom he would sit on my bed. He would then proceed to lean over and slide his hand down the sheets. ... He would ask me if I wanted to 'touch his.' I would say no, or else stay silent. This never stopped him."

The "sex shows" that staff members organized with young residents of the home were among the most horrific abuses Ms. Smith recounted. "At the instruction of [a male staff member] ... young residents would engage in fondling, oral sex and sexual intercourse with each other. I was a victim of this on many occasions. I was forced to have sex with numerous young boys while [the same male staff member] and other staff looked on. I was forced to have sex with young girls," she said in her affidavit.

For years, former residents had been struggling to make legal headway against the home. In 2003, Wagners, a Halifax-based law firm, filed more than 60 individual lawsuits on behalf of former residents. When no acknowledgment of the abuse had come from the government by the late 2000s, they decided to go forward with a class action suit.

Ms. Smith, with the encouragement of her older sister Starann, went public with her experiences and became one of the key representative plaintiffs in the suit. "To lend her name to the class action lawsuit was not an easy thing. She was a very private person," said her foster mother, Jane Earle.

Ms. Smith had never previously spoken with former residents about the abuses she experienced at the home - not even with her siblings. "When Deanna came forward she was very instrumental in injecting new life into the story," said Tony Smith, a former resident of the home (and no relation to Ms. Smith). "There was a huge surge in new people coming forward and telling their stories."

More than 300 people eventually made allegations of abuse, Mr. Smith noted. "She was proud of the role that she played," he said. "She was unselfish and tried to help others."

Ms. Smith was living in Calgary and undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments for breast cancer while the class action proceeded through the courts in Halifax. Weak and tired from the treatments, she didn't hesitate to travel when needed.

At times, she even put her treatments on hold to attend a proceeding.

"She was always the solid rock," said Ray Wagner, a Halifax lawyer who worked on the class action suit. "Whenever she was called upon, she was there."

Witnessing the anguish Ms. Smith endured during the legal proceedings, Mr. Dull understood the strength it took for her to come forward. For 10 hours, he sat with her and her foster mother in a room while he recorded, for the first time, her experiences at the home.

Speaking slowly, she recounted what she had endured. Physically distraught during the process, she shook and sweated, and had to take frequent breaks to compose herself.

"I saw her exemplify courage in a way that I don't think a lot of people could," Mr. Dull said.

Ms. Smith had moved to Calgary in 1981 and was reunited with her birth mother, with whom she developed a close relationship. Living in subsidized housing, Ms. Smith raised her two children as a single mother while working as a house cleaner and in restaurants. With little money and her traumatic childhood weighing heavily on her, she focused on loving her children and grandchildren.

"She couldn't say 'no' to anyone. She would give her last cent to someone in need," Ms. Earle said.

With her warm smile and long, wavy black hair that she delighted in styling, Ms. Smith loved to have family and friends visit for barbecues in her backyard and to dance. Dancing was one of the few things that made her forget her pain, Ms. Earle said.

When cancer had spread to her head and chest and she knew she had little time left, Ms. Smith decided to return to her birthplace to spend time with her birth father. She arranged to be transferred from a Calgary hospital to the hospital in Truro.

"She wanted love and forgiveness," said her sister Lisa. "'Love - at the end of the day, that's what it's all about.' That's what Deanna would say."

Next fall, a public inquiry is expected to begin to examine what happened at the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, and why.

"Her heroic acts - which largely contributed to a historic apology from the Premier of Nova Scotia, a class action settlement and the pending public inquiry - will be her lasting legacy," Mr. Wagner said.

Ms. Smith leaves her children Melissa and Jordan; grandchildren Meleak and Olivia; mother, Elma Loretta Jennings; father, Curtis Johnson; foster parents Jane and Gordon Earle; sisters Starann and Lisa; brother, Curtis, and stepbrother, Pete; and extended family.

To submit an I Remember:

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

Associated Graphic

Deanna Smith's bravery in disclosing the abuse she suffered as a child prompted others to come forward with their stories.


Tuesday, April 07, 2015


A Saturday obituary of Deanna Smith included an incorrect photo credit. Photographer Peter Parsons's work was for The Chronicle Herald, not The Globe and Mail.

Where to find an executive MBA to suit your style
Friday, August 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page P43

Athabasca University

Athabasca, Alberta

TUITION: $45,000



DURATION: 16+ months

GO HERE if you're a hockey fan. The university has collaborated with the Business of Hockey Institute to offer courses on the business side of the sport.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Beedie School of Business

Simon Fraser University, Vancouver

TUITION: $51,500



DURATION: 20 months

GO HERE if you want to make lasting friendships. Beedie's three EMBA options (Americas, Aboriginal Business and Leadership, and Northwestern B.C.) use the cohort model, where students work in the same teams for the duration of their studies.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Haskayne School of Business

University of Calgary

TUITION: $110,000



DURATION: 20+ months

GO HERE if you want to visit energy centres around the world. The program combines online learning with five residencies in Calgary and the oil sands, Beijing/Shanghai, London, Doha and Houston.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Alberta School of Business/Haskayne School of Business

University of Alberta/University of Calgary

TUITION: $64,500



DURATION: 20 months

GO HERE if you're looking to network among Western Canada's resource-based industries. Business executives join students for private sessions to discuss leadership and strategy four or five times each term (past speakers include Enbridge's Pat Daniel and WestJet's Clive Beddoe).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

John Molson School of Business

Concordia University, Montreal

TUITION: $75,000



DURATION: 20 months

GO HERE if you're looking to build healthy living habits. Students determine their health and wellness needs through the Healthy Executive Model.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Levene Graduate School of Business

University of Regina

TUITION: $46,860




GO HERE if you're looking to work solo on a project. In the last semester and under the guidance of a supervisor, you'll work on a Capstone final research project that analyzes a significant organizational problem, and provide recommendations for a solution.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

McGill University and HEC Montréal

TUITION: $84,000



DURATION: 15 months

GO HERE if you're a fan of management thinker Henry Mintzberg. The joint program between McGill and HEC Montréal lets each student spend several days shadowing a classmate at their workplace, observing corporate culture and getting an idea of day-to-day operations. Being bilingual is a necessity.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Queen's School of Business

Queen's University

TUITION: $95,000



DURATION: 16 months

GO HERE if you're looking for a robust support team. Students have the benefit of a team leader, who they work with during their time in the program, as well as an executive coach, a career coach and a lifestyle coach.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Queen's School of Business and Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

Queen's University and Cornell University, Kingston and Ithaca, New York

TUITION: $108,500



DURATION: 17 months

GO HERE if you're looking to work south of the border. Students team up with others from across Canada, the U.S. and Latin America. Graduates have the opportunity to work in the U.S. on a one-year visa.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ivey Business School

Western University, Toronto and London, Ont.

TUITION: $99,000



DURATION: 15 months

GO HERE if you like taking a hands-on approach. The program uses case-method learning, where students work in small groups to come up with an action plan for a business challenge. There's also a 10-day international field trip to India or China.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Rotman Omnium Global Executive MBA Program

University of Toronto

TUITION: $98,000



DURATION: 18 months

GO HERE if you're a globetrotter. Business managers from around the world participate in six two-week modules in North America, China, India, Europe, Brazil and the Middle East. Students can expect to visit local and global enterprises.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Rotman School of Management

University of Toronto

TUITION: $106,000



DURATION: 13 months

GO HERE if you can accept constructive criticism and dish it out. The curriculum emphasizes group work and 360-degree self- and peer evaluations. The EMBA's Leadership Excellence and Acceleration Program (LEAP) helps students better understand individual competencies and skill requirements.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Sandermoen School of Business

University of Fredericton

TUITION: $24,500



DURATION: 20+ months

GO HERE if you hate commuting. At Sandermoen, all classes and lectures are conducted over the Internet. You communicate and collaborate with peers and professors during live virtual classes. Group work and study sessions use online communication tools.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Schulich School of Business and Kellogg School of Management

York University and Northwestern University, Toronto and Evanston, Ill.

TUITION: $115,000



DURATION: 18 months

GO HERE if you're looking for customization. The EMBA offers the highest number of elective courses, which students can take at Kellogg's Evanston campus or a partner school.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Sobey School of Business

Saint Mary's University, Halifax

TUITION: $45,000



DURATION: 18 months

GO HERE if you're looking for a summer holiday break. School's out between May and August to accommodate family schedules. During the school year, students can expect to work in small groups, and complete a 10- to 12-day international trade mission in second year (in the past, students have gone to Ecuador and Colombia).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Telfer School of Management

University of Ottawa

TUITION: $75,000



DURATION: 21 months

GO HERE if you're looking to build, or work for, the next Google or Facebook. Through the EMBA's Signature Series, first-year students travel to Silicon Valley for a high-tech consulting project. Second-year students travel internationally to identify and develop strategies for a client organization's potential entrance to new markets.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Université De Sherbrooke

Longueuil, Que.

TUITION: $49,000



DURATION: 18 months

GO HERE if you speak French fluently. The program emphasizes work/school/ life balance, and students can expect a tailored EMBA designed on a competency-based learning approach.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Université Du Québec À Montréal (UQAM)

Montreal and Paris

TUITION: $8,100



DURATION: 24 months

GO HERE if you want a rendezvous in the City Of Lights. Uqam's partnership with France's Université Paris Dauphine lets you earn a degree from both schools. The program also offers specializations in corporate finance, fashion management, municipal management and technology management. One of the most attractive aspects of Uqam's program? Tuition is subsidized by the Quebec government.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Université Laval

Quebec City

TUITION: $22,000



DURATION: 22 months

GO HERE if you're looking for a hybrid program. Laval's EMBA is a combination of distance-learning activities and classroom courses. The second year kicks off with a week-long trip that includes company visits and discussions with students from a university in the Boston area. You can also opt to take the 360-degree feedback-management test in second year, where you're given personal feedback with a follow-up after the completion of your EMBA.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

University of Prince Edward Island


TUITION: $36,052



DURATION: 20 months

GO HERE if you like to do research. The program takes an evidence-based management approach, where students are taught how to leverage research findings. UPEI offers two EMBA specializations, including biotech and entrepreneurship, and innovation management.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Degroote School of Business

McMaster University, Burlington, Ont.

TUITION: $85,000



DURATION: 15 months

GO HERE if you're keen on big data. Degroote's new EMBA in Digital Transformation will launch in spring 2016, and students can expect to learn a combination of core topics like those covered in a traditional EMBA program, along with more technical content found in graduate-level courses in fields like data science and business analytics. You'll complete four residency modules-- three in the Greater Toronto Area, and one in Silicon Valley.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Sauder School of Business

University of British Columbia, Vancouver

The inaugural EMBA program starts in fall 2015.

So you think you can critique reality television?
A critic takes a closer look at the So You Think You Can Dance phenomenon
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R3

Since I started writing about dance for this newspaper, I've been asked a recurring question.

Someone might pull me aside at a dinner party or gathering and, with a furtive glance over her shoulder, say, "You know, I'd love to hear what you think about So You Think You Can Dance." I explain that I don't really have an opinion: I've never seen the show. "Oh," she'll continue, visibly disappointed. "I was hoping you could tell me if it's actually any good."

What interests me about this conversation is the way it epitomizes a general insecurity about watching and liking dance.

Whereas popular audiences are confident sharing all sorts of opinions on movies, television shows and new music, they tend to push dance into a separate category. Taste and instinct suddenly feel inadequate; there's an assumption that dance requires insider knowledge, a certain level of expertise to effectively decode and understand. So while these viewers may relish the spectacle of a young man performing perfectly a Russian split jump to something by Lady Gaga, they're skeptical of their own enjoyment.

Has the step been executed correctly? Is that even the point?

Not everyone is hampered by this critical uncertainty, and So You Think You Can Dance's rather insane popularity is testament to that. Now in its 12th season, and with a huge international franchise, SYTYCD draws several million viewers an episode. (Its audience has decreased since it debuted to 10 million viewers in 2005 but, still, this kind of enduring popularity is extraordinary.)

There are all sorts of blogs and fan sites dedicated to the Fox show; clearly, lots of people think SYTYCD is worth turning on.

And then there are other people, certainly many in the dance world, who see the show as a commercialized diminishing of their art form. I recently gave a piece of abstract, text-based dance a poor review, and one of the choreographers replied facetiously that I should turn on the TV and watch a competition. Despite not owning a TV, I decided to take her advice to heart. I attempted to watch Season 12 of So You Think You Can Dance.

(Luckily, it's all online.)

Did I like what I saw? In a word (or two): not really. Does that mean the dancing isn't of high calibre? Not at all - it's often very good. At this point of the season, voters have narrowed the competition down to the illustrious "Top 6" (viewers across the country vote by texting their favourite dancer's name to a number on the screen). Like everyone else, I've figured out who I'm rooting for.

One of my favourites is Megz Alfonso, a hip-hop dancer from Long Island, N.Y., who has the equivalent of a hedge maze shaved into the sides of her head.

She's utterly compelling as a performer, melding sharp musicality with the physical ferocity needed to master krumping and waacking - forms of jointed, syncopated street-dancing that the show has taught me all about.

There's Jim Nowakowski, a ballet dancer from Rochester, N.Y., who has strong classical lines and gorgeous jumps, i.e. the technical excellence that could land him a contract at a top ballet company.

And then my top pick is undoubtedly Gaby Diaz from Miami, who's billed as a tap dancer, but is clearly classically trained and distinguishes herself with expressive maturity in a variety of forms. She's one of those mercurial performers who seem capable of anything. After a routine in which she is riveting as a "hiphop geisha," judge Jason Derulo shook his head in disbelief. "I didn't know you had that little twerking in you."

But while I may be impressed by the calibre of these performances, being "impressed" has little to do with what I expect or want from dance. Imagine if critical engagement with literature centred on its ability to impress, rather than its ability to provoke thought and feeling, to trouble and inspire, to mitigate the disjuncture between our conscious and unconscious minds. The demotion in richness, in complexity of experience, would be self-evident.

My first big problem with the show is the choreography. The dance sequences - which usually last less than two minutes - are intended to grab our attention with minimal work or investment on our part. The dancers typically "act out" the music, capitalizing on the easy sentimentality already present in the accompanying pop song. We're left with what looks like a music video or, worse, that terrible cliché about "interpretive" dance, in which the dancers emote and literalize the lyrics. The routines deploy cheap tricks that keep us watching: gymnastic tumbling, figure-skating lifts. It's hard to figure out what the analogy for this would be in another art form.

Maybe it's the opera singer hitting the high C over and over again.

In a 2012 article in The Drama Review, dance scholar Kate Elswit argued that everything that's emotional, moving and narrative about SYTYCD has nothing to do with the actual dancing. By framing the routines with footage from the dancers' real lives, and layering that with interviews in which the choreographers explain the emotional inspiration behind their work, we're instructed on how to watch and understand the dancing, on exactly how the choreography should make us feel.

Elswit's example is a routine from Season 5 that's been dubbed the "Cancer Dance." During the episode, choreographer Tyce Diorio explains the routine's sad back story, the dancers relay their personal struggles with the material and, finally, the judges watch the routine and sob. The piece was wildly popular on fan sites before it was restaged for the season finale, remounted on the British version of the show, and almost nominated for a 2010 Emmy for choreography. Elswit watched the routine over and over again, often on mute, and couldn't get what the fuss was about. Without the emotional conditioning provided by the non-dance elements of the show, the choreography was unremarkable and, ironically, emotionally flat.

When the dancing is understood not for its actual choreographic content but for the narrative accoutrements that surround this content, the show isn't about dancing any more. It's about reality TV.

I recently had coffee with a dancer who asked me whether I thought articles about dancers' diets and what they keep in their handbags might get the general public more interested in ballet. I told him that I wasn't sure. The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that these kinds of lifestyle pieces might, in fact, be useful. For every hundred readers who consequently buy a certain brand of granola, maybe one or two will think, "Hey, I should check out a dance show."

But in a culture where the public feels alienated from dance - and insecure about how to watch it, think about it, enjoy it - this approach seems pretty risky.

Instead of encouraging people to patiently engage with what's singular and remarkable about the art form, these marketers are busy adding all kinds of justifying distractions. The message is that dance is inadequate, that it needs intervening stories to make much sense to us at all.

I'm not sure how to work out the math between what SYTYCD offers in terms of accessibility and basic critical education in dance, and how it might detract from what's most elemental about the art form. There's been much made about how the show has inspired a whole generation of young male dancers and exploded associated stereotypes about gender. I spoke with a former National Ballet of Canada dancer who told me how fantastic it is to turn on the TV and see forms of hip hop she'd never heard of. These are all great things.

And yet my attempt to bingewatch Season 12 saw me get through all of half its episodes.

My failure had nothing to do with my concerns about art, progress, or whether dance was being framed in a productive, meaningful way. I just got a little bored.

Season 12 of So You Think You Can Dance continues on CTV until Sept. 14.

Associated Graphic

Megz Alfonso, right, a hip-hop dancer from Long Island, N.Y., performs with Marko Germar. Alfonso is utterly compelling as a performer on So You Think You Can Dance, melding sharp musicality with physical ferocity.

Virgil Gadson, left, performs a Broadway routine on So You Think You Can Dance with Gaby Diaz, a mercurial performer who seems capable of anything.

At 20, she rode Orange Wave; now MP fights to hold ground
Tuesday, August 11, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

SAINT-EUSTACHE, QUE. -- When Laurin Liu was elected to Parliament at the age of 20, she didn't know how to drive.

Soon she became known here, in the Montreal suburb at the heart of her constituency, for riding a bicycle to appointments around town. Locals called her "the bike MP."

"It was great," she said recently, putting a characteristically cheerful spin on the situation.

"People would see me and wave from their cars."

At that stage of her political career, gaining a reputation was worth whatever embarrassment it might entail. One of the four McGill undergraduates swept into the House of Commons more or less accidentally by Quebec's Orange Wave in 2011, she was all but unknown in Saint-Eustache. But she won the seat by nearly 11,000 votes.

Now the youngest woman ever elected to Parliament is a crucial part of the NDP's strategy to hold Quebec.

