Globeandmail.com

THE POT STOCK BUBBLE
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INSIDE THE RUSH TO PROFIT FROM MEDICAL MARIJUANA
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By GRANT ROBERTSON
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Friday, December 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1


Dennis Arsenault couldn't believe what he was seeing. When his company, OrganiGram Inc., made its debut on the TSX Venture Exchange this summer, the shares suddenly shot up.

The high valuation didn't make sense - not even to Mr. Arsenault, and he was the company's chief executive officer.

Just a few weeks earlier, OrganiGram, an upstart producer of medical marijuana based in Moncton had been valued privately at just over $40-million. But on the open market, speculators feverishly drove up the total value of its shares to nearly $120-million in late August.

It wasn't that Mr. Arsenault didn't believe in the future of his business. OrganiGram is one of only 15 companies to land a highly coveted federal licence in Canada's new medical marijuana sector, touted as a potential multibillion-dollar industry in the years to come.

But the company hadn't made a dime yet. OrganiGram was probably a year away from pulling in meaningful revenue - and it was already worth nine digits in the stock market.

"I was just shaking my head," Mr. Arsenault said of that first week of trading.

What happened was exuberant, if irrational, and OrganiGram wasn't the only company feeling the surge.

Investor appetite for Canadian marijuana stocks also turned rival Tweed Inc. of Smiths Falls, Ont., into a $100-million company before it had even logged its first shipment to patients.

Sooner or later, everyone was jumping on the marijuana trend.

Mining exploration companies, frustrated by lacklustre interest in their stocks, were turning themselves into marijuana businesses overnight.

Marijuana Inc.

Part one of a two-part series on the rise of medical marijuana as big business in Canada.

.Companies such as Supreme Resources and Affinor Resources were suddenly rebranding themselves as Supreme Pharmaceuticals and Affinor Growers - specialists in a new field - to entice investors. And they, too, saw their stock prices lift.

It's a market craze that has made early investors rich, and left a large number of retail shareholders in some cases clutching near-worthless paper, as stocks suddenly plummet.

The industry has attracted more than its share of colourful players, from stock touts and salesmen to the multinational tobacco conglomerates, which are keeping a close eye on the developing marijuana business.

But had it not been for a failed Health Canada policy more than a decade ago, the pot stock bubble that dominated the Canadian markets for much of 2014 would have never happened.

Ottawa's efforts to build a new industry from scratch has resulted in an experiment that is moving marijuana sales from the back alley to the capital markets.

It is a historic moment, and it is fraught with problems: It is the birth of Marijuana Inc.

'Open to abuse'

The first time Health Canada attempted to set up a medical marijuana program, the government lost control of it.

In 2000, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that patients who use the drug to treat conditions ranging from glaucoma and epilepsy to the pain associated with cancer treatment had a legal right to possess marijuana. Furthermore, the government had a legal duty "to provide reasonable access" to the drug for that purpose.

In other words, Ottawa could not expect patients to venture on to the streets to obtain something that was considered, in this case, to be medicine.

Despite objections from the Canadian Medical Association - which argues that the medicinal benefits had not been proved in clinical tests - Health Canada had little choice. So, by 2001, the government reluctantly designed a program through which patients with a prescription could obtain the controlled substance either by growing it themselves or buying it from someone else with a prescription or from a government contractor. It seemed like the simplest solution to Ottawa's problem.

But according to hundreds of pages of Health Canada documents obtained under the Access to Information Act, the program quickly began to spiral out of control.

What began with 100 patients at the program's inception grew to 4,000 in its first three years.

By late last year, no fewer than 21,986 people had prescriptions to grow medical marijuana.

This demand sent costs soaring. Documents show that about $6-million was needed to operate the program in 2005, a figure that had climbed to $17.5-million by last year.

With that growth came more severe concerns. In 2012, Health Canada commissioned consulting firm Delsys Research Group to scrutinize the program. The resulting 180-page report, which was obtained by The Globe and Mail, showed the federal department was failing miserably to manage its own policy.

Between 2003 and 2010, police discovered 190 cases of crime relating to marijuana licences.

Some offences were violent - about 8 per cent involved attacks or home invasions - but that wasn't the biggest concern. Police also believed that some licences were producing "well in excess of their authorized daily amount" and much of that was finding its way to the street.

Not only did Health Canada not have enough inspectors to enforce the rules, it needed either permission or a warrant to make sure a home grow-op was complying with regulations.

According to government documents, the department attempted to carry out 75 such inspections without a warrant in 2010. In only 27 cases did anyone answer the door and, of those, roughly half refused to let the inspectors in. Based on statistical modeling of existing police data, Delsys estimated as much as 35 per cent of Health Canada's licences may involve "some degree of misuse and diversion of marijuana intended for medical use into the illicit market."

Even legitimate growers were raising questions. One man sent an e-mail to Health Canada in 2012, which The Globe and Mail obtained through access to information, saying he had never been inspected in six years to see if he was complying with the law.

In another e-mail, a physician warned Health Canada that he had seen a patient authorized to produce 40 grams of marijuana per day who was, in the doctor's opinion, producing at least 20 times what his average daily prescription should be. "This is obviously not all being used by one patient," he wrote.

Another physician told Health Canada of seeing patients who'd been given prescriptions to grow "excessive amounts." He added: "Somebody has clearly dropped the ball on this one."

One doctor complained of a colleague he knew in a nearby community, "who for $50, would sign anyone's form."

Soon officials at Health Canada were forced to admit things had gone awry. In a draft of a 2013 letter signed by Louis Proulx, assistant director of the Bureau of Medical Cannabis, the department stated bluntly that its program "was widely open to abuse." The reference was deleted before the final draft of the letter was sent (to an unknown recipient), but it was clear Health Canada needed to scrap the program.

That decision would set the stage for a historical shift - the creation of a large-scale medical marijuana industry run by private companies. Rather than retool its efforts, Ottawa wanted out of the business.

