They served different roles in the NHL and they came from different places, but these men all have one thing in common: They're joining an elite group in hockey's shrine. Eric Duhatschek, who is also a member of the Hall, looks at how they got there
Saturday, November 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S5


From Montreal. Persuaded by Hull Olympiques owner Wayne Gretzky to leave his 17-year job as a police officer to become a junior hockey coach; began his NHL coaching career with the Montreal Canadiens in 1988; named the NHL's coach of the year in his first seasons with Montreal, Toronto and Boston; in 1993, he led the Maple Leafs on their longest Stanley Cup playoff run since 1967, losing in the third round to Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings; won a Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2003; died Nov. 19, 2010, after a long battle with cancer.

Former Maple Leafs captain Doug Gilmour on Burns:

Pat was a unique man. The first time I really met him was when he signed to coach the Leafs and I was downtown and he said, 'Look, we're going to meet up.' So we drank some beer and told some stories and he told me what he expected - that for us to succeed, certain guys had to be our best players in practice and our best players in games. He said, 'That means I've got to push you and you've got to overachieve.' He had that police-officer mentality and he was almost like a dad-figure, too - he could scare the crap out of you. His look and demeanour were intimidating.

The biggest thing about Pat is how well he was respected. They say of certain coaches, he's a three-year guy or a four-year guy or whatever. But you know what? Every year, he developed as a coach. I know when he went to Boston and Dave Ellett was there with him, I said, 'How's Burnsy been?' and he said, 'Night and day compared to Toronto - not as hard on us.' From there, he went to Jersey and he wasn't as hard on the players there, either - but he still was a commanding figure who wanted the best out of his players and wanted to win. That's the most I can say about him - that he wanted to win. And he figured out, finally, after many, many years, how to win the Cup in Jersey. I was excited for him. We were friends. He did a lot for me in my development.


From Livonia, Mich. Chosen first over all by the Minnesota North Stars in 1988; played 21 of his 22 seasons with the North Stars/Dallas Stars club; an Olympic silver medalist, he also led the Stars to the Stanley Cup in 1999; holds the NHL record for most goals (561) and points (1,374) by an American-born player.

Former North Stars captain Basil McRae on Modano:

After he finished playing his final year in Prince Albert, Mike joined us in the playoffs in St. Louis. He was coming off a broken wrist, so he had a cast on his hand and he had braces on his teeth. Skating around in practice, he was this tall skinny kid who looked about 14 and had this huge Al MacInnis-style left-handed curve on his stick blade. It was crazy. But even with a cast on his hand, he was saucering the puck and I thought, 'If he can do that now, how good is he going to be when he gets the cast off and the braces off.' You didn't have to be a Ron Caron or a Scotty Bowman or an Al Arbour to understand this kid had exceptional talent.

When they came to town to film the first Mighty Ducks movie, they wanted the two most popular North Stars players to be in it. They did a fan poll in the Minneapolis papers and there's no doubt who was No. 1 - Mike Modano. Whether I was No. 2 or not, I got included as the second guy.

The filming took place during the 1991 players' strike - not a lockout, but an actual strike - and Mike and I had to go to the Met Center, because Disney had leased the building and they referred to us as North Star 1 and North Star 2. North Star 1 - Mike - had three or four lines and North Star 2 - me - had one line. About 15 minutes into the filming, the director said, 'Whoa. Switch. North Star 1, you're now North Star 2 and North Star 2, you're now North Star 1.' I'm not a particularly articulate guy, but at the time, I could handle the lines better than Mike could. So many people have asked me since, 'How come you got all the lines and not Mike Modano?' But if you knew Mike then, he was a pretty quiet guy. His smile, his grin, how he rolled his eyes, that's how he communicated.

Mike was a guy - when the puck dropped - he could really turn it on, and then when the game was over, he had a smile on his face, and a lot of people took that the wrong way - that he wasn't competitive or he didn't care. Well, he did. He wasn't into the rah-rah or the 'I'm so pissed off so I'm going to kick over a garbage can.' He just did it on the ice.


From Ornskoldsvik, Sweden. Philadelphia's first choice in the 1991 entry draft, traded to Quebec in 1992 as part of the Eric Lindros saga; NHL rookie of the year in 1995 with Quebec and a two-time Stanley Cup champion in 1996 and 2001 with Colorado; His 1994 winning goal against Canada at the Winter Olympics was commemorated on a stamp issued by Swedish Post, an honour normally reserved for the monarchy.

Former Colorado Avalanche coach Bob Hartley on Forsberg:

My highlight of Peter Forsberg's career came when we were playing the Panthers in Florida right after we made the trade for Theo Fleury [in March, 1999]. We were down 5-1 after two and Pavel Bure did the Tiger Williams, riding his stick, in front of our bench, in the last minute of the second period. In the third period, it was the Peter Forsberg Show. He must have played 12 minutes in that third period and scored about five points.

He was a lion. That game, I could still draw up a few of his goals. Every time he had the puck, whoever was on the ice against him, they didn't touch the puck. I remember he went around their defencemen, it was not even fair.

Such a talented player, a franchise player. I still question myself over the years over how we handled him. I didn't get Peter as a kid. When I got him, the ankles were starting to be a problem. Then he had the [lost] spleen during our Stanley Cup run. You wonder, where's the balance? He played so hard that I'm sure it took lots of awards and points away from him and probably a few years off his career. Nashville and Philly at the end, they didn't have a chance to see the real Peter Forsberg - because he was not old when he retired.

I would see his ankle bones after games and they were as red as our jerseys. We were in that conference, we were playing against [Derian] Hatcher and [Richard] Matvichuk in Dallas and they were trying to take his head off every game. In St. Louis, there was [Al] MacInnis and [Chris] Pronger. In Detroit, they were not tough, but they had [Nicklas] Lidstrom and a lot of other good players.

He would love those challenges.

They wouldn't even have to go after him. He was always going after them. It seemed that was his way of doing things.

Talent-wise, when you blend in talent and competitiveness, he was probably the hardest competitor I've ever coached.


From Simcoe, Ont. A Hobey Baker finalist in his final season with Bowling Green State University before turning pro with the Los Angeles Kings; one of four players drafted in the fourth round of the 1988 draft (70th over all) to play more than 800 games in the NHL; he is a member of the IIHF's elite Triple Gold Club winning a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold medal and the IIHF World Championship.

Former Los Angeles Kings forward Luc Robitaille on Blake:

Rob was known for his hip check. He was the first big guy I would say that was quick. A lot of big guys, in those days, weren't quick at stopping and going in the other direction, so we weren't used to that as players. Sometimes, you'd see a forward coming up the ice and he'd take a peek and put his head down to control the puck, and the next thing you knew, Rob was there, on top of them and he would connect with those guys.

Rob was a lot like Scott Niedermayer - everywhere he went, he was a difference-maker in winning. He found a way to fit with the team he was playing for at the time, and be a leader on that team.

We went to the 1994 world championships, which Canada hadn't won in 32 years. We had Rob as our top defenceman and I clearly remember playing Sweden in the semi-finals. We needed a big bang at the start and so we said, 'Rob, if you get a chance to get a guy at centre ice, just do it, because they've never seen anything like that.' I can't remember who he hit, but he connected with a guy and laid him out in the first five minutes and we ended up winning, I think 5-0.

It was incredible, the impact that he had as a player. He was a special player, a game-breaker in his own way, because he could turn a game with a big hit.

Rob is our assistant GM and last year, in the series against Chicago, our Kings' plane only has 54 seats. In the playoffs, there isn't enough room for everybody to fly on the charter. So we needed three people to fly commercial.

We're in a meeting, with a couple of younger guys that work under me and didn't know Rob Blake, and he says, 'I've got to take three guys out, so it'll be me and he says two other names.' I said, 'You can't take yourself out,' and he says, 'No, if I'm going to take two guys out, I gotta take myself out too.' And the kids I work with on the business side, they were floored by that. He wasn't trying to make a statement, it was just a matter of fact. But that's why he was one of the greatest leaders ever - because he always put the team ahead of himself.


From Pardubice, Czechoslovakia. Drafted 199th over all in 1983 and did not make his NHL debut until nine years later; a six-time Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's best goaltender, he also won the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP in 1997 and 1998 - the first time since Jacques Plante in 1962; was named Czech hockey player of the 20th century in 1998.

Former Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff on Hasek:

I always said this about Dom, he was ahead of the curve. He was inventing ways of stopping the puck that now are pretty common. He played deeper in the net and he read the game so well. He was one of the most incredible athletes I've ever been around.

He started dropping pucks and hitting them with his paddle. He would roll over and do that barrel-roll Dom save. Plays, saves, moves - they all come from somewhere, somebody invents them and Dom invented a different way to play the game. Goalies that came after him wanted to play like him. People couldn't wrap their arms around some of those things. They'd say, 'That's crazy, that's not how a goalie plays.' He was way ahead of the curve.

He'd be yelling at the defencemen, 'Must see, must see, get out of my way; I want to see the puck.' He could come back to the bench and tell me, 'He not have his man, he not have his man.' He was just so aware of where everybody was.

I can tell you this: Dom made me a better coach and he made all his teammates better players - because he helped clean up the mistakes.

We could hold on and give up two or three chances and then go the other way, and they didn't have what we had in goal when we got down to the other end.

These interviews have been edited and condensed.

Speedy Gose became outfield's odd man out
Plate woes made once-prized prospect expendable, especially with Pillar and Pompey rising and Detroit offering a talented infielder
Friday, November 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

TORONTO -- There were times when the athleticism of Anthony Gose in the outfield would take your breath away.

He had the ability in centre field to track down a line drive stroked well over his head and a ball that had no business being caught would wind up nestled in the webbing of his glove.

On base - when he could get there - he was a menace because of his overwhelming speed. A bunt he would lay down often turned the defence into a bumbling rendition of the Keystone Kops as infielders would panic in their haste to throw out the blur hurtling down the line.

He could be a joy to watch, but also frustrating as hell because of his continued struggles at the plate.

And it is for that reason that Gose is now an ex-Toronto Blue Jay - dealt to the Detroit Tigers for second baseman Devon Travis, an intriguing prospect in his own right, but a 23-year-old who has yet to prove his worth above Double-A.

Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos said that the rapid development of Mississauga native Dalton Pompey, an outfielder who shot through several layers of minor-league play last season before making his majorleague splash with the Blue Jays in September, helped make him more comfortable in dealing Gose.

With Kevin Pillar also in the mix to replace Colby Rasmus as Toronto's everyday centre fielder for the 2015 season, somebody had to go.

And that person was Gose, whose weak bat ultimately made him expendable. This past season, Gose hit .226 for Toronto in 94 games with 74 strikeouts and just 25 walks in 239 at-bats.

"We like Anthony quite a bit," Anthopoulos told reporters during a conference call Thursday morning. "He's a Gold Glove-calibre defender in centre field with probably as good an outfield arm as you're going to find, as well and game-changing speed. And he's still improving with the bat."

That being said, Anthopoulos noted that the Jays also have Pompey and Pillar ready to take over in centre and that Travis is a second baseman they've eyed for some time.

"He's just a good, all-round baseball player that does a lot of things to help you win games," he said. "He'll steal a base for you, he has some surprising power ... and he's solid from a defensive standpoint as well."

The deal was consummated late Wednesday night by the two American League clubs shortly after the conclusion of the yearly general managers' meeting in Phoenix.

It wasn't exactly the blockbuster that Blue Jays fans were anticipating. But the trade for Travis is intriguing nonetheless as he could wind up being the answer for Toronto at second base, one of the areas Anthopoulos needs to shore up for next season and beyond.

Anthopoulos came away from the desert still in need of perhaps another outfielder with the likely departure of Melky Cabrera, a free agent who will likely receive more money from another team than the Blue Jays are willing to pay.

Improvements to the bullpen and perhaps another bat at the designated hitter's spot is also on the GM's wish list.

Travis, 23, was a 13th-round pick of the Tigers in 2012 and batted .298 with 10 homers and 52 runs batted in 100 games at Double-A Erie this past season. He was the Tigers' No. 1 minor-league prospect.

Anthopoulos said the likelihood is that Travis will start next season at Triple-A, but he has not ruled out the possibility that he could win the big-league job outright with a strong showing at spring training.

As of now, Toronto's other inhouse candidates for second base are Maicer Izturis, Ryan Goins and Steve Tolleson.

Travis stands 5-foot-9 and weights 195 pounds, admittedly on the small side for a pro baseball player.

He said in an interview that he is excited at the prospect of coming to Toronto and renewing a friendship he has forged with Toronto starting pitcher Marcus Stroman who, at 5-foot-9 himself, is also a vertically challenged athlete.

Travis attended Florida State and Stroman went to Duke; the two competed against one another in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Travis can still remember spotting Stroman for the first time in his freshman year.

He described Stroman as this "freakish athlete" who for eight innings played second base and, in the ninth, came out to pitch. Travis said he and the rest of the Florida State hitters were licking their lips in anticipation.

"Well he gets on the mound and there's this little guy and we're like, "Oh, this is going to be great, probably going to be a guy throwing 84, 85; it's our chance to get our hits,' " Travis said. "And this little guy gets on the mound and he's blowing bubbles and he's throwing 95-96 as a freshman in college."

Associated Graphic

Devon Travis tags out Ryan Goins on a stolen-base attempt in spring training last March. With Travis traded by the Tigers to the Jays on Wednesday, he's now expected to battle Goins for a job.


Federer cruises past Raonic in opener
Canadian outplayed by six-time ATP finals champion in round-robin match while Nishikori tops home favourite Murray
The Canadian Press
Monday, November 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

LONDON -- Milos Raonic says it was the quality of his opponent that contributed to his opening loss at the ATP World Tour Finals, and not the nerves from making his debut at the prestigious year-ending tournament.

Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., could not duplicate his upset win of just over a week ago against Roger Federer as he lost his opening match to the Swiss star 6-1, 7-6 (0).

Raonic denied that he might have been spooked by the unrelenting and overwhelming crowd support for his iconic Swiss opponent and the pressure of the big moment. He said he was simply outplayed by the man he beat nine days ago in a Paris quarterfinal, his first win over Federer in seven meetings.

"It's obviously disappointing, very disappointing actually, the way I finished that second set off," said Raonic, who plays Tuesday against Andy Murray.

"It took me more [than] a set to find my way into the match because of playing Roger, not because of being here for the first time.

"Every time you play Roger, the crowd's on his side, even if he's playing a local favourite. It's hard for people to cheer against Roger."

Earlier, Japan's Kei Nishikori beat home favourite Murray 6-4, 6-4, and in doubles action Toronto's Daniel Nestor and partner Nenad Zimonjic lost their first match 6-3, 7-5 to Croatia's Ivan Dodig and Brazil's Marcelo Melo.

Raonic went down to Federer, a six-time year-end champion, in just fewer than 90 minutes.

Federer dominated the first set, then had to fight off Raonic as he saved a set point in the second set before wrapping up the win with a love tiebreak.

Raonic, who finished with 10 aces, took his total for 2014 past the 1,100 mark. Raonic remains one victory short of his 50th win of the season.

He ended with 20 winners, 17 unforced errors and went 0-4 on break point chances.

Raonic said it was a different Federer on Sunday than the one he upset in Paris.

"He was a lot more consistent on his return games," Raonic said.

Meanwhile, Murray is now facing an uphill task to reach the elite tournament's semi-finals.

The fourth-seeded Nishikori - the first Asian player to qualify for the year-end championship - was in complete control and secured important points in a tough Group B that also includes Federer and Raonic.

After the round-robin stage, the top two finishers in each group advance to the semi-finals of the indoor tournament at the O2.

"Obviously now I need to win my next two matches more than likely, and win them well if I want to go through," said Murray, who missed last year's tournament after undergoing surgery on his back. "That's going to be tricky because Milos obviously played fantastic last week in Paris, and Roger always plays well at this event. So I'm definitely going to have to play better if I want to get through."

Murray, who had never lost a set to Nishikori in their three previous matches, only sealed his spot at the season finale last week in Paris following an impressive run that saw him win 20 of his previous 23 matches.

But the former Wimbledon champion never looked capable of turning the match around. He dismissed the idea that fatigue finally took its toll on him.

"I felt okay on the court today," he said. "I don't think that was the reason why I lost the match."

Murray, who had expressed worries that he could be rejected by local fans after coming out in favour of Scottish independence in September, received a warm welcome as he entered the court.

"I didn't serve well enough. He was able to dictate a lot of points, especially behind my second serve," Murrray said. "That was the difference."

After a cautious start, Nishikori pushed Murray into long rallies before overwhelming him with powerful groundstrokes. Pegged back well behind his baseline, Murray saved one set point with a crosscourt forehand that Nishikori could not return but fluffed a backhand drop shot on the next one.

Nestor, playing his last event with long-time partner Zimonjic, sealed his side's fate as he doublefaulted to put his team into a 5-6 hole in the second set.

The second seeds could not recover, with Dodig and Melo winning a game later on the first of three match points.

"We had too many mistakes, too many double-faults," Nestor said.

"I'm trying to win, no matter who I play with, obviously it would be nice to win our last tournament together."

Nestor and Zimonjic, who won the year-end title in 2008 and 2010, have split up for 2015, with Nestor teaming with Indian Rohan Bopanna.

Associated Graphic

Roger Federer serves to Milos Raonic at the ATP World Tour Finals in London on Sunday.


Bettman shoots down expansion rumours
'If it made sense at the appropriate time and we're comfortable it advances the growth of the game, we'll take a good, hard look at it'
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3


Given the relentless flow of NHL expansion stories in recent days despite scant real evidence the league is ready to move, no one could blame commissioner Gary Bettman if he started pounding the walls when the topic came up yet again.

He clearly felt like it on Monday when he sat down at the PrimeTime Sports Management Conference in Toronto for an interview in front of an audience of sports industry professionals.

"Why is that? Why is that?" Bettman said, in a raised tone of exasperation that was only partly put on, when interviewer Gord Miller of TSN raised the question.

The most recent fuss erupted last week when a New York Post story implied a franchise for Las Vegas was practically signed, sealed and delivered. The Post said a group that included the Maloof brothers, who once owned the Sacramento Kings of the National Basketball Association before falling on hard times, and financier William Foley, chairman of Fidelity National, would be the owners. And the NHL was also said to have already decided on an expansion fee of $400-million (all currency U.S.).

Feeding into this were remarks by NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly about details of the Las Vegas market, such as it being a unique market that has a lot of tourists and "also has pretty strong local demographics, too."

The only trouble, aside from vehement denials by Bettman and Daly that any sort of expansion is imminent, is that this scenario is 180 degrees away from how the NHL has always handled expansion. When the league expanded from 21 teams to 30 between 1993 and 2001, it followed the same process: Ownership groups and cities lobbied the league for years, the league studied each owner and each market and then, at the annual board of governors meeting in December in a carefully orchestrated presentation, the winning cities and owners were announced. The governors did not say, "hey, we've got someone building a rink in Vegas, let's get an owner in there."

"I know it's been widely reported there's a deal and there's going to be a vote," Bettman said, referring to Las Vegas and the December governors meeting. "There won't be any votes. All I will do is continue to report on the levels of interest being expressed."

At this point, NHL governors, who will not speak on the record because Bettman will fine them for discussing league business, will only say there are no concrete plans for expansion because of factors outside of the league's control. The biggest one is that while there are people who also want to put an expansion team into Seattle, the arena situation there is unsettled because efforts to land an NBA franchise have stalled.

Ideally, the NHL would like to solve the imbalance between the Western Conference, which has 14 teams, and the Eastern Conference, which has 16, by adding two teams in the West.

So the best hopes of hockey fans in Quebec City, where an arena is expected to be finished in 2015, lie in relocating an existing team, possibly the financially struggling Florida Panthers. But don't talk to Bettman about the Panthers or the Arizona Coyotes, another chronic money-loser, moving North.

"The Panthers have good ownership that's committed to South Florida, and any speculation that this team's future is anywhere other than South Florida is unfounded," Bettman said.

Seattle and Las Vegas may be the current expansion favourites, but some league insiders doubt that Las Vegas, which plans to have an arena ready by the 201718 season, is a good hockey market.

And Bettman says he and the league owners are not itching to get the conferences balanced just to get their hands on expansion money.

"You don't expand and make an important business judgment just for notions of symmetry," Bettman said. "What you look at is market, arena and ownership - ownership probably being the most important - then you decide. If it made sense at the appropriate time and we're comfortable it advances the growth of the game, we'll take a good, hard look at it."

This might mean expansion will come before sponsor logos appear on team sweaters, another topic that grew legs when John Collins, the NHL's chief operating officer and marketing boss, recently said they were coming. Maybe so, Bettman said Monday, but not any time soon.

"If everybody's doing it and it's a boatload of money, you have to at least consider it," Bettman said. "We'll have to be dragged; we won't be initiating it. It's not something that's a front-burner issue for us. We'll watch what's going on in other sports."

When it comes to NHL players participating in the 2018 Olympics, Bettman said he and league governors "really haven't thought about it. We're more focused right now with the [Players' Association] on the World Cup."

No more kidding around: Leafs must give youth a chance
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

After back-to-back wins against two teams they could be battling for position all year, the Toronto Maple Leafs are suddenly the subject of a little glasshalf-full talk.

Only a little, mind you. What stands out isn't that the Leafs scored 10 goals on the weekend against the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators, as impressive as that is.

What's more important, long term, is the players who were scoring, with particular focus on the likes of Peter Holland and Richard Panik.

Both have had some of their best games in the NHL in the past week. Holland scored twice and had an assist as part of a checking line with Leo Komarov and Mike Santorelli. Panik was shuffled way up to the second line, and has two goals and an assist in his past three games.

Both are 23 years old. Both are castoffs from other organizations, players who were taken in the first two rounds of the 2009 draft but who couldn't find steady employment on deep teams in Anaheim and Tampa.

Their loss is potentially Toronto's gain.

This is an organization that needs more youth. It needs more than only Nazem Kadri and the two defencemen - Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly - because it needs low-cost options that will develop into better players who outplay the value of their contracts.

Last season, part of what went wrong with the Leafs was simply a lack of trust in young forwards.

Even with all the team's injuries up front, on average, forwards under the age of 25 played a total of less than 49 minutes a game, and more than three-quarters of those minutes came from James van Riemsdyk and Kadri.

Everyone else - including Holland - got very little ice time and, as a result, had a hard time making an impact.

Things started similarly this year. Holland averaged only nine minutes of ice time in his first 10 games, Panik had 7.5 minutes in his first 11 games and Brandon Kozun, before his injury, hardly played.

But if you look at the Leafs' past three games, when they're 2-0-1, that's changed. Leafs forwards under the age of 25 have been playing an average of 60 minutes a night, with Holland and Panik leading the way.

Some of that's been necessitated by injury, but it's also been proof that there's talent there to tap into.

"When you bring players in, it's not that you're afraid to use them," coach Randy Carlyle said of trying to integrate two more young forwards [Sam Carrick and Josh Leivo] into his lineup on Sunday. "It's just that there are certain situations you don't want to expose them to."

A lot gets made about the Leafs being a young team - they were tied for sixth-youngest in average age at 27.0 when the season started - but they have a core that is beginning to get older without making a great deal of progress.

The reality, too, is that the NHL is increasingly a young man's league. Teams such as Chicago and Los Angeles won championships with rosters close to the Leafs in age, getting contributions from young players in key roles.

With the salary cap not expected to rise much next season, the Leafs will need to keep finding their own cheap, young talent in order to get better. If a Holland or Panik proves viable in more minutes, it's found money. It also makes someone else expendable, allowing Toronto to move a big contract and find other upgrades with that cap space.

In order to prove useful, though, the young guys need those minutes.

The Leafs are in a bit of a tricky spot in this department. They have a coach who wants (and likely needs) to win now and who doesn't have a reputation for putting a great deal of trust in youth.

But for the long-term good, the Leafs must find a few cost-controlled players and develop them from within, which can only happen by living with players' current mistakes and allowing them to get better in future.

The past few games have proved that those two goals aren't entirely incompatible. You can put confidence in young players and still win games.

If the Kings and Hawks can do it, the Leafs can, too.

Sorry, MacLean fans, Strombo's here to stay
Recent poll indicates HNIC fans' longing for long-time host, but TV personality says he was once in his replacement's position
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3


Ron MacLean appreciates the support of viewers who are not happy with his reduced role on Hockey Night in Canada, but he doesn't expect any changes as a result of a poll fewer than six weeks into the first season of a new version of the show.

An Angus Reid Institute survey of 1,504 adult Canadians about their thoughts on HNIC, now being produced by Rogers Media network Sportsnet, the new Canadian NHL broadcast rights holders, found that 74 per cent of them felt MacLean's reduced role hurt the show's brand. George Stroumboulopoulos, who replaced MacLean as the host of HNIC, did not fare well in the survey, which was not a surprise given that it is early days for the new look and people tend to resist change. The poll found that 60 per cent of those surveyed do not think Stroumboulopoulos, an accomplished interviewer and host, is a "credible replacement" for MacLean.

MacLean, who serves as host of the Hometown Hockey segments on Sunday night Sportsnet broadcasts and is still on Coach's Corner with Don Cherry, said Stroumboulopoulos, 42, does not have anything to worry about.

"George will be fine," MacLean, 54, said on Tuesday. "He's in the same crosshairs I found myself once upon a time."

Once upon a time was March, 1987, when MacLean was promoted to the host's chair at HNIC under far worse circumstances than Stroumboulopoulos's debut on the most popular TV show in Canada. MacLean, who started in the business doing local TV weather reports in his native Red Deer, Alta., was thrust into the host's role late in the NHL season because Dave Hodge was dumped after expressing his anger on the air over a decision by CBC bosses to cut away from a game that went into overtime in favour of the news.

While MacLean eventually became as popular with the Canadian public as Hodge, at the time he was the relative unknown replacing a beloved star whose firing angered many viewers.

MacLean said it was "extremely difficult" to replace Hodge and he sees the parallels in that situation with this week's poll results from Angus Reid.

"The first thing I would say is what was the Angus Reid poll back in '87, when I replaced Dave Hodge?" MacLean said. "I'm sure the numbers would have been precisely the same, if not a greater outcry."

The fact most viewers rue MacLean's reduced role does not surprise him because he says a TV brand is built over a number of years, and for reasons that go beyond individual personalities.

"It really comes down to the branding, and branding is three things: frequency, consistency and then anchoring," MacLean said. "Anchoring is the tricky one to explain, but anchoring is how something makes you feel, a Rockwell painting [for example].

Certain things just evoke a good warm and fuzzy feeling.

"That branding takes place over quite a period of time, so that's what always gives the incumbent the edge."

MacLean said it is a combination of the behind-the-scenes people and the on-air stars that produces popular shows. He said he would never have made it through the early days of replacing Hodge without Cherry, with whom he quickly developed a rapport on Coach's Corner, as well as play-by-play man Bob Cole and analyst Dick Irvin.

In addition to the problem of replacing a star like Hodge, MacLean said it was a particularly difficult time for HNIC because it was facing serious competition for the first time from the relatively new all-sports television network TSN, which started in 1984.

"The only thing that got me through it was Don Cherry," MacLean said. "Don Cherry was at a time when TSN began their operation. They were better at doing updates than we were, they had a vast empire of reporters that were currying favour with fans in the cities across the country."

Associated Graphic

Ron MacLean

There's plenty at stake in the Battle of Ohio
The Associated Press
Thursday, November 6, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

Too often, the so-called Battle of Ohio has been about as tasty as week-old Skyline chili.

Not this week.

When the Browns travel to Cincinnati on Thursday night, there's plenty at stake.

Cleveland is 5-3, barely behind the first-place Bengals (5-2-1) and second-place Pittsburgh (6-3) in what has shaped up as an intriguing division. They've won four of their past five.

"This is a big game," Browns coach Mike Pettine said, noting he and his players won't shy away from the pressure of being in contention halfway through the schedule.

"I don't think I need to hype it any more as far as where we are.

I'm not going to be that coach that just ignores it and doesn't talk about it. That is our goal. I'm not going to hide from it, but at the same time, we have enough on our plate worrying about a short week and going down to Cincinnati and playing well."

Cleveland must play better offensively than it did in its past three games, against NFL weaklings Jacksonville, Oakland and Tampa Bay. The Browns even managed to lose to the Jaguars, the only win so far for Jacksonville.

Cincinnati has had a slightly tougher road, and if head-tohead comparisons mean anything, the Bengals beat the Jags last week.

The Bengals (tied for No. 11 in AP Pro32) are 61/2 point choices over the Browns (No. 19, AP Pro32). Don't expect a lot of points in this one. BENGALS, 22-13

No. 11 (tie) Kansas City (minus 2) at No. 15 Buffalo

Whoever thought this game would be so meaningful? CHIEFS, 27-20

No. 10 Dallas (OFF) versus No. 29 Jacksonville at London

Tony Romo's back injury takes this one off the board. Shouldn't matter for the Cowboys who is at QB. COWBOYS, 24-16

No. 20 Carolina (plus 6) at No. 4 Philadelphia, Monday night

The "Sanchize" gets the primetime spotlight in an offence he might actually fit well. EAGLES, 24-17

No. 7 Pittsburgh (minus 41/2) at No. 30 New York Jets

New York can't beat Pittsburgh even when the Jets are good. The New York Jets are not good this year. Best Bet: STEELERS, 27-16

No. 13 Miami (plus 21/2) at No. 5 Detroit

The Dolphins' defence can cause problems for anyone. Upset Special: DOLPHINS, 20-17

No. 16 San Francisco (plus 41/2) at No. 14 New Orleans

Even the 49ers' general manager is expressing concern about his team. SAINTS, 30-27

No. 23 Chicago (plus 71/2) at No. 8 Green Bay

Nothing could be better for Aaron Rodgers coming off a bye than facing the Bears. PACKERS, 36-26

No. 28 Tennessee (plus 91/2) at No. 17 Baltimore

Ravens need to straighten themselves out fast. This is a good opponent to do so against. RAVENS, 28-20

No. 24 St. Louis (plus 7) at No. 2 Arizona

Wonder if the folks in St. Louis would like to have these Cardinals back? CARDINALS, 24-20

No. 3 Denver (minus 111/2) at No. 32 Oakland

Peyton won't "stink" this Sunday, but the Raiders might. BRONCOS, 37-20

No. 25 New York Giants (plus 9) at No. 9 Seattle

The Seahawks still have not hit their stride. Maybe this week ... SEAHAWKS, 33-20

No. 27 Atlanta (minus 11/2) at No. 31 Tampa Bay

It's for the NFC South cellar, and this won't come close to their previous meeting (Falcons 56-14). BUCCANEERS, 23-21

2014 record: Against spread: This week (7-6); Season (65-63-4). Straight up: This week (9-4); Season (87-45-1)

Best Bet: 5-4 against spread, 6-3 straight up.

Upset Special: 6-3 against spread, 4-5 straight up.

Associated Graphic

The Browns must play better offensively than they did in their past three games, against Jacksonville, Oakland and Tampa Bay.


Disappointing Ronaldo-Messi duel headlines friendly games
The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S5

GENEVA -- Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi had left the pitch long before Raphael Guerreiro's stoppage-time header gave Portugal a 1-0 win over Argentina in a friendly on Tuesday.

The world's two best players were substituted at halftime at Old Trafford, with Ronaldo rarely shining in a stadium he graced for six seasons with Manchester United.

Messi struck the post in the 11th minute. Earlier, the Barcelona superstar hinted in an interview with Argentina sports daily Ole that he might not stay with the club for his entire career.

Germany also struck late in a 1-0 away win, as Toni Kroos scored in the 89th against Spain though the past two world champions fielded far from fullstrength lineups.

Brazil made it six straight wins since a humiliating end to its home World Cup. The winning goal came in the 83rd against Austria as newcomer Roberto Firmino's 25-metre shot sealed a 2-1 victory.

England beat Scotland 3-1 in Glasgow, where captain Wayne Rooney scored twice in a renewal of the oldest international fixture, dating back to 1872.

"We expected to win the game and we were the better team," said Rooney, who has now scored 46 international goals.

On a busy day of international friendlies worldwide, it was France 1, Sweden 0; Italy 1, Albania 0; Ireland 4, United States 1; and Japan 2, Australia 1 in a clash of 2015 Asian Cup favourites.

The main attraction was an anticipated Ronaldo-Messi duel which failed to deliver in a lacklustre game.

Guerreiro, a second-half substitute, met a right-wing cross from Ricardo Quaresma with a thumping header in the first of two minutes of stoppage time.

Germany ended Spain's run of 34 games without a loss at home despite having only three starters from the side that thrashed Brazil 7-1 in the World Cup semifinals.

Real Madrid midfielder Kroos unleashed a long-distance shot that skipped off the wet grass at Balaidos Stadium in Vigo and over substitute goalkeeper Kiko Casilla, marring his international debut.

For Brazil, Firmino's international career began last weekend and the Hoffenheim midfielder replaced Luiz Adriano in the second half to ensure Brazil got a fortunate win, firing a rising shot past Austria goalkeeper Ramazan Oeczan.

David Luiz appeared to foul an Austria defender before connecting with Oscar's corner to open the scoring in the 64th. Austria defender Aleksandar Dragovic levelled in the 75th from a penalty kick.

"We have to work on details," Brazilian head coach, Dunga, said through an interpreter. "This is the beginning and we can build on it next year."

On a cold, rainy night, Neymar was seldom a factor, and Dunga took off his captain in stoppage time, allowing him to symbolically hand over the armband to Thiago Silva. The former skipper had recently complained about the coach's choice of Neymar to lead the team.

France captain Raphael Varane, like his Real Madrid teammate Kroos, scored a late winning goal, heading in a corner from Antoine Griezmann in the 83rd minute against Sweden in Marseille. Another Madrid player, Karim Benzema, shot his penalty over the bar three minutes later.

Sweden was uninspired and had rested striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Another 83rd-minute header, by Italy debutant Stefano Okaka, secured a 1-0 win against Albania in Genoa. The match was organized last month to aid the port city's recovery from devastating flooding.

Italian coach Fabio Capello saw his Russia team win for just the second time in nine matches, 2-1 against Hungary in Budapest.

Capello, whose multimillion dollar salary has been unpaid for six months, was assured Tuesday his job was safe by Russian Minister of Sport Vitaly Mutko.

Jurgen Klinsmann's United States team is winless in four games after losing 4-1 against Ireland in Dublin.

Howe's health now in decline
'As a family, if we're not going to be able to reduce his pain, the outcome is not going to be good,' son Mark says
The Canadian Press
Monday, November 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

Gordie Howe is "not doing well at all" several weeks after suffering a stroke, according to his son Mark.

The Hall of Famer known as "Mr. Hockey" had initially been improving better than expected, but that changed recently.

"His health has taken a turn for the worse this past week to 10 days and we are doing what we can to help his situation the best that we can," Mark told The Canadian Press. "But he is not doing well at all is the bottom line."

Gordie Howe, 86, had a stroke Oct. 26 while visiting his daughter in Lubbock, Tex. His family released a statement Nov. 4 saying the hockey legend was "recovering at a remarkable rate."

News began to surface this weekend indicating that was no longer the case. In an interview with The Hockey News, Mark Howe said his father's situation was "headed in the wrong direction."

"As a family, if we're not going to be able to reduce his pain, the outcome is not going to be good," Mark told THN.

In the Nov. 4 statement, the Howe family said he was moved by the tributes around the NHL and letters he received from fans. The Toronto Maple Leafs put up a "Stay Strong Mr. Hockey" message, as did many other teams.

Howe's family showed him the Detroit Red Wings' in-arena tribute, and he was noticeably emotional.

On Sunday amid reports of his declining healh, Colorado Avalanche star Matt Duchene tweeted: "Praying for one of the greatest number 9s, Mr. Hockey #Gordie #Legend."

Howe is considered one of the greatest players in hockey history. His professional career spanned five decades, most notably with the Red Wings. He played 25 seasons with the Red Wings, making his debut on Oct.

16, 1946, and led them to four Stanley Cup titles. Howe left the Red Wings to join the World Hockey Association's Houston Aeros for the 1973-74 season, and played six seasons in the nowdefunct league before returning to the NHL for one final season with the Hartford Whalers in 1979-80.

The Canadian Press
Thursday, November 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

London -- Canadian Milos Raonic tried to repair his ailing service game Wednesday ahead of his must-win match against Japan's Kei Nishikori at the ATP World Tour Finals.

Raonic struggled in his first two round-robin matches at the season-ending event, bowing in straight sets to Roger Federer on Sunday and Andy Murray on Tuesday.

The Canadian's powerful serve has been rather muted at the O2 Arena, with noticeable drops in both speed and first-serve percentage. Raonic was looking for solutions in Wednesday's practice session with coaches Ivan Ljubicic and Riccardo Piatti.

"Whatever the reason is, I have 24 hours to solve it," Raonic said. "I'm going to need to [fix it] if I want to have any hope. There's no way around that. It's something I've got to do."

Raonic entered the eightman tournament brimming with confidence. He knocked off Federer for the first time at the recent Paris Masters before falling to Novak Djokovic in the final.

The 23-year-old Canadian admits he has been too passive on the court and needs to get back to dictating the play.

"I've got to be more aggressive," he said. "I have to go for more rather than just play relatively down the middle. I'm not stretching my opponents most of the time. I've got a terrible minus record [of] unforced errors-to-winners ratio at this moment. That's not how I'm going to give myself a possibility to win."

Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., and Nishikori are both making their first appearances at the event.

"I'm going to have to serve well, as always, that's key for me," Raonic said. "But I'm just going to have to be aggressive. I'm going to have to make Kei play on my terms. It's something I haven't been able to do so far these last two matches."

Do one thing and do it well
A trader who instructs other traders, Mike Ser advocates a strategy in which one focuses on a single security. This method has paid off for his students, including one who cashed in to the tune of $1.7-million
Saturday, November 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B4

There's only one good strategy for trading online, says Mike Ser.

For a decade and a half, Mr. Ser has been trading independently online. He has mentored others like him and started a business, Ser Man Traders, training traders in Richmond, B.C. He also has partnered with one of the people he coached and who made $1.7million in five months in gold and silver after years struggling to learn the markets.

The best general strategy for traders, Mr. Ser argues, is not to try to pick apart the minutiae of myriad financial securities and markets. Such a broad approach takes too much time and inevitably leads to frustration and potential losses, he insists.

Instead, traders need to specialize, particularly those who don't trade full time. "They need to be an expert in a specific area. They need to be really good at something, rather than be a handyman about everything in the financial market," he says.

"It could be a certain sector. It could be a certain strategy," Mr. Ser says. "Some of our students and traders only trade a certain stock every single day."

Following one security

It's a strategy used by traders at big investment banks, who are experts in such arcana as, say, commodity futures or the repurchase-agreement market. And even though Mr. Ser and some traders in his workshops may look like day traders, sitting at a gaggle of terminals, trying to make a buck on tiny, minute-byminute market movements, they are instead taking a different approach.

Call it swing trading or trend trading. It's about holding a security for a few days or months - and being expert enough in that security to set a goal indicating when to sell, such as when a big shift occurs in the market.

"They buy until the trend reverses, and then they switch their direction," Mr. Ser said.

Take the experience of Andy Man, who is Mr. Ser's business partner. Mr. Man started trading in 2006 in various markets such as tech stocks. It wasn't until he specialized in gold and silver that he hit it big, by taking short positions in the two commodities.

He bet that gold and silver prices would drop as the lure of these commodities as a safe haven would diminish when other markets improved. This was in 2011, but he had seen a similar situation pass by in 2008 without taking advantage of it.

As Mr. Ser described it, Mr. Man's strategy was to accumulate additional short positions rather than take shorter-term profits and exit the market. He was fortunate. His initial position of $1,600 turned into $1.7-million in less than half a year.

"Instead of exiting, he added more to his positions, and that's where his capital grew very, very quickly," Mr. Ser said, noting that this changed his outlook on how to train other traders.

Mr. Man "looked at this sector for five to six years before he had success. So, it takes time to develop the expertise.

"But once you develop [it], you have a greater advantage over other people."

The important thing is to establish a target price at which to exit the position, and then stick to it.

"When it reaches our target - and it doesn't matter how long it takes to get there - we will exit that position," he added.

Fit to a lifestyle

With a business degree from Simon Fraser University but no financial background, Mr. Ser began trading himself in 1999 during the dot-com boom, when online day-trading was relatively new. The aim then was to get in and out of a security quickly with a profit. Yet much of that allure disappeared during the subsequent dot-com crash, and then again in the rout of markets in 2008 to 2009.

Another benefit of becoming an expert in one sector or security is based in lifestyle. It enables one to tailor trading to fit a schedule. For instance, gold and silver are traded effectively around the clock and around the world, allowing more flexibility than smaller, specialized sectors such as technology or resource stocks.

"At the end of the day, what is that person's objectives? What's the person's lifestyle? Does he want to trade every day? Does he want to be sitting in front of a computer? Is he a morning person or an evening person? What are his goals?" Mr. Ser said.

"A lot of those types of things will help us decide whether a person should be trading only for a few minutes or a few hours a day, or only looks at a computer once a day and [should be] longer-term. We're kind of customizing everything to fit the trader, rather than having them emulating exactly what we do."

Don't bet your rent

Concentrating on one area allows some traders to glance at the market as seldom as once a day. If there is no buying or selling opportunity, they can check again tomorrow.

"If you only choose a certain area to focus on, then you're looking at the same thing every day," and that's a good thing, Mr. Ser insisted.

He is careful to warn that all trading like this should be done with discretionary money - money you don't need for living expenses. "Risk capital is the amount of money you don't need to pay your monthly bills," he said.

There are the obvious financial reasons not to bet one's mortgage on trading. There are also the less obvious, psychological ones.

"I've seen some traders trade with money they need to pay the rent with, so they're trading very scared and not making logical decisions," Mr. Ser said. "Everybody's different, but make sure you trade with risk capital that you can afford to lose."

Associated Graphic

'Some of our students and traders only trade a certain stock every single day,' says Mike Ser, left.


The method that Mike Ser teaches to his students in British Columbia is called swing trading or trend trading.


A country's health is not measured by GDP alone
Thursday, November 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

In the second quarter of this year, Canada posted its strongest gross domestic product growth in three years. U.S. GDP expanded a blistering 4.6 per cent (annualized) in the same quarter, and followed that up with a stronger-than-expected 3.5 per cent in the third quarter.

Based on this universally recognized economic yardstick, North America is prospering, maybe better than it has in a long while.

But North Americans aren't prospering better than they have in a long while. Disturbingly large numbers of them have been left out of this supposed economic renaissance.

In real (i.e. inflation-adjusted) terms, Canada's GDP over the past 15 years has risen, on average, 2.5 per cent a year; yet, the median weekly wage of Canadians has risen an average of just 0.6 per cent a year. There is a well-documented widening of the gap between rich and poor: The top 1 per cent of Canadian earners take home 11 per cent of the country's total income, while in the United States it's 20 per cent. Labour force participation rates hit 37-year lows in the United States and 13-year lows in Canada. Nearly 900,000 Canadians and seven million Americans are stuck in part-time jobs despite wanting to be working full-time.

Looking at this, it's hard not to wonder if GDP doesn't really measure what we have come to think of it as measuring. We have essentially assumed that a growing economy is a healthy economy. But gauging the size of an economy, and its pace of growth of output, may not be synonymous with measuring its health - although we often act as if it is. And, potentially more dangerously, so do large numbers of the world's policy makers.

This is what Joseph Stiglitz has been saying. The Columbia University professor and Nobel laureate in economics, who has become a vocal critic of rising inequality in the U.S. economic system, argues that GDP is a poor measure of how well an economy is truly performing.

We've been assuming that a growing economy produces virtuous consequences for its participants, but it's apparent that it's far from automatic.

The implication is that by focusing on GDP as a key end in itself of economic policy, governments have been (inadvertently or otherwise) sacrificing a certain amount of societal economic health in the quest for raw growth. It's something he has been saying since the depths of the recession, and has been repeating as U.S. GDP accelerates while the employment and social outcomes have conspicuously lagged.

"Regardless of how fast GDP grows, an economic system that fails to deliver gains for most of its citizens, and in which a rising share of the population faces increasing insecurity, is, in a fundamental sense, a failed economic system," Mr. Stiglitz wrote in a recent column on the website Project Syndicate.

This is hardly a new notion. Way back in 1934, Simon Kuznets, who designed the U.S. national accounts system (the system by which GDP is measured), cautioned that GDP should not be equated with socioeconomic well-being. Yet, it very often has been over the intervening eight decades.

"At the time it was conceived, GDP was a useful signpost on the path to a better world: A path where increased economic activity provided jobs, income, and basic amenities to reduce worldwide social conflict and prevent a third world war," said a 2009 paper by researchers at Boston University, led by ecological economist Robert Costanza.

"That economic activity has created a world very different from the one faced by the world leaders who convened at Bretton Woods in 1944. We are now living in a world overflowing with people and man-made capital, where the emphasis on growing GDP and economic activity is leading the world back toward the brink of collapse."

Still, it would be a mistake to suggest we should dump GDP as a key gauge of national and global economies in favour of alternative measures of broader societal well-being (such as the United Nation's Human Development Index, highlighted by Mr. Stiglitz in his column). Rather, we need to supplement GDP with further measures, and de-emphasize GDP growth as our end goal, if we want the broader economy to see more fulsome benefits from that hard-earned growth.

I like the analogy I recently heard from an associate of mine, that GDP growth is akin to the economy's heartbeat: An absolutely essential, yet not by itself sufficient, condition for good health. If economists are the doctors here, diagnosing the condition of the economy, they'll always want to start with checking the heartbeat first; without it, the patient is in big trouble, and the critical priority is to re-establish a pulse.

But in North America, where we have something approaching a sinus rhythm again, we need to turn more focus on other health problems that have festered while the patient was being revived. Restoring GDP health is the means to the better wellbeing that is our ultimate economic goal; it's not an end in itself.

Associated Graphic

At first blush, the Canadian and U.S. economies appear to be going gangbusters. But other factors - employment levels and wealth division - paint a more nuanced picture that's not so robust.


Why $80 oil is actually good for Canada in the long run
Thursday, November 6, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

The general rule of thumb is that what's good for the global economy is good for Canada (small, open, export-oriented, commodity-heavy economy - stop me if you've heard all this before). But the rule breaks down when we're talking about oil.

Or does it?

It's a pretty important question when we're staring down the barrel of $78 (U.S.) oil, in an economy that has leaned pretty heavily on a strong energy sector to lead it out of the export wilderness, create jobs and generally grease some pretty squeaky wheels of growth.

When a lift-off in business investment is the key missing ingredient in your wobbly economic recovery, it's hardly comforting to see the oil and gas business, which has delivered more than 40 per cent of Canada's capital spending growth since the recession ended, suffer a 25-per-cent price drop in its main product in just five weeks.

And just in time for oil company budget season, when the industry's big spenders are deciding how much to commit to capital spending in 2015. Another reason for uncertainty, doubt and cautious purse strings.

There has been considerable debate during oil's slide about how big a deal it is to the Canadian economy if the downturn is sustained, but the general conclusion is that it's a small yet meaningful negative - the downside for the country's large energy sector outweighs the upside for consumers.

The Bank of Canada recently estimated that the roughly $20-abarrel drop in the oil price from the beginning of summer to midOctober is worth about one-quarter of a percentage point on Canada's gross domestic product growth for 2015. That's less of a deal if your economy is humming along at 3-per-cent growth; it's a

bigger issue when annualized growth is under 2 per cent, as recent estimates suggest it could well have been in the third quarter.

But for most of the rest of the world, lower oil prices have the opposite effect - the break they deliver to consumers is a considerable net economic lift. Capital Economics, an independent economic research firm based in London, this week estimated that a $20 drop in the price of crude (which is about what we saw from mid-June to mid-October) would deliver a 0.4-percentage-point rise in global economic demand.

The Bank of Canada estimated that oil's drop since the start of the summer would boost U.S. economic growth by 0.2 to 0.4 of a percentage point over the next year.

Some of this is simply because most of the world's biggest economies are bigger consumers of oil than producers. But more importantly, a lower oil price represents a transfer of money from oil producers to consumers - and consumers have proven much more likely to actually spend that money than producers.

(Producers have tended to sock away a significant portion of their windfall from $100 oil prices for a rainy day; the big oil countries of the Gulf region have been particularly big savers.) So having the money in consumers' hands will mean a net rise in total consumption of all goods and services.

At a time when much of the global economy is struggling, this transfer of money to consumers is not the worst thing that we could do; indeed, it might be one of the best. The desired economic effect is similar to that of tax cuts - but for so many countries that are still wrestling with budget deficits and committed to austerity, this tax cut comes essentially for free, from a fiscal standpoint. Free, I think we can agree, is a good price for economic stimulus.

The resulting lift in the global economy is, ultimately (if not immediately), a positive for Canada - even for Canadian oil producers.

A recovery in global demand is what Canada needs to drive its export revival over the longer term, rather than a set of inflated commodity prices that weren't strongly supported by underlying supply-demand fundamentals.

And let's not forget that the United States, which accounts for fully three-quarters of Canada's exports, will be a key beneficiary of this oil-price dividend and the resulting lift in demand.

It's worth noting that the oil and gas sector's biggest year for capital spending growth since the recession wasn't either of the past two years, when crude prices averaged more than $97 a barrel. It was 2010, when the average price was under $80 - but the global economy was rebounding and the demand outlook was on the upswing. It suggests investment in the sector isn't driven by high prices (though they don't hurt), but by demand growth.

This isn't to say that Canada and its oil sector won't feel a sharp sting from oil's slump over the next few quarters - they absolutely will, assuming the price doesn't bounce back. But if the consumer benefits can provide a kick to the global economy and further accelerate U.S. demand, Canada's short-term pain could lead to longer-term gain.

Discounters gain ground as supermarkets struggle
Monday, November 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2


Airlines and supermarkets have a lot more in common than customers banging into each other in uncomfortably narrow aisles. Both have fallen victim to the discounters.

The discount, or low-cost, airlines - Ryanair and easyJet PLC in Europe, Southwest Airlines Co. and WestJet Airlines Ltd. in North America - have sucked millions of passengers away from the high-cost, debt-laden traditional airlines. The same is happening to the traditional supermarkets in Europe, especially in Britain. The discounters are coming on strong, and the profits, sales and growth of the chains that have been part of the urban and suburban landscape forever are feeling the pinch.

At least one of the British biggies, Tesco PLC, is in middle of a full-blown crisis. Two of its three main competitors, William Morrison Supermarkets and J. Sainsbury PLC, have seen their shares fall faster than a poorly stacked pile of canned fruit; they're down by a third in the past year. To them, it is no consolation that Tesco's shares are down by half, in no small part because of a dubious accounting trick that saw profits overstated by £263-million ($474-million).

Judging the performance of the fourth competitor, Asda Group PLC, is harder because it is buried within the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. empire, though recent trading statements suggest it is holding up better than the others (partly because its strategy of stuffing the aisles with cheap clothes as well as food seems to be paying off).

On Nov. 12, Sainsbury will release interim results that should give investors a better idea of its performance in the supermarket wars. Shareholders will be clamouring for details of a turnaround strategy. They already know part of the plan, which is to take the battle to the discounters' turf. Sainsbury has just formed a joint venture with the low-cost Danish supermarket chain Netto. They plan to open 15 stores in Britain in the next year.

The Netto-Sainsbury business will cut prices by offering a vastly reduced range of about 2,200 products, compared to an astounding 40,000 or so in the big-box supermarkets, in relatively small stores. Many of the products will be own-label goods and some of them Danish. Shoppers will be charged for bags.

The strategy of launching a chain that competes with yourself may not work. It generally didn't work with the airlines when they launched in-house discount brands, such as British Airways' defunct Go. And the discounters are big, well-financed chains that don't shy away from competition.

This group is dominated by Aldi and Lidl, both from Germany, whose British market share is expected to double to about 15 per cent within five years. They have expertly exploited a market in which consumers' income is growing more slowly than the economy. They also know that many consumers find no advantage in driving to the middle of nowhere to shop in airport-sized supermarkets.

Speaking of large: Big Oil has, so far, held up fairly well as oil prices come tumbling down. What about the smaller players?

This week, we'll find out when two British middleweights, EnQuest PLC and Tullow Oil, report their interim statements. The former is one of the biggest independent producers in the North Sea; the latter, with a market value of £4.6-billion, is probably the biggest independent name in Africa, with recent discoveries in Uganda, Ghana and Kenya.

To be sure, the oil price - down about 25 per cent since June - is putting pressure on the earnings of the bigger players. But because they are well diversified, have sophisticated hedging strategies and can deploy billions of dollars on dividends and share buybacks, investors have not been slaughtered. BP, the former British Petroleum, has lost about 12 per cent in the past six months. Shell is down only 6 per cent; measured over a year, the shares are up almost 8 per cent.

The smaller oil producers should be so lucky. EnQuest, which had not hedged against falling oil prices, has seen its shares fall by half in the past six months. Tullow has suffered only slightly less damage, with a 44per-cent fall.

While a profit crunch should be expected, the bigger question is budget planning. How much of the 2015 budget has been trimmed to reflect the new world of $80 (U.S.) oil? Will that inevitable budget reduction result in lower production? And where do the CEOs of these companies think oil prices are going?

While most oil bosses are hesitant to make price predictions, most would agree that less drilling will eventually tighten up supply, triggering a price bounce. But when? Just because an oil share has fallen by half doesn't mean it's a bargain.

Associated Graphic

Sainsbury has formed a joint venture with Danish low-cost supermarket retailer Netto in an attempt to take the battle to the discounters. Sainsbury's shares have fallen by about one third this year.



Ottawa's 'Canadian way' a barrier to internal trade
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

As we head toward the federal election due in October, 2015, the federal government is chalking up impressive progress on trade deals, including free trade with the 500 million consumers in the European Union and with South Korea, one of Asia's most dynamic economies. We are at the table negotiating the TransPacific Partnership with 11 other Pacific nations. Yet free trade between Canadians, an economystrengthening measure worth as much as $10-billion annually, has yet again slid from the national agenda.

Just a few months ago, Industry Minister James Moore was making the most hopeful noises we'd heard in years in this perennially disappointing file. The glimmer of light he saw on the horizon came chiefly from the commitment he sensed from the strongly federalist government that emerged from the most recent Quebec election. Premier Philippe Couillard wants to prove to Quebeckers that belonging to Canada is in their interests and wants concrete economic gains over the course of his mandate.

But while Mr. Moore pointed to the lessening of Quebec's dogged resistance to a pan-Canadian deal as the chief reason for optimism, behind the scenes more was happening. Manitoba's Jobs and Economy Minister Theresa Oswald had emerged as a powerful and effective champion for progress among her provincial colleagues. That in itself was huge: Manitoba has Canada's only NDP provincial government, and the NDP has traditionally been the party most skeptical about the benefits of trade liberalization both foreign and domestic. It is also the only western province not to have signed on to the New West Partnership, a regional free-trade bloc. Ms. Oswald had the wind in her sails and credibility with her colleagues.

Due to internal Manitoba politics, however, Ms. Oswald and four of her colleagues recently resigned from cabinet. Whatever momentum existed within the provinces to move ahead on domestic free trade has evaporated. The planned meeting of provincial ministers responsible scheduled for earlier this month fell by the wayside. A phone call will take its place next week, but ominously the stakeholders who are pushing for action have been excluded. Mr. Moore has gone radio silent.

For Ottawa simply to go back into hiding on this issue is no help. If anything, the collapse of the alleged historic conjuncture of provincial support for recognizing Canadians' rights to carry on their business or trade in every part of Canada proves yet again that the provinces cannot solve this problem and federal leadership is indispensable.