She now drives a used Toyota Corolla, a little anxiously, and with the not-always-sufficient navigational help of a GPS.

But if the car protests a little when accelerating onto the highway, it still counts as evidence of her remarkable maturation.

While the NDP needs to dramatically expand its footprint in Ontario and British Columbia if it has any hope of dispatching the Harper Conservatives, keeping the support of la belle province is an equally tough trick.

The NDP's support here, while broader than that of the other parties combined, is also unusually shallow. Of the party's 54 Quebec MPs, 53 are rookies. Their job in October will be to prove that 2011 wasn't a feu de paille - a flash in the pan.

Saint-Eustache is impeccably Québécois. The town hall used to be a convent. The church has dimples in its walls from British cannonballs fired during the 1837 rebellion. Fleurs-de-lys pennants hang from the lampposts downtown. A typical Eustachois is, roughly: 65, white, Catholic, francophone and separatist.

A Chinese-Canadian anglophone born in Calgary, Ms. Liu cuts a striking figure in town. Her noticeable anglo accent adds to that air of incongruity. Although she went to a French community college in Montreal, and is now much more comfortable in her second language than she was four years ago, she gives herself away as an outsider the moment she says bonjour.

Ms. Liu's reception, generally warm, has sometimes been marred by ugly remarks about age and race. At a community event one night early in her tenure, a former Bloc MP for the riding, Gilles Perron, repeatedly referred to Ms. Liu as la petite Chinoise. (She insists the incident was "in no way representative of my general experience." Mr. Perron could not be reached for comment.)

But despite all the superficial differences between them, many of her constituents seem to have embraced their young MP. She was greeted enthusiastically in the streets of Saint-Eustache on the first day of electioneering last Sunday - "Bonne chance," exclaimed one woman, holding up two firmly crossed fingers - and has the foursquare support of local groups such as the Lions Club.

She has earned this improbable foothold by heeding Jack Layton's advice to the crop of novice parliamentarians he almost single-handedly created: Spend lots of time in your riding.

Although she had held a senior post in the NDP's provincial youth wing and had volunteered on a couple of campaigns, Ms. Liu's first weeks as an MP were "mayhem," she said. She remembers her feeling of disorientation while posing for the party's first caucus photo, which now hangs in her constituency office. "I was looking around like, 'Who are these people?' " She made it through those early days on "adrenalin" and a kind of desperate, headlong work ethic.

Ms. Liu has now settled into the grinding rhythm of life as an MP.

In Ottawa, she's served as deputy critic for science and technology, international trade and the environment. She and Toronto MP Andrew Cash tabled a private member's bill to extend workplace protections to interns. And on weekends, or while Parliament is in recess, she returns to Saint-Eustache, where she has a cozy second-storey walk-up in the historic centre of town.

Those days in the riding are spent on the mostly unglamorous work of canvassing for support door-to-door and showing her face at community events: things such as meeting with a group of women who sterilize cats, or buying Olivia Newton John records from a Knights of Columbus yard sale. And there's the workaday business, much of which falls to her local staff, of answering constituent mail, helping residents with passport applications and intervening in tax-return disputes.

When asked, a little facetiously, about the nightlife in Saint-Eustache, Ms. Liu paused to think.

"Well, there are the cabanes à sucres!" she said, managing to keep a straight face.

Indeed, few Eustachois are as intent on extolling their town's virtues as she is. To spend an afternoon with Ms. Liu in her riding is to receive an impromptu lesson in obscure local trivia. Did you know, she will ask, that a nearby vintner has the largest red wine vineyard in Quebec; or that the local river is home to not one but two species of turtle?

By settling down in a sleepy suburban town with an aged population, Ms. Liu has developed the mien of a much older woman. "When I started doing volunteer work for her, I thought she was 35," said Solange Maheu, a local NDP supporter.

Ms. Maheu's opinions are of more than academic interest - voters like her are the party's best hope for keeping its Quebec stronghold. A political agnostic, she had no particular affinity for the NDP before last election, but fell in love with Jack Layton during his storied 2011 appearance on Tout le monde en parle, the Radio-Canada interview show. "I adored him," she said.

She now volunteers on Ms. Liu's campaign. And the NDP has good reason to believe it can count on more people like Ms. Maheu come election day. An average of opinion polls made by political scientist Éric Grenier shows the New Democrats ahead in Quebec by a wide margin, with 36-per-cent support compared with 23 per cent for the Liberals.

While Thomas Mulcair may lack the smiling charisma of Mr. Layton, he was raised in Laval, across the river from Saint-Eustache, and served as a cabinet minister in the provincial government - strong Quebec bona fides.

This does not mean Ms. Liu's re-election is foreordained. Both the Liberals and the Bloc seem to be mounting serious campaigns in Rivière-des-Mille-Îles. Former Parti Québécois leader Bernard Landry spoke at the April campaign launch for the local Bloc candidate, a gym teacher named Félix Pinel.

"Next time we need a blue wave," Mr. Landry said. "Our compatriots let themselves be taken in, thinking they would elect 'un bon Jack' and finding themselves with a 'mean Tom.' " The province's voters, it is often noted, are fickle and unpredictable - or passionate and cleareyed, depending on who is employing the adjectives.

Consider the election of Ms. Liu herself. The Bloc had taken her riding by huge margins in each of the previous five elections. The NDP had never placed better than fourth. In 2011, the NDP didn't even try to win the seat: Elections Canada returns show that Ms. Liu's campaign spent no money that year - not a cent - while Luc Desnoyers of the Bloc spent more than $50,000.

And yet the voters of Rivièredes-Mille-Îles stampeded into the NDP fold, giving the party a more than 20-point edge over the Bloc.

A victory that abrupt runs the risk of reversing itself: a wave sucking back out to sea after crashing on the beach. On the shady side of the Rosemère street that Ms. Liu was canvassing on Sunday, a woman named Annie Choquette provided what may be the wisest election forecast available in Quebec, when asked who she would be supporting.

"We'll see," she said.

Associated Graphic

Laurin Liu, centre, one of the McGill students elected to Parliament in the last election, laughs as she talks with Sebastien Lapierre while campaigning with volunteer Solange Maheu, right, in Rosemère, Que., on Aug. 2. Ms. Liu is running for re-election in Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.


Leader touts 'stable' relations with China despite public push for a separate path
Monday, August 31, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

TAIPEI -- After years of protests that have undermined his efforts to build closer ties with China, Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou is calling his opponents naive idealists and warns that angering Beijing can be dangerous for an island keenly aware of the mainland missiles still pointed its way.

"Cross-strait relations have been at their most stable and peaceful in the last 66 years," Mr. Ma boasted during an interview with The Globe and Mail in the Japanese-colonial-style presidential palace in downtown Taipei.

His critics, led by young students who have occupied the legislature and government offices in protest, perhaps "do not really understand some of the issues," he said, and questioned "whether their actions serve the interests of Taiwan or not." The students, he said, "have to take a more pragmatic approach."

But Mr. Ma's days are numbered - his eight-year term will end with a Jan. 16 election - and so may be his vision, as Taiwan prepares for another approach, one fuelled by a rising distinct identity, and a new desire to pursue a separate path.

If the current mood holds, voters stand ready to punt Mr. Ma's Kuomintang party not only from the presidency but also, for the first time, from parliament as well. It's a major shift in a territory the People's Republic of China claims as its own, at a time when Beijing is already struggling to contain a market crisis and the fallout of slowing growth.

A win for Tsai Ing-wen, the presidential candidate currently polling at 40 per cent for the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, would mark "a new era for Taiwan," said Karen Cheng, a young activist who volunteered with the Sunflower Student Movement that occupied the legislature for 24 days last year in anger against a services trade agreement they said would hurt Taiwan.

Like many members of her generation, she sees little reason to cozy up to Beijing. In China, she sees not a fraternal state, but an authoritarian country that threatens Taiwan's nascent democratic freedoms.

"I won't say this movement shows a new generation totally against China," she said. But it "shows our high concern about getting closer and closer to China."

Hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese have protested during the past two years of Mr. Ma's tenure, opposing a trade agreement that was to be one of his signature achievements - but is now languishing with little chance of passing. And with their nationalistic cries of "one country on each side," the students have sought to undermine what was to be his legacy: A closer, warmer relationship between Taiwan and mainland China.

Ms. Tsai, a fiery campaigner dubbed "Little Red Pepper" by local media, has pledged to uphold the status quo, saying in a recent speech she would "push for the peaceful and stable development of cross-strait relations in accordance with the will of the Taiwanese people."

But with attitudes in Taiwan growing more skeptical toward China, Ms. Tsai has also said she would "uphold the right of the people to decide their future free of coercion." The implicit warning to China, whose President Xi Jinping has said there must soon be a "final resolution" between the two sides, prompted the Communist-run Global Times tabloid to warn last week that any showdown with Beijing would put Taipei in a "highly dangerous situation." China still considers Taiwan a renegade state that it could use force to repossess, and many Taiwanese remember with fear the tense summer 20 years ago when China fired missiles not far from the island's shores.

But for Taiwan, Ms. Tsai's ascension would cement an identity change in a place that today considers itself more distinct than ever before. Researchers at National Chengchi University have conducted regular polling that, starting in 1992, found just 17.6 per cent of people called themselves Taiwanese. This year, that number rose to 60.6 per cent, a record. Just 3.5 per cent now consider themselves Chinese.

The split rises to the surface in all sorts of places. When it was first formed 42 years ago, Taiwan's celebrated Cloud Gate Dance Theatre choreographed and performed classical Chinese stories.

"At the beginning, we had a strong link with mainland China - not only culturally but also politically," said Huang Ching-yi, the theatre foundation's international project manager. But the traditional fare has been replaced by innovative abstract performances, audiences no longer interested in the old stories from China.

"The new generation, they are independent," Ms. Huang said.

Part of it may be Mr. Ma's own doing. In seeking closer ties to the mainland, he has opened a clearer window for Taiwan to see how it has grown apart. "In many ways this has brought into sharper contrast the differences that exist between the two societies," said J. Michael Cole, a researcher and author of Black Island: Two Years of Activism in Taiwan that documented the student movements.

The implications for political reconciliation will be long-lasting, he believes.

"In my view, the genie is out of the bottle and it's here to stay," he said. "Conservatives and pro-China types are now increasingly the outliers."

In the past year, Beijing's unwillingness to bend to Hong Kong's demands for more electoral freedom - an intransigence that brought protesters to downtown streets for months - has only deepened anxiety in Taiwan.

Fears about economic dependency have also grown as China's growth wobbles and its markets crash.

Wealthy Taiwanese business interests may still favour closer ties to China, "But the rest of the Taiwan populace realizes that they are the ones at risk, both politically and economically, especially as China's economy crumbles," said Melissa J. Brown, managing editor of the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies and author of Is Taiwan Chinese?

Taiwan's feelings toward China haven't been helped by the island's own troubles. Once a vibrant economic tiger, it has watched China suck away much of its electronics manufacturing industry, leaving behind stagnating wages and increasingly difficult prospects - in particular for young people. College graduates make 9.5 per cent less money today than in 1999 - at a time when Taipei real estate prices have risen to 15 times the average wage, much higher than other major cities such as London and New York.

"Young people have very low salaries and it's really difficult for us to find decent jobs in Taipei or the other cities," said Tseng PoYu, a former spokesperson for the Sunflower Movement who is now running for legislative office with Green Party Taiwan. "Politicians have shown they're not going to listen. So we think it's time for us to change Taiwan politics."

Mr. Ma, however, argues that Taiwan has it better than its people realize - and he warned that deviating from the path he set with China could be dangerous.

Taiwan's youth unemployment rate, for example, may be high at near 12 per cent, but it's little different from that in other countries, he said - and suggested the loudest voices against him aren't representative. "Maybe some of the silent majority do not express their views, but it does not mean that they agree with these students," he said, citing the benefits of 23 cross-strait agreements now concluded - the latest, last week, allows for new co-operation on taxation and aviation safety - and the four million mainland tourists who came to Taiwan last year.

History, Mr. Ma added, offers a warning against Taiwan turning its back on China. Over the past 3,000 years, the two sides have been unified for 70 per cent of the time and separate the rest - but the transitions have not been simple. "Without exception, when we have moved from unification to separation or separation to unification, it took war," he said.

Taiwan's best chance of bucking history, he argued, is to stay the course he set of keeping favour with Beijing.

"Over the past seven years, we have developed a model to pursue peace," he said. "So it may prove that we are wiser than the people of the past."

Associated Graphic

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou dismissed his critics in an interview with The Globe and Mail at the presidential palace in Taipei. The protesters 'do not really understand some of the issues,' he said.


Thursday, September 03, 2015


A Monday news story on Taiwan's future incorrectly referred to a 3,000-year history of intermittent unity between China and Taiwan. In fact, China itself has been intermittently unified over thousands of years. It also referred to presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen using an incorrect nickname of Little Red Pepper, when in fact that nickname has been used by local media to describe another candidate, Hung Hsiu-chu.

Canada's envoy on sustainable development
Environmental expertise took him to 1992 Rio Earth Summit, and then to leadership of global agencies
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, August 11, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S6

Whether Nick Sonntag was thinking globally for the United Nations, or acting locally by setting up a market in his hometown of Gibsons, British Columbia, the Canadian engineer dedicated his life to preserving the Earth's resources for future generations. His gift for communicating complex problems clearly - complemented by his magnetic personality - made him a leader in his chosen field of sustainable development.

His career took him around the world as he led development efforts in countries as diverse as China, Vietnam and Sweden.

After 40 years of devotion to the environment, Mr. Sonntag died of a heart attack on June 27. He was 67.

After graduating from the University of British Columbia with a BASc in engineering, followed in 1975 by a master's degree in management science, Mr. Sonntag spent four more years at the university engaged in scientific research. Professor C.S. (Buzz) Holling, an early proponent of the concept that environmental responsibility could also be profitable, sparked Mr. Sonntag's interest in the economics of ecology.

During his two years at TRIUMF, Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, Mr. Sonntag partnered with fellow UBC graduates to form Environmental and Social System Analysts (ESSA) in 1979. It was one of Canada's first sustainability consulting firms. ESSA, assisted by the Canadian International Development Agency, eventually established an office in Vietnam, the first Western environmental consulting firm permitted to work in the country after the Vietnam war ended in 1975. During his time with ESSA, Mr. Sonntag made more than 30 trips to Vietnam, sowing the seeds for a lifelong appreciation of Asian culture.

"Nick was very taken by the beauty of the country and the people's appreciation of young people coming from Canada to assist them. He was really motivated to help," said his wife, Linda, "although he was a bit disconcerted to find himself once attending a golf game with a couple of Vietnamese ministers on a course surrounded by soldiers with machine guns."

Canadian Maurice Strong, a board member of CIDA, followed Mr. Sonntag's work in Vietnam with interest. Mr. Strong was also secretary-general of the Swissbased UN Conference on Environment and Development. Impressed by Mr. Sonntag, Mr. Strong recruited him to be his chief of staff for an international summit on the environment, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

This powerful position catapulted Mr. Sonntag onto the world stage. The Earth Summit, as it was popularly called, was to be the largest gathering of heads of state ever held. In his senior role, Mr. Sonntag effectively became Canada's ambassador to the world for sustainable development. "He just loved it," Ms. Sonntag recalled. "It was an environment in which he felt very easy."

When the summit ended, Mr. Sonntag applied his keen intellect to assist in synthesizing a vast array of information and ideas into what became known as Agenda 21, a sustainable-development plan for the UN, other multilateral organizations and governments around the world. It was one of the first such blueprints for environmental action.

Ms. Sonntag said the Rio experience was very special for her husband, forging a lifetime relationship between him and Mr. Strong. As part of the terms of employment with the Earth Summit, Mr. Strong arranged for Mr. Sonntag to spend the following year at Canada's International Institute for Sustainable Development in Winnipeg. Mr. Sonntag's experience with environmental concerns and practices worldwide, plus his impressive Rolodex of contacts (including U.S. President Bill Clinton), made him a valuable contributor to the knowledge base of the institute.

Mr. Strong continued to influence Mr. Sonntag's career by recommending him to become executive director of the Stockholm Environmental Institute, the world's second-largest environmental research body. Mr. Sonntag flew to Sweden for an interview and, in 1996, took up the prestigious position.

Accompanying him were his wife and their two children. The couple had met on a blind date in 1969 during their university days at UBC, where Linda Barnes was studying nursing. They married on Aug. 8, 1970. Children were postponed while Mr. Sonntag got his master's degree and his wife earned a BA in psychology and community nursing. After university, they spent a year travelling around Europe in a Volkswagen camper van. A son, Christopher, was born in 1981; a daughter, Catherine, arrived three years later. The family spent 1996 to 2000 in Sweden, where the children attended the international school.

Mr. Sonntag's next career move was to head up the Canadian arm of CH2M Hill, one of the world's largest engineering firms, where he arranged sustainability workshops for the company's engineers. In 2004, when the opportunity arose to expand the company into China, he jumped at the chance. He and his family spent a total of 61/2 years living in the polluted chaos of Beijing.

Brian Nattrass, a lawyer and close friend who was inspired by Mr. Sonntag to enter the field of sustainable development, visited the Sonntags in China. He counted 150 building cranes within view of their apartment balcony, more than in all of Canada at that time.

With the Beijing Summer Olympics just four years away, the Chinese needed all the help they could get with the Western concept of preserving the environment. Mr. Sonntag, adept at bridging cultural divides, worked to get his message across.

"Nick would come back with stories of epic drinking bouts that were necessary to cement a deal in China," Dr. Nattrass recalled.

"He'd prepare by getting in shape and getting lots of rest. He'd say to me 'Boy, they really wear you down and find your vulnerabilities. That's how they negotiate and close deals.' " Mr. Sonntag left CH2M Hill in 2005 to become executive vicepresident at Westport Innovations Inc., a Vancouver company doing groundbreaking work on clean engine technology. In a final overseas posting, the Sonntags spent two years in Lyon, France, where he led European development for Westport, and developed a fondness for French cheeses.