A new industry

Health Canada concluded it would be better to license a few large-scale producers, rather than dole out thousands of individual permits.

This new industry, the Delsys report said, could be quite lucrative. "It is anticipated that the regulated market will grow to be reasonably large, competitive and profitable," the report explained, adding that Canada has 450,000 projected users of medical marijuana. "Provided they obtain support of a healthcare practitioner, these persons could potentially make a strong market base."

That estimate got people in the business world thinking. "The federal government said, 'We think there will be about half a million people who have a prescription over the next few years in Canada,' " said Bruce Linton, founder of Tweed Inc., one of the first producers to land a federal licence. "Everybody in the market said, 'If the government thinks that's the number, it's going to be a lot bigger, and a lot faster.' "

With the lure of big profits hanging over these licence applications, Health Canada introduced a two-stage approval process. First, candidates had to design a secure operation, which would be subject to federal approval. Then they had to build that operation, risking the capital up front, without knowing if a licence would be granted.

Even with those unusual hurdles, the response was overwhelming. Health Canada, originally concerned that not enough companies would seek a licence, received more than 1,000 applications between last fall and this summer. At one point, 25 were coming in every week.

Applicants knew what a licence was - a permit to make money.

"There's no denying, there is tremendous wealth that is going to be created from this," Mr. Arseneault said, comparing the situation to alcohol in the U.S.

"You can go back to Prohibition - it's the same concept. There is a race mentality."

Andrea Hill, a securities lawyer at Toronto-based Wildeboer Dellelce, says the licences are like winning lottery tickets. "When these [companies] go public, they've consistently been going public at market capitalizations of $70-million plus."

OrganiGram's $120-million debut was an example of this, as was Tweed's market capitalization of more than $100-million.

With every licence it issues, Health Canada is essentially minting millionaires.

"It's a constitutionally protected drug-dealing industry," Ms. Hill said. "There's not very many of those."

But most companies pursuing these licences are playing a longer, more speculative game, betting that the market will be even bigger in the future, should the drug be legalized.

That idea is not far-fetched.

Ethan Nadelmann, head of the Drug Policy Alliance, a powerful lobby group that has been instrumental in having marijuana made legal in Colorado and Washington state, sees Canada as inevitable, having embraced the medical market.

And with legalization comes a huge opportunity for profit.

"We all stand today at the intersection of something relatively unique in American history," he said. "If you look at other movements for freedom and justice - movements around gay rights, or women's rights, or civil rights ... the sudden transformation of those fields did not have these remarkable economic consequences."

The emergence of a legal marijuana industry in North America is worth "tens of billions of dollars," Mr. Nadelmann said, reiterating that "if somebody asks me what's going to be the next country to legalize marijuana, my bet is Canada."

Statements like that have brought a wave of speculative investment north of the border.

The impending invasion

The push for a legal marijuana market is hardly new. Industry documents show that the tobacco industry has sought a way into the business for decades.

And if Canada were to make the drug broadly legal, many in the marijuana sector believe it's only a matter of time before the tobacco companies claim a significant chunk of the market for themselves.

Documents newly uncovered in the University of California's archives show that Big Tobacco first became interested in the early 1970s, as a U.S. presidential commission was about to recommend marijuana be decriminalized, and similar talk was circulating in Canada.

In a handwritten internal memo, George Weissman, then president of Philip Morris Inc., said the maker of Marlboro cigarettes needed to seize the moment, given the potential upside.

"While I am opposed to its use, I recognize that it may be legalized in the near future and put on some sort of restricted sale, if only to eliminate the criminal element," he wrote.

"Thus, with these great auspices, we should be in a position to examine ... a possible product [and] at the same time, co-operate with the government."

Another unsigned internal memo offered up a rationale for the tobacco giant's planned expansion into pot: "We are in the business of relaxing people who are tense and providing a pickup for people who are bored or depressed. The human needs that our product fills will not go away. Thus, the only real threat to our business is that society will find other means of satisfying these needs."

One particular concern appears to have rattled Philip Morris - the fact that young people were gravitating toward marijuana, which meant a lost generation of customers. "Many regard marijuana as an alternate, and perhaps superior, method of satisfying the needs that cigarette smoking satisfies," the memo read. "In this situation, business theory strongly suggests that we learn as much as possible about this threat to our present product."

When the commission's recommendation to legalize pot was quashed by Richard Nixon's administration, the company's foray into marijuana also halted. Philip Morris never spoke publicly about its strategy. Discussions in Canada also lost momentum.

However, a similar internal memo from executives at rival R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., maker of Camel cigarettes, shows that the industry revisited the subject in 1992 amid rumours that "certain European countries" were on the verge of legalizing the drug, raising "the possibility of its future, more frequent use."

Today, with Canada and more than 20 U.S. jurisdictions now permitting marijuana for medical use, along with legalization in some states, the tobacco companies say they have no plans to explore the business, but that hasn't left the rest of the sector at ease.

Inside the industry, the possibility of Big Tobacco entering the fray is referred to as the "impending invasion." The consensus is that when the market reaches the point where significant profits are being made, the cigarette makers will muscle their way in. That notion - accurate or not - has helped to feed the appetite for marijuana stocks, raising the spectre that some companies could be takeover targets, triggering lucrative shareholder payouts if that day ever comes.

Pot stock billionaire

The same fever over marijuana stocks that emerged in Canada also ran rampant south of the border. With numerous U.S.

states moving to legalize marijuana - Alaska and Oregon approved ballot initiatives this year - the resulting stock-market frenzy sent company valuations into the billions.

The king of North American pot stocks - and undoubtedly the company destined to be the lasting symbol of the marijuana stock bubble - is Las Vegas-based CannaVest Corp.

From early 2013 to the spring of this year, when the hype over marijuana stocks was at its most dizzying heights, CannaVest shares shot up more than 1,200 per cent to $160. At that price, the company was worth more than $3-billion, despite having almost no profits and only an indirect connection to marijuana: CannaVest claimed to be a producer of hemp-based compounds.