The fact that success or failure might hang by the presence of an individual minister in this or that province proves how shallow the commitment to progress is on the part of the provinces collectively. Since the provinces have created most of the barriers themselves and would pay a political price for eliminating them, their will is weak to begin with. Add to that the fact the provinces work by consensus and that puts protectionist provinces like Ontario in the driver's seat. All they have to do is say no and nothing happens.

Sadly, the feds seem to concur with the provincial view that this is none of Ottawa's business. I attended an internal trade event a few months ago where Mr. Moore spoke and his reaction to the notion that Ottawa might take the lead in tearing down these barriers was that it was not "the Canadian way."

Perhaps it's time we revisited the Canadian way. The federal government is in possession of legal opinions from some of the country's great constitutional minds that it has lots of scope under the Constitution to seize the initiative. Moreover, that's why we have a federal government in the first place. For years, the attitude of the provinces has been that whatever they regard as under their jurisdiction is completely off limits for Ottawa, but whatever is under Ottawa's power must be negotiated with the provinces.

Ottawa should be muscular in its defence of federal power, not to be confrontational, but because we created a federal government and Parliament so that they could act strongly and decisively in the national interest. That government and Parliament were given power over trade and commerce among other things so that, in Father of Confederation George Brown's immortal phrase, Ottawa could throw down barriers between provinces, thus making "a citizen of one [province] a citizen of the whole."

Asserting Ottawa's power to protect Canadians' economic rights goes to the heart of the nation building we undertook in 1867 but have not yet completed. It's never too late to do the right thing.

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

Associated Graphic

As Ottawa makes international trade deals with such partners as South Korea interprovincial trading is untouched.


PR trickery tarnishes oil patch's credibility
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2


It's become the mantra of the oil patch and its top executives: What this country needs is an adult, fact-based conversation about energy.

According to a newly unearthed document with TransCanada Corp.'s logo on it, it could also do with a heaping helping of manipulation.

And there, encapsulated in a neat package, is precisely what's wrong with public discourse about energy development and building pipelines.

Rather than actually sticking to a policy of engaging in open dialogue, promoting economic benefits and addressing concerns with real explanations from experts - all things the industry has pledged to do time and again - there are factions preferring communications black ops, phony grassroots campaigns, squadrons of dutiful Twitter trolls and search-and-destroy missions on opponents.

The document, prepared by Edelman, the global PR firm, for TransCanada and its $12-billion Energy East pipeline proposal, was obtained by Greenpeace and released on Monday.

Some parts include obvious strategies such as sticking to a positive message and framing a communication to try to gain trust. Other parts urge the kind of mean-spiritedness the company will want to avoid as it promotes a project that would change the face of the energy industry by moving oil sands crude across six provinces.

To be fair, TransCanada said it won't implement all of the Edelman plan, subtitled Promote, Respond, Pressure (which is decidedly different from Eat, Pray, Love).

Spokesman James Millar told The Globe and Mail that TransCanada needs to get intelligence on its naysayers to counteract "misinformation" but that it's opted against pursuing some of the more controversial ideas, such as quietly providing support to dubious pro-pipeline citizens' groups.

That's good. After all, what skilled PR pro would not think through to the implications for a company's reputation when pulling such a stunt came to light?

I understand TransCanada's need to get public and media campaigns in place as one part of a much larger strategy for Energy East that involves consulting stakeholders along the route, and also compiling environmental and economic data.

It's all to support its proposal through and after the regulatory process. The company needs to make its case to advance its project, and it's no rookie at doing so.

I also grasp how it does not want be knocked back on its heels again as with its Keystone XL project, when green groups across the United States went into hyperdrive with every means at their disposal to try to stop it - social media, public protest, government lobbying and the courts.

Many of their messages have been way off base, including painting a scenario where the emissions from developing all of the oil sands at once would be released as one "carbon bomb," with Keystone XL being a fuse, and claiming that diluted bitumen is much more corrosive to pipelines than other crude oil when there was no scientific data backing it up.

The question is how to counter claims against a capital-intensive project, and it's pretty tough to make a case that ad honinem attacks on those advancing them will keep TransCanada on the high road and its investors happy.

The Edelman document recommends rooting out skeletons in the closets of environmental groups such as the Council of Canadians, Équiterre and the David Suzuki Foundation by studying funding, dues, legal issues and a host of other factors to assess their "strengths and weaknesses." This is, sadly, becoming part of the playbook.

Last month, The New York Times reported that Washington political consultant Richard Berman lectured U.S. energy executives on exploiting the public's emotions, such as fear, greed and anger, and turning them against environmentalists and liberal celebrities.

Corporations secretly putting dollars behind his campaign to advance the industry's aims shouldn't worry about digging up embarrassing details on opponents because "you can either win ugly or lose pretty," he was quoted as saying.

Perhaps I'm channelling my inner boy scout, but what part of this will give the Canadian public confidence that its energy industry respects it enough to be straight with it?

The oil patch says its case for developing Energy East and other projects is solid, that the big "nation-building" initiatives mean jobs galore and improving environmental performance. If so, make the case, and stay away from creepy tactics.

Setback at Kearl mine 'par for the course' in oil sands
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B3

CALGARY -- Imperial Oil Ltd.'s decision to shutter production at its flagship Kearl mine shows that project reliability remains a challenge, even for the largest and most experienced operators in Alberta's oil sands.

The move cut short what had been a steady increase in output at Kearl's first phase, underscoring that new developments are vulnerable to operational setbacks similar to those that have dogged much older oil sands projects.

Imperial-run Syncrude Canada Ltd. has cut production expectations three times this year alone because of major equipment breakdowns. The same happened in 2013. A fire in 2012 also knocked the project's refinerylike upgrader out of service for 30 days. In 2011, a fire halted production at Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.'s Horizon mine. Suncor Energy Inc. has also experienced sudden upgrader outages.

"It's par for the course" in the oil sands, said Robert Mark, director at MacDougall MacDougall & MacTier Inc., which manages about $5.1-billion in assets, including Imperial shares.

"These are big, complicated refinery [and] manufacturing facilities all rolled into one," he said. "They have an annoying propensity to catch on fire from time to time. There's tons of moving parts and stuff can break down and go wrong."

Imperial, which is 69.6-per-cent owned by ExxonMobil Corp., said on Monday that output from Kearl was curtailed as a precautionary measure after the company detected what it called a "vibration issue" in the facility's ore-crusher unit.

Calgary-based Imperial said repair work on the unit, which begins the separation of bitumen from sand, would take "several weeks," but the company offered no specific date for restarting production.

"This work - early maintenance and repair to prevent longer-term issues - will have a near-term impact on Kearl production, but we believe it is the best approach to ensuring the safety and longterm integrity of the operation," spokesman Pius Rolheiser said.

The temporary shutdown is the latest in a string of setbacks for Kearl's first phase, a $12.9-billion project that has struggled to reach full capacity since starting up 18 months ago.

The mine, located about 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, Alta., began production in April, 2013. But it has yet to pump crude at its capacity rate of 110,000 barrels a day (b/d); production in the third quarter this year averaged 92,000 b/d, the company said.

The project's first phase suffered a large cost overrun, partly because of extra work required to break down enormous steel modules after plans to move them along U.S. highways encountered public opposition. Imperial was forced to reassemble the South Korean-made equipment in smaller loads for shipment to the project site.

In April this year, chief executive officer Rich Kruger said that process "certainly didn't help" with a smooth ramp-up at the mine. "It's like taking a high-performance sports car, cutting it in half, and then moving it a few miles down the road and trying to reassemble it," he said at the time.

The maintenance work is separate from the continuing construction of an expansion phase, which was 97-per-cent complete as of the third quarter. That project is expected to start next year ahead of schedule and will ultimately double Kearl's output, Mr. Rolheiser said.

But the mine's troubles "raise some question as far as operations and oversight, and the ability to really get it going the way it should be run," said Brian Youngberg, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co. in St. Louis, Mo.

Kearl represents a fraction of Exxon's overall output, he said, but the U.S. major "has a great history of running megaprojects like this, and Kearl has been a disappointment."

With files from Carrie Tait in Calgary.

Imperial Oil (IMO)

Close: $53.66, down 46¢

Associated Graphic

Imperial Oil's flagship Kearl mine in Alberta has been temporarily closed as a precautionary measure to repair a 'vibration issue.'


Canadian directors working longer hours as demands mount
Monday, November 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B3

Canadian corporate directors say they are working an average of 304 hours a year in their part-time jobs, devoting more time to their boards than directors in the United States or Europe.

A survey of 120 directors by consulting firm Korn Ferry found directors reported working longer hours than in the past because of greater demands to keep pace with corporate issues and monitor risks. They reported averaging 304 hours of work for each board, including time spent outside the boardroom preparing for meetings, attending training, keeping abreast of industry trends or representing the company at outside events and meetings.

Many said they were surprised by the number of hours they had worked once they added it up during survey interviews.

"They suddenly realized, 'I really am spending so much time on this board,' " said Vancouverbased board consultant Patrick O'Callaghan, who partnered on the study.

Peter Dey, a director on the board of Goldcorp Inc., said board work definitely requires more hours now than in past because boards better understand their roles and have been steadily "upgrading themselves."

"The change has been evolutionary, but it's very tangible," he said. "The typical director these days does not count his or her hours, but worries about his or her company virtually every day."

Korn Ferry senior partner John Jennings said the old rule of thumb that directors do three hours of work outside the boardroom for every hour of board meetings they attend has become more like 10 hours outside the boardroom when every activity - including committee work, site visits, training and attending functions - is included.

The reported workload for Canadian directors far exceeds numbers from similar surveys in the U.S. and Europe.

A 2013 survey of 1,019 U.S. corporate directors by the National Association of Corporate Directors found they reported working an average of 236 hours a year, a 24-per-cent increase from 190 hours in 2005.

European corporate directors reported working an average of 215 hours a year, a 39-per-cent increase from 155 hours in 2003, according to a 2013 Heidrick & Struggles survey.

Mr. O'Callaghan said the Canadian survey was done using detailed interviews with directors who were prompted to add in all board-related activities, so it may have captured a more complete look at director workload.

As well, he said Canadian boards typically split the role of chair and CEO, while U.S. boards often combine the roles, which creates time efficiencies on U.S. boards, especially for the chairs.

He added some practices are more time-consuming in Canada, including the increasingly common trend for Canadians to attend all meetings of board committees as observers, even if they are not members of the committee.

"It's unusual for directors to attend all committees in the U.S.," he said.

However, corporate director David Beatty, who has served on 35 boards in Canada and the U.S.

including the board of Alabamabased Walter Energy Inc., said he has not observed that Canadian directors work almost 30 per cent more hours than U.S. directors.

"I would have thought the other way, quite frankly - there's so much litigation in the United States," he said.

Mr. Beatty says he believes the hours required to serve on a board have climbed by about 50 per cent since 2002, and are continuing to increase as directors focus more time on risk management.

"All larger companies are worried about risk and risk management, and also the huge new cyber-risk components," he said.

Claude Lamoureux, a director on three corporate boards who served on the board of SwissAnglo mining company Xstrata PLC until its acquisition last year, estimates he averages between 200 and 250 hours a year for each board but believes his workload hasn't significantly increased in recent years.

"I've been on two European boards, and to me it's similar to Canada," he said.

Trans-Pacific trade talks face the same hurdles as before
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

OTTAWA -- Canada, the United States and the 10 other countries insist they are closer than ever to a massive Asia-Pacific free trade deal.

But closer does not mean a final Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is imminent. A year-end deadline for striking a deal is expected to pass without agreement in spite of fresh optimism expressed this week by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President Barack Obama and other leaders meeting in Beijing.

That's because the toughest elements of the TPP remain unresolved, including the contentious area of market access for agricultural products.

The U.S., for example, wants a bigger slice of Canada's heavily protected dairy and poultry sectors and to at least match recent gains made by Europe in the areas of telecommunications, drug patent protection and provincial purchasing markets.

For its part, Ottawa will almost certainly seek to blunt a proliferation of protectionist Buy American purchasing rules on various federally funded projects and gain access to more government purchases.

Because both Canada and Mexico are part of the negotiations, the U.S. also sees the TPP as an opportunity to upgrade and modernize the North American free-trade agreement.

Ottawa views the TPP as a way to gain new access to lucrative Asian markets, most notably Japan, for Canadian beef and pork. But Japan hasn't yet moved substantially.

All of these issues are sensitive, and therefore may be tough to resolve quickly, explained Ottawa trade consultant Peter Clark. The danger, he said, is that the TPP gets watered down too much, alienating key founding partners such as New Zealand.

"There is a risk of it all unravelling," Mr. Clark said.

Toronto trade lawyer Lawrence Herman said it's "premature" to be talking about a deal being nearly done.

The TPP has already missed deadlines twice before, in 2012 and 2013. TPP leaders made no mention of the latest year-end deadline for striking a deal in their statement Monday. Nor did they set a new target date.

Still, two important things have happened recently to prod the TPP along. The Republicans seized control of the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 4 midterm elections, making it a friendlier environment for Mr. Obama to secure the vital trade negotiating authority from Congress he will likely need to finalize the TPP. And secondly, Japan and the U.S. have made modest progress in the area of autos in continuing TPP talks.

The U.S. must also realize that Ottawa's willingness to put its best offer on the TPP table would be greatly enhanced if Washington approved the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline designed to deliver Alberta crude to refineries south of the border.

Associated Graphic

Because the TPP deal involves Canada and Mexico, the U.S. sees the pact as a way to modernize North American free trade.


Hockey legends reflect on the call to the hall
On Monday night, Dominik Hasek, Peter Forsberg, Rob Blake and Mike Modano will enter the Hockey Hall Of Fame as the player class of 2014. Some thoughts from them, on the threshold of their induction, via Eric Duhatschek
Monday, November 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3



The World Cup [in 1996] and the Stanley Cup [in 1999] is like 1 and 1A. With the Stanley Cup, you're representing a city and an organization, what Dallas meant. The U.S., with the World Cup, we were painted into a corner.

We didn't know what to do. We'd lost the first game in Philly so we had to go to the [Montreal] Forum to win two against Gretzky, Messier, Sakic, Lindros. You look at the Canadian lineup, it was probably the best team they ever put together.

To win two in a row against those guys, we were just beside ourselves - and [coach] Ron Wilson was the catalyst for that. This'll be talked about for years, he said, kind of what Herb [Brooks] told the 1980 [Miracle on Ice] team.


Winning the 1998 Olympic gold medal, this is something I will never forget.

After we won, we flew a charter that our president [Vaclav] Havel sent for us. We spent one night in Prague. The cheering, the people's ovation, at the airport and in the square, this is something we will appreciate for the rest of our lives.

We were very focused as a team. After we beat the U.S. in the quarter-finals, we started to believe in our team, that maybe we can do something a little bit more.



You learn the game of hockey from the people you associate with when you first come in. I was fortunate to play with Wayne Gretzky, the greatest player in the world.

Both on and off the ice, how he handled media scrums in the early 1990s, how he treated his teammates, how he treated everybody around the room was amazing. For me, when I look back, I see how beneficial it was to be associated with somebody of that greatness.


Markus Naslund was my teammate from when I was 15 and we stayed together for three years in the juniors and he taught me a lot. He kept the focus on hockey, which is not easy when you're 16, 17, 18 or 19. We were working out every single day and he led the group. He was the guy who wanted to compete every single day in practice.


You always go back to guys you won with, but obviously, Brett Hull stands out.

We kid nowadays about having a chance to play in this era, with these rules, and we say, 'gawd, we could have done some damage out there.'

Hully, he said all the things we wanted to say but never had the guts to say. He was outspoken. A lot of us were outspoken too - behind closed doors - but when the cameras were on, he was still the same.

We always lived vicariously through him in the media.



Win multiple Stanley Cups. It's hard enough to win once. The opportunity to do that again would have been something. It's what we all chased, which makes it so difficult. But that would be one for sure.


Losing [in overtime of Game 6 of the 1999 Stanley Cup final to the Dallas Stars] was disappointing, but nothing changed in my hockey career.

The life goes on. You have to leave it behind. That's what hockey's all about - you try to enjoy the winning, but the next day, the game is over, and you have the next practice and the next game and you need to get ready to play.

I focused on hockey like I did before and fortunately with the Red Wings I had a chance to raise the Cup in 2002. No regrets at all.


1991 was tough for me [losing in the Stanley Cup final to the Pittsburgh Penguins], but that was the good thing about being so young. You're pretty naive.

In my second year, I didn't really understand how hard it was. It took a long time to get back, a lot of changes, a lot of growing pains, moving to Texas, but we felt something was growing around 1996 or 1997.

Our team was getting better. [Ken] Hitchcock became involved. We made some great trades. We put together a Yankees type of a hockey team, so we knew that year was Stanley Cup or bust.

We lost our ninth or 10th game maybe mid-February so we knew this was the year. We weren't going to be denied.


I struggled for eight years with those [foot injuries] and had a lot of surgeries, trying to fix it and they really didn't work.

It was tough times, but I got to do a few things while recovering from surgery, not just playing hockey. Until I was 30, I would say everything I did was concentrated on hockey and I didn't do anything else.

On the positive side it was easier for me, when I stopped playing hockey, to move into the other world, with no hockey.

I was happy to win a lot of things before the troubles started. I look back positively on my whole career. I wouldn't change a lot.



This is top cool, the coolest of the cool, being part of this group and being acknowledged for what you've done on the ice.

I couldn't ever imagine this. These aren't things we put on our 'to-do' lists when we first start in the game.


It's the greatest honour individually you can achieve, but though we say individually, there's no way you can get here without your teammates and coaches. Definitely, it is the height of all honours.


I never thought I was going to be an NHL player, so obviously, it's a big day.

For me, since I had a couple of bad years because of the foot injuries, this makes me think about all the good things that happened throughout my career. It was fantastic to get the call - a little emotional actually, because it sums up everything. There's nothing greater than being in this group of legends.


It's a great weekend for us and I'm glad to be in with such a great group of people. I faced them many times, and played against Mike and Rob and Peter and now I am here, with them, and I have to congratulate them.



"I'm working for the Los Angeles Kings as assistant general manager. It's good, lots of interesting work. The hockey aspect of it is good. It's challenging learning the other aspects - managing people and things - but I've got a good leader in [general manager] Dean Lombardi to learn from."


"Four-month-old twins, that'll fill the majority of my days. I'm still helping out with Dallas a bit on the business side of things.

Spend some time in Arizona, with my wife's golf. She travels around and plays a lot of competitive golf and is based in Arizona, so we go back and forth. I caddy on the side for her and keep busy with the kids, so we've got a full day."


"I'm doing different things, other sports, going into business, I have a new dog, an English Setter, I spend some time with him. Very busy actually. There's a Hockey Hall of Fame in the Czech Republic and I'm helping with that."


"I have two small kids. That takes up a lot of time. I help out as assistant general manager with Modo, my team there. We invested in an airline, and in a golf course and a boat company and I don't know what all else, but it fills up my day. I have an office in downtown Stockholm and we're a good group of six or seven guys who work together. My days are full. I'm not complaining - other than I don't get time for my afternoon naps the way I did when I played hockey."

Follow me on Twitter:@eduhatschek

Meet Leo Komarov, Toronto's international man of mystery
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3


There's still so much we don't really know about Leo Komarov.

And may never know.

Even untangling where exactly the Toronto Maple Leafs' international man of mystery is from, and what his key influences are, is a bit of an ordeal.

Born in Narva, Estonia, where his father, Alexander - an Ingrian Finn from Petrozavodsk, Russia - was playing low-level pro hockey, Komarov grew up in Finland after the family moved to the small town of Nykarleby when he was five.

At a latitude of 63 degrees north, it's closer to the Arctic Circle than Yellowknife.

Finnish is not the primary language in Nykarleby, however, meaning little Leonid was already about to take on his third and fourth languages. (English would come later.)

"I went to a Swedish school," Komarov explained. "We had a rink beside my house. I pretty much got everything I had there."

Alexander Komarov, meanwhile, was in Finland not to play hockey but pro soccer, although all these years later, his son isn't quite sure at what level. "It's not that good," he said.

What he does recall is that his father painted a lot of houses to make ends meet - in addition to his sideline gigs on the ice and on the field.

It was an interesting way to grow up.

From all of that has come not a confused young man, but a unique, charismatic everyman whom everyone seems to adore.

Leafs management, coaches and players all gush when asked for a story about Komarov, whom teammates have given the nicknames "Corporal" and "Komrade," in two references to a Leo Komarov-themed parody account on Twitter.

His play this season - his 10 points are already better than his career season-high after only 15 games - has made him even more of a fan favourite in Toronto.

"I think the fans recognize the work ethic and the commitment to being physical and how hard he plays," Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "It's on display night in, night out."

"He's the most interesting man in the world," teammate James Reimer added. "He takes a lot [of ribbing from teammates] and he takes it well, you know what I mean? He can take a joke and make it really funny."

The Leafs made a strong statement in signing Komarov in the off-season. General manager Dave Nonis had him as a top priority in free agency - flying to Helsinki right before July 1 - and the fouryear, $11.8-million (U.S.) contract appeared rather rich given Komarov's limited offensive contributions in his only other NHL season.

But the organization saw more there, especially after Komarov put up 34 points in 52 games for a share of the scoring lead with Dynamo Moscow last season.

To date, he has exceeded those off-season expectations. In addition to his scoring spree, Komarov is sixth among Leafs forwards in even-strength ice time, and he's killing more than three minutes in penalties a game as part of the top unit.

Only Phil Kessel has more points at even strength, something Carlyle credits to Komarov's greater confidence not only with the puck, but in his place in the league in general.

"It feels easier," Komarov said.

"But I don't think the game has changed at all."

"One thing with Leo is wherever he has gone, people have always first thought of him as [a] marginal player," said Juha Hiitela, a well-known Finnish sportswriter based in Vancouver. "Not just because he was young, but also because of his [playing] style.

And with every team, he has raised [himself up] to an important role. Everyone thought Dynamo brought him to Moscow to be the translator for their new Swedish stars. Two years later, Leo was the fan favourite and assistant captain."

"He's making do with what he's got - I think that's the way he leads his life," Carlyle said of Komarov's underdog approach. "I think that's the way he approaches the game. He's going to do whatever it takes to get it done."

Part of why Komarov was intimidated in his first North American stint in 2012-13 was the fact he was in awe. He had spent a lifetime idolizing NHL players such as Jaromir Jagr and countryman Jarkko Ruutu, and would wake up early to watch highlights of games to discuss them with his friends.

Then it would be out to Nykarleby's frigid outdoor rink - there were no indoor ones by the time he moved away at 16 - for games of shinny.

Years later, to hear those in Finland tell it, Komarov is a local hero, and when he ventures back, he's mobbed by well-wishers who have made the Leafs their new favourite team.

Komarov proudly talks about being able to buy his parents a house there. He admits he doesn't get back to Nykarleby enough, but enjoys talking about home, going on at length about the new indoor "ice hall" that kids have to play at.

Its name? Komarov Arena.

In all his travels and with all the languages he speaks, Komarov has also picked up a lot of friends in the game.

The highest-profile one just might be Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin after their time together with Dynamo, but he also counts fellow NHLers Mikael Granlund and Jori Lehtera as pals after coming up through the Finnish system with them.

Asked who his closest "comrades" in the league are, however, he doesn't hesitate.

Looking around the Leafs dressing room after practice, Komarov says, simply, "They're in here."

Montreal delivers Boston an old-fashioned beatdown
Friday, November 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

MONTREAL -- Stoicism's thread is woven deeply into the fabric of hockey; you can still complain just not too loudly or with great insistence.

In light of the result that would follow a few hours later, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien's gentle remonstration about the rigours of his team's schedule might seem like sour grapes.

That interpretation risks obscuring a valid point.

After providing only token resistance against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday (a 6-1 loss), the Bruins faced their most hated rivals one night later; it didn't go well. It's not every day you see a visiting fan throw a team shirt on the ice in disgust.

The back-to-back situation is one both Boston and the Montreal Canadiens will face 15 times this season, only five teams will play more games on back-to-back nights.

"All four games [against Montreal this season] are back-toback," Julien noted. "I don't make the schedule, I'm disappointed in having to play on the second night of back-to-backs - with big rivalries like that you'd rather have both teams as fresh as possible to give the best game possible. Unfortunately that's not something we control, so you move on."

In the NBA, star performers feel no compunction about pointing out the flaws in the schedule - last month LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and other players publicly kvetched about the demands of playing a tightly-packed run of games - but that kind of talk is much rarer in hockey.

For a league that trumpets its rivalries - see NBCSN's promotions for Wednesday night games - it's an issue that might be worth paying closer attention to.

It's not to say there weren't any flashpoints in Montreal's 5-1 win; in the third minute of the game Montreal winger Dale Weise slammed Boston centre Gregory Campbell hard into the boards, leading to a one-sided scrap and cheers from the home crowd.

It will be especially galling to the Bruins that Weise, who later chipped in a goal and an assist, was the key to their undoing.

After all, last spring he was at the centre of some handshakeline nastiness with Boston hard case Milan Lucic, whose last appearance in Montreal saw him fined $5,000 (U.S.) for making a rude gesture to fans as he was led away to the penalty box.

On this night, Lucic was booed every time he touched the puck although he kept his temper in check - when defenceman P.K. Subban came in to defend teammate Jiri Sekac (flattened moments earlier by the big Bruins winger), he accepted a couple of cross-checks and did nothing.

The crowd response was predictable; it would appear that in the matter of the Bell Centre denizens versus Lucic, there can be no amicable resolution.

It would have been dumb for Lucic to take the bait, but for a player who admits to thriving on the emotion of confrontation he was oddly peripheral and largely uninvolved.

All of which suggests something is amiss.

For the Bruins, already shorn of their top offensive centre (David Krejci) and most dominant blueliner (Zdeno Chara) through injury, the margin was always going to be thin against the Habs.

In the first period, the Bruins were clearly the better team - taking a 1-0 lead when Dougie Hamilton fired his third goal of the season (and ninth point in the nine games he's had to play without Chara).

Were it not for some heroics from Carey Price, who parried a point-blank Seth Griffith shot and made an outrageous pad save to deny Daniel Paille, the damage could have been worse (although Niklas Svedberg, subbing in for regular Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, he of the dismal record in Montreal, denied Max Pacioretty on a breakaway at the end of the frame).

Then the needle hit 'E' in the second, and it all got very messy for the visitors.

Weise, whose last goal came against Boston in Game 7 of the second round last spring, was awarded a penalty shot 2:31 into the frame after being dragged down as he steamed in on a breakaway.

He scored through Svedberg's legs. With the Habs buzzing - they would out-shoot Boston 15-5 in the period - Lars Eller scored his third goal in as many games at the 13-minute mark, rifling a backhander into the top shelf.

Less than two minutes later, Weise turned provider, setting up Pacioretty for a one-timer in the slot.

He would add another on a deflection play in the third, and the Habs' dormant power play would later score for the first time in 29 chances, Jiri Sekac blowing around Adam McQuaid and firing an unstoppable wrist shot.

You know it's not your night when Montreal gets one on the man advantage.

Associated Graphic

Bruins-buster Dale Weise scores on a penalty shot against Niklas Svedberg Thursday. Weise, the subject of Milan Lucic's ire in last season's playoffs, also had a second-period assist.


Sweet Lou finds his form again with Toronto
Coming off the worst season of his career in Atlanta, former Sixer has provided the East-leading Raptors with a spark off the bench
The Canadian Press
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

TORONTO -- During a fourth-quarter stretch in Toronto's victory over Utah on Saturday, Lou Williams scored on a pretty turnaround jumper, found Patrick Patterson alone in the corner for a three-pointer and then drew a foul on a three-point attempt of his own.

Coming off the worst season of his nine-year NBA career, Williams has already been a huge spark off the bench through his 10 games as a Raptor.

"I hope they like me as a player, I haven't heard anything different," Williams said Monday, referring to the Raptors' coaching staff.

The Raptors acquired the 28year-old and the rights to Brazilian big man Lucas (Bebe) Nogueira from Atlanta in the offseason trade that sent John Salmons to the Hawks. Williams tore his ACL in January, 2013, and then struggled mightily in his comeback last season. Still, the Raptors saw in him a wily veteran who can score under pressure and is a master at drawing fouls.

So far he's been as advertised for the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors, playing like he's found his preinjury form.

Williams is averaging 10.3 points a night, and has been a key part of Toronto's strong fourth quarters. He had 13 points in 23 minutes on Saturday. In Toronto's previous two victories, he had 14 points in 16 minutes versus Orlando, and 16 points in 18 minutes versus Philadelphia.

His baskets bring cheers of "Louuuuuuuuu!" from the Air Canada Centre crowd - much like Vancouver Canucks fans once chanted for Roberto Luongo.

"He's cool under pressure," coach Dwane Casey said recently.

"He can get his own shot most times without screens, without help ... He did that in Philly. He really didn't have a chance to do that in Atlanta because of injuries. We have all of the confidence in the world that at the end of the quarter, when the clock is winding down, that he's going to get a good shot."

Williams - listed generously at 6 foot 1 and 175 pounds - learned how to make up for his slight stature from another undersized player: NBA legend Allen Iverson. Williams played with Iverson in Philadelphia, where the Sixers drafted him in the second round, 45th overall, right out of high school.

Williams played seven seasons with Philly, and was the team's leading scorer - 14.9 points a game - in the 2011-12 season, despite not starting a single game. He was second in voting that season for the NBA's sixth man award.

He signed with Atlanta in the 2012 off-season.

Nearing the end of a sevengame homestand, Williams and his teammates were back practising at the Air Canada Centre on Monday after a rare day off. Some of his teammates had attended Toronto's Santa Claus Parade on Sunday. Williams stayed home to take it easy.

"We were getting a little weary, just so much non-stop action, only a day in between [games], but you're still coming in and preparing for the games, and getting ready for the next one," Williams said. "Had a few days to kind of just regroup and get ready for the next stretch."

The next stretch begins with a tough matchup against Memphis on Wednesday. Memphis and Houston were tied atop the West at 9-1 before they were scheduled to meet on Tuesday.

The Raptors will likely be missing James Johnson against the Grizzlies after Johnson stepped on a cameraman's foot Saturday night and sprained his ankle. Johnson didn't practise Monday.

When asked if he was excited about the upcoming East-versusWest showdown, Casey laughed and said "I'm not really excited to see them, I wish we were playing a junior high team or something, but it's what you play for, they're one of the top teams in the West.

"Right now, it's still too early to say who's the top team, who's not the top team, I don't think anybody really knows who they truly are yet. I think after about 15, 20 games everyone will start to even out and they become who they really are."

The Raptors have gone 4-1 in their homestand that ends Friday when they host Milwaukee.

"It's good for us," Williams said of the long stretch at home. "We had a long preseason on the road. It's good for us to just kind of be home and it worked out for us, home games are very important to your schedule, you try to get those games, and so some time here was very helpful for us."

Associated Graphic

Lou Williams, right, drives at Utah Jazz guard/forward Joe Ingles on Saturday. Williams dropped 13 points in 23 minutes to help the Raptors to a 111-93 win at home.


Are Jets poised for takeoff?
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

MONTREAL -- Averageness constitutes its own special brand of purgatory.

Basically, it's a place the Winnipeg Jets have dwelled for most - if not all - of their recent existence; neither a notably good team, nor a truly dreadful one.

Hoisting oneself out of the NHL's bubble-team morass isn't easy, so Winnipeg's recent hot streak is raising the question: Is this where the Jets' trajectory starts pointing steeply upward?

The man charged with bringing playoff hockey back to the fervid MTS Centre isn't convinced just yet.

"A good couple of weeks doesn't make you a contender, that's just the bottom line," said head coach Paul Maurice, a well-travelled bench boss who has seen his share of false dawns.

The Jets are 7-1-2 in their past 10 games, buoyed by stellar recent work from goaltender Ondrej Pavelec and a more structured defensive approach. They've yielded a miserly two goals a game, good enough for sixth-best in the NHL (ahead of Pittsburgh and just behind defending-champion Los Angeles).

So far, so good, as long as the Jets can figure out a way squeeze more offence out of a lineup that averages only 1.87 goals a night.

The Jets' underlying stats aren't all that spiffy, but the general sense is they may have figured something out in the first 15 games of the season.

The club has evidently banked on developing from within - general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has traded only two men from the team's NHL roster since 2011, and has yet to deal one for another NHL player. So perhaps continuity is having a beneficial effect on young forwards such as Evander Kane and Mark Scheifele and defencemen Zach Bogosian and Jacob Trouba.

"We're a young group, we have guys who came into the NHL at an early age, and they've matured. It takes time to figure out how to win in this league, there's an element of that - guys coming into their own, maturing, learning where they fit into the team," said veteran winger Blake Wheeler.

Captain Andrew Ladd freely admits to growing impatient at Winnipeg's inability to make the postseason. It's fair to say that's a sentiment spreading among the club's dedicated, noisy fans as well.

The climb has only become steeper since the club shifted to the Western Conference last season.

"It feels like it's been a long road," Ladd said after a Jets practice ahead of Tuesday's tilt with the Montreal Canadiens. "I think maybe we got stuck trying to fix everything all at once; now we've kind of dumbed it down a little bit to a more simplistic game.

Since Paul [Maurice] came in, I think we've really been all ears and he's done a good job of pulling us together."

Ladd added: "Sometimes it takes a little bit to figure out what you want to be as a team. I think we're doing that."

What they are is big, fast and improving. When Maurice was asked to describe his team's evolution since he replaced Claude Noël last winter, he said "we're in the early, early stages."

The problem hasn't been effort, he continued. Rather, it's focusing it in the right areas and learning to play more effectively as a group. On that score, Maurice is encouraged by what he's seen in the past 10-game stretch.

As for the way forward, Maurice said he will keep the emphasis on a small number of specific goals until it becomes instinctual.

"We've got a ways to go before that happens," he said.

It's an unfinished work, then.

But the Jets currently sit in a playoff position - teams that are more than a couple of points out of the playoffs by November generally don't make it - and are tied on points for the 11th-best record in the NHL.

So what does Maurice see when he looks at the league points table?

"We had a tough couple of weeks, a good couple of weeks - for the most part I think we're better than middle of the pack," he said. "So we are what it says we are."

Associated Graphic

Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice says his team's evolution is 'in the early, early stages,' but he is encouraged by what he has seen in the past 10 games.


It's make or break for Tiger-Cats
Ticats are undefeated at Tim Hortons Field, but it may not be enough to beat hot Alouettes team that has won eight of its past nine
The Canadian Press
Thursday, November 6, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats' season comes down to one game.

The Ticats (8-9) host the streaking Montreal Alouettes (9-8) at Tim Hortons Field on Saturday needing a win to clinch an East Division playoff berth. Hamilton could even finish atop the conference standings - and host the East final Nov. 23 - by securing a victory by eight or more points.

The two teams have met just once before this season, with Montreal earning a 38-31 home win Sept. 7.

Hamilton has been unbeatable at Tim Hortons Field since it opened Sept. 1. The Ticats are 5-0 there and have allowed just 61 points over that span.

Montreal is the CFL's hottest team, having won six straight and eight of nine games. The Alouettes have clinched a playoff berth but need a victory to finish first in the division.

Quarterback Jonathan Crompton has received a lot of credit for Montreal's resurgence from a 1-7 start to the season. The former Tennessee star is 8-1 since becoming the starter despite a 59-percent completion average and almost as many interceptions (eight) as TDs (10).

However, Crompton has been supported by an opportunistic Alouettes defence that's forced 45 turnovers, including 21 fumbles - both league highs. The unit has also surrendered just 74 points over the six-game win streak.

Montreal's defence was especially impressive in the club's two recent wins over Toronto (20-12 on Oct. 18, 17-14 on Sunday). The Alouettes held Argos quarterback Ricky Ray to a combined 411 passing yards with an interception before he suffered a concussion that's expected to force Ray to miss Friday night's game versus Ottawa.

Crompton was a workmanlike 13-of-26 passing Sunday for 251 yards and a touchdown as Montreal's offensive workhorses were receiver Duron Carter (11 catches, 181 yards, TD) and running back Tyrell Sutton (23 carries, 135 yards rushing).

Hamilton's defence is ranked first overall in fewest rushing yards allowed (80.3 a game) and third in sacks (49). And the Ticats' winning ways at Tim Hortons Field coincides with the return of starting quarterback Zach Collaros from concussionlike symptoms.

Collaros is not only a bona fide passing threat (65.4 per cent completion average, 14 TDs, five interceptions) but has also rushed for 293 yards (5.7-yard average) and two touchdowns.

With both defences playing well points could be scarce, suggesting a close, low-scoring game.

Those are the kinds of contests Crompton and Co. have made a habit of winning down the stretch.

Pick: Montreal


Toronto (7-10) must win, then hope for Montreal to beat Hamilton in order to secure a playoff spot. If Ray can't play, then thirdyear pro Trevor Harris will make his first CFL start. It's been a difficult season for Ottawa (2-15), but the expansion franchise's first CFL win was an 18-17 home decision over Toronto on July 18. The Argos are the only team yet to beat the RedBlacks this year.

Pick: Toronto


B.C. (9-8) has secured a playoff berth, although whether it's in the East or West Division must still be determined. Regardless, the Lions don't want to head into the postseason riding a twogame losing streak following last weekend's 37-3 loss to Edmonton. Linebacker Solomon Elimimian had 12 tackles to boost his season total to 137, breaking the CFL single-season mark of 130. Calgary (14-3) has first place already clinched and therefore rushing leader Jon Cornish (1,082 yards) won't play.

Pick: B.C.


Quarterback Darian Durant returned to the practice field for Saskatchewan (9-8), but veteran Kerry Joseph starts against Edmonton (12-5). The Riders have clinched a playoff berth yet all they know for sure is they'll open the postseason on the road.

But having dropped five straight, the defending Grey Cup champions desperately need to go into the playoffs on a positive note.

The Eskimos have cemented second, so backup Matt Nichols starts ahead of incumbent Mike Reilly while running back John White also sits.

Pick: Saskatchewan

Last week: 3-1 Overall: 53-24

Associated Graphic

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Jonathan Crompton is 8-1 since becoming the starter despite a 59-per-cent completion average and almost as many interceptions (eight) as touchdowns (10).


Predators embarrass lifeless Leafs
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

TORONTO -- Give the in-arena music man credit for his good timing.

With the Toronto Maple Leafs down 4-0 and the Nashville Predators playing them into the ground, over the Air Canada Centre sound system blared the Tragically Hip with a few thoughts.

"Everything is bleak," Gord Downie warbled. "It's the middle of the night."

It wasn't. It was actually early. But some fans began streaming out of the arena nonetheless. Others booed softly. Most simply sat on their hands.

What the departed ones missed was what became one of the most lopsided games in franchise history.

This was Game 19 of what's been a very curious season for the Leafs, one in which they've be more inconsistent than any other team in the league.

What's clear, however, is this is a group that knows how to lose. Including getting thumped 9-2 by the Preds on Tuesday, the Leafs have been embarrassed with a capital 'E' in five of their eight losses this season.

In each case, they've looked completely unprepared.

They haven't showed up. They haven't showed any resolved after getting down early.

A couple of these losses you can attribute to better opposition. Pittsburgh in the second game of the year? Okay, it happens. The Bruins? Sure.

But two of those spectacular losses have come against the Coyotes and Sabres in the last couple weeks.

Then there was Tuesday, which was a whole new type of bad. And these outings are happening so often it's becoming absurd.

Nashville is off to a terrific start, so we can't lump them in with the strugglers, but there's a trend here for the Leafs. And playing like this goes back well beyond this season.

"We were playing as individuals and those are the things that you can't do," coach Randy Carlyle said. "It's a team game."

Sorry, that was about the Buffalo game.

"You have to support the puck in all three zones, you have to stay structured, and we lost our structure," Carlyle said.

So was that one.

The thing is, you can transplant the quotes from game to game when the Leafs lose because the explanations don't change. They don't "compete," they don't play with structure, and they play as individuals.

Against teams that do do those things - like the Preds - Toronto looks absolutely terrible.

The player meting out the beating to start this night was one Taylor Beck, a fourth-liner who before Tuesday had only four career goals.

Thanks to the Leafs, the St. Catharines, Ont., native now is up to six.

Along the way, quite a few of the actual locals didn't play well. Jake Gardiner and Dion Phaneuf were exhibits A and B on the first two goals, by which point - 10 minutes into the game - it felt like the night was already over.

Because it was Beck doing some of the damage, we could trot out the old truism about a local kid who grew up a Leafs fan came back to haunt them.

Or we could pick through the ashes of the brouhaha over Phil Kessel not talking to the media after the loss to the Sabres.


These are the sort of silly things filling notebooks of late given the home side has been hard to pin down and harder to make interesting, especially after efforts - using the term loosely - like Tuesday's.

The reality is that with each game it becomes clearer what the Leafs are: a mediocre team in mediocre times, waiting for - and desperately in need of - a facelift.

At best, they could ride a strong power play (which was horrid in this one, but never mind) and good goaltending (ditto) to an 85- to 90-point season and hope that's somehow enough.

Even if it works, it doesn't make a lot of sense.

In defence of Brendan Shanahan, he was only hired in April and this is a mess so big that it will take the new president a long time to clean up.

He's preached patience - and fair enough given all the rash mistakes made by Leafs executives in the past - but surely the dustpan has to come out soon.

Some of the garbage has been ripe and waiting for a while.

Associated Graphic

Nashville Predator Derek Roy scores on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier on Tuesday.


Riders and Eskimos gear up for a ground war
The Canadian Press
Saturday, November 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

REGINA -- The identity of the Saskatchewan Roughriders' offence will not change, regardless who starts at quarterback.

"The main ingredient in our offence is the same as it always has been - running the ball," said running back Anthony Allen.

"That's what gets everything going. It opens up everything else in our offence, so we have to stick to that moving forward."

The Riders will have Kerry Joseph under centre for the fourth consecutive game Sunday when they take on the Edmonton Eskimos in the West semi-final at Commonwealth Stadium.

Saskatchewan has used three starters at quarterback since Darian Durant suffered a torn elbow tendon on Sept. 7. But no matter who has replaced him, the team's rushing game has been strong.

The Riders posted the third-best rushing offence in the CFL this season and averaged 132 yards a game. Allen led the club with 930 yards on the ground, second to league leader Jon Cornish of Calgary, who had 1,082.

The first-year tailback likely would have eclipsed the 1,000yard milestone had he not missed two of the final three regular-season games.

With a healthy Allen running behind a solid offensive line, the Riders are poised to keep the pressure on against the host Eskimos. Saskatchewan tallied 194 rushing yards when these teams met a week ago in the regular-season finale at Mosaic Stadium, a game the Riders won 24-17.

Allen led the way with a gamehigh 81 yards on 13 carries while newcomer Steven Miller provided 71 yards on 11 rushes.

"I go in there and I wear them down, I break them down and make guys tired," Allen explained in a recent interview. "And then Steve can come in and slash through them and take off for 30 or 40 yards, maybe farther than that. It's definitely good for both of us having some fresh legs in there to change it up a bit."

However, the Riders' strength in running the ball could play into the hands of the two remaining teams in the West. The Eskimos and the Calgary Stampeders were among the top three run defences in the CFL, with the Eskimos ranked second with 96 yards allowed per contest.

Calgary was nearly as stingy with 99 rushing yards allowed.

"[Edmonton] has a great defence and because it'll be the fourth time playing them this year ... we're both very familiar with each other," Allen said. "It's going to be a war out there."

The Eskimos are no slouches when it comes to pounding the ball on the ground. Just ask Riders linebacker Brian Peters, who had a first-hand look at Edmonton's running attack.

The last time the Riders visited Edmonton (Sept. 26), the Eskimos rushed for 300 yards, led by John White's 192-yard effort. Quarterback Mike Reilly also broke the 100-yard mark in that game.

"That's a shot to your pride," Peters said. "When you don't play to your expectation and your pride kicks in and that game left a sour taste in our mouths. We're more than ready to get rid of it and put in a better effort."

Edmonton was second over all in rushing yards per game (137) and third in passing yards (246).

Associated Graphic

Roughriders QB Seth Doege hands off to Anthony Allen during last week's win over the Eskimos.


Last-minute TD lifts Lions over Fins
Detroit quarterback Stafford saves the day with 11-yard touchdown pass to running back Riddick with only 29 seconds remaining
The Associated Press
Monday, November 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

DETROIT -- Matthew Stafford scrambled to his left and threw on the run toward the back of the end zone - hardly an ideal scenario on third down in the final minute.

Then again, nothing has come easy for the Detroit Lions lately. Yet they keep on winning.

Stafford's 11-yard touchdown pass to Theo Riddick with 29 seconds remaining lifted the Lions to a 20-16 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. It was Detroit's fourth-straight victory, and the past three have been by a combined six points, all with fourth-quarter comebacks.

"I just love that feeling. It's a good feeling for a quarterback to have the ball in his hands at the end of the game," Stafford said.

"By no means are we playing perfect, but we're finding ways to win games."

Calvin Johnson had seven catches for 113 yards and a touchdown in his first game back from an ankle injury, and the Lions (7-2) remained atop the NFC North. The Dolphins (5-4) scored a touchdown in the third quarter after they blocked a Detroit field goal attempt and returned it deep into Lions territory. Miami's Ryan Tannehill threw for 215 yards, but it was Stafford who made the final big play, snapping a pass to a sliding Riddick in the back left corner of the end zone.

Miami took a 16-13 lead with 4 minutes 19 seconds remaining on a 20-yard field goal by Caleb Sturgis. The Lions had to punt, but they forced Miami to do the same, and Stafford still had 3:13 left when Detroit took over on its 26.

Stafford completed his first five passes of the drive. On third down from the Miami 27. Stafford found Golden Tate for a completion ruled a first down and upheld on video review, bringing the Lions even closer to the end zone.

Finally, on third down from the 11, Stafford threw to Riddick, the 5-foot-9 running back who slipped behind Reshad Jones in the end zone.

"We've been in that situation so many times," said Johnson, who played for the first time since Oct. 5. "We have a core group of guys that have been on the team over the last four years. We've been in those situations time in, time out where we come back and win."

Detroit squandered an early 10-0 lead and fell behind after yet another kicking mishap. Ahead 10-6 in the third quarter, Matt Prater's 42-yard attempt was blocked by Earl Mitchell. Dion Jordan's 58-yard return put the ball at the Detroit three. Tannehill threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace.

The Lions outgained Miami 121-1 in building their early lead.

Detroit's early touchdown came when Stafford found Johnson deep over the middle in single coverage.

Associated Graphic

The Detroit Lions' Theo Riddick, bottom, catches a fourth-quarter touchdown pass in front of Reshad Jones of the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in Detroit. This was Detroit's fourth straight victory, and the past three have been by a combined six points, all with fourth-quarter comebacks.


Djokovic steamrolls Wawrinka, extends indoor streak
The Associated Press
Thursday, November 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

LONDON -- Top-ranked Novak Djokovic withstood an early assault from Stan Wawrinka before crushing the third-seeded Swiss 6-3, 6-0 at the ATP World Tour Finals on Wednesday to close in on the year-end No. 1 spot.

Djokovic will be guaranteed to finish at the top of the rankings for the third time in four years if he wins against Tomas Berdych in his final round-robin match at the elite tournament.

Djokovic, who extended his unbeaten indoor run to 29 matches, now has two wins in Group A, while Berdych posted his first victory against debutant Marin Cilic.

Wawrinka, who had dominated the Serbian en route to his Australian Open triumph this year, opened confidently, putting Djokovic on the defensive by dictating from the baseline. Helped by some superb backhands, he converted his third break point in a tight first game that lasted seven minutes, then held for a 2-0 lead after hitting an excellent crosscourt pass.

But Wawrinka's momentum didn't last long. While Djokovic stayed focused, his opponent's game suddenly went missing as the Serbian won the next five games - a run that included 11 consecutive points. Wawrinka saved a set point in the eighth game with a good passing shot.

But Djokovic never looked back after that, losing only seven points in the second set, as Wawrinka was overwhelmed by the sheer pace of the two-time defending champion.

Berdych, who lost his opening match to Wawrinka, recovered to stay in contention for a spot in the semi-finals by beating Cilic 6-3, 6-1. Following his straight-sets loss, the Czech looked better against Cilic, hitting with accuracy and serving well on the big points.

"I was really trying to focus on my tennis and my game, trying to go point by point. I think today was more fighting and getting through. It's good to have a win and it always counts," said Berdych, who is competing at the season finale for the fifth time.

Berdych has never won his opening match of the round-robin stage - and has never lost his second match.

"It's not my first year. I have the experience of losing the first match in the past and I know how to come back. I think that was the biggest difference today," he said.

He broke twice in the first set as the U.S. Open champion - who is now 0-2 - struggled with his serve.

Cilic, who has beaten Berdych twice this year - at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open - got off to the worst possible start as he dropped serve immediately. The hard-hitting Croatian produced some good winners but was inconsistent throughout, failing to convert any of his six break points.

"Let's put it this way: With the way he played, he would never win the U.S. Open," Berdych said.

Associated Graphic

Novak Djokovic's ATP World Tour Finals win over Stan Wawrinka extended his unbeaten indoor run to 29 matches.


Friday, November 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

An American beauty abroad

Little Venezuelan girls are now even more inclined to grow up to be enthusiastic supporters of state intervention in the country's economy. There's a long list of subsidized products - oil and many foods and consumers staples - and for others, the government decrees what the prices should be. And this holiday season, joining the list is America's plastic sweetheart, Barbie.

President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the toy be a centrepiece of this year's "Operation Merry Christmas," an annual attempt to stymie speculators who put the squeeze on parents desperate to please their little ones, the Associated Press reports.

Dolls such as the "I Can Be Cheerleader" Barbie and "Spa to Fab" Barbie are flying off the shelves for as little as 250 bolivars, or about $2.50 (U.S.) at the widely used black market conversion rate.

The move is unlikely to sit well with some: Barbie is seen by leftists as a training tool for capitalist consumerism, and Mr. Maduro's mentor, the late president Hugo Chavez, once denounced "the stupidity of Barbie." Feminists, meanwhile slam Barbie for presenting an unrealistic image of womanhood - though in Venezuela, they're fighting a pretty uphill battle on that one: The country is the undisputed queen of the international beauty pageant circuit with a whopping 21 wins to boast of.

If you're in the market for a website domain name, you'll be interested to hear that about 400 of them have just come back on the market after Michael Bloomberg instructed his lawyers to abandon a purchase last week, as Reuters reported.

Hard to imagine why the billionaire and former New York mayor would want all those names in the first place. Apparently Mr. Bloomberg was keen to protect his legacy and reputation, and so it's no surprise that and appeared on the list.

But it seems his lawyers were pretty, well, proactive when it came to covering all the bases. Among the domain names they had on their shopping list were,, and, according to an online registry.

It must have been some brainstorming session when Mr. Bloomberg's lawyers sat down to try and cover all the bases to come up with these names:

Bloomberg-is-a-loser - have we got that?

Yeah, got it already. What about bloomberg-is-a-wieiner?

No, we haven't, put that one down. Also bloomberg-moron, and bloomberg-is-an-idiot, and bloomberg-is-an-ass - they're pretty obvious.

Goldman anoints new partners

Twitchy Goldman Sachs bankers waited eagerly by their phones on Wednesday for a call from boss Lloyd Blankfein or president Gary Cohn, as the pair informed 78 lucky employees worldwide that they had won a coveted partnership.

The Wall Street Journal reported the 78 names formed the second-smallest of the biennial graduating classes since the bank went public in 1999.

Candidates are thoroughly vetted through Goldman's "crossruffing" process, Business Insider explains, during which lengthy conversations are held to discuss the value each has added to the firm, and the degree to which they embody Goldman's "Business Principles." Few details of the secretive process are known.

Those who pass through the initial screening move on to the next level, for the evening wear and swimsuit competitions.

Partners will take home a base salary of about $900,000 a year, before bonuses, which can reach multiples of that.

Nice work, if you can get it.

Bankers are such romantics

"Don't tell my wife this, but being made partner was the greatest moment of my life."

Former Goldman Sachs partner, speaking to eFinancial News

PWYC money managers

Investors have always grumbled about the fees they pay to money managers, and one of those compensation structures has been getting a lot of attention in Canada lately as regulators debate whether to ban the trailing commissions that are an integral part of financial advisers' incomes.

Now, an online investment house that threw open its (virtual) doors this week is trying to appeal to that sentiment. Aspiration, an L.A.-based based money manager, is more or less a busker in the financial world with its pay-what-you-can (PWYC) fees, as MarketWatch reports.

"At Aspiration, you decide what to pay us. No, we're not joking. And we're not crazy (we hope)."

Jay-Z and champagne

Superstar rapper Jay-Z last week followed in the footsteps of the late Victor Kiam. Though he's not buying a shaver maker, he decided he liked obscure champagne brand Armand de Brignac so much, he bought the company.

The story goes back to 2006, as Quartz explains, after a snub by the makers of Cristal, the hiphoppers' brand of choice. In an interview with The Economist at the time, then head of the label Frédéric Rouzaud expressed his ambivalence about how Cristal had been associated with the rap set.

"What can we do? We can't forbid people from buying it. I'm sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business."

From that point, Jay-Z swore off Cristal on a matter of principle and switched his allegiance to Armand de Brignac. Well, partly on principle, anyway.

Sovereign Brands was pleased to pay him millions in cash and equity in the company to promote the brand, and now that it's hot, he's taking full ownership.

Fed, Bank of Canada to weigh inflation readings
Monday, November 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

Inflation is still a worry for policy makers on both sides of the 49th parallel. It's just not the same worry.

Economists expect that this week's consumer price index (CPI) reports for both Canada and the United States (Thursday for the U.S., Friday for Canada) will show small dips in prices in October, pretty much entirely owing to tumbling gasoline prices.

Despite the monthly declines, economists expect that Canada's year-over-year CPI inflation rate held steady at 2 per cent in October. The so-called core inflation rate (excluding the most volatile components, such as many foods and fuels) is also expected to be unchanged, at 2.1 per cent.

In the United States, economists expect that the total inflation rate held steady at 1.7 per cent, but they believe the core rate might have dipped onetenth to 1.6 per cent.

These steady-as-she-goes numbers aren't the kind that should rattle consumers one way or the other; over all, inflation in North America is in a reasonably tame and comfortable zone, a statistical rec room. We're safely removed from the deflation fears of the Great Recession and financial crisis, still further removed from the distant memories of the double-digit inflation of the early 1980s.

Nevertheless, inflation's next move is critical to central bankers, as they determine when to pull the trigger on their first postrecession interest-rate increases - likely some time next year for both countries, but the shifting sands beneath the economy could still have something to say about that.

The Bank of Canada's monetary policy is legislatively bound to the pursuit of a CPI inflation target of 2 per cent. Yes, it's a flexible target; the bank talks about it as the midpoint of its target range of 1 to 3 per cent.

But normally, once inflation starts rising above 2 per cent (especially the core rate, which the central bank focuses on as the more reliable indicator of the inflation trend), rumblings of rate increases can be expected to begin.

Interest rates are the primary instrument central banks use to nip inflationary pressures in the bud.

That's precisely what inflation did this year. Yet the Bank of Canada has made it abundantly clear that it's not about to let the current rate dictate its policy leanings. It doesn't believe the number has much staying power, and it's determined not to get all aflutter over a temporary blip above its target. The economy still has too much excess capacity to generate sustained inflation pressures, it says, and the inflation rise largely reflects the decline in the Canadian dollar and short-term spikes in things such as meat and telecommunications products, the impact of which will fade over time.

Still, with overall inflation poised for its seventh straight month north of 2 per cent and the core rate set for its third straight month, the temporary blip is looking less temporary.

Unexpectedly high inflation numbers in October would raise new questions about the central bank's resolve.