Born in London, England, on Oct. 10, 1947, Nicholas Charles Sonntag was the only child of Paul and Katie Sonntag. The family immigrated to Canada when Nick was 4. They settled in Vancouver, where his father sold hardware to manufacturing companies. His parents valued education, which Nick acquired and, in turn, used to educate others.

No matter how far his work took him into the world, B.C.'s Sunshine Coast remained his home base. He could have retired at 65 with a long, distinguished career behind him. Instead, he joined the board of Vancouver's not-for-profit Globe Foundation, contributing his perspective to its focus on building a sustainable global economy. He also investigated emerging technologies for clean water with an eye to becoming an angel investor.

But one project that fired his boyish enthusiasm was very close to home. Along with friends Gerry and Nancy Zipursky, Mr. Sonntag saw the potential of creating Gibsons Public Market in an old yacht club building in Gibsons, the coastal community northwest of Vancouver that was the setting for The Beachcombers. Not only would the market be a place for vendors to sell local produce, it would also be a year-round place for residents to connect, as well as to learn about sustainable farming and fishing practices. Mr.

Zipursky and Mr. Sonntag knew that Darren Entwistle, chief executive officer of Telus Corp., had a place nearby and decided to get him involved. Mr. Sonntag picked up the phone; Mr. Entwistle is now on the board of governors for Gibsons Public Market.

"It speaks volumes about Nick's ability to talk about the environment and the future, things that are important to us all," Mr. Zipursky said. A proposed education centre at the market has been renamed the Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre.

"Although Nick lived an international life," his wife said, "to have this acknowledged in Canada and locally, where his friends and family can view his legacy - he would be deeply honoured."

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

Associated Graphic

Nick Sonntag travelled the world to promote sustainable development, but his home base was always British Columbia's Sunshine Coast.


The French connection
To prepare for a reporting beat, Robert Everett-Green embarked on an intense immersion program in Trois-Pistoles, Que. While his language skills improved, he also discovered a new, if temporary, home - and a second family to whom he couldn't simply bid adieu
Friday, August 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

Our bus arrived half an hour early. The four or five of us who had separately travelled there for the same purpose gathered on the steps of the gas station that doubled as a bus stop, and waited like orphans for our adoptive families. Surely they would come soon, to house and feed us, and to answer our halting, poorly phrased, badly pronounced questions about whatever we had enough vocabulary to ask.

This was the start of a week-long French immersion experience I had with a few dozen other grown-ups in Trois-Pistoles, a village two-and-a-half hours down the St. Lawrence from Quebec City.

Many of us were there to tune up our French for our jobs, some were there for personal reasons, and a few - like me, who will be living and reporting in Montreal for the next eight months - came for both.

French immersion in Canada is mostly for kids, who have the time for it, and whose minds and mouths haven't bonded with their mother tongue as firmly as most unilingual adults' have. The idea is to replicate the all-encompassing linguistic environment of infancy, though French immersion for kids is often a gradual thing, with little second language at first and more each year.

The course at Trois-Pistoles, which was run by the University of Western Ontario, was much more intensive than the immersion classes my kids attended. We were sworn to speak no English all week, and the days were planned to give us as many opportunities as possible to hear and speak French, from morning till night. We had several hours of classes each day, watched French films and talked with the locals, and spent our meal times struggling to say things to other anglophones that would have been way easier to say in English.

I had studied French in nonimmersive schools, and had made further efforts at Alliance Française and elsewhere to become reasonably competent.

But my French had become moth-eaten, and the holes showed whenever I groped after a forgotten word or conjugation.

After my one week at Trois-Pistoles, I was pretty sure that the deep-end way to learn a language is indeed the best, for adults as well as kids. But I also found that when you try to learn like a child, you may also end up revisiting other situations from childhood or adolescence.

That was impressed on me in the nicest way by the locals who were contracted to look after nous les orphelins. When I arrived at the door of Marie-France, who would be feeding home-cooked meals to me and three others, I couldn't help thinking of the woman my mother paid to give me lunches in her home when my parents were at work. There was the same feeling of brokered familiarity around the table, and the same unquestioned delegation of authority as to what would be cooked and eaten. I sensed that for the three young women who also ate there, going to Marie-France's house, listening to her talk about her song birds and washing up after lunch, was just like going to a grandmother's house (and yes, I took my turn with the dishes).

When I returned to my lodgings at Michel's house each evening, my host was always waiting, however late it might be, with questions about how the day had gone. He was like a genial dad checking up on his son after a day of school and undisclosed shenanigans, though Michel is probably no older than I am.

During the first session with the instructors, at which our proficiency levels were confirmed, I could feel a rekindling of my nerdy school-age need not just to show my knowledge, but to impress the teacher. Emilie was not impressed, and I felt the same twinge of disappointment I would have at the age of 10.

Our vehicle for outings was a big yellow school bus, just like the one that took me on field trips in elementary school. There was a head count each time we got on or off, and after a classical concert one evening, the director got quite agitated when the bus started to move before all had been accounted for.

But the most profound reversion occurred in the language.

Agreeing to speak only French immediately meant slipping down several or many rungs from whatever degree of language mastery we had spent our lives acquiring. Being deprived of that full range even for one week showed me how much I rely on my ability with words, not just to communicate but to be myself. In French, I was someone else, a strange hybrid of adult and child, able to talk about complex subjects but sometimes only with the vocabulary of a 12-year-old.

The focus of our classes was strongly oral, with frequent icebreaking games to compel people to talk or to drive their conversations in grammatically useful directions. The emphasis on speaking encouraged the compulsive talkers, and enforced garrulousness on those inclined to be just the opposite. I felt I was getting to know one Toronto university instructor - and there were a lot of teachers among these students - when he mentioned that he was generally more reserved in English. I realized I had only encountered the man in translation.

Western began its Trois-Pistoles immersion school in the 1930s, decades before the immersion concept trickled through Canadian school systems. The town must have been grateful for some educational tourism during the Depression. Trois-Pistoles had been a place of big dreams at the start of the century, as you can tell when you visit the enormous church of Notre-Dames-des-Neiges, planned as a cathedral and fully completed in 1904. But the town's metabolism has been slowing ever since. The rail station that began delivering progress by the car load in 1873 now stands unused, the only daily train stealing by in the middle of the night. The high school where we took our classes was built for 1,000 students, but only about 300 will show up for class this fall.

All of this has made the annual influx of anglophone students during the 12 weeks of summer school increasingly important for the local economy. The only outsiders with whom Trois-Pistoles has a similar bond are the Basques who sailed up the St.

Lawrence in the 16th century to hunt whales. The Basques left no descendants and almost no relics, but they're memorialized all over town, at a Basque adventure park and in business names such as the Salon de Quilles des Basques - the Basque bowling alley. Those long-ago whalers are the romantic, vanished Others who animate the local imagination, as "Indians" used to be for many Canadians, except that the Basques actually did disappear from le fleuve.

Eight decades of immersionschool tourism don't seem have to dented the town's staunchly francophone character - and why would it? The locals never hear any English from their visitors, and are only aiding the cause by sticking to French.

"The whole town is a school," the director told us the first evening. It was a short but eloquent summary of Trois-Pistoles' genial acceptance of nous orphelins, and of the way everyone around us seemed to have joined a seamless conspiracy to get us to speak, think and live in French. I was much more fluent and confident by the end, and found the whole exploration so engaging that I had mixed feelings about returning to an anglophone environment, where anglophones actually converse in English.

On the last day, I caught a ride to Quebec City with a school principal from Grande Prairie, Alta., who wasn't in my class but with whom I'd spoken several times during the week. We spoke French the whole way to Quebec, and through our lunch when we got there - the most extended gabfest I'd had in French since arriving. What else were we going to do? At that point, having never encountered each other in English, it was the only language we had in common, and the only reason we were there at all.

Associated Graphic


Chinese military parade a show of force
Unveiling of new weapons is as much an external message as it is a domestic one to show PLA is ready to fend off armed aggression
Wednesday, September 2, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A3

BEIJING -- For years, the outside world has stared at blurry pictures and smudged satellite images in hopes of divining the growing new power of the Chinese military.

On Thursday, China will pull back at least some of the veil as it turns Beijing's most important boulevard into a grand stage for a large-scale expansion of defence technology and capability bought with a near-tenfold increase in armed-forces spending since 2000.

Some 12,000 soldiers, 500 pieces of military equipment - including tanks and missiles - and 200 aircraft will pass by Tiananmen Square, as Chinese President Xi Jinping watches alongside guests that include Russia's Vladimir Putin, South Korea's Park Geun-hye and Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has said 84 per cent of the weaponry will be shown publicly for the first time.

The roar of jets and the fearsome silhouettes of new weapons will send an unmistakable message that China is nearing the ability to keep even the most sophisticated of foreign forces at bay, an advance with sweeping implications for the balance of power in Asia. China has planned the parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and its role in defeating Japan, a contribution won with millions of lives and years of fighting Beijing feels the international community has overlooked. But in mounting a display of firepower over a march of veterans or a moment of silence for the occasion, the Chinese leadership is seeking to show a watching world that it has now amassed the strength to once again fight off the strongest of invaders.

"If successfully co-ordinated, the PLA is reaching a point where it could overwhelm U.S. and Japanese naval ship defences," said Rick Fisher, an expert in Chinese military technology and senior fellow at the Virginia-based International Assessment and Strategy Center.

Photos of Chinese equipment used in parade rehearsals, some of it shrouded in camouflage wrap, appear to confirm previous speculation about new Chinese weapons, including the DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile that is "without compare in the U.S. or Russian missile arsenals," Mr. Fisher said.

With a 3,000- to 4,000-kilometre estimated range, it would allow China to extend "its theatre nuclear reach," he said, from the Japan-Taiwan-Philippines area to more distant targets such as Guam, where the United States maintains three military bases.

The new arsenal, believed to include ramjet-powered supersonic missiles, is potent enough that if China were to attack Taiwan - a key training priority for the PLA - anti-ship missiles could "rain from the sky," launched by fleets of submarines and bombers. If the attack is co-ordinated, it "would overwhelm U.S. ship defences," Mr. Fisher said, adding that the United States needs new technology such as railguns to counter the threat.

China, meanwhile, is moving rapidly to ensure its military is strong enough that it can do as it pleases in Asia without fear of other countries interfering. It is a strategy "to assert its role as a great power in Asia and to erode America's position," said Hugh White, a professor at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre of the Australian National University.

With the military parade, "China is choosing to make such a big show to demonstrate to people that's exactly what they've done," Prof. White said. China now has the potential to find and sink the most powerful instruments of U.S. military might, including aircraft carriers, he said.

"It's far from being a certainty they can do so, but they have a much better chance of doing so now than 20 years ago," he said.

"This is really a very significant shift in the military balance in the western Pacific."

Willy Lam, a China expert and university lecturer in Hong Kong, called the unveiling of armaments at the parade "a naked power projection. It could speed the arms race within Asia, and even on an international basis."

More is coming. A May report by the U.S. Secretary of Defence on China's military progress noted that some time this year, China is expected to conduct its first patrol using a nuclear ballistic-missile-armed submarine, even as it develops stealth fighters and other jets that are "rapidly closing the gap with Western air forces across a broad spectrum of capabilities."

China's military ambitions stem in part from a desire to regain a dominance many feel was lost during a period of humiliation by British and Japanese forces. Earlier this year, in announcing another 10-per-cent annual increase in military spending, a spokeswoman for China's National People's Congress said "those who fall behind will get bullied" - a sentiment aimed today squarely at the United States.

Beijing has deliberately sought a "rebalancing of the power structure" with Washington, said Zhou Shaolai, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the country's top national academic organization.

The change will likely "bring conflict to the region that will last another 20 or 30 years," he said.

At the same time, China has shown little sign of aggression outside territory it claims as its own. "There is no need for other countries to be so worried," Mr. Zhou said. "China may be a big country, but we are a responsible country that will guard the peace."

China also remains short of the military capacity to successfully attack an advanced country, although in a white paper this year the Chinese State Council described an expansion of its naval mandate from defence of offshore waters to "open-seas protection," which suggests pursuit of a blue-water navy. In December, 2014, China dispatched a nuclear submarine to the Gulf of Aden, an event that sent shock waves through the Indian military.

The escalation has been a long time in the making.

"If you chart a line from the era of Deng Xiaoping, you have 'hiding and biding.' You then go through 'peaceful rise' at the turn of the millennium," said David Kelly, research director for China Policy, an advisory firm in Beijing. The changes since don't yet rise to "assertive" or "aggressive," he said. He prefers "proactive" as a descriptor of current Chinese security and foreign policy.

In nationalist circles, rising military capacity has emboldened calls for more. In May, the Communist mouthpiece tabloid, the Global Times, warned that "a U.S.-China war is inevitable" if Washington seeks to bar Beijing from building artificial islands in the South China Sea.

That activity has provoked broad regional anger.

In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is midway through an effort to remove pacifist language from the constitution to allow the military to fight alongside other countries. Taiwan, too, is worried, saying China's weapons' display will heighten regional tensions already elevated by Beijing's aggressive actions in disputed maritime areas. "I don't think it's good for them to show their muscles at this moment," Andrew Hsia, the Minister of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, said in an interview.

Still, worries about China's armaments should be seen in light of its own political turbulence, said Zhou Xiaozheng, a well-known Chinese sociologist and commentator.

The military parade, he said, is intended to rebuild faith at home in a Communist Party already hurt by a corruption crisis and slowing economy - and now further damaged by crumbling stock markets and a horrific chemical explosion in Tianjin.

"It's a time when authority and power need to be emphasized, because chaos must be avoided," Mr. Zhou said.

The show of military force tells the Chinese people "that our country is strong, and at least we can keep it under control."


500 pieces of military hardware 12,000 troops

200 aircraft

Rick Fisher Expert in Chinese military technology and senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center

Associated Graphic

Through its massive military parade to mark the end of the Second World War, China's leadership is seeking to show the world it has now built up the strength to fight off the strongest of invaders.



Rocked by the deaths of thousands of migrants trying to reach Europe by boat this year, European Union leaders are meeting to agree upon one common solution. Joanna Slater reports
Friday, June 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A6

BERLIN -- With each passing week, the breadth of the migrant crisis facing Europe and the strains it is creating among countries becomes starker.

On Tuesday, a strike in the French port of Calais slowed down truck traffic heading toward England. Seizing their chance to make the hazardous crossing, hundreds of migrants waiting near the coast jumped into the vehicles.

Just as Europeans were digesting the dramatic images from France, they received another shock: In an unprecedented move, Hungary briefly suspended its cooperation with European Union asylum rules, claiming it was being overwhelmed by illegal immigration.

On Thursday, political leaders from the 28-member bloc began a summit meeting in Brussels with the goal of forging a fresh response to the challenge.

The EU has already stepped up rescue operations in the Mediterranean and is exploring ways to disrupt smuggling networks. The task this week: figuring out how to share the responsibility for the thousands of often desperate people who are flowing into a handful of European countries, primarily Greece and Italy.

But finding a plan that the assembled countries can agree upon turned out to be excruciatingly difficult. After hours of discussion Thursday and into the early hours of Friday in Brussels, there was still no deal.

A draft proposal circulated earlier would make only a modicum of progress. Under the proposal, the leaders would agree to relocate about 40,000 asylum seekers currently in Greece and Italy across the EU over the next two years. How many each country would accept and whether that commitment would be binding remains unclear.

Countries such as Germany had pushed for a mandatory scheme that would distribute refugees based on a country's size and economic heft. That ran into adamant opposition from smaller countries in central Europe and the Baltics.

A voluntary scheme "cannot be an excuse to do nothing," Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, the body composed of the 28 EU leaders, said earlier Thursday. "Solidarity without sacrifice is pure hypocrisy."

Experts and activists say the numbers under discussion by EU leaders - relocating 40,000 asylum seekers and resettling a further 20,000 from their countries of origin - are far too small. Last week, the United Nations said that 60 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced from their homes, the highest level since records started being kept.

The proposal under discussion at the summit "is a step forward for the European Union," Elizabeth Collett, director of Migration Policy Institute Europe in Brussels, said. But in the global context, the numbers "are really tiny with respect to protection needs."

Judith Sunderland, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch in Europe, said the EU debate had "degenerated into a race to see which country would do the least, rather than the most." The next stage will be "more unbecoming haggling, with the lives and well-being of some of the world's most vulnerable people in the balance."

Since the start of the year, nearly 100,000 migrants have entered Europe via the Mediterranean, according to data from the International Organization for Migration. It estimates that 1,865 people have died attempting the crossing in the same time period. Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and Eritrea are the sources of the largest numbers of migrants. The EU considers the vast majority of those from Syria and Eritrea to be bona fide refugees.

Under the current system, known as the Dublin Regulation, refugees must request asylum in the European country where they first arrive. But in practice, overburdened countries at Europe's periphery tacitly or not-so-tacitly encourage them to move on. Many asylum seekers, too, prefer to apply for refugee status in countries such as Sweden or Germany, or in countries where they already have relatives or support networks.

The current system, conceived in the 1990s, is straining under the rising flows.

Last year, 626,000 people applied for asylum in the European Union, the highest figure in more than two decades and an increase of 45 per cent over 2013. In three EU states - Italy, Hungary and Denmark - the number of asylum applicants doubled in 2014 compared with a year earlier.

In Hungary, the rising number of refugees and migrants entering its territory has turned into a political firestorm. For about 24 hours earlier this week, it suspended its co-operation with EU rules, which provide that asylum seekers can be returned to the country where they first arrived to have their refugee claims processed. The country's government also said it plans to build a wall on its border with Serbia to keep out migrants, sparking the ire of its neighbour.

"Europe must decide whether the time of building walls belongs to the past or to the future," Serbia's Foreign Minister, Ivica Dacic, said on Thursday, according to the Associated Press. "I thought the Berlin Wall has fallen, but now new walls are being constructed."

Hungary fiercely opposed any mandatory pan-European quota for relocating refugees. The draft proposal under discussion at the summit also envisions a special "high-level" conference to address the issue of migration via what's known as the Western Balkan route, which leads to Hungary.