Nevertheless, its largest shareholder, Las Vegas lawyer Bart Mackay, became the first potstock billionaire, at least on paper.

Canada got its own symbol of the pot stock craze in Torontobased Satori Resources Inc. With shares in the junior mining sector slumping more than 40 per cent early this year, Satori announced out of the blue that it was exploring new opportunities in agriculture - namely medical marijuana.

It was far from alone. Satori was one of several dozen miners to have gone this route, joining Supreme Pharmaceuticals and Affinor Growers. The way Satori founder and chairwoman Jennifer Boyle sees it, public companies need a story to take to investors. If you find something that works, use it. She is unapologetic.

"In a downward market, which the mining industry is, if there is something that you can raise money on, it's our obligation to consider it," Ms. Boyle said. "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

It reminds her of the heady days of the tech boom in the late 1990s when mining companies slapped dot-com on their name just to capture some of the money flooding into that market.

"Mining was headed for the tank back then and these dotcom companies were doing very well, so a lot of the mining promotors converted themselves into high-tech companies," she said. "Then when that all blew up, they went back to being mining companies. It was mining dot-com back then. Now it's mining dot-pot."

This has sapped credibility from the sector, analysts say. "A lot of times, you'll find people that are telling these great stories," said Allan Brochstein, one analyst who follows the sector.

"There's a lot of people that are in the marijuana industry - [but] they're not in the marijuana industry. They're in the stockpromotion industry."

"You have to understand what type of industry you're investing in," said Mr. Arsenault of New Brunswick's OrganiGram. "There is a lot of hype in the industry. And that's unfortunate."

For many of these stocks, the model is often the same. The insiders at the company hold vast numbers of shares, often in the millions, which they have been issued at a nominal price - often a fraction of a cent. They list the company as a penny stock, or adopt marijuana as a newfound business, and proceed to spin tales of bold plans to make money by pursuing a licence. If the stock moves by a few cents, the insiders can make hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars, over a period of months.

All that's required is a supply of willing investors, which the market always seems to provide. "So many scams purport to allow Main Street investors to get in on the ground floor of the next big thing," said Gerri Walsh, senior vice-president of investor education for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), based in Washington.

Along with other regulators, FINRA took an unusual step warning investors this year about pot stocks, urging people to do more research in the frothy market.

"We were concerned that there might be some element of fraud or at least pumping and dumping of these types of securities," Ms. Walsh said.

But with so many companies flooding the market, and at such a rapid pace, there has been very little follow-up by those same regulators, including FINRA.

Health Canada admits it knows little of what Canadian companies are doing in the markets, noting that it is not a financial regulator.

The right to get rich

If any one person captures the ethos of the marijuana stock bubble, it's probably Todd Davis.

In June, the former stockbroker was a keynote speaker at an industry event in Denver attended by marijuana executives from across Canada and the United States. The Globe and Mail viewed a recording of his speech.

Mr. Davis cut his teeth as a broker in the 1990s selling penny stocks in fledgling biotech companies. He was no expert on the industry, but it didn't matter, he explained. For every company with a story to tell, there was an investor willing to believe in future riches. It was easy money.

"I didn't know anything about biotechnology," Mr. Davis told the room. "But I'm telling a story about something that's going to happen in the future - and people were buying it. I would call 10 people and five people would buy [stock] from me. And I was going 'This is awesome' ... We were making a killing."

These days, Mr. Davis runs a marijuana startup and likens the industry to his days of selling biotech stocks.

"What I wanted to talk about tonight is why we are all here," he told the executives. "The primary function - besides our belief in cannabis and what it can do for a patient or a person, and how it can benefit life - is we're here to make money."

"It's a unique opportunity that's been presented to us."

But it is much more than just an opportunity to make money, he explained. The industry is so ripe for the picking that everyone in the room is entitled to get rich.

"You have the right to make a million dollars," he told the executives in no uncertain terms. It was an opportunity none of them should waste.

But the good times in the stock market couldn't last forever.

In Canada, marijuana stocks lost their lustre a few months ago as investors started to realize that companies like Tweed and OrganiGram would need several quarters, if not longer, to build their businesses and start generating real earnings - just as Mr. Arsenault had suggested. OrganiGram's stock now trades at less than 80 cents, well off the $2.27 the shares garnered at their height.

South of the border, though, some marijuana companies grew impatient when their shares began to slide. And so they found a new saviour.

With the deadly Ebola epidemic dominating global headlines in October amid fears the virus might spread in North America, a new phenomenon swept the capital markets. A company that claimed to be working on a cure, a technology or a product that could somehow assist in the fight against this deadly disease was suddenly a hot commodity.

One in particular was quick to capitalize.

On Oct. 13, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson appeared on Fox Business News ostensibly to discuss the U.S. government's response to Ebola.

But Mr. Johnson wasted little time in divulging that he had, in fact, recently been named chief executive officer of Cannabis Sativa Inc., a company working on the use of medical marijuana to cure the disease. "We actually believe we have efficacy with regard to treating Ebola," he said.

Was the company actually suggesting marijuana could work?

"If you're dying from Ebola, and it's a hail Mary," Mr. Johnson said, "you're going to take the hail Mary."

It was the boldest and most farfetched effort yet to promote a marijuana stock - and proved to be quite good for business. The stock climbed 33 per cent in the ensuing two weeks, and the market value of Cannabis Sativa Inc. soared by $40-million.

With stocks now falling across the sector, such antics are a cry for attention in a softening market.

The fact that share prices have cooled, though, is somewhat comforting to Mr. Arsenault. The faster Canada can get away from the bubble market, the better.

"Finally, the hype has started to come out, and people realize that it's a business like any other business," he said.

"That's welcome. Anybody that sits there and says they've got this all figured out, they're just blowing smoke at you."

Marijuana Inc.