In the United States, the worry is in the other direction. Thanks to a surging U.S. dollar and tumbling energy and commodity prices, both total and core inflation have been falling since the spring.

The strengthening U.S. economy has convinced the U.S. Federal Reserve Board to likely start raising interest rates by the middle of next year, but the Fed, too, aims to keep inflation close to 2 per cent (though it's not a formal target for the U.S. central bank). The farther inflation falls away from the target, the more questions arise about whether the Fed might have to delay the start of its rate cycle.

Of course, the Canadian and U.S. inflation concerns are small potatoes relative to the massive Russets that are surfacing in Europe.

The European Union reported Friday that year-over-year inflation in the euro zone was a puny 0.4 per cent in October, up only slightly from 0.3 per cent in September. Core inflation, meanwhile, slipped one-tenth to 0.7 per cent.

Europe is still dancing dangerously close to all-out deflation, a notoriously toxic economic state. The European Central Bank may soon have no choice but to jump whole-hog into quantitative easing, aggressively buying assets to inject large quantities of funds into financial markets as the U.S. Fed has done over the past several years, in an all-out effort to turn the tide.

This week's North American CPI reports don't have nearly the same edge-of-your-seat dramatic potential.

Still, inflation (or lack thereof) has never been far from the minds of economists and policy makers ever since the financial crisis and Great Recession. The gyrations in these even apparently tame inflation rates could have considerable implications for the trajectory of interest rates. They are sure to be dissected by the experts, and the markets, with that in mind.

Associated Graphic

Governor Stephen Poloz and the Bank of Canada believe that Canada's relatively high inflation will be short-lived, and have said it's not enough for the bank to consider raising interest rates.



Wednesday, November 19, 2014


A chart that appeared in Monday's Report on Business showing the change in consumer price inflation in Europe, the United States and Canada contained inaccurate data. The correct chart is available online here:

Prison time can stop banks' bad behaviour
Saturday, November 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2


What was most striking about the foreign exchange scandal that exposed more sleazy behaviour among the world's biggest banks was not the size of the fines - $4.3-billion (U.S.) or the crass chat room banter among the traders as they plotted their rip-off schemes; it was the timing of the sleaze. The boys (the transcripts didn't reveal any females) were in full currency-rigging mode even after another bank scandal, the Libor interest rate stitch-up, was making page-one news.

The Libor scandal, in which banks were hauling in illicit profits by inflating or deflating the London interbank offered rate, was well known by mid-2012 and certainly an open secret several years earlier. But the firings and enormous fines that went with the settlements obviously had zero deterrent value. The trading floor controls promised by the banks turned out to be wholly inadequate. No wonder the currency traders, defiantly and arrogantly, were able to keep their scams intact for so long.

I, for one, do not think the manipulation of the daily 4 p.m. London currency "fix" was a hanging offence, since these greed heads were not risking the health of the banks that employed them (unlike the 2008 subprime disaster, which almost destroyed the global banking system). But it did prove that the culture of corruption in the banks is a) apparently fully intact in spite of the CEO protests to the contrary b) immune to fines and c) tolerated by shareholders even though the fines, in effect, are paid by them.

So, if fines and the odd firing are no deterrent to bad bank behaviour, what is? The obvious answer is shareholder rage. The trouble is, shareholders are not enraged. They have not grabbed pitchforks and torches and stormed CEOs' houses when the multibillion-dollar fines are paid to secure settlements. Instead, they meekly accept the fines as if they are a cost of doing business, a sleaze tax, if you like.

In some cases, the bank shares actually rise when the fines are announced. The reason? Because in each of the settlements, the fines could have been far worse and, in no case, have the penalties threatened to put the banks out of business. The era of destroying terminally vice-ridden companies is, apparently, long gone. The last time that happened was in 2002, when Arthur Andersen, one of the Big Five accounting firms, was convicted of obstruction of justice for shredding documents in the Enron case. Some 85,000 employees eventually lost their jobs. Regulators and the governments that employ them no longer have the appetite for collateral damage in the form of massive job destruction.

So if fines don't work, and regulators and government prosecutors won't put the most corrupt companies out of business, what is needed to clean up the banks? That's easy. Toss the bastards in jail or close the offending individual bank business for a few months or a year.

That would hurt. UBS, which got hit with U.S., British and Swiss fines for currency-market rigging, has almost 11 per cent of the $5.3-trillion-a-day foreign exchange market.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, whose fix-it costs to taxpayers around the world totalled trillions of dollars, not a single bank CEO has been sent to the slammer to contemplate his bank's sins, even though doing so would be an instant crowd pleaser. To be sure, a lot of lower-level bank managers and traders have been pushed out the door, with or without their bonuses, and a few got hit with criminal charges (such charges are possible in the currency-rigging case). But that was pretty much it. Executives at BNP Paribas were the only ones who were truly scared and even they managed to escape.

In June, the bank itself, but not any executives themselves, pleaded guilty to criminal charges of violating sanctions imposed against Sudan, Iran and Cuba. It paid a fine of $8.9-billion and quietly terminated a few employees. Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, who has been a member of the bank's executive committee since 2002, and CEO since 2011, kept his job.

Unless senior executives are put on criminal trial or, at a minimum, marched out the door in shame, shorn of their lavish bonuses and corporate golf-club memberships, the rotten culture of the banks will not change. Why would it? The traders in the currency scandal who worked for HSBC, Citi, UBS and other biggies decided that the chances of them getting caught were minimal and kept going. And if they were to get caught, it would be the bank - that is, the shareholders - not them, who would be on the hook for fines worth fortunes.

The bank fines are getting so big and frequent that you can be forgiven for suspecting a mutually beneficial racket is in progress. The banks pay big fines for settlements that leave their businesses and executive ranks largely intact. The regulators typically pocket some of the fines and pad out government treasuries. Shareholders are the main losers. To break this absurd cycle, and to encourage banks to operate morally, a little prison time would do the trick.

Canadian urban GDP study shows why analysis is long overdue
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

Canada's economy has become an increasingly urban one, but its statistical analysis of that urbanization hasn't entirely kept pace. Now it looks like Statistics Canada is working on taking its granddaddy of economic measures, gross domestic product, to the cities.

The national statistical agency on Monday published what it called an "experimental" analysis of GDP by urban centre, breaking down the data across 33 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) from 2001 to 2009. Though Statscan isn't saying so, the study has the appearance of a test drive of a more detailed level of GDP analysis, which in its current form only digs as deep as the provincial level, on a quarterly basis.

The new paper, by Statscan economic analysts Mark Brown and Luke Rispoli, vividly illustrates why city-level GDP analysis is long overdue. It found that 72 per cent of Canada's economic activity occurs in the country's urban centres. More than half of Canada's GDP is produced in just six cities - Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa-Gatineau. Toronto alone makes up an astonishing 19 per cent of Canada's economy.

"Toronto accounts for less than 1 per cent of Canada's land mass, but has an economy that is larger than that of every province except Ontario and Quebec," the paper said.

Despite Toronto's dominance, the shift of economic activity in Canada, from the East to the West was glaring at the city level. Statscan said that from 2001 to 2009, Calgary and Edmonton accounted for nearly as much GDP growth as Toronto - even though their combined population was less than half of Toronto's. Eight of the nine census metropolitan areas tracked by Statscan west of Manitoba increased their share of national GDP in the period.

Figures on a per capita basis (i.e. per person) also illustrate how urban GDP has shifted from manufacturing-driven centres (especially in Ontario) to resource-driven centres.

"Of the CMAs in the top 10 in terms of GDP per capita in 2001, Kitchener-Waterloo, Halifax, Windsor and Oshawa were no longer in the group by 2009, replaced by St. John's, Saskatoon, Victoria and Vancouver," the report said.

"Of the nine CMAs with 25 per cent or more of their output in manufacturing at the start of the period, six fell in rank, all of them in Ontario."

(Regina had the top GDP per capita in 2009, by the way, at $65,404, followed by Calgary at $61,246 and Edmonton at $59,941. Toronto was seventh in 2009, down from third in 2001.)

Of course, there are problems with these data, not the least of which is their best-before date. Statscan's experimental analysis stops at 2009 - fully five years ago. The numbers tell us nothing at all about how Canada's urban economies have evolved in the post-crisis economic recovery, a period that has been marked with some pretty substantial upheaval. Economic numbers predating the recovery are, frankly, ancient history.

It's also problematic that the end point for the analysis is 2009 - a year that marked the depths of the Great Recession. Any numbers specific to 2009 would obviously reflect some abnormal economic conditions that would distort longer-term trends in the evolution of the country's urban economies. It was, to say the least, an awkward year on which to bookend the data.

Still, the "experiment" presents a positive direction for Statscan to take its GDP analysis, potentially marking a starting point for a new and valuable conversation on the nature of Canada's economy. The cities are, clearly, at the heart of the nation's economic activity. Canada's major urban cores account for three-quarters of the nation's jobs, and have generated more than 90 per cent of the new jobs created this year. Yet they also have a higher unemployment rate than the nation as a whole. Understanding what makes urban economies tick is critical to understanding Canada's economic, labour and demographic forces.

One of economists' biggest criticisms of Ottawa's cancellation of the mandatory long-form census is that it has reduced visibility of economic trends at the community level, where government policy and services can be most effectively directed. Increased granularity of the GDP data wouldn't replace everything that has been lost from the death of the long-form census (indeed, not even close), but it could certainly help fill some important gaps in understanding income, employment and productivity trends, and in a relatively timely manner.

Of course, as with the longform census, there would need to be sufficient political will and budget for Statscan to take this from academic exercise to routine reality. But we've seen a glimpse of the possibilities and the importance of city-level GDP data in analyzing an increasingly urban national economy.

Associated Graphic

A Statscan study shows Calgary had the second-highest GDP per capita in Canada in 2009, following Regina.


We G20 leaders must act as one to keep global recovery on track
Friday, November 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

The leaders of the Group of 20 economies will soon arrive in Australia for the Brisbane Summit.

Six years ago, the impacts of the global financial crisis reverberated throughout the world. While those crisis years are behind us, we still struggle with its legacy of debt and joblessness.

The challenge for G20 leaders is clear - to lift growth, boost jobs and strengthen financial resilience. We need to encourage demand to ward off the deflation that threatens the major economies of Europe.

The managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, has urged us to find new momentum with more growth, more jobs, better growth and better jobs.

This means creating the right conditions for the private sector to succeed. It means having the willingness to use investment in infrastructure to boost growth.

We cannot let recovery stall, which is why I will be asking G20 leaders in Brisbane to do more.

At the 2011 G20 summit, leaders discussed the necessity of political will. Leaders understood that the G20 is at its most effective when we commit to action together and when we exert our collective political will to deliver on those commitments.

In 2014, we have worked toward an ambitious shared objective - to lift G20 gross domestic product by at least an additional two percentage points above the current trajectory by 2018. To achieve this goal, G20 members have identified almost 1,000 new measures in their domestic growth strategies.

Over the course of 2014, G20 members have challenged each other to find reforms that matter and that will deliver the biggest impacts.

While there will remain a role for accommodative monetary policy, the G20 must adopt the sort of structural economic reform that drives long-term growth. These reforms are difficult, but for those economies that pursue them, growth has begun to return. This is true of both Britain and the United States.

The fiscal stimulus provided by the G20 during the global financial crisis helped prevent the collapse of the world economy. Since then, some governments have exhausted their fiscal capacity. New sources of investment must be found. There is a big role here for the private sector.

Encouraging greater levels of investment in every G20 nation is essential to address the $1-trillion annual infrastructure investment gap.

In September, G20 nations agreed to establish a Global Infrastructure Initiative - a multiyear agenda to improve investment environments, plan and prepare infrastructure projects better, and improve long-term finance.

We recognize the need to address youth unemployment and are working to boost workplace participation, because these issues are critical to economic growth. In Brisbane this week, we'll consider setting ourselves a goal of reducing the current gap in work force participation between men and women in G20 economies by 25 per cent by 2025. Narrowing the gender gap by this amount would bring more than 100 million additional women into the work force worldwide.

Economic growth needs to be built on sound foundations. Building the resilience of the financial sector has been at the heart of the G20's work since the global financial crisis. It is now working to protect taxpayers from having to bail out globally important banks, make derivatives markets safer and improve oversight of the shadow banking sector - the financial institutions that act like banks, but without the same level of supervision.

The outcomes of the recent "stress test" of Europe's banks showed that we're on the right path and that our actions are making a difference.

Now is the time to draw a line under the global financial crisis. With a membership that is responsible for almost 85 per cent of global GDP and three-quarters of world trade, the G20 can play a crucial role in doing that. But we will only succeed if leaders make use of their collective influence and capacity for action, and implement the necessary domestic reforms to boost confidence.

The G20 exists because it can deal with big problems that are beyond the capacity of nation states to deal with individually.

Reaching agreement on how to deal with such problems is a test of the strength of the G20 partnership.

When Australia assumed the G20 presidency a year ago, our aim was for G20 leaders to come together in Brisbane prepared and equipped to deliver real actions and real economic reforms that would make a real and measurable difference to the global economy and to the peoples of the world.

When the summit concludes, I trust leaders will have agreed to a body of work that addresses the fundamental issues facing the global economy, and that commits each of us to action at home.

Tony Abbott is Prime Minister of Australia.

Associated Graphic

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott will once again ask leaders at the Brisbane summit for help in growing the G20's gross domestic product by two perecntage points by 2018.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Miners scramble amid price drop
Monday, November 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

Gold's rapid drop threatens to weed out the weaker players, pressuring high-cost producers and setting the stage for mines to be shuttered.

"If the price stays below $1,200 for any appreciable length of time, then you will see mine closures or at least mines shrunk down considerably," Goldcorp Inc.'s chief executive Chuck Jeannes said in an interview.

The precious metal lost about $100 (U.S.) an ounce over the past two weeks due to monetarypolicy decisions in the United States and Japan that sent the U.S. dollar soaring. Gold sank as low as $1,137.40 an ounce before recovering to $1,178.50 on Friday.

Miners that spend more than $1,100 to produce an ounce of gold are feeling the pinch.

Iamgold Corp. is racing to slash expenses. The Toronto-based company, with mines in Canada, South America and West Africa, spent nearly $1,200 to produce an ounce of gold in the first quarter. That was whittled down to $1,136 in the following quarter.

"If the gold price drops below $1,100 per ounce, the company will have difficulty generating free cash flow," said Chris Mancini, an analyst with the Gabelli Gold Fund.

Iamgold says it is taking steps to cushion the blow. The company said it could use some of the proceeds from a recent asset sale to buy lower cost mines and reduce expenses.

"It is an opportunity for us to bring in better-performing assets that have lower costs and be able to be more selective on what mines we run," Iamgold's chief executive Steve Letwin said in an interview.

"We are going to be aggressively cutting. We are going to get down below $1,100 an ounce, for sure." Similarly, Kinross Gold Corp. says it has options to protect itself and is not afraid to make more tough decisions. The company said it would not expand its Tasiast gold mine in Mauritania if lower gold prices persist. Tasiast, which has suffered multiple writedowns, is more expensive to operate than the rest of Kinross' mines.

Canadian companies are in a better position than their South African rivals. Harmony Gold Mining Co. Ltd. spent $1,245 to produce an ounce, while DRDGold Ltd. spent $1,237 per ounce, according to their latest quarterly reports.

Kinross and the world's biggest gold producer, Barrick Gold Corp., have undertaken some of the most severe cost-cutting measures in the industry to improve their balance sheets. They have cut their dividends, recorded huge writedowns, suspended expensive operations and sold assets to shore up their cash position.

"We are watching our balance sheet like a hawk," Kinross chief executive Paul Rollinson said in an interview.

Mr. Rollinson said that the slump in oil prices and a weaker currency in Russia, where a third of Kinross' production is based, has helped. "One thing doesn't move in isolation. The ruble has dramatically impacted our Russian cost structure," he said.

After two years of tumult, Barrick has emerged as the lowestcost senior producer. Along with Eldorado Gold Corp. and Goldcorp, it has some of the lowest expenses in the industry, producing gold at $834 an ounce.

The drop in gold has also exposed miners to new threats from credit rating agencies. S&P warned early in November that if gold settled below $1,200 that companies including Barrick, Newmont Mining Corp. and Allied Nevada Gold were vulnerable to downgrades.

Barrick has said it is focused on lowering its net debt to $7-billion from $10-billion. A company spokesman said Barrick "continues to have a driving focus on further improving performance and finding cost efficiencies across our portfolio."

Gold miners have seen their market value plunge as bullion has lost about 40 per cent since its record high in the fall of 2011.

Barrick shares, which crossed $54 (Canadian) then, now trade at $13.79. Kinross shares, which were at $16 then, now trade at $2.84. Goldcorp touched $54.91 and is now worth $22.68.

In the United States, Allied Nevada Gold hit $43.71 (U.S.) a share then and is now at $1.05. Newmont reached $70.49 then and trades at $19.19 now.

Associated Graphic

Mining trucks and machinery operate in the Fimiston Open Pit, known as the Super Pit, in Kalgoorlie, Australia. The Super Pit is managed by Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines Ltd., jointly owned by Barrick, the world's largest gold producer.


Club Coffee files competition complaint against Keurig
Thursday, November 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

Club Coffee LP has filed a Competition Bureau complaint against coffee giant Keurig Green Mountain Inc. over alleged anticompetitive practices that it says drive up prices and limit consumer choices.

Toronto-based Club Coffee says five other companies - including rival coffee roasters - have joined the complaint that marks a widening of the battle against the Vermont company that controls 90 per cent of the Canadian market for single-serve coffee pods.

Club Coffee's chief executive officer John Pigott said since Keurig lost the patent on the shape of its so-called K Cups in 2012, the company has used other tactics to maintain market dominance, including requiring retailers to sign exclusive deals and telling consumers its coffee machines will not work with rivals' pods.

Keurig and its representatives did not respond to requests for an interview on Wednesday.

Club Coffee, founded in 1906, is owned by privately held food conglomerate Morrison Lamothe Inc. It is Canada's largest roaster and packager of grocery store coffee, and a major supplier to cafes and coffee shops in Canada and the United States.

In an interview, Mr. Pigott said retailers and distributors have told him they cannot sell his coffee for fear of losing the ability to carry Keurig brewers or coffee.

"If you have a cup of coffee with them and try to pitch them, they warn you, this is what's going to happen to me.

One [distributor] last week said their price should have been this and now it's this, and that's because he got caught selling our product," Mr. Pigott said.

"There is a chill in the marketplace."It's a chill Mr. Pigott said persists even though the pods of Club Coffee and some other companies will work in Keurig machines. Coffee made by Keurig, which recently raised prices by 9 per cent, sells for 40 per cent more than other brands, Mr. Pigott said.

The Competition Bureau complaint mirrors allegations Club Coffee made in a lawsuit filed in September against Keurig in Ontario. None of the allegations have been proven and Keurig has yet to comment or file a statement of defence.

Competition lawyers say it is unusual to file a private civil complaint before formally complaining to the Competition Bureau and to widely publicize the complaint. But there may be a strategy behind the moves, some say, as publicity could persuade some retailers to push back against making exclusive deals with Keurig.

A spokesman for the bureau said it will look into any complaint submitted by six residents, provided they provide enough information to investigate.

Club Coffee has launched a website,, which urges consumers to "fight back" against Keurig by sending letters to the Competition Bureau. The company says Keurig's market dominance is stifling innovations like Club Coffee's new coffee pods that are fully compostable.

The single-serve coffee market in Canada has more than doubled since 2012 and the brewers are in almost half of Canadian homes, according to market research consultants Mintel.

Jeff LeDrew, a coffee roaster in St. John's, wants to see his Jumping Bean coffee in Club Coffee's pods on grocery store shelves across Canada. But he fears retailers will refuse to carry his Screech and Deep Water dark roasts because Keurig claims unlicensed cups won't work in its new machines because of proprietary technology.

"The issue is important to me because I can't even get started if consumers are locked down to a sole manufacturer," said Mr.

LeDrew, who founded the company in 2005 and sells coffee at several grocery stores in Atlantic Canada, including Costco.

Club Coffee says its pods will work with Keurig machines. The Toronto company says the lids on the Keurig pods have an ink stamp that the machine reads. That stamp has been replicated by other companies, including Club Coffee, which allows their pods to be used in the Keurig machines.

Associated Graphic

Jeff LeDrew, owner of St. John's-based Jumping Bean Coffee, is part of a complaint against Keurig Green Mountain of Vermont.


Doctors, nurses urge ban on neonics
Health workers say pesticides, blamed for causing the death of bees and other insects, are a 'major threat to both nature and people'
Monday, November 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B3

A group of doctors and nurses is urging the Ontario government to ban an agricultural pesticide blamed for the deaths of bees and other insect pollinators.

The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario are placing advertisements in Toronto's subway system, warning "neonic pesticides hurt our bees and us." In the ads, a young boy is gazing sadly upon a dead bee.

Gideon Forman, executive director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, said the neonicotinoid insecticides used to grow corn, canola and other crops are a "major threat to both nature and people."

"For the first time, we've got doctors and nurses standing together and saying we've got to ban these substances. I think it's unprecedented, this level of health professionals' concern," Mr. Forman said.

The doctors' group is the campaign's main funder, with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation and Ontario Nature.

Neonics, which are temporarily banned in Europe, make the crops toxic to field pests such as worms and grubs, but also bees, butterflies and other beneficial pollinators. Farmers say neonics, which have become widely used in the past decade, are safer for people and the environment than older chemicals. The chemical companies that sell seeds coated with neonics say they are safe when used as directed.

But neonics are said to be partly to blame for the rise in bee mortality rates in several countries, worsening the effects of viruses, mites and long winters.

The Ontario government is about to unveil regulations or a permit system for the use of neonics that will go into effect next year.

Mr. Forman said the Ontario government should go further and ban the pesticides.

"Minimally there should be a moratorium for a couple years," Mr. Forman said. "But ultimately we think we need to be banning them. All the science that we've looked at ... really strongly suggest that these are very toxic to a range of pollinators." As Ontario gets set to outline the new restrictions on neonics, a coalition of agriculture groups is mounting a campaign of its own, warning new regulations on farming practices will drive farmers out of the province and reduce food production.

"An unpredictable regulatory system that responds to emotion and activist pressure is going to create an environment in this province that's going to restrict agriculture investment and growth for the industry," said Henry van Ankum, chairman of the Grain Farmers of Ontario, which is one of the groups in the coalition that includes Ontario Pork and Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association.

Ontario's Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller last month said neonics are a serious threat to bees and other pollinators, and likened the chemicals to DDT, a pesticide that was phased out in the 1970s for its devastating environmental impact.

The European Food Safety Authority said last year two neonics, acetamiprid and imidacloprid, may adversely affect the development of the human brain, and acceptable exposure levels for the chemicals should be reduced.

"Neonics are neurotoxins, so it's not surprising there could be some adverse effects for human brain development," Mr. Forman said.

But the report that caused the greatest stir was published in July of this year. A team of researchers known as the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides looked at 800 peer-reviewed studies published over 20 years and concluded the negative effects of neonics are turning up in everything from ground water to worms and birds.

"We are witnessing a threat to the productivity of our natural and farmed environment equivalent to that posed by organophosphates or DDT," said Dr. Jean-Marc Bonmatin, one of the lead authors of the report. "Far from protecting food production, the use of neonics is threatening the very infrastructure which enables it, imperilling the pollinators, habitat engineers and natural pest controllers at the heart of a functioning ecosystem."

Associated Graphic

Neonicotinoid pesticides make crops toxic to field pests such as worms and grubs, but also bees, butterflies and other beneficial pollinators.


The ad campaign

Gold miners cornered as investors pound metal
Thursday, November 6, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

Gold hit four-year lows Wednesday, imperilling producers as they run out of room to manoeuvre amid a long slump in precious metal prices.

Bullion dropped as low as $1,137.40 an ounce on Wednesday, triggering fears the yellow metal could hit $1,000 - a price that is unworkable for many miners.

The dramatic fall in gold prices comes as mining companies reported poor results for the third quarter. Kinross Gold Corp. late Wednesday reported a thirdquarter loss on tax-related expenses and reduced costs, though adjusted earnings and cash flow climbed and operating costs dropped. The company cut its capital spending plan for the year.

Previously, Yamana Gold Inc. said it lost $1-billion in the quarter and recorded a hefty impairment charge on some of its Brazilian mines. Goldcorp Inc., typically a market favourite, surprised investors with a thirdquarter loss and writedown due to lower precious metal grades at its Mexican mine. Allied Nevada Gold Corp. reported a loss and missed analyst expectations.

Battered shareholders are bracing for more pain. "Investors are pricing in $1,000 gold price," said John Ing, president of investment firm Maison Placements Canada. "They are dumping all companies."

As gold has plunged, producers have taken steps to slash costs, boost production efficiencies, and clean up their balance sheets. But now, as gold prices drop relentlessly, the fear for investors is that there is little more room for more cost cutting without slashing production outright.

This year, Barrick shares have lost 33 per cent to $12.50. Kinross is down 51 per cent to $2.27 a share. Yamana is off 58 per cent to $3.97. And shares of Iamgold Corp., which reports next week, have sunk 53 per cent to $1.75.

Gold is down 40 per cent from a record high of $1,900 in 2011. Investors are now dumping the precious metal in favour of interest-bearing assets.

Even companies that beat Wall Street expectations have been punished in the markets. Barrick Gold Corp., the world's biggest gold producer, reported a better than expected third-quarter profit and cut its costs forecasts. But its stock has fallen anyway.

On Wednesday, Kinross lowered its capital expenditures forecast to as low as $630-million from $675-million. It also said it could cost less to produce an ounce of gold for this year.

It's been a rough two years for Kinross. The company cut expenses, recorded writedowns, stopped work on a project in Ecuador and sold the South American deposit.

Kinross said it spent $919 to produce an ounce of gold in the third quarter, compared with $1,082 last year. Kinross also reduced its guidance to produce an ounce of gold this year to between $950-$990 from its previous range of $950-$1,050.

For the quarter, Kinross said it lost $4.3-million, or nil cents per share, compared with a profit of $46.9-million, or 4 cents a share last year. Excluding expenses related to a change in Chile's tax law, Kinross said it earned $70million, or 6 cents per share.

A rivalry must be earned
Despite Toronto's dominance of a thinned-out Boston squad Wednesday night, the Leafs' self-regard is out of proportion
Thursday, November 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3


When I was in Grade 2, I was safe on school property. The instant I stepped off it, I knew to do so running.

Because as soon as I was on public property, I knew Dino - true name - was going to be on top of me. Dino would wait for me every day. Once I'd left the safety of the playground, we'd begin a terrible chase. I'd make one or two or - very occasionally - three blocks away.

Then he'd catch me and deliver a slow, lazy beating. No fists; mostly slaps. Not enough to mark me up, but enough to make me feel small and ridiculous.

Occasionally, he'd chase my friend, Dave. Those were the good days - watching Dave and Dino fade off into the distance while I'd strut home in safety.

Idiotically, it never occurred to Dave or me to mount a united front. Or bring a hammer to school. This is why we're Canadian.

When I think of the Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins, I think of Dino. Dave and I are the Leafs. Dino is the Bruins. In the sad, egalitarian argot of current times, we are rivals.

Actually, the Bruins/Dino are the bully, and the Leafs/I are their victims. Neither of us feels bad about this. Not exactly. But we both know how it goes.

On Wednesday, the Leafs momentarily turned the narrative around. Toronto's overwhelming 6-1 victory puts them on equal footing with Boston in the season standings. Even writing that feels odd.

It still doesn't mean the Bruins are Toronto's "rivals." Not unless that's the same sense in which the Canadiens are their rivals. Or the Blackhawks. Or the Red Wings. Or the whole Original Six.

The Senators were their rivals until they got mediocre - like the Leafs - and now they're just another team playing in the middle of nowhere (i.e. east of Scarborough). Everyone's a Toronto rival - except the teams that exist outside the quality nexus of the Northeast. They're scrubs.

NBC even got in on the act, advertising the Toronto-Boston game as part of something called "Rivalry Night." Oh, and when will Oakland be crossing the bay on rafts to burn San Francisco to the ground? Because I'll stick around for that one.

Toronto's self-regard in this sense is out of proportion with their actual place in the hockey universe. It takes someone without a dog in the fight to point that out to us.

"We need to be ready for this game just like any other game," shrugged Bruins coach Claude Julien in the pregame, while gently sliding a glove across Toronto's face. "I don't think this game is any more special than any other game."

Some of his guys were drawn into the ultimate insult: talking about Thursday night's contest against the Canadiens.

"It's not about me against Montreal or anything like that," said famous summertime threatener Milan Lucic. "It's about playing the right way."

Which may or may not involve killing a guy at the cottage.

We've heard some hurtful things in our lives - most of them having to do with subways - but this may be the very worst.

This is coming from a guy from Vancouver. There is no greater indication of where the Leafs really stand in the order of things.

That made Wednesday night a small re-ordering of the universe.

Toronto came out looking positively Bruinian on the puck.

Dominating the boards. Attacking the puck. All the on-ice war clichés.

In the first period, Phil Kessel took advantage of a Zdeno Chara-sized hole on the left side of the Boston defence for a streaking goal. Then he did it again.

You looked down and, halfway through the second period, Toronto was up 4-0. This was the largest Toronto lead over Boston since - ball your fists and prepare to amplify your rage - Game 7.

It's a small exorcism, more emphasis on "small" than religion.

In Toronto, Boston paid for the sin of triumphalism. Given their record against the Leafs, who can blame them? More importantly, they suffered for having a tired, thinned-out squad.

Kessel was remarkable again, and all it did was remind you of how poor he's been against his former team up until now (after last night, 28 regular-season games and five goals). Whatever toast you're making, remember to pour some out on Toronto's playoff grave. For your dead homies.

Rivalries are a hopeful sales tactic - but they have to be earned. Once earned, they have to be maintained. A years-long, one-sided beating is not a rivalry.

It's a pretext for revenge. That can't be decided during the season. That's the matter for the playoffs.

Whatever the Leafs and Bruins have going on, it won't be decided in one of the hallway confrontations that go on before April, no matter how good that feels.

They will have to meet after school (i.e., in a series). Everyone's going to have to know about it. The Leafs can't claim to have a real rival until they've exorcised the final few minutes of that game.

That should be the goal this year - not just a playoff berth.

But one against Boston, the team that shoves them out of the way while it's on its way to an actual tussle.

Being chased by Dino got a bit much by Grade 4. I'd grown up a little. So had Dave. One day, we were all on the playground when Dino decided he wanted to wrestle. He grabbed me by the hair - true story - and I wigged out. I got down on the ground and began slamming his head into the pavement. Opened him up like a cantaloupe. We were pals after that.

The Leafs already understand that lesson. You're not rivals until everyone involved thinks it's a fight.

Follow me on Twitter:@CathalKelly

Associated Graphic

Maple Leafs forward Tyler Bozak, left, scores on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask during second-period action in Toronto on Wednesday night.


New system helps Toronto climb standing
Assistant coach Horachek credited with helping team reduce shots and chances by opponents
Friday, November 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2


When the automatic doors slide open at the Toronto Maple Leafs practice facility, the dressing room is almost empty.

At the back, however, assistant coach Peter Horachek is engrossed at the whiteboard on the wall, diagramming play after play as young forward Richard Panik and netminder James Reimer look on intently.

It's a question-and-answer session, and soon defenceman Cody Franson - a long-time pupil of Horachek's dating to their days together in Nashville - joins in with some questions of his own.

"Is it our job to go over here once we're 3-on-3?" Franson asks as he points to one faceoff dot in the defensive zone.

"Well, there's no perfect scenario there," Horachek begins before detailing the various options for handling what began as an odd-man rush.

All three players - who play different positions - seem engrossed in the lesson, even at the end of a day filled with many.

In Toronto, this is once again becoming a time of optimism for the local team. The Leafs are on a 6-1-1 run that has shot them up the Eastern Conference standings early, and Wednesday's convincing 6-1 win over the Boston Bruins, in particular, has created considerable buzz in the media.

Typically the victims, Toronto surprisingly played the bully role this time around.

The Leafs have been here before. They started last season 11-5 after 16 games, a hot start that created a noticeable swagger among players - even as coach Randy Carlyle was pulling his hair out over how they were winning.

On the right end of the scoreboard, they were almost never on the right side of the play, spending so much time in their own end that their possession numbers were in the low 40s all year and their shots-allowed totals approached NHL records.

Twelve months and a humbling late-season collapse later, self-satisfied is hardly the phrase that describes the mood in the dressing room.

Even the lopsided win over Boston - a nemesis team that embarrassed them earlier in the year and many times before - is dismissed as another two points and a fortunate outcome against a good opponent.

"I think we caught them on an off day," Horachek said. "And they've had a lot of injuries lately."

The easy thing to do with the Leafs' success is go the cynical route. After all, they had 22 points after 16 games a year ago and finished with only 84, well out of the playoff race.

This year, they've got 20 after 16 and, with so many familiar faces, who's to say anything will be different?

If you examine the Leafs' results closely, however, there's evidence of some significant changes - several of which can be attributed to Horachek's diligent work at the whiteboard.

It hasn't been pretty every night, but some of the numbers speak for themselves.

Outshot by eight shots per game a year ago, the Leafs have cut that down to a difference of 1.9.

Dead last in the NHL with only 42.3 per cent of the unblocked shot attempts at even strength in 2013-14, they're now up to 48.1 per cent in the early portion of the season.

Their record is also built far less on getting ridiculously high shooting and save percentages, making it more likely they can sustain their play.

There have been tangible improvements, in other words, even if Toronto remains below average in some of these areas and even if their 103-point pace is a shade generous given their play.

The players credit the improvement to their new system, which has put a particular emphasis on "backside pressure" - a hockeyism for how a forward (or forwards) should backcheck the puck carrier as the play moves toward the defensive zone.

Backside pressure has become a must in the NHL as the speed of the game has increased. The sooner you can get on an opposing forward and "pressure" him to make a decision with the puck, the more likely you are to create a turnover or poor decision with the puck.

Giving offensive players time and space is a no-no, as is allowing an uncontested odd-man rush.

The Leafs, specifically, want to force teams at or before their blueline, and they don't want all of that to fall on their defence.

That means forwards like Panik have to be back and involved as quickly as possible.

Cutting down shots and chances against isn't always only to do with play in the defensive zone; in many cases, you can turn the play the other way a lot sooner than that.

"It's huge," Horachek said of backside pressure. "Huge. That's the biggest part of the game right now... you've got to have those numbers coming back so [the other teams] have to play the game differently."

"We're starting to do things the right way," Franson said. "It's our group committing to a disciplined style ... Our forwards are the backbone to that and they've done a very good job."

Horachek calls the Leafs' transition, from their old system to this one, a work in process. But what's encouraging, he said, is that there's such a willing audience.

In Toronto, he's found a group of players that are hungry to learn, wanting to win the right way and avoid the kind of collapses the franchise has become known for.

There have been bumps along the way, but even those have helped, in a sense.

"That's part of our team's growth," Horacheck said, explaining how a few "humbling" losses early got players' attention. "Our team's growing. I think there's a selective group of people in here that want to get better, and they're listening, and we're getting better in certain areas."

Follow me on Twitter:@mirtle

Unsustainable Flames can't keep burning teams forever
Monday, November 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2


Everyone loves a good underdog story.

So far, it's hard to argue the Calgary Flames aren't exactly that in the NHL: as big a surprise success as we've seen early in a season.

They're the Rudy Ruettiger of the quarter-way mark (which the league hits on Saturday).

Few expected much out of the Flames this year, not with so many young players on the roster and not with what was believed to be a long, long rebuild in its early stages.

But entering Sunday's games, they sat 10th overall in the NHL and fifth in the gruelling Western Conference, on pace for a remarkable 104 points. They've scored more goals than all but four teams (3.05 a game). They have one of the best power plays in the league (22 per cent). And netminder Jonas Hiller's even strength save percentage of .936 is eighth among regular starters.

That's the good news.

The bad? It's extremely unlikely they'll be able to keep all this up.

A year ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs got hammered all season for having an unsustainable record, one built on shooting and save percentages that masked how badly they were outplayed. Where Calgary is statistically after 19 games isn't that far off. The Flames' PDO (combined shooting and save percentage) is sky high at 102.8; last year, the Leafs were at 102.6 when doomsday predictions were being made in part because of that number.

Both teams were very poor at controlling play, one telltale sign of an unsustainably good record.

Calgary has 24 points after 19 games. Toronto had 23.

The biggest concern for the Flames is going to be generating offence over the remaining 63 games. They lead the league in even-strength shooting percentage and are high on the power play as well, getting terrific contributions from captain Mark Giordano and a score-by-committee approach from the youngsters. There's a lot to like about the Flames' future right now. In addition to the kids playing well and producing, this is a hardworking group that has deserved better results in some areas such as the penalty kill. It's also possible Hiller - a huge off-season addition - has an outstanding season and keeps them in lowscoring games the rest of the way.

But almost every other indicator has them playing over their heads and ready for a fall.

Fans have to hope it's not nearly as gruesome as Toronto's 2-12-0 finish was a year ago.



Most improved possession teams:

1. Minnesota: The Wild have been such an odd team to get a read on this season. After a 7-3 start, they lost four in a row. Now they're back winning again. What Minnesota has done brilliantly, however, is drive play, to the point the Wild are the most improved possession team in the league (from 48.4 per cent last year to 57.8 per cent this one). If they can get decent goaltending, they should be able to climb the standings and surprise people.

2. Washington: Full marks to Barry Trotz. The Capitals new coach has this team playing a much more disciplined style defensively, which has allowed them to cut their shots on goal against from 33.5 a game all the way down to 26.9, fourth best in the NHL. This is another team that's been better than its record shows early.

3. Pittsburgh: Another new coach, another team with dramatically different results. Some thought the Penguins were due for a step back after losing James Neal, Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen, but it hasn't worked out that way and first time NHL head coach Mike Johnston deserves a lot of the credit.

Forget their dynamite power play, Pittsburgh is now a legitimate powerhouse at even strength with a 56.7 per cent possession game.


Biggest drop in possession:

1. Buffalo: Yes, they beat the Leafs on Saturday and yes, their real prize this season is potentially Connor McDavid with the first overall pick in June. But the most unbelievable stat out of the Sabres' season is they've managed to suffer the biggest overall possession drop (from 41.4 to 34.8 per cent) in the league despite finishing last year as the league's worst team in this department. That's hard to do.

2. Los Angeles: They keep grinding wins out, but the Kings simply don't look right this year. Whether it's the injuries, or missing Slava Voynov to suspension, the fact they've become downright ordinary possession-wise is alarming (from 56.4 to 50.1). This has always been this team's strength - the ability to get in on the play, recover dump-ins and control the puck - but they've dipped below average at times all year. They're still built for the postseason, as always, but this has been a rough start.

3. San Jose: A powerhouse from a year ago, San Jose is another California team that has seemingly lost its way early. The Sharks are down more than 4.5 per cent in possession from last year in large part due to some issue with their depth. San Jose is trying to get younger and work in kids like Mirco Mueller and there were bound to be growing pains.

Despite how they look on paper, the Habs are No. 1 on the ice
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

MONTREAL -- Look, this wasn't supposed to happen, so anyone who claims to have predicted it is telling nose-stretchers.

Here are the somewhat shocking facts: This is mid-November, and the Montreal Canadiens are No. 1 overall in the NHL standings.

Various statistical measures suggest the Habs aren't as good as their point total indicates, and while it's true they've had more than their share of good luck, providence can't explain everything.

Montreal has won six games in a row heading into Tuesday's home matchup with Eastern Conference heavyweight Pittsburgh, and was only really threatened in one of them - a tense 2-1 shootout victory with lowly Buffalo.

Oh, and it's their longest winning streak in more than four years.

Teams in the East typically must clear the 92-point bar to safely ensure a playoff spot; the Canadiens are nearly a third of the way there as they near the quarter mark of the season.

All this from a team that boasts an incompetent power play (well, until last week anyway), crummy possession statistics and a suspiciously low goal differential.

"Finding ways to squeak wins out is the sign of a good team," leading scorer Max Pacioretty told reporters after the Habs won their fourth game in six days in Detroit on Sunday.

Since the Canadiens were embarrassed in a pair of games to open the month, they have righted the ship.

The biggest difference? It's pretty simple: scoring. Pucks are flying into the net, 23 of them in their past six games.

It's about a balanced attack - when the quick-footed Habs forward lines are all firing, they become nearly impossible to defend - which in turn has to do with form, tactics and a roster move or two.

Bringing 22-year-old Czech rookie Jiri Sekac in from a sevengame exile in the press box has been a boon to centre Lars Eller, as has the injection of direct play from Brandon Prust, whose slogan should be Much More Than a Tough Guy.

There's a school of thought that general manager Marc Bergevin forced coach Michel Therrien's hand on Sekac by waiving winger Rene Bourque (which is plausible). In turn, the swift-skating right winger has forced the opposition to alter its defensive plans to account for the Eller line.

It also helps that the Habs are getting scoring from bottom-six types such as Prust and Dale Weise, and that winger Brendan Gallagher emerged from a 10game scoring funk; the little fellow is even banking shots into the net from his knees these days.

Skillful youngster Alex Galchenyuk is blossoming (third on the team in scoring with 13 points in 19 games) and centre Tomas Plekanec is clearly thriving in a more offensive role.

Meanwhile, ace faceoff-taker Manny Malhotra has taken nearly half the defensive zone draws in the past two weeks.

Montreal is also an underrated defensive team. The Habs' goal differential of plus-8 is skewed by data outliers. They have given up a middle-of-thepack 47 goals this year, but 18 of them came in three losses against Tampa, Chicago and Calgary; they've held opponents to three or fewer goals 15 times, and to the defensive gold standard of two or fewer on 10 occasions.

"We lost our structure a little bit on the [October] road trip out west, but I feel we've regained it in the Buffalo game and since then," Therrien said recently.

There is also evidence that last week's acquisition of 40-year-old defenceman Sergei Gonchar in exchange for checking winger Travis Moen has fixed what looked to be like a structurally teetering blueline.

Whether Gonchar can really play 18 or 19 minutes a night all season remains to be seen, but icing seven defencemen has allowed Therrien to manage his veterans' minutes and matchups, while still giving youngster Nathan Beaulieu enough ice time to be productive.

Gonchar's arrival has also acted as a defibrillator for the Habs' wheezing power play: In his first game, the Habs broke broke an 0-for-28 man-advantage string; in his second game, they scored three power-play goals.

The addition of Gonchar forced the separation of P.K. Subban from his regular power-play partner, Andrei Markov. Subban has responded with two goals and an assist in his past three games (he's fifth in scoring among the league's defencemen).

It's not as if goaltender Carey Price has needed to wear a cape and hero leotard, either. The 27year-old goalie hasn't been spectacular, but he is the picture of steady excellence of late - as he likes to say, making the save at the right moment (on a breakaway against Winnipeg, say, or a bang-bang shot from the slot against Boston) is more important than how many saves you make.

Pacioretty acknowledges the Habs aren't perfect - no trophies are awarded in November - but they are rolling. They face a stiff test this week against the Penguins, St. Louis Blues and Boston. Should they win two or more of those, it will be about more than luck.

Players traded sticks for rifles to fight for their country
'Sure, it was scary,' Hall of Fame goalie Johnny Bower says. 'You wanted to go back home ... but that's the chance you take'
The Canadian Press
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

TORONTO -- Hall of Fame goalie Johnny Bower lied about his age to enlist for the Second World War.

He was just 16.

"They wanted to see my birth certificate and I said 'We had a big fire at home.' And I said it was burned," Bower recalled Monday with a healthy belly laugh. "I lied there just so I could get in."

"I wanted to go with my other buddies," he added.

Years later, the ugly truth of war remains with the former Maple Leafs great, who turned 90 on Saturday. Many of those friends didn't come back.

"I was lucky, very lucky to be back here," Bower said, the laugh suddenly gone.

The sacrifice of those and other hockey players is captured in a new Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit called Hockey Marching As To War, which was unveiled Monday on the eve of Remembrance Day.

The Hall says 40 of its inductees were First World War veterans, with another 31 serving in the Second World War.

Some of those names live on via NHL and other trophies: Jack Adams, Conn Smythe, Frank Selke and Hobey Baker.

The Memorial Cup, the symbol of junior hockey supremacy, was conceived as a way to honour young men who traded their hockey stick for a rifle and paid the ultimate price.

Captain James T. Sutherland, president of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, used the Cup to honour Allan (Scotty) Davidson and George Richardson, whom he coached when they were Kingston Frontenacs. Both died in action in the First World War.

The Hall of Fame exhibit showcases a quote from Sutherland: "With every man doing his bit, Canada will raise an army of brains and brawn from our hockey enthusiasts the likes of which the world has never seen. The bell has rung. Let every man play the game of his life."

Sutherland was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a builder in 1945.

The list of Hall of Fame veterans is a who's who of hockey, featuring the likes of Bower, Sid Abel, Syl Apps, Bobby Bauer, Max Bentley, Turk Broda, Roy Conacher, Hap Day, Doug Harvey, Punch Imlach, Tommy Ivan, Lynn Patrick, Bud Poile, Milt Schmidt, Tiny Thompson and Harry Watson, to name a few.

In a country where hockey rules, the sport took a back seat to the fight for freedom. As former Maple Leaf Ron Ellis, a consultant to the Hockey Hall of Fame, noted, entire leagues folded as men enlisted for the First World War.

Ellis's father, Randy, was playing for the Toronto Marlies when the Second World War broke out. He enlisted at 18, trading the hockey rink for a pilot's cockpit.

Gordie Howe was just 15 for his first NHL training camp, in 1943 with the New York Rangers. With players away at war, NHL teams were scouring for talent.

"They went and fought for their country, like we all did," Bower said.

At 5 foot 9, Bower cuts a relatively small figure. But like so many who volunteered to put themselves in harm's way, it is impossible to measure the size of his heart.

The teenage Bower spent two years in Vernon, B.C., before being stationed in England for a year. Rheumatoid arthritis eventually prevented then-Private Bower from going to the front.

"It's a good thing I didn't because the Germans were right there, just waiting," he said. "A lot of guys there were killed on the beaches. I know four or five good hockey players from Prince Albert [his hometown] were killed."

"Sure, it was scary," he added.

"You wanted to go home, back to your family and your wife if you were married. I was hoping that nothing would happen to me if I did see action. But that's the chance you take when you're fighting for your country."

Red Kelly, a Hall of Fame player who went on to serve in Parliament, was a teenager working on a farm to help supply troops during the Second World War. Later on, he saw the Korean war up close during a 1954 visit to the troops.

He still recalls seeing the barbed wire and the hills that men died to take.

"You'd win one hill and then you'd face another hill just like it, right behind it," he said.

Kelly lists off players who put their career on hold to fight for their country.

"They served to save their country, what more can you say?" said the 87-year-old Kelly. "Some of them gave up their lives. They can't come back. But we have to think what they did for us."

Associated Graphic

Johnny Bower looks at an exhibit on the First World War at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Monday. Bower enlisted during the Second World War, but couldn't go to the front.


Messi notches pair to match goal-scoring record
Striker ties all-time mark of 71 goals held by Raul Gonzalez as Barcelona advances to tournament's knockout round
The Associated Press
Thursday, November 6, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

MILAN -- Lionel Messi scored twice to draw level with Raul Gonzalez as the Champions League's all-time leading scorer on Wednesday, as Barcelona won 2-0 at Ajax to reach the knockout stage along with Group F leader Paris SaintGermain.

Bayern Munich also progressed, beating Roma 2-0 to maintain its perfect record, while Porto won by the same scoreline at Athletic Bilbao to join the Bundesliga club in the last 16.

It was a miserable night for English sides with nine-man Manchester City losing 2-1 at home to CSKA Moscow to slip to the bottom of Group E and Chelsea missing a penalty in a 1-1 draw at Maribor in Group G.

Sporting Lisbon blew that group wide open as it came from behind to beat Schalke 4-2, while Luiz Adriano scored a second-half hat trick to help Shakhtar Donetsk humiliate BATE Borisov 5-0 and stay second behind Porto in Group H.

Messi scored his 70th Champions League goal in the 36th minute with a soft header after Ajax failed to clear a free kick and then linked up with substitute Pedro Rodriguez for his second of the night in the 76th.

Ajax played the last 20 minutes with 10 men after defender Joel Veltman was sent off for his second yellow card.

"The most important thing was to qualify and keep fighting for our objective which is to win the group and therefore we need to keep competing with PSG," said Messi. "We played against a good team that like to move the ball from side to side and it was difficult for us to press and play the way we wanted to, but we took our chances."

It took Raul significantly longer than Messi to reach the record mark as his 71 goals came in 142 games for Madrid and Schalke. And Messi is on the verge of also becoming the all-time top scorer in La Liga history as he is one goal short of Telmo Zarra's 251-goal mark that has stood since 1955.

"Messi is absolutely the best player I have ever seen as player or coach," said Barcelona coach Luis Enrique.

PSG beat Apoel Nicosia 1-0 to remain a point ahead of Barcelona, with Edinson Cavani scoring the only goal of a scrappy game after just 57 seconds.

Manchester City is on the verge of tumbling out of the group stage following two goals from Seydou Doumbia on either side of a Yaya Toure free kick. City's halftime substitute Fernandinho was sent off in the 70th for two bookable offences, and Toure followed for pushing Roman Eremenko.

Manuel Pellegrini's side is two points behind CSKA and Roma.

The Italian team was keen to avoid a repetition of its 7-1 mauling at the hands of Bayern last time out and managed to restrict the five-time champion to two goals, by Franck Ribery and Mario Goetze, either side of halftime.

Maribor was unrecognizable from the side crushed 6-0 by Chelsea two weeks ago and claimed a deserved lead when Agim Ibraimi curled a beautiful shot into the top corner five minutes into the second half.

Nemanja Matic levelled from close range 17 minutes from time and Chelsea had the chance to take all three points when Eden Hazard was fouled for an 85th minute spot-kick, but the Belgian's effort was too central and Jasmin Handanovic saved.

Chelsea still leads Group G with eight points, three ahead of Schalke, with Sporting a point further back following its first win of the tournament this season.

Maribor has three points.

Islam Slimani's 17th-minute own goal from a deflection handed Schalke the lead, but Sporting equalized just under 10 minutes later through Naby Sarr's glancing header.

Goals from Jefferson and Nani put Sporting in front and, although Dennis Aogo pulled one back two minutes from time, Slimani sealed it in stoppage time.

In Bilbao, Porto forward Yacine Brahimi atoned for his first-half penalty miss with an exquisite solo effort to set up Jackson Martinez for the 56th minute opener.

Brahimi then sealed the win with the easiest of goals after a gaffe by goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz.

As well as taking his tally to nine Champions League goals this season, Luiz Adriano also set up both of Shakhtar's other goals for captain Darijo Srna and Alex Teixeira.

Associated Graphic

Barcelona striker Lionel Messi attempts to score against Ajax defender Niklas Moisander during their Champions League match in Amsterdam on Tuesday. Messi's two goals lifted Barca to a 2-0 win over Ajax.


Montreal is tops, Pittsburgh was better
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

MONTREAL -- Hard truths are plentiful in the NHL, but there's one with particular resonance in this case: patience with mistakes, especially youthful ones, is not a luxury coaches can afford.

Well, not if they enjoy being employed.

The leash tightens when 21year-old Montreal Canadiens defenceman Nathan Beaulieu threads a careless pass across his defensive zone and, because of the resulting interception, the puck ends up in his own net, as happened in the first period of Tuesday's showdown with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Beaulieu's status has been cast into doubt since the arrival of veteran Sergei Gonchar via trade last week, but Mike Weaver's last-minute upper-body problem guaranteed him a regular shift against the Pens.

It didn't go well.

Beaulieu also found himself on the ice for Pittsburgh's second goal, although that one, scored by agitator Steve Downie, had more to do with a bad bounce and feeble P.A. Parenteau back-check than anything Beaulieu did.

Beaulieu played only two more shifts in the period, four more in the second, and seven in the third of a game that by then was beyond the Habs' reach and ended 4-0.

Montreal head coach Michel Therrien is notoriously intolerant of newbie mistakes, which are often in the eye of the beholder - Beaulieu's pass in the first was illadvised, but if teammate Dale Weise had managed to tip or kick it away, the Pittsburgh scoring chance may never have developed.

Therrien has a stock saying: The NHL isn't a development league. Fair enough, but that statement could benefit from a little nuance.

A player might not be made into an NHLer in the big league, but he obviously can become a better one.

There's an upside to being patient. Consider the Penguins' Beau Bennett and Olli Maatta as just two examples. Bennett, a 22year-old Californian forward, was drafted the year before Beaulieu (2010) and has been brought along slowly. In fairness, injuries also slowed his development, and there's been a wholesale overhaul of the Pittsburgh front office since he was drafted.

It was Bennett, funnily enough, who pounced on Beaulieu's first period turnover on Tuesday and rifled an unstoppable shot into the top corner over Carey Price's blocker.

He chipped in two assists before the game was out - the pick of the lot was a sweet pass to a trailing Brandon Sutter at the beginning of the second period - the Habs were mostly able to contain Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, evidently the game-plan had nothing specific to say about Bennett.

As it turns out, his contribution was more than enough to salt away the game. Crosby did find the scoresheet on a power play late in the second, but by then the Pens were up 3-0.

There's a temptation to say the Habs, first overall heading into the night's action, were exposed as an inferior team to Pittsburgh, and that may be true when the dust settles on the season.

But in the first period, Montreal flew out of the traps. On the first shift of the game, 20-year-old Alex Galchenyuk found himself on a partial breakaway and inexplicably decided to make a spinaround pass to the trailer (some errors in judgment are more easily tolerated, although Galchenyuk has spent his share of time in Therrien's dog house).

Czech forward Jiri Sekac has been a revelation since emerging from a seven-game stint in the press box, and he could easily have opened the scoring when he swooped in off the right wing a few moments later; Marc-Andre Fleury, who has had considerable trouble playing in his home province, made a marvelous toe save.

Indeed, Fleury was the story in the third period as well denying Max Pacioretty from in tight and repelling an increasingly desperate Habs squad.

He was also somewhat fortunate in having Galchenyuk and Sekac find iron rather than net, but these are the kinds of breaks in-form goalies tend to get enroute to a 27-shot shutout.

By definition, winning streaks are temporary. That the Habs' longest string of wins in four years ended at the hands of the Pens, who also had a brutal ending to a seven-game streak earlier this year in New York, is no kind of embarrassment.

Associated Graphic

Penguins goalie Marc-André Fleury stops Jiri Sekac during first-period action Tuesday in Montreal.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Orleans, Oakland, Glendale, Ariz., Orchard Park, N.Y., Seattle, East Rutherford, N.J., London, Baltimore, Tampa
Monday, November 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

49ers 27, Saints 24 (OT) Colin Kaepernick completed a 51-yard pass on fourth down to sustain a tying drive, Ahmad Brooks sacked and stripped Drew Brees in overtime and Phil Dawson kicked a 35-yard field goal to cap San Francisco's stirring victory over New Orleans. The victory snapped a two-game skid for the Niners.

Broncos 41, Raiders 17

Peyton Manning threw five touchdown passes in less than 17 minutes and the Broncos handed the Raiders their 15th-straight loss.

Manning threw a pair of early interceptions that put Denver (7-2) in a hole against the NFL's only winless team.

That all changed with a short pass that C.J. Anderson turned into a spectacular 51-yard catch and run.

The touchdowns didn't stop until Manning's day was done after three quarters. Manning added two TD passes to Julius Thomas and two more to Emmanuel Sanders as the Broncos rebounded from last week's loss at New England by beating up on the Raiders (0-9).

Cardinals 31, Rams 14

The Cardinals put together another dominant fourth quarter, but the victory was dampened by an injury to quarterback Carson Palmer.