The debate over migration raises difficult questions about how much responsibility EU countries owe to one another, Steven Peers, a law professor and immigration expert at the University of Essex, said. Are the challenges posed by higher migration up to each country to tackle, or "do we see it as an EU-wide issue and really make a significant contribution?"


1 WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN Sea passage from North Africa to the Iberian Peninsula as well as overland to Ceuta and Melilla, two autonomous cities belonging to Spain. This route is most commonly used by Algerian and Moroccan migrants trying to reach Spain, France and Italy, but increasing numbers of sub-Saharan Africans have used the route in recent years. Many migrants attempt to cross into Spain hidden in trucks and containers on ferries headed to the ports of Almeriaand Algeciras.

2 CENTRAL MEDITERRANEAN Migrants primarily from Northern Africa cross the Mediterranean Sea often in old, unseaworthy boats for Italy and Malta, Vessels are often poorly equipped, lack proper navigation systems and sometimes have insufficient fuel. Last year, more than 170,000 migrants arrived in Italy, the European Union's largest influx into one country ever. Many departed from Libya, where lack of law enforcement allowed smuggling networks to thrive.

3 EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN This route is used by migrants crossing through Turkey to the EU via Greece, southern Bulgaria or Cyprus. Since 2008, it has become the second-largest migrant entry point. Relaxed Turkish visa policies allow migrants to fly to Turkey with legal visas before crossing illegally into the EU. Although most of the migrants were Syrians fleeing conflict zones, the migratory flows were mixed.

4 WESTERN BALKAN The two main migratory flows on this route are from Western Balkan countries and in-transit movements of migrants who entered the EU through Bulgaria, Turkey or Greece and then proceed into Hungary. In 2013, nearly 20,000 migrants illegally crossed the Hungarian- Serbian border and almost all applied for asylum. The influx was in response to a change in Hungarian legislation that allowed migrants who submitted an asylum claim to be transferred to open centres, which many of them left soon after.

5 EASTERN BORDERS The EU's 6,000-km land border between Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, the Russian Federation and eastern EU states of Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania and Slovakia sees more abuse of legal "ravel channels than illegal border-crossing. But the scale of illegal migration is much smaller "ban other migratory routes, amounting to around 2 per cent of 'he total, Ukraine remains the main transit country.

Associated Graphic

Europe's migrant issue is widespread. Clockwise from bottom: Migrants run in front of a train at a border crossing in Serbia; in Greece, migrants walk along tracks near the border; riot police in France spray tear gas; migrants travel by train and bike in Macedonia; and rest in Italy in a Milan train station.



Saturday, June 27, 2015


A Friday map showing the main routes migrants use to enter Europe incorrectly labelled Sicily as Malta.

Wine grapes are uncomfortable in rain and humidity. That means the West Coast's devastating wild fires do have an upside: great growing weather
Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L8 @Beppi_Crosariol

For grape growers in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, the best of times always come with a threat of the worst. That became apparent earlier this month as wildfires swept through the southern interior near the Washington border, tragically destroying homes and narrowly missing vineyards farmed by such wineries as Church & State and Road 13. Twelve years earlier, the call wasn't so close, at least for a few vineyard owners, as an even more devastating blaze ravaged parts of Kelowna to the north.

What both events had in common was something that's brought more cheer than tears to much of the region so far this year: great grape-growing weather. Consistently sunny, dry conditions that turn surrounding forests into tinder boxes are a boon to wine farming. And by some accounts, barring a downturn in fortunes, such as more fire or ill-timed harvest downpours, the summer of 2015 could turn out to be one of the best Okanagan vintages in recent memory.

"The weather has been perfect so far," said Grant Stanley, director of viticulture and winemaking at 50th Parallel Estate in Lake Country, north of Kelowna, where the growth cycle is a few weeks ahead of schedule. "We're thinking this could be a great harvest."

Although consistent rainfall is crucial to many other crops, wine grapes are more like me, uncomfortable in rain and humidity. Dry conditions push a vine to concentrate resources on fruit production versus wasting energy growing a flamboyant leaf canopy. They also restrict berry size, increasing the skin-to-pulp ratio, which yields less juice but more intense flavour and wine colour, specifically in reds. Another bonus: Thicker skins help protect against potential damage from mould if moisture does eventually set in.

Like most dry-region vineyards, 50th Parallel employs drip irrigation through suspended hoses beneath the fruit line to relieve plant stress during particularly arid periods. "We view a dry summer like this as an absolute bonus, not a negative," Stanley said. "It puts us in a complete control position."

But it's hardly all said and done. The staggered harvest process, just now under way, won't be over likely till the end of October for some of the more financially rewarding, late-ripening varieties, such as merlot, syrah and cabernet sauvignon. That leaves the flank open for possible autumn rains that can plump up berries and dilute flavour.

"What happens if you have a great year up until those weeks?" asked Sandra Oldfield, chief executive officer of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in the south Okanagan. "Can you consider it a good year?"

But if she had to choose between this summer's "wildly different," extremely early vintage and another, "I would take this year in a heartbeat," Oldfield added.

There's another potential hazard lurking in the forest, too, though. Bears and deer, starved of their usual forage crops because of scarce precipitation, have already been poking their noses out of the tree line in search of a convenient lunch. "I expect that deer and all the animals will be looking to subsidize their diet with grapes, for sure," Stanley said.

In other words, when it comes to grape growing in the Okanagan, you're never out of the woods unless the bears and deer stay in the woods.

Until the promising 2015 crop reaches wine stores next year and beyond, I offer some worthy choices from recent vintages, mostly available in the West (with B.C. prices listed).

Joie Farm "En Famille" Reserve Chardonnay 2012 (British Columbia)

SCORE: 93 PRICE: $29.90 in B.C.

With a French name that means "joy," an owner who's a chef, and a roster of wonderfully aromatic wines tailor-made for a picnic, Joie always struck me as a wine-country destination that really ought to be open to the public. But it wasn't. That changed this year as proprietor-winemaker Heidi Noble, the chef, christened a tasting room and "Picnique" area complete with a wood-fired pizza oven and charcuterie plates. More serious than your average picnic wine, though, this splendid, complex white is better spared for a fancy dinner of rich fish or poultry dishes. Full-bodied and rich with pineapple, peach and vanilla flavours, it's toasty and finishes with crisp acidity. Available direct from the winery and private BC stores. $38 in Alta.

Black Hills Nota Bene 2013 (British Columbia)

SCORE: 91 PRICE: $52.90

First produced in 1999, the Nota Bene red blend quickly drew comparisons with trophy California reds, earning the "cult wine" descriptor from B.C. and Alberta collectors close enough to score a rare bottle. That loyal following helps explain the high price, though the number has held steady for the past six years, following the winery's purchase and expansion by a partnership headed by Alberta entrepreneur Glenn Fawcett. The 2013 vintage, a mix of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc, combines rich berry characters with ample toasty oak. Imagine, if you can, raspberry syrup with chocolate sauce, toffee and strong black coffee dusted with cedar chips. Cellar it for up to 10 years. Available direct,

Laughing Stock Blind Trust Red 2013 (British Columbia)

SCORE: 91 PRICE: $30

Here's a wine bottle with a built-in parlour game. Taste it "blind" and try to guess the constituent grapes (wine geeks only, of course). Then peel back the capsule around the neck to reveal the answer. Spoiler alert: It's made from merlot, malbec, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. Full-bodied and smooth, it suggests blackberry, vanilla, mocha, cedar and spice, with just the right amount of juicy acidity. Available direct and through private stores in the west,

Summerhill Pyramid Organic Riesling 2014 (British Columbia)

SCORE: 90 PRICE: $22.95

At 7.8-per-cent alcohol, this white will induce less of a buzz than many craft beers. But it's happy juice for fans of fine Mosel-influenced riesling. Light and medium-sweet, it's got a plump core bursting with orchard-fruit flavours reminiscent of green apple, pear and lime, with sticky-rich extract well balanced by fresh acidity. Available direct,

Tinhorn Creek Merlot 2013 (British Columbia)

SCORE: 90 PRICE: $17.49

Medium-full-bodied, with a smoothly buffed texture, here's a red with precisely tuned ripeness. Notes of blackberry and plum dance a jig with lively spice, cedar and tobacco, finishing with tangy, food-friendly acidity.

Gehringer Brothers Dry Rock Cabernet Merlot 2013 (British Columbia)

SCORE: 88 PRICE: $13.89

Such an unusual aroma for a red - floral and sweetly perfumed, like quality hotel soap crossed with a bowl of cherries. Smooth yet dry, with a light carpet of fine-grained tannins, it shows plum, chocolate and spice on the palate, with nary a trace of soap. $19.95 in Ontario.

Church & State Lost Inhibitions Red 2013 (British Columbia)

SCORE: 88 PRICE: $22

The label - make that, labels, plural - may never get over being the main draw here. Vancouver design firm Brandever came up with a grabby conceit: dozens of cheeky text-message clichés and contemporary sayings printed in simple bold fonts - one per label - churned out randomly from the bottling line. In other words, there's one red and one white wine, but many labels to choose from on the shelf, including "Sh*t Will Hit the Fan" and "WTF Are You Talking About?" They certainly stand out, but I wonder if the novelty will come across to some shoppers as something more in keeping with custom-labelled U-brew juice than premium wine. That said, the 2013 red, a blend of merlot, cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot, is eager to please with its jammy fruit, silky texture, spicy edge and lively acidity.

Associated Graphic

DRY IS A BOON The arid conditions experienced by Kelowna this year yield grapes with less juice but more intense flavour and colour.


Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Doctor provided 'The Human Touch'
He performed more than 4,000 surgeries and was so calm and unflappable that colleagues nicknamed him Perry Como
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, July 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S8

Tony Dobell performed the first heart transplant in Canada that significantly lengthened a person's life. The patient was 52year-old John Parkinson; the four-hour operation was at Montreal's Royal Victoria Hospital on Nov. 3, 1968. Dr. Dobell later put in a pacemaker for Mr. Parkinson's new heart. The patient lived for four years after his first operation, a long time for a heart transplant patient in that era.

By November, 1970, there had been 185 heart transplants in the world and only 11 of the patients had survived longer than 18 months. There had been 10 heart transplants in Montreal up to that time - nine of them at the Montreal Heart Institute - and Mr. Parkinson was the only patient still living. The world's first heart transplant patient, in South Africa in 1967, lived for just 18 days.

In the case of John Parkinson, the relationship between doctor and patient was close. Dr. Dobell's 10-year-old daughter, Sarah, and Mr. Parkinson became pen pals.

"My father would deliver the letters. He saw it as part of the treatment. He cared about the personal side as much as the physical side," said Ms. Dobell, who lives in Nelson, B.C.

Tony Dobell, who died on June 17 at the age of 88, believed that surgery was part science, part art, and the art was the human dimension. He wrote about it in a 1982 paper, The Human Touch, in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

"Surgery is not primarily a business or a technology; nor is it pure science nor pure art. It is the care of one human being by another; a relationship involving to some extent technology, science, art, and business; a relationship involving invasion and manipulation of one individual's body by another; a relationship requiring the human touch."

Anthony Richard Curzon Dobell was born in Montreal on May 13, 1927, and lived most of his life in the same neighbourhood near Atwater and Sherbrooke in Montreal. As a boy, he could walk to school, as a youth, to McGill University, and as an adult, to the Montreal Children's Hospital. His father, Frances Curzon Dobell, was a lawyer, his mother was Sybil (née Robertson). Her middle name was Octavia because she was the eighth child in her family, showing a sense of whimsy that was passed to Tony Dobell. His children say he had a great sense of humour and was a happy, positive person all his life.

At McGill, he became the main goalie for the Redmen, the senior hockey team, for the 1943-45 seasons after his predecessor, Jack Gelinas, moved up to the NHL.

There was a shortage of players during the war years because so many men had joined the armed forces. Tony Dobell returned as goalie from 1948 to 1950.

"Jack Gelinas, who played for the NHL after the war, told me Tony could have played in the NHL had he chosen to," said David Mulder, the chief surgeon for the Montreal Canadiens and a fellow thoracic surgeon who knew Dr. Dobell well.

Dr. Dobell graduated from McGill's medical school in 1951 and went to study at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.

He was in the operating room at the hospital when Dr. John Gibbon performed the first openheart surgery in North America.

When he returned to work in Montreal, at the Royal Victoria and Montreal Children's hospitals, he was part of the first teams performing open-heart surgery.

Over his working life, Dr. Dobell performed 2,000 heart operations on adults and 2,000 on children. He was so calm and unflappable in the operating room that his colleagues nicknamed him the Perry Como of heart surgery.

By 1969, Dr. Dobell had performed open-heart surgery on five children under the age of six months. The youngest was sixweek-old Debby Lecompte. She had been born with a defect that doctors thought they could correct when she was older, since the larger the heart the easier it is to operate on. But when she arrived at the Montreal Children's Hospital she was close to death.

"I've described [Debby's heart] as the size of a walnut with each chamber the size of an acorn," David Murphy, the hospital's chief surgeon told the Montreal Star at the time.

Keeping the patient informed was part of Dr. Dobell's philosophy. He gave the example of a heart valve in which he and his colleagues had "lost confidence" and they told one of their patients about it.

"He took about 10 seconds to decide that we ought to change it, which we did successfully within the week. The point is that as a result of a long-standing relationship, the patient had confidence in us," Dr. Dobell wrote. "I use science but that does not quite make me a scientist. Science cannot always accomplish the cure without the bond of understanding between patient and doctor."

Along with surgery, Dr. Dobell taught at McGill University's School of Medicine and mentored young doctors working to become heart surgeons. He was chief surgeon at the Montreal Children's Hospital and chairman of McGill's Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery Division.

"He said his legacy was the young men and women he trained as surgeons," said Dr. Mulder, his long-time friend and colleague. Many of those students sent condolences to his family and they all spoke of how he helped their careers.

"I loved this man and truly enjoyed every minute that I spent as a resident and thereafter as faculty under his wing," Dr. Hani Shennib wrote. Another student, Dr. David Latter, wrote: "Dr. Dobell was such an important part of my life. Beyond his surgical teaching he was instrumental in providing opportunities to me and mentoring me throughout my career."

Dr. Dobell retired in 1995 but worked part time for several years, installing pacemakers for cardiology patients. The year after his retirement he was named a member of the Order of Canada. Over the years, he received many awards and was the first Canadian to become president of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

Outside of the hospital and the classroom, Dr. Dobell was a busy man. He remained athletic all his life, playing tennis right up to this year, and four years ago he went skiing in British Columbia. He loved his home in the Laurentians at Lac Manitou and was devoted to his vegetable and flower gardens there. Among other projects he and his son, Curzon, built a hydroplane. Part of life in the country included some canine surgery: removing porcupine quills from a pet dachshund and a giant Newfoundland, a gift from a grateful patient.

Dr. Dobell loved the outdoors and once took his children on a wilderness canoe trip. He was also a keen sailor and his daughter remembers he could be almost too competitive.

"As a skipper he changed his personality, barking orders. He never did that in any other part of his life," his daughter, Sarah Dobell, said, then laughed. She recalled her father was active until the end of his life. He and his wife, Marion, visited Scotland in May.

Last month, Dr. Dobell complained he wasn't feeling well and his wife took him to the emergency room of the McGill University Health Centre. He died of a heart attack a short time later. Dr. Dobell leaves his wife; his four children, Karen, Curzon, Julie and Sarah; seven grandchildren; and one great grandchild.

He was predeceased by his first wife, Cynthia, who died in 2006.

To submit an I Remember:

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

Associated Graphic

Tony Dobell, left, at Montreal Children's Hospital with three-month-old heart patient Debby Lecompte in 1969. The doctor performed open-heart surgery on her to repair a heart defect.


Saturday, July 25, 2015


An obituary of Dr. Tony Dobell on Friday incorrectly said that Jack Gelineau (whose name was incorrectly spelled Gelinas) was Tony Dobell's predecessor as goalie for the McGill Redmen. In fact, Mr. Gelineau was the McGill goalie after the Second World War.

Following failed attempts to go public as a company and a very public outing of a hacking incident, Ashley Madison founder Noel Biderman is stepping down as CEO. Omar el Akkad reports on the fallout of one of the world's largest data breaches
Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A8

A mid what is likely the most incendiary hacking incident in corporate history, the head of the world's best-known adultery business has been shown the door.

In a terse press release on Friday, Avid Life Media - owners of the website Ashley Madison - announced that Noel Biderman will be stepping down as chief executive officer. His departure comes after hackers stole and posted the personal information of some 33 million Ashley Madison customers - setting off a firestorm of public humiliation, shattered marriages and several suspected suicides.

Besides a massive collection of private user information, the leaked data have also shed unprecedented light on the inner workings of the world's foremost cheating website - a place in which men vastly outnumbered women, users had to pay to delete their accounts and some personal information remained on the servers even after accounts were deleted.

The result is a damning indictment of a site whose most important feature - the ability to keep a secret - came spectacularly undone.

"The company relies on confidentiality," said Antoine Aylwin, a partner at the law firm Fasken Martineau's privacy and information protection group in Montreal. "You see the picture on their website, it's someone putting their finger on their mouth. I think this is the end of Ashley Madison."

Since its founding in 2007, Toronto-based Avid Life has become one of the biggest online matchmaking businesses in the world. In addition to Ashley Madison, the company runs a number of niche dating websites, including one called Established Men, which purports to connect "young, beautiful women with interesting men."

But Ashley Madison has long been the jewel in Avid Life's empire. Founded by Mr. Biderman six years before Avid Life was created, the service's primary marketing appeal is its salaciousness - something Mr. Biderman has traded on in numerous risqué ads he designed for the site. The former lawyer and sports agent, who is married with children, also cheekily adopted the nickname "The King of Infidelity."

But Mr. Biderman's biggest business challenge has been trying to convince women - not the hordes of men lured by the lurid advertising - to join Ashley Madison. He devised the site's name by combining two of the most popular girls' names in North America, hoping the familiarity would lend the site a comforting air. He has also authored books that claim modern marriage is in serious trouble - and cheating will help save it.

(Still, according to the gender information in the leaked data, Ashley Madison's users are overwhelmingly male.)