A two-part series on the rise of medical marijuana as big business in Canada. Saturday One company's wild marijuana stock run.

Associated Graphic

JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL; GLENN LOWSON FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

UP in the AIR
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The early returns for Timberwolves rookie Andrew Wiggins are mostly positive. The 19-year-old's defence is sound, but his offensive bursts are still inconsistent. He knows he has a lot to learn. And as Timberwolves teammate and fellow Canadian Anthony Bennett tries to repair his reputation, the two have bonded in their struggle, David Ebner reports from Minneapolis
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By DAVID EBNER
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


Andrew Wiggins is in the air

Andrew Wiggins, the celebrated No. 1 draft choice playing in his 10th NBA game, has shaken off a New York Knicks defender, bolted to the basket and sprung upward. Samuel Dalembert, the Knicks' 6-foot-11 centre, slides into the lane to dissuade the attack. Wiggins, his back arched, clips his left hip on Dalembert's right shoulder, so that when he tries to slam the ball home, it ricochets off the rim and the Knicks retrieve it. Wiggins falls to earth.

This is the purgatory between prodigy and superstar.

It is a Wednesday in midNovember, a few minutes into a game between the Knicks and the team on which Wiggins has landed, the woeful Minnesota Timberwolves. This frozen north is where the Canadian kid, all of 19 years old, is to marshal his considerable promise. It is all about repetitions. Dribbling drills. Shooting drills. And under the bright lights of a game, it's often a schooling at the hands of older, stronger opponents. There are also doubters - scouts who question whether, for all his physical gifts, Wiggins has the drive needed to deliver on what has been foretold.

So far the returns are mostly positive. As a defender, he has fared well guarding some of the most potent scorers in the NBA. On offence his bursts of energy come and go. A lot, immediately, rests on him: The Timberwolves have been ravaged by injuries to veterans, and along with the offcourt trappings of incipient stardom - Adidas commercials, fashion spreads in GQ magazine - have come enough sterling performances on the floor to win Wiggins the season's first rookieof-the-month award in the Western Conference, for his play in November. A couple of days after the Knicks game, teammate Anthony Bennett scores a careerhigh 20 against the San Antonio Spurs. Like Wiggins, Bennett is from Toronto and was a No. 1 draft pick one year earlier - a rare arrival of two top picks in a single place. The next night, it's Wiggins's time to shine: 29 points in a loss to the Sacramento Kings.

"Man!" Kings centre DeMarcus Cousins says afterward. "I like Wiggins."

Cousins knows the grind: a No. 5 in 2010 with obvious talent but a reputation as a head case, now finally emerging as a full-blown force. "I told him after the game, he's going to be a special player," Cousins says of Wiggins. "And I like Anthony Bennett as well. He took a lot of heat his first year. He stuck with it, kept his head high. I like both of them. They're going to be something special."

'Couldn't ask for a better position'

Anthony Bennett was born in 1993 and Andrew Wiggins in 1995. They were raised 30 kilometres apart in the Toronto area, Wiggins in Vaughan and Bennett, first at Jane and Finch in the city, and then in Brampton. They are both children of immigrants. Their mothers arrived from the Caribbean when Toronto was a much more homogeneous city: Marita Payne, Andrew's mom, in 1970, and Edith Bennett in 1980. The boys grew up after Toronto had transformed into a mosaic, and professional basketball - the Raptors and Vince Carter - was making its mark.

Bennett and Wiggins have played together before, having first met in the summer of 2010, when Anthony was 17 and Andrew 15. They helped win a bronze medal for Canada at the under-17 world championships in Germany.

Bennett went on to one season at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, before the Cleveland Cavaliers made him the surprise No. 1 pick in 2013, a first for a Canadian. Wiggins played one season, last winter, at the University of Kansas before he was also chosen No. 1 by Cleveland.

LeBron James upended the story. Basketball's biggest name returned to Cleveland from Miami, and the resulting tremors sent disgruntled Timberwolves all-star Kevin Love to Cleveland with Wiggins and Bennett heading to Minneapolis. The trade unfolded in slow motion over the summer. It was, for Wiggins, an introduction to the business of pro sports. For Bennett, it was a new beginning, after an awful rookie season when he had played poorly, slowed by injury and middling fitness.

The Timberwolves had missed the playoffs 10 consecutive seasons, and over that decade lost more games, 520, than any team in the NBA. Love indicated he wanted out and fans soured on him. The new arrivals were introduced in late August at the Minnesota State Fair alongside another athletic rookie, 19-yearold Zach LaVine, and newly obtained veteran Thaddeus Young from Philadelphia. It was a perfect summer day - sunny, 22 C. Bennett ate fried alligator - tastes like chicken, he concluded. Wiggins whirled on carnival rides.

On the Wolves, family is paramount. After the fair, everyone went to dinner at the house of coach Flip Saunders. His son Ryan is an assistant coach. Two sons of retired coach Rick Adelman, for whom Saunders took over, are also on the team's staff. This is a milieu Wiggins and Bennett know well. Wiggins is one of six kids, Bennett the youngest of three.

The party was a good one. Ribs were cooked. Wiggins's parents and Bennett's mother were there. It was a salve, the end of a summer in limbo.

"It was just long," Wiggins says of the lead-up to the trade. "Not really knowing where you're going to end up."

In November, Wiggins sits beside Bennett for an interview in a small, cinderblock room at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Despite the team's losing ways, both relish the chance to play and improve.

"We couldn't ask for a better position," Wiggins says.

"Like he said," Bennett adds, "we're in the best situation we can be."

'To be a pioneer'

The name Minnesota is derived from a Dakota Sioux word meaning "cloudy water." This is the land of lakes and the headwaters of the Mississippi. The Minneapolis region is home to 3.5 million people, about the same as Seattle and larger than anywhere in Canada but Toronto and Montreal. Like much of Canada, it gets cold - in midNovember, the wind chill pushed the downtown temperature to -20 C.