Palmer went down in the final period, then backup Drew Stanton and the Arizona defence rallied the Cardinals with three touchdowns over a span of 3:48.

At 8-1, the Cardinals have the best record in the NFL and their best after nine games since going 11-1 as the Chicago Cardinals in 1948.

Chiefs 17, Bills 13

Anthony Sherman recovered a fumble to set up Alex Smith's eight-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Jamaal Charles also scored on a 39-yard run as the Chiefs (6-3) scored twice in the span of four minutes 31 seconds to overcome a 13-3 deficit.

The Chiefs' defence then made a stand at its 15 by forcing Kyle Orton to throw four consecutive incompletions and turn the ball over on downs.

Kansas City improved to 6-1 since opening the season with two losses. Charles finished with 98 yards rushing. Smith went 17 of 29 for 177 yards.

Seahawks 38, Giants 17

Marshawn Lynch rushed for a season-high 140 yards and career-best four touchdowns. Russell Wilson threw two interceptions, the Seahawks committed three total turnovers and Eli Manning picked apart Seattle's secondary for the first half. It all didn't matter because of Lynch leading Seattle's run game.

Jets 20, Steelers 13

Michael Vick threw two touchdown passes and the Jets forced four turnovers while shutting down Ben Roethlisberger to end an eightgame losing streak.

Cowboys 31, Jaguars 17

Tony Romo returned after missing last week because of a back injury and helped the Cowboys snap a two-game losing streak by throwing three touchdown passes. Originally hurt two weeks ago, Romo started for Dallas (7-3) and completed 20 of 27 passes for 246 yards against the Jaguars (1-9) at Wembley Stadium. This was the last of three regular-season NFL games this year in the British capital.

Ravens 21, Titans 7

Justin Forsett ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns to back a strong performance by the Baltimore defence. The Ravens (6-4) bottled up rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who went 16 for 27 for 179 yards and an interception in his first road start. He was sacked five times.

Falcons 27, Buccaneers 17

Matt Ryan threw for 219 yards and one touchdown, helping the Falcons stop a five-game losing streak that left the Bucs with a five-game skid of their own.

The Falcons (3-6) won for the first time since embarrassing their NFC South rivals 56-14 on Sept. 18, a game in which the Bucs (1-8) lost quarterback Josh McCown to a thumb injury.

Jones is the calm at centre of storm
The Canadian Press
Saturday, November 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

CALGARY -- A New York Times article once described the centre on a football team as the "choreographer" or "air traffic controller" of the offensive line.

There is certainly more to it than snapping the ball to the quarterback and blocking an opposing defensive lineman.

The centre calls out blocking assignments and communicates pre-snap adjustments amid the chatter and movement along the line of scrimmage, as well as any additional noise coming from the stands.

The Calgary Stampeders' Brett Jones is a finalist for his second major CFL award in as many years because he has the skill and temperament to handle the demands of the job.

The 23-year-old from Weyburn, Sask., was the first offensive lineman in CFL history to win the league's rookie award in 2013.

Jones is the West Division's finalist for this year's offensive lineman award. Montreal Alouettes tackle Jeff Perrett is the East Division nominee.

If Jones claims the CFL's offensive lineman award, he would be the second consecutive player out of the Weyburn Comprehensive School Eagles high school program to do so after Saskatchewan's Brendon Labatte last year.

The CFL awards will be announced Nov. 27 in Vancouver.

Durable, unflappable, physical and cerebral, Jones led an offensive line that gave up the fewest sacks in the CFL (26) for a second straight year. Calgary also led the league in average rushing yards per game (143.9).

"He's got a great motor, he plays with a great attitude, he's everything you want in the middle of your group," Stampeders offensive line coach Pat DelMonaco said. "The big thing is he has to be calm under pressure. He's the quarterback of our group. Things are going to change last minute. He's quick in being able to redirect us in those last moments and that's key."

Jones once considered attending both dentistry and medical school, but now wants to finish his engineering degree.

He took five third-year classes last winter at the University of Regina. He's registered for three more and hopes to get into a fourth when the 2014 season ends.

Combing all the variables at centre into a successful outcome appeals to his student's mind.

"Definitely it's kind of like a puzzle and you've got to try and figure it out," Jones said. "You've got to know what you're doing and you've got to be able to do it with the proper technique and be doing it together with the guy beside you.

"There's a lot more things going on than just hitting some guy."

Jones has played all 36 regularseason games and started in all but one since his arrival in the CFL. Jon Gott served as a mentor for Jones in his rookie year and occasionally rotated in at centre as Jones learned the position.

Gott was dealt to the expansion Ottawa RedBlacks in the off-season, so Jones shouldered more responsibility in his sophomore year.

"He was on a steep learning curve both years," DelMonaco said. "He lost his crutch. Last year, Jon Gott was able to be a relaxing voice for him. [Jones] didn't have that. It's been a learning curve in that he had to take full responsibility on all of it this year.

"He was going to play centre regardless of who they lined up across from him and that's what we did with him. He embraced that. It built his confidence and he plays that way. He gained a lot of confidence between last year and this year."

Grey Cup struggling at the ticket office
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

VANCOUVER -- Available: Tickets to the 102nd Grey Cup, 6,000 or so, most of them selling for $288.50 and located in the upper reaches of BC Place.

It has been an awful year for the Canadian Football League. The majority of teams put on, at best, a mediocre show this season. The stars didn't shine, including Canadians such as running backs Jon Cornish (Calgary) and Andrew Harris (B.C.), who were waylaid by injury. Montreal's recordbreaking quarterback Anthony Calvillo retired - and a nextgeneration QB who'd shown potential, the Lions' Travis Lulay, now looks like he'll never again be the pivot he once was because of injuries. Attendance leaguewide fell six per cent, and scoring declined by more than 10 per cent to a three-decade low.

And while it's lame to critique the quality of referees, the officiating this season has also been subpar.

All this has left the Grey Cup in Vancouver, 21/2 weeks before kickoff, with only about 47,000 of 53,000 seats sold. Organizers hope the start of the playoffs sparks renewed interest, because sales of the expensive tickets have been stalled for weeks.

In recent years, the big game hasn't been such a tough sell. In 2010, Edmonton sold out the Grey Cup in three days. B.C. sold out the 2011 Cup in Vancouver by July, even though the Lions were in the midst of a horrendous start (though they roared back that season and won a stirring hometown victory in front of 54,313 fans). Toronto sold out the Rogers Centre for the 100th Grey Cup by midsummer; Regina did the same at Mosaic Stadium last year.

"I am confident we are going to sell out," outgoing CFL commissioner Mark Cohon said. "I'm confident there's going to be a great feeling in the building."

With Cohon on his way out, some titans of the Canadian game are suggesting the league needs change. Wally Buono, the Hall of Fame coach who is the B.C. Lions' vice-president of football operations, this month floated the idea of a single division, rather than the long-standing East DivisionWest Division split.

Buono pictures one nine-team league, with seven of the teams making the playoffs. The top team would earn a bye in the quarter-final round, with the other six teams squaring off ahead of semi-finals. Buono cited a standing inequity - this year's secondbest team, the 12-6 Edmonton Eskimos, has to play a semi-final, whereas the top team in the East, the 9-9 Hamilton Tiger-Cats, get a bye.

"I say this very respectfully," Buono told a reporter earlier this month. "We need to do things different."

Buono's Lions, also 9-9, are the eighth team to "cross over" in the playoffs since the CFL instituted the idea in the 1990s. The Lions were fourth in the West, but qualified for the playoffs as the third team in the East, and will play Sunday on the road against Montreal.

"Our sense is this game will sell out," said Jamie Pitblado, general manager of the 102nd Grey Cup Festival. "There seems to be a lot of energy."

Pitblado is courting corporations to charitably purchase the remaining tickets and give away to kids from low-income families and members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

"The mood," said Pitblado, "is starting to build."

Associated Graphic

B.C. Lions players celebrate a TD against the Ottawa RedBlacks last month at BC Place, the site of this year's Grey Cup.


Leading the charge against content thieves
Saturday, November 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B3

'Omigod, I'm going to have to get angry all over again." Ruth Vitale was introduced to me only a few minutes ago, and she's already in a state of spiky moral outrage. That's my fault, really: I probably shouldn't have greeted her by mentioning that some members of my extended family make a habit of illegally downloading movies.

"It's infuriating, and it's wrong." she says. "The thing is, [paying for content] supports your living, and they should know that!"

She's swearing now.

She does this a fair bit, it seems, and it's charming: Less abrasive than conspiratorial, a sort of corrective to an enduring girlish quality she has, even in her early 60s. For more than three decades now, Ms. Vitale has cultivated a reputation as a Hollywood executive who says what she's thinking, a creature of the independent film world who blithely wears jeans to meetings on Capitol Hill. In a town of inflatable phonies, she comes off as authentic, grounded.

And so here on a blue-sky Sunday afternoon during the recent Toronto International Film Festival, as the imported air-kissers swirl past the patio of O&B Canteen, the ground-floor restaurant in TIFF's King Street complex, Ms. Vitale wants to talk about a mortal danger.

About 18 months ago, she was recruited by CreativeFuture, a non-profit group funded by the major Hollywood studios and hundreds of other TV and film companies, which is hoping to shift the public's attitude about pirated entertainment content. In her brief time at the helm, the organization has pivoted from complaining about piracy to instead trying to emphasize the cultural importance of creativity and the hard work done by the thousands of people you don't see on screen.

"We're the victim of our own red-carpet celebrity," Ms. Vitale says, as a waiter places a shareable Ploughman's Plate of meat, cheese, pickles, fruit, and toast atop our tiny, high table. She forks into a small cube of cheese - she had a late breakfast, she explains - and sips some blueberry tea. "People think movie-making is magic."

"No one outside of our business understands how hard it is to do what we do. And none of us has bothered to speak up about it," she says. "While Google and Silicon Valley and everyone is saying copyright doesn't matter, we've been saying, 'You know, we're busy making those television shows and films that you're busy stealing. We really don't have time to talk about it.' And my job is to say: 'Time's up. Time to talk about it.' "

CreativeFuture's membership now comprises some of the most well-respected behind-the-scenes workers: the producers Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy), Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead), Dawn Prestwich (The Killing), Marshall Herskovitz (the films Traffic and Love & Other Drugs), and director Spike Lee, many of whom spend their spare time penning op-eds about piracy and spreading the word in other ways.

They want people to understand that those in the industry - the set designers and sound technicians, production managers and prop people, costumers and special effects whizzes - are noncelebrities simply trying to pay their rent or mortgage and put food on the table for their families. Ms. Vitale notes that almost 1,400 people worked on the 2013 film The Wolverine, none of whom, it would seem, was top-ofmind when people streamed the movie from Bit Torrent or other pirate sites.

"Here's the thing," says Ms. Vitale. "I want the 2016 Tesla, but I just can't go into their showroom and steal the plans and have it made. When did we raise a generation of kids that are, like, 'I want it when I [expletive deleted] want it?' I wanna strangle them."

Okay, so it may be that Ms. Vitale hasn't yet fully pivoted to promoting a broader appreciation of creativity: It's not easy, after all, to curb the instinct to fight when you're under siege. But CreativeFuture has a threepronged plan to change things.

The first is to encourage behind-the-scenes workers to step up. A few days after our meeting at TIFF, Ms. Vitale was in Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress and others as part of an event called "Beyond the Red Carpet." Disney animators who worked on Frozen were there, as well as a special effects makeup artist, a costumer from the TV show Turn, producers, and filmmakers.

CreativeFuture is also behind a new initiative of the U.S. advertising industry to stop Fortune 500 companies from buying ad space on pirate sites. Many of these companies, says Ms. Vitale, might not even be aware of where their ads show up. "If you're BMW and you buy 30,000 impressions online, the Internet purposely hides where your ads go," she says. Her figures suggest about 20-25 per cent of the ads on streaming sites are for brands that likely do not want to be associated with piracy. Stopping that, she says, "will make those sites look not legitimate, because it will be [just] porn ads and Russian bride ads. So the people that don't look intentionally to steal, they will know it's not a site that's appropriate."

The third plank is youth outreach. "If I call it 'youth education,' the other side condemns me for saying I'm trying to brainwash," she explains. "And it really is about conveying respect for creativity." Her organization has struck a partnership with I Keep Safe, a non-profit that instructs children about online safety, to promote a curriculum about creativity, copyright, and fair-use. There are hopes to roll out the curriculum across schools in the United States. "It's a really longterm play," she admits.

The job as executive director of CreativeFuture is an unusual place for Ms. Vitale to be, considering that movies were not part of her upbringing. "I was only allowed to read books," she says.

Growing up for a time in Cali, Colombia, where her father, a PhD in biochemistry and a cancer researcher, set up the Department of Nutrition at the University of Valle, "we didn't have a television, because you couldn't get reception." Back in the U.S., she still wasn't allowed to watch TV.

She went to university with the intention of following her father's footsteps into medicine. "Six weeks in, I literally sat in chemistry class and thought: 'I'm never going to make it.' So I changed to literature, and a minor in dance, and my dad didn't speak to me for six months. He was furious."

She followed that degree with a masters in journalism, then was set to go to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy near Boston when a TV station, where she'd done part-time work during college, offered her a job.

Within a few years, she'd made the leap into film, first as programmer at The Movie Channel, where a friend was working. It was just something to do at the time. "I kind of believe this: that your fate is mapped out for you. I know there are people who believe you make your own. But I've never made a whole lot of choices. I've kind of come to a fork in the road and just, like, stuck my finger up in the wind: 'Okay, I'll go that way.' Every job has led to something more interesting, and each prior job has given me additional skill sets that help me on the next path, the next part of my journey, and I know that sounds like a fortune cookie. But it really is true."

The Movie Channel is where she really started watching films. Soon enough, she moved into filmmaking. In 1987, as president of production at Vestron Pictures, she green-lit a little indie film that became a monster hit: A 1960s coming-of-age tale about a young woman whose father, as it happens, is a doctor.

"It's the one thing my father was so proud of," says Ms. Vitale. In his final days, as he was ailing from heart disease, she says, "I'd come in from L.A. and I went to the nursing home and I said, 'My dad, Dr. Vitale is here, he's a patient, which room is he in?' and [a nurse said]: 'Are you his daughter who made Dirty Dancing?' He was on his deathbed, saying, 'My daughter made Dirty Dancing.' And I was like - " and here Ms. Vitale affects a kind of Valley Girl accent, with an uptick - " '... Yea, but you know, I've done a lot of other things since then?' But, for him, anywhere he went in the world, that was the icebreaker: 'My daughter made Dirty Dancing.'"

She didn't actually make it, of course, but she is listed as an executive producer on more than a dozen other films. Screen credits are funny things, though. People frequently receive them when they do no discernible work; just as often, they'll slave away and get no official credit. In 1988, when Ms. Vitale was head of production at United Artists, the studio found itself in a jam when the writers went out on strike while the horror film Child's Play was being made. So she worked weekends with the director to shape the script. (She got no credit.)

Then there was The Legend of 1900, the 1998 drama by the Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore, known for the Oscar-winning Cinema Paradiso.

"I got [the studio] Fine Line to green-light what was essentially a $45-million movie that Tornatore was going to direct in English.

That wouldn't have been unusual, except that Giuseppe didn't speak English. But I was assured that he was going to learn English, so I bought the 25-page treatment, or committed to it, in Cannes that year, and a moment later I'm whisked by [former Italian prime minister Silvio] Berlusconi on a private jet to Rome, to meet with Giuseppe. And at lunch we had a translator, because Giuseppe in fact did not speak English." She laughs ruefully at the memory.

"Um, that was a really difficult set for everybody involved. For Giuseppe himself, right? Because there he has a movie with Tim Roth and Pruitt Taylor Vince, and we have translators for everybody." She pauses to let that sink in. "Everybody! Okay? I wanted to shoot myself!"

She bailed before the end of production, to found Paramount Classics. Her official credit was "Thanks."

Ms. Vitale has to run off now to a TIFF panel discussion about the evolving world of film distribution. But there are still a few things to talk about, so a couple of weeks later she and I connect by phone. She's back in L.A., and I'm at home now. As it happens, my extended family is gathered downstairs for a big dinner. She tells me that, at the conclusion of that panel in Toronto, she was approached by a young filmmaker with a depressing and too-familiar tale. "He said, 'I spent two years making a movie, and it was pirated. Two years of my work, saving up money to make a movie, and I've lost everything.' How is that okay?

"Now, I know this isn't life or death. But it is an industry under siege that's contributed most of the cultural references in the last 100 years: music, movies, books, and TV. So, do I think I'm gonna make a difference? I'm sure as hell gonna try."

I explain that I need to go soon, that my family is waiting for me - including the relatives I mentioned when we first met, the ones who steal content.

And she says: "Put them on the phone for me!"



Member, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Paramount Classics, founder and co-president (1998-2005) Fine Line Features, president (1995-97) New Line Pictures, senior vicepresident of acquisitions and co-productions (1992-94)


Ms. Vitale, 62, has never been married - though she has been engaged four times. "I am the runaway bride," she says, laughing. "First was when I was 26, and the last was when I was 40. By the way, the last one? When he realized I wasn't going to marry him, it was so hard for me not to say, 'Weren't the first three a clue?' "


"These are the movies that, if you had to go to a desert island and never watch anything else, what would you bring? The problem with choosing five is, I flow over into six and seven."

No. 1: "The first one, I have the poster in my office, one of the originals. It's Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. For me, it was the first time that art and commerce met. It is truly an action film, but [director] George Miller, because of how adept he is at his craft, it's an extraordinary piece of film making."

No. 2: "If you can count two movies as one - The Godfather and The Godfather 2. You can see from my list, I'm all about the film making. Coppola is truly an artist."

No. 3: Blade Runner: "Ridley Scott's cut. Again, Ridley is a consummate artist. I think I love all of these directors because they took what are essentially arthouse topics and made them all commercial. That's why [No. 4 is]: David Fincher's Fight Club."

No. 5: "This one may raise hackles, but it is truly an extraordinary film: Mel Gibson's Apocalypto. Someone said to me, 'Do you have any comedies you like?' If I had to bring two comedies, it would be [No. 6] Babe - interestingly, produced by George Miller - and [No. 7] Parenthood. But see, that's cheating, because it's more than five."

Associated Graphic

Ruth Vitale, Hollywood executive and copyright crusader


Norway proves oil-rich countries can be both green and prosperous
Monday, November 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1


Conventional wisdom suggests a big fossil fuel-producer like Canada can't be both green and prosperous. It's one or the other.

Norway's experience suggests this is a false choice.

Through a combination of steep carbon taxes, careful management of its oil wealth and strategic investments in innovation, oil-rich Norway has found a comfortable balance between the environment and growth.

It's a lesson Canadians should take to heart in the wake of a stark new warning from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the planet is headed for destructive and irreversible climate change without dramatic carbon emission cuts.

Forget Dutch disease. Canadians should embrace the Norwegian antidote.

Compared to Canada, Norway's economy is more competitive, scores better on a range of innovation performance measures and consistently produces higher per capita gross domestic product, and incomes.

And it's greener, too.

"Norway's performance on environmental productivity indicators suggests that it is possible for resource-rich countries to generate strong economic growth with lower environmental damage and depletion of natural assets," according to a report issued last week by Canada's Ecofiscal Commission, made up of leading Canadian economists and prominent former political leaders, including Preston Manning and Bob Rae.

The commission makes the case that sound environmental solutions don't have to come at a punishing economic cost.

Governments in Canada could raise billions of dollars a year by taxing carbon emissions and other forms of pollution, while cutting economically stifling taxes on labour and income.

On a relatively small scale, British Columbia's six-year-old carbon tax proves that it's possible to discourage fuel consumption and provide offsetting tax breaks without wrecking the economy.

But there is room to do more. At slightly more than 1 per cent of GDP, Canada's carbon taxes are the bottom of the pack among Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development countries.

Only the United States and Mexico tax carbon at a lower rate.

Norway has been redistributing its energy wealth since it discovered a gusher of oil and gas off its North Sea coast in the late 1960s.

The key elements of Norway's resource strategy are steep taxes (up to 78 per cent of resource profits), plus the creation of a government-owned oil company (Statoil) and a sovereign wealth fund (the Government Pension Fund Global) to sock away royalties for post-fossil-fuel generations.

Norway's sovereign wealth fund is now the world's largest, with assets of roughly $1-trillion (Canadian). That's the equivalent of $196,000 for each of the 5.1 million Norwegians.

The approach has proven to be both sound, and remarkably forward-thinking. Norway's oil reserves are slated to run dry in 2060. By law, the government can't dip into more than 4 per cent of the fund in any one year, ensuring there's money for future generations.

The dividends from Norway's oil wealth have been strategically reinvested into higher education, health care and research and development - much of it aimed at making the country's energy sector greener and more productive.

Too many of Canada's policies do the opposite.

Alberta's Heritage Savings Trust Fund, created by former premier Peter Lougheed in 1976 to save a chunk of oil royalties for future generations, has too often been used as a government ATM.

Years of pilfering have left the fund with just $17.5-billion, or less than $4,300 for every Albertan.

That's roughly enough cash to buy a couple of Calgary Flames season tickets in the cheap seats of the Saddledome. Alberta's entire nest egg is worth roughly half the surplus cash that Norway's Global fund generates every year.

Norway has managed to secure its financial future with less oil than Alberta. It has produced about 38 billion barrels of oil since 1971, compared to Alberta's 54 billion.

Ottawa has also been shortsighted about resource development. It has showered oil companies with generous tax breaks to spur risky projects in the oil sands and elsewhere, while doing too little to discourage emissions.

Norway is not Canada. Its economy is smaller, less diversified and much more oil-dependent. It is also one of the most expensive countries in the world - a place where a cappuccino can cost $10 and a burger twice as much.

But, surely, somewhere between doing nothing and wisely preparing for the future, there is a madein-Canada solution, capable of transforming us from environmental laggard to innovator.

Group of four First Nations in B.C. fight Petronas-led LNG project
Thursday, November 6, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

VANCOUVER -- A group of First Nations is fighting the Petronas-led Pacific NorthWest LNG project, marking the first time that aboriginals have outright rejected a liquefied natural gas proposal in British Columbia.

Aboriginal leaders have voiced their support in principle for B.C.'s fledgling LNG industry in the past, as long as the projects meet environmental standards to protect the land and water, but Pacific NorthWest LNG is facing criticism for choosing a site that critics say will harm juvenile salmon.

The opposition by the group of First Nations underscores a significant shift in sentiment because LNG shipments have been viewed as posing much less risk to the environment, compared with deep-rooted worries about oil spills into the Pacific Ocean.

The First Nations leaders want the joint venture, led by Malaysia's state-owned Petronas, to withdraw plans to build on Lelu Island because of fears that construction of an LNG terminal will damage eelgrass beds in Flora Bank, where young salmon swim.

Petronas has already warned that it will suspend the project for 15 years unless tax and regulatory issues are resolved, so the focus on saving the fish adds yet another layer of complexity to a delicate situation.

First Nations leaders had previously maintained an open mind toward B.C. LNG, in contrast to their fears and anger about the proposed Northern Gateway oil sands bitumen pipeline.

But some aboriginal groups are emboldened by what they see as success in fending off Northern Gateway and delaying other energy projects. They are now attempting to to thwart Pacific NorthWest LNG - widely seen by industry analysts as the project that will make a final investment decision first, ahead of 17 other proposals to export LNG from the West Coast to Asia.

Leaders from the Wet'suwet'en, Gitanyow, Lake Babine and Gitxsan say Pacific NorthWest LNG's proposed site at Lelu Island in northwestern British Columbia is the wrong place to locate an LNG export terminal because of the harm to salmon habitat in the estuary of the Skeena River, near Lelu Island. They say a new plan for a suspension bridge poses environmental risks that have not been properly evaluated, and their views have been largely ignored because their land and title is farther away from Lelu Island than other First Nations.

"You couldn't pick a worse place to put a B.C. project such as this," John Ridsdale, hereditary chief of the Wet'suwet'en Nation's Tsayu clan, said in an interview Wednesday. "The plan for Lelu Island is ludicrous."

Other First Nations, however, remain open to Pacific NorthWest LNG's plans to build an $11-billion export terminal near Prince Rupert, creating a difficult situation for the project to navigate.

In filings to environmental regulators, Pacific NorthWest LNG argues that it has consulted with aboriginals who are located closest to Lelu Island, notably the Metlakatla, Kitsumkalum, Kitselas, Gitxaala, Gitga'at and Lax Kw'alaams. Those First Nations have major concerns, but they have been willing to work with the project's officials to reduce environmental risks, according to the filings.

Spencer Sproule, Pacific NorthWest LNG's senior adviser of corporate affairs, said the venture is being subjected to a rigorous environmental review. "Our facility represents a generational opportunity for area First Nations in regard to long-term careers, business opportunities and skills training," Mr. Sproule said in a statement. "For the past two years, we have been in active consultation with First Nations that were identified by the governments of Canada and British Columbia as having levels of claim to the lands that we are proposing to construct our facility."

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency raised concerns in May about the fate of wild salmon, which are important for First Nations' food.

The Wet'suwet'en, Gitanyow, Lake Babine and Gitxsan, who voiced their criticisms at a news conference in Vancouver, say no amount of mitigation measures will satisfy them. Glen Williams of the Gitanyow suggested Pacific NorthWest LNG explore other sites near Prince Rupert.

Last month, the Petronas-led group proposed building a suspension bridge that would extend southwest for 1.6 kilometres away from Lelu Island. The suspension bridge, which would connect with a 1.1-kilometre-long jetty, is designed to vastly minimize dredging and avoid damaging the sensitive eelgrass beds for salmon in Flora Bank.

New worries about global trade
Signs of weakness in Europe, reduced economic gains in China spark worry for Canada's export ambitions
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

VANCOUVER -- Canada's hopes for a sharp increase in exports face uncertainty amid new signs of a slowdown in economic growth in key global markets.

Credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service Inc. warned that China's growth in gross domestic product could decline to less than 7 per cent next year, compared with 7.3 per cent this year. That is bound to have ripple effects through the global economy, which has recently showed signs of cooling.

Meanwhile, A.P. Moller-Maersk AS of Denmark, the world's largest container shipping firm, on Tuesday said it's seeing slowing activity in China and other emerging markets, along with persistent weakness in Europe.

Maersk reduced its prediction for global freight demand growth to a range of 3 to 5 per cent instead of 4 to 5 per cent for this year.

Though Moody's doesn't see a global recession on the horizon, it did warn that if China weakens more than expected, it will spell trouble.

"A protracted period of lower growth in China would affect the rest of the world by dampening trade. These effects would unfold over several years," Moody's said.

"With the Chinese economy accounting for more than 15 per cent of the G20 - and more than 40 per cent of global consumption of key industrial metals - lower growth in China would quickly be felt in other countries.

What originated as an acute correction in China's property sector would turn into a marked and protracted global slowdown."

While India could be a bright spot, Moody's cautioned that it doesn't envisage any significant growth spurt globally, calling for the G20 as a whole to have GDP growth of "around 3 per cent" next year and in 2016, compared with 2.8 per cent this year. Canada is forecast to have GDP growth of between 2 per cent and 3 per cent in each of the next two years.

Besides jitters over the Chinese economy, the outlook for global trade is murky because of the impact of instability in Ukraine and trade sanctions against Russia, though Europe will be hit harder than Canada and the United States, according to the rating agency.

"The growth outlook for emerging markets is mixed, with an ongoing slowdown in China, subdued growth expected to continue in Brazil and a shallow recession in Russia," the rating agency said. Maersk has still managed to thrive financially, despite overcapacity in the shipping industry.

"The operational result of the businesses is up on average about 10 per cent in a situation where rates have been under pressure and the oil price has been down compared to last year," Nils Andersen, group chief executive officer at Maersk, said in a video posted on the company's website.

Karen Ward, senior global economist at HSBC Holdings PLC, pointed out that oil prices have tumbled since June. "If oil prices are falling because of weaker global growth, this is hardly a good story for any country. Weaker demand could offset the benefit of lower costs," she said in a research note.

For Port Metro Vancouver, the country's largest port, slowerthan-expected growth in the world next year would take some of the shine off a winning streak in imports and exports.

Port Metro Vancouver handled a record number of containers in the first nine months of this year, and also enjoyed moving record-high cargo tonnage.

Shipments through the Port of Prince Rupert and the St. Lawrence Seaway have been robust in many categories such as grain this year. But there has been a plunge in exports of metallurgical or coking coal from Prince Rupert and a sharp drop in shipments of iron ore through the St. Lawrence Seaway. Metallurgical coal and iron ore are key ingredients in the production of steel.

"Weaker growth in China, particularly in commodity-intensive sectors like construction, is curtailing export growth globally," Moody's said. "The outlook for growth in India contrasts with the prospects of lower growth for longer in Brazil, South Africa and Russia."

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz expressed optimism last week that the U.S. economy is gaining traction, which in turn should bolster exports from Canada. "However, it is clear that our export sector is less robust than in previous cycles," Mr. Poloz said.

Encana plans to spend more as competitors move to scale back
Thursday, November 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

CALGARY -- Encana Corp. expects to sharply increase its budget next year, even as crude prices continue to slump and domestic competitors examine ways to pull back spending if the skid continues.

The Calgary energy company on Wednesday said it plans to spend "substantially" more in 2015 than the $2.5-billion (U.S.)

to $2.6-billion of outlays it expects this year. Indeed, Encana has already pledged to pour at least $1-billion into the Permian basin, a play it picked up in September as part of a flurry of deals it has completed to refocus the company on oil and natural gas liquids, rather than conventional natural gas.

Much of Encana's strategy depends on increasing production - a costly venture, but necessary if ot is to make good on its pledge to turn around the company after years of flat performance and shareholder returns.

"I do expect our budget to grow substantially from this year to next year because even in an $80 or $85 dollar oil price world, we'll still see substantial cash flow grow from where we started," Doug Suttles, Encana's chief executive, said during the company's third-quarter conference call.

"I'd expect you to see the predominance of the activity focused on what we consider is our top four plays: the Montney, the Duvernay, the Eagle Ford, and the Permian."

The company's plans for an aggressive budget comes as others in the sector are putting together budgets with room to trim in case weak energy prices continue to plague oil and gas producers.

West Texas Intermediate , the North American benchmark, lost ground again Wednesday, closing at $77.18 a barrel, down from levels over $100 in June.

Encana has taken steps to insulate itself from oil's drop.

Encana has locked in roughly 37,900 barrels of oil a day of expected production between October and December at an average price of $97.93 a barrel.

The company has not revealed whether it has hedges beyond 2014. Encana has not finalized its 2015 budget. The company said it expects its spending to match cash flow in 2015.

Encana spent about $9-billion this year to buy its way into Texas's Eagle Ford and Permian basin oil-rich plays. Its intentions in the Permian highlight its spending and production dilemma. Encana acquired land there with a deal in September to buy Athlon Energy Inc.

That company churns out 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, and Encana intends to spend at least $1-billion in the play to "ramp up" in the area from three horizontal rigs to at least seven in 2015.

For the energy sector, the oil price drop is a test of financial strength and future expectations.

"The message is if you have a strong balance sheet, you have the flexibility and the capabilities to somewhat persevere," Phil Skolnik, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity, said. "[But] there's a point where you have to face reality as well."

If oil holds steady at its current price for a year or so, companies will have to "conform to that new reality," he said.

Mature oil sands companies have options that come with less pain. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.'s 2015 budget, for example, is a hefty $8.6-billion (Canadian), but says it can quickly erase $2-billion from its plans if needed. Cenovus Energy Inc., Mr. Skolnik said, is hinting at similar flexibility.

While cuts would likely mean stalled growth plans for some oil sands companies, their current production would not plunge.

Energy production in shale resource plays, on the other hand, declines immediately and quickly if drilling is pulled back.

"It shows there are advantages to oil sands over shale," Mr. Skolnik. "It is a higher maintenance capital expenditure when you have shale versus oil sands."

Encana said it made $2.8-billion (U.S.) in the third quarter, compared with $188-million a year earlier. Its operating profit, excluding one-time gains, was $281-million or 38 cents a share, up from $150-million or 20 cents in the third quarter in 2013.

Encana (ECA) Close: $20.58, down 35¢

Sears faces credit card quandary as JPMorgan walks
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

Struggling department store chain Sears Canada Inc. has begun a search for a new credit card operator, after JPMorgan Chase & Co. served notice it will end its decade-long partnership with the Canadian retailer next November.

The two companies said Monday that the 10-year deal under which JPMorgan Chase runs the Sears credit card and Sears MasterCard operation will expire at the end of the contract on Nov. 15, 2015. The two firms will co-operate on a "request for proposal" process to find a new operator, and if the portfolio is sold, JPMorgan Chase will pay Sears Canada up to $174-million.

In the meantime, existing credit cards will still be valid. "Our customers will be able to continue to use their Sears Canada cards through to November, 2015, and we expect no interruption," said Ron Boire, Sears Canada's acting chief executive officer.

JPMorgan Chase has run the Sears Canada credit card unit since 2005, when it paid $2.3-billion for the business. At that time, Sears Canada had a very powerful credit card operation, with wide penetration among Canadian households.

At one point, more than 60 percent of sales at Sears Canada department stores were made on Sears credit cards, which was "an incredible number," according to retail analyst Keith Howlett at Desjardins Capital Markets.

While that proportion is far smaller now, and Sears Canada's overall sales are declining, Mr. Howlett still thinks the company will find another firm to run its credit card operation.

However, the terms of a new agreement "might be less attractive than they were with JPMorgan," Mr. Howlett said.

When it first signed the deal, JPMorgan Chase was keen to get a foothold in the credit card business in Canada - as were other U.S.-based financial institutions - but in recent years Canadian banks have taken greater control.

Mr. Howlett noted that TD Bank bought MBNA's credit card business in 2011, and might be interested in adding the Sears portfolio.

Sears Canada has not reported the revenue it generates from its credit cards since 2009, when it collected $74.8-million in fees under the JPMorgan Chase deal. By that point, the fees were declining, as were the chain's overall sales.

"The Sears business is in a state of collapse, so the credit [card] business that JPMorgan bought could not possibly be doing well," said Mark Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia Business School in New York and a former Sears Canada CEO.

Mr. Cohen said Sears Canada should not have sold the credit card business in the first place - he left the firm before the deal was done in 2005 - because it was an "integral part of the brand," and gave millions of customers a strong connection to the company. "All of that has gone down the drain," he said, adding that he finds it "terribly disheartening" to see Sears Canada shrinking.

Unless Sears Canada quickly finds a "competent acquirer" to run the card business, the departure of JPMorgan Chase could cause even more trouble for the retailer, because customers will feel "increasingly threatened and concerned," Mr. Cohen said. "The reputational issue that this poses casts a tremendous shadow on the [store] itself."

Sears Canada's parent company, Sears Holdings Corp., tried to find a buyer for the Canadian operation, but was unable to find any takers. Instead, it offered a rights issue to existing shareholders last month. As a result of that distribution, Sears Holdings now owns about 12 per cent of the company, and hedge fund ESL Investments Inc., owned by Sears Holdings chairman Edward Lampert, has about 49 per cent.

In recent months Sears Canada has closed stores and raised cash by selling leases of some of its key outlets, including the ones at the Toronto Eaton Centre and Vancouver's Pacific Centre, back to its landlords. It still has 176 corporate stores, and 222 Hometown stores, as well as travel offices and hundreds of catalogue pick-up locations.

When bad news is good news, stock valuations get stretched
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

The deteriorating global economy is making headlines, but stock market observers are more concerned about valuations than a recession right now.

The reason? Bad news about the economy simply pushes central banks into providing more stimulus, driving major indexes higher - but making valuations look even more concerning.

This sort of bad-news-is-goodnews theme has been playing out over the past week with remarkably upbeat results for stocks.

European blue chip have risen 2 per cent since the euro zone reported last week that its economy grew a mere 0.2 per cent in the third quarter, raising speculation that the European Central Bank will have to do something to combat the near-recession.

Japan's Nikkei 225 rebounded about 2 per cent on Tuesday, after dropping almost 3 per cent on Monday, when investors learned that the country's economy slid into recession in the third quarter. The index has rallied nearly 25 per cent since April.

The number of glum observations about the global economy is piling up, pretty much wherever you look.

Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, said last week that a "spectre is now haunting Europe - the spectre of economic stagnation.

British Prime Minister David Cameron warned at the G20 summit in Brisbane that high European unemployment, a slowdown among emerging markets, stalled global trade talks and conflict in the Middle East are "adding a dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty."

The International Air Transport Association blamed the weaker global economy for slower growth in air traffic in September.

And Nouriel Roubini, the New York University economist, has drawn a comparison between the global economy and a plane flying with one engine - that engine being the U.S. economy.

"So the question is whether and for how long the global economy can remain aloft," he said in a recent column. If investors are worried, they're not showing it.

The latest Bank of America survey of fund managers found that 77 per cent are expecting "below trend" economic growth - even as the majority expects stocks will outperform bonds and commodities in 2015.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 blasted to a record high on Tuesday, closing at 2,051.80, up 10.48 points.

But concerned market watchers aren't yet pointing to the global economy for their skittishness. Instead, they remain focused on an entirely different area: Stock valuations.

The latest fretting comes from Jeremy Grantham, the co-founder and chief investment strategist at asset manager GMO in Boston.

He argued in his just-released quarterly letter that the U.S. market is substantially overpriced and heading toward a "fullyfledged" bubble - starting when the S&P 500 hits 2,250 - that will end with a very serious decline.

Constructing a portfolio, he said, "is a particularly tough process today with nowhere to hide and no very good investments compared to, say, the time around the 2000 bubble when there were several."

His suggestion: Forget about comparing your results to a major benchmark index such as the S&P 500, and instead build a long-term portfolio that minimizes your exposure to risk.

As an example, he suggested allocating just 39 per cent of financial assets to equities and a gargantuan 17 per cent to cash (along with 30 per cent to fixed income and 14 per cent to "alternative strategies," which sounds geared toward institutional investors).

"My personal fond hope and expectation is still for a market that runs deep into bubble territory before crashing as it always does," he said. "Hopefully by then, but depending on what the rest of the world's equities do, our holdings of global equities will be down to 20 per cent or less."

Ottawa vows to protect 'Canada brand'
Resource companies that break corporate social responsibility rules to be punished by losing support from EDC, embassies
Friday, November 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

OTTAWA -- The federal government plans to punish mining and energy companies that run afoul of its new corporate social responsibility policy by withdrawing support they receive from agencies such as Export Development Canada and embassies abroad.

International Trade Minister Ed Fast is to announce the measure in a speech in Vancouver Friday, saying it is important to protect Canada's "brand" as a global heavyweight in the resource industries.

"Let there be no mistake," the minister says in a draft copy of the speech provided to The Globe and Mail, "Canada's expertise in the extractive sector is second to none; Canada is a world leader in sustainable technology, and in environmentally, ethnically and socially responsible business practices.

"That is the 'Canada brand' - it is how we are known throughout the world."

The government is launching a corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy as part of its broader effort to enhance the business prospects for resource companies abroad.

Toronto is a global centre for mining finance and Canadianbased companies are particularly prominent in the continents of Africa and South America, where more than 250 companies controlled $81-billion in assets in 2011.

Moving with the European Union and the United States, Ottawa is already set to impose new transparency standards on resource companies, having introduced legislation this fall that will require them to report all payments made to national, state and local governments both at home and abroad.

In the speech to be delivered Friday, Mr. Fast said he will appoint a new CSR counsellor to fill a post that has been empty for a year, and give the ombudsman role some teeth by insisting companies co-operate with the office or lose the support of the government. Many mining and oil companies rely on Export Development Canada to provide insurance against political risk and other losses, as well as lines of credit and other financial support. Commercial counsellors in embassies can play an important advisory role, particularly in politically unstable or violenceprone countries.

"Our message is clear: If you don't play ball by doing business the Canadian way, then we won't go to bat for you," he said.

While the Trade Minister extols the international reputation of Canadian companies, many critics have complained about human rights and labour abuse and poor environmental practices. And they argue that a government ombudsman should be given investigatory powers and the ability to ensure companies co-operate in arbitration cases.

Mr. Fast has now concluded a review of the corporate social responsibility policy that was first announced in 2009. Under the mandate of the CSR counsellor, company co-operation will still be voluntary and informal, but with a "hammer" that failure to adhere to Ottawa's policy and work with the counsellor will mean the forfeiture of government support. Ottawa will also require companies to adhere to CSR guidelines set out by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which include formal dispute settlement mediation.

The previous counsellor, Marketa Evans, was handicapped by the lack of enforcement power in her role as arbitrator of disputes between Canadian companies and local unions and communities. Ms. Evans drew criticism for spending time and money to attend conferences but doing little investigative work; she quietly resigned a year ago.

She was able to mediate none of the six cases that were filed with her office. One case involved Toronto-based Excellon Resources Ltd., which walked away from the process when Ms. Evans attempted to hold talks between the company and its workers at the La Platosa Mine in Durango, Mexico.

Coalition pushes to delay corruption rules
Under new rules, businesses charged with criminal offences in past 10 years may not sell goods or services to government
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

OTTAWA -- A powerful coalition of business groups wants Ottawa to suspend its new anti-corruption rules amid complaints the regime is too harsh and risks disqualifying many top suppliers from selling to the government.

The massive lobbying push comes after Ottawa threatened to ban companies such as HewlettPackard and Siemens AG for up to a decade because of corruption convictions in other countries.

The groups include the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and the Information Technology Association of Canada. Several other organizations are expressing similar concerns about the tougher federal rules, introduced in March, including Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Together, these associations represent roughly 250,000 Canadian businesses, including most of the largest employers in the country.

Ottawa should suspend the rules while the government works out a new anti-corruption regime in consultation with industry, argued John Manley, president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

"This really needs to be given some serious thought," Mr. Manley said. "I don't think the best policy is one that says 'we're out to punish companies who've had one bad actor.' The purpose ought to be to ensure that companies take the measures that are necessary to prevent these things from happening."

Under the new regime, companies looking to sell products or services to Ottawa must certify that neither they nor their affiliates have been charged with any of a long list of criminal offences anywhere in the world, including bribery and fraud, in the past 10 years. Unlike the United States and the European Union, Canada doesn't offer convicted companies a way to get reinstated, such as dismissing employees involved or introducing new anti-corruption policies.

The industry groups say they agree with Ottawa on the need for tough anti-corruption rules. But they argue the Canadian regime may actually discourage companies from coming clean and doing the right thing.

"Some companies will just pull out of the market and you're not going to fix this issue," warned Martin Lavoie, director of policy for the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.

The rules, introduced by Public Works and Government Services Canada, are causing widespread uncertainty throughout the vast network of government suppliers, complained Karna Gupta, president and chief executive of the Information Technology Association of Canada, which speaks for 33,300 high tech companies.

"There is no criteria on how an organization is implicated, nor is there a mechanism to take into account the corrective action a corporation may take," Mr. Gupta said.

He said his members want a "strong, practical and predictable process."

Ottawa risks causing a chain of unintended consequences, including losing access to the best available technology, paying inflated prices and harming hundreds of unwitting subcontractors swept up in the crackdown, Mr. Manley pointed out. "If you put big companies out of the running, you also affect small businesses that rely on them," said Mr. Manley, who like other association presidents has been meeting with officials in various departments on the file.

Federal officials have argued the current purchasing rules already allow ample flexibility, including the power to wave the ban in the "national interest," on a case-by-case basis. Ottawa has said it has no plans to allow debarred companies to win reinstatement for good behaviour, as many other countries do.

Public Works officials did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

"I haven't seen any suggestion of movement," Mr. Manley said. "But clearly there is a willingness to listen. That's a start."

Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has made the most significant move of his tenure: Canadian catcher Russell Martin is set to join the team on a five-year deal. And with this signing comes a new sense of urgency for the team
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

A while back, Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos was looking for a new car. He settled on a Honda. He didn't purchase it. Instead, he took out a lease.

I'm not sure exactly what Anthopoulos makes, but it's enough to buy a Honda for every day of the week.

Why the lease?

We were sitting in the Blue Jays plush executive offices. Anthopoulos leaned back and opened his arms, taking in the scope of the place.

"Because, all this ..." he said. "You just never know."

That's the core of Anthopoulos - a son of working-class immigrants, a man who treats other people's money as he would his own and someone who exercises caution in all his dealings.

That's what makes the Russell Martin deal significant. This is Anthopoulos going against his basic nature.

On Monday, Anthopoulos made Martin the premier free agent signing of his tenure. The Torontoborn, Montreal-raised catcher will join the Jays on a five-year, $82-million (U.S.) deal, as first reported by's Peter Gammons.

Five years ago, Anthopoulos described a five-year, $65-million extension for Jose Bautista as "a little bit beyond my limit."

The economics of the game have inflated in the interim, but that was a deal for a guy who was, at the time, the best offensive player in baseball. The newest recruit is nowhere close to that level, but he gets the same consideration.

Martin is not young - he'll be 32 by opening day.

The Jays have many needs, and catcher was low on the list. And he's coming off the best year of his career - always a danger sign.

Martin is a decent offensive upgrade, and a major defensive one, on the team's catching incumbent, Dioner Navarro.

He's talented at every part of the game, but has only one standout skill - pitch framing. If you believe the numbers, Martin is worth between one and three wins a year for his ability to massage umpires. That's what the Jays are buying here.

I first talked to him when he was breaking in with the Dodgers. He had a fascinating SoCal/Canada hybrid personality - cocky, but wearing it with ease.

"I don't want to sound egotistical when I say this, but I don't really have any, like, weaknesses," Martin said at the time.

He was right. What's changed since then is the perception of his intangibles.

A lot of people outside the game don't go in for such things these days. According to that school of thought, if you can't put a number on it, it doesn't really matter. This is in stark contrast to people inside the game. They still put an awful lot of stock in things that can't be measured.

What Martin has is the knack of winning. His teams have made the playoffs seven of the past nine years.

He is also much loved by colleagues. They call those sorts of players "professionals." (Baseball translation: You can live with the guy for eight months without feeling the daily urge to beat him to death.)

The Jays are lacking in that regard. If the team's unloved ace, R.A. Dickey, is amongst the dominoes that begin to fall, you'll be able to trace that decision back to this one.

Still, it's the size of the deal that gives you pause. The Jays have a self-imposed five-year limit on signings.

In order to get Martin, they've gone over the top and right up to their threshold. It's not a huge bet by baseball standards, but it's eye-popping by Toronto standards.

There are two optimistic ways to look at any sizable free-agent flyer - as value for money, or a spree that can be justified in the short term.

This is a spree. It is difficult to imagine a 36-year-old anyone - and especially a 36-year-old catcher - being worth nearly $20-million a year.

But good stewardship eventually gives way to ownership impatience and a GM's instinct for survival. With this deal, Anthopoulos has finally passed beyond his "reasonable" stage.

Throughout his five years in charge, Anthopoulos has taken a lot of bullets for team owner Rogers Communications Inc. on the subject of spending.

He's done it happily - there is no behind-the-scenes dissent over budgets.

Anthopoulos was allowed to pick his spots - well, one spot - with the trade for Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson.

Otherwise, he's run a majormarket team with a somewhat less than major-market financial approach.

The challenge plainly appeals to his methodical cast of mind.

Some people can't enjoy chess unless they're winning. Anthopoulos just enjoys chess. However, the time for strategic puzzles is over.

Inside the organization, the Jays felt the 2014 season was lost due to injuries and bad luck. There was no postseason despair. They still think they are a favourite to win the American League East. They knew they had to change, but they didn't think they had to change all that much.

The arrival of Russell Martin points to a ... let's call it a new sense of urgency.

Anthopoulos and his employers now have a shortterm understanding, one that will never be said aloud.

Either this team makes it to the upcoming postseason, or bodies start getting thrown overboard.

On Monday, Anthopoulos put his hand up, signalling that he's willing to be the first if things don't go to plan.

Follow me on Twitter:@CathalKelly

Associated Graphic

Russell Martin is an upgrade both offensively and defensively.


'Simple Gio' is actually extraordinary, and the Flames are benefiting
Friday, November 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


On the first day back after a long and mostly successful 3-2 road trip, Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano was surrounded by reporters, eager to discuss what's going right for him these days. Giordano is naturally self-effacing, one of those players who can easily deflect all talk of their own success toward the team perspective. But this time, the pack was insistent and unrelenting. Giordano may play defence for the Flames - lots of minutes every night - but he is also unexpectedly tied for No. 5 in the overall NHL scoring race.

Calgary wasn't expected to contend for a playoff spot this season, largely because Calgary didn't have much of an offensive pedigree to get excited about.

But the Flames were a respectable 9-6-2 heading into Thursday night's home date with the Arizona Coyotes, largely because Giordano, his defensive partner, T.J. Brodie, and Dennis Wideman were running first, second and fourth on the team scoring list.

To say this represented a breakout year for Giordano would be misleading. He had 47 points in 64 games last year, which, prorated over a full season, would have put him in contention for the defensive scoring title a year ago. He was legitimately considered for a spot on the 2014 Canadian men's Olympic team and received a phone from general manager Steve Yzerman after he just missed the cut, asking him to be ready in case of injury.

So, though he is something of a well-kept secret outside of Calgary, the NHL world had already sat up and noticed Giordano last season already. But to be first in defensive scoring, with 19 points in 17 games, and in the company of the Crosbys and the Kessels? This was unexpected. When NHL teams hit the quarter point of their season in about a week's time, Giordano will likely be talked about as the early season leader in the Norris Trophy race.

These are heady times for the NHL's reigning player of the season, and eventually, Giordano is forced to concede that yes, the way the pucks are going in - and the way the scoring totals are mounting - is a fun thing.

"When you're on a streak and you're scoring, it feels great - there's no way around that," Giordano said. "Especially the way we've been going, you feel like you're contributing to winning games. You don't want to jinx it or anything, but you know what? You get a few second assists here and there and all of sudden, it looks like you've had great games. I just try to be consistent defensively and the offence, we've gotten the green light to go and create from the back end, and that's what we do."

Inevitably, the arc of these stories will shift at some point later in the season, when Giordano has a cold patch and all the pucks that are going in suddenly stop. Then, naturally, it will be turned around. "What's wrong?" people will ask.

As a 10-year vet, Giordano understands the ebb and flow to every season and the most important thing is to make sure that, defensively, he and Brodie continue to play well, in the hard, big minutes assigned to them by coach Bob Hartley.

"Honestly, I feel more pressure to stop goals from going into our net," Giordano said. "Playing against other teams' top two lines most nights, you have to be ready for them to create offence and get their chances.

"What me and Brods have tried to do on our end is go back the other way and play in their end. You know they're going to get one or two here and there, but our goal is to get one the other way so it evens out."

Running out of adjectives to describe what Giordano means to the team, Hartley made an interesting comparison. In their demeanour and how they carry themselves, Hartley saw similarities between Giordano and his long-time captain with the Colorado Avalanche, the Hall of Famer Joe Sakic.

"He's a good person," Hartley said. "He cares about everything. He's all about team - taking care of his teammates and the organization. That's what we want to create here. We want to be more than a team. We want to be a family.

"In Denver, they were calling Joe Sakic 'Ordinary Joe.' Well, maybe over here, we have 'Simple Gio.'

"I know we can always count on him."

In the meantime, as Giordano piles up the points, he's getting lots of calls from old friends in the Toronto area, who restrict their hockey playing to the fantasy leagues.

"Right now, it's going pretty good in the fantasy," Giordano said. "I get a lot of support, lots of guys are calling, telling me they've added me or dropped me."

Hard to believe actually that anyone would be dropping Giordano now - or any time soon - not with top-shelf defencemen at a premium, no matter if you play fantasy hockey, or the real thing on the ice. The Flames executed a neat trick in the first month - they stayed in the playoff race in the Western Conference.

It doesn't guarantee them a spot because most of the really good teams are off to a stuttering start and will eventually find their grooves. But thanks to Giordano and Brodie and the goalkeeping, they aren't out of it either, a good and mostly unexpected development that's providing hope where there hasn't been any for a long time.

Follow me on Twitter:@eduhatschek

Raptors need better test than lowly Sixers
Monday, November 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


This is the first time in their history the Toronto Raptors have held the sole lead in the NBA's Eastern Conference.

After absolutely crushing the abysmal Philadelphia 76ers, they're 6-1. By the end of their current homestand, they could be 10-2 or 9-3. That's neither a best nor worst case. It's just a case.

So, by the third week in November, this team will already have functionally qualified for the playoffs. The Toronto Raptors being that good makes you question many other assumptions in your life - like, say, the Laws of Thermodynamics or gravity.

It's awfully early, but you'd still like someone in the organization to do a little happy dance. No dice.

"It's great for the fans. It's great for the players to see that. But it's not the most important thing right now. The most important thing is developing a consistent personality," said coach Dwane Casey.

In an effort to express that personality, Casey has developed a series of horse-racing analogies.

A few days ago, it was Seabiscuit (i.e. a slow starter).

Then, after an opening sprint against Washington, it was Secretariat (i.e. a fast starter).

Now it's Bold Ruler, best remembered as a stud. So ... draw your own conclusions.

On Sunday, they played the worst team in the NBA, and quite possibly, the worst team in all of sports.

Do you have a beer-league team at work? A bunch of friends, every one of them well into the middle-age slide? Usually only practise 10 minutes before games? Do you usually draw those mutants from Maintenance, most of whom you are pretty sure are ringers? Right, well, you're still better than the 76ers.

The 76ers are an exaggerated version of Raptors squads past.

The key difference - they were purpose-built to lose. Fielding a roster of promising greenhorns and D-League scrubs, they're doing a hell of a job at it.

This is no longer an NBA team. It's a human study into the longterm effects of tanking.

To their credit, they are triers. Most of their trying involves taking hopeless fouls and missing free throws. They were down 19 early, at which point the Raptors engaged their autopilot. They haven't had the opportunity to test that much this year, so it's good news to find out it still works.

It finished 120-88. Standouts for the Raptors: Everyone. Standouts for the 76ers: the team psychologist, his therapist and everyone in their lives who has to listen to them talk about basketball.

The 76ers leave Toronto having lost their first seven games.

They'll probably win 10 or so during this season. They may not get the first overall pick, but karmically, it should be theirs.

It's still fun to imagine the 76ers becoming the inverse of '72 Dolphins - mythically awful. Of all the world's cities, only Philadelphia could properly absorb that sort of psychological scarring.

We'd feel really sorry for them, if we hadn't been them for most of 20 years. As such, we live in a very comfortable combination of commiseration and smug superiority.

That feeling won't last. Two weeks into the regular season, we still have no real idea what this Toronto team is all about. They're winning, but it rarely looks easy (Sunday night being a not-so-notable exception).

The offence is exciting, but choppy. The defence is sporadic, and occasionally non-existent.

The whole works, but the parts are a mess.

The off-season sell-line on this team was that it made sense to keep them together - the value of familiarity over minor, speculative improvements in talent.

They don't look like that sort of team. They look like they're trying to figure each other out.

Thus far, the Raptors braintrust doesn't have the team they expected. Instead, they have the team they want.

Going into Sunday, the combined record of Raptors opponents this year was 17-26.

Eventually, they'll have to start playing teams from the West, and the few in the East who are any good.

There are two ways that can go.

First, the lethargic starts and mid-game brownouts begin showing in the results. That team still makes the playoffs with a decent shot, but it's not much better than the one we'd seen last year. Given current expectations (shortly to break atmosphere and go into low-Earth orbit), that team would be a pretty huge downer.

Second, they figure out. If that happens (and stay healthy - something they've been scary good at), this Raptors squad is capable of just about anything.

It is the luxury of great teams that they are permitted to view the regular season as a whole, leading them into the real season. Toronto's never tasted that good life. They've lived day-today through their entire history.