Buoyed by the success of Ashley Madison and its other holdings, Avid Media has tried repeatedly to go public. In 2010, it pitched investors and attempted to list on the Toronto Stock Exchange. But the plan never materialized - in part, it appears, because some investors were skittish about putting their money behind a company whose most famous property is a website for cheating spouses.

Nonetheless, Avid Life has continued its attempt to go public.

Earlier this year, the company tried to raise as much as $200million and list the company in London - hoping that more liberal attitudes toward adultery in Europe would make the process easier.

But just a few months later, a band of anonymous thieves brought those plans - and, possibly, the prospects for Ashley Madison's continued existence - to a grinding halt.

On July 12, staff at Avid Life arrived at work to discover that a group of hackers called the Impact Team had broken into the company's digital systems and stolen hundreds of gigabytes of data. The trove included user account information, employee e-mails and a variety of content created by the users themselves.

The hackers left the company a digital message, accompanied by Ashley Madison's logo (a woman with her finger over her mouth in a shushing motion) and the AC/DC song Thunderstruck. Either shut down Ashley Madison and Established Men, the hackers demanded, or the stolen information becomes public. Soon thereafter, Impact Team began releasing the data.

The hackers said they targeted Ashley Madison specifically, accusing the site of fraudulent behaviour. Their claim relates to the site's "paid delete" function, which charges users a fee to wipe out their accounts. The hackers allege the fee amounts to blackmail, and even when users pay it, the site does not completely erase their information. The hackers also claim that many of the female accounts on Ashley Madison - which appear to compose about 15 per cent to 20 per cent of the total - are fake.

However, Toronto Police - who have teamed up with the FBI, RCMP and U.S. Department of Homeland Security in an effort to find the hackers - say there is no evidence that Ashley Madison or its parent company have done anything criminal.

"This hack is one of the largest data breaches in the world," said Toronto Police acting staff Superintendent Bryce Evans. "The ... Impact Team's actions have and will continue to have a longterm social and economic impact, and they have already sparked spinoff crimes and further victimization."

Indeed, within days of the leaked information hitting the web, numerous fraudulent websites also popped up, offering to "delete" users' Ashley Madison information for a fee. Some users whose information was among the leaked data began receiving extortion e-mails demanding money and threatening to make the user's information even more public.

According to Toronto Police, there have already been two suicides that may be connected to the release of the data.

It is almost certain the hackers responsible for the Ashley Madison leak are in possession of more data. As such, the barrage of public-relations crises for Avid Life are likely to continue.

Avid Life Media, whose representatives did not respond to a request for comment on Friday, have offered a $500,000 bounty for information leading to the hackers' arrest. But it is likely the ultimate cost of the data breach to the company will make that reward look like a rounding error.

Within days of the hack becoming public, Avid Media was hit with multiple classaction lawsuits in the United States and Canada. If successful, the suits could result in more than half a billion dollars in damages.

The suits also illustrate just how anomalous the Ashley Madison hack is. Whereas other major incidents - such as the hack that exposed tens of millions of users' credit card information at Target - were primarily financial in nature, the Ashley Madison data leak exposes far more visceral secrets.

"It's a shame that we do this, but whenever we see personal info stolen, we can say an identity is worth this much, a credit history is worth this much," said Tyler Reguly, manager of the vulnerability and exposure research team at the digital security firm Tripwire. "But when you look at a site designed for cheating on your spouse, there's a lot more than dollars and cents here.

"This has a social impact that is going to rock the waters for a long time to come."

33 million Number of Ashley Madison user accounts released by hackers

300 GB Amount of data, including user names, portions of credit card numbers, home addresses and Ashley Madison corporate e-mails, released

12,000 Estimated number of profiles belonging to women who were active users, according to a data investigation by tech site Gizmodo

$19 Amount charged for "Full Delete" function to erase all identifying details of user account. Data researchers discovered some details remained in the site's databases

5 Number of lawsuits filed in the United States and Canada against Ashley Madison, including a $760-million class-action suit filed by two Canadian law firms

Associated Graphic

Noel Biderman strikes a pose evocative of the main imagery on Ashley Madison, the infidelity website he founded in 2001. Mr. Biderman resigned as CEO on Friday after hackers exposed an embarrassing security failure and released personal data on 33 million Ashley Madison customers.


Midway between fun and fatigue: my summer as a CNE carny
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M1

Bonnie stands in front of a wall of balloons, where cool gusts of wind wiggle the latex rainbow and make a deceptively sunny day colder. It would make throwing a dart harder, if there were takers.

She says she's bored. A bunch of people are bored at the fun fair.

Weekdays can be brutally slow, especially chilly ones. This is her second year working as a CNE car.

ny, and the gig is generally a good fit, nestled between her conventional summer job and university classes that begin after Labour Day. The pay is decent too and she actually likes being surrounded by smells of deep-fried meats and sweets. But, "it's more fun on weekends," she says.

On a Monday, being behind the counter feels like being trapped on a colourful island. Other carnies seem close, but you can't really mingle while remaining at your post. A song of game wheels clacking, radio hits warped by their own volume, hard balls whapping against the boards, barkers yelling - noise you're encouraged to make until either your enthusiasm or your voice gives - overpowers small talk.

Even the people working at your own game are on the other side of a wall.

I told her I've been there. I have been behind the counter on the midway. Just on a different game, in a different time, at the same big carnival. And I've come back to see if anything's changed.

Carny work was my first real job in 2006. I didn't run away to the circus - in fact it was my father's idea. Most summers I worked for the family business, Parkdale Novelty, which supplies gift shops and some of the CNE's midway with plush toys. But every time I've mentioned the CNE gig since my tenure there, my dad reminisces about family history: the novelty stand my grandfather, Morris, and his brother, Sam, manned west of the Food building in the early 1970s; how Dad and my aunt snuck into the fairgrounds hiding under a tarp in the storage van as if Danny Ocean had planned a big caramel-corn haul. Sam Kotzer served as the CNE's president for three years in the mid-1990s. In a way, being a carny, if only for a long two weeks, was in my blood, my idiot destiny.

As a kid, the CNE was an overstimulating, delirious cloudcuckoo land. Giant rides, flickering lights, strong noises, stronger smells and manufactured colours warred with the night sky. It is difficult not to contrast your adult CNE trips with your childhood's.

You keep asking the questions: "Didn't there used to be more rides?" "Weren't they bigger?" "Were tickets always this expensive?" "What happened to all of the haunted houses?" "Was there a Sega Genesis booth or did I just make that up?" The games are rarely child's play. Prizes are divided between trophies and toys. A tyke will tug at their parent's shirt for a novelty Rastafarian banana, but it's mostly an opportunity for someone to test his or her might, make a statement. Breaking a beer bottle and shooting at a paper star for the thrill of controlled destruction. Challenging your partner to a ball-rolling horse derby adds points to the tally that accumulates with every mini-putt and thumb war in your relationship.

My game had absolutely none of these thrills.

Fortune Falls was a dull amusement, and has since been retired, but it was my game. The sign promised a pot of gold. Two dollars got you a prize. In between the monetary transaction and the plush toy reward, you got to hold a net under a manufactured waterfall until a ball dropped in. No time limit. No skill needed. Less challenging than a handshake.

The water smelled like standing at the border of a fish market and a copper mine. On windy days, such as this one, the air would skirt the water up off the machine's side and slap me with a quick splash, like a hazing.

Games have to be winnable, though the odds can always be stacked to merely unfair. A small sign lets the public know that the basketball hoops are curved and non-regulated for skill and amusement.

"It's all harder than it looks," noted the attendant, who dribbled and challenged me to take a shot. His tone quickly changed when I told him I once was a carny, too. He shook his head and sorely admitted he "hates watching people lose."

At Fortune Falls, you could score one of the sought-after big prizes by catching one of the two marked balls. Back then they were SpongeBobs; now, Minions and Lego people. My most disgruntled customer boomeranged back to my stand after walking away, enraged that he had failed to win the Tom Kenny-voiced, giggling cartoon dumbo SquarePants his niece had hoped for. He held a bean-bag sized plush moose toy, for which I offered him an exchange, even a refund, but he was looking to make a point.

He began yelling at some passerby to not bother with Fortune Falls. His magnum opus was throwing the moose into Fortune Falls water basin. I watched the toy splash into the soup while he huffed away. I hit the stop button.

I wrapped my hand in a plastic bag for a loose sense of security against the water I had been smelling for more than a week and thanked the lord the moose drifted toward me, within easy reach.

As a frugal teen hoping to use his limited income for more beer and video games, I probably should have packed something to eat instead of nibbling at my fourfigure paycheque in the overpriced food building. Spaghetti cups and jerk chicken platters were always a nice, normal meal in the years before the stunt-eating phenomenon took hold.

Some days I would lurk in the kitchenware hall hoping to stop by demonstrations at the exact moment they might throw diced veggies and smoothie samples to the audience. I felt like a pigeon in the park.

One day I was so hungry and exhausted I drank a caramel coffee-creamer sampler being handed out at the exit, thinking it was an inexplicably free milkshake.

My friend, who worked the hoops, thought I was doing it to be funny. I downed half the bottle.

Evenings were a three-ring circus: two tightrope walker shows, fireworks and an increase of customers. The night shift goes by faster with more fun and more work. Everyone I spoke to this year unanimously agreed. In my day, I cursed myself for taking the morning slot, my logic being I might have the energy to party with friends in the summer evenings, an amazing lie about my Grade 10 social life that I convinced myself of.

The nicest moment, without any bitter scheduling regrets, happened to be on one of those slow weekdays. A light rain cooled the foot traffic. While it was always good to be on your feet in case supervisors scooted by, the midway was a ghost town.

The three of us at Fortune Falls lay on the countertop. Resting against the hard upholstery, I looked up at the dangling chains of cartoon plush toys, the stripes of our sky-blue awnings against the grey sky, relaxing and enjoying myself at the CNE without the help of any rides. The rain cleared after an hour and a half. We returned to our feet to stand, climb and shout again.

Scratch that: The nicest moment was actually finding a two-for-one coupon for fruit smoothies on the ground and using it on my last day as a carny.

Associated Graphic

The midway at the Canadian National Exhibition hasn't changed much over the years, except for the prizes.


Getting back to the roots
Disenchanted by the waste he saw in urban restaurants, chef Shane Harper moved to the country to reinvigorate his craft
Special to The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, September 2, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L5

For many people, summer brings an urge to abandon city life for the bucolic countryside. This is no less true for cooks, who spend many sultry nights stuck in cramped kitchens until two in the morning. But while a lot of us talk about making the move permanently, pastry chef Shane Harper actually did it.

Six months ago, Harper left the high-end restaurants of Toronto to tend the fields at Holly Ray Farms, an organic farm three hours away in the town of Stirling, Ont. Having become pastry chef at the upscale Nota Bene in 2009 when he was just 24, Harper worked his way through other fine dining spots before becoming corporate pastry chef for Mark McEwan's restaurants. But although he was on track to become one of the city's best pastry chefs, he felt disconnected from food.

"It wasn't something they taught in culinary school," says Harper, who studied at George Brown and Humber colleges, of the relationship between farms and stoves. In his spare time, he volunteered with local community food organization The Stop, running its compost program as well as planting seeds in the greenhouse and garden, but he yearned to get deeper into the soil.

What finally made him leave the city, though, was waste. "That was one of the last pushes that made me want to go to a farm," says Harper while trimming tomato plants in the Holly Ray greenhouse. "I've thrown out cakes, squares, pastries, but you'll also see bacon, sausages, lettuce, everything you can imagine."

A hotel he worked at in Alberta served massive brunches for 1,800 people every weekend, which meant prepping for up to 2,000 guests, then tossing what wasn't used. "It was frustrating spending so much time on a dish, and then you put it in front of a guest and they don't eat it," he says. "Waste wasn't talked about at a lot of the places I've been in, outside from a financial standpoint."

Last fall, he answered an ad by Holly Ray Farms' Lara Kelly and Jamie Kingston, who had just become the farm's owners. They were looking for a manager to take care of the day-to-day operations while Kingston worked an office job to financially support the farm. Despite not having any experience growing vegetables outside of a mini-garden on his apartment balcony, Harper was hired.

"He probably wouldn't have been able to get a job on other farms," says Kingston. "But we loved his passion and enthusiasm. It's been a joy."

Holly Ray sends out 90 Community Supported Agriculture boxes to people in Toronto and Belleville, as well as Toronto restaurants such as Linda Modern Thai, Actinolite and Public Kitchen.

The chef packed his life (including his cats, Heston and Elma) in a U-Haul and left Toronto's restaurant, boutique and barpacked Queen West neighbourhood, arriving in a snow-covered Stirling last March. He immersed himself in horticulture books and sought growing advice from the nearby farmers and Amish community. His new digs are a oneroom hut just a few feet away from the greenhouse.

Farm labour is backbreaking: Harper worked four straight months before taking his first day off. "I had to make sure the soil was constantly moist and at the right temperature," he says.

"Then I had to bring it into the greenhouse and make sure it got enough light." It was months before he got to turn the literal fruits of his labour into a meal.

Two interns quit after their romanticized views of farming were crushed by endless weeding.

But chefs are used to being on their feet all day and never having weekends to rest. Harper has embraced the change from city to country. "I'm eating better than ever and am in the best shape of my life," he says. "Cooks are probably some of the most malnourished people on the planet. You eat the staff meal at 4:45 in the corner on a milk crate ... [then] go to Chinatown at 2 a.m. for the $4.20 pork and rice special."

He says that spending months watching a tomato go from seed to fruit has taught him how much work happens before food is even delivered to restaurant kitchens. "Say you're working at the restaurant and you make 60 portions, but sell 55. Those extra portions are going in the garbage," says the 31-year-old Harper. On the three-acre farm, produce that isn't good enough to sell is fed to the pigs. "Nothing gets wasted," he says.

The pastry chef hasn't completely left restaurant life: At the end of October, the farm will close for the winter and he'll be looking for work in Toronto's kitchens until spring. "My desserts are going to change big time because I'm looking to remove refined sugar from my repertoire," says Harper. "You can source the perfect ripe peach and you don't need any sugar, so I'm looking to see how I can recreate that in the winter."

His emphasis will be on highlighting natural flavours, and trying to use every bit of the ingredients that took so much work to grow.


Want to see your food grow?

Follow these farmers on Instagram.

Shane Harper @PastryPirate

The pastry chef and organic farmer has been snapping pics of the colourful bounty he harvests at Stirling, Ont.'s Holly Ray Farms. There are lettuces, cucumbers, asparagus and squash blossoms, plus the occasional snap of staff meals, egg-laying chickens and less glamorous shots of working with mulch.

Farmer Jason @YonderWayFarmer

The Texas farmer details the ups and downs of owning a grass-fed cattle, pig and poultry farm. His captions cover everything from severe storm weather to sweet odes to his wife and four daughters.

There are also oddly poetic passages on livestock, such as this tribute to a hen now too old to lay eggs: "Everyday, she finds a clutch of eggs to try and set on. Broody hens bring nothing in monetarily to the farm. But the will and the drive to do what comes natural to them everyday brings pleasure that throws out all the worries of profits ..."

Ben Hole @BenjaminHole

Endless hilly pastures in shades of emerald green dotted with frolicking sheep and cows dominate the feed of this wool farmer based in the the Isle of Purbeck on the southern coast of England.

Barley sways in the breeze under foggy grey skies, with the English Channel visible just beyond the field - it's a visual reminder of how vastly different English farms are from those in the Canadian Prairies.

Andrew Campbell @FreshAirFarmer

This dairy and cash-crop farmer in Middlesex, Ont., has vowed to upload photos of what it's like to work and live on his 200-hectare farm every day this year. He focuses less on picturesque fields and more on everyday chores, such as upgrading the water heater, poring over spreadsheets of milk samples and grooming cattle. Images of flooded soybean and cornfields after non-stop rainstorms show that things aren't always about green acres.

Hilary Kearney @GirlNextDoorHoney

San Diego-based beekeeper Hilary Kearney chronicles her job removing and relocating massive bee colonies from homes and city buildings. Interlopers include a giant swarm that invaded a barbecue grill and a colony inside a wall of a church that required sledgehammer access.

Associated Graphic

Shane Harper tends crops at Holly Ray Farms in Stirling, Ont. Though he lacked farming experience, his passion impressed the farm's owners.

Though farming is hard work, Harper has embraced country life. 'I'm eating better than ever and am in the best shape of my life,' he says.

Clash of the bargain-basement titans
Thursday, June 18, 2015 – Print Edition, Page D10

It was easy to diss the Mitsubishi Mirage when it first came to Canada two years ago. Built in Thailand primarily for emerging-market customers, the three-cylinder sub-subcompact launched here with a $12,498 MSRP that still wasn't low enough. The point was driven home months later when Nissan reintroduced its Mexico-built Micra to Canada: $9,998 for the base S model. Mitsubishi price-matched, though rather than cut the MSRP, it applied an ongoing $2,500 incentive to the base Mirage ES. For all their penny-pinching appeal, neither Nissan nor Mitsubishi sells many of the $10,000 versions. Even in this basement of the car market, few would relish driving one in mid-summer afternoon rush-hour traffic. Jeremy Sinek compares the two



Base price: $9,998 (net of incentive)

Engine: 1.2-litre L3

Horsepower/Torque: 74 hp/74 lb.-ft.

Transmission: Five-speed manual

Fuel efficiency (litres/100 km): 7.0 city/5.5 highway

Alternatives: Chevrolet Spark, Nissan Micra


That $9,998 gets you more bells and whistles in the Mitsubishi store. Power front windows, power mirrors, a USB port and a rear cargo cover are standard only on the Mirage. You also get an extra letter - "E" - in the trim designation. The engine is a 74hp, 1.2-litre three-cylinder with five-speed manual transmission and a CVT automatic is available.


Despite its bold rear tailgate spoiler (which is aerodynamically functional) the Mirage looks dorky. Blame its skinny 14inch tires and bulbous nose. We're not convinced that the Sport package, which adds alloy wheels plus front, side and rear air dams, would do much to redeem its unfortunate appearance.