The state has forged singular talents: Judy Garland, Bob Dylan, Prince, the Coen brothers. "Minneapolis gets a reputation for being earnest or Midwest," said writer and musician Jim Walsh in 2005, but it's "sophisticated, too." In sports, there has been less success. The Twins won World Series in 1987 and 1991, and the Vikings - the most popular team in the state - lost four Super Bowls long ago. On ice, the North Stars lost more than they won and decamped for Dallas; the Wild, who miss the playoffs more than make them, are on a recent upswing.

The Timberwolves languish. There's talk the team is cursed. Two versions: Target Center is built on a native American burial ground, or Joey Two-Step, a fired employee from the early days, cast a hex on his way out the door. There was a single sparkling era, from 1995 through a Western Conference finals appearance in 2004. It began when Kevin Garnett was a 19-year-old rookie and Saunders a first-year NBA head coach. Saunders was fired in 2005, and Garnett was traded not long after.

A full circle begins to form. In November, Garnett, now of the Brooklyn Nets, talked about becoming a Timberwolves coowner when he retires. And Saunders has a rare second shot in Minneapolis to shape a top talent. He shares a birthday with Wiggins: On Feb. 23, Saunders will hit 60 as Wiggins turns 20.

Saunders returned to Minnesota last year as team president, and installed himself as coach last spring. He sees the opportunity for these young Wolves to upend the team's history. "To be a pioneer always means something more, to be the first," Saunders says. "To be the first to get to the NBA Finals. Maybe to be the first to win a championship."

'It's going to take some time'

Anthony Bennett hangs from the rim. He has taken a pass from veteran teammate Corey Brewer and thrown down a thunderous two-handed dunk, kicking up his legs so that, for a moment, his back is parallel with the floor a couple of metres below.

The dunk looks good but makes little difference. The score in the third quarter is 91-62, the visiting NBA champion San Antonio Spurs demolishing the Timberwolves. The home team is severely undermanned, missing four of its regular five starters.

If Bennett and Wiggins had remained in Cleveland, their roles would have been more modest, while Minnesota provides a rapid, generally humbling apprenticeship in the NBA. The gulf in experience is a canyon. Tim Duncan, the Spurs' No. 1 draft pick in 1997, plays his 1,499th game against Minnesota. It is Wiggins's 11th, and Bennett's 62nd.

Amid the trouncing, Bennett found his game, scoring a careerbest 20. Much as he savours dunks, his best weapon is a sweet stroke from mid-range, his accuracy surging from his rookie year, when he scored an abysmal four points a game.

The mood afterward is muted. "I was confident," Bennett says of his game. "I wish we got the win, though." He's received a text message from his mom: "Good game." They always exchange words, before and after he plays.

Bennett slides on his Balenciaga Arena high-top sneakers, dark green pebbled calfskin - $625.

He loves shoes and credits a teammate, rookie Glenn Robinson, with the counsel on the Balenciagas, a brand also favoured by Wiggins. "Learning from my man right here," Bennett says, pointing to Robinson beside him. "He's the fashion king."

The NBA is a fraternity, despite the fierce competition. Players know how tough it is, how potentially fleeting, how elusive the brass ring. Calvin Booth, the Wolves' director of player programs who suited up for eight teams in his decade-long career, is an in-house mentor. "How quickly he's been able to bounce back," Booth says of Bennett, "it's been impressive."

While Wiggins was born in basketball - his father Mitch played in an NBA Finals - Bennett came to the game as a teenager, after his mom moved the family to Brampton when he was 10. He is quiet, but teammates know another side. "He comes off like he's shy, but he's not shy," says Brewer, who calls Bennett the "music man" for his extensive music catalogue. And on the court, Brewer declares, "once he gets more playing time he's going to show people why he was the No. 1 pick."

The Spurs players see the difficulties ahead for Bennett and Wiggins. "Eh, it's tough," point guard Tony Parker says after the game, his feet in an ice bath.

"Especially playing with a young team, you know?" A Frenchman, Parker arrived in 2001, when the Spurs already ranked among the best.

"Bennett, you know, he's playing with more confidence, it looks like. He's always had a pretty good shot. So we'll see.

It's going to take some time."

'That's the good stuff, right there'

Andrew Wiggins is being primped. A couple of hours after a practice, a makeup artist brushes his nose. An assistant cleans lint off his black T-shirt. Kamp Grizzly, a small Portland film company, is shooting a promo of Wiggins for an Adidas magazine project.

Stars can make a fortune. Garnett has earned more than $300million (U.S.) in his career in salary alone. Wiggins is just getting started: His salary this year is $5.5million, while his Adidas deal is worth more than $2-million. "It's a lot of money for a rookie," agent Donald Dell says.

On the practice court, there's a quick photo shoot. What's your pose, the photographer asks, invoking the iconic Nike Wings poster, Jordan's arms outstretched, a basketball in his right hand. Wiggins suggests his arms crossed in an X in front of his chest, two balls palmed, framing his face. "It's not my pose," he says humbly - just a pose he's used for shoots before.

Wiggins is comfortable. "It just another day for me," he says. "You get used to it." There's been a spotlight on him since he was 14.

He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated before he played a game in college. He had a twopage spread in GQ in November.

"The new kid," the caption read.

When he was drafted No. 1, he dressed boldly: a floral print tuxedo jacket, with a classic birds-eye weave. Modern, too - skinny pants, short on the ankles, and sockless. "I'm going in with a bang," he told GQ of his draft-day style. It might seem too calculated - Wiggins has a personal stylist - but he has gravitated to fashion.

The men who have come before approve. "Back in the day," says Wolves general manager Milt Newton, himself finely dressed, "when you had Dr. J and Magic, they came to the arena nicely tailored. That's the good stuff."

To Chris Rivers, an Adidas manager who works closely with Wiggins, comportment counts. "They have to listen," Rivers says. "There are 12-year vets who are pros - but not professionals."