They're going to have that chance soon.

We're well off the basketball map, people. We are sailing in strange waters. Somebody should call San Antonio and ask to borrow their depth charts.

This isn't yet a great team. But it suddenly has that potential.

Follow me on Twitter:@cathalkelly

Associated Graphic

Sixers guard Tony Wroten takes a shot as Jonas Valanciunas, left, and Amir Johnson try to block during Sunday's game.


Crompton set for first CFL playoff start
Montreal quarterback gets his first test in a win-or-go-home game, in East semi-final against B.C.
The Canadian Press
Saturday, November 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

MONTREAL -- The wild ride that Jonathan Crompton has been on this season will now take him to his first CFL playoff game.

The 27-year-old who was cut from his job as a backup quarterback by the Edmonton Eskimos in July put up an unlikely 8-2 record since taking over as the Montreal Alouettes' starter in August.

His numbers were so-so and he was hardly dazzling behind centre, but the Asheville, N.C. native earned enough wins for the Alouettes to turn a 1-7 record into a 9-9 mark and claim second place in the East Division.

He will get his first playoff start Sunday when the Alouettes play host to the crossover B.C. Lions in the East Division semi-final at Percival Molson Stadium.

"I don't think I'm trying to prove anything to myself," Crompton said Friday. "We're out here as a team, trying to make sure we execute our game plan."

Crompton is not at the point where he says a lot to the media. But neither did Anthony Calvillo when he first became the Montreal starter in 2000, before he went on to win three Grey Cups and set the league's passing record before he retired after the 2013 season.

Finding a replacement for Calvillo was a nightmare early in the campaign, as his designated successor, Troy Smith, struggled to find receivers, then got injured and then was let go.

The experienced Alex Brink didn't do much better, and Tanner Marsh didn't get much action other than running the ball on short yardage plays.

Then along came Crompton, who looked good in his first appearance in relief of Brink in a loss at Winnipeg on Aug. 22.

He took over as the starter the next week against Ottawa and the team went on a roll. It helped that the Alouettes had made an in-season coaching change that brought in former CFL and NFL q star Jeff Garcia to handle the J quarterbacks.

Thanks mostly to remarkable play by the defence, the Alouettes won games even though Crompton did not have a single game with 300 yards passing.

The Alouettes had won six in a row before a regular season-ending loss in bad weather in Hamilton last week in which he passed for a season high 284 yards.

Now, Crompton gets his first test in a win-or-go-home game.

"I expect him to handle it like he's handled most of the games he's started, which has been pretty good," said general manager Jim Popp. "He's that type of guy.

"He'll go with the flow. Hopefully we can just manage the game, take care of the ball and give us a chance."

He has done that. Crompton threw 11 touchdown passes while being picked off only eight times.

After the team's early season quarterback woes, all-star tackle Josh Bourke is glad to have a pivot that gets the job done.

"I think he'd admit he's still a work in progress, along with our whole offence," Bourke said. "He has a calm demeanour. He's very confident and he commands the huddle well.

"The good thing is we don't need him to throw for 500 yards. He doesn't have to be A.C.

because of how good the defence is. That's the good news. We don't need five touchdown passes, just take care of the ball, don't turn it over and score when we have short fields. That's what he's been able to do."

Crompton has developed chemistry with Montreal's top receiver Duran Carter, whose used a second half surge to finish third in the league with 75 catches for 1,030 yards. But he has other weapons in S.J. Green and Brandon London he can use more.

"Everybody has big play ability for us," Crompton said. "S.J. with the deep ball threat, Duran who breaks a tackle and he's gone, Brandon with the jump ball ability.

"We've got to get them the ball and let them work in space. I think we've done a good job of that this week in practice. Now's the time to put it to the test."

It was unclear who will carry the ball. Brandon Whitaker remains on the six-game injured list, while Tyrell Sutton is battling an ankle injury. Sutton didn't practise this week and, for the first time, coach Tom Higgins admitted he may not play. Brandon Rutley may be called in off the practice roster, and they also have Chris Rainey on hand.

Kick returner James Rodgers also looks doubtful, although defensive back Geoff Tisdale has practised and should return from a concussion.

As Taylor relishes his win, he also has faith in the future: 'It's looking bright for Canadian golf'
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

In the hours after rookie Nick Taylor captured his maiden PGA Tour victory in Mississippi on Sunday, he didn't exactly celebrate. He did laundry, had a quiet dinner with his roommate, fellow Canadian Adam Hadwin, and called it a night at 10 o'clock.

Maybe Taylor was still a little stunned that he actually won, something few Canadians do - only Mike Weir and Stephen Ames have recorded PGA Tour victories in the previous seven seasons. In a post-round interview, in fact, he described the circumstances of his triumph as "surreal."

But by the next morning, the impact of his accomplishment began to sink in. On a conference call with reporters, he talked about how, as a Tour winner, he has the luxury of choosing which events he'd like to play for the rest of the 201415 season.

That's huge for any pro golfer, but especially for a PGA Tour rookie vying for the few available spots in tournament fields. Now he can forgo the week-toweek grind he had anticipated just to try and maintain his Tour status. His new schedule includes the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January, the Players Championship next May and the PGA Championship in August.

"It's exciting that I'll get to pick my schedule and take breaks when I want to and not be playing the waiting game all year," said a still-subdued Taylor, who won in only his fourth try as a PGA Tour regular after failing to win in four seasons on either the Tour or PGA Tour Canada. He added: "This definitely gives me more confidence, knowing that I can compete at this level. And now, at the bigger events, I will feel more comfortable on the weekends when I'm close to the lead."

Taylor, who was born in Winnipeg but grew up in Abbotsford, B.C., first honed his craft at Ledgeview Golf and Country Club in the Lower Mainland. He spent three seasons as a member of Golf Canada's national team, he won the national amateur championship and four college tournaments while at the University of Washington and for 21 consecutive weeks in 2009, he was ranked the world's No. 1 amateur.

He left college for the pro ranks in 2010 after finishing as the low amateur at the 2009 U.S. Open Championship and recipient of the 2010 Ben Hogan Award as the outstanding player in collegiate golf. As a result, he was deemed the next can't-miss Canadian prospect - a title that has proven difficult to live up to for many previous top players.

The past few years have been a mix of success and failure as Taylor wandered through the lesser golf tours, looking to build the confidence he needed and move closer to that elusive PGA Tour card.

He turned to the Vancouver Golf Tour, a mini-tour started in 2006 by Fraser Mulholland to give players a platform to gain valuable playing experience in a PGA Tour-type environment. Success at home helped Taylor rediscover his golf game and, more importantly, learn how to win again.

"I think what people don't understand is, even though I was No. 1 in the world, when I turned pro I had status nowhere. Everything is earned," said Taylor, who admitted he endured discouraging periods of self-doubt. "It's taken me a couple of extra years than people thought, [but] if you had told me four years ago when I turned pro this would have been the road I would have taken, I wouldn't have done anything different."

Taylor gained even more confidence from his recent run of solid play, and the 26-year-old credits that momentum for pushing him over the line on Sunday at the Sanderson Farms Championship.

"Six months ago, you couldn't convince me that I would have been on the PGA Tour, let alone winning," said Taylor, who needed a blistering final round at the Tour Championship two months ago just to secure his PGA Tour card.

He may have become the first Canadian to win on Tour since Ames in 2009, but he's confident he'll have a few more compatriots to share the spotlight with in the near future.

"If you look at the college ranks," he said, "we have a lot of great players, and I think that's going to continue. It's looking bright for Canadian golf, that's for sure."

Associated Graphic

With his maiden PGA Tour victory in Mississippi on Sunday, Nick Taylor became the first Canadian to win on the Tour since Stephen Ames in 2009.


Als, Esks book tickets to CFL finals
The West Eskimos quarterbacks outlast Roughriders to set up date with Stampeders
Monday, November 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

It was a West Division semi-final billed as the battle of the Plan B QBs, because that was as much as the Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders could muster.

Up for Edmonton was Matt Nichols, the 27-year-old reserve quarterback earning the start for the injured Mike Reilly. For Saskatchewan, it was Kerry Joseph, the 41-year-old retread who came out of retirement to fill in for the injured Darian Durant. At stake was a trip to the Western Final to face the Calgary Stampeders.

By the end of a frosty afternoon at Commonwealth Stadium, it was Nichols who did just enough to take Edmonton to a 10-point lead en route to an 18-10 win. Added to the victory was Reilly getting some playing time in the second half and an Edmonton defence that had its way with Joseph and the Riders.

"After we lost last week [to the Riders in their regular season finale] we made up our minds we weren't going to be pushed around again," Edmonton linebacker Rennie Curran told reporters. "It was a low-scoring game this time and we had to set the tempo ... This is a huge opportunity for us."

There will be a new Grey Cup champion crowned later this month. The Riders accomplished one for the record books in 2013 by winning the Grey Cup on their home turf in Regina. That win had a lot to do with Durant being healthy and running back Kory Sheets running wild before signing with the Oakland Raiders.

On Sunday, Joseph entered the CFL record book, too. He did so by air-mailing five interceptions. He threw back-to-back picks in the first quarter, then added another two in the second quarter. He followed that with a 54-yard touchdown toss to Korey Williams in the third quarter. But after adding a fifth interception, Joseph was stapled to the bench and replaced by Tino Sunseri.

It was a performance in keeping with how Saskatchewan had played during a sometimesawful, sometimes-good regular season. As general manager Brendan Taman had said before the semi-final, "We're a hard team to figure, and that's from within, too."

Here's how poorly the Saskatchewan offence operated, aside from the five interceptions: Joseph and Sunseri were sacked and pressured continuously; their offensive line was called for procedure and holding; nothing much seemed to work, even the running game. The Riders couldn't have done this poorly if they had practised it all week.

The Eskimos' biggest fault all game was failing to score touchdowns, given the turnovers they created and the field position they garnered. Head coach Chris Jones had worried about that lack of a finishing touch during his halftime interview. He was so worried that when Nichols couldn't throw effectively downfield, Reilly was sent in despite having a broken bone in his right foot.

"It was so good to get back out on the field," Reilly acknowledged. "You have to have confidence. Matt put us in a good position to win the game. There's always a little uncertainty [coming off an injury], but as the game wore on I felt more confident."

Reilly completed six of eight passes to settle things down. Both Reilly and Nichols were benefactors of John White, the Edmonton running back who carried the ball 19 times for 134 yards. White had blown up the Riders in their last meeting, but as good as the Saskatchewan defence was, it wasn't able to slow White, let alone stop him.

"He's a real good running back.

He's damn good," Taman said.

"To me, he's their Kory Sheets. If he's held in check, you've got a good chance of beating them. If you can't do it, it's awfully tough to beat them."

The Eskimos got their touchdown on an 84-yard punt return by Kendial Lawrence in the second quarter. The win was Edmonton's third in four games against Saskatchewan. It should send a ripple of confidence through the Eskimos as they now prepare for a visit to McMahon Stadium to play the first-place Stampeders.

Having Reilly and Nichols ready to play at quarterback, White to run the ball and a defence that can crush an opponent, the Eskimos have what they need to keep their postseason hopes alive, perhaps all the way to the Grey Cup.

Associated Graphic

Edmonton Eskimos Eddie Steele, left, Otha Foster, centre, and Mike Dubuisson celebrate their West semi-final win.


Colorado a team in turmoil after warning signs ignored
Avalanche boast a strong core of young players, but after stumbling out of the gate this season, it's clear this team has plenty to worry about, James Mirtle writes
Thursday, November 6, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

TORONTO -- When the betting lines came out in early September, a week before NHL training camps opened, the oddsmakers weren't exactly high on the Colorado Avalanche.

A 112-point team last season, they had dipped to an over/under of 98.5 in the eyes of the bookies.

But when the public got a look at the line, they went with the under, hard and fast. So hard, in fact, that it started dropping within hours, first to 96.5 then 95.5.

These days, those folks driving it down seem pretty smart.

Fourteen games into the season, the Avs are reeling. They head into Thursday's meeting with the Toronto Maple Leafs on a three-game losing streak and with a 3-6-5 record that has been kept as high as it is only due to netminder Semyon Varlamov's terrific play. As far as the line is concerned, they're on pace for only 64 points.

As early as it is, that's not fatal. But the warning signs are everywhere that this is a team in turmoil after so many accolades last season.

Being booed off the ice after another stinker, a 5-2 loss to visiting Vancouver, earlier this week didn't help.

"Maybe it is time to start worrying a little," the Denver Post's Adrian Dater wrote. "Or maybe a lot."

"We have talked and talked about what we need to do, but if we don't start doing it, the season is going to slip through our fingers," defenceman Erik Johnson said.

"If we don't wake up soon, it's going to be too late." The Avs and Leafs are sort of twins in a sense because both organizations have been down this troubled path. Toronto was the team every analytics aficionado out there picked for a drop in the standings prior to last season, and it came in the form of a playoff-less 84point year.

That brought in sweeping changes, with new assistant coaches, an analytics team and new management willing to embrace the idea that getting heavily outshot night after night wasn't a sustainable way to win.

Colorado's not there yet. The Avs off-season - which included losing Paul Stastny and PA Parenteau and bringing in Jarome Iginla, Danny Brière and Brad Stuart as the cavalry - wasn't great, and it appears to have only exacerbated their issues.

A team with some of the brightest young talent in the Western Conference is 23rd in goals scored and better than only woeful Buffalo in possession at 42.9 per cent.

They've already been hammered territorially by several teams, good (Minnesota) and not as good (Toronto), and are relying on a defence core where Nick Holden is the No. 2 and Stuart is counted on for 20 minutes a night.

The things that have gone their way - the goaltending and the league-best penalty kill - may not be sustainable, although Varlamov's certainly made a case early that last year was no fluke.

What you can't take away from Colorado is the nice foundation they've built with Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly down the middle, remarkable centre depth in a league where teams are desperate for anything close to having two of those three.

Young defenceman Tyson Barrie looks like a player. Captain Gabriel Landeskog obviously does, too.

All is not lost, in other words - especially if the end result of all this losing is another decent draft pick.

Even still, none of this wears particularly well on the former Avs greats in charge. There were clear warning signs there that this could happen - hence all those bets against them - and they largely ignored them.

"At the end of the day, it's who wins the game," general manager Joe Sakic told the Post in September, in one particularly controversial article that suggested the analytics were off-base on the Avs.

"We gave up a lot of shots, yes," last year's coach of the year, Patrick Roy, added at one point during the off-season. "But it's not a concern to us."

Here's betting it will be come the summer of 2015.

Follow me on Twitter:@mirtle

McDavid injury will have repercussions - but not for long
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

ERIE, PA. --

Over his three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League, Connor McDavid had never been in an honest-to-God, glovesdropped, punches-thrown fight.

He decided to try it for the first time on Monday night. It ended in a small disaster.

It was midway through the second period. Small crowd. Game well in hand for his Erie Otters. McDavid sitting on a goal and an assist.

After a very minor ruck behind the net, McDavid, 17, turned to skate back up ice. The Mississauga Steelheads' Bryson Cianfrone took a two-handed swipe at him. McDavid wheeled back and engaged, full-assault mode.

It was going fine until Cianfrone turned protectively into the corner. McDavid missed badly with a downward-angled punch and slammed his fist fullforce into the glass. He came out of the fight clutching his right hand. He headed first to the penalty box, but was told he'd been ejected for pulling off Cianfrone's helmet.

He left the ice quickly and clearly angry. The crowd got very quiet. He was taken to a local hospital for X-rays. As of this writing, his exact condition was unknown; the team announced he'd be examined by a hand specialist and was "out indefinitely." But as one member of the team's PR staff put it: "It's not looking good."

It's not looking good for a bunch of people.

First of all, it's not looking good for the Erie Otters. They've lost the best junior player on the planet. People are also going to wonder why no one jumped in on McDavid's behalf (though, in fairness, there was no real time to do that).

They'll also wonder why a player known for his unusual sense of calm on the ice suddenly snapped.

"You can't hold him back and take the bite out of him," Erie coach Kris Knoblauch said afterward, somewhat weakly. You certainly can if the hands doing that biting are worth many wins for you and many millions of dollars in the future.

It's also not looking good for Canada's national junior team. The world juniors begin in six weeks in Montreal and Toronto. McDavid is the unchallenged star of that group. Without him, Canada is still a favourite, but much less of one. As deep as that team is, there is no replacing a player of McDavid's calibre.

The Buffalo Sabres will not be thinking the world looks very cheery this morning. They haven't just gone all in to get McDavid at the first-overall spot in the 2015 draft. They look as if they've stopped trying altogether.

Another lost season in Buffalo can only be mitigated by the arrival of a fully healthy McDavid in a few months' time.

This will also raise questions - very minor ones - about McDavid, himself.

A skater this fluid and mesmeric, the sort who embarrasses opponents, is going to be chopped and hacked at for the entirety of his career. McDavid is a solid but rangy 6-foot-1 and listed at 190 pounds (probably more like 175180). He'll have to learn to let others do what's necessary to maintain order out there.

Asked if he would have a word with his player when he returns, Knoblauch smiled wryly and said: "He knows how disappointing it can be [to get injured in a fight]. I don't think anyone will have to say anything to him."

Whatever the injury, it will heal. There is still every chance McDavid plays in the world juniors. That's very likely when his already ascendant star goes supernova.

Based on what we've seen of this kid, it's likely to stay that way for many, many years. He is an uncannily old soul in a body of Olympian ability.

Years from now, if everything goes to script, this may have been a very important night in the life of one of hockey's great players.

It was the night he learned that looking for a Gordie Howe hat trick only makes sense if you're Gordie Howe.

Follow me on Twitter:@cathalkelly

Associated Graphic

Connor McDavid

Kershaw, Kluber win Cy Young Awards
As expected, the Dodgers pitcher earned the NL pitching prize for the second year in a row, getting all 30 first-place votes
The Associated Press
Thursday, November 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

NEW YORK -- Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw was a unanimous choice for his third National League Cy Young Award, and Cleveland's Corey Kluber edged Seattle's Felix Hernandez to win the American League honour for the first time.

Kershaw led the majors in victories and ERA and threw a nohitter, going 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA for the NL West champions.

Now, the big question: Is he the MVP, too?

The 26-year-old lefty with a wicked curveball will find out Thursday if he's the first NL pitcher to sweep the MVP and Cy Young honours since Bob Gibson in 1968.

As expected, Kershaw earned the pitching prize for the second year in a row, getting all 30 firstplace votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America announced Wednesday.

"Pretty cool," Kershaw said after the MLB Network telecast.

Johnny Cueto of Cincinnati was second with 112 points, followed by Adam Wainwright of St. Louis (97) and World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner of San Francisco (28).

"As far as the regular season is concerned, it was a ton of fun," Kershaw said.

Voting was completed before the start of the postseason. Kershaw went 0-2 with a 7.82 ERA in a division series loss to St. Louis, leaving him at 1-5 with a 5.12 ERA in his postseason career.

Kluber received 17 of 30 firstplace votes and 169 points, while Hernandez got 13 firsts and 159 points. Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox was third with 78 points.

A 28-year-old right-hander, Kluber went 18-9 to tie for the AL lead in wins. He had a 2.44 ERA in his first full major-league season and 269 strikeouts, two behind league-leader David Price.

Kluber pitched consecutive 14strikeout games in September, the first to accomplish the feat since Arizona's Randy Johnson in 2004. He became Cleveland's fourth Cy Young winner, joining Gaylord Perry (1972), CC Sabathia (2007) and Cliff Lee (2008).

Hernandez, who won the AL award in 2010, went 15-6 with a 2.44 ERA. He struck out 248 in 236 innings.

From the start, Kershaw was headed toward his third Cy Young in four seasons.

He won the major league season opener in Australia on March 22, then a strained upper back put him on the disabled list for the first time in his sevenyear career.

Once he returned, he was nearly unbeatable - and kept looking more and more like his friend, Dodgers Hall of Fame lefty Sandy Koufax.

Kershaw joined Koufax as one of nine pitchers with at least three Cy Youngs. Roger Clemens leads the list with seven.

The previous pitcher with a unanimous win was Detroit's Justin Verlander, who took the AL Cy Young and MVP in 2011. A year earlier, Philadelphia's Roy Halladay unanimously won the NL Cy Young.

Verlander is among six AL pitchers to take the Cy Young and MVP since Gibson's NL sweep nearly a half-century ago.

Kershaw became the first pitcher to lead the majors in ERA for four straight years. He topped baseball this season in complete games and was best among starters in strikeouts per nine innings and WHIP (walks plus hits per inning).

He struck out 239 in 198 1-3 innings, three behind NL co-leaders Stephen Strasburg and Cueto.

Kershaw's crowning achievement was the first no-hitter of his career, at Dodger Stadium against Colorado on June 18.

Soon after, he was picked as an all-star for the fourth time in a row.

He came within one vote of being unanimous last year. Tim Lincecum had been the last NL pitcher to win back-to-back Cys, in 2008-09 for the Giants.

The Cy Young was first awarded in 1956. Up through the 1966 season, there was only one selection from both leagues.

Kershaw earned a $1-million (U.S.) bonus, while Wainwright gets $500,000, Cueto $75,000 and Bumgarner $25,000.

Kluber gets a $10,000 bonus, while Sale receives $80,000 and gets a $1.5-million boost in his 2019 team option to $15-million.

Carabins ride wave of support in Montreal
After stunning powerhouse Laval in the Quebec conference championship, Montreal prepares for clash with Manitoba in Uteck Bowl
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

Coach Danny Maciocia insists that he never fully understood the magnitude of his University of Montreal Carabins knocking off perennial powerhouse Laval Rouge et Or until the congratulatory texts and e-mails started flooding in - including one from Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre.

"Obviously there are a lot of people who are excited," Maciocia said over the telephone from Montreal on Tuesday, still trying to come to terms with a result that continues to reverberate through the football ranks of Canadian Interuniversity Sport.

The Carabins stunned Laval, the country's No. 1-ranked team, 12-9 in overtime last Saturday to capture the Quebec conference championship, which the Rouge et Or have dominated for more than a decade.

The stunning upset ended Laval's impressive streak of 11 conference championships, its run of four consecutive Vanier Cup appearances and its hopes of a third straight national title when the Cup is played later this month.

The Carabins' victory also came on the home turf of the Quebec City institution, where the Rouge et Or had won an incredible 70 straight games dating back to 2004.

The winds of change also blew through Calgary on the same day, when the upstart Manitoba Bisons took advantage of 10 turnovers by the Calgary Dinos for a 27-15 victory to win the championship of the Canada West conference.

That win ended a streak of six consecutive conference championships for the Dinos.

The Bisons will play the Carabins in the Uteck Bowl in Montreal, while the Mount Allison Mounties will make the trek to Hamilton to play in the Mitchell Bowl against the McMaster Marauders, the champs from the Ontario conference.

The winners will then advance to the 50th Vanier Cup in Montreal at Molson Stadium on Nov. 29.

Maciocia, the former coach and general manager of the Edmonton Eskimos who led his team to the Canadian Football League's Grey Cup in 2005, is in his fourth season directing the fortunes of the Carabins.

He suggests that perhaps Montreal's win should not have been that much of a surprise given that, just two weeks earlier, the Carabins defeated Laval 13-9 in the final game of the regular season.

But the Rouge et Or have always been clutch in the postseason, as evidenced by their record eight national titles since 1999, so nobody was expecting Montreal to pull off the upset.

What has been surprising, Maciocia said, has been the groundswell of support for the Carabin's accomplishment since Saturday's big win.

"It seems like there's been a lot of years of frustration here, and just in the whole province in general," he said. "I feel like the province has been supporting, maybe change, you know. So I think I'm beginning to understand it since Saturday night a little bit better."

Maciocia said that, with all due respect to Laval, having fresh blood representing Quebec in the national semi-finals will be good for the university game.

"I don't want anybody to think there's parity now, because I don't think we're there yet," Maciocia said. "I think there's still a lot of work to be done. But I think it's good for football, I think it's healthy that there's someone else representing the province of Quebec. And it does instill some hope."

Maciocia said his biggest task right now will be to bring his team back down to earth to face a Manitoba outfit that has been battle-tested all season.

Manitoba managed to slip into the Canada West playoffs after a 4-4 regular season, and then overcame a 19-point disadvantage against Saskatchewan on its way to a 47-39 win in the conference semi-finals.

Associated Graphic

Felix Lechasseur of the Laval Rouge et Or is upended during Saturday's Quebec conference championship game in Quebec City. Montreal beat Laval, Canada's No. 1-ranked team, 12-9 in overtime.


As Obama raises concern, TransCanada's pipeline push gathers steam
Project passes House, but faces tougher test in Senate, Oval Office
Saturday, November 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

OTTAWA, WASHINGTON -- TransCanada Corp. is once again at the centre of an escalating political battle in Washington, as the Congressional Republicans push forward legislation that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline despite the threat of veto from President Barack Obama.

As the Harper government applauded in Ottawa, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives passed legislation Friday that would force approval of the controversial pipeline, which is designed to carry oil sands bitumen to the massive refining hub on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Mr. Obama made a skeptical statement Friday, in which he played down the importance of the pipeline to the United States' energy needs.

"Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else," Mr. Obama said, evidently frustrated with questions about TransCanada's controversial project while he was standing alongside fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Sui Kyi.

TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard - who applauded the Congressional vote - said the pipeline will carry crude from both Alberta and the U.S. Bakken field, and is clearly in the U.S. national interest, contrary to Mr. Obama's characterization. "American refineries need the oil that we will transport - from both Canadian and American oil fields - to create products that we all rely on," he said.

While exports from Canada to the U.S. are growing by other routes, the company and its shippers insist the Keystone XL line is still a much-needed link between Alberta's oil sands and the Gulf Coast refiners.

The Canadian government has long urged Mr. Obama to quickly approve Keystone XL and welcomed the vote.

Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said the Harper government "will continue to advocate that the Keystone XL pipeline be approved without further delay." It's too early to say whether the Republican effort will result in victory for the Calgary-based company. Or indeed whether the partisan fight will backfire on the firm by stiffening the resolve of President Obama to resist Republican pressure on the polarizing issue considered a litmus test for his climate agenda.

Given the fact that the Republican-led House has passed similar bills several times, Friday's vote was the easy first step in a renewed effort by backers of the project to forge bipartisan support for Keystone XL.

Much tougher will be the Senate early next week - where Democrats still have a majority until January. Getting the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster and pass a similar pro-Keystone XL measure will be a close call. Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu - a Democrat who supports the project - is eager to get a bill passed, as she is looking to demonstrate her clout ahead of a run-off election in her home state where neither she nor her Republican opponent won a majority of votes in the midterms earlier this month.

In any event, a stand-alone Keystone XL bill demanding the President approve the project would be easy to veto. The White House has already made clear that's what Mr. Obama intends to do.

And there is little chance the current Senate could muster the 67 votes needed to override the veto.

A more substantive challenge may come early next year when the Republican midterm victors take control of the Senate. The next Congress will have Republican majorities in both houses.

Then a Keystone XL approval provision tucked inside must-pass legislation - such as a critical funding bill - could be sent to Mr. Obama forcing him to make a much tougher decision on whether to veto. Even then, Republicans will need at least a dozen Democrats in the Senate to be able to override a presidential veto.

While Mr. Obama has sounded increasingly skeptical about the value of Keystone XL, he has said he will let the process play out before making a final decision.

That includes a court case in Nebraska challenging the state's approval of the current pipeline route in which a decision is expected early next year.

Should the state court rule in favour of TransCanada, Mr. Obama may have little ground on which to reject the pipeline. The U.S. State Department has concluded the project will not lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions from the oil sands, though environmental groups have denounced that finding.

But at six years and counting since first being proposed, is the pipeline still needed?

Rail capacity has grown and TransCanada's rival, Enbridge Inc. is proposing an expansion that would add as much as 600,000 barrels of day of capacity from Western Canada and the U.S. to the Gulf Coast. Refiners that have the capacity to process up to 2.7-million barrels a day of heavy oil, and currently, are only accessing 1.8-million barrels due to a shortage from traditional suppliers in Mexico and Venezuela.

Valero Energy Corp. - the U.S.'s largest refiner - remains eager to see Keystone XL built, spokesman Bill Day said.

"Valero's Gulf Coast refineries currently receive some Canadian crude by rail, but we would like to increase deliveries of Canadian crude via Keystone XL, which will be a very efficient method of bringing heavy crude to our large, complex refineries on the Gulf Coast that process heavy crude," Mr. Day said in an e-mail. "Keystone XL will help Gulf Coast refiners like Valero replace higher-cost heavy crude from overseas with lower-cost heavy crude from North America."

"We do need the Keystone pipeline to move the growing volumes of heavy oil that we are expecting," said energy economist Jackie Forrest, of Calgary-based ARC Financial Corp. While costs have escalated for Keystone XL to $8-billion, Ms. Forrest said costs have risen for all transportation options. Even at the higher price tag, "Keystone would be more competitive than rail," she said.

Associated Graphic

Some 15,000 pieces of pipe for TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL pipeline sit in a field in North Dakota in 2013.



A retail colossus flexes its muscles
Made-in-China online-buying festival smashes spending records and reveals the key role of the Chinese consumer in an uncertain economy
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

BEIJING, TORONTO -- It was a festival of online purchasing across China, demonstrating the endurance of consumers at a time of growing concerns over an economic slowdown in the country.

Nov. 11 broke spending records as shoppers took advantage of "singles' day" - something that used to celebrate bachelorhood, but is now known as a holiday of online shopping and mega deals led by China's e-retailing colossus Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

By day's end, sales through Alibaba exceeded $9.3-billion (U.S.), nearly double the tally for last year's total Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday online sales in the U.S.

The day, known locally as 11.11, has grown exponentially from less than $10-million in 2009 to $6.5-billion last year.

China now spends more online than any other country, and JPMorgan has forecast 2014 Internet sales of $500-billion, up a staggering 46 per cent from 2013.

The mass purchasing shows the increasing importance of the Chinese consumer, said Brian Jackson, China economist at IHS.

"Retail sales, not just on singles' day but throughout this year, have been very steady in real terms in their growth, even as industrial output and investments have weakened," he said. "It's part of China's long-term transition into being a more consumer-based society."

The rise of the middle class in China means more people have spare cash for discretionary spending. They also have more access to credit.

"In the last several years, consumer debt has surged across [Asia], financing not only purchases of new, flashy condos, but also of cars, motorcycles, and everything else the heart desires," said Frederic Neumann, economist at HSBC, in a recent note.

The buying is happening against the backdrop of slowing economic growth in the world's second largest economy. China's gross-domestic-product growth geared down in the third quarter of the year. While factory output was up, a softer property market weighed on the economy. Consumption of steel and electricity has also levelled off in recent months. Economists project modestly slower growth in China in coming years, with the distant risk of a harder landing that could shift the focus from the consumer back toward investment spending that would protect jobs in areas such as infrastructure and health care.

But there's still plenty of runway for Chinese consumer spending to increase and consumer markets to broaden. Mr. Jackson said Chinese consumers make up about 8 per cent of global spending now, and he estimates that could grow to 20 per cent in a decade.

One key beneficiary is Alibaba, which makes up 80 per cent of the market and the vast majority of 11.11 sales. That has given the day a new worldwide importance, after the company went public in September. At the end of Singles' Day in Shanghai, the paperwork was being readied to dispatch new world records to Guinness for authorization, as orders bested the previous mark of one-million litres of milk sold in 24 hours.

Of course, China can't yet compete with the overall extravaganza that is the U.S. Black Friday weekend, which saw some $57billion (U.S.) poured into flat screen TVs and kids' toys last year.

But 11.11 already exceeds online spending on any day in the U.S., and it's growing far faster.

"The significance of Singles' Day, in particular, is the increasing recognition of how important the Chinese consumer will be not only domestically, but internationally..." Mr. Jackson said. He expects more and more global retailers will show an interest in investing in delivery, retail and manufacturing in the country.

Another reason e-commerce should grow is the relatively low levels of Internet penetration levels in China.

"Only half the population in China is online, and only half of that online population actually buys stuff online. So we're still going through a process of people who are using the Internet saying, 'I am going to dip my toe into the water and start buying stuff,' " said Jeff Walters, managing director at Boston Consulting Group in China.

Behind the numbers and endless screens of colourful product pictures are an army of merchants who spend months scrambling to prepare. At the Guangzhou-based Kang Ai Duo Pharmacy, planning starts six months early. Products need to be secured, staff need to be trained and logistical details need to be set in place. The Nov. 11 workday itself starts the night before, with staff working through until 2 a.m.

to 3 a.m. on the morning of the 12th to sort through the deluge of orders. "They had their dinner and midnight snacks on the 10, and breakfast and lunch on the 11, at their working positions," said human resources director Jin Yong.

Last year, Kang Ai Duo - which means "Health Love More" and sells lubricants, virility boosters and other bedroom and pregnancy supplies - posted $55-million in full-year sales. This 11.11, it set nearly $3-million as its single-day target, not far off its 2013 monthly average. It had hit half that mark by noon, but Mr. Jin wasn't happy.

Kang Ai Duo wanted to be No. 1 in its category, "but so far we are still on No. 2. We are going to work harder this afternoon and tonight," he said.

Alibaba (BABA) Close: $114.54 (U.S.), down $4.61

Associated Graphic

Employees sort packages at a hub of delivery company Shentong Express in Jiujiang, China, on Tuesday.


A Republican victory in the United States has revived hope of a swift approval for TransCanada's long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline. But, as Shawn McCarthy reports, the path to the Gulf in a new political landscape may not be as clear as it seems
Thursday, November 6, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

The Republican midterm elections victory is breathing new life into TransCanada Corp.'s hopes for approval of its $8-billion Keystone XL pipeline, as the GOP-controlled Congress prepares to wage war on President Barack Obama's environmental and energy policies.

Republicans spelled out two energy-related priorities as they won control of the Senate, and hence both houses of Congress for the first time in Mr. Obama's presidency: passing legislation to approve the Keystone XL and blocking efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to impose climate regulations on coal-fired power plants.

More broadly, the Republicans are expected to back the oil, gas and coal industries - including pushing legislation to allow U.S. crude exports - and undermine the administration's support for the renewable energy sector and action on environmental issues such as climate change.

The GOP victory in the Senate will put new pressure on Mr. Obama to approve Keystone XL, which would transport 830,000 barrels per day of crude from Alberta and North Dakota to the U.S. Gulf Coast, the world's biggest refining hub.

Republicans in the House of Representatives have in the past approved legislation taking the decision out of the president's hands, but those bills died in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

TransCanada chief executive Russ Girling said Wednesday that the company will work with legislators from both parties who want to approve the pipeline, which the Harper government has identified as a key conduit to access new markets for oil sands crude. While growing volumes of Canadian oil are reaching the Gulf Coast by rail and other pipeline routes, Keystone would allow for a major expansion of those exports.

"The Keystone XL pipeline has always enjoyed bipartisan support and is a great example of an issue where both parties can work together to create jobs and enhance energy security for the United States," Mr. Girling said in a statement. "After six years, it is time to break the gridlock on Keystone and move forward."

Kentucky's Mitch McConnell - who is slated to become majority leader in the Senate - is expected to work with his colleagues in the House of Representatives for early passage of a Keystone XL bill when the new session begins in January. However, the Republicans do not have the numbers to override a presidential veto, or even overcome Democratic filibustering in the Senate.

"KXL will get attention early, for sure," said Robert Johnston, chief executive at Eurasian Group, a Washington-based consultancy. But he said it is unlikely that Congress can pass a vetoproof bill.

Some environmentalists worry the Republicans will attach the Keystone approval to a "must have" piece of legislation that Mr. Obama will be hard-pressed to block. "They've certainly indicated they might do that on Keystone as well as other issues," said David Goldston, director of government affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"But if the Republicans play that game, they won't limit themselves to Keystone XL. There will be a whole series of riders that will be the fight, which will just highlight the extent to which they are overreaching."

But it's not clear legislation will even be required. The Obama administration says it is awaiting a Nebraska court ruling on whether the current pipeline route was properly reviewed by the state. If the project is cleared by the courts, the President could give it a green light and cite the conclusion of the State Department that the project itself would not cause undue environmental or climate impacts. In doing so, he would avoid a fight with Congress that he may not win.

In a news conference Wednesday, Mr. Obama said he would "let that [review] process play out." But he noted the U.S. is far less dependent on imported crude - including Canadian oil - than it was when the approval was first sought six years ago, and Keystone XL is "one small aspect" of the country's energy picture.

"We are closer to energy independence than we have ever been before, or at least in decades," he said. "We are importing less foreign oil than we produce for the first time in a very long time .... So our energy sector is booming."

Mr. Obama certainly has bigger challenges from a GOP-controlled Congress. Led by Mr. McConnell - a coal-state senator - the Republicans are taking aim at the administration's centrepiece climate action: the plan to impose tough regulations on coal-fired power plants, the largest single industrial source of greenhouse-gas emissions in the United States.

Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, laid out a wish list in a news conference Wednesday, saying the industry is looking for approval of the Keystone pipeline, relaxation of some environmental regulations, and more licences to drill on U.S. federal lands and offshore.

"If the new Congress is serious about living up to their energy campaign promises, which we expect they are, they should waste no time advancing a proenergy, pro-growth agenda," he said.

Associated Graphic

U.S. President Obama said Wednesday he is awaiting a Nebraska court decision before moving on Keystone.


Keystone was a key midterms issue. From right, successful Republican candidate Mike Rounds, Nebraska's Mike Johanns (who didn't run) and South Dakota Senator John Thune tour an agricultural plant on Oct. 28.


In China, Candu sees promising future
Former Crown corporation in joint-venture talks to develop reactors that burn recycled uranium
Monday, November 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

BEIJING -- Jean Chrétien was in a good mood when he came to Shanghai in late 1996 to sell two Candu reactors. He kidded around with Li Peng, the then-Chinese premier, going so far as to try to place a red pompon on the head of the famously dour leader. Mr. Chrétien promised a future filled with more multibillion-dollar sales of Canadian nuclear technology to China. "I hope we will have many more Candus built in this great country of yours," he said then.

For the nearly two decades that followed, that optimism bore no fruit.

Now, however, Candu Energy - divorced from the federal government and in the hands of SNCLavalin Group Inc. - says it is working toward a deal that could see it partner with a Chinese nuclear giant to build new reactors, both in China and abroad.

By June, 2015, Candu hopes to finalize a joint-venture deal with China National Nuclear Corp., the massive state-owned atomic power and weapons company, "to develop global opportunities" for its advanced fuel reactor. The two sides signed an initial broadstrokes memorandum of understanding during the visit of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Beijing this weekend.

In the past week, a technical committee led by CNNC also gave its approval to the technology Candu intends to use, classifying it as a third-generation nuclear system that can meet postFukushima safety requirements.

If Candu can complete the deal with CNNC - and much remains to be worked out - it will mark perhaps the brighest hope for a company that Ottawa sold for $15-million, and which has shed some 200 jobs since entering private hands.

"The whole premise of this joint venture is that we're going to be built into the whole energy scheme of China, specifically, but also globally," said Candu chief executive Preston Swafford in an interview in Beijing on Sunday.

"There's a lot of exciting things [happening] for Candu that I don't think any of us would have recognized five years ago."

The joint venture would be the first between a foreign company and the Chinese nuclear giant to cover development of a technology; competitors such as Westinghouse and Areva have typically signed more limited deals that cover, for example, engineering or equipment supply. Candu has agreed to provide some of its intellectual property, while CNNC will further invest in the technology. The deal covers a Candu reactor that can be used to burn both recycled uranium and fuel derived from thorium, a more common radioactive element that China has in large quantities.

Recycled uranium has already been used to generate electricity through other types of reactors, before being reprocessed into a form that can be used in Candu's reactors, which can operate with less potent fuel.

Candu says one of its reactors can be built to burn fuel recycled from four existing units. China operates 22 reactors - the most of any country - and is building another 26. Candu has yet to run an entire reactor on recycled uranium, though it has run numerous tests and is modifying its reactors in China for that purpose. It expects to begin "full core conversion" to recycled fuel in late 2015. If that is successful, it opens the door to the potential for multiple installations in China.

Candu envisions "not just a single project, but a program, potentially, in China," said Ala Alizadeh, senior vice-president of marketing and business development for Candu.

Using Canadian technology to burn recycled uranium is "a very viable alternative," and in China "there is indeed significant opportunity to build more Candus," said Hugh MacDiarmid, the former chief executive of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., which once ran the Candu program.

Still, he cautioned, nothing in the world of nuclear energy moves quickly. He first began talks in China about using recycled uranium seven or eight years ago. The decision to build Candu reactors is likely to lean heavily on the priority Chinese leadership places on using recycled uranium, which could help lessen dependence on imported fuel.

"If they continue to be very concerned about their ability to have a secure supply of uranium, then all of a sudden this program will go up the priorities," Mr. MacDiarmid said. "Because basically, you're going to be running the reactor off the spent fuel stream of other reactors, so you're not consuming any new uranium."

Associated Graphic

The Qinshan nuclear power plant in Hyian, China, pictured in 2007, was the first commercial plant in the Chinese mainland. China operates 22 reactors - the most of any country - and is building another 26.


Stymied by Actavis deal, Valeant looks beyond Allergan
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. chief executive Mike Pearson spent six months hunting Botox maker Allergan Inc. only to see it fall into the hands of white knight Actavis PLC.

Now, with Valeant stock nearly 9 per cent higher than its pre-bid level of $126 (U.S.), Mr. Pearson finds himself even hungrier for a big deal as he aims to triple the company's market capitalization by 2017.

To what extent he'll continue working with activist investor Bill Ackman to try to get there remains an open question. But even if the partners failed in their hostile takeover effort, they've already proven the consolation prize can be worth the trouble.

Mr. Ackman's Pershing Square will pay Valeant 15 per cent of the profit it makes on its Allergan investment after the unlikely partners put the company in play last April. The sum is estimated to be worth $400-million or more to Valeant, roughly equal to the net earnings the Laval, Que., company has tallied so far this year.

"I'm giving them high marks for being objective and not emotional by letting Allergan go," said Valeant investor Gautam Dhingra, chief executive of High Pointe Capital Management in Chicago, Ill.

"The market wants them to do a deal, there's no doubt about it. So the pressure will be there."

After a bitterly fought battle for Allergan that lasted more than half a year, Valeant on Monday abandoned the chase as Irvine, Calif.-based Allergan confirmed it struck an agreement to be bought by Irish pharmaceutical maker Actavis. The price is $219 a share in stock and cash for total consideration of about $66-billion.

Valeant "cannot justify to its own shareholders" paying $219 or more a share for Allergan, Mr. Pearson said in a statement Monday.

The CEO said Valeant will nevertheless "review any such [ActavisAllergan] agreement in determining our course of action. He was not available to comment further.

Valeant's latest stock-and-cash offer for Allergan had been worth about $175 a share, a bid that never really grew substantially as doubts about Valeant's ability to get the takeover completed kept down its share price.

Pershing backed the acquisition effort by taking a 9.7-per-cent stake in Allergan and pushing for the removal of the company's board, which never engaged Valeant in talks. It was not immediately clear Monday whether a special meeting scheduled for Dec.18 to vote on removing Allergan's current directors would go ahead.

Several analysts have speculated that Valeant already has a "plan B" acquisition in mind for U.S. animal health specialist Zoetis Inc., which was spun off last year from Pfizer. Pershing recently disclosed an 8.5-per-cent stake in Zoetis and Mr. Ackman could conceivably persuade Mr. Pearson to go after it.

Valeant wants to become one of the world's five biggest pharmaceutical companies, based on market value, by 2017. Mr. Ackman, who has expressed his profound admiration for Valeant as a low-cost operator "in an industry where everyone else runs a very fat business," has already said the two partners are looking beyond the Allergan transaction to other deals.

Others speculated Valeant and Pershing might not be done with Allergan.

"Given the profound difference in Valeant's prospects if it is able to acquire Allergan [and its ability to pursue the likes of an Amgen at $100-billion plus in market capital] versus its prospects without ... we highly doubt Pershing/ Valeant will go quietly," Cowen and Co. analyst Ken Cacciatore said in a research note.

Actavis's deal to buy Allergan will vault the new entity into the ranks of the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies, with major franchises in ophthalmology, neurosciences, dermatology, plastic surgery and gastroenterology. The merger will generate at least $1.8-billion in cost savings and maintain research and development commitments worth $1.7-billion, the companies said.

Allergan said one of the key reasons for rejecting Valeant's overtures was its business model of serial acquisition and the slashing of R&D costs. The negative publicity from Allergan's claims may make it more difficult for Mr. Pearson to engage other potential acquisition targets in talks, said Mr. Dhingra.

Valeant (VRX) Close: $154.40, up $2.93 Allergan (AGN) Close: $209.20 (U.S.), up $10.55 Actavis (ACT) Close: $247.94 (U.S.), up $4.17 Zoetis (ZTS) Close: $44.23 (U.S.), up $1.09

For telcos, opportunity and risk as Internet goes mobile
Thursday, November 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

As Canadians spend more time online, they are increasingly turning to the small screen on their mobile devices, presenting wireless carriers with an irresistible but tricky opportunity.

According to a new statistic tracked by measurement firm comScore, as of August, the average Canadian spent almost 75 hours per month or 2.5 hours per day on the Internet, with close to half of that time consisting of watching Internet video and using mobile devices. Meanwhile, about 4 per cent of the 27.8 million Canadian Internet users are now relying on mobile devices exclusively to go online, comScore reported last month.

It may be a small percentage, but it works out to 1.3 million people eschewing home computers and relying totally on wireless services for Internet access.

For wireless carriers these trends present opportunities and challenges. It's appealing because revenue from wireless data is a growth engine for carriers - for example BCE Inc.'s data revenue grew 24 per cent in the third quarter - but exploding mobile Internet use means carriers must carefully manage their networks in the face of a finite supply of cellular airwaves, known as spectrum. Plus, new entrants with ample spectrum for their relatively few customers are likely to try to win market share through aggressive, low pricing on data.

That could force Canada's Big Three carriers to lower their per-unit prices on wireless data, said Greg MacDonald, head of research at Macquarie Capital Markets.

Barclays Capital telecom analyst Phillip Huang also noted that the current iPhone upgrade cycle is accelerating the adoption of LTE or fourth-generation service. And LTE users tend to consume twice as much data as those using older HSPA or 3G networks, he said in an October research report.

In the face of this demand, carriers want to encourage their customers to use the Internet and watch video on their phones, but they also want to charge a premium for that use.

Over the past year, Rogers, BCE's Bell Mobility and Telus have moved to all-in-one pricing for smartphone plans, which include features such as unlimited calling and texting across Canada, voicemail and call display, plus data that can be shared among multiple devices.

Those plans tend to earn the carriers higher average revenue per user, Mr. Huang said, noting in October that a mid-tier, twoyear smartphone plan that includes 2 gigabytes of data costs about $90 per month, compared with $75 per month a year earlier.

He estimated average data use for smartphone customers of the Big Three carriers to be in the range of 1.2 GB to 1.7 GB per month.

"The wireless competitive environment has been more stable and rational than we have seen in years," Mr. Huang wrote. "Rational" is the industry's term for pricing strategies that do not aggressively seek to undercut competitors.

But the pricing dynamic in Quebec shows that could change. Quebecor Inc.'s four-year-old Videotron Ltd. wireless division is gaining market share in the province, offering lower prices for large data plans.

The division's chief executive officer Manon Brouillette said in a September interview that Videotron's most popular plan includes a significant 6 GB of data for $80.

Desjardins Capital Markets analyst Maher Yaghi said last week the Big Three charge about $10 to $15 less per month for smartphone plans in Quebec than they do in Ontario.

Mr. MacDonald said that pressure could extend to other markets if faced with the emergence of a consolidated fourth carrier that could include some combination of Quebecor, the newly recapitalized Wind Mobile and Mobilicity - which is under creditor protection but still has spectrum holdings in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.

If that happens, he predicted the fourth player would follow a strategy employed by TMobile U.S. Inc. to offer low pricing on large data packages, which ultimately forced the biggest U.S. players to lower their data pricing.

"At some point in the near term, rationality on data pricing within the Canadian market will dissipate - it's because there would be a lot of spectrum in the hands of a player that has every incentive to offer lower prices for higher data caps," Mr. MacDonald said.

Bell (BCE) Close: $52.25, up 38¢ Rogers (RCI.B) Close: $43.01, up 36¢ Telus (T) Close: $41.84, up 34¢

Sound innovation policy can't be wrapped in election slogans
Monday, November 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1


The Conservative government wraps virtually everything it does these days in the magic cloak of "jobs and growth."

Trade deals, infrastructure spending, business subsidies and tax breaks for families and small businesses. Everything on the economic front gets the familiar J-and-G spin - even if there's scant evidence these efforts generate much of either.

And yet in one vital area where governments really can make a difference - innovation - Ottawa's commitment has been inconsistent and its investments wanting.

A new report on science and technology policy from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development paints a grim picture of Canada's place in the world. Canada has tumbled out of the top 10 research and development (R&D) spenders since the Great Recession, steadily ceding ground to more aggressive nations on a host of innovation measures.

Canada now ranks 12th in overall spending, according to the report, released last week. It invested less in R&D in 2012 ($21.8-billion U.S.) than it did in 2004 ($22.7-billion). Four countries that Canada handily outspent a decade ago - Russia, India, Taiwan and Brazil - have all jumped ahead.

Taiwan, which spent half of what Canada did in 2002, now tops this country by nearly $3-billion a year.

Canada's R&D "intensity" - spending as a percentage of gross domestic product - is equally worrying. The rate has been on a steady decline for more than a decade and now stands at 1.69 per cent of GDP, well below the OECD average of 2.4 per cent. In 2012, 20 other countries outspent Canada relative to the size of their economies.

The R&D intensity leader is South Korea, a country with which Canada is now bound in a free-trade agreement, creating new competitive pressures for Canadian businesses.

Most remarkable is the ascent of China, which the OECD says is now on a course to become the world's biggest R&D spender by 2019, outpacing even the current No. 1 spender, the United States.

Canada is the only developed country with an intellectual property deficit - meaning we spend more to acquire other peoples' technology than the world buys from us.

And most disappointingly, the private sector continues to underinvest, in spite of repeated warnings about the consequences. Business spending on R&D stands at 0.88 per cent of GDP, near the bottom among OECD countries.

Given all this, the federal government might be expected to be angst-ridden, and grasping for remedies.

But there's no obvious sense of urgency. The last time Ottawa drafted a science and technology strategy was in 2007. At the time, Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed to make Canada "a world leader in science and technology and a key source of entrepreneurial innovation and creativity."

The government promised to deliver an updated innovation strategy more than a year ago, following months of consultations. Two ministers of state for science and technology later, and the government has yet to produce anything. The current minister, former insurance broker Ed Holder, is promising something "soon."

But expectations are low that the Conservatives will do anything ambitious, or costly, given the government's determination to eliminate the budget deficit next year, while simultaneously delivering targeted tax breaks.

Short of a radical rethink and significant amounts of cash, it's not clear what will fix the problem. The government has already tinkered with many of the key levers at its disposal, to little effect. It has put more money into direct R&D grants for smaller companies, invested $400-million (Canadian) in various venture capital funds, refocused the mission of the National Research Council on commercialization, and tightened the rules of its flagship R&D tax credit - the $1.5-billion Scientific Research and Experimental Development program. Ottawa also pledged $1.5-billion over a decade to universities, by way of the Canada First Research Excellence Fund.

But these efforts fall short of what many other countries are doing, condemning Canada to falling even farther behind in the global science and technology race.

Innovation policy is complicated, and expensive. And it can't be neatly wrapped in election slogans.

Until the government shows it's serious about fixing the problem, Ottawa's jobs-and-growth mantra will be just that - an empty slogan.

Funds go abroad in search of prized property
Ivanhoe latest Canadian investor to seek out a trophy tower: A $2.25-billion purchase in Manhattan
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

MONTREAL -- Canadian institutional investors are gobbling up some of the world's highest-prized properties as they look for a way to put their money to work ahead of a possible slowdown in public equity markets.

Montreal-based Ivanhoé Cambridge's $2.25-billion (U.S.) purchase of a 42-storey office tower at 1095 Avenue of the Americas in New York from Blackstone Group LP is only the latest such acquisition.

Ivanhoé is currently looking to redeploy capital from other asset sales and the Blackstone asset marked an opportunity to do so, said an industry source familiar with the transaction. Ivanhoé has been getting out of hotels, for example, as it executes a strategy of simplifying its holdings and focusing on a smaller number of geographies.

"The market that makes the most sense to go invest right now is the U.S. market," said the source, adding that, while a sales agreement on the New York tower has been signed, a final deal is months away.

It marks the second highest price yet paid for an office building in the United States.

Canada's public and private funds, such as Ivanhoé parent Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, are plowing massive sums into the globe's premier markets, such as New York, London and Paris.

According to data from Real Capital Analytics, Canadians have been the single largest buyer of U.S.-based commercial real estate since 2010, acquuring property positions worth $8.3-billion through the first eight months of the year.

Brookfield Asset Management Inc.'s property unit is taking a run at Songbird Estates, owner of London's Canary Wharf financial district, in what would reportedly be the largest British property deal of the decade. Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System's real estate unit, Oxford Industries Inc., is developing Hudson Yards in Manhattan and last year stuck a deal to build an office and retail complex in London's St. James's market, part of a $7-billion (Canadian) effort to add to its European portfolio by 2015.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in June pumped another $108-million (U.S.) into a 20-storey office tower at One Park Avenue in New York.

Although transaction prices have been climbing in recent years, the investors are looking at the cities as places where they can earn steady if nonspectacular returns as opportunities in fixed income remain unattractive and the lengthy bull run in global stock markets slows down.

Investors are buying a predictable cash flow in building typically leased at very high levels. "They're getting trophy assets that are irreplaceable and can only grow in value," said Sylvan Adams, who is one of Canada's shrewdest property developers as head of Montreal-based Iberville Developments Ltd.

"And since they're in it for the long term and they're not players, they're not flippers, that's a trend which I think is going to stick around - until the next real estate crisis."

A projected downturn in equities and continued low interest rates in the months ahead will push the Caisse to shift more of its attention to private investments, such as infrastructure and real estate, as well as to emerging markets with potentially higher growth rates, such as Mexico, Caisse chief executive Michael Sabia said in August.

The pension fund tallied a 6.7- per-cent return on investments for the first six months of the year and grew assets to $214.7- billion (Canadian). The year's second half will likely be weaker, Mr. Sabia said.

"These are really centres of the world" where the Canadians are putting their money," said Michel Nadeau, a former Caisse senior executive who now works at Quebec's Institute for Governance of Private and Public Organizations. "And they will continue to attract business. Transaction prices are really expensive. But in the long term I think rents [can make it worth the while]."

Ivanhoé bought the Avenue of the Americas property at an investment yield, as measured by capitalization rate, of 4.5 per cent, according to Bloomberg. Officials with both Ivanhoe and Blackstone declined to comment.

Threatened by bitcoin, Bank of Canada ponders e-cash
Friday, November 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

OTTAWA -- Stephen Poloz puts his signature on newly printed Canadian money. Could he one day also put his digital signature on Bank of Canada e-cash?

The central bank said Thursday it's exploring the "potential merits" of getting into the e-money business amid worries that bitcoin and other unregulated digital currencies could eventually hamper its ability to conduct monetary policy and undermine the financial system.

"E-money and the technology that enables it are circumventing our models of payment and fast creating new efficiencies and new risks," Carolyn Wilkins, the bank's senior deputy governor, said in a speech at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont. "It affects the risks faced by people who use e-money and it has the potential to affect risks to the Canadian financial system as a whole."

The bank and the federal government have another, more selfish, reason for not wanting virtual currencies to muscle in on the dominance of the Canadian dollar - huge profits.