It's no Lexus, but in the context of this $10,000 twosome, the Mirage is the more refined ride. The engine seemed smoother and better muted than in past Mirages we've driven. You still won't miss the guttural three-cylinder beat at low rpm, but it smoothens out as the revs rise. Typical of a three-banger, it sounds more relaxed on the highway than a four-cylinder engine at the same engine speed (about 3,600 rpm at 120 km/h). The shifter is light and easy if a little notchy, and the light clutch less sharp than the Micra's. As for chassis dynamics, the Mirage turns small-car stereotypes on their head: the ride is civil, but the handling is a listless lament of lazy steering response, copious body lean and early-onset understeer. The Mirage didn't beat its official fuel-consumption numbers, but its measured real-world 5.7 litres/100 km was still outstanding. That's hybrid-like fuel economy for less than half the price of a Toyota Prius c.


For headroom, the Mirage ekes out a small advantage here. There's little to choose between their driving positions; I was able to arrange my mid-size frame well in both cars, despite the absence of either seatheight or steering telescopic adjustment.

However, over time, I appreciated the better thigh support provided by the Mirage.

And the Mirage's rear seat is roomier and more comfortable.


At $10,000, you can't expect much more than the legal minimums, but the Mirage does have one more airbag than Micra (for the driver's knees) and adds a brake override system to the industry-standard suite of active-safety aids. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Mirage scores well in all its tests except the small-overlap crash test, which earned it a poor rating.


If the requirement is basic transportation at minimum cost and maximum convenience, take the Mirage. For the same price as the Micra, it includes more features, fabulous fuel economy and one of the best new-car warranties in the business. While its limp-wristed handling is a letdown, that's tolerable in exchange for its greater comfort and more relaxing drive. And while driving it, you can't see what it looks like.



Base price: $9,998

Engine: 1.6-litre L4

Horsepower/Torque: 109 hp/107 lb.-ft.

Transmission: Five-speed manual

Fuel efficiency (litres/100 km): 8.6 city/6.6 highway

Alternatives: Chevrolet Spark, Mitsubishi Mirage


The Micra is stingy with bells and whistles, but gives you more basic car for the money. It's slightly less tiny than the Mirage, but has a lot more engine plus larger tires and a rear stabilizer bar.


The smaller the car, the less room for styling flourishes. Neither car is a thing of beauty, but we'll give our nod to the Micra, which is longer than the Mirage and looks like a regular small hatchback, only smaller. Chubbier 15-inch tires add to the Micra's more grown-up look.


If your definition of "handling" begins with light (steering) and ends with tight (turning radius), there's little to choose between the two. But if you believe a tiny car can also be fun to drive, the Micra has it all over the Mirage. It steers more eagerly, corners flatter and grips harder.

And while its suspension sometimes kicks more than the Mirage's over sharp bumps, its ride quality still defies the small-car "skateboard" stereotype. You don't need a stopwatch to detect the Micra's punchier acceleration; 1.6 litres is a generous displacement for a car this small, and the correspondingly robust torque lends it an effortless feel that belies the modest horsepower. However, smooth shifting is challenged by the combination of sharp clutch engagement and a slight engine stumble just off idle speed. The engine's buzz-saw rasp can start to needle at freeway speeds. The Micra is shaded by the Mirage in terms of fuel economy, but not by as much as the official numbers indicate. We measured 6.4 litres/100 km for a week of mixed driving in a manual-transmission Micra.

That's better than the official 6.6 litres/100 km for highway driving.


The Micra is roomier than you'd think.

With the driver's seat pushed fully back to (just) accommodate my 6-foot-6 neighbour, there was still (just) enough kneeroom for his 5-foot-3 wife to sit behind him. With the front seat set for my 5-foot-8 frame, I was able to "sit behind myself" in either car. The Micra does have more headroom than the Mirage and more cargo space. But the Micra's seats were less comfortable on longer trips.


The Micra has the mandatory safety features, but no more than that. Since it is not sold in the United States, it has not been tested by the IIHS, but in the European Economic Community government crash-test program it performed adequately - scoring a little lower than the Mirage for adult-occupant protection, but a little higher for child-occupant protection. In real-world crashes with heavier vehicles, the Micra's greater weight might give it an edge over the Mirage.


The Micra delivers fewer frills but feels more like a "real" car. It's bigger and heavier than the Mirage, with peppy performance, and its handling comes closer to the small-car go-kart ideal. Its style is sportier, but it's not as comfortable as the Micra or as relaxed on the highway.


Camry giveaway Who should receive Andrew Clark's car? Read the pitches.

Associated Graphic

The Mitsubishi Mirage ES, left, and the Nissan Micra S are two of the cheapest cars available in Canada.


Saturday, June 20, 2015


A Thursday Globe Drive article, "Clash of the bargain-basement titans", incorrectly said the Mitsubishi Mirage features better headroom than the Nissan Micra. In fact, the opposite is true. Additionally, the writer intended to say that the Micra is not as comfortable as the Mirage, not the opposite as published.

A liveable balance of risk and reward
PATR strategy helps build a stock portfolio that can survive the downs of a volatile market while still benefiting from the ups
Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B8

Did your portfolio fail its stress test this week?

One of the most volatile weeks in ages for stocks has reminded us to pay more attention to risk. Diversifying with stocks and bonds is the best risk-reduction strategy, but some investors are looking for more. They may find some answers in the Pay Attention to Risk strategy, an attempt to find a liveable balance of risk and reward.

The PATR strategy is the result of a conversation I had as the stock markets tanked this week with Rob Davies, account manager at Morningstar CPMS, a North American equity ranking and screening service used by institutional money managers and investment advisers. I asked Mr. Davies if he had anything for investors who pick their own stocks and want something that holds up well in market corrections. What he came up with was a portfolio of 20 TSX-listed stocks that have beaten the overall stock market in the past with less risk.

You'll find the stocks in the portfolio listed in the chart accompanying this column. Clearly, it's not the perfect portfolio for every worried investor. While most stocks in the portfolio are up for the year to date, several have fallen sharply. Also, the portfolio includes Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which was up 82 per cent for the year through midweek and 487 per cent in total over the past three years. Valeant was down 7.2 per cent for the month, but it hardly seems a buylow opportunity.

Still, the entire list of stocks scores well in a variety of measures that indicate a degree of resilience in a down market. "We've found from various tests over the years that these variables are the key components to look at to minimize risk," Mr. Davies said.

In order of importance, the screening process used for PATR covers the following criteria:

Five-year beta: Beta is a mix of stock market volatility where a benchmark stock index is assigned a beta of one; strategy is seeking less volatile stocks with betas below that level.

Low earnings estimate spreads: Analysts are generally in agreement about the company's current-year earnings; management likely has a good reputation for providing accurate guidance.

Return on equity: Looking for high 10-year average numbers in this measure of profitability.

Price-to-earnings ratio: Looking for a low P/E in relation to the historical median.

Price-to-book ratio: Again, looking for a low number in relation to the historical median; this ratio compares a company's market price to its book value, or assets minus liabilities.

Low historical earnings variability: Consistent earnings, in other words.

The PATR strategy delivered a total return (share price change plus dividends) of 18.9 per cent over the 12 months to July 31, a period in which the S&P/TSX composite index lost 2.9 per cent.

Back testing shows that since the start date of January, 1996, PATR has achieved a total return of 15.2 per cent and the index has made 8.1 per cent. Such pronounced outperformance should make you think extra hard about the usual boilerplate saying past returns are no guarantee of future results. High-flying investments do have a tendency to fall back to the pack.

Another proviso is that those long-term results were based on monthly portfolio rebalancing.

This is virtually impossible for individual investors to do on their own, but here's some consolation: Over those two decades, the average annual portfolio turnover rate was a very low 12 per cent. "What this indicates is that a lot of the stocks in Canada that have a low-risk profile tend to be fairly stable over time," Mr. Davies said. "We don't get a whole new list every year."

PATR's strong long-term results appear to be based more on limiting the stock market's down side than on capturing all the juice in upside gains. The strategy has beaten the S&P/TSX composite index in 93.3 per cent of months in which the index was down. In the 2008 stock market crash, the portfolio's drop of 24.3 per cent compared to 33 per cent for the index.

"This portfolio hasn't performed as well as some of the other strategies we have when the market turns up, but I was quite pleased to see how well it did in down markets," Mr. Davies said.

A notable feature of the list of PATR stocks is the comparatively modest presence of the big bluechip names that dominate the S&P/TSX composite index. Only one big bank, National Bank of Canada, made the list, and there are no big energy or telecom stocks. Instead, there's a heavy weighting in medium- and smallsize companies like Jean Coutu Group, Richelieu Hardware and Leon's Furniture.

Mr. Davies said he simply applied his screen to the 700 or so stocks in the Canadian market.

"Our model is totally unbiased.

It's bottom-up stock selection and often you'll find this produces names that you don't hear about every day." Bottom-up stock picking means analysis of individual shares; top-down investing is about looking at big-picture issues like the economy.

Recognizing that some investors prefer more of an emphasis on large stocks, Mr. Davies re-ran his screen to eliminate stocks with a small market float (float means shares in public hands) and lower trading volumes. This resulted in the addition of BCE Inc., TransCanada Corp., TorontoDominion Bank and Bank of Nova Scotia and the removal of Winpak Ltd., Leon's Furniture Ltd., Atco Ltd. and Valener Inc. Twenty-year returns from the portfolio with a large-stock tilt fell slightly to an average annual 14.8 per cent.

Dividends are another area where PATR has done well. The original version of the strategy produced a dividend yield of 3.9 per cent at mid-week, compared to 3.3 per cent for the index.

Want to get to know these PATR stocks better? Add them to a watchlist ( my-watchlist) and you'll be able to look at things like dividend growth and payout ratio (select the Dividend view), return on equity (choose the Earnings view) and P/E and price-to-book ratios (go with the Ratios view). In the Build Your Own view, you can add things like analyst consensus recommendations and an indication of where a stock is trading in relation to its 50- or 200-day moving average.

If you're starting to pay attention to risk again as an investor, focus first on having the right mix of stocks and bonds and keeping a long-term perspective that assesses returns in five-year increments at least. The Pay Attention to Risk strategy is for people who want to take risk reduction a step further, even while recognizing that you're never free from risk when you're invested in stocks.

Follow me on Twitter: @rcarrick

PATR PERFORMANCE The Pay Attention to Risk strategy

Morningstar CPMS developed this strategy for investors who want exposure to stocks with less volatility than the overall market. Listed below (left) are the 20 stocks selected for this strategy using a multi-point screening process. And here's how the strategy has performed. The strong results compared to the S&P/TSX composite index in recent years add some weight to the usual warning that past results do not guarantee future returns.

Associated Graphic


A clerk stocks shelves at a Jean Coutu store in Montreal. Jean Coutu is one stock likely to weather stormy markets.


Few places conjure lottery-winning fantasies like the Maldives, 26 stunning Indian Ocean atolls where royals recharge and A-listers honeymoon in villas that cost thousands a night. But that's just one side of paradise
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

MALDIVES -- Sitting on the ground in the breezy seaside shade, women from Magoodhoo Village were weaving rolls of roof thatch from palm fronds and palm coir (handmade rope made from coconut fibres).

Watching from a swing jolie - the surprisingly relaxing net seats that are found throughout the Maldives - I asked a few questions about the thatch (bound for resort roofs). Then I took a long drink from one of the coconuts that strangers were constantly handing me.

"Yum," I said.

"Meeru," my new friend Mashoodh responded (which translates to "delicious"). The casual language lesson came as part of Mashoodh's offer to show my family around Magoodhoo, a small island of 600 people about 130 kilometres southwest of the Maldives capital, Malé.

Our walking tour took us from the women's waterfront work area to the rest of the village's highlights. Stops included the island's new six-room guesthouse, with its bright airy rooms and comfortable outdoor dining area, the school - where we checked out the Grade 10 marine biology class - the boat-building sheds, the mosques and three small stores.

Eventually we arrived at Mashoodh's home, where we were invited to join his family for a typical dinner of mashuni (spicy tuna and coconut), garudiya (fish soup) and barbecued fish. It was the perfect example of the kind of spontaneous Maldivian hospitality that would be legendary if only more people had the chance to experience village life.

Part of what makes the Maldives so fascinating is how little most people know about the small Islamic country of 345,000. The common perception is of a sun-kissed Indian Ocean paradise that caters to the well-heeled and honeymooning.

Until 2010, when the local tourism laws went into effect, the 105 secluded resorts were almost all outsiders ever saw of the Maldives. Villages were offlimits unless you were on a guided day excursion. But with the changing of laws, and the building of hundreds of guesthouses, travellers who don't mind going without beer, bacon and bikinis (except on councilapproved beaches) can now holiday for rates as low as $50 a night.

My question was: How do the two alternatives vary? Obviously a luxury resort is likely to be luxurious and a guesthouse option is going to be more affordable, but as I swung in my jolie, and tried to count how many different shades of blue shimmered in the lagoon stretching out in front of me, I wondered about the other differences.

Lavish resorts are scattered down the 960-kilometre length of the Maldives on small private islands of pared-down beauty: shady palms, white sand, iridescent lagoons, abundant reefs and blue sky.

At Per Aquum Niyama, my family checked out the luxury resort option and discovered our plush, lagoon-front bungalow was so well appointed it would be easy to spend an entire holiday wandering between our private infinity pool and giant outdoor bathtub while eating the free ice cream stocked in our freezer. But that would have meant missing out on the tranquil spa and the excellent dining options.

Instead, we struck out at each mealtime for one of Niyama's six restaurants - each one a minidestination in itself. For dinner we took a speedboat off-island to Edge restaurant. Seated over the water, I watched the moon rise while savouring the six-course tasting menu. Edge, like most resort restaurants, makes use of a few available local ingredients (fish and tropical fruit), but mainly the menu highlights imported international fare, which includes an excellent wine selection.

For activities, there's a range of water sports including guided snorkelling through the lagoon's unique rehabilitated coral gardens with the resident marine biologist, diving, sailing and jet skiing. While on land there's yoga, a well-stocked library, a games room and a glitzy underwater nightclub where you can boogie with the fishes.

Unlike the resorts, the locally owned guesthouses are found on inhabited or "local" islands. Mostly of new construction, the rooms run from basic to moderately luxurious and offer warm hospitality along with traditional homecooked meals.

Guests interested in staying on the more remote islands (where there may be only one or two guesthouses) need to realize they'll be visiting conservative Muslim communities that aren't accustomed to Westerners. Alcohol is illegal, women are often fully covered and the main entertainment runs to Quran-reciting competitions and evening bashi ball games (a surprisingly fierce traditional ball sport played by women).

Ilyas Ibrahim, the manager at TME Retreats, a waterfront inn on Dhigurah Island in South Ari Atoll, explained, "I'll often talk to people for an hour before their first visit, to make sure they're comfortable with the cultural restrictions. But then they come back a second time because they've made such good friends in the village."

Beyond the cultural differences, most guesthouses offer some of the same types of aquatic activities resorts do. Off Dhigurah Island, which is famous for its whale sharks, we set off twice in search of the huge creatures, but just missed them both times. We had better luck diving on the protected reefs, which teemed with a seemingly endless variety of rays, turtles, reef sharks and some of the biggest grouper I'd ever seen.

On other islands, the highlights might include dolphin or whale watching, surfing or deep sea fishing, so Ibrahim suggests visitors narrow down what it is they want to do before choosing a specific atoll and guesthouse.

Over a leisurely dinner with Mashoodh and his family, I asked if it was the novelty of having outsiders on the islands that made Maldivians so friendly to guests.

He seemed surprised by my question and said that while guesthouses may be new to the Maldives, hospitality isn't. He explained that in a country of remote islands, when a guest arrives it's important to give them refreshments and then show them around and make sure they're comfortable and happy.

"Isn't that what all people do?"

Meals and accommodation at Niyama Per Aquum were covered by the hotel. It did not review or approve this article.



Flying to the Maldives from Canada requires one or more connections routed through the Middle East or Asia. The main airport at Malé is served by airlines including Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Mega Maldives Airlines, the islands' new international carrier flying from several Asian cities.


Your resort or guesthouse will advise you of your best option for interisland transfers, which may include ferry, speedboat, sea plane or domestic flight depending on the location.

Magoodhoo Island Inn's sixroom property will offer snorkelling, diving, sunset fishing and boat excursions to neighbouring islands and resorts.

The new guesthouse is set to be listed on the government guesthouse registry: Per Aquum Niyama is located in Dhaalu Atoll and is made up of two islands: "Chill" and the newly opened "Play." Play's offerings include beach-front villas with casually luxurious indoor-outdoor living starting from $915 (U.S.) a night including breakfast.

TME Retreats Dhigurah mixes village culture with relaxed lagoon-front living. Comprising three guesthouses, with a combined total of 17 rooms, popular activities include diving, snorkelling, sailing and whale shark viewing. Rates from $50 a night plus meals and transfers.

Associated Graphic

The crystal-clear waters of the Maldives are home to whale sharks, rays, turtles and reef sharks.


Thatch made from palm fronds and coconut fibre rope are used for roofs in the Maldives.


Powder-blue surgeonfish swim in big schools throughout Maldivian waters.

Make a connection when choosing advisers
A genuine conversation helped veteran money manager Colin Monteith select the right person to manage his portfolio
Saturday, July 25, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B9

After 43 years in the brokerage business, Colin Monteith went looking for an adviser of his own. He found one after a few months, but what an epic search it was. The onetime adviser and manager of advisers saw 10 different people and conducted 13 interviews.

To help you in your search for an adviser, I asked the now-retired Mr. Monteith to do a Q&A about his experience. Here's an edited transcript of our conversation:

In total, how long did it take you to find an adviser?

I probably spent close to 40 or 50 hours in total over close to two months. I didn't rush into it because I wanted to make a rational decision about who the correct adviser would be for me and my wife. If couples are going to invest their wealth together, they should go to see the adviser together.

It's usually suggested one interview a few advisers before choosing someone. How many people did you interview?