Earlier this fall, an Adidas commercial for the NBA's new swingman jersey played on the word wingman. The director had an idea and Wiggins embraced it.

The spot shows Wiggins, in his Wolves uniform, shooting hoops, and in runs his swingman, in a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey. Wiggins looks over. The swingman freezes, and retreats. "I guess," the chastened swingman says, "I missed the biggest sports story of the summer."

"That was fun to do," Wiggins says. "You have to have a sense of humour about certain things."

'A baby on its stomach'

Wiggins and Bennett are wobbling. One goes through a series of exercises, courtside after practice, and then the other. First: stretches with blue rubber bands. Next, standing on the left leg, the right leg extended behind, back parallel with the floor, lifting a weight in the left hand. Then, the opposite. Last, five pushups, slow.

This is part of the apprenticeship: turning athletic bodies into NBA bodies, built to last. The work is conducted under the watch of Koichi Sato. Raised in Japan, Sato is director of sports performance. On Wiggins and Bennett, he exercises small muscles, strengthens them, which helps prevent injury - Bennett struggles with various ailments - and increases stamina.

One idea is reflexive-core stability, where the body subconsciously anticipates movements and prepares muscles and joints for quick shifts. Other notions are adopted from a Prague doctor, Pavel Kolar, who promotes concepts based on the movement of babies called "dynamic neuromuscular stabilization."

Sato, after practice, is on his stomach on the floor in the hallway, demonstrating the infant poses he puts Wiggins and Bennett in. Sato elevates his chest and head, and rests his weight on his forearms. There's a tendency for adults to use back muscles for support. "If you put a baby on its stomach," Sato says, "they'll use their arms. It's the most efficient."

The next day, after another practice, the veterans are done. Flip Saunders oversees one of his favoured drills for young recruits. Toss a 10-pound medicine ball in the air, rebound it, then leap again, dunk it - the ball barely fits through the hoop. Repeat five times. Then, with a basketball, same thing.

Bennett is cheering on Gorgui Dieng, a second-year centre from Senegal. "Yeah, D!" Bennett shouts. "You got it! Push. Push.

Push." Next it's Bennett's turn - AB to his friends. At centre court, Brewer whoops it up: "Yeeaahhh, AB!" Bennett hangs on the rim as he puts down his last one.

Next, Wiggins. "Get up, Wigs!"

Brewer yells. "Here we go, here we go," Saunders chants. "That's three, that's three." From the bench courtside, Bennett, all smiles, lets out a roar of encouragement: "Aarrrgggghhhhh!"

"You've got to explode," Ryan Saunders says of the aim. "We want him to use his gifts."

'The world is in his hands'

Wiggins's critics - and they have been vocal since his college days in Kansas - do not doubt his gifts. What they question is his intensity, whether he has the sustained drive, the win-at-all-costs commitment of such transcendent stars as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and James.

They see him make stirring plays, then seemingly disappear at other points of the game, or sustain excellence in one game, then fade out the next. This week, he finally delivered in back-toback games, capped by 23 points and 10 rebounds in a win over Portland. "Wiggins looked like the No. 1 pick tonight," Saunders said afterward. Still, stats geeks, weighing overall impact, rank him low against this year's NBA players and against 19-year-olds of the past - the likes of James, Garnett, Anthony Davis. Critics wonder whether Wiggins has what's required to be not only good but great.

But he is young, and quiet, and watching. "Sometimes when you're quiet," says Wolves assistant coach Sam Mitchell, who was NBA coach of the year in 2007 with the Toronto Raptors, "you're listening - and you're learning."

Wiggins plainly has a lot to learn. His coach has devised a drill in practice, dubbed the Wiggins Drill. It's a five-man fast break, no defenders, six times up and down the floor. Usually, a different player scores each time, but in this one, Wiggins has to score all six times.

"His mindset has to be that no matter what, you're always running," says Saunders, who well knows that Wiggins's mother, Marita Payne, won two sprint relay medals for Canada at the 1984 Olympics. "I want him to know every time, whether it's a make, miss or whatever, that you're sprinting."

As a defender, Wiggins is more advanced. He relishes guarding the NBA's best, using his quickness and athleticism. "He enjoys playing defence," Knicks rookie head coach Derek Fisher observes. "That's a skill in itself."

Wiggins's father Mitch, a role player on a stacked Houston Rockets team in the mid-1980s, was defence-oriented as well. Former teammate and Wolves broadcaster Jim Petersen remembers a cerebral player, with the mind of a coach. "Mitch was always like that," Petersen says. "How to stop Michael Jordan. How to stop Clyde Drexler."

Mitch, watching a game from the stands, considers where his youngest son stands. He is obviously biased but believes Andrew will be a top-15 two-way player in the NBA - by the end of the year. "How many players play defence?" Mitch says.

Young Wiggins's 29-point performance against the Kings gives him - for a week or so anyway - the rookie scoring lead against rival Jabari Parker of the Milwaukee Bucks, the No. 2 draft pick and another 19-year-old against whom Wiggins has competed in high school and college.

In the Kings' locker room, Rudy Gay knows the expectations. Gay played more than six seasons in Memphis - the first at age 20 - before bouncing through a bad spell in Toronto and landing in Sacramento. "I played a lot, and it helped me. They get to make mistakes and learn on the fly. That's what you want from the future of your franchise," he says.

As winter grips Minneapolis, the Wolves sit last in the Western Conference. Top veterans, including Spanish guard Ricky Rubio, are sidelined with injuries. Wiggins and Bennett, the faces of the future, are carrying the load now.

They have each other for support.

During Bennett's hard year in Cleveland - and Wiggins's attimes-challenging one at Kansas - Bennett often sent words of encouragement to his friend.

"Always giving me advice," Wiggins says, their Toronto backgrounds forging bonds. "Everyone knows each other. A lot of mutual friends."

"Just telling him to keep going," Bennett says. "Pretty much the world is in his hands."