The Bank of Canada remits a surplus of roughly $1-billion a year to Ottawa on the proceeds of printing money - so-called seigniorage. Those operations also pay for running the central bank.

The bank is closely monitoring the rapidly emerging world of virtual cash - both as a rival to its monetary authority and as a threat to the payments system, Ms. Wilkins said.

And new regulation may be coming.

The bank has recently taken on "increased responsibility" to oversee systemically important payment systems, with an eye to determining if new regulation of e-money may be needed, according to Ms. Wilkins. She said the move follows an ongoing federal government review of payment systems in Canada.

"The Bank of Canada is watching developments closely," she said.

Ms. Wilkins insisted that virtual currencies don't yet pose a "material risk to financial stability in Canada." But she said the industry is growing by "leaps and bounds" since bitcoin - an independent digital currency in which transactions are verified by a network of computer owners - was introduced in 2009.

Experts say it's only natural that the central bank would ponder issuing its own digital currency as the world moves increasingly cashless.

"Central banks will have to respond if virtual currencies become a significant force," said Ian Pollick, senior fixed income strategist at RBC Capital Markets.

"It's prudent and diligent to plan."

University of Toronto economist Angelo Melino, a member of the C.D. Howe Institute's Monetary Policy Council, said issuing a digital currency may not be "high on the list of priorities" for the bank. But he said the bank is keeping an "open mind," as it ponders how it might do business and conduct monetary policy in a world where people no longer use cash. "

Bitcoin and other forms of e-money, such as PayPal balances or "stored value" credit cards, pose two main systemic challenges for central bankers, Ms. Wilkins explained. With a significant share of transactions, they could impair the bank's ability to influence the economy via interest rates and cause a crash in the payment system.

"We are nowhere near this point today," she said. "But if we were, it would be even more important to determine whether issuing e-money is a role that should be done by the central bank."

The bank worries that the failure of one type of virtual currency could cause a crash in the payment system, leaving taxpayers on the hook.

There were 70,000 bitcoin transactions per day around the world in 2013. That compares with 21 million debit and credit card transactions every day in Canada, she said.

Virtual currencies also pose significant risk for consumers and investors. Ms. Wilkins said their value can fluctuate wildly, there's no guarantee they can be redeemed and they can't be validated by a trusted third party. Users could also wind up with a big tax bill because Canada Revenue Agency considers digital currency an investment and therefore taxable, Ms. Wilkins said.

Its outlook stormy, CBC turns to the Weather Network
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

The forecast for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is cloudy with a 100-per-cent chance of content-sharing.

On Monday, CBC and The Weather Network struck an agreement that will see forecasts from the privately owned weather channel appear on the public broadcaster's flagship evening newscast, The National, while CBC news reports will air on The Weather Network.

The one-year trial, which goes into effect Dec. 8, means Weather Network meteorologists will supply weather updates through the day on CBC News Network, on CBC Toronto's weekend broadcasts, and on CBC's News Express airport network.

In exchange, The Weather Network will be able to pick up CBC's weather-related news reports for use on its TV channel and digital platforms.

For CBC, the move is twofold: a shot at taking the news content it produces beyond its own TV, radio and digital platforms. It will also minimize the effect of job cuts it made last April.

"This is two brands that are strong in what they do, coming together to provide even better content and a better experience to viewers coast to coast," Maureen Rogers, managing director of The Weather Network, said in an interview.

Ms. Rogers said the weather channel might pick up a CBC report that gives a broader understanding of the effect of a major weather event.

"It could be, after an act of weather, [a CBC report] on the economy of that marketplace after a hurricane hits. Or an earthquake - the information behind an earthquake," Ms. Rogers said.

As part of the agreement, Weather Network branding, including the channel's logo, will appear during its segments on CBC; CBC branding will appear on the reports it provides The Weather Network.

Unlike other Canadian broadcasters, such as Bell Media, which has expanded its reach by buying dozens of TV and radio properties, CBC has few places to find new audiences. Last month, when it revealed it had secured rights for the 2018 and 2020 Olympic Games, it announced a partnership with Rogers Media and Bell Media for those broadcasts. But it cannot depend on those companies on a long-term basis. Its partnership with The Weather Network, which is owned by privately held Pelmorex Media Inc., is one alternative.

The partnership is expected to help CBC in its quest for younger viewers. Figures provided by CBC indicate that, of the 2.3 million Canadians per day who use The Weather Network's properties, 1.5 million do not currently use CBC on a daily basis.

"This is trying to get people who are consuming different kinds of information, who might not be tuning into the traditional news channel," said Jennifer McGuire, general manager and editor in chief of CBC News and Centres. "They're a different reach, and a different distribution of reach. We do well in some centres and not others."

But the move is also a fix for cuts that went too deep in the last round of belt-tightening. "We cut in April with a plan to support the news channel weather [coverage] through our regional system," said Ms. McGuire, referring to forecasters who work for local stations.

"We figured out it was doable, in terms of time zones and shifts - that would be all great - but when we actually got into it, we found out that it wasn't supportable. We had to hire an [associate producer] to support doing the graphics, we had to support the local people with lots of overtime."

"This came for us as a great solution."

Later this week, CBC is expected to announce the first round of about 400 more positions to be cut by next March.

Stylish Mark Cohon found unique popularity in the working-class CFL, emphasizing its tradition and character. As he prepares to hand out the Grey Cup for the last time, he can take satisfaction in having put the league on solid footing for his successor. He just wishes he could say the Argos have a long-term home, Rachel Brady writes
Saturday, November 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

TORONTO -- It came to Mark Cohon as he watched the expansion Ottawa RedBlacks run out into their sold-out new stadium this summer for the first time, the result of seven years of hard work to bring CFL football back to the nation's capital.

The league is in a good place, the commissioner thought at that moment. The time was ripe for him to move on.

Cohon, who succeeded Tom Wright in 2007, enters his final Grey Cup playoffs as commissioner this weekend after the 48-year-old recently announced he won't seek another term when his contract expires in April. He had mulled the decision over several months in conversations with his wife, Suzanne, and their eight-year-old daughter, Parker, who was just a baby when Cohon got that first call from a headhunter gauging his interest in the job.

The CFL has been able to tick off many boxes during his tenure as the 12th CFL commissioner: a ninth team, a few new stadiums, a new TV deal with TSN, the league's first drug-testing policy, implementing a salary cap, and labour peace with the players for the next four years.

Cohon, known for his smooth manner and stylish threads, found unique popularity in the working-class league, initiating fan tweet-ups and a yearly public State of the CFL, a new tradition of fans marching the Grey Cup to the stadium, and a "This is our league" ad campaign.

Cohon settles into the Rogers Centre media box for a lengthy, wide-ranging interview. A sparse crowd is slow to arrive in the cavernous dome before what will be his final Toronto Argonauts home game as commissioner. Cohon is prepared for the inevitable questions about this franchise, one glaring bit of unfinished business in his stint.

The club must vacate Rogers Centre by 2017.

However, Toronto's oldest sports franchise still has nowhere to go. While Cohon has taken part in discussions with owner David Braley and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment about moving the team to a refitted BMO Field, the matter has yet to be resolved. Even after winning the 100th Grey Cup at Rogers Centre just two years ago before a sold-out crowd of 53,208, the Argos haven't gained much popularity in Toronto's complex entertainment market.

"Maybe we should have done more drag-on investment coming out of the 100th Grey Cup," Cohon said. "But I know the TV numbers - we get 600,000700,000 watching every Argos game, equal to the Jays and better than the Raptors, so the interest is there. Moving to a small, social, intimate venue works, and I'm hopeful we can move into BMO Field - there are ongoing conversations about that. I would have liked to tie a bow on that before I left, and is there still a chance? Yes. I know the Argos owner wants to do the right thing and is trying to figure out what that is, so I'm confident that will happen."

Cohon's cellphone rings several times during the interview - family members on their way to meet him in the stands for the game. He makes his visits to corporate suites at games, but sitting among the fans is where he has done the most learning. The son of McDonald's Canada founder George Cohon soaked up the first lesson of business as a young boy.

"I can remember seeing him when I was a kid; he would walk his restaurants, pick up garbage in the parking lots, sit down and talk to customers, talk to employees in the back," Cohon said. "I learned from him to talk to customers and listen to them, so that's what I brought here."

His father insisted Cohon and his brother follow their own paths instead of working for McDonald's. So he looked after animals at the Toronto Zoo, and took youths on an expedition in the Arctic. He worked for Major League Baseball, the NBA and AudienceView Ticketing.

The previous CFL commissioner, Tom Wright, had a positive tenure as CFL commissioner from 2002 to 2006, but consensus-building among the teams was trying.

"The CFL commissioner's job is one of the most challenging around," said Wright, who is now director of operations for UFC Canada. "Co-operation and competition are often at odds - and managing the board of governors is like herding cats - only more difficult. I think Mark has done an excellent job."

In 2007, Cohon had insisted the board offer him the post only if all eight owners voted him as their choice. They did. During his first day on the job, he visited the CFL website and demanded they remove an ad that read "Our balls are bigger" - a campaign he felt showed an inferiority complex about the NFL.

"I said we're not going to be the league that tries to compare ourselves to a $9-billion-a-year juggernaut," Cohon said. "Then we came out with the campaign 'This is our league.' We're authentically Canadian, affordable and accessible, and I wanted to stick by those things."

It seems everyone in the league has an anecdote about the commissioner's relationship with fans.

There was his first game in Regina, when an eight-year-old boy seated next to Cohon asked how he got such good tickets, and when Cohon said he was the new commissioner, the kid answered, "Yeah okay, and I'm the head coach."

There was the time when a Riders fan heckled Cohon for wearing a pair of expensive, stylish leather boots while sitting in the stands, to which the commissioner answered, "What size are you, buddy? Oh 81/2? Sorry, they don't make them in ladies' sizes," to a roar of laughter from the Riders faithful.

Cohon was once out for latenight pizza while in Moncton for Touchdown Atlantic, when some drunken patrons tried to pick an argument with the commissioner. A couple of CFL fans came to his side and said, "We've got your back."

"I can definitely recall hearing some comments from fans when he first took the job, like, 'Oh, look at the rich boy coming in looking for the spotlight and a stepping stone to his next big venture,' but he discounted those thoughts right away," said Jason Allen, one of the Box J Boys, a group of long-time Hamilton Tiger-Cats fans who wear black and gold kilts at every game. Cohon regularly visits the group.

"He's always asking us whether the team is meeting the expectations of the fan experience. It's hard to imagine another commissioner - like Gary Bettman - sitting peacefully with his fans.

What the CFL was missing before Cohon was that level of marketing savvy, and he brought that."

The CFL's board had sometimes been fragmented in the past and aired their differences in the media. While disagreements within the board could be heated, Cohon insisted they be respectful and confidential.

"When he came in, it was a time of uncertainty - Ottawa had folded and our Grey Cups weren't as successful as they had been, but his years as commissioner have been full of upward movement," said Jim Hopson, president of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. "While he comes across as smooth, he has a lot of steel in his backbone - an iron fist in a velvet glove. He always looks like he just stepped off the cover of GQ, but he showed he could make connections with the average fan; he could sit down for a Pilsner with the Riders fans and be respected."

Cohon can recall a news conference early in his first year in Winnipeg's old stadium when the roof was leaking on him as he spoke. During his tenure, failing buildings were replaced in Winnipeg, Hamilton, Ottawa and Vancouver, with another on the way in Regina. Cohon surrounded himself with a good team. His work with corporate sponsors and on 100th Grey Cup celebrations polished the CFL's brand.

"It wasn't just about taking sponsors' money, but he got them to activate around jewel events," said Brian Cooper, president of S & E Sponsorship Group, a former president of the Argos and chair of the CFL's board.

"The six-month tour of the Grey Cup on the train before the 100th Grey Cup was a terrific idea. All of that brought a lot of shine to an old product."

The league had many scrutinized moments too. In his first season, Cohon had to install and strictly enforce the $4.05-million salary cap system initiated by the previous regime. There were the unconventional optics in 2010 of David Braley buying a second CFL team. There was tough political opposition to overcome while trying to get a team back in Ottawa. Criticisms abounded this season when scoring dropped throughout the league. Two sets of labour negotiations during Cohon's tenure provided tense times.

"The last labour negotiation was very hard on our fans and our relationship with the players, and I think we've learned some important lessons from that," Cohon said. "I'll share this with the next commissioner: I would be much more methodical on a quarterly basis or several times a year about bringing the players in and showing them the books and explaining to them how the business is working."

The board has assembled a search committee, headed by board chair Jim Lawson, to seek a new commissioner.

"We'll have lots of high-quality interest in this job, and yes, it's a hard act to follow because of Mark's popularity, but the mandate here isn't necessarily to go out and find someone who is popular," Lawson said. "The next person has the benefit of the firm business footing Mark has left, especially the new stadiums. He has put the next commissioner in a very good position to succeed."

Cohon says he doesn't know what's next for him. Some have wondered if he's being considered as the next CEO of MLSE when Tim Leweike leaves the post next spring. Cohon sidesteps questions about it. But he does say he wants a job that's fun, one where he can make a difference, perhaps entrepreneurial or with a piece of ownership. He's interested in health and fitness, and working where sports influence communities.

"The idea of handing out the Grey Cup for the last time, it's bittersweet for me, and I'll miss this job," Cohon said. "Sometimes leaders don't know when it's time to go, but for me personally and professionally, it was time."

Associated Graphic


CFL commissioner Mark Cohon mingles with fans before the Argos played the Ottawa RedBlacks in the season finale at Rogers Centre in Toronto last week.


Cherry and Rogers off to a rocky start
New proprietors of Hockey Night in Canada try to play down dispute with colourful hockey commentator over airtime
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

TORONTO -- There is more to Don Cherry's public criticism of his new bosses than a simple complaint about the time allotted to Coach's Corner.

Last Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada, Cherry growled at sidekick Ron MacLean's prompting that time was too short for one of the subjects Cherry wanted to discuss. "Why are we tight? Why are we tight?" Cherry snapped. It was, to some, the first open sign that Cherry may be unhappy under Sportsnet, the new proprietor of HNIC, which has reduced the airtime and influence over the show that he enjoyed when it was produced by the CBC.

Scott Moore, president of Sportsnet at Rogers Media, called the dispute "a tempest in a teapot" on Monday, and said Cherry told him he was just frustrated because "had a lot to get in" his segment of the HNIC broadcasts.

But people close to the show see this as a test of wills between Cherry, who is used to getting his way, and his new bosses at Rogers.

At CBC, both Cherry and MacLean wielded more clout behind the scenes as HNIC's biggest stars, and were rarely challenged by the show's producers. The difference between them was that MacLean was more involved in the operation of the overall show while Cherry was chiefly concerned with Coach's Corner.

However, once Rogers took over HNIC last summer as the NHL's Canadian new national rightsholder, its executives were determined to establish that the producers, not the on-air stars, would be in charge.

At the CBC, Coach's Corner often ran over its scheduled six minutes, forcing producers to cut other segments on the fly to fit it into the first intermission of Saturday night broadcasts.

At the same time, Rogers has reduced the on-air presence of both Cherry and MacLean. Last season, Cherry was seen at least three times on HNIC - twice on Coach's Corner for the eastern and western games of the doubleheader, and usually between the two games. Under Sportsnet, Cherry is restricted to a five-minute segment on Coach's Corner, and his displeasure at the cut in both time and, more importantly, clout came through loud and clear.

MacLean saw a more radical change. He was replaced as the main host on Saturday nights by George Stroumboulopoulos and is now seen only on Coach's Corner and as host of Hometown Hockey on Sunday night Sportsnet broadcasts. This has led to a corresponding loss of influence on the show's production, although MacLean always protested this notion was overblown.

Cherry's outburst on Saturday night was not surprising to his colleagues. He often railed against CBC management on the air about matters such as the time allotted to his show or what he was or was not allowed to say. CBC executives often gave in to the star power of Cherry and MacLean.

There were a few attempts by the CBC to discipline Cherry over the years for some of his more intemperate remarks, but the penalties never amounted to much.

But, so far, Cherry's first public pushback has not produced much reaction from his new employers. This is an important staredown for Sportsnet, as the network wants to change the culture of HNIC, even though the show still has most of the same staff as the CBC version. Those staffers are watching carefully to see how the new managers handle a star throwing his weight around.

Will Cherry win the support of Canadians? Maybe not: A recent Angus Reid Institute survey found that 38 per cent of respondents were okay with the limited amount they see of Cherry on Sportsnet, while 26 per cent said they he had too much airtime (see sidebar).

Contacted by telephone, Cherry said "we got it straightened out," but did not want to say any more. "I'd just as soon leave it if you don't mind," he said, and repeated something he said on Toronto radio station Sportsnet 590 The Fan: "Sometimes I have a little too much coffee, I guess."

Gord Cutler, Sportsnet's senior vice-president of hockey production, said "we're happy to have Coach's Corner as part of our show. It's a great asset, but it's one of the assets we have every Saturday night." He referred further questions to Moore.

Moore played down the dispute, saying he got used to fielding calls about Cherry while in a former job - as head of CBC Sports.

"This is the first mildly controversial thing he has said [under Rogers]," Moore said, adding that people want to make it a bigger issue out of it than it is. Moore said that calls about Cherry on Monday for something the excoach said Saturday are "good news because it means people are watching the show."


Ron MacLean's reduced role on Hockey Night in Canada this season is not going over very well with Canadian television viewers, although they surprisingly do not seem to mind seeing less of Don Cherry.

An Angus Reid Institute online survey asked 1,504 Canadian adults about their perceptions of HNIC now that the show is being produced by Sportsnet. It found that 74 per cent of them believe MacLean's reduced role has hurt the show's brand. After Sportsnet's parent, Rogers Communications Inc., took over from the CBC as the NHL's Canadian national rightsholder, MacLean was replaced as the HNIC host by George Stroumboulopoulos. MacLean is now only seen on Coach's Corner on Saturday nights with Cherry and as host of Hometown Hockey on Sunday night broadcasts.

Cherry is also getting less airtime now, and he's not happy about it. He complained on the show last Saturday about Coach's Corner being cut to five minutes. However, when asked by Angus Reid how they felt about how much they have been seeing Cherry on the new version of the show, 38 per cent of the respondents said it was "the right amount," while another 26 per cent said it was too much. Thirty-six per cent said Cherry gets "too little" time.

Stroumboulopoulos has some catching up to do. When asked if they think he is a credible replacement for MacLean, 60 per cent of the respondents said no. The sentiment was almost evenly split among male and female viewers, with 63 per cent of the men feeling that way along with 59 per cent of the women.

However, it appears the viewers are aware the show is in its early stages, as 65 per cent of them feel the chemistry between Stroumboulopoulos, MacLean and Cherry is "coming along."

When it comes to a preference for the CBC or the Rogers version of HNIC, 45 per cent of respondents preferred the CBC show, while only 14 per cent said they liked the Sportsnet show better. However, 41 per cent said they did not have a preference.

Following are some of the questions from the Angus Reid poll:

Tell us how you feel about how much you're seeing George Stroumboulopoulos during the broadcast:

Too much - 41 per cent Too little - 8 per cent The right amount - 50 per cent .

Tell us how you feel about how much you're seeing Ron MacLean during the broadcast:

Too much - 7 per cent Too little - 48 per cent The right amount - 45 per cent Ron MacLean's reduced role on the broadcast has hurt the Hockey Night brand: Strongly agree/agree - 74 per cent Strongly disagree/disagree - 26 per cent .

Tell us how you feel about how much you're seeing Don Cherry during the broadcast:

Too much - 26 per cent Too little - 36 per cent The right amount - 38 per cent .

George Stroumboulopoulos is a credible replacement for MacLean as the main host:

Strongly agree - 7 per cent Agree - 32 per cent Disagree - 43 per cent Strongly disagree - 17 per cent .

Which statement best describes how you feel about this season of Hockey Night?

I like it more than the old CBC broadcast - 14 per cent I like it less than the old CBC broadcast - 45 per cent I don't have a preference either way - 41 per cent .

Have you noticed a difference between the look and feel of the Rogers broadcast and the old CBC broadcast?

Big difference - 37 per cent It's different but nothing major - 49 per cent No difference - 14 per cent

Associated Graphic

Commentators Don Cherry, left, and Ron MacLean.


When it comes to sports discipline, there are no rules
Monday, November 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


The NFL does many things well, but on-the-fly, extrajudicial, magical thinking is not one of them.

The league took a public-relations acid bath in September upon the release of video showing Baltimore running back Ray Rice knocking his wife out in an Atlantic City elevator.

Rice was a well-known commodity, but no superstar.

After botching their initial response sans video - a two-game suspension - the league fell on him like a piano. In essence, Rice was suspended forever.

Since they'd already dinged him for the beating, the rationale for this second round of discipline was that he'd lied to commissioner Roger Goodell about the incident. Goodell said Rice neglected to tell him he'd struck his then-fiancée, now wife, Janay Palmer.

This was all uncharted territory. The league and its union have contract language that sets out how disciplinary proceedings go down. In their desperation to distance themselves from a wifebeater, the league largely ignored them.

They hired a former judge to hear the case - a further buffer. It didn't seem to occur to them that a judge is going to look at the law, rather than concern herself with the financial health of a vast entertainment business. The law isn't helping the NFL here.

That decision boomeranged badly when Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome testified under oath that he'd been in the room with Rice and Goodell, and that his player told the commissioner he'd hit Palmer.

Goodell is a lawyer himself. If you're thinking about going to whatever law school he attended, remember to ask if they do money-back guarantees.

A decision in the Rice case is expected in the next week to 10 days. Based on the facts presented and the league's rationale for suspending him, Rice will most likely be reinstated. He's still toxic. More to the point, he's aging and of dubious on-field value. Nobody will want him.

But he'll get his money and set himself up with a lawsuit. If the NFL has any sense, they'll pay him to go away.

However, the NFL plainly has no sense, and so this will drag on forever. We're already into the most dangerous stage of any legal battle - the part where both sides are fighting on principle.

Even more telling, and potentially more disastrous, is the case of Adrian Peterson.

Peterson was accused of abusing his four-year-old son with a wooden switch. The news dropped less than a week after the Rice video was released. The timing was perfectly imperfect.

Charges were laid. The league ran over to Peterson's house with a gallon-jug of cleansing gasoline and lit him on fire. Like Rice, he was suspended indefinitely (or, in this case, until his charges were resolved).

After two months, they've been resolved. Peterson pleaded no contest - neither admitting guilt nor denying the accusation. He turned to the league and asked to be reinstated. Now the NFL has no idea what to do.

They asked Peterson to attend a disciplinary panel on Friday.

There is no basis for such a meeting in the NFLPA's collective bargaining agreement. All Peterson is compelled to do is meet with the commissioner. So he refused.

After two months on the run from the Rice video, the players' union is clearly feeling emboldened again. On Sunday, Peterson issued a press release explaining why he'd skipped the meeting.

In parts, it's completely tone deaf. He accused the league of behaving "without fairness or accountability ... The process they are pushing is arbitrary, inconsistent, and contrary to what they agreed to do."

A 220-pound man who beats a preschooler with a stick isn't going to get a ton of sympathy on the basis of "fairness," but he's right.

The league and the union agreed to a process. The process is being ignored.

The NHL is feeling this same pinch with abuse accusations levelled against Kings defenceman Slava Voynov. He's been suspended a month, but not yet charged.

All it proves is that sports leagues were not built to adjudicate the off-field lives of their workers. No large employer is.

Peterson may find out his punishment as soon as Monday. He's already missed 10 games, with pay. This is a hugely fraught decision.

The NFL would love to hammer him, and in so doing erase away the memory of their dithering on Rice. But they are creating precedent here. Since none of this is precisely codified, precedent matters.

What happens when Tom Brady - to imagine the league's worst-case scenario - is accused of a violent crime? What if he's never charged? What if he's charged, but doesn't get to trial for two years? Is Brady's career over? Who makes that decision? Is the NFL just going to keep retired judges on retainer? Can they turn this into a moneymaker - 'NFL Court TV'?

It's not that the leagues lack answers. They can't even formulate the right questions.

You can't write a line into the CBA that says, "Suspensions work this way. Unless the fans are really angry, and then they work this other way."

There's no good solution to this for the NFL (or the NHL, or MLB, or anyone). They're stuck on PR spin-cycle forever. They'll continue lurching from crisis to crisis, taking the public temperature, then over- or under-reacting depending on what they've heard.

There's an easier way to manage this problem.

You could depend on your teams to do the right thing. If a guy is accused of something awful, the team puts him on a shelf. They do their own (transparent) investigation. If they decide they can't live with him, they pay him and cut him. Without colluding, every other team respects that decision. It's called shunning. It's worked a long time.

But the league knows. They know that teams cannot be trusted to do the right thing, if the right thing is going to cost them wins. There will always be a place for a bad man who's a good player.

And so we stagger forward with this pseudo-judicial farce, pretending there are rules. There are no rules, because morality is too slippery a topic for definitions.

Follow me on Twitter:@cathalkelly

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

FIFA isn't just a governing body - it's a corporate succubus
Friday, November 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


Eighteen months ago, facing huge pressure to explain why it had given the next two World Cups to the least likely bidders, FIFA asked a former U.S. district attorney to investigate the process.

They released the results of his probe on Thursday. Well, sort of.

The investigator - Michael Garcia - prepared a more than 400-page report. FIFA refused to make that document public. Instead, they issued a 42page summary prepared by their in-house counsel, Hans-Joachim Eckert.

Before we get into that, let's speak plainly about what FIFA is - a money-laundering operation and a corporate succubus.

FIFA is not a business in the capitalistic sense. It produces nothing.

Rather, it encourages other people to produce things - things they don't need and can't afford. In return, they pay FIFA for the privilege of being pillaged. It's a growth industry.

According to Eckert's summary, FIFA made $300-million (U.S.) from the 1998 World Cup. Last summer in Brazil, they made more than $4-billion.

All that's required to make this money is finding clients pliable enough to give you certain ridiculous accommodations - such as tax-free bubbles around stadiums and exclusive marketing rights.

The host covers all the bills. Brazil forked over about $11-billion for improvements, including a $600-million stadium up in the middle of the jungle that hosted four games, and is rusting uselessly as we speak. The host also surrenders all opportunities to make money from the tournament.

FIFA - which has no real infrastructure beyond a very postmod office in Zurich - gets it on both ends.

Very few sensible people are willing to go in for this sort of thing. The ones who still are - kleptocracies and proto-dictatorships - will pay just about anything for a chance to watch themselves in the world's mirror for five weeks.

You can see how this might be a fraught process. At this point, FIFA would like you to turn away.

The first problem with Eckert's summary: It's already been rejected by the man who's being summarized.

"Today's decision by the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber [Eckert] contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed in the investigatory chamber's report," Michael Garcia said in a smouldering statement shortly after the summary was released.

This would be news if Eckert's conclusions were completely exculpatory. But in a comic twist only an organization as venal as FIFA could come up with, the attempted whitewash still tends to indict the winning bidders, Russia and Qatar.

Russia will host in 2018. There are widespread accusations that it bribed and colluded to vote rig with other countries.

Two things straight off: Garcia asked Russia for the computers it had used on the bid, and for its e-mail correspondence.

In the first instance, he was told that the computers had been destroyed. Not sold, or lost, or given away. They destroyed them. As you do.

As for the e-mails, Russia claims to have used a highly secure communications system we all know as Gmail. Gmail! Many of those e-mails have been lost. Russia asked Google to find them, but Google never called back. No, really.

The investigator asked another 2018 bidder, Japan, if they'd colluded with Russia. According to the report, multiple Japanese representatives admitted they had.

Eckert then says, "However, no supporting evidence has been found."


Didn't they just admit it to you? Co-conspirator testimony is good enough to put guys on death row. But it's not good enough for FIFA?

The 2022 host, Qatar, is an even more delicious case. Early on, while explaining the bid process, Eckert notes that among nine total contenders, Qatar was the only one evaluated as a "high risk" bid. No one bothers to explain how they won it anyway.

The key figure in the bid is a disgraced Qatari FIFA executive named Mohamad bin Hammam. Bin Hammam is a vastly wealthy former head of the Qatari Football Association and a former Qatari MP.

He was bribing people left and right - Caribbean FIFA officials, African officials. The report concludes that bin Hammam was buying them for his own run at FIFA president, rather than to win the world's most important sporting event for his native country. The rationale here is that all these small fries aren't on the FIFA executive committee, which casts votes for World Cup hosts. I suppose no one's heard of the idea of a cut-out, but whatever.

It also notes that bin Hammam gave $1.2-million to another disgraced executive, Jack Warner. Warner was on the executive committee.

That figurative brown envelope was delivered Dec. 15, 2010. Deflecting madly, Eckert waves it away. "According to the report, however, that misconduct does not appear related to the Dec. 2, 2010 FIFA World Cup vote."

A million bucks changing hands two weeks after the most unlikely PR coup in Qatar's history? Well, who could see anything strange in that?! No wonder Garcia has blown a fuse.

If this is the scrubbed report, what in God's name does the real one look like? Are there photos of bid officials and FIFA execs sitting in hot tubs smoking thousanddollar bills? Because I'm not sure how this can get any more damning.

Eckert has cleared the Russian and Qatari bids and closed the investigation. It's not yet clear if that was Garcia's intent, but it sure doesn't sound like it.

The most compelling portion of the summary may be its Orwellian conclusion. In essence - bad things happen; they can't be proved; c'est la guerre.

It says, in part, "To assume e.g. that envelopes full of cash are given in exchange for votes on a FIFA World Cup host is naive."

No, it's even stupider than that. You wire-transfer the money, you 'lose' the e-mails, and when they ask you about it, you say, "What money?"

As an act of political cynicism, all we can say is "Bravo." It's almost comforting to know there are villains this cartoonish left in the world.

Follow me on Twitter:@CathalKelly

Miller brings an ocean of calm to Vancouver's crease
Veteran goaltender's solid start is about to get a big test with a tough three-game tour of California, David Ebner writes
Thursday, November 6, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

VANCOUVER -- In a city where the hockey team's goaltending rivals real estate for favourite parlour talk, the signing of Ryan Miller on the first day of free agency sparked the predictable pulse of argument.

To detractors, the signing did not make sense: an aging goalie, 34, who appeared to have underperformed for St. Louis in the playoffs - never mind that Miller's dazzling play in net for the United States almost ruined the 2010 Winter Olympics for Canada. Jokes aside, Miller's greatness seemed faded, a memory.

In the mind of Jim Benning, there was never any doubt. The rookie Canucks general manager was once in charge of scouting in Buffalo, where Miller was drafted in the fifth round in 1999 and where the goalie subsequently made his name.

To Benning, the Canucks simply could not pin a season on Eddie Lack, who played 41 games last year as an NHL rookie. So Benning shelled out $18-million (U.S.) for three years of Miller's services.

As of early November, Benning's move looks good. One-sixth of the season is complete and Miller leads all goaltenders in wins, with nine, two ahead of his closest rival. Two-thirds of the wins have come against weak competition but the Canucks are 9-4, which as of Wednesday morning was second best in the entire league. "Isn't that great?" marvelled a news radio host early Wednesday morning.

Forget for a moment that 9-4 is only fractionally better than the 8-4-1 Canucks record after 13 games under John Tortorella a year ago.

But following the implosion of last winter, the Canucks' revival has sparked a wave of good feelings. All that will now be put to a test, however, with a tough three-game tour of California, starting Thursday in San Jose. It's considered an early defining moment.

Last year, the Canucks were punched up in California, one win in eight games, emblematic of their inability to keep up with the top three teams in the Pacific Division.

Miller, the man who has helped make the Canucks' earlyseason success possible, remains relaxed. After the goaltending circus of the past several years, which culminated in the departures of both Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo, Miller is an ocean of calm.

In mid-October, after Miller and the Canucks bombed in a 6-3 loss against Dallas, he laughed at himself. He had ceded five goals and stopped just eight shots. On the fourth goal, by Jamie Benn, Miller deflected in the puck with his own stick after making a blocker save.

"I've done a lot of stupid things, but that's a new one," he told reporters. "I think we can classify this as not really my night."

Last week, when the Canucks duelled the then-NHL leading Montreal Canadiens, Miller bested Carey Price and Vancouver won 3-2 in overtime.

Afterward, Miller was asked if he had been interfered with on the first Canadiens goal, which came midway through the third period as Montreal mounted a comeback.

P.K. Subban had flipped the puck toward the net from the point - just as Brendan Gallagher skated out front from behind the goal line and was checked by Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa. Gallagher toppled onto Miller from behind, on the goaltender's blocker side, just as Alex Galchenyuk deflected Subban's shot, which squeaked past Miller's glove as the goaltender fell to the ice.

"It probably didn't matter, on the goal," Miller told reporters.

"It got tipped high and went back left. If it went right ... yeah, but the refs got it right. It's fine."

Miller went on to say he appreciates that referees and linesmen are conferring after such goals, to discuss the play and whether there was interference. "We're getting towards the right area here," said Miller. "As for tonight, the contact was a little bit late, and it didn't really play a part in the goal - that's a good goal."

Miller's nine wins, it must be noted, have been piled up against weak opponents - six of them against Washington, Colorado, Edmonton (three) and Carolina. But Miller has also played well, and won, against tough Montreal and St. Louis teams.

The benefit of playing lousy teams is the lighter workload.

Unlike in Buffalo, where Miller faced a nightly barrage, Vancouver's defence and its opponents' weak offences have combined to allow only 253 shots on goal on Miller, 18th in the league. That's about 100 fewer than the number of pucks peppered at the likes of Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings and Montreal's Price.

Given all this, the test in California is significant for Miller and the Canucks.

Most of all, Miller was signed in Vancouver to provide stability, and he has. Asked about bouncing back from the Dallas loss, he said last week: "My job is to show that there is some calm back there, and make sure the guys feel that way in our zone."

Miller speaks evenly, like a third-party analyst. He is a veteran. He and his wife, Anger Management actress Noureen DeWulf, are expecting their first child, a boy, in March.

And here Miller is in Vancouver, on the rink where he produced his best-ever work, in February, 2010.

"You just have to push on," said Miller of games that don't go well. "That's really what it comes down to over the course of a season; who can get over the hiccups and bumps in the road quickest, and just forge on."

With the CIS championships in Toronto next year, Ryerson looks to cash in on Canada's basketball mania
Thursday, November 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

TORONTO -- The Canadian men's university basketball championship will be held next year at Ryerson University - the first time ever in Toronto - and the organizers are hoping a little Hollywood-style marketing will help the event fly in a city where professional sports rule the roost.

The push will begin in earnest Thursday afternoon when former NBA star Bill Walton will attend the media launch for the tournament at Ryerson's Mattamy Athletic Centre, the former Maple Leaf Gardens.

The organizers hope Walton's high-profile presence will increase exposure for the Final 8 championship and help sell tickets to a general public not known for its appetite for amateur sports.

"I look at this as the basketball version of the Toronto film festival. I look at this as launching a new movie," said Canadian film director and marketing executive Barry Avrich, a Ryerson alumnus who has been retained by his old school to help promote both Ryerson athletics and the tournament, to be held from March 12 to 15.

Avrich is a partner at BT/A, a Toronto advertising agency whose clients have included American Express, Roy Thomson Hall, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and the Canadian Opera Company. He has also authored three books on event marketing and has directed more than 20 documentaries and TV specials, including 2013's Quality Balls: The David Steinberg Story.

His work has allowed him to rub shoulders with many of the biggest stars in the entertainment industry, and his office on College Street in Toronto's Little Italy district is a testament to his success. Framed pictures of Avrich mugging with the likes of Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger, Tony Bennett, Lauren Bacall and Dame Maggie Smith all battle for space on one of the walls.

It was Avrich's idea to arrange for Walton to help spice up what is normally a drab, details-laden event - for a tournament that is officially known as the 2015 ArcelorMittal Dofasco CIS Men's Basketball Final 8. Walton is a former UCLA player who went on to enjoy a Hall of Fame career in the NBA, winning two championships and an MVP award over 10 seasons before entering the broadcast booth.

"This is a guy who is going to talk about the trajectory of a career coming from college to the NBA," Avrich said.

Walton was scheduled to arrive in Toronto on Wednesday and attend the regular-season home opener of the Ryerson Rams basketball team against the Western Mustangs that night.

Ryerson athletic director Ivan Joseph said the time is perfect to stage a national university basketball championship in Toronto, which is why he decided to bring Avrich on board to help with the planning. The Raptors are one of the NBA's hottest teams, and the club's association with rap superstar Drake adds a coolness factor that only raises the game's profile, particularly among younger consumers.

Throw in Andrew Wiggins, the Toronto-raised star who went No. 1 in this year's NBA draft, and you could argue the game has never been bigger in Canada's biggest city.

"We're really committed to making sure we've done it better than anybody else," Joseph said.

"We want the look and feel of this to say 'Big Time Sport.' That's the only way it's going to go over in a city like Toronto."

Avrich has been working with Ryerson for several weeks to raise the profile of the athletics department and, in turn, help generate interest in a Canadian Interuniversity Sport basketball championship that started in 1963 but has never been staged in Toronto.

It has always been a tough sell. Even when you include the dream matchup in last season's final in Ottawa between the University of Ottawa and crosstown rival Carleton University, which drew roughly 7,000 fans, attendance for the entire 10-game tournament was only about 25,000.

Joseph declined to say how much extra he was pouring into his athletics budget for the additional advertising and marketing, but insists it is not prohibitive.

"All we really did, we repurposed money that we were using already for different marketing efforts," he said. "Those other things through Barry; he's got a lot of corporate sponsorships that we were able to leverage. So it's not a significant increase in funding."

Since Avrich has been on board, Ryerson has launched a Toronto radio campaign promoting the upcoming games of the school's hockey and basketball teams at the Mattamy Athletic Centre - the kind of marketing that's rare at the university level in Canada.

And for about three weeks now, a colourful Toronto Transit Commission streetcar wrapped inside and out with both text and pictures of Ryerson athletes in action has been making its way along routes in the downtown core.

"I don't know that any college sports team in Toronto has ever done that," Avrich said. "And we've photographed the players in a way that makes them all look like they're NBA superstars."

As the CIS tournament draws closer, Avrich says a marketing technique known as "Sizzle Squads" will be hitting the busiest intersections of Toronto with Ryerson athletes, wearing their uniforms and handing out tickets and other promotional materials.

"The whole feeling is take this up a level and have our Canadian version of March Madness," Avrich said.

Associated Graphic

Marketing executive Barry Avrich stands on the basketball court at Ryerson's Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto. Avrich is helping promote the coming CIS tournament.


Players show Remembrance Day respect at War Memorial, putting so-called 'Battle of Ontario' into perspective
Monday, November 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

OTTAWA -- It was game No. 89 of the 1,230 that will be played this NHL season - but this one would be like no other.

It began, actually, 18 days earlier when a Wednesday match between two bitter rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators, was appropriately postponed following the attack on the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill that left Corporal Nathan Cirillo dead and a country traumatized.

And it began all over again this day, Sunday, at that same War Memorial where, instead of a morning skate, the two teams gathered - wearing dark suits, poppies and sombre expressions - while their respective captains, Erik Karlsson for the Senators and Dion Phaneuf for the Maple Leafs, solemnly laid wreaths to commemorate both the chilling attack on Oct. 22 and the rising warmth Canadians will feel this Tuesday, Nov. 11, Remembrance Day.

"It's not about anything else than the people who lost their lives," Karlsson said.

The players wore green military camouflage jerseys for the warmup. Both teams, every player, stood on the bluelines for a reading of the Ode of Remembrance and a moment of silence before a more-stirringthan-usual O Canada by retired OPP constable Lyndon Slewidge, the sellout crowd of 19,229 joining in full voice.

"It was deep," said Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean of the downtown morning ceremony. "I'm not sure if they've ever been involved in something like that to show respect for what someone has given them."

"For us as players to be part of that Sunday," Phaneuf added, "with both teams going there, paying our respects to the unfortunate and terrible events, it's bigger than the game."

But there was, of course, still a game to play. Not much was made of the small fact that this would be the 100th "Battle of Ontario," a phrase that shrivels in comparison to true battles in places such as Vimy and Ortona.

No one dared say "Hockey is figure skating in a war zone" or any of the other oversimplfications of professional sport.

Slowly, this match between two Ontario cities, neither of whom even reached the playoffs last spring, turned into what it needed to become: Game No. 89 of the 2014-15 NHL season.

Despite concerns about energy - both teams had played the night before, the Leafs beating the New York Rangers and the Senators losing in a shootout to the Winnipeg Jets - this game that began so seriously soon turned, well, silly as the Leafs came from behind to post a 5-3 victory.

The Senators scored first, less than three minutes into the match, when swift little Mike Hoffman put a wrist shot over the glove of Toronto goaltender James Reimer.

Ottawa goaltender Robin Lehner, who came into the game with an impressive .927 save percentage, had a rough night of it.

Every time his team would go ahead, the Leafs would come back. Peter Holland tied it at 1-1 with a weak shot that somehow slipped behind Lehner.

The Senators went ahead for the second time on a broken play in which Kyle Turris came charging into the zone to pick up a loose puck and beat Reimer to the blocker side. Early in the second period, James van Riemsdyk scored a second weak goal on Lehner when the puck skipped high into the net and lodged in the netting.

But again Ottawa went ahead, this time on the power play, when Mark Stone slammed home an Erik Karlsson rebound - only to have Josh Leivo tip a corner pass past a kneeling Lehner.

"As the game went on," said Ottawa coach MacLean, "their competition continued to raise while ours lowered."

Finally, the Leafs took their first lead when, short-handed, Mike Santorelli picked up a loose puck on a fractured play in the Senators end and lofted a shot past Lehner.

"We let down in the second period and we just never recovered," said Turris.

"Not very good," Lehner said about his own play this night. "It didn't go my way."

In the third period, David Clarkson tipped a floating wrist shot from defenceman Morgan Rielly past Lehner and the match that had started so well for the Senators was lost.

The Senators now hold a 50-403-7 lifetime record against their bitter provincial rivals, but Ottawa has now won but two games over the past 10 times the two teams have faced each other.

"They seem to elevate against us - and we haven't matched it," said Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan, who picked up an assist on the Turris goal but has struggled early in the season.

The Senators, having lost their first game at home in regulation, now head west for games against Vancouver Canucks (Tuesday), Edmonton Oilers (Thursday) and Calgary Flames (Saturday).

As for the Leafs, with two wins in a row, their record now improves to 8-5-2 for 18 points. They host the powerful Boston Bruins Wednesday and Pittsburgh Penguins Friday.

"We've got to continue to roll from here," Clarkson said.

Follow me on Twitter:@RoyMacG

Associated Graphic

Members of the Ottawa Senators gather together in memory of fallen soldiers at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Sunday. Captains of the Maple Leafs and Senators each laid wreaths, and both teams wore camouflage warmup jerseys before their game Sunday night.


James van Riemsdyk and Bobby Ryan battle for the puck during Sunday's game.


League and players teaming up to sell hockey on the global stage
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


In contract negotiations, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has frequently proclaimed the league's desire to be a true "partner" with the players in the business of the game. That appears to be more than just labour-relations rhetoric in one important area - international hockey.

Team owners and the NHL Players' Association don't agree on everything in that file - future Olympic participation being the most notable issue in dispute - but they both want to establish a long-term international schedule which could include the Winter Games, a World Cup every two years, the annual World Championships and participation in a club competition such as soccer's Champions League, all with an eye to selling the game around the world. Discussions have included making this a 12-year plan that would outlast even the players' current collective agreement.

Now that the NHL hierarchy has settled the nuisance issue of the dry scrape before regularseason overtime - on Tuesday the general managers agreed to shave a minute or two off the players' wait for overtime by limiting the job to what the shovel brigades do during TV timeouts - perhaps progress will be made on weightier matters.

"As I've said before, we have a sport [in which] 30 per cent of the players, more or less, come from Europe," NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said Tuesday after an appearance at the PrimeTime Sports Management Conference in Toronto. "We have well-developed hockey markets, knowledgeable fans, professional leagues over there. You've got the international federation headquartered over there.

"So we have an opportunity [to sell NHL hockey] if we can figure out how to develop a real, long-term international calendar. You can imagine a wide variety of potential events that would go into that. But you have to start somewhere."

Somewhere, according to Fehr, begins with reviving the World Cup. While the NHL, NHLPA and the International Ice Hockey Federation have not officially come to an agreement on the tournament, which was last played in September, 2004, they are far enough along that Toronto is expected to play host, and the tournament is likely to be staged in the fall of 2016. Both labour and management are enthusiastic about making sure the World Cup becomes a permanent part of the international hockey strategy every four years for a simple reason - unlike the Olympics, the NHL and NHLPA would control the tournament and split its revenues 50-50, as per the collective agreement.

However, much remains to be settled, including the format of the tournament. A lot of ideas are being kicked around, including a harebrained trial balloon sent up Monday suggesting the World Cup would be limited to six countries - Canada, United States, Russia, Czech Republic, Sweden and Finland - which slams the door on at least two countries capable of competing with them, Switzerland and Slovakia. In their place, the idea goes, would be two all-star teams, one made up of players such as Slovenia's Anze Kopitar, of the Los Angeles Kings, who come from countries that are not international hockey powers. The other would consist of North American NHL players who are 23 years old and younger.

The idea is to avoid some of the 14-0 whitewashings that occur during the Olympics when one of the hockey sharks plays a minnow. But at the same time, the NHL and NHLPA want to attract fans from those countries (not to mention their wallets) by making sure a favourite son is still playing in the event.

Judging by an unscientific survey of some players a few hours before Tuesday's game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Nashville Predators, the all-star trial balloon will soon be flattened. All expressed enthusiasm for the Olympics and the World Cup. They all understood the idea behind the all-star teams, but were not keen on it themselves.

Maple Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk, who played for the U.S. at the 2014 Winter Olympics, noted that the point of these tournaments for the players is the opportunity of representing your country. A happy side-effect is selling the game.

"They should do it consistently with the World Cup," he said. "Look at soccer. It may not get to that level, but there are places that shut down every year their country plays. I think it's fun - those big tournaments that you don't have every year. You see with more casual viewers it helped grow the game, especially in the U.S. You saw that in the last couple of Olympics."

He would also ditch the all-star teams in favour of at least two more countries, citing the fun of watching Latvia throw a scare into a few teams at Sochi: "I like the fact you go to some of these events and maybe there's a surprise, some upset that shakes up the whole dynamic of the tournament."

Follow me on Twitter:@dshoalts

Better late than never
Toronto's fifth win in a row reveals a diverse offensive attack to back up one of the NBA's more tenacious defensive units, Robert MacLeod writes
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

Dwane Casey was once viewed as one-dimensional, a defensive zealot whose claim to fame was being able to devise the strategies that brought other teams' offensive stars to their knees.

It was something Casey orchestrated brilliantly as an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks in 2010-11 when the Mavs won the National Basketball Association championship.

With Casey getting the credit for maneuvering the Xs and Os on defence, the Mavericks were able to throw a wet blanket over such offensive stars as Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade en route to the title.

It was one of the reasons why the following season Casey was hired as the new head coach in Toronto. He was brought in to try to instill a sense of defensive pride on a squad that didn't defend the basket, coming off a dismal 22-win season in which they allowed 105.4 points per outing.

Since he took over, the Raptors have been one of the NBA's more tenacious defensive units, and it has been no different during Toronto's storybook start to this season.

But a new element has been introduced this season - a diverse offensive attack - and it has helped propel the Raptors to dizzying heights.

The offence was slow to the boil on Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre, but it was there when it counted most - in the fourth quarter - when the Raptors rallied from 11 points down to record a 104-100 victory over the Orlando Magic.

For Toronto, it was their fifth win in a row and improved their record to 7-1 on the year.

Patrick Patterson led the fourthquarter blitz for Toronto, nailing a three-point shot from the corner that knotted the score at 83-83 with just under 10 minutes left to play. Another Patterson three with about 6:30 left moved Toronto in front 90-88.

The Raptors were clinging to a 101-100 margin when Tobias Harris came up short for Orlando on a 10-foot jumper, and when Toronto grabbed the rebound, the Magic were forced to foul Patterson. With 11.8 seconds on the clock, Patterson only made one of two to give Toronto a two-point cushion.

And when Harris missed again on an open jumper from 10 feet, the Raptors grabbed the rebound and held on for the tough win.

Point guard Kyle Lowry would lead Toronto with 19 ponts and seven assists.

Things will only get tougher, with the Chicago Bulls, who are neck and neck for Toronto for the early bragging rights atop the Eastern Conference standing, coming to town for a showdown on Thursday.

The Raptors came into the Orlando game with the NBA's top offence, averaging 107.4 points with six players scoring in double figures.

DeMar DeRozan led the way, averaging 22.7 points, good for 11th place on the NBA scoring chart.

When you have been holding your opponents to an average of just 95.9 points that is a pretty good ratio for success, which for the most part the Raptors have enjoyed.

"It's a really good balance," Casey was mentioning before the game about the mix of highoctane offence and stingy defence. "I think our guys have grown offensively. I think Demar DeRozan's developed himself into one of the top offensive players in the league, rightfully so. Kyle [Lowry] has brought an up-tempo mentality to our team and everybody's improved their offensive skills over the last two years.

"With that and then just creating some offence off our defence and it really has been a big plus for us."

Toronto entered the contest leading the Eastern Conference after their first seven games for the first time in franchise history. For the Raptors, that represents 20 seasons.

It was the Magic who displayed considerably more zip in their stride from the opening tip, connecting on 53.3 per cent of their shots over the course of the first half where they gained a 60-51 foothold.

The Raptors were wearing their alternative camouflage jerseys in honour of the war veterans on Remembrance Day, units that featured short sleeves that some of the players complained felt restraining on their bulging biceps.

The argument could also be made that the clingy garments might have been cutting off oxygen to the brain as the Raptors were one step behind the opportunistic Magic throughout the opening half.

The Magic led by 11 - 83-72 - heading into the fourth quarter where the Raptors finally came to life.

Associated Graphic

The Toronto Raptors' DeMar DeRozan (10) battles the Orlando Magic's Channing Frye (8) under the basket during first-half action in Toronto on Tuesday.


The CEO spokesperson: a personal touch
Hudson's Bay prepares to phase in the new face of the company - a high-risk move that can make or break a business
Friday, November 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B4

For five years, Bonnie Brooks was the Voice.

During her time as chief executive officer of Hudson's Bay Co., Ms. Brooks' low, smoky voice became intimately associated with the Bay brand. In a series of radio ads, she intoned about fragrances, housewares and designer threads at The Room. Though she was unseen, she helped to build the Bay's image as she oversaw major changes at the retailer.

But since moving into her new role as vice-chair in February, Ms. Brooks has also stepped back as spokesperson. Now, the Bay is hoping to replicate its success with a new voice.

President Liz Rodbell is making her debut this week in ads for the Bay's seasonal "one-day sale" campaign. More than 16 million Canadians are expected to hear her American accent on 115 stations across the country. As Ms. Brooks did before her, Ms. Rodbell will tout a different promotion every day until Dec. 23, attempting to lure customers to the stores during the crucial holiday shopping season.

"This is one of our biggest and most important promotions of the year," said Michael Crotty, executive vice-president and chief marketing officer for Hudson's Bay and Lord & Taylor. It's a high-risk time to make a big change to a company's advertising.

"Bonnie absolutely is well known through the radio, and helped bring a lot of awareness to the brand," he said. "For Liz, we have a strategy in place over time for introducing her. This is the first big opportunity."

Relatively few companies use their executives as advertisers. Those that do have to bet that their bigwigs are charming, relatable and poised enough to come across well to consumers.

By making them so visible, however, they also open themselves up to criticism. While some felt Ms. Brooks' distinctive voice was sexy, occasionally it was the subject of mockery.

"The more you put yourself out in front of the public, the more you open yourself up to opinions," Ms. Brooks told The Globe in a 2010 interview.

When done well, the strategy puts a human face on the company and can come across as more authentic than an actor who is hired to be a pitchman.

It's a strategy that stretches back decades. In 1979, U.S. entrepreneur Victor Kiam became famous for Remington razor commercials in which he declared, "I liked it so much, I bought the company."

Loblaw Cos. Ltd. president and executive chairman Galen G. Weston has managed to be a billionaire while somehow seeming folksy and approachable in the company's ads. Before him, the store's President's Choice brand had its real-life president Dave Nichol - and his little dog, too - pitching the products.

"It's kind of rare for it to really work, but when it does work it's magic," said Joseph Bonnici, partner and creative director at ad agency Bensimon Byrne. The agency worked with Loblaw for 12 years, and Mr. Bonnici shot ads with Mr. Weston, before the company switched agencies this year. "You can take a giant conglomerate and boil it down to one person in a face-to-face conversation with the consumer."

Other companies are best served by keeping the top brass out of the limelight. Lululemon Athletica Inc. founder Chip Wilson caused a public relations crisis for the company last year. He suggested that a problem with sheer yoga pants was actually a problem with "women's bodies" being too big for the clothes. Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries has come under fire in the past for saying he only wants "cool" or "good-looking" people to wear the brand.

Even in the absence of offensive remarks, executives may have a hard time winning people over. Canadians ranked the CEO second-last when asked which figures make credible spokespeople, according to the Trust Barometer, an annual report published by public relations firm Edelman.

One-third of those surveyed this year said the CEO would be credible. Top ranking figures included an academic or expert (73 per cent rated credible), a technical expert in the company (58 per cent), a financial or industry analyst (56 per cent) and "a person like yourself" (53 per cent).

Executing on promises is critical to being a successful spokesperson, said Christine Magee, president and co-founder of Sleep Country Canada. "I do think it's very credible when someone from the company stands up and talks about the services ... if it's authentic, and the experience delivers on what is said."

Sleep Country began producing radio and TV ads featuring Ms. Magee 20 years ago, shortly after the company was founded in Vancouver. It was a daunting role for a person who, despite regular appearances on television and in radio, describes herself as shy.

"There is a picture of me in the stores, which seems odd," she said, laughing. However, the company's research has shown that shoppers' recall of its ads is high, and that it does draw traffic to the stores.

"It's not just a faceless corporation, not just a jingle or a trademark," she said. "We really thought there was a value in that."

Associated Graphic

Former Hudson's Bay president Bonnie Brooks, above, has stepped back from her role as spokesperson. Her successor, Liz Rodbell, will look to replicate her success this holiday season.


How the surge of e-commerce is forcing an industry transformation. Marina Strauss reports
Saturday, November 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

At first glance, the newest Future Shop looks much like any other. Flatscreen televisions, tablet computers and other electronics are on display for customers to see and try out.

But at only 8,000 square feet, the store in Cornwall, Ont., set to open next Friday, is tiny - less than a third the size of the chain's typical big-box format. Part of the store is a 4,000-square-foot warehouse stuffed with a much broader array of electronic goods that cater to online shoppers. It's about double the size of the storeroom of a typical Future Shop or its sister chain, Best Buy.

The new-concept Cornwall store marks a strategic shift for Best Buy Canada, which operates the two chains, as the company works to keep pace with the rapidly changing retail industry.

Best Buy Canada is increasingly counting on its buoyant Internet business and socalled "endless aisle" of items stocked only on its website to help bolster its business, as it continues to invest in smaller stores such as the one in Cornwall.

"That's a very different store," said Thierry Hay-Sabourin, vice-president of e-commerce at Best Buy Canada. "That transformation we're in right now is absolutely critical for our future growth."

The Future Shop store reinvention is part of a wider retail reboot sweeping through the industry as retailers and malls are being forced to adapt amid the relentless surge of e-commerce. Shopper traffic in stores is in decline. At the same time, e-commerce is soaring and has never been more competitive.