I interviewed 10 people once, I did three a second time and then I made my selection.

Where did you find the names to interview?

I worked purely from websites.

The majority of advisers have personal websites under the umbrella of their firm. I looked at a number of advisers at each individual firm - before long you can tell whether they're using the corporate-speak from their firm's marketing department. I look for a different articulation of the story of the adviser - what they believe in and what makes them different.

Looking at individual sites, you can eliminate 75 per cent to 80 per cent of advisers.

What were you looking for?

Two key things I look for in an adviser are a meeting of the minds, and a meeting of the hearts. With every single adviser, I said, 'Tell me a little bit about yourself.' I'm looking for them to open up, and I expect them to ask me the same questions.

What if they don't?

That tells me an adviser is not very good at relating to personal questions, and all too many issues we have as investors involve personal aspects of our life. If they're not very good with that sort of stuff, I don't want to deal with them.

At what point in the interview process did you raise the issue of fees?

Right at the very end. I just said, 'What does all this cost?' How much did annual fees vary from adviser to adviser?

Hugely. (Mr. Monteith said in an e-mail that the fees he was quoted ranged from 0.8 per cent to 1.75 per cent for his seven-figure portfolio; the adviser he chose was the one at 0.8 per cent.)

What's the trend in terms of there being add-on fees for things such as trades or custodial services?

They all claimed their fees were all-inclusive.

In your interviews, what things did advisers do that turned you off?

They'd go right into things such as performance. Performance is only an issue in the absence of perceived value. If someone's bragging about 10-per-cent-plus performance year after year, that's a bad signal.

Can you tell us something that impressed you about the adviser you eventually chose?

In our first conversation, he said, 'Tell me a little about your life, Colin.' I went, okay, another box ticked. And then he said, 'We're not talking about investments at the first meeting.' A big plus.

What was your experience with advisers offering financial plans?

They all claim to be doing financial planning, but I know there are different levels of that. I was looking for someone who would take me through to the very end [of life] - financial planning and estate planning.

What was your thinking on how many clients your adviser should have?

I wouldn't touch an adviser with more than 400 clients, unless there are multiple people on the team. There are advisers out there with thousands of clients, and they're sole practitioners.

No way can they handle that. I automatically dropped people like that.

Did you do any sort of a background check on the advisers to look at whether they have ever been professionally disciplined?

I did a check on disciplinary actions, and I did a straightforward Google search, as well.

That's an important thing to do, as well as looking at an adviser's personal website. Just google someone and see what stuff comes up.

[Note: For advisers at full-service investment dealers, you can look up background, qualifications and disciplinary information on the website of the Investment Industry Association of Canada website; also check the disciplined persons list maintained by the Canadian Securities Administrators.]

Did you ask for references?

I did ask one adviser for references. He said, 'Here's a client list of people who have given me authorization - pick whichever one.' I did follow up with one client, and the comments were exceptional. He wasn't the adviser I went with, though. In the end, I went with someone I felt more comfortable with. I knew him by reputation.

Can you share your thinking on downtown versus uptown advisers?

If you're a suburban person, retired, how can you relate to some high-flying guy downtown?

The mindset is fast-fast, clickclick, very quick thinkers. They tend to leave some of their older clients with their heads spinning. The suburban adviser can be a little more grounded, a little more willing to spend time.

Based on your experience, how big does your portfolio need to be to get a decent level of attention from an adviser?

Realistically, the adviser is probably going to be looking at $150,000 to $200,000 plus. Most advisers will look at total household portfolio values. Some will turn you away with anything less than $500,000. I wouldn't get too hung up on portfolio size. Most advisers aren't as hung up on this as some people think.

What do you think about online advisers (a.k.a. roboadvisers) for small and starter accounts?

I think there's a natural place for robo-advisers. It depends on someone's ability to understand risk.

If it's not great, I'd go with a robo-adviser. If you have the ability to understand risk, go direct and do it yourself.

Follow me on Twitter: @rcarrick


Born: 1952, in Glasgow

Start in the investment industry: 1968, in Scotland

Comes to Canada: Takes a back-office role at Pitfield Mackay Ross in 1981

Next stages: Worked as an adviser at Burns Fry; in management at BMO Nesbitt Burns for 27 years; then consulted

Portfolio size: Seven figures

His philosophy on ...

Finding a compatible adviser: "I really like advisers who connect with me by talking about my life goals, what do I want my money to do for me, my family and my financial legacy."

The location of the adviser's office: "I wanted someone local that either or both of us [his wife included] could visit easily, so location was important. There is also something emotionally different about advisers downtown and those outside of the core."

How fees charged by advisers vary: "What the stats don't clearly show is the spread between advisers not only in the same firm, but at the same branch."

- Rob Carrick

Associated Graphic

In assessing advisers, Colin Monteith found suburban advisers would spend more time with him than those downtown.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015


A Saturday Report on Business column incorrectly identified an organization as the Investment Industry Association of Canada. In fact, the database on background, qualifications and disciplinary information related to financial advisers at full-service dealers is offered by Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.

No place for Future Shop as shopping's future shifts
Monday, March 30, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B1

The sudden closing of 131 Future Shop electronics stores on Saturday, with 65 of them set to reopen as sister chain Best Buy in a week, underscores the difficulties of running dual banners as more business shifts online.

U.S.-based Best Buy Co., which has operated both banners since it acquired Burnaby, B.C.-based Future Shop in 2001, acknowledged on Saturday that it had too many bricks-and-mortar stores - 258 - and one too many store names. Stores were overlapping, sitting across from each other and even sharing parking lots, stealing customers from one another and adding to corporate marketing and other costs.

"Currently 80 per cent of our customers are within a 15-minute drive to a store and this won't change," said Ron Wilson, president of Best Buy Canada.

Rising competition, especially online, has finally forced Best Buy to do what many in the industry thought was inevitable.

In an era when retailers need to invest more in their e-commerce to respond to changing customer demands, a dual - or multibanner - strategy is a luxury that many mainstream companies can no longer afford.

"To be honest, I'm only surprised it took this long - always seemed a needless redundancy to me," said Doug Stephens, founder of Retail Prophet Consulting and author of The Retail Revival: Re-Imagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism.

Best Buy has said in the past its dual-banner strategy helped lure more consumers, who weren't necessarily aware the two chains were owned by the same company. Two banners gave shoppers the perception of choice in the market, observers said.

But with the proliferation of online competition, including U.S. titan Inc., retailers can get distracted managing dual banners rather than focusing on more pressing priorities.

"What has changed is that the market is not growing and consumers are shopping across channels," said Best Buy spokesman Elliott Chun, referring to online and physical store shopping channels. "So what we need now is fewer but better stores and a single brand that we can invest in."

Best Buy differentiated the two banners in some ways. Future Shop paid its salespeople commissions, and some shoppers say the staff there were pushier than employees at Best Buy. The commissioned sales staff attracted new Canadians who were more used to haggling. Future Shop, which carried some higher-end products, stocked large appliances while Best Buy did not (except online, starting last year). Soon its stores will start carrying those products, the company said Saturday.

Still, in more recent times, distinctions between the two banners seemed less clear, industry observers said.

Other multibanner retailers have closed some weaker chains, such as fashion specialist Reitmans (Canada) Ltd., which is shutting Smart Set, and the owner of home-goods retailer Bowring, which shut Benix.

Grocer Sobeys, which acquired Safeway Canada more than a year ago, may consider dropping that banner, observers suggest.

Sobeys has already put its namesake on some of its regional stores.

Rival Metro Inc. replaced the Dominion banner with its name.

Retailers such as Loblaw Cos. Ltd. still keep many banners, partly to distinguish discount chains, such as No Frills.

South of the border, U.S. department-store retailer Macy's Inc. rebranded to its namesake an array of its regional chains over past years, including Marshall Field's.

For Best Buy, "this is the right move, as hard a decision as it is - less confusion for consumers and one brand to manage," said Bruce Winder, senior adviser at retail consultancy J.C. Williams Group. "The electronics industry is low margin and cost reduction was a must to survive."

Best Buy needed to make changes. In its fourth quarter of 2014, its same-store sales dropped 4 per cent in Canada while foreign currency shifts left U.S. parent Best Buy with a 12.4per-cent sales decline in its international division, Sharon McCollam, chief financial officer, said this month. Sales at stores open a year or more - a key retail measure - grew in the mobile phone category, but "was more than offset" by declines in tablets, gaming and digital imaging, she said.

After the company acquired Future Shop, the Canadian executives persuaded their new bosses to try the dual-banner strategy.

They argued that Future Shop was an established name in Canada with loyal customers who liked the idea of more than one big-box store. It worked so well that the company considered the dual-brand strategy for the U.S. market.

Now, Best Buy joins other retailers that are feeling the pinch of more shoppers making purchases online and heading to physical stores less. The shift to cyberbuying is particularly acute in the electronics and computer field.

Among all online shopping categories, electronics saw the biggest increase in spending in the fourth quarter of 2014 - up 36 per cent to $198 a person from a year earlier, according to J.C. Williams research.

Best Buy's Mr. Chun noted that while traditional electronics categories are not growing, new emerging ones - such as wearable technology - are picking up.

He added the retailer will begin shipping online orders directly from stores in a few months.

He said Best Buy's research found its name enjoyed greater "top-of-mind awareness" among consumers. The retailer also benefits from significant spillover of U.S. advertising, he said.

The Future Shop store closings come as U.S. discounter Target Corp. shuts all its 133 stores in Canada, while other failing retailers, such as fashion chains Mexx and Jacob, also are closing outlets, leaving a lot of retail space to fill in the coming months.

After the Future Shop closings, the company will have a total of 192 stores across the country under the Best Buy name, including 136 large ones and 56 smaller Best Buy Mobile stores.

As a result of the consolidation, about 500 full-time and 1,000 part-time jobs will be lost, the company said. The affected employees will receive severance and help with outplacement support, it said.

Best Buy expects to post restructuring charges and non-restructuring impairments of between $250-million and $350million, or 41 cents a share (U.S.)

to 58 cents a share, it said. This includes $175-million (Canadian) to $225-million of cash charges, mostly tied to future rent obligations and severance, that will be paid over the next five years.

The company said it expects diluted earnings per share to be negatively affected in fiscal 2016 in the range of 10 cents (U.S.) to 20 cents a share, primarily because of a temporary increase in operational expenses related to the consolidation and store disruptions. But it doesn't expect the negative earnings impact to continue into future years, it said.

The company said it will invest up to $200-million (Canadian) in Best Buy stores and its website. It said it will launch major home appliances in all stores while increasing staff levels.


36 per cent Increase in spending on electronics in the fourth quarter of 2014, up from 29 per cent in 2013.

$198 Amount the average consumer spent on electronics in the fourth quarter of 2014.

$200-million Amount Best Buy says it will invest in its Canadian stores over the next two years.

4 per cent Drop in Best Buy's Canadian same-store sales in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Sources: J.C. Williams, Best Buy Canada

Associated Graphic

A Future Shop customer is met by closed signs at a Winnipeg store after the chain's abrupt demise on Saturday.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015


A Monday Report on Business story on the closing of Future Shop stores incorrectly stated the increase in online spending by Canadians on electronics in the fourth quarter of 2014. It was up 16 per cent from a year earlier, not 36 per cent as published.

Walk this way
Car-free spaces can be enchanting when full of people, but ghostly when empty - just witness the eerie evenings on Ottawa's Sparks Street. But, as Robert Everett-Green reports, Buenos Aires officials believe pedestrian streets are the way of the future, though there's just one catch
Thursday, August 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

If you spend enough time on pedestrian-only streets in North America, you will eventually experience the eerie emptiness that ensues when the pedestrians for whom cars were banned fail to show up. It happened to me recently on a stretch of Montreal's Saint Catherine Street, part of which is closed to vehicles each summer, and is almost de rigueur any night on Ottawa's Sparks Street, Canada's longest-running failed experiment in car-free perambulation.

Car-free urban spaces arose naturally in European towns where streets were too old and narrow for reasonable car access, and more dogmatically in North America, where in the 1960s pedestrian-only avenues became a sign of resistance against car culture and suburban malls. Dozens of auto-free zones were created over the next two decades; most have long since pulled up the bollards and let the cars back in.

But in Buenos Aires, the city transportation authority believes that pedestrian streets are the way of the future. It has installed 80 blocks of them in the downtown area in the past five years, with another 20 blocks to follow by the end of the year. But there's a catch: One lane of strictly local traffic is permitted, with a speed limit of 10 kilometres per hour.

More importantly, the pedestrianized blocks - which feature extrawide protected areas for those on foot - are part of a comprehensive strategy for managing the flow of people through the densest parts of the city. Buenos Aires's Sustainable Mobility plan, which was put into action in 2009, gives a starring role to pedestrians and cyclists, but also includes a dramatic shift in public transport.

Four dedicated bus lanes were created in the middle of Avenida 9 de Julio, a vast urban highway that formerly channelled 20 lanes of car traffic through the downtown area. All of those speedier bus lanes, which have cut daily commuting times in half for 200,000 passengers, were shifted away from narrower streets that have now become pedestrian-friendly zones.

The city has also created 145 kilometres of protected on-street bike lanes, and installed a free bike program that by the end of 2015 will have 3,000 bikes available at 200 automatic kiosks.

Anyone can ride a bike for free in the downtown area on safe bike lanes - a revolutionary change in a city where until recently, cycling was purely recreational.

"The idea is to take space away from cars and give more space to people," says Guillermo Dietrich, the head of transport for Buenos Aires. The program has three goals, he says: to improve circulation, reduce pollution and make the city more liveable.

"To improve quality of life in the city means improving public space," he says. You can't do that by giving priority to cars, he adds.

Buenos Aires already had a long experience with pedestrianized streets. Portions of Calle Florida were first closed to vehicle traffic in 1911, and became a ped-mall in the modern sense 60 years later. But Dietrich says the street has struggled with the same kind of stagnation experienced by North American pedestrian routes, and was not planned with any wider view of the flow of people through the area.

The cars that are allowed on the city's pedestrianized routes must have permits for local residence or work, and you can't get one if you don't have your own parking space. The 10-km speed limit, Dietrich says, is based on the first speed limit for cars in London, England, where it was thought that the new horseless carriages should not be allowed to move much faster than the animals they displaced.

The limit is easy to enforce during the day, less so at night, Dietrich says, especially in parts of the financial district that are quiet after business hours. "It's not a big risk, because there are not so many pedestrians. But it's something we must work on as nightlife increases."

He says the city was not swayed by the conventional wisdom that pedestrian zones only work in strong retail and nightlife zones.

The greater concentration of pedestrians through the whole area is already starting to increase restaurant and residential development, he says, as parking lots are rededicated to other purposes.

A look at the Buenos Aires experience immediately exposes the weakness of most North American attempts at pedestrianization: that they are too narrowly focused on a few blocks of one street, with little thought given to the broader ecology of public space and transport.

There's also a paucity of ideas whenever these streets run into trouble. One favourite solution is to spruce things up with planters and such, which was done last year along the four pedestrianized blocks of Ottawa's Sparks Street. The other is to bring back the cars, a proposal most recently floated in Ottawa last spring by an advisory committee of the National Capital Commission (NCC), though a spokesman for NCC said that "the Sparks Street right-of-way ... is under the jurisdiction of the City of Ottawa."

Cars or no cars: It's like an on-off switch in many places, with little thought for a more tailored approach.

Sparks Street has a unique set of problems. Over half of the properties are owned by Public Works and Government Services, which is not in the business of making lively streetscapes; another 16 per cent belongs to the NCC. The CBC's 11-year-old Broadcast Centre has 200 feet of frontage on the mall and not a single door. The combination of government buildings, low commercial residency rates and harsh winters often make the street seem like a little bit of Detroit in the heart of our country's capital.

Sparks Street will not recover till more people live there, and it won't be fixed simply by opening it to cars in the usual way. Sacramento reintroduced car traffic into its K Street Mall a few years ago, though the street's two lanes were already occupied by light rail transit. Given how drivers usually feel about lining up behind fixed-lane transit vehicles, the move looked less like a creative response to the road's decline than a sop to retailers who believed that more cars would mean more business.

Guillermo Dietrich insists it's people who bring in the business - people living and walking in the area. And he denies that something like the Buenos Aires Sustainable Mobility plan, which he expects will expand beyond the downtown area, is only possible in a city of three million.

"It's not true," he says. "You can do this kind of transformation in small cities, too." But you have to think big, even for a space only a few blocks long.

Associated Graphic

Portions of Buenos Aires' Calle Florida were first closed to vehicle traffic in 1911, but the street was not planned with any view of the flow of people through the area.


Buenos Aires' Calle Florida, seen above, became a pedestrian mall in the modern sense six decades after it was initially closed to vehicle traffic.


Four dedicated bus lanes were created in the middle of Buenos Aires' Avenida 9 de Julio.


New satellites a game-changer for airline industry
Monday, August 31, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B1

The dozens of Iridium satellites that orbit the Earth are notable for two things: the flashes of light they emit when the sun strikes them just so, and the $1.5-billion (U.S.) bankruptcy that followed their launch in the late 1990s.

The former Motorola-backed company, now known as Iridium Communications Inc., hopes the 66 satellites it will begin launching in December will have a greater legacy: allowing aroundthe-globe surveillance of the world's airline traffic.

The satellites, which will orbit the Earth from 780 kilometres above, will carry devices that broadcast aircraft speed and locations to air-traffic controllers on the ground, allowing planes to save fuel by flying closer together and on more precise routes.

The system will be run by Aireon LLC, a joint venture of Virginia-based Iridium and Nav Canada, the domestic air-traffic controller that will be a 51-percent owner with an investment of $150-million.

"One of the big motivating factors for us to get involved in Aireon was the savings that this new system will bring to the airlines," said John Crichton, chief executive officer of Nav Canada, which is a private non-profit company governed by a board of directors that includes representatives of the airlines, aviation industry, government and unions.

Mr. Crichton said he is confident Aireon will be profitable, but that target is secondary to the savings it will mean for airlines.