Associated Graphic

Andrew Wiggins, 19, of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the NBA's No. 1 pick in the recent draft, won the season's first rookie-of-the-month award in the Western Conference for his play in November. Wiggins and fellow Canadian Anthony Bennett are predicted to become 'something special.' Bennett was the No. 1 overall pick last season.

CAROLINE YANG FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves moves the ball up court against the Sacramento Kings last month in Minneapolis.

CAROLINE YANG FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Rookie Timberwolves star Andrew Wiggins enters the court for a November game against the Sacramento Kings.

PHOTOS BY CAROLINE YANG FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Wiggins, 19, and Anthony Bennett, 21, are both from the Toronto area and played on a bronze-medal-winning team at the under-17 worlds in 2010.

Though some observers question whether Wiggins has the drive to be an NBA great, coaches and scouts are impressed with his maturity on defence.

Fans greet the fashionably dressed Wiggins outside the Timberwolves' locker room after a game at Target Center in Minneapolis last month.

THE SAUDI STANDOFF
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As a global oil showdown between stalwart Saudi Arabia and the upstart U.S. shale industry sends prices spiralling ever lower, Canada is caught in the middle
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By SHAWN MCCARTHY, ERIC REGULY
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1


Ottawa, Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia -- In the high-stakes contest between the United States, the biggest shale oil producer, and Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil exporter, America has blinked first.

The OPEC refusal to cut production at its November meeting was widely seen as the declaration of a price war against booming U.S. shale oil producers, which had sent their country's oil production soaring. Saudis had watched as their market share dropped precipitously in the world's biggest oilconsuming nation, and they wanted to send a clear message across the global energy market that they weren't about to back off.

Oil prices have been in freefall ever since. Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, sank another 3 per cent Friday to $61.85 (U.S.) a barrel, while West Texas intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, dropped 3.6 per cent to $57.81, extending its slide from well over $100 a barrel in the summer.

If the global oil standoff pits the industry stalwart Saudi Arabia against the surging U.S. rival, other global players are coping with the pricing fallout, including Canada. Oil companies around the world are being forced to revisit their spending and production plans for 2015, and in the offices towers of downtown Calgary, those changes are already well under way.

Cenovus Energy Inc. this week slashed its capital budget by 15 per cent and signalled more to come. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. has said a quarter of its $8.6-billion (Canadian) budget is "flexible" and could be deferred if prices don't recover. A growing number of smaller producers have cut budgets and dividends in a bid to conserve cash and ride out the storm.

More cutbacks are likely to follow in the weeks ahead, and expectations that Alberta could double oil sands production over the next decade are suddenly in doubt. After all, new oil sands projects on the drawing board have costs per barrel well above current market prices.

For Canada, future projects sidelined or scaled back will act as a drag on the national economy, which has for years benefited from heavy spending in the energy sector while other sectors such as manufacturing struggled. The case for the many new pipelines currently in various stages of planning will be weakened.

Analysts warn it could take many months - even a full year - before global oil supplies fall enough and demand catches up, so that prices recover somewhat.

The oil slump is expected to affect most quickly on production levels in the United States, where the shale boom has added four million barrels a day of supply in the past few years and prompted predictions that the country would become the world's largest crude producer by 2016.

Already, the number of new shale drilling licences has dropped by 40 per cent, plans are being scaled back, and rigs are being pulled out of the field. With relatively short lead times from planning to production, analysts are cutting their expectations of supply growth for next year. As Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi predicted two weeks ago, the market is beginning to "stabilize itself."

But it will take a while for the Saudi strategy to play out. American producers are still expected to continue to boost production through the first half of next year, although at a slower rate than 2014. Meanwhile, global demand growth is slowing. That will keep pressure on prices at least through the first half of 2015, unless OPEC does cut production or there is a sharp supply disruption caused by political upheaval.

Companies adjust

On Friday, the International Energy Agency shaved its forecast for 2015 demand by 230,000 barrels a day - the fourth time in five months that it has reduced its forecast - citing economic weakness in Russia and China. The Paris-based agency also raised its expectation for non-OPEC oil production in 2015, despite lower prices.

Oil companies are seeing their revenues nosedive, share prices sink, and capital market players grow wary about lending. Stateowned companies are facing pressure to maintain the flow of revenue to government coffers even as their cash flow dries up. Capital discipline had been the mantra among major oil companies heading into 2014; retrenchment and focus on high-grade prospects will be the watch words as the year ends.

Even as U.S. producers respond, companies operating in high-cost, capital-intensive areas like Canada's oil sands or Brazil's offshore will defer and even cancel planned projects, although the impact on actual production will take longer to materialize.

It's too early to call "mission accomplished" for the Saudis. The OPEC leader is playing a long game in order to preserve its oil market share by making life difficult for the high-cost oil producers, and its strategy is showing early signs of success.

The quick reaction time by some of the high-cost producers, notably the American shale oil drillers, is why one of the world's foremost oilmen, Sadad Al-Husseini, the former executive vice-president of Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest oil and gas company, is becoming bullish on oil even as Brent prices sink to the low $60s.

"If you go down low enough, as we are now, you'll get to the point where there is little investment, which is what we're going through," he said in an interview in Al Khobar, the Saudi city filled with Aramco employees in the country's oilrich Eastern Province. "You will force the excess out of the market and demand will take you back up. That is what is about to happen."

'Strength of the profit motive'

Mr. Al-Husseini, 67, worked at Aramco until his retirement in 2004 and was a member of its board and its management committee. During his Aramco career, he was instrumental in making 20 discoveries, including vast gas fields and the central Arabian and Red Sea oil fields. He is now president of Husseini Energy, an oil consultancy based in Bahrain that advises financial institutions and the oil services industry.

He admits he underestimated the "strength of the profit motive" that turned the United States into a shale oil powerhouse. Since 2010, U.S. shale oil production is up by three million barrels a day. But he feels confident that waning investment is already hitting production growth and that prices won't fall much farther as the supply-demand balance tightens up.