Meanwhile, consumers expect more for less, as retailers increasingly lure them with a variety of new ways to shop in person and online, with added bonuses such as free shipping.

It all adds up to intensifying competition ahead for an industry already at war as big new entrants in Canada battle with established players to win over fickle consumers.

"Retailers face a multifold increase in the complexity of their business," said Gerald Storch, chief executive officer of Storch Advisors and former CEO of retailer Toys "R" Us Inc. Retailers will need to invest in a number of digital and physical sales channels to remain competitive, he said. "The alternative is obsolescence, irrelevance, and extinction."

Changing stores

The trends for shopping in stores versus online are on two decidedly different trajectories. In the first nine months of this year, shopper traffic to stores fell 7 per cent from a year earlier, extending years of declines, according to retail analytics firm HeadCount in Edmonton.

So far it hasn't hurt retailers too much because sales have held up - a 4-per-cent gain in the nine-month period - the result of fewer browsers and more shoppers who research online before hitting the store to make targeted purchases. But declining traffic is a troubling sign for retailers. "Less traffic means fewer sales opportunities," said HeadCount founder Mark Ryski.

Online retail sales, meanwhile, are expected to jump to $39.9billion or 9.5 per cent of total sales by 2019 from $22.3-billion or 6.1 per cent this year, estimates Forrester Research.

Nobody is predicting a collapse of in-store shopping, but signs indicate the high-growth era is over. In the U.S., store count growth has slowed to less than 3 per cent from more than 12 per cent in the past three years among largest retailers, Moody's Investors Service calculated recently. The situation is probably similar in Canada, industry sources said.

With some store networks under pressure, retailers - and property companies - are being forced to find creative ways to keep stores relevant to consumers, and not become dwindling profit centres.

Retailers are increasingly encouraging shoppers to order online and pick up in the store - or, ironically, shop online inside the store. They're setting up e-commerce pickup points in stores and malls as a less costly do-it-yourself delivery option. In this way, they're trying to get customers who fetch their orders into their stores to buy more.

Wal-Mart Canada Corp. is testing pickup lockers at some stores, where shoppers can retrieve purchases ordered online and pop in the store for any other items.

Many of these new shopping methods are experimental, since nobody knows exactly where the balance between stores and e-commerce will settle.

"There are going to be winners and losers and the fallout is not going to be distributed evenly," said Michael Turner, senior vicepresident of real estate management at Oxford Properties, one of Canada's major mall landlords whose properties include Yorkdale Shopping Centre and Square One Shopping Centre. "There are more questions than answers."

The Amazon threat Inc., the 800pound gorilla of e-tailers, is expanding quickly in Canada. In the past 18 months, has doubled its offerings to 50 million products, including toys, beauty and health items, said country manager Alexandre Gagnon. And it's not stopping there.

"As a company we think Canada is very important to us," Mr. Gagnon said. "We just saw a need, which is a business opportunity," and "we just keep launching new programs."

Rivals are keeping a close eye on Amazon. "Absolutely they are on our radar screen," Kevin Macnab, president of Toys "R" Us Canada, told a conference recently. "We're doing all that we can do to compete against them."

Steve Matyas, president of Staples Canada, added: "What they've done has made me much more paranoid than I've ever been before." In the pre-digital era, Staples tracked prices once a month at rivals such as Grand & Toy, Wal-Mart and Costco, he said. In contrast, "we watch Amazon multiple times per day."

Amazon is forcing rivals to invest more than they normally would in their e-commerce without enough time to do it in a measured way, said Mitchell Goldhar, owner of mall landlord SmartCentres. But for e-commerce over all, "there's no clear path to profit."

Amazon, for its part, has a deliberate strategy to put up with losses in its quest to snatch business from rivals.

"There is a reason Amazon's profits are so paltry," said Mr.

Storch, the former Toys "R" Us Inc. head. "They keep saying they're 'investing' for the future but, in many ways, they are just pouring money into the sinkhole of free shipping, trying to cover the high logistics cost of shipping products to consumers' homes by giving it away."

The strategy has helped Amazon make gains in Canada. It already generates roughly $1-billion to $1.5-billion in sales in Canada, or 5 to 7 per cent of the Canadian retail e-commerce market, estimates retail analyst Peter Sklar at BMO Nesbitt Burns. If it were to achieve the same share of retail sales here as it has in the U.S. and Britain, Amazon's revenues could triple or quadruple over the next few years, he said.

Wal-Mart's challenge

Wal-Mart, for its part, isn't about to let invade the Canadian marketplace without fighting back. That means investing in both physical and digital stores, even as its samestore traffic is declining while the amount that each customer purchases rises.

The gap between the two e-tailing titans is telling: Amazon's websites here had 15.7 million "unique visits" in September, almost three times more than, according to While stocks 50 million items, carries just 150,000.

Wal-Mart Canada chief operating officer Gino DiGioacchino said he's ready for the challenge.

"Retail will evolve quickly in Canada," Mr. DiGioacchino said.

"I'm not going to be obsessed, nor should I be obsessed, with short-term profit against longterm success in serving our customer."

In the fight with Amazon, "our store network becomes a competitive advantage," Mr. DiGioacchino argues, helping provide customers with different "access points" or ways for them to receive their e-commerce orders, whether it be home delivery, store pickup, Canada Post depot or a pickup station in the mall.

Wal-Mart's new "Grab & Go" pickup service, which it started testing in 10 outlets a few months ago, allows customers to buy online and pick up at lockers in a store that is accessible with a code sent to them.

"Everyone always forgets an item on their shopping list," Mr. DiGioacchino said. "What we're seeing with the Grab & Go is that the store itself allows them to add that extra item."

Some customers prefer a store pickup over home delivery, even though Wal-Mart offers free shipping on almost all orders.

"Quite frankly, most customers are not at home during the day," he said. "Waiting for a package to arrive at home is actually not convenient."

But the discounter's investments in e-commerce take a toll.

Wal-Mart Canada cut 750 employees this spring, with an expected 200 more reductions coming soon, as the world's largest retailer looks for more efficiencies. The streamlining helped Wal-Mart increase its gross profit in its latest quarter, after it had slipped in three of the previous seven quarters. Its same-store sales, after a string of declines, also picked up 0.6 per cent, even as traffic fell 1.4 per cent, it reported this week.

The last mile

Across the retail industry, companies are working to figure out the right cyber business model for the so-called last mile - getting orders to customers.

The last mile can eat up 75 per cent of a non-food e-tailer's distribution costs. Retailers and malls are searching for ways to get customers to fetch their own orders rather than get caught up in the costly business of free shipping.

Mr. Goldhar of SmartCentres is preparing to launch soon a test of free drive-through pickup depots for e-commerce orders in three Toronto-area malls for its tenants and non-tenants. It's a way to keep consumers coming to his malls and, potentially, buying more when they get there, he said.

In the future, "we know that it can't be all home delivery," he said. "It's just not affordable.

We're all just working through it.

It's not an apocalypse in retail.

It's not like everybody is unhappy with going out shopping."

To put the cost of shipping e-commerce orders to customers in context, it's about three times more expensive than the traditional retail practice of stocking stores and having shoppers purchase products and take them home themselves, Mr. Storch estimates. What's more, merchants' costs can be 66 per cent more to ship online orders to customers than having them pick them up at stores or malls, he calculated.

To underline the complexity, he figures there are more than 80 different ways in the new "omni-channel" universe to meld online and physical store retailing. For instance, a shopper can order an item from home, from a store, from a mobile phone or desktop computer; the order can be fulfilled at a central warehouse, at a store stockroom, at another store, at a supplier; and the retailer can ship the product to the customer's home, office or elsewhere, to a store or to a different location.

It's "a challenge, yes, but I think most see this as an opportunity to be creatively competitive in more ways than in the past," said Eric Ziegele, a retail practice director at Torontobased T4G, which has helped major retailers such as J. Crew and Macy's with their e-commerce and store merchandising planning. "In many ways the presence of online shopping has been the catalyst to create a new normal for shopping behaviour."

Huw Thomas, CEO of Calloway REIT and a former executive at Canadian Tire, said many retailers in Europe, where e-commerce is more developed, have switched from home delivery to "click and collect" pickups.

"Most retailers are trying to figure out the e-commerce model," he said. "There are very few significant-size retailers that have profitable e-commerce businesses... The delivery component of the e-commerce equation is a very, very expensive piece of the puzzle because, in essence, you're matching the prices that you have in a physical store, but you're delivering for free sometimes very substantially-sized product to a consumer."

Smaller stores

Big-box chains such as Staples and Best Buy have started to shrink their stores as more business flows online, and each of them closed 15 stores, the former this fall and Best Buy last year. Staples expects to scale back its space by 20 per cent over all, Mr. Matyas said. At the same time, the chains are opening smaller stores.

Toys "R" Us Canada is shrinking the retail space in some of its stores and expanding the storage rooms for e-commerce pickups as it starts to ship online orders directly from its outlets.

Fashion chain Groupe Dynamite recently started to test reducing inventory by up to 10 per cent in five of its stores, providing salespeople with tablets to fulfill e-commerce orders for customers who want merchandise that isn't stocked in the stores. It has delayed investing in its physical stores as it focused on a new e-commerce platform, which cost the equivalent of building five new bricksand-mortar outlets, said president Anna Martini.

But even as sales shift to the Internet, retailers still need to invest strategically in their physical stores as well to showcase their brands, which can lead to duplicate costs in the short term. Canadian Tire's Sport Chek, for example, is building flagship stores that are much larger than its standard outlets with digital screens and other tech gadgets to keep its younger customers longer, and buying more.

A growing array of online-only retailers, such as, are beginning to recognize the value of running bricks-andmortar stores by launching them. Even Amazon plans to launch its first store this holiday season in New York, according to a media report.

"We're not seeing customers say the physical store is dead," said Clint Mahlman, chief operating officer of London Drugs, which is beginning to plan for stores that are about a third the size of their current mega-outlets. "What they are saying is that what they expect from a physical store is very different."

Mall overhaul

As the retail industry transforms, so do the commercial real estate companies that own the store properties.

Major mall landlords are moving upscale, focusing on the savviest retailers and dropping laggards. RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust, one of the largest shopping centre owners, has been selling off weaker malls and shifting to more urban and non-retail uses of its space.

As a result, medical clinics, spas, fitness centres, restaurants, libraries and community centres are popping up in RioCan and other malls more frequently. In the U.S., data centres even rent space in former department stores.

Malls and retailers are investing in more technology: Oxford teamed recently with Cineplex to install new interactive digital services and screens. Cadillac Fairview named Jason Anderson, a former Microsoft Canada executive, as its new senior vice-president of marketing.

The rapid retail changes reduce the need for big-box stores as well as more power centres, which are the open-air suburban malls with big parking lots, and superstores such as Wal-Mart, Staples and Best Buy.

RioCan, known for its power centres, is building two in Calgary and "they'll be among the last of their kind," sais RioCan CEO Edward Sonshine.

"Even the existing power centres will have to be re-imagined a little bit," he said. "You have to look at different types of uses." Some retail categories, such as books and music, have been "devastated" by the digital rush, he notes.

Still, some retailers say landlords have to move faster to respond to consumers' digital needs and attract shoppers.

Marie-Andrée Boutin, vicepresident of real estate at shoe chain Aldo Group, said malls need to offer more dining, entertainment and other events and services that consumers can't get on the Internet. They need to borrow from the playbook of some U.S. malls that are adding e-commerce order pickup stations, reserved parking for those pickup customers and same-day delivery service, she said.

She said lower-ranked enclosed malls will feel the squeeze rather than top so-called "A" malls such as most of those owned by Oxford, Cadillac and Ivanhoé Cambridge.

But if sales among mall tenants decline as e-commerce picks up, the owners will no longer be able to command as high rents because they are often based on sales-per-square-foot performance in the centres, she said.

Already, Aldo is securing lower rents at some weaker malls because the sales-per-square-foot performance in the centres is falling as more business is going online, Ms. Boutin said.

"E-commerce will affect the whole bricks-and-mortar Canadian portfolio," she said.

Added London Drugs' Mr. Mahlman: "With the rapid change in e-commerce, a lot of the rule books are having to be renegotiated and rewritten."

Malls "seem quite slow to react to things - to how fast customer needs are changing."

Malls may also have to accommodate more trucks coming for e-commerce merchandise deliveries, Joe Megibow, chief digital officer at fashion chain American Eagle Outfitters, told a recent conference. He also pointed to tech snags. A promotion the chain ran in the fall "was kind of a mess" because it required customers to download a new version of the retailer's app and there often wasn't a WiFi connection in the mall stores.

Such stumbles are inevitable as retailers and property owners experiment while e-commerce forces change across the industry.

"The consumer is shopping both online as well as bricks and mortar and I think that line is getting very blurred," said Ron Wratschko, executive vice-president of operations at Cadillac Fairview.

It is doubling its marketing spending next year while bringing new restaurants and other entertainment to its malls.

Said RioCan's Mr. Sonshine: "Everybody is re-imagining their business."

Associated Graphic

The new Future Shop in Cornwall, Ont., is a small-concept store, with retail space in the front and a 4,000-square-foot warehouse in the back.


A Wal-Mart Grab and Go centre allows customers to shop online and pick up products at lockers.


Wal-Mart Canada Corp. chief operating officer Gino DiGioacchino.


Aldo employee Krista Kennell uses a tablet mounted on the wall to look for a shoe size.


Future Shop associate Joey Paquette works in the warehouse of the new small-concept store in Cornwall, Ont., which has a storre in the front and warehouse in the back.


An Aldo employee sends shoes up a conveyor belt after receiving an order placed via a tablet.


A Future Shop employee uses an app to scan a product's stock level at the new store in Cornwall.


Future Shop associate Jess Lyrette uses a lift to access products in the warehouse of the Cornwall store.


Regulators charge $4.3-billion in fines to six big banks after probe of forex traders' discussions in chat rooms reveals blatant corruption
Thursday, November 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

ROME -- They sounded like frat boys. But, according to documents released Wednesday, they were the traders who regulators say manipulated the $5.3-trillion (U.S.) a day currency market, marking yet another scandal that has damaged public trust in the world's biggest banks.

In the chat rooms, the traders talked about everything from protecting their tight-knit information cartels to the need to collect confidential knowledge of clients' trades before those trades were made.

"u are uselees...How can I make free money with no [expletive] heads up," said an HSBC trader, complaining that another trader had not disclosed a large order that could have been used to manipulate the market.

Another trader said "[I] dont want other numpty's in mkt to know [about information exchanged within the group] but not only that is he gonna protect us like we protect each other" (the use of "numpty," an archaic Scottish insult, suggests the quote came from a British trader).

Coming not long after the scandal that exposed the big banks' manipulation of interest rates, known as the Libor scandal (for London interbank offered rate), regulators on both sides of the Atlantic used the conversations as evidence of the manipulation of the foreign exchange, or forex, markets. The result was a fine of $4.3-billion against six of the biggest international banks.

In an unprecedented group settlement, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission of the United States (CFTC) and Britain's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) imposed $3.25-billion of fines on Royal Bank of Scotland, which is largely owned by the British taxpayer, JP Morgan, Citi, HSBC and UBS.

Separately, Switzerland's financial regulator, Finma, settled with UBS for a $138-million fine and the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency imposed fines totalling $950-million on JP Morgan, Citi and Bank of America. A seventh bank, Barclays, pulled out of the settlement deal at the last minute.

The collective fines from the CFTC and the FCA ranged from $618-million (HSBC) to $799-million (UBS). More fines are likely to come and a potential avalanche of related civil and antitrust cases against the banks could make their lives miserable for years.

British and American politicians and regulators were quick to condemn the banks for the market abuses. "It's completely disgusting," Britain's Treasury Minister, Andrea Leadsom, told BBC radio. "I think taxpayers will be horrified ... I don't know if corruption is a strong enough word for it."

Aitan Goelman, the CFTC's director of enforcement, said "The market only works if people have confidence that the process of setting this [currency] benchmarks is fair, not corrupted by manipulation by some of the biggest banks in the world."

While there were no criminal charges laid against the banks on Wednesday, Martin Wheatley, CEO of the FCA, hinted that such charges might come - Britain's Serious Fraud Office is reportedly preparing criminal charges against the ringleaders. "This isn't the end of the story," Mr. Wheatley told the BBC. "The individuals themselves will face the consequences."

But as the scandals piled up, the banks and their top executives have displayed a remarkable talent in avoiding criminal convictions. Instead, the banks have been hit largely with huge fines, a form of collective punishment paid for by shareholders.

Earlier this year, for instance, Bank of America, JP Morgan and Citi paid tens of billions of dollars in fines for their role in the subprime mortgage disaster that triggered the 2008 global financial crisis. HSBC paid a big fine to fend off money-laundering charges. In June, BNP Paribas did plead guilty to criminal charges of violating sanctions imposed against Sudan, Iran and Cuba.

But the penalty was a $8.9-billion fine and no executive was charged.

The probe into the forex market was launched about a year and a half ago by the FCA. The CFTC and other regulators soon joined the investigation and exposed widespread abuse. The FCA said the banks lack controls over their currency traders, "undermine confidence in the U.K. financial system and put its integrity at risk."

According to the FCA, the manipulation efforts centred on the so-called 4 p.m. London WM/ Reuters currency "fix," which is used to determine the benchmark rates for various currency pairings such as dollar-euro trades. A bank with client orders to buy a currency at the fix rate will make a profit if the average rate at which the bank buys the currency in the market is lower than the fix rate at which it sells to clients, and vice versa.

Unscrupulous traders can make an illegitimate profit by manipulating the fix rate up or down, depending on whether they are net buyers or net sellers. To do so, the traders, using chat rooms, would share information of impending client order flows, which was supposed to have been confidential. They also attempted to trigger clients' stop-loss orders for their own benefit (a stop-loss is a client's standing order to unload a currency when it drops to a certain level to limit losses).

The FCA said that the traders "formed tight-knit group or oneto-one relationships based upon mutual benefit. ... Entry into some of these groups or relationship was closely controlled by the participants. These groups were given names, among them "A team" and "the 3 musketeers."

One HSBC trader apparently warned his trading buddies against opening up large chat rooms because "people choke up, sacred [scared] to give info."

The shares of the fined banks were down by about 1 per cent or less in a down market, suggesting that shareholders were not surprised or shocked by the penalties.

Associated Graphic


Britain's Financial Conduct Authority says manipulation efforts centred on the 4 p.m. London WM/Reuters currency 'fix.'


In Spain, a political upheaval takes a page from Obama '08
Thursday, November 6, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

ROME -- Spain's newest political party, Podemos, has risen from the depths of the country's economic sinkhole like a Polaris missile.

Early this year, the party did not exist. Today, it ranks first in the polls and has the mainstream parties on the run.

The party, whose name was inspired by Barack Obama's first campaign and means "We can," has found millions of supporters who are fed up with Spain's crippling jobless rate, seemingly endless austerity programs and the string of corruption scandals that have shamed the ruling and opposition parties.

It is not alone in southern Europe, where the recession was the deepest and the jobless rate remains the highest.

Parties once dismissed as "fringe" protest movements have emerged from the economic wreckage and have soared in popularity, to the point they could form ruling coalitions. Investors beware. Most of them are anti-austerity, if not antieuro, and threaten to rewrite the recovery playbooks concocted in Brussels, Berlin and by the International Monetary Fund.

"Basically, much of this is a reaction against mainstream politicians' failure to articulate a clear vision of the European project," said Nick Greenwood, an analyst for the Spanish financial consultancy Afi.

"It is also a reaction to the asymmetric nature of the crisis and recovery, both between core and peripheral European economies and also within individual countries, where there is growing intolerance toward perceived corruption and inequality," Mr. Greenwood said.

While the rise of Podemos in Spain, Italy's Five Star Movement and the radical left Syriza party in Greece has yet to rattle bond and equity investors, there is no doubt the parties' rise has caught their attention as the national elections come closer. "Investors are becoming more concerned about governance and coalition options," Mr. Greenwood said.

Podemos is a sensation. It was formed in January by a group of Madrid professors led by Pablo Iglesias, a charismatic young politics lecturer and TV presenter who sports a beard, a ponytail and, often, a red tie. In the May European Union elections, Podemos stunned Spain's mainstream parties - the ruling centre-right Popular Party (PP) and the opposition Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) - by winning 8 per cent of the vote, handing it five seats in the EU Parliament.

Since then, Podemos's popularity has kept climbing. A poll published by the Spanish newspaper El Pais on Nov. 1 gave it 28-percent electoral support, against 25.5 per cent for PSOE and 20 per cent for PP. In a year, Spain is to hold a general election and the numbers suggest the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who many Spaniards consider a slave to German-inspired austerity, is in serious trouble.

Mr. Rajoy is not alone among European leaders facing a voter backlash after the deepest recession since the Second World War. In Greece, Syriza, the anti-austerity party that almost won the 2012 election, is sporting an eight-point lead in the polls over the centre-right coalition government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. While parliamentary votes in Greece are not scheduled until 2016, a presidential vote in February or March could easily trigger a snap election. That's because Mr. Samaras's government lacks the backing to push through its presidential nominee.

To bolster his political fortunes, Mr. Samaras is lobbying the Troika - the EU, IMF and European Central Bank - for an exit from Greece's bailout program by the end of the year. The program, which came with harsh austerity measures, is deeply unpopular among Greeks and has been blamed for pushing the country into outright depression. If the program ends, Mr. Samaras could claim that Greece has regained its economic sovereignty.

In Italy, the Five Star Movement, led by former comedian Beppe Grillo, won 25 per cent of the vote in the 2013 election and remains Europe's biggest anti-establishment party. Mr. Grillo is now advocating Italy's withdrawal from the euro, which, he argues, has benefited Germany alone to the near destruction of the Mediterranean countries. In France, Marine Le Pen's Front National, which won the EU elections, also advocates an exit from the euro. The surging UK Independence Party wants to yank Britain out of the EU.

As Podemos sheds its fringe status, its economic policies are coming under scrutiny and more than a few economists and analysts think its ideas, if adopted, would create more problems than they would solve. Among its key proposals: a selective default on "illegitimate" debt, definition to come; creation of a universal income at a cost of 145-billion ($206-billion), financed by wealth taxes and a clampdown on fraud; a higher minimum wage and a maximum salary based on a multiple of the minimum wage; the purchase of state stakes in strategic companies, such as energy and health companies; and a hike in the corporate tax rate.

Mr. Iglesias has been distancing himself somewhat from a few of these proposals. Still, he promotes an ideology that represents an alternative to austerity and policies that millions of unemployed Spaniards believe are designed to help the wealthy, not the poor. But some economists consider the policies illthought-out, naive or worse.

"They want a national minimum salary but how would they finance that and what sense does it make to prevent profitable companies from laying off workers?" said Gayle Allard, economics professor at Madrid's IE Business School. "These things would make the economy less competitive."

It looks like Spain is headed for a coalition government after the next election, and Podemos could be the kingmaker as the socialists and the centre-right battle it out. In a note, Mr. Greenwood of Afi concluded that a coalition "is likely to significantly slow down the pace of decision making and prospects for further - and much needed - structural reform."

Associated Graphic


Hiring for the future
As a skilled labour shortage looms, a new paid-training program is investing in the next generation of workers. Tavia Grant reports
Monday, November 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

Young people may be wrestling with a tough jobs market, but the news isn't all glum: Some employers are experimenting with new ways to hire, train and invest in them.

A cluster of Canadian manufacturers has banded together to tap young workers - even if they have no experience - for highly skilled, specialized positions. The employers have been spurred into action by strong demand, a shortage of people entering skilled trades and looming retirements.

So, they are hiring first and training after, recruiting youth and paying them from the get-go while they get classroom and onthe-job training with the intent of keeping them in full-time, permanent jobs at the end of the sixmonth program. The first cohort of 16 people is now being trained as machinists in the Toronto area. In plans to be announced this week, the initiative will grow to 80 young workers by the end of next year, with expansion into other Ontario cities and other occupations.

Booming business is one reason Robert Sochaj, executive vicepresident at aerospace parts maker Cyclone Manufacturing Inc., has signed on. Plus, tighter rules around the temporary foreign worker program add an incentive to hire and train closer to home.

A few years ago, Cyclone used about 20 temporary foreign workers to fill some positions. Now, "it's almost impossible to get [government approval] for a machinist ... so we need to train people internally," Mr. Sochaj said.

It's a long-term investment that many companies are unwilling to make. Employers have cut spending on workplace training by nearly 40 per cent in the past two decades, the Conference Board of Canada has noted, while the OECD has long urged Canada to boost efforts in skills training.

Companies in the consortium will spend $15,000 to $20,000 per trained youth to get them up to speed. New hires aren't required to sign a guarantee that they'll stay with the company, but the hope is that both employee and employer find a good match.

Together, the employers see an immediate need for 270 "computer-numerical control [CNC] machinists" - workers who operate computer-driven machines, and estimate they'll require more than 700 more over the next two years.

It's been a difficult few years for young people in the jobs market.

Canada's youth employment rate - or the portion of youth holding jobs - has shown little improvement in recent years, with only about half of young people at work. Many are in school, but the share of young people in parttime positions who would prefer full time has stayed elevated since the recession. In fact, the portion of youths working in fulltime jobs fell to a record low last month.

These are not unpaid internships. Wages typically start at between $12 and $15 an hour and pay starts at the beginning of training. Wages increase as their capabilities improve. Eventually, CNC machinists typically end up earning between $25 and $35 an hour.

The program recruits mostly unemployed, underemployed or disadvantaged youth in their twenties. The initiative, called the Ontario Manufacturing Learning Consortium, works with a training institute and comprises four industry associations in the aerospace, tooling and machining, nuclear and manufacturing sectors. The provincial government kicks in some funding under its Youth Skills Connections Program.

"Industry has not taken the role that it must do if we're going to bring about good training programs. Industry has to be more active" in defining what roles it needs and working more closely with schools to groom young people for work, says Rod Jones, the consortium's program codirector.

Gregory Wood, 25, is one of the new hires. Before landing in the program, he was selling tools at Canadian Tire. He had taken three years of math and science at University of Toronto, but he didn't have a clear long-term plan. Many of his friends are either underemployed, or unemployed - "some can't even find a part-time job."

"It's a great opportunity to be paid to learn," he says, adding he hopes to pursue a career in the field and to stay on at Cyclone, where he's started.

On the clean, bright floor, he scrutinizes blueprints for an aluminum plate that will be turned into an airplane's engine mount.

"It's a little stressful," he says of working with automated machines that cost up to $2.5-million. But he's learned to go methodically and carefully through the steps. "You can't rush it."

The industry-led initiative is still not the norm in Canada, but the model is similar to longstanding approaches in places such as Germany which blend inclass and on-the-job training, with closer collaboration between employers and educational It's a model that labour market watchers such as Kevin Lynch, vice-chairman of Bank of Montreal, have argued that Canada should emulate.

"The nature of work is changing all the time and technology is changing how you do it," he said.

But a greater joint effort between employers, students and schools with more co-op programs, apprenticeships and on-the-job training means "everybody wins" with better-trained and more productive workers.

A Catch-22 is that firms want work experience before they hire, but grads can't get that experience to get hired, he said. But "firms have to be willing to take on new workers.

"Our biggest resource in the future is the kids that we're graduating today. How we educate them, how we train them and give them their first work experiences is everybody's gain, not just theirs, frankly - it's a societal gain, it's an economy gain."

Associated Graphic

Greg Wood, 25, is completing a 23-week training program at Cyclone Manufacturing in Mississauga.


The fight for the Net: A U.S. battle - for now
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

With online video viewing soaring, the debate over whether the Internet should be divided into fast and slow lanes is growing.

This week, U.S. President Barack Obama waded into the discussion, laying down a forceful argument for protection of so called "net neutrality," a principle that says all Internet traffic should be treated the same and service providers should not be able to give preferential treatment to some content.

"We cannot allow Internet service providers to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas," he said.

His comments come as the U.S. Federal Communications Commission redrafts rules around how ISPs handle traffic. The regulator has been grappling with this since January, when a federal appeals court struck down an earlier set of net neutrality rules.

One-third of North America's prime time Web traffic is attributed to Netflix Inc. and YouTube, straining networks under the volume of data that videos require. Carriers want the content companies to pay for the infrastructure costs associated with more traffic, while content companies say ISPs, users and content providers should share the cost.

The issue has become so complicated and is so fundamental to the future of the Internet that the FCC chairman is reported to be considering delaying the delivery of his revised framework.

First, what is net neutrality anyway?

This is the idea that all legal traffic on the Web should be treated equally and that ISPs should not slow down or speed up certain content.

The concept has ties to the principle of common carriage, which originally applied to companies such as railways and required operators to transport goods on a non-discriminatory basis. The idea was that in regulated industries that tended to have little, if any, competition, the general public should have equal access to those services.

Utilities such as telephone and electricity providers have been recognized as common carriers with the expectation that they make their service available on a neutral basis, with no interference with who can access the service or what customers do with it.

Proponents of net neutrality believe similar expectations ought to extend to ISPs, which should be required to deliver all content equally, without offering superior service to those content providers who can afford to pay more.

What is the fight in the United States about?

In a landmark 2002 decision, the FCC ruled that broadband Internet would be treated as an "information service," which entailed lighter regulation than if ISPs were treated as common carriers. This designation became problematic for the commission in January, when the appeals court said the regulator did not have the authority to impose its net neutrality rules on those information service providers.

In the vacuum created when the court struck down the FCC's rules, Comcast Corp. reached an agreement with Netflix to ensure better-quality streaming of its content, sparking questions over the fairness of paid Internet "fast lanes."

Many stakeholders have since called for the FCC to reclassify ISPs as common carriers or utilities, which would give the commission increased regulatory power. Mr. Obama argued in favour of that reclassification on Monday, adding that the FCC should still refrain from directly setting rates.

The president said the FCC should adopt an approach that includes rules against blocking content as well as throttling (or slowing down) traffic, increased transparency around how ISPs connect with content providers and a ban on paid prioritization of certain content that would give services willing to pay a "fast lane."

An industry group representing U.S. ISPs said it was stunned by the comments and argued the approach advocated by the president abandons a tradition of lightly regulating the Internet. Carriers said the move could face legal challenges and some critics also say the reclassification argument is too simplistic and could inadvertently lead to lower-quality networks.

So why aren't we fighting about this in Canada?

In Canada, ISPs have long been treated as common carriers. The Telecommunications Act bars carriers from unjustly discriminating against any person or giving anyone - including themselves - an undue advantage. This would make it difficult for a carrier to enter into deals to give content companies "fast lanes."

In 2009, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission elaborated on the legislation with a policy around Internet traffic management practices that requires ISPs to disclose their practices and explain why any sort of traffic management is necessary in the first place. The policy has been used to shut down throttling of speeds for online gamers, for example, whose activities - which require far more bandwidth than the average e-mail-checking, web-surfing user - were purportedly straining carriers' entire networks.

That's not to say there haven't been further controversies north of the border. The CRTC is considering a complaint about BCE Inc.'s Mobile TV application, which lets Bell Mobility customers who subscribe to the service watch up to 10 hours per month of live and on-demand television programming with no effect on their wireless data cap. But users could face significant overage charges for streaming the same amount of content from Netflix or another online video service that Bell doesn't own. The commission must decide whether this differential treatment violates Canada's net neutrality framework. (BCE owns 15 per cent of The Globe and Mail.)

Associated Graphic

Since the dawn of the Internet, all data have been considered equal; recently, there has been talk about a 'fast lane' for certain content.


Competition Bureau targets Loblaw's 'trade practices,' as watchdog requests secret records from suppliers concerning pricing strategies
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

The Competition Bureau is investigating Loblaw Cos. Ltd. pricing strategies in a probe that is demanding that some of the chain's key suppliers hand over secret records about their dealings with the grocery giant.

The bureau is looking into allegations that Loblaw engaged in "restrictive trade practices" that could lessen competition substantially in the sale of grocery products, according to documents filed with the Federal Court.

The moves come eight months after Loblaw got the green light from the bureau to close its $12.4billion takeover of Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. At the time, the bureau raised the curtain on sensitive pricing negotiations between Loblaw and its suppliers. The bureau placed some restrictions on Loblaw's dealings with suppliers to help prevent vendors and grocery rivals from getting squeezed in an increasingly consolidated market. And the federal agency said it would continue investigating the grocer.

As Canada's $88-billion grocery sector becomes more competitive with more discount rivals, it also is dominated by fewer large retailers. The shifts have raised concerns among suppliers and small grocers that they will increasingly feel the brunt of big players' demands for more payments.

Loblaw spokesman Kevin Groh said on Monday that the investigation is "not new news" but simply the latest step in the bureau's review of its Shoppers takeover.

"Given it's the nation's largestever retail acquisition, we understand the Bureau's interest in maintaining competition in the marketplace," he said in an e-mail. "This includes looking at some of our supplier practices. In our relationship with suppliers, we are an active advocate for customers - providing Canadians with the best value possible."

He said Loblaw doesn't believe its "practices are inconsistent with a competitive market." The company continues to co-operate with the bureau, he said.

Small grocers argue that they're caught in the middle, sometimes pressured by suppliers to pay up for items as a way to offset the low prices for goods attained by larger retailers.

"For us, this is connecting the dots between this issue and the consumer," said Gary Sands, vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers. "I would see that as a big win."

He said federal politicians now have no alternative but to look at the rising power of fewer big grocers. His group and supplier representatives have called for a code of conduct, similar to one in other jurisdictions such as Britain, that would regulate the relations between grocers and suppliers.

In its investigation, the bureau on Nov. 12 filed applications in Federal Court demanding that 12 major grocery suppliers to Loblaw - including Danone Inc., S.C. Johnson & Son Ltd. and General Mills Canada Corp. - hand over documents to the agency. None of the suppliers, the bureau says, are facing any "allegation of wrongdoing."

Other suppliers facing court applications to produce documents include Smucker Foods of Canada Corp., David Chapman's Ice Cream Ltd., Ferrero Canada Ltd., Con-Agra Foods Canada Inc., Sun-Rype Products Ltd., Sofina Foods Inc. and Reckitt Benckiser Canada Inc.

Spokespersons for some of the companies would not comment or could not be reached. The Food & Consumer Products of Canada group, which represents major suppliers, also would not comment.

Among other things, the bureau is searching for information about potential "reprisals or repercussions" from Loblaw, the court documents say.

The bureau is looking for signs of programs such as those called "ad match" or "ad collision." In the former, Loblaw matches prices in a competitor's flyer and requires "financial compensation from a supplier via a margin-protection agreement ... or otherwise," court documents say. In an "ad collision," Loblaw asks suppliers for money on the basis the grocer has identified a product in another retailer's flyer's promotional materials that is advertised at a lower price than the same product is promoted for in Loblaw's flyer in the same period.

"Such terms may raise rivals' costs and ultimately increase the prices Canadian consumers pay for grocery products in Canada," court documents say.

The bureau's probe is seeking information back to 2011. Suppliers have complained of some past practices. For example, on Oct. 1, 2012, Loblaw wrote to vendors to say it "will not accept increases in costs from our suppliers effective immediately through calendar year 2013." It cited its adoption of a new SAP system.

When it approved Loblaw's acquisition of Shoppers, the bureau imposed conditions that included limits on the supermarket chain's ability to squeeze some of the drugstore's suppliers, in addition to demanding the selloff of a small number of stores.

Just months before the takeover, Sobeys Inc., the country's second-largest supermarket chain, got bureau approval to snap up Safeway Canada for $5.8billion. Soon after, Sobeys quietly asked its suppliers for retroactive price cuts and no increases in 2014, touching off a storm among vendors.

Loblaw (L) Close: $60.30, down 69¢

The grocer Loblaw Cos. Ltd.

The suppliers Danone General Mills Canada Corporation ConAgra Foods Canada Inc. Ferrero Canada Limited David Chapman's Ice Cream Limited Sun-Rype Products Ltd. A. Lassonde Inc. S.C. Johnson and Son, Limited Reckitt Benckiser (Canada) Inc. Smucker Foods of Canada Corp. Sofina Foods Inc. La Cie McKormick Canada Co.

Associated Graphic


The Maple Leaf Gardens Loblaw store in Toronto.


Holes persist in bank disclosures
Canadian banks have vastly improved what information they share since the financial crisis, yet much still remains unknown
Monday, November 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

Seven years after the global financial crisis started, Canada's banks remain selective in what they disclose - a problem illustrated by Ottawa's recent crackdown on credit-card transaction fees.

Despite being one of the banking sector's most widely discussed issues, with lenders lobbying Ottawa furiously out of fear that any ruling would be too harsh, the average investor had almost no way of calculating how many millions or billions of dollars were at stake.

The reason is simple: The banks do not reveal this revenue number in their financial disclosures, forcing even the best Bay Street analysts to rely on estimates when making their investment recommendations.

"What is the financial impact of these changes? We cannot know for certain," CIBC World Markets analyst Rob Sedran wrote in a note to clients.

"Though several banks noted the potential changes on recent webcasts, none provided any financial information that would be helpful in quantifying the impact."

The fees are just one of many veiled areas within Canadian banking, even after demands for greater transparency that followed the financial crisis.

For more than a decade, no one knew with certainty that Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce's Aeroplan credit card portfolio contributed 11 per cent of the lender's total profit; it was only when CIBC sold half of the accounts to Toronto-Dominion Bank in 2013 that this information was made public.

At RBC, there have been attempts to sell the bank's U.S. proprietary trading unit, yet no one knows exactly how that will affect the bottom line because the bank has only disclosed the division's revenues.

Although there has been progress, particularly around disclo...

sure of bank capital levels and real estate exposure, much investment analysis still comes down to guesswork. That may not seem like a problem because Canada's Big Six banks are incredibly profitable, collectively earning nearly $33-billion in profit over the past 12 months. Yet J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.'s recent $6-billion (U.S.) loss on its so-called "London Whale" trade proved surprises can come at any moment.

It is also a problem because the banks are bracing for a slowdown as Canadians borrow less, which forces lenders to look for new ways to make money. But it is hard to track which tactics they use to squeeze their customers because banks are reluctant to disclose details.

On their part, the banks often say they are selective in revealing information for two reasons. First, they worry about offering too much insight on their operations to their rivals.

Toronto-Dominion Bank has made a name for itself as being progressive when it comes to investor relations, but chief financial officer Colleen Johnston acknowledged that "sometimes there are competitive or proprietary reasons that we may not go a lot deeper."

In these cases, TD opts for directional guidance as to whether profit is rising or falling. "Trend-wise, [analysts] certainly know what direction we are headed in in our key businesses," she added.

The banks also argue that because global regulators now require a large volume of data to be disclosed, they are concerned about inundating investors with far too much information.

"Transparency and good disclosure is about finding the right balance between volume and relevance - because if you simply put out more information, the really important pieces can get buried," RBC chief financial officer Janice Fukakusa wrote in an e-mail.

Bank analysts say they have seen a great deal of progress. "The devastating impact of the financial crisis forced the banks to open the kimono a lot wider in terms of the information they were offering to investors," Scotia Capital analyst Sumit Malhotra said. For example, some banks' supplemental financial disclosure packages have more than tripled in size.

However, more information does not necessarily mean more detail. For instance, the banks often break out big-picture information about which sectors their commercial and corporate lending arms are exposed to, but provide few details about exposures to specific companies. Last week, the Bank of Nova Scotia announced a $109-million (Canadian) writedown on three specific loans in the Caribbean, but it did not disclose which companies caused the charges.

In some cases, the banks have taken the lead in disclosing more information. When the European economic crisis took hold in 2011, RBC voluntarily provided more details about its regional exposure by country, products and counterparties.

National Bank Financial analyst Peter Routledge argues that it is often tough for any one bank to lead the charge. If its rivals don't follow suit, that lender can feel overexposed.

For this reason, Mr. Routledge believes banking watchdogs play a crucial role. "Regulators cure this dilemma by standardizing disclosures and ensuring compliance," he said.

Canada's banking regulator, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, is viewed as one of the more aggressive regulators worldwide. In September, Canadian and British banks were cited as being among the best in the world for risk disclosures by the Financial Stability Board, the top global banking regulator.

"OSFI recognizes that [Canadian banks] should disclose information that is in the public interest or that is necessary for the public to make informed decisions," the regulator wrote in an e-mail.

But outside its targeted areas of disclosure, such as bank capital, the lenders still have a lot of leeway.

Canadian producers sheltered from oil's plunge
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

OTTAWA, GALGARY -- Canadian crude producers are being cushioned from falling global prices by a drop in the loonie and narrower discounts for heavy oil shipped to key U.S. markets.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, has fallen about 15 per cent over the past 30 days, and U.S. West Texas intermediate has also tumbled sharply. But in Canada, the average price in Canadian dollars received by producers was actually slightly higher in the past month than over the previous 41/2 years, Toronto-Dominion Bank economist Leslie Preston said in a report Monday. The reason is tied to favourable moves in the currency market, along with a reduced discount for Canadian heavy oil against WTI as more Alberta oil finds its way to U.S. refineries in need of heavy crude.

"It is a bit like the cleanest dirty shirt," Ms. Preston said in an interview. "The reality is we are better off now because we were worse off two years ago, when we were in the worst phase of discounting and the Canadian dollar was at parity."

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers estimates that a 1-cent decline in the Canadian dollar would be equivalent to a $1-per-barrel rise in the oil price. Since the June peak, the benchmark Canadian heavy Western Canada Select has dropped $12 (U.S.) a barrel, but the loonie has fallen 5 cents against the greenback, cancelling out nearly half the crude price drop.

"It has been partially mitigated but it has not offset the total decline that is out there," CAPP vice-president Greg Stringham said. Heavy oil accounts for nearly 70 per cent of Canada's exports so far this year, and like all Canadian production, it is priced in relation to the leading U.S. benchmark, WTI.

Oil prices continued to sink Monday. WTI fell to $77.40 (U.S.) a barrel, down $1.25 on the day and off nearly $30 since its peak in June. The leading international benchmark, Brent, fell more than $1 to $82.34, and has fallen $33 since June.

Canadian heavy oil producers have seen their prices improve relative to WTI, thanks to the expansion of rail and pipeline capacity out of Alberta, and the commission of a heavy-oil processing unit at BP PLC's Whiting refinery in Indiana.

There has been surging demand for Canada's extra-thick crude on the U.S. Gulf Coast, home to the world's largest refining complex, said Jackie Forrest, vice-president of energy research at ARC Financial Corp. in Calgary. The region has capacity to soak up as much as 2.7 million barrels a day of heavy oil, Ms. Forrest said.

But consumption has been held back, averaging just 1.8 million b/d so far this year, amid a pullback in deliveries from traditional suppliers in Venezuela and Mexico, and protracted delays building pipelines such as TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL.

"So that gap is the opportunity for Canada, because that's actually refineries that would prefer to take heavy crude that just can't get it," Ms. Forrest said. "That's translated into stronger prices back here in Western Canada as well for heavy crudes compared to light crudes."

Discounts for Western Canada Select, the key oil sands benchmark, have shrunk to an average of about $19 (U.S.) this year from roughly $24 a year ago, for example.

Prices are expected to more closely track the U.S. benchmark as more production heads south from Alberta through expanded rail networks and new pipeline connections. "There's still a very big market for Canadian heavy crude in the Gulf Coast despite the growth of tight oil," she said, referring to the boom in unconventional light oil production in the United States.

Ms. Preston, the TD economist, said lower prices won't stall Canadian production growth until later this decade because supply coming on stream now was planned several years ago. "We still expect over the next couple of years production to grow year over year by 5 to 6 per cent ... but I would expect to see a hit to corporate profits and government revenues over the next couple quarters."

While some companies have shelved high-cost projects, those decision were taken prior to the slump in prices and had more to do with market access, cost inflation and a renewed emphasis on high-return projects rather than growth for growth's sake.

The cash crunch is more likely to impede production from unconventional tight oil plays, like Alberta's Duvernay, where the investment cycle is shorter, than in the long-lead-time, capital-intensive oil sands projects.

Associated Graphic

Discounts for Western Canada Select have shrunk to an average of about $19 (U.S.) this year from roughly $24 a year ago.


'We're not about phones this time'
With Samsung deal, BlackBerry turns a corner in transition to software
Friday, November 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

SAN FRANCISCO -- Confirming its transformation from a smartphone maker to a mobile software provider, BlackBerry Ltd. is teaming up with a company that, just a few months ago, was among its fiercest rivals.

At a media event in San Francisco on Thursday, BlackBerry announced it is partnering with Samsung Electronics Co. to bring its security standards to the handset maker's smartphones. The deal was among an onslaught of new announcements all focused on the company's goal of becoming the leading provider of smartphone management services, be those smartphones BlackBerrys, iPhones, Android devices or anything else.

"Today is a very serious day for me," said BlackBerry CEO John Chen, who is celebrating his first anniversary as head of the company. "We're not about phones this time - we're about software."

Shares of the Waterloo, Ont.based company rose on the news, closing 7.7 per cent higher on Thursday.

The Samsung announcement marks a sharp change of direction for BlackBerry, which only a few years ago was still trying desperately to claw back market share from Samsung in the consumer smartphone space.

Executives at both companies brought up the idea of a partnership only a few months ago, during a meeting at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.

"We were like awkward teenagers at the school dance," said John Sims, BlackBerry's president of global enterprise services.

Indeed, the two companies had been direct competitors for years, as Samsung joined the ranks of manufacturers luring traditional BlackBerry users away from the once-dominant smartphone giant.

"I don't know whether I want to wish Samsung success or not," said Mr. Chen. "I'm a little conflicted."

For Samsung, the partnership gives the company access to BlackBerry's security infrastructure - and its reputation as the strongest of the major smartphone makers. For BlackBerry, it opens up a huge and previously inaccessible new market.

"It allows BlackBerry to put its security solution with the handsets of the biggest Android phone manufacturer on the planet," said technology analyst Carmi Levy. "They're swimming in the ocean now."

Like the Samsung partnership, a number of new BlackBerry announcements on Thursday focused squarely on enterprise security. A new service called Enterprise Identity allows IT departments to manage secure access to internal software and cloud-based services using a single piece of software.

In addition, the company also showed off a new meeting-organization tool based on the BlackBerry Messenger app.

But the new product most vital to the company's continued survival is the mobility management service known as BlackBerry Enterprise Server 12 (BES 12). The service allows corporate IT departments to manage all manner of smartphones, including iPhones, Windows Phones and phones running on Google's Android operating system.

Mr. Chen's ability to achieve his previously stated goal to return BlackBerry to profitablity in 2015 will largely depend on how many enterprises are willing to make BES 12 their primary mobile management tool.

Since his appointment one year ago, Mr. Chen has expended considerable energy trying to convince businesses of the benefits of BlackBerry's enterprise software.

This summer, the CEO sent his employees a memo saying the company's restructuring process - which had seen BlackBerry undergo several rounds of painful layoffs - was officially over. His claim has so far been bolstered by quarterly earnings that, while not spectacular, are a substantial improvement over the staggering losses the company had posted in recent years.

BlackBerry's biggest corporate challenge is its declining service access fees - the per-user fees it charges carriers to access its network infrastructure.

For years, access fees made up one of the most profitable slices of the BlackBerry corporate pie.

But as fewer and fewer customers opt to purchase BlackBerry smartphones, and carriers have become less willing to pay, service-fee revenue has plummeted.

Mr. Chen admits the fees are probably never going to return to previous levels. As such, the company is trying to offset the loss with two major new revenue sources - software sales and monetization of the BlackBerry Messenger software.

In software, the company is offering a bevy of new tools and services, including security and phone management products.

With BBM, BlackBerry hopes to make money by running ads on the service and equipping it with payment technology for use as a digital wallet.

BlackBerry expects to make about $500-million from software in the coming fiscal year, and about $100-million from BBM. But even if those estimates prove correct, they won't fully offset the $800-million that the company expects to lose in service access fees during the same period.

BlackBerry Ltd. (BB) Close: $13.74, up 98¢i

Associated Graphic

BlackBerry's John Chen shows off a red Passport model, available later this month, during Thursday's event in San Francisco.


Shock and awe
As Canada goes to war again, it knows that some fighters may come back with crippling wounds that do not show. As Sarah Hampson reports from Edinburgh, the situation was radically different a century ago. No one was prepared for what shell shock was about to do
Saturday, November 8, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F1

Here is a Scottish landscape to soothe the tortured soul. One small window looks west toward a wild and craggy bluff, its base wrapped in silky green - a golf course. The other turns the centre of Edinburgh, less than five kilometres away, into a setting for a fairy tale: a rugged coastline by the sea; tall church spires; a dark, mysterious castle atop a steep cliff.

This is the view from the room Siegfried Sassoon is believed to have occupied in 1917. But his was not a happy stay - the famed poet was forced to come to the imposing Italianate building then on the outskirts of Edinburgh. He called the place "Dottyville."

Built 40 years earlier as a medical spa, Craiglockhart War Hospital had been commandeered to battle the great mystery illness of the Great War: shell shock.

Today, photographs of soldiers taken just after they'd enlisted are a study in Victorian innocence - they had no idea what they would face. One minute, young men schooled in heroic, Tennysonian visions of warfare were erect atop their horses, gallant and cheerful, as crowds waved them off to the front. The next, they were in hospitals with bewildering symptoms - insomnia, nightmares, palpitations, headaches, tremors, partial paralysis, and amnesia - sometimes unable to talk or see, curled up in the fetal position whenever a loud noise sounded.

Shell shock was culture shock - it turned postwar Western sensibility into what U.S. literary scholar Sarah Stoeckl has called an "imaginative No Man's Land, unable to find consolation in previous modes of understanding but uncertain how to move forward."

It had powerful repercussions throughout society, largely because its cruel paradox was unimaginable.

At the turn of the 20th century, in an age of stolid Victorian beliefs, many based on class assumptions, who would have thought that courage may contain fragility; that our most noble instincts - a determination to serve, to be selfless - can be undercut by forces that are just as willful but not within our control? There was still so much yet to learn about both mind and body.

As we mark Remembrance Day in the centenary year of the start of the First World War - with Canadians now deployed in Iraq and Kuwait to join the international campaign against the insurgent Islamic State - we might ask ourselves: How much has changed in our understanding of war trauma?

Shell shock threatened the existing medical and institutional approach to mental illness, laying the groundwork for modern psychiatric practice in the process. One of the more progressive psychologists, W.H.R.

Rivers, who treated patients at Craiglockhart, wrote that the war was "a vast crucible in which all of our preconceived views concerning human nature have been tested." But the diverse opinions about how to treat the ailment reflected the ambivalence of the medical establishment.

One hundred years later, much of that ambivalence remains. Millions of dollars are spent in research initiatives around the world to unravel the complexity of physical, psychological and emotional trauma - in the general population as well as among veterans diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other war-related psychiatric problems.

Today, the public has at least some grasp of what's at stake. Back then, the reaction was confusion, rejection - or worse.

Roughly 10,000 Canadians were treated for shell shock during the Great War, according to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. But the total number who suffered was likely much greater. Many affected soldiers may have not applied for a pension for neurological or psychological disorders - one way to assess the prevalence of them; others may have recovered by the war's end. Many may have felt too ashamed to acknowledge it at all.

My great-grandfather, William Barnard Evans, was one. Having volunteered in Montreal, he served on the Western Front for 17 months, before suffering a breakdown he never discussed or sought treatment for. His war diaries simply stop after he noted that he had asked for a leave as lieutenant-colonel of his battalion, and his commanding officer recommended a staff job. After the war, he returned to Canada and resumed, as best he could, his former life.

Others were less fortunate. Lieutenant-Colonel Sam Sharpe, a member of Parliament decorated for his service both at Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele, was sent home after falling prey to shell shock. A few days later, he leaped to his death from a window at Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal.

'Modernity gone wrong'

Shell shock precipitated what one academic called "a crisis of masculinity," finding expression in the literary trope of the anguished male anti-hero. But more than that, shell shock fuelled unease about the conflict and became a "symbol of modernity gone wrong," observes Joanna Bourke, a professor of history at the University of London in England.

It would help make the war what she calls "the greatest rupture of the 20th century."

I was at the front this morning. You could not believe the scene of desolation. Mud, muck, misery and melancholy reigned supreme and a pitiless bombardment adds to the general discomfort. Death and glory I suppose they call it. All my friends are gone, and not a soul to go to ... I should love to get some leave, but I don't like to ask. It was suggested the other day but in such a way that if I had risen to it, I should have felt I was shirking [my duty]."

- From a letter home written by a soldier who was later diagnosed with shell shock and sent to convalesce at Craiglockhart.

This was a war in which explosives could reduce men "to particles so small that only the wind carried them," as Sebastian Faulks wrote in his celebrated 1993 novel, Birdsong. Much about it was new. And at first, some wondered if some dark force, unleashed by the industrialization of war, could be penetrating the brains of men. The machine gun, which had been invented in 1884 - with the firepower of 60 to 100 rifles - dominated the battlefield for the first time. Explosive shells rained down on the men with a blast force never seen before. The largely volunteer army had little training or psychological preparation for the stresses of artillery bombardment, which kept soldiers constantly on edge. And, of course, the terror weapon of gas was used for the first time.

In addition to the strain brought on by new kinds of weaponry, soldiers didn't do tours of duty as they do now.

They went to war and were expected to see it through, with periodic rest periods behind the lines. One thing that had changed dramatically was the duration of battles - they went on for weeks, sometimes months.

In his book, The Face of Battle, military historian John Keegan points out that 50 years earlier, the bloodiest battle of the U.S. Civil War - Gettysburg - was over in just three days.

The first reports of incapacitated, shell-shocked men returning to England came in September, 1914, barely more than a month after the start of the war. They were met with puzzlement about the "strange malady," creating a powerful tension between oldschool military leaders, who were widely skeptical about its veracity, and medical professionals, who had to figure out how to treat it.

Initially, some military physicians tried to associate shell shock with physical or organic injury to the brain or central nervous system. They diagnosed a concussion caused by proximity to exploding shells.

Toxins such as carbon monoxide, released from shells, could be a cause, or changes in atmospheric pressure, resulting from proximity to an explosion, could produce microscopic brain hemorrhage, they believed.

The term "shell shock," which had come into usage through word of mouth by soldiers to express the emotional disturbance of modern war, was first used in medical circles by Charles S. Myers, a Cambridge University laboratory psychologist, who wrote a paper about it in the influential medical journal The Lancet in 1915.

But soon, it became clear that organic (or "commotional") injury wasn't the only possible cause. Ancillary staff and nurses who were nowhere near exploding shells often reported similar symptoms. Patients with no family history of mental illness - or "hereditary taint" as they put it - were affected.

Hard-line military leaders, schooled in traditional warfare, dismissed its significance as "malingering," a discipline problem or character weakness, punishable often by court martial and death by firing squad.

Uncharitable social beliefs were often invoked. "They have an awful class view that ordinary soldiers don't recognize fear because they're just too stupid," explains Edgar Jones, professor of military psychiatry at King's College London. He points out that Charles McMoran Wilson, a regimental doctor awarded the Military Cross in 1916, later wrote in his book, The Anatomy of Courage, that "the best soldiers are the peasant farmers because they live on the land and are accustomed to killing animals." But when they break down, they are "plainly worthless fellows."

William Walton, a 26-year-old sergeant in the King's Royal Rifle Corps, was a victim of the first wave of shell shock during what's known as the Great Retreat from Mons - when allied forces made an arduous 320-kilometre trek under continuous bombardment.

Arrested four months after deserting in November, 1914, he explained that he was suffering from nervous exhaustion, but his superiors didn't buy it. He was court-martialled and became the 14th soldier executed for desertion since the retreat began.