"Even if all Aireon did was break even, we would consider it a huge success because on the North Atlantic alone, the fuel savings from a conservative low end of $125-million a year to a more realistic $200-millionplus more than justifies the investment," he said.

Aireon, whose minority owners are the Irish Aviation Authority, Naviair of Denmark and ENAV of Italy, has reached early agreements with air-traffic controllers in the United States, Britain, South Africa, Singapore and New Zealand, and expects to be up and running within three years.

The system is designed as an improvement to the current methods air-traffic controllers use to monitor and guide airplanes: radar and, to a lesser extent, a system that transmits automatic signals from an aircraft to controllers by way of a land-based receiver.

Both require ground installations and neither extend more than 240 kilometres into the ocean.

This means 90 per cent of the world is a blind spot for air-traffic controllers, who must rely on periodic voice communication with planes to determine their locations.

"You can imagine it as each aircraft flying with a huge bubble of airspace around them, and the more infrequent that position report, the larger the bubble is around that aircraft," said Cyriel Kronenburg, vicepresident of sales at Aireon.

"It's a very safe system, but it's very inefficient because it generates a large block of airspace where the controller can't do anything unless the aircraft reports himself clear of that block again."

This "bubble" between aircraft is about 100 nautical miles. Satellite communications would help reduce this to as little as five miles, allowing more planes to fly within the jet stream, or change altitude to avoid fuelsapping turbulence, Mr. Kronenburg said.

Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said the airline welcomes the new system because it will allow its planes to fly the most efficient routes, burn less fuel and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

"It will also provide an added level of safety by extending the reach of aircraft surveillance into remote areas not currently covered by conventional radar," Mr. Fitzpatrick said.

Many airlines have already equipped their planes with the equipment that can communicate with the satellites and will not face additional costs.

The new satellites, which will replace Iridium's aging fleet, will also allow Iridium to update its satellite phone business, used by the military, the marine industry and people in remote areas, such as Australian ranchers.

Before going bankrupt in 1999, the company spent $5-billion launching the satellites, only to find its phone service was obsolete and overpriced even before it was working properly. Iridium could not compete with the far cheaper cellular offerings that were beginning to catch on, and its 1999 bankruptcy was among the biggest technology company failures at the time. Investors brought the company out of bankruptcy for $25-million, and the company emerged in its present form.

"They tried to come out with a service, just a simple big phone that worked outdoors, with a big cost structure using lots and lots of debt. There's just no way that could have operated," said Matthew Desch, Iridium's CEO since 2006 and a former Nortel Networks Corp. executive. In 2014, Iridium posted a profit of $75-million on $400-million in sales with 660,000 subscribers. It is spending $3-billion launching the new satellites in a gamble that is hedged with partnerships such as the one with Nav Canada, said Mr. Desch, an Ohio native and a computer engineer who describes himself as a space and aviation nut who got his pilot's licence as a teenager.

When the first two satellites are rocketed into space at a Russian military base in December, he'll be there.

The other satellites, which are about the size of a Cessna airplane, are scheduled to be launched beginning in April from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base by Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp., a company that made headlines after one of its rockets exploded shortly after launching on June 28.

Mr. Desch, 57, said he is confident the launch will be on schedule and successful.

"You're disappointed any time there is a failure, but launching is a difficult thing to do," he said.

"They have been extremely successful. In some ways, I'm glad it happened now ... because as one of my space guys said, you always want to be on the launch after a failure because everyone is really paying a lot of attention."

Clear skies In partnership with Nav Canada, Iridium...s new satellites have been designed to improve worldwide air-traffic communication. Current systems rely largely on ground-based operations and do not extend more than 240 kilometres into the ocean, leaving significant blind spots. The satellite network will allow aircraft to fly closer together and adjust course more accurately, leading to fuel savings.

Iridium NEXT satellite This next-generation satellite will offer faster and more reliable communications compared with the current version. It will allow partners such as Aireon access to its global satellite network. In addition to the 66 satellites in orbit, there will be six in-orbit spares as well as nine spares on the ground.

Aireon...s global aircraft surveillance system By 2017, Aireon hopes to deploy its ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) space-based system in order to track aircraft in real time around the world. This would ensure continuous coverage in areas previously unreachable by the current radar-based system.

Satellite Network

Iridium plans to put a network of 66 NEXT satellites about 780 kilometres up in iow Earth orbit. Each satellite will be connected to four others and carry paySoads such as Aireon...s giobal aircraft surveillance system.

Associated Graphic


Premier seeks steady course in cautious election bid
'This is about the future of our province - we're in uncharted territory,' Jim Prentice said as he began campaigning. 'Tough choices need to be made.' One choice will be whether battered Albertans give the PCs a 13th straight majority in tumultuous times
Wednesday, April 8, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A8

GRANDE CACHE, ALTA. -- Jim Prentice has been Alberta's Premier for only seven months, a tumultuous time of plunging oil prices that saw the province end its run as Canada's economic engine.

Stubbornly low oil prices have left finances in a mess, and the economy is expected to sputter through the rest of the year. Only two weeks ago, Mr. Prentice introduced the first budget in decades to raise provincial income taxes, and will run a record $5-billion deficit.

On Tuesday, the Progressive Conservative Leader plunged the province into a 28-day election campaign, calling for Albertans to give him a mandate on May 5 to wean the government's finances off oil.

"Albertans deserve a government that tells its citizens the straight facts, even if the news is bad," he said, kicking off his campaign in Edmonton. "I am asking Albertans for a mandate to implement the changes this province needs so badly."

Mr. Prentice is unlikely to make bold promises over the next four weeks. He has ruled out large spending cuts or further tax increases, including the introduction of a provincial sales tax.

Instead, he is warning against the "extreme ideas and ideology" of the Wildrose Party and the New Democrats. The Tory Leader will focus on defending his March 26 budget and an accompanying 10year plan. After balancing the budget within three years, Mr. Prentice wants to start depositing half of the province's energy royalties into a savings account by the end of the decade.

Travelling to his boyhood home of Grande Cache on Tuesday, Mr. Prentice said the town's struggle with boom-and-bust cycles was an inspiration for his plan.

Built around a coal mine, Grande Cache has flirted with extinction at several points in its nearly five-decade history when global coal prices plunged and the town's few thousand residents faced a mine closing.

While Grande Cache's fortunes have improved through tourism and the construction of a prison, the crises marked Mr. Prentice in his youth. He is promising a middle-road strategy for the entire province, based on small tax increases and limited cuts to government services.

"This is about the future of our province - we're in uncharted territory," he said. "Tough choices need to be made."

Alberta has a fixed-election law that stipulates a vote must be held in the three months before June 1, 2016. However, the law allows the province's lieutenantgovernor to dissolve the legislature when asked.

After a short meeting with his cabinet early Tuesday morning, Mr. Prentice asked LieutenantGovernor Donald Ethell to call the election. Mr. Prentice then travelled in his new blue campaign bus to Edmonton's west end, his first stop. The Tory leader was accompanied by a small entourage: his wife, an aide and two communications staffers.

At dissolution, the PCs had 70 seats, the Wildrose and Liberals five each, the NDP had four, two seats were vacant and there was one independent.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley said she is running to end the government's nearly 44 years in power.

While few expect Mr. Prentice will not lead the Tories to their 13th consecutive majority, polls indicate Ms. Notley could vault her party to Official Opposition status for the first time in two decades.

"It's clear that Albertans feel let down by their government," she said. "We can choose to say that tomorrow is going to be better than yesterday."

Brian Jean, the newly elected Leader of the Wildrose, currently the Opposition, promised no new floor-crossings from his party.

The 17-member caucus was reduced last December, when leader Danielle Smith crossed the floor with eight other MLAs.

Mr. Jean said new Wildrose MLAs will have to sign a contract that includes a $100,000 penalty for defecting.

This campaign comes after a wild period for Alberta politics since the 2012 election, in which Alison Redford held on as PC premier.

Ms. Redford was forced to step down in early 2014 amid outrage over some of her expense claims, which included using government planes for personal matters.

Stepping up as the new Progressive Conservative Leader, Mr. Prentice went about distancing himself from the previous premier. The mass floor-crossings to the government that followed and plunge in oil prices shook up the dynamic in the legislature.

While his popularity has slumped since the budget, Mr. Prentice faces no provincewide challenger.


Jim Prentice has not had a smooth half-year in the premier's office - struggling with the crash in oil prices, foisting new taxes upon Albertans and then launching a campaign a year ahead of a fixed election date. But the former federal minister, who left Bay Street to take over the Alberta Progressive Conservatives' leadership after scandal forced out Alison Redford, still seems to be leading a charmed political life. Despite a couple of recent polls showing the Tories' lead eroding, Mr. Prentice's successful luring of former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and more than half her caucus, combined with a massive money and organizational advantage, leaves little apparent threat to yet another PC majority.


After Wildrose's meltdown in late 2014, the NDP suddenly found itself with a real shot to become the Tories' main opposition. That status is partly by default but also because Rachel Notley, who has been an MLA since 2008 but assumed the New Democrats' leadership only in October, has brought some new energy to her party. A lawyer and former union activist, Ms. Notley seems to have particular traction in her hometown of Edmonton, where the NDP has most of its potential for gains.


Coming from outside its caucus, Brian Jean is the closest Wildrose could get to a fresh face and a bit of polish after the bizarre and disastrous end of the Danielle Smith era.

Mr. Jean, who served as Conservative MP for the federal riding of Fort McMurray-Athabasca until early last year, has had little time to pick up his party's pieces since winning its leadership on March 28. He is also dealing with personal tragedy, having lost his 24-year-old son to lymphoma last month. He has set modest expectations for the campaign, conceding Wildrose probably isn't competing for government and would likely be satisfied with keeping Official Opposition status.


After taking over from Raj Sherman this year, Liberal Leader David Swann seems to have one main job: keeping alive a party that has only two incumbent MLAs running for re-election. The other job is openly calling for mergers with other centre-left parties. Of those potential merger partners, Greg Clark's Alberta Party is the only one that seems to have much chance of capitalizing on the recent flux in Alberta politics, but it would likely be satisfied with claiming a single seat in Calgary.

Associated Graphic

NDP Leader Rachel Notley

Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean

Liberal Party Leader David Swann

Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark

After announcing the provincial election on Tuesday, Alberta Premier Jim Prentice chats with owner Mandy Kenworthy during a campaign stop at Jack's Drive in Spruce Grove, Alta.


Monday, April 13, 2015


A Wednesday feature story on the Alberta election included an incorrect reference to Liberal Leader David Swann. A sidebar story incorrectly suggested he is openly calling for mergers with other centre-left partners. In fact, Mr. Swann has said there is no interest in that and while he is open to talks after an election, it's too late to discuss now.

Five things the TD Centre can teach us
Saturday, May 2, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M1

The dark towers of the Toronto-Dominion Centre are so much a part of the city now that it is hard to remember what a dramatic change they made to the look and the life of Toronto when they went up in the late 1960s. In those days. the city's core was populated by dignified buildings of grey stone. The tallest of them, the Bank of Commerce, was just 36 storeys tall.

The TD towers were a radical departure both in scale and in style. The tallest of the original two soared to 56 floors, dominating the skyline like nothing before or since. Rising from its six-acre site at King and Bay, it was everything the old buildings around it were not. While they featured arched windows and gargoyles, Greek columns and bronze roofs, the design of the TD Centre was all austerity and simplicity.

The steel facing of the tower was painted matte black and the floor to ceiling windows tinted bronze. It was as if the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey had been dropped from outer space in the heart of downtown.

Like the apes in the film, Torontonians didn't know what to make of it at first. One local politician interviewed by The Globe and Mail at the time called it "orange-crate architecture" and promised to make sure no building like it was ever built again in Toronto. In retrospect, though, it is clear that the TD Centre is a brilliant success, with much to teach us even now about how to build a city.

I got a tour this week from the centre's management, who wanted to talk about the "re-energization of the city's core and the TD's role in it." Tall buildings are popping up all over, bringing more and more people to live and work downtown and a thrilling new vitality to the streets. The TD Centre was where it all began.

The building of the TD Centre was the start of the office boom that transformed downtown Toronto. It continues today. After a hiatus, when many companies fled to the cheaper rents and wider spaces of the suburbs, office construction has taken off again. Since 2009, developers have built about seven million square feet of office space.

It is just this sort of future that the creators of the TD Centre had in mind when they hired one of the era's most renowned architects to build them something outstanding. The architect was Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (18861969), the Chicago-based German émigré who liked to say that "less is more." He referred to his works as "skin-and-bones" architecture, and his unadorned steel-andglass boxes were meant to reflect the spirit of a modern technological era.

Rejecting two earlier designs, one of which called for a 100-storey concrete tower, the developers turned to Mies at the urging of the young architect Phyllis Lambert, the sister-in-law of Toronto-Dominion Bank chairman Allen Lambert and daughter of liquor magnate Samuel Bronfman. She had links to both partners in the project: the bank and the Bonfmans' real estate wing, Fairview Corp., later to become Cadillac Fairview. Ms. Lambert had worked with Mies on the Seagram Building in New York. It was to be a model for the TD towers and for another, very similar Mies project, Chicago's Federal Center complex.

The towers that Mies designed for Toronto have an elegance that has outlasted shifting architectural trends. The retail-banking pavilion at the corner of the complex is a thing of beauty: a huge, open, light-filled space meant to mark a move away from the glassed-in teller booths and cloistered bankers' offices of the past to a more welcoming era. The ground-floor lobbies have interior walls of creamy travertine, a stone that contrasts with the severity of the buildings' exterior. At the base of the towers, the granite plaza is a rare expanse of open space in a crowded downtown.

Look out from the space on the 54th floor where TD's directors hold their meetings at a huge conference table and you can see how well Mies's design has held up. The red-granite-clad, 1980s Scotia Plaza looks dated now, a relic of the goofy detour into postmodernism that also produced police headquarters on College Street. The Trump Tower is supposed to shout "money" but instead just looks cheap. The bulges and curves of the L Tower on The Esplanade break the rule that helps the TD Centre succeed: Let form follow function.

Toronto boasts some fine skyscrapers: I.M. Pei's Commerce Court tower, which reflects the old Bank of Commerce in its mirrored glass; the golden Royal Bank Plaza towers that glow in the sunset. The TD Centre is the father of them all.

The bank and the developer took a big gamble with the buildings. TD needed just seven floors of space at the time, which left them with one million square feet to lease. It filled up soon enough. Demand was so robust that, over the years, the TD complex expanded to six buildings with 4.5 million square feet of space. Only the first two, opened in 1967 and 1969, were part of Mies's plan, although others are of similar style.

What do the TD towers teach us? First, don't be afraid of tall buildings. Toronto still has a lingering fear of height, as we see from all the complaining every time a developer proposes another sky-clawing tower.

Second, investing in quality pays. All that travertine on the walls and floors, all that Englishoak panelling of the 54th floor, cost money. Mies insisted on using the best materials. It is one reason the buildings still have such an aura of class today.

Third, maintain what you have.

Cadillac Fairview is spending more than $200-million to restore and upgrade the TD Centre buildings. The program includes installing new double-glazed windows and applying a fresh coat of weather-resistant black paint to the exterior walls.

Fourth, pay attention to details.

Mies took an interest in every one, right down to the lettering

on the signs in the underground concourse (which, incidentally, was the start of the sprawling PATH system of underground walkways). He wanted yellow daisies placed around the buildings as a design touch. You can still find bowls of them in the banking pavilion and in each of the tower lobbies.

Finally, always think about the future. Toronto, and Canada, were in a risk-taking frame of mind when the first tower took shape. Expo 67, the wildly successful world's fair, was under way in Montreal. The striking new Toronto City Hall by Finnish architect Viljo Revell had opened two years earlier.

It took ambition and foresight to pull off something as bold as the TD Centre. It meant thinking about what the city would become instead of just coping with what it was. Those qualities sometimes seem lacking in today's Toronto. There are still things we can learn from those dark towers.

Follow me on Twitter: @marcusbgee

Tuesday, May 05, 2015


A Saturday Globe TO column on the Toronto-Dominion Centre incorrectly said Phyllis Lambert is the sister-in-law of Allen Lambert, the TD bank chairman at the time the towers were designed. In fact, the two are not related.

It's 6 a.m., and Oilers captain has members of public climbing stairs
Friday, August 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

EDMONTON -- The flags atop Commonwealth Stadium ripple in the breeze on a cool summer morning.

Below, several hundred people exchange greetings in the twilight before dawn.

Some arrive by bicycle in skintight Lycra. Others are dressed in sloppy sweats and huff and puff after the short walk across the parking lot. They are strangers now, but not for long.

A buff 36-year-old in a T-shirt and shorts stands at the front. A hockey star in a hockey town, defenceman Andrew Ference has been the captain of the Edmonton Oilers since joining them as a free agent in 2013. Unusual for a professional athlete, he works to bring attention to the matters he is passionate about: the environment, human rights and physical fitness.

Upon arriving in Edmonton, he began staging free workout sessions and invited everyone to come. They happen three mornings a week, with Wednesday reserved for running stairs at the home stadium of the Canadian Football League's Eskimos.

This week, Mr. Ference begins by instructing everyone to find someone they don't know and give them a hug. Someone's sweet-tempered pit bull runs among them, wagging and barking in a studded collar and an Oilers kerchief.

A few minutes later, as the sky brightens, the group files into the empty stadium and bounds up the stairs.

Those waiting at the back of the line exercise their legs by bouncing up and down.

"It's a great morning," says Mr. Ference's sister Jen, who helps organize the free gatherings with her hockey-playing younger brother. It is not quite 6 a.m. and she is cheerful.

"There is great energy here," she says. "So many people want to get up early."

As a teenager, Mr. Ference used to travel into Edmonton from the suburbs to run the stadium's stairs with his friends one day a week.

"Running stairs is the most awful workout there is," Mr. Ference, a veteran of 17 NHL seasons, says. "You get faster at it, but it never gets easier."

It was while playing for the Boston Bruins in 2011 that Mr. Ference met a couple of fellows who were starting a free fitness movement there, designed to help people keep in shape during winter. He joined them in running the steps at Harvard Stadium, and then brought the so-call