'An infection in the ranks'

As far back as ancient Greece, a form of war neurosis has been documented. Herodotus described a soldier in the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC "deprived of his sight, though wounded in no part of his body." The Romans, too, found that their bravest men, the legionary eagle-bearers, sometimes broke down on the battlefield. In 1678, Swiss physician, Johannes Hofer called it "nostalgia," suggesting that the disturbed sleep, weakness and anxiety was similar to "the pain which the sick person feels because he is not in his native land." It was seen in the Napoleonic Wars, when it was considered a form of insanity, according to Anthony Babington in his book, Shell Shock, A History of the Changing Attitudes to War Neurosis; and again in the U.S. Civil War.

An alternate diagnosis in the 19th century - in particular during the Crimean War - was that it was "soldier's heart," explains Prof.

Jones, co-author of Shell Shock to PTSD, Military Psychiatry from 1900 to the Gulf War.

"They thought it was a physical illness affecting the heart. Palpitations. Chest pain ... It's how you feel when you're frightened and your heart beats faster. It's difficult to catch your breath," he adds. As it was seen as a physical cardiac illness, it brought no shame.

But the opening war of the modern age was different. It would be the first to have significant psychological ramifications for one simple reason - scale. And the perfect, horrific storm for shell shock arrived with the failure of the Battle of the Somme in 1916. After more than 600,000 men in the Allied forces had been killed, wounded or gone missing, after 141 seemingly endless days of fighting, it could be ignored no longer. Close to 40 per cent of the casualties at the Somme suffered from emotional disorders.

Shell shock was a full-blown military crisis, seen as "an infection in the ranks," according to military historian Tim Cook, the author of Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War, 1917-1918. And it could cost the allies the war.

Prison-like conditions

Neurologists were dispatched to the battlefields in France to investigate, and the increasing incidence of shell shock led to creative new theories among physicians in England - Charles Myers being one of them. Special hospitals were set up - by the end of war, there were 23 in the United Kingdom, where many Canadian soldiers were treated. Public outcry that shell-shocked soldiers would be sent off to asylums - the old system for handling mental illnesses, in which someone was certified insane, and sent for indeterminate amounts of time to institutions, run by local counties, in often prison-like, deplorable conditions - forced changes in institutional structure. But they weren't made just to appease the concerns of families who wanted proper care for their loved ones and to avoid the stigma of having them incarcerated in asylums.

The goal of the War Office was to get the men well enough to return to the battlefield.

That imperative - this was a war of attrition, after all; the army with the most men would likely win - was also behind the decision first to grant (in 1916) and, a year later, remove the awarding of "wound stripes" to victims of shell shock. Worn on a man's left sleeve between the cuff and his elbow and made from strips of gold braid, wound stripes were an innovation - "a badge of heroism," Prof. Jones explains. As an understanding of shell shock developed, and doctors saw that, in some cases, there were no physical causes for it, they deemed it an illness rather than a wound.

"You wouldn't get a wound stripe if you got influenza, for example," he adds, explaining that the phenomenon called "secondary gain" - the idea that a psychiatric patient wouldn't be encouraged to get well if he was rewarded for being ill - also came into play.

Class was a mediating factor in the treatment, hospitalization and even nomenclature of the diagnosis. "Privates suffered 'hysteria' ... whereas officers were said to suffer from 'anxiety neuroses,' or 'neurasthenia,' which has a much higher status," says Prof.

Bourke, the historian. Officers were sent to separate hospitals and often to spa-like country estates and private homes that were adapted for medical and therapeutic use. Ambivalence in the military establishment never completely abated. (Even at the end of the war, shell-shocked soldiers were being court-martialled and shot for desertion. The last was a Canadian, who had enlisted in 1914, been admitted to hospital in 1917, and still sent back to the front. He deserted in November, 1918.)

Medical thinking, however, was less rigid, Prof. Jones notes. "For the first time, a psychiatric diagnosis attracts the attention of thousands of doctors, some of whom wouldn't normally work in psychiatry."

One was Frederick Mott, a scientific researcher in neuropathology, who investigated the most severe cases of shell shock at the Maudsley Hospital in London, where approximately 12,000 patients were treated between 1916 and 1919.

An "atmosphere of cure" - involving rest, fresh air, warm baths, good food, and diversion - was his approach. Introspection was discouraged. One of the wards that remains today is a handsome building with big windows that overlook what was once a garden where the men planted vegetables, raised chickens, built an ornamental fountain, and laid out tennis courts. A hut was erected - still standing - for them to occupy themselves with woodworking and metalwork.

By 1916, Mott had identified three categories of shell shock: those who have a head wound and therefore suffer a physical effect of concussion; robust men who had simply endured horrific experiences; and the largest group - those who had an "inborn timorous or neurotic disposition" because of childhood trauma or hereditary vulnerability, which made them more likely to break down.

"It's a combination of your genetics, your upbringing and what happens to you, and that position is pretty well established by the end of the war," explains Prof. Jones, whose office is at the Maudsley.

The great insight was that every man, no matter his background, his education, his class, had a breaking point. As Mott himself wrote in 1917, "even the strongest man will succumb, and a shell bursting near may produce a sudden loss of consciousness, not by concussion or commotion, but by acting as the 'last straw' on an utterly exhausted nervous system."

But if that was the prevailing sentiment by the end of the war, there were two extremes of psychiatric thought and treatment during it.

One treatment: shame

At one end was Lewis Yealland, a Canadian-born psychiatrist educated at the University of Western Ontario who qualified to practise medicine 1912 and came to Britain three years later to treat shell shock. Most of his patients were from the ranks, and he gained a reputation for facilitating a rapid recovery - and for controversy. He believed that war neurosis was within conscious control of soldiers; and he set out to solve the problem with shaming, a blatant use of paternalistic power and authority (he was known to threaten court martial) and often the application of electric-shock therapy in a locked and darkened room.

In one infamous case, Yealland treated a 24-year-old private, who had been mute for nine months after enduring many of the war's worst campaigns. "A man who has gone through so many battles should have better control of himself," Yealland reportedly told him. Strapped down with his mouth opened using a tongue depressor, he had electrical current applied to his pharynx and throat, "hot plates" inserted into his mouth, and the tip of his tongue burned with a cigarette. After four hours of this, the soldier managed to mumble a few words, and then was required to say "thank you" to Yealland.

At the other extreme was Rivers, a psychologist, physiologist and anthropologist among the first in England to support the psychoanalytic work of Sigmund Freud (which one pillar of the psychiatric establishment dismissed as "probably applicable to the people on the Austrian and German frontiers, but not to virile, sport-loving, open-air people like the British").

Rivers's understanding of shell shock reflected antiquated class assumptions. He believed it was beyond the control of officers, as their mental makeup was more "complex and varied" than that of men in the ranks, and their storied stiff-upper-lip mentality was part of the problem. But his treatment was progressive, stressing what he called "autognosis" or self-understanding through conversation, hypnosis and psychoanalysis. In some cases, after the war had ended, he encouraged the men to return to the scene of the trauma in France.

It was to him that Second Lieutenant Siegfried Sassoon was sent in the summer of 1917 amid intense media scrutiny, which reveals the ignorance and shame associated with the illness. From a prominent family, Sassoon had left Cambridge (without a degree) to lead a gentlemanly life of reading, writing and shooting. He served with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, earning the nickname Mad Jack for his bravery after capturing an enemy trench single-handedly. He fought in the Battle of the Somme, and was awarded the Military Cross, but grew disillusioned. His brother had been killed at Gallipoli, and the Somme, billed as the Great Advance, "had been nothing of the kind," he wrote, noting that his battalion was rendered "almost unrecognizable by heavy casualties."

Back in England in 1917 after being hit by a sniper in the Battle of Arras, he became truly discontented, throwing the ribbon from his Military Cross ("my absurd decoration") into the River Mersey and watching it float away "as if aware of its own futility."

He also kept company with pacifists and reportedly hallucinated that he saw dead soldiers lying in the street. But his shell-shock diagnosis came after he decided to bring to Parliament his "Soldier's Declaration," saying the war was being "deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it." Court martial was threatened - he was still an officer, after all - causing friend and fellow poet Robert Graves, who had served with him at the Somme, to intervene. He persuaded a medical board that Sassoon was suffering from "neurasthenia" and should be admitted to Craiglockhart. The media went wild, suggesting that he was invoking class privilege.

Sassoon himself wouldn't admit to having broken down and, at Craiglockhart, often complained about "dotty" fellow patients wailing in their sleep. Rivers gave him a room of his own and much kindly personal attention. Their interesting and unusual relationship is the subject of Pat Barker's 1991 novel, Regeneration.

Treated for an "anti-war complex," Sassoon wrote and played golf. He also met Wilfred Owen, another convalescing soldierpoet, who recalled Sassoon encouraging him to "sweat your guts out writing poetry." After four months at the hospital, Sassoon returned to active service - to save face, he suggested later. Wounded again in 1918, he was granted sick leave for the duration. Owen, too, returned to the front after 127 days at Craiglockhart - and was killed one week before the war ended.

The Lost Generation

The shooting stopped in November, 1918, with nine million dead or missing; but rising from it came the spectre of the Lost Generation. "Men were hidden inside their homes by their families, who were ashamed they had broken down," explains Joanna Bourke, whose books include The Intimate History of Killing and The Story of Pain.

At officer hospitals such as Craiglockhart, "there was a deliberate destruction of medical records to protect [the men's] reputation because of stigma," Prof. Jones notes. Sexual impotence was a widespread symptom, according to some reports. "If the essence of manliness was not to complain, then shell shock was the body language of masculine complaint, a disguised male protest not only against the war but against the concept of 'manliness' itself," writes feminist culture critic Elaine Showalter in her book about depression, The Female Malady: Women, Madness and the English Culture 1830-1980.

In medical circles, Freudian talk therapy gained ground in part because the medical establishment had to devise new ways of dealing with the psychological wounds of outpatients - clinics for whom were a postwar innovation brought on by the number of recovering shell-shock victims.

Rivers, who died unexpectedly in 1922, proposed an alternative view of Freudian psychoneurosis, based on his experience with shell-shock patients. He dismissed Freud's sexual theories as the driving factors of psychoneurosis, and suggested that, rather than sex, conflict between self-preservation and a desire to fulfill duty caused the mental breakdown.

As Prof. Jones explains, "Shell shock was a diagnosis that could save your life. It means you leave the battlefield. They're not faking it. They're wearing out. And there will be an unconscious wish to have the diagnosis. These are unconsciously created symptoms ... and the unconscious drive would be, 'This is the only way I can survive.' "

The debate continues

Doctors who had treated shellshock patients during the war returned to regular practice once it was over. Some of the knowledge about stress-related mental illnesses was applied to workplace problems, but it wasn't until the Second World War that medical science had to grapple again with shell shock on a large scale.

Experts found they still had a lot to learn.

To help soldiers as quickly as possible, psychological treatment centres were set up near the action. But the military still didn't recognize that "people can't go on forever and that everyone ultimately will break down, however well-trained and courageous," Prof. Jones says. That understanding didn't dawn until about 1943 or 1944, "when commanders, fighter pilots and captains of escort vessels, who were decorated, start saying, 'I can't do this any more.' "

It was only after Vietnam that the term PTSD was adopted. Psychiatric problems were handled well during that war, but when veterans returned, they often suffered from nervousness, sleeplessness and irritability, thought to be exacerbated by the anti-war environment at home. Finally, in 1980, PTSD was officially accepted as a disease - only after doctors lobbied the American Psychiatric Association because they had treated similar symptoms in civilians.

Study into PTSD, which concerns more psychological symptoms as opposed to physical ones such as tremors and heart palpitations, is ongoing. In 2009, U.S. researchers reported the results of a two-year, $10-million study on the effects of blast force on the brain. Its key finding: that the blast-exposed brain remains structurally intact but suffers injury by inflammation - verifying some of the initial thoughts about shell shock . Emory University in Atlanta, meanwhile, has harnessed virtual-reality therapy to help veterans suffering from emotional disorders.

Still, questions remain, as does controversy in the military. In 2008, Canada introduced the Sacrifice Medal for wounds and death "under honourable circumstances," including PTSD, only after public protest - as the U.S. recently decided to do for its Purple Heart.

We stand in an interesting moment, looking back 100 years, and looking forward, as Canada sends soldiers to the Middle East once again. We should pause not just in remembrance, but in thoughtfulness as well. We should think about the cultural attitudes that will greet any who return with psychological trauma. In the past, they've been romanticized: seen as cautionary reminders that human beings are not designed for war. Which doesn't help. Despite memoirs about PTSD and efforts to destigmatize it, many sufferers still feel undertreated and shameful over something they cannot control.

We love cultural scripts about bravery and sacrifice; national myths are built on them. But if soldiers have limits, so do we in our ability to understand what they go through after a war. The conflict between the conscious and unconscious, the paradox of courage and fragility, is locked in the mind of the sufferer.

Where it remains a mystery.

Sarah Hampson is a Globe and Mail feature writer.

Associated Graphic

A war like no other: Two exhausted Canadian soldiers, above, take shelter in a trench after the capture of Vimy Ridge in 1917.


The trauma toll continues: Canadians on patrol in southern Afghanistan in 2009.


The horror: The Defence of Sanctuary Wood, a 1918 painting by soldier-artist Kenneth Keith Forbes, shows what the battlefield was like - and perhaps why so many were traumatized.

U.S. soldiers suffering from shell shock took up pastimes such as gardening in 1918, to help them recover.


Craiglockhart's War Hospital's magazine: To one patient, it was 'Dottyville.'

Above: Soldiers today are offered consistent help for mental trauma. A century ago, treatment was more hit-and-miss.


For years No Means No has been the benchmark for negotiating sex on campus. It hasn't worked. Erin Anderssen looks at the confusion students face when it comes to consent, and a new twist on an old strategy
Saturday, November 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F1

The two university students, close friends, had hooked up before. They lost their virginity to each other early in first year, not long after meeting at a residence mixer during frosh week. The sex always happened under the same circumstances: They were out partying, drunk, and stumbled home together, a friend-withbenefits scenario. They didn't talk about it the next day, except to say, "Are we good?" and "Yes, we're good," and they didn't really tell anyone to avoid the assumption they were in a relationship.

But after a while, the female student (who has asked not to be identified in this story) began to feel uncertain about the assumptions underlying their hookups. During a week of alcohol-centred activities at McGill that winter - "a shit-show for consent," as she puts it - her friend convinced her to do the annual Mountain Run, in which teams race to the top of Mount Royal while chugging beer and slamming vodka shots. "I was puking the whole way," the female student, now in third year, recalls. But back in his room, they were snuggling, and things started to progress. She didn't really want to have sex, she says, and she was pretty drunk. "We'll do it fast," she recalls him saying. "And I said, 'Well, okay.' " Looking back, she says, "We should have talked more. I should have been more willing to assert myself."

Was it consensual? Was it assault? Her story highlights how fraught and complicated those questions are, especially in the early weeks and months of university, a period known as the Red Zone, when the risk of sexual assault is highest, especially for first-year students. Two decades after No Means No began to gain traction in the debate over what constitutes consent, a new wave of students and educators are flipping that message around - and insisting coeds (i.e. mainly men) take responsibility by asking for a "Yes." It's a deceptively simple tweak, one that the State of California passed into law in September, to great controversy.

Ratcheting up the public conversation about the definition of enthusiastic consent, it energized campaigns oriented around the Yes Means Yes message on campuses across North America. They included an October #getconsent social-media blitz at Dalhousie University in Halifax; an "Ask, Listen, Respect" campaign at McGill; a September university-wide panel on sexual communication at Concordia in Montreal; and ongoing "Consent is Sexy" messaging at a number of universities.

Students' first term on campus is not only a time of lectures and learning, but also a time when crowds of relatively inexperienced teenagers are set loose in a party culture saturated with alcohol and expectations of easy hookups. It's a perennial problem on campuses: The orientation-week chants that caused controversies at several Canadian universities last year for promoting sex without consent aren't new - a collection of misogynistic ballads has floated online for years. Among them: a little gem called The Gang Bang Song. (Sample lyric: "I love a gang bang. Oh, yes, I do.")

A U.S. study in 2007 found that 50 per cent of sexual assaults happen between August and November. There aren't good Canadian Red Zone stats, because universities aren't required to publicly report sexual-assault complaints. But we do know this: At least one in five women say they have experienced sexual assault that includes penetration by the time they graduate, according to University of Windsor researcher Charlene Senn, who studies rape prevention; if you include unwanted touching or being "coerced" into sex, she says, the rate rises to more than 50 per cent. The vast majority of victims never go to the police, and cases that do get reported rarely result in convictions.

Two decades of No Means No didn't solve the thorny problems surrounding consent. The slogan, first coined by the Canadian Federation of Students, was stamped on campus posters and nightclub coasters, and chanted at rallies across North America. But it never worked as well as educators and feminists hoped. The words were fierce and memorable, but criticized for keeping the onus on women to halt unwanted sex - even as Canada's Criminal Code and Supreme Court established affirmative consent as the legal standard.

Yes Means Yes, by contrast, takes the focus off of listening for a "No," and tells coeds to ensure they have an explicit "Yes." California's law was the first of its kind in North America, requiring state universities investigating sexual-assault complaints to define consent as an overt, clear "yes." Critics quickly decried it as overkill, saying that the law criminalized an unsolicited kiss between couples - as if the jails would soon be crowded with loving, smooch-sneaking partners.

Advocates say that it frames sex more positively, shifting the focus from what a victim did (or didn't do, or couldn't do) to the steps a perpetrator failed to take to proactively ensure consent. An enthusiastic "yes" must become the new bar by which consent is measured, those advocates maintain, arguing that body language can be easily misinterpreted, especially when one or both parties are intoxicated, and cannot constitute consent.

Still, it's a tough sell: convincing young people to do the asking - not just once, but throughout their sexual encounters. And beyond the back seat and the bedroom, it has stirred broader questions: Will it help shift our collective conversation about sexuality? And will it make campuses safer?

'A weird, steep learning curve'

More than 90 per cent of sexual assaults are carried out by acquaintances, romantic partners and friends. The cute freshman living down the hall in residence, who, after a night of too much drinking and some mutual fumbling, pushes a little too hard, past an awkward "No." Or that sweet friend you've been hooking up with, who, one afternoon in a dorm room, forgets to make sure you're still on board. You give in. He thinks it's okay. "It was so grey," you say later. "It was so complicated."

It's not politically correct to say that consent is complicated, yet here we are, 50 years after the dawn of second-wave feminism, still struggling as a society to define it. Consent gets muddled up in gender roles; in the depressingly retro narrative that men chase, while women are coyly chaste; and in enduring misogynistic slang in which a one-night stand is called a "fuck it and chuck it" and guys tally their sexual partners by "kill counts." It's fogged up even more by alcohol in a world where binge drinking is practically a required first-year course in the minds of many coeds. We need to find a solution: for victims, of course - but also to empower both men and women, straight and gay, to make sex safer in a sexually permissive society. For that to happen, consent can no longer be something given up, or offered up, with one gender (i.e. mainly women) expected to guard chastity's gate.

"These are situations with huge consequences, and you're just trying to figure it out," says Garret LaValley, 22, a business student at UBC, recalling his own sudden immersion in the party culture on campus three years ago. "It's a weird, steep learning curve."

As a varsity athlete, Mr. LaValley says the pressure to score was heavy, especially as a freshman among older, more experienced teammates. He remembers getting drunk and making out with women on the dance floor, wondering what should come next. "Do you just immediately take them home? How will people react if I do or don't? What do people expect?"

That's a complex question, especially in an era of mobile apps like Tinder, and in the gay community, Grindr, which are elbowing old-fashioned date culture aside as they allow people to search out hookup options in their immediate geographic vicinity: Having a Tinder profile, in the words of one student, suggests consent has already been given. One attempt to clarify consent via technology was the Good2Go app, launched last spring, which asked both parties in a potential hookup to record their level of willingness to have sex, as well as how drunk they were; the results were then sent to their respective e-mail accounts. The app was roundly criticized for potentially providing a fabricated defence against sexual-assault allegations, and last month Apple yanked it from iTunes.

Believing that issues around consent can be solved by checking off a box on a mobile app - or even, frankly, by devising a snappy slogan - suggests that what's at issue is merely a problem of miscommunication. But human beings can read body language in the bedroom as easily as they can in other social interactions, argues Melanie Beres, a senior lecturer at the University of Otago in New Zealand, who has researched consent in Canada. "Women say 'No' to sex in the same way everyone declines all kinds of social interactions, and men are quite adept at hearing those refusals as refusals," says Dr. Beres. "[Sexual assault] is about someone making a decision to ignore the cues." (This appears to include the "cue" of being incapacitated: A forthcoming University of Windsor study conducted on three Canadian campuses found that 79 per cent of rape victims said they "were too drunk or out of it to stop what was happening.")

What's promising about Yes Means Yes is its potential to change the communication around sex. "Do we want to talk about just avoiding criminal activity?" asks Dr. Bere. "Consent is also about making a dividing line between okay and not-okay sex, and we don't want to aim for sex that is just over the line." Yes Means Yes, in other words, might be an important step toward creating healthier, more open conversations about sex - a worthy and overdue goal, to be sure. But it isn't necessarily a strategy for reducing assaults.

Law and ethics

In late October, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a student survey in which 15 per cent of women and 5 per cent of men reported experiencing sexual assault - with such assault defined as unwanted contact, from touching to penetration, that involved force or threats of incapacitation - while attending the school. Even more troubling was how students responded to and perceived those assaults. Of the victims, 72 per cent said they didn't think it was "serious enough to officially report," and 44 per cent said they felt "at least partly responsible" for what had happened. Overall, one-quarter of men and 15 per cent of women agreed that a drunk person who is assaulted is "at least somewhat responsible," and more than half of all students agreed that "rape and sexual assault can happen unintentionally, especially if alcohol is involved."

That's a disturbing finding: If rape can happen "accidentally" between drunk students, then who's to blame? Not the guy, it seems: Roughly one-third of the students surveyed agreed that rape happens "because men can get carried away in sexual situations once they've started." In other words, many of today's educated millennials - a generation idealized for its egalitarian values - still believe that men "can't help it," and that drunk women who cross their paths have themselves to blame. Changing those attitudes will doubtless take more than Yes Means Yes banners and campus bar coasters.

Consider that friends-with-benefits scenario at McGill. Did it constitute sexual assault? The woman says no, it did not: Yes, she was drunk, she acknowledges, but so was he. And she points out that they knew each other well, that they had done it before, and that she hadn't really protested - and if she had, she hastens to add, without doubt he would have stopped. Still, she concedes, the lines feel blurry. "I find it really hard to define sexual assault when it involved me." And then this, which seems hardly to clarify matters: "I should be able to define my experience as I choose."

This is an example, says Dr. Beres, where it is unproductive to focus on drawing a legal line without considering ethics. "Consent is too low a bar," she says. Even if what happened in that dorm room didn't meet the criminal definition of sexual assault, it was sex that the woman didn't want. It was sex that wasn't fun.

This focus on legality - on what constitutes crossing the line - was an ongoing theme in my interviews with students. They could easily define sexual assault in stereotypical situations: a surprise attack by a stranger; a man who threatens or physically forces a woman; a sober person who forces sex on someone who is stumbling drunk. And the men I spoke to unanimously agreed that responsibility to get consent fell more heavily on them: "Just by how we are made, the onus should be on the guy," says Mr. LaValley. "He is in a situation where he can take advantage of somebody."

In Canada, consent requires taking "reasonable steps" to ensure it exists. Being drunk is not a defence for failing to get consent, and neither is arguing that consent was given in advance. As one recent campus campaign put it: "If it's not loud and clear, it's not consent." A meek okay and half-hearted "Yes" doesn't count.

But the law doesn't clarify every question. Students also wonder, in the words of Mr. LaValley, "If you had sexual experiences with the same person, and it's common knowledge that you would hook up if you were drunk," is that still breaking the law? How drunk is too drunk? What if the woman - or as one female student pointed out, the guy - didn't really want to, but gave in? What if the initiator genuinely thought he or she had consent? This is where a discussion around the ethics of sex - rather than simply what counts as a crime - ay prove more productive in the long run.

Morning-after uncertainty

One of the problems with the new campus campaigns, whose champions have worked to convince students that "consent is sexy" (in an echo of the AIDSfighting promotion of condoms) is that the new consent instruction manual is about as sexy as a cold shower. Demanding an unequivocal verbal "yes" - not just once, but at every step along the way, from kissing to intercourse? Get real. Who's going to do that? Hot sex, as portrayed on television or in the movies - let alone in ubiquitous Internet porn - looks nothing like that. A recent poker-faced American sexual-assault campaign depicted what enthusiastic consent would look like with a cheesy YouTube video in which a male pizza deliver and the woman who answers the door have sex, all the time breathlessly murmuring to each other, "Is this okay?" It played like a skit on Saturday Night Live.

For many students, requiring verbal consent goes too far, says Daniel Smeenk, 22, recently graduated from the University of Toronto. While the initiator has to stop if consent isn't clear, Mr. Smeenk argues, "the person who doesn't want to consent should be very clear that they don't. Sexual encounters aren't like signing a contract. It's not like you simply lay down the conditions, ask them to sign here, and then go forward. There's a lot of romance. There's an almost inexplicable human intimacy involved. Some of it might be cultural, some it might be just simply how we're wired, but there's a large part of us [that] wants things to be spontaneous and free - and it enhances our experience."

When verbal consent is raised at workshops in residence at McGill, where they have been mandatory since 2005, student leaders say participants often argue that body language should be enough - that asking permission is "awkward," in that it suggests the guy, still usually expected to initiate sex, "doesn't have game." Peer facilitator Sarah Southey, for instance, says at one particularly vitriolic session in September a male student asked, "What happens if she is a virgin and doesn't know she wants it?" Says Ms. Southey, "That was very rattling. As if he was saying, 'She wouldn't actually know what she wants, and I know it better.' "

It's not only men who struggle with such boundary lines. "I think you consent when your hand goes down or your bra straps come off," says Alex, 19, a female second-year science student at the University of Toronto. "If you start talking, it almost breaks the moment, it takes away from the natural flow of it." She understands why guys would be reluctant to ask for consent out loud: "A verbal rejection is much harsher than moving away a hand."

A harsh rejection, however, is infinitely preferable to a sexual assault. While no one I spoke with admitted to forcing a partner intentionally, several male university students acknowledged feeling a morning-after uncertainty about whether their partner had been into it, and wondered if they had crossed the line. Setting the bar at verbal consent is meant to remove most of that doubt. And, suggests Dr. Bere, pivoting the discussion away from No Means No, and toward sexual education that focuses on ensuring both partners are willing and enthusiastic, is an important step forward.

Seen in that light, affirmative consent could be a powerful tool to make sex better, allowing individuals to define what they want - and to clarify what that looks like to their partners. Saying 'Yes' is empowering, explains Madeline Hancock, a University of Toronto student. "It's also a recognition of the idea that any sexual activity should not be a competition, but should be cooperative: for the mutual benefit of both partners."

Sex, in other words, shouldn't be about trying to make sure your partner doesn't say no. "The point of the game," says Ms. Hancock, "is that everyone involved really wants to be doing it."

Enduring double standards

All of which introduces another question: Why do we wait until teenagers have arrived at university, and are in the middle of the most exciting, jam-packed and sleep-deprived week of their lives, before we seriously educate them about consent? According to Scott Anderson, a UBC researcher who studies consent, it all goes back to how conflicted society is about granting young people - especially young women - the permission to have sex at all. "They have enough information to know that birth control is important," he says, "but other aspects are much less clearly explained, because there is still a hesitation to say, 'Sex is okay.' "

U of T student Alex puts it this way: "Parents influence this culture of casual sex [being] slutty for girls, but an achievement for guys. A lot of my guy friends are always encouraged to be sexually active by their father, but girls' fathers are so against them having sex. This leads to girls being very quiet about their sex lives." In Alex's case, her father's sex talk amounted to being handed the same book he'd been given as a youth in Sunday school, which was "basically all about abstinence."

Entwined with that is a message to young men that sex is a conquest that they are expected to win, says Joe Maguire, a sexual-assault educator who runs a program for men at the University of Calgary. "If you are being pressured to have sex a lot, then you are not really going to be looking for consent," he says.

"You're just trying to get laid."

Not, of course, that it's blackand-white. Alex admits to flirting aggressively with a young man at a club, even though she "could tell the guy wasn't into it." They kissed, and it stopped there, she says. "But afterward, I thought, 'How would I feel if a guy had done that to me?' "

That gender dynamic is also complicated in sexual encounters between LGBT women and men, even though their voices have often been missing from consent campaigns. "As a single gay male, the expectation is that [you're] always ready for it," says Mac Chapin, 20, a third-year international-relations student at the University of Toronto. "For men, there is never a question of 'yes means yes,' because 'yes' is always assumed to be the answer."

In the straight world, meanwhile, the cultural bias that woman should resist sex - that they don't have an equal responsibility to make the choice - is one the female students I spoke with summarily rejected. Last year, Alex says, she was making out with a guy she had just met when he asked if she wanted to go further. She said no, and, she recalls, "He was so respectful and okay with it, and I've never felt that empowerment before. Honestly, it was the first time, I was like, 'No, I don't want to do this,' and my decision was so respected." Usually, she says, men act like "No means try harder."

That's why Yes Means Yes is such a powerful idea, Alex says. It removes the "No-means-tryharder" that stems from traditional expectations. "I am quite explicit when I want to have sex, and I try to avoid playing games at all costs," she says. "If you are very clear about what you want, then if you do say 'No,' it resonates more."

Among those men interviewed for this story, it was the older ones who most fully backed the spirit of Yes Means Yes. That includes the male half of that unfortunate, liquor-infused incident at McGill. Months after that day in residence, when they finally discussed what had happened, and the female student shared her side, he had been horrified to learn she wasn't an enthusiastic participant. He told me that it's irrelevant to him whether what happened met the legal definition of assault. "I interpreted there to be more comfort than there was," he says. "I know it would have been a lot better to check in." Looking back on his early experiences with sex, "there are so many things I was doing wrong, so many poor decisions."

Now, he adds, he always asks for verbal consent - at every step of sex, from kissing to intercourse. "Consent is sexy," he says. "It shows you care. There's nothing better than when you know you have full permission."

When it comes to humanity's most intimate act, isn't that where the conversation should start?

With files from Iris Robin and Davide Mastracci.

Associated Graphic



'We question Canada's silence'
Twenty years later, the families of two Canadian priests killed in the wake of Rwanda's genocide still wait for justice. A special report by Geoffrey York in Johannesburg and Judi Rever in Montreal
Saturday, November 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F1

Rev. Claude Simard likely shared his last meal with his killers. He let the men into his home and gave them plates of papaya, investigators found. Then he was beaten to death with a carpenter's hammer and left in a pool of blood in the corner where he usually prayed.

Nobody has ever been brought to justice for the murder of the Canadian priest. But an internal United Nations report, prepared within weeks of the murder and obtained recently by The Globe and Mail, concludes that Father Simard was killed by soldiers loyal to Paul Kagame, the long-time Rwandan leader who remains in power today. A separate investigation by another UN officer found similar evidence of military involvement.

Father Simard led a humble and austere life in Rwanda, but he also had a dangerous habit: He made tape recordings documenting killings by the government that took power after the 1994 genocide. Those recordings were the likely reason for his slaying, the UN reports found.

Another Canadian priest, Rev. Guy Pinard, took a similar risk: He openly criticized Rwandan authorities for their attacks on civilians. He was gunned down in front of hundreds of parishioners by a man with ties to the Rwandan military, according to an eyewitness. Father Pinard's colleagues and family say they believe he was killed in retaliation for his criticism. Rwanda never charged anyone for Father Pinard's murder in 1997, three years after the Simard slaying. But a Spanish court, in a broader indictment of Rwandan senior officers in 2008 for international crimes, named a Rwandan lieutenant-general as the person ultimately responsible.

An investigation by The Globe and Mail raises questions about Canada's policy toward Rwanda in the 20 years since the genocide. The Globe's investigation into the murder of the two Canadian priests found new revelations - from a former Rwandan intelligence officer, from an eyewitness to one of the murders, and from reports by the Canadian-led UN peacekeeping force at the time - that implicate the security forces of the government of President Kagame, which Canada has supported for two decades.

A spokesman for the Foreign Affairs department said Canada "took note" of the reports of the UN investigation into the Simard killing. But Canadian officials have never publicly acknowledged the evidence in the UN reports. Had they done so, Ottawa might have been under pressure to reconsider its support for the Rwandan government.

Despite knowing that the UN reports had pointed to Rwandan soldiers as Father Simard's killers, Canada has given $500-million in aid to Rwanda over the past two decades, including $30million last year. In recent years most of the aid has been channelled through civil-society groups and independent agencies for projects in areas such as agriculture and rural development.

Departmental spokesmen did not respond directly when asked by The Globe and Mail via e-mail whether Canada took any action as a result of the UN reports, or if it did anything to bring the perpetrators to justice, aside from pressing Rwanda to investigate. Asked why Canada gave foreign aid to a country accused of killing Canadian citizens, Adam Hodge, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, said only that Canada would "continue to encourage" the development of democracy and accountability in Rwanda. "Since 1994, Canada has raised the issue of Canadians killed in Rwanda on numerous occasions with the Rwandan authorities, insisting on the importance of an in-depth investigation. Canada does not have the legal means to investigate without the full support of the Rwandan authorities," he said in an e-mail.

The Kagame government has been widely praised for its army's historical role in routing extremists who were responsible for the Rwandan genocide, and for its economic reforms since then. But there is growing global concern about its human-rights abuses, including the disappearance, killing or jailing of suspected critics at home.

The Globe and Mail has also reported evidence that the government has plotted the assassination of exiled opponents.

Vincent Karega, the Rwandan high commissioner to South Africa, said nobody in the Rwandan government will comment on the murder of the two Canadian priests because the cases are "an old story."

The killings could have been caused by "thugs" or stray bullets, he said. "Rwanda was quite unstable and insecure in some regions during that time," Mr. Karega said in an e-mail in response to questions from The Globe and Mail.

"What I know is that there was no conflict or war between Rwanda and Canada and I don't see any political interest in deliberately murdering these priests."

The most extensive of the reports on Father Simard's death, never before made public, was written by an investigator at the UN civilian police on Nov. 1, 1994, two weeks after Father Simard was killed. It said a Canadian officer in the UN peacekeeping force had been warned that Father Simard's life was in imminent danger because he was gathering evidence of crimes by government soldiers.

The warning came from a former local UN official who remained in regular contact with the priest. But the warning was never passed on, even though it could have saved Father Simard's life. The report said UN military observers may have stepped in and offered protection had they known of the grave danger Father Simard was in.

A separate report - written by Canadian investigator Tim Isberg, a UN military observer in the peacekeeping force at the time - said the killers did not take the priest's wallet or valuables when they left his house after bludgeoning him to death. Later investigations found that the killers did take the audio cassettes on which he had recorded information about Rwandan military crimes - cassettes that he planned to hand over to UN officials, according to people interviewed by the investigators.

A few days before his death, Father Simard met Rwandan interior minister Seth Sendashonga and asked him to tell the Rwandan military to stop its reprisal attacks on his parishioners. In 1996, in an interview with Quebec documentary filmmaker Yvan Patry, the former interior minister said he believed the priest was killed by the Rwandan military with the approval of higher-level Rwandan officials.

By then, Mr. Sendashonga had broken with the Kagame government and was living in exile in Kenya. He was assassinated in Nairobi two years later, in 1998, by unidentified gunmen. His family and supporters said the Rwandan government was responsible for his murder, although nobody was convicted.

Relatives and friends of the two Canadian priests say they are disappointed that Canada never properly investigated the murders of the priests.

Father Simard's sister, Gervaise Simard-Granger, who died this past August, said the department had promised a Canadian investigation in 1994. She wrote in June, 1995, to André Ouellet, the foreign-affairs minister at the time, to ask why the promised investigation had failed to materialize.

"When his death was first announced, officials from your ministry called me to say that Canada would undertake an investigation, that it would be done by November, 1994, and since that time we've received no news," she wrote.

"One can understand those Rwandans who know the murderers yet prefer to stay quiet in the face of this cruel act, out of fear for their lives. However, we question Canada's silence in this matter."

In Rwanda for 29 years

Father Simard, a Catholic priest from Quebec, had lived in Rwanda for 29 years, building schools and churches for the country's poor. Refusing to flee Rwanda during its 100 days of genocide, he helped to find shelter for Tutsis who might have otherwise been slaughtered. He also used a cassette recorder to make audio tapes of the machine guns and explosions in a nearby valley where Tutsis were being massacred.

After the genocide, with Mr. Kagame's Tutsi-based army now in control of the country, the Canadian priest was disturbed to see a new cycle of revenge killings against Hutus in the region around Ruyenzi, the village where he lived. He began to record his observations of the atrocities, the same technique he had used during the genocide.

On the morning of Oct. 18, 1994, his cook and gardener found Father Simard's dead body. His hands were tied behind him and he'd been gagged with a towel. Next to his body was the murder weapon - a carpenter's hammer. On the dining-room table were three plates with the remains of the papaya meal that he is believed to have shared with the killers that night.

Major Isberg was the first investigator to arrive at the murder scene, accompanied by two other UN officials. To his surprise, Rwandan soldiers blocked his way, refusing to allow him to enter the building until senior Rwandan military chiefs had arrived.

"It did make me kind of curious," said Major Isberg, who wrote two reports within days of the murder and a follow-up report in March, 1995. "Why was this such a big deal? Every other incident I'd gone to, I'd never really had an issue. This one was somehow different."

When he finally got access to the murder scene, Major Isberg found that Father Simard's valuables were still in the room, and his house key was still in his pocket, suggesting, because there was no sign of forced entry, that he had allowed the killers to enter. "Something was not right," he said in an interview with The Globe. "There was no robbery. My feeling was that he knew he was going to die from the moment they showed up."

His investigation found a range of evidence pointing to the likely involvement of Mr. Kagame's army, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA). People interviewed for the investigation said they had seen three men arriving at Father Simard's house that evening in a dark blue car in which RPA soldiers had been seen previously. After the murder, the same car was seen leaving the house, around 8:30 p.m.

The separate UN civilian police report on Nov. 1, 1994, described how the RPA had put Father Simard under surveillance and interrogated him five times in the months before his murder. The report concluded that the army had probably learned of Father Simard's plans to give his audio recordings to a UN official, to document the army's crimes in the region.

"From all indications, Father Claude Simard was murdered by RPA," the report said. "The image of the RPA was at stake and they could not simply sit by. Father Claude Simard was about to expose them with a recorded cassette of their crimes."

Witnesses were afraid to give information about the murder because they risked being killed by the RPA, the report said.

A week before his death, Father Simard told a former UN official that he was "very afraid for his life because the RPA was out to eliminate him," the report said. The priest told him that RPA soldiers "were killing innocent people" in his parish, it said.

The former UN official immediately gave this information to a Canadian military officer, at the local headquarters of the UN peacekeeping force in a nearby Rwandan city, but the Canadian officer apparently stayed silent. "There is no evidence whatsoever that he passed on this information to someone," the report said.

If this officer had acted on the information, Father Simard's death might have been prevented, the report found.

Major Isberg's follow-up report in March, 1995, concluded that the murder may have been "organized from a relatively senior level" and that the facts were "deliberately hidden."

Many RPA officers had visited the village after the murder, warning villagers not to discuss the case with UN officials or journalists, Major Isberg wrote.

"Before his death, Simard appeared to be upset and scared," said his report, based on interviews with confidential sources. "It is known that he had written to a Canadian colleague about the problems ... and that he had documented some of the information. This letter and cassettes were taken the night of his death."

While the Canadian government said it did not have the right to investigate inside Rwanda without the Rwandan government's support, Major Isberg said he was never approached by investigators from the Canadian government for details of Father Simard's murder.

"It's more than disappointing," he said. "It's another part of the Father Simard tragedy, because it's a tragic situation if Canadian officials don't take interest. Canadian officials certainly had a responsibility from a Foreign Affairs perspective to investigate a murder of a Canadian citizen on foreign territory."

A former member of Mr. Kagame's military intelligence agency, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the potential threat to him if he is identified, told The Globe and Mail that the killing of Father Simard was a planned operation by the RPA's intelligence department to recover the priest's cassette recordings.

"They were scared of one thing: the information they suspected he had," said the former official, who broke with Mr. Kagame. "Simard was a witness willing to reveal what he saw. He was a key figure, among others."

Father Simard was far from the only foreigner to be targeted in Rwanda. Several other priests, aid volunteers and a school director - including Father Pinard, eight Spaniards, a Belgian and a Croatian - were killed by suspected RPA assailants between 1994 and 2000. "Foreigners who witnessed killings and were suspected of informing international opinion were targeted," University of Antwerp professor Filip Reyntjens writes in his recent book, Political Governance in Post-Genocide Rwanda.

Father Pinard, a 61-year-old Catholic priest from Quebec who had worked in Rwanda for 35 years, was shot dead in his church on Feb. 2, 1997. He was giving communion to his parishioners on a Sunday morning when a man in a trench coat joined the line. He received communion from Father Pinard, then pulled a pistol from his pocket and shot the priest in the back.

"He fell to the floor and died immediately," said a Rwandan who witnessed the killing and spoke to The Globe on condition of anonymity.

"His blood flowed. It was horrible. Then panic ensued. The crowd began to scatter. People were falling over each other."

The witness said the gunman was a well-known local man who had close ties to Mr. Kagame's ruling political party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, and was the brother of an army lieutenant. Even though the killing was witnessed by hundreds of parishioners, the killer was not charged and was allowed to continue working as a local teacher, the witness said.

Letter identifies killer

The witness said he was interrogated and beaten by Rwandan soldiers after the murder because he was known to be close to Father Pinard and had witnessed the crime. He fled to Kenya and handed a detailed five-page account of the killing to the Canadian high commission in Nairobi, a copy of which has been obtained by The Globe. The letter includes the name of the man that the witness identified as carrying out the killing.

Colleagues of Father Pinard say the witness is credible and honest, and they agreed with his explanation that Father Pinard was killed because he was openly criticizing the Rwandan army and security forces for their attacks on Rwandan civilians.

"He was a serious, frank man," the witness said in an interview. "He defended the weak. He condemned the disappearances, assassinations and arbitrary arrests that were occurring. He would denounce crimes openly during his sermons. He spoke of everything, even in front of RPF members sitting in the church."

He said the Canadian high commission did not respond to his detailed report. "No one called me for an interview or even responded."

In 2008, a Spanish court invoked the doctrine of universal jurisdiction - which holds that crimes of genocide and torture are so serious that those accused of committing them can be tried anywhere. It indicted 40 senior RPA officers for crimes committed between 1994 and 2000, and named Emmanuel Karenzi Karake, head of military intelligence during that period, as the person ultimately responsible for the death of Father Pinard and other civilians.

By 2008, Lieutenant-General Karake had been deployed to a United Nations and African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, where he was serving as deputy commander. The Canadian government publicly questioned his UN appointment and asked whether it was "convenient" to have him serving on a peacekeeping force when he faced the Spanish indictment.

Lt.-Gen. Karake currently heads Rwanda's National Intelligence and Security Services. So far, no senior Rwandan official has been arrested or extradited to face charges by the Spanish court.

Canada, too, has the authority to use universal jurisdiction, under its Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act. Two Rwandan nationals living in Canada - Hutus accused of committing crimes against Tutsis during the genocide - have already been tried.

Lloyd Axworthy, the Canadian foreign-affairs minister at the time of the Pinard murder, announced afterward that the Rwandan authorities had promised a "full investigation." He said Canada expected "an investigation that will lead to the prosecution of the guilty party."

Roger Tessier, a priest in the missionary society known as the White Fathers, to which Father Pinard belonged, said the RCMP came to see him in Nairobi after the murder, but he didn't have the impression that they were very interested in the case. Richard Dandenault, another priest and friend now living in Sherbrooke, Que., said there was no real follow-up by the Canadian authorities.

Louise Roy, sister-in-law of Father Pinard, said the priest knew that his life was in danger, but he refused to leave Rwanda. "He was very outspoken and the Rwandan government was afraid of him talking," she said in an interview.

"I don't recall the Canadian government ever calling us back to say that any investigation had been done, or that it had found out anything," she said. "The Canadian government never did much about this. I don't think it was that important to them."

Geoffrey York is The Globe and Mail's Africa correspondent and Judi Rever is a freelance writer based in Montreal.

Associated Graphic

From left: Canadian priests Guy Pinard and Claude Simard, and Paul Kagame, then leader of the rebel Rwanda Patriotic Front, just after the 1994 genocide began. Today his ambassador blames their death on 'thugs' and 'stray bullets.'


As Canada launches air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq, an investigative team funded by Western governments is quietly compiling a paper trail of evidence on the ground in neighbouring Syria against the militant army. It's a race against time to ensure that those responsible do not evade justice. Kim Mackrael reports
Saturday, November 8, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A12

OTTAWA -- A Western man takes a seat in a sparsely populated restaurant, located in a country that shares a border with conflict-torn Syria. He orders a glass of chai and is soon joined by a second man - a Syrian - who appears exhausted and distressed as he sits down beside him. The Syrian explains that he didn't sleep the night before. He faced a particularly harrowing journey when he crossed the border and is worried about his family, who are in an area of the country that's been plagued by fighting in recent days.

Keeping his hand just below the edge of the table, the Syrian slips a flat, rectangular object to the Westerner as they talk. It's the passport of a European man believed to be fighting with Islamic State, one of dozens of such travel documents discovered in Syria during the past year alone. IS officials frequently confiscate foreigners' identification cards and passports when they arrive - a tactic that serves the dual purpose of stripping them of their previous identity and controlling their future movements.

The Westerner slides the passport into a pocket and, after some more conversation, the Syrian leaves the restaurant on his own. The Westerner finishes his tea, departs on foot, and disappears into the crowd.

Their exchange is one of multiple ways documents and other information about the secretive Islamic State is steadily flowing out of areas the militant group controls. Today, the item handed over is a passport. Other times - and of much greater value - investigators will obtain a list of officials' names, communiqués from mid-level leaders, or the recorded minutes of one of the militants' meetings.

As Canada launches its first air strikes against Islamic State operations in Iraq, a private, not-forprofit organization is quietly compiling information on the ground in neighbouring Syria, part of an effort to lay a foundation for future war crimes prosecutions.

The organization, which is funded by Britain and Denmark, cannot be named out of concern for the safety of its investigators. Some of those involved work outside of Syria as analysts or managers. Others are embedded with more moderate armed opposition groups inside the country, and have their own sources operating within Islamic State.

The Globe and Mail spoke with three members of the investigative team and with numerous outside sources familiar with the organization's work in Syria. All of the investigators spoke on condition of anonymity because of a fear that their operations or their safety could be compromised, but both Western governments funding their work confirmed their support for the investigators' activities.

It's still unclear how the Syrian cases might eventually be tried. But observers say it's crucial to gather evidence connecting leaders to the crimes now, before the conflict ends and it becomes more difficult to obtain.

Already, the team's investigation into Islamic State in Syria is among the first - along with separate investigations into the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - to be carried out in the midst of a high-intensity conflict.

It's a shift some experts believe could mark the advent of a new model for war crimes investigations.

"It's a new type of idea, a new kind of organization, which plugs in a hole in the mosaic of international investigations of war crimes," said Mark Kersten, a researcher at the London School of Economics who has studied international criminal justice and spoke broadly about the current investigations in Syria.

The investigative team is also keen to expand its work into Iraq, where Islamic State militants have attacked Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims in a conflict that's forced some 1.8 million people from their homes. If the expansion is successful, the group says it could likely have the first cases ready for prosecution in the Iraqi legal system within roughly six months.

Their focus, the investigators say, is on understanding the command, control and communication structures of Islamic State so they can begin to connect midand high-ranking leaders to atrocities that are being committed.

"Journalists might ask, well, are we looking for the killer of James Foley, for example," one investigator said, referring to an American journalist whose brutal murder was filmed and released as propaganda earlier this fall. The knife-wielding Islamic State fighter who killed Mr. Foley spoke with an apparent British accent, sparking widespread speculation about who the foreign jihadi could be.

"The answer is yes and no," the investigator continued. "The guy who actually [committed the beheading], no we're not interested. We're interested in individuals way up the chain of command."

Dangerous work

The same concept applies to countless atrocities committed against civilians and armed groups in Syria, investigators say.

But tracking down evidence that might link top officials to a given crime can be a daunting task. Whether investigators' work relates to Mr. Foley's murder or other reports of executions, crucifixions or assaults, Islamic State members produce a much smaller paper trail than a government like the Assad regime would.

Documents are usually the most valuable material the group collects because they're less fallible than human memory.

But the IS investigators also gather a trove of information through other means, from the open-source propaganda posted by Islamic State members themselves, to the reports that come from members of the moderate, armed opposition groups that work as investigators inside Syria and are trained to interrogate captured IS fighters.

Their work is dangerous and, by necessity, highly secretive. Embedded Syrian investigators also have sources within Islamic State who provide insider information on how the militant organization operates.

As IS leaders' aspirations for statehood have grown, so too has the group's level of organization and bureaucratic formality. Some of the documents investigators have been able to collect include spreadsheets containing fighters' names, noms du guerre and nationalities, directives to subordinate IS leaders and reports that go up the chain of command.

Sometimes, the level of detail bears a surprising resemblance to a modern, state-run military force: In one case, investigators obtained a document tallying the number of bullets used during a particular battle so they could keep their inventory up to date.

Stephen Rapp, the U.S. ambassador for war crimes and a proponent of the IS investigation, pointed to requisitions militants have made for equipment, their ability to move oil, and the careful way the group has documented its prisoners as evidence of the militants' growing sophistication.

The investigators' work is critical to help reveal who might be pulling the strings when atrocities are committed, Mr. Rapp said.

"So you know it's not easy, but there are brave people that are willing to work in those areas and gather what they can," he added, referring to the investigators.

The Globe has learned that the organization briefed officials in Ottawa on its work last March and shared a proposal for expanding into Iraq via e-mail earlier this fall, according to people familiar with the group's outreach to governments.

A spokeswoman for the British foreign and commonwealth office said London is funding the investigators' efforts - as well as a separate investigation into the Assad regime - as part of a commitment to ensuring those responsible for war crimes in Syria are held to account.

A statement from Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard, provided to The Globe by e-mail, said his country is funding investigations into "several parties to the conflict," including Islamic State, to pursue accountability for human-rights violations.

Controlled from the top

Initially known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) the al-Qaeda offshoot group changed its name to the shorter Islamic State when it declared a caliphate earlier this year.

Investigators say the group seems to be modelling itself on the structure of the Umayyad Caliphate, a Muslim dynasty that once controlled an expanse of land that stretched from Spain to Afghanistan and India. The group has established a series of administrative regions that function like provinces, distribute social services and have a governor at their helm.

Crucially, it's IS officials at the provincial and district levels that are the easiest to connect to atrocities. Investigators have compiled close to 350 names of people in various mid-level positions of leadership that can help establish linkages between crimes that are committed and orders from superiors.

"It's a very strictly controlled operation," one investigator said. "So if we can block out this middle layer, we know we can fill in the bottom with the crimes, and we're getting evidence that everything's well-controlled [from the top]."

Often, the mid-level leadership can be less dogmatic than its superiors, another investigator said.

The group has detailed methods for dividing the spoils of war and smuggling antiquities, passports and other valuables across the border, and IS officials also set up elaborate taxation systems in some of the areas they control.

"There's an extraordinary pragmatism there. And the outrageous violence, mass executions and the way people are murdered and tortured and so forth in archaic ways - that often diverts the attention of casual observers from the real seriousness of the threat," he said.

A lot of the structure appears to have been imported from Iraq, which is one of the reasons the investigators are keen to expand their work into that country. And increasingly, operations traverse both countries, making it difficult for investigators to halt their efforts at the Iraqi border.

"They don't recognize the border, and we're kind of hamstrung a bit by the fact that we haven't got the ability to look at this phenomenon from the east. So we're building half of the picture," said one investigator, who is focused on analysis.

Some donors have expressed a willingness to help fund the group's expansion in Iraq, but the money has not yet come through and it's unclear how much of the $1.5-million cost it will cover.

Islamic State produces a trove of videos, documents, social media commentary and other propaganda that can provide investigators with useful insight into the way the organization works. But it is the front-line Syrian investigators embedded with armed opposition groups who frequently provide the most valuable information.

The Syrian investigators receive training to interrogate captured IS fighters and scour abandoned IS buildings for documents. They also have sources who hold positions within IS, providing a glimpse inside the secretive organization.

There are risks, however, that come with sending investigators into a combat zone with armed opposition groups. Some outside observers worry about the reliability of the embedded investigators, in part because there is always a risk they could become involved in wartime atrocities themselves.

Documentation collected now could be dismissed by a future war crimes tribunal for multiple reasons. Questions about the investigators' methods, issues with the way witnesses are interrogated, and errors in tracking custody of documents that are retrieved are all issues that could be picked apart by a defence team.

But many observers seem to believe the benefits of running an investigation now - rather than waiting until the conflict is over - far outweigh the risks.

Independent groups like the one investigating Islamic State also have a higher tolerance for risk than the more formal investigation by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria, which has produced reports on atrocities but is not focused on linking specific crimes to the individuals who may have ordered them.

"There is going to be an immense security challenge once the conflict ends," one investigator said. "If the Syrians don't want to endure a decade or more of terrorism, as experienced by Iraq, they're going to need a security foundation, and that foundation will be built on information derived from investigations now."


The Islamic State's flag, a black banner with white text, carries two messages written in Arabic. At the top is part of the shahada, a testament of faith, which translates as 'There is no god but God, and Mohammed is the Messenger of God.' Inside the white circle is the phrase 'Mohammed is the Messenger of God.'

Territorial ambitions: IS has redrawn the map of Iraq and Syria, organizing new administrative regimes as it goes. Although IS controls territory primarily around the main towns and routes, its map includes sparsely populated areas and areas where its control is in dispute.

How the Islamic State's leadership is organized

The Islamic State hasn't publicly described its chain of command, but a number of outside experts have been researching the organization. One of them, Hisham al-Hashimi, a Baghdadbased expert on Islamist groups, described in detail to The Wall Street Journal w h o he says reports to whom. His outline of the leadership structure has been corroborated by other experts and U.S. intelligence sources.

At the very top of the f!ow chart is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who named himself caliph. He functions in a role similar to that of a commander-in-chief, pictured. Mr. Baghdadi has two deputies. Both deputies were former generals under Saddam Hussein. These three top leaders are referred to collectively as "Al-lmara" -- The Emirate. Key strategic and policy decisions are made at the Emirate level.


They function like departments or ministries and report to the two deputies.

The leadership council: Responsible for making laws and handling important decisions. Those decisions are subject to approval by Mr. Baghdadi.

The Shura council: Weighs in on religious and military matters, and advises the leadership council, it's composed of nine people w h o are versed in Islamic Law.

The military council: Calls the shots on fighting, and defense of the Islamic State's acquired territory. Experts believe that more than 25,000 fighters for the Islamic State are in Syria and Iraq.

The media council: Issues the organization's official pronouncements and declarations and manages its social media and communications. It regulates various other outlets that serve the Islamic State. According to Jordanian news outlets, it has a close relationship with the legal council for co-ordinating publicity for executions.

The intelligence council: Provides information to the leadership on the Islamic State's enemies.

The financial council: Functions a s the organization's treasury. It handles oil sales, weapons deals, and oversees cash estimated to b e in the many millions of dollars.

The fighters assistance council: Supports the jihadists arriving from other countries, it finds them housing. It a l so helps smuggle foreign fighters in and out of Iraq and Syria. The legal council: Handles family disputes and religious infractions. It's in charge of recruitment of followers, and also makes decisions on punishments -- often in the form of executions.

The security council: Handles the internal policing of the controlled territory, including checkpoints, it also carries out executions.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

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