"When prices come down 40 per cent, you're not going to keep spending like there is no change," he said. "My guess is that by the end of second quarter of 2015, there will be a returning confidence in oil. Does that mean it will go to $115? No, that was never a sustainable number. Could it go as high as $80, maybe $90? Sure."

Unlike some of their more vulnerable OPEC partners like Venezuela and Nigeria, the Saudis can afford to be patient and wait for the market to recalibrate. But it too faces fiscal pressure as it spends heavily to diversify its economy and provide social benefits to a young population. The International Monetary Fund estimated early this year that Saudi Arabia needed an oil price of $89 (U.S.) a barrel to keep its budget out of the red, up from $80 in 2012.

U.S. shale oil is generally far more expensive to produce than Saudi oil, which has the lowest pumping costs in the world. Shale oil wells deplete rapidly, meaning a lot of them have to be drilled constantly to keep production intact.

The upshot? Shale oil output is much more sensitive to falling prices than Saudi oil, and the market is beginning to work its magic. Although the U.S. rig count remains well above the level of a year ago, it saw its biggest drop in two years this week and has declined in six of the past nine weeks. And it's expected to drop sharply next year.

Estimates of break-even costs for new production in the three key shale basins - the Bakken, Eagle Ford and Permian - range from $60 to $70 a barrel. But there is wide discrepancy in the actual break-even costs for each well, and companies will focus spending on their best prospects.

"Balance sheets are going to force discipline," said David Pursell, an analyst at Tudor Pickering & Holt Co. in Houston.

"When we look at basin economics, there's just a handful of core areas that make economic sense to continue to drill at even $70 crude... Companies will drop rig count very quick to stay within cash flow so they don't see their balance sheets unravel. And they can unravel very quickly if they maintain the current activity level into 2015 at a much lower oil price."

Most vulnerable are the smaller exploration and production (E&P) companies that have taken on debt as their spending outpaced their cash flow, and Mr. Pursell said the high-yield debt market on which they rely is already showing signs of nervousness. Companies like Range Resources Corp. and SandRidge Energy fall into that category.

The Tudor analyst sees the rig count dropping by nearly a third from the recent 1,600, but said it will still take several quarters before production growth slows.

He predicts U.S. production will rise by 592,000 barrels a day next year and 226,000 in 2016, after growing by nearly one million barrels a day this year.

In a release Friday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration also indicated it will take time for the impact of lower prices to be felt in the supply picture. The EIA forecast that U.S. production will average 9.3 million barrels a day in 2015 - up from 8.6 million in 2014 and closing in on Saudi's estimated 9.60 million daily output.

A market decision

Mr. AL-Husseini is no fan of the theories that the decision by OPEC (read: Saudi Arabia) not to trim the cartel's 30-million- barrel-a-day production quota at its November meeting in Vienna was a political act of war aimed at punishing Russia and Iran for their support of the al-Assad regime in Syria or aimed solely at choking off U.S. shale production.

He said it was a market decision designed to trim high-cost production wherever it lies, including Brazil's offshore fields and Canada's oil sands, to end the oil glut. An OPEC production cut would have only propped up prices, he noted, "subsidizing the high-cost oil at the expense of low-cost oil," the latter being Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies such as Qatar.

Among the high-cost producers, there is no doubt that U.S. shale oil would be quickest to trim investment and thus output. Mr. Al-Husseini said that, even if oil prices were to remain fairly strong, the shale industry's ability to deliver ever-higher production would not be assured. That's because shale wells are short-lived creatures.

His research says that shale oil (and natural gas) wells decline at a rate of 50 to 70 per cent a year, "requiring intense capacity replacement drilling."

That means shale fields require more and more drilling to maintain production and that gets expensive. At the huge Eagle Ford shale field in southern Texas, some 4,500 new wells will have been drilled in 2014, of which 3,800 are required just to maintain production.

One major test for producers will be the degree to which they can squeeze costs out of the supply chain, thereby lowering their break-even price.

U.S. shale producers say they are doing just that. Houstonbased EOG Resources Inc. has slashed the average well cost in North Dakota's Bakken play to $8.7-million from $10.5-million two years ago. In the Eagle Ford, it reduced the number of days to drill a well to 12.5 from 22.7 in 2012.

Pioneer Natural Resources Co. said last week that it was still planning to pursue production growth of between 16 and 21 per cent next year, with its key assets in the West Texas Permian basin. Pioneer chief executive officer Scott Sheffield said the Saudis had "declared war on the U.S. oil and gas industry," and the company is responding by driving down costs and reevaluating its drilling program. He acknowledged that a sustained period of prices below $60 a barrel could force further cuts.

The oil sands challenge

But high-cost producers across the globe are facing similar challenges.

London-based oil economist Amrita Sen said Canada's oil sands remains the world's highest-cost production in terms of new projects, with the U.S. shale and the offshore in Mexico and Brazil not far behind.

Existing oil sands operations aren't likely to be cut off any time soon. Analysts say currently producing projects have average per-barrel costs in the mid-$50s to mid-$60s, depending on the type of operation. "The advantage that oil sand producers have over, for example tight oil producers, is that they typically invest for the longer term as they rely on a steady stream of production over an extended period of time, making them less susceptible to temporary price fluctuations," Ms. Sen said in a report this week.

Cenovus, for example, is slowing spending on longer-term projects that are still in early development stage, including Narrows Lake, Telephone Lake and Grand Rapids, while it continues to advance its Foster Creek and Christina Lake projects that are closer to completion. Under that capital plan, its production won't be affected by today's lower price until five years from now.

The same is true for most deep-water offshore fields, where companies may defer exploration or delay sanctioning new projects, but are unlikely to reverse course on those that are under development. Still, lower revenues will force an industrywide cutback on activity.

Ms. Sen said the seeds of another cycle are now being planted. The current drop in prices will lead to lower-than-expected production in a few years, even as consumers increase consumption. U.S. gasoline demand is climbing at a rate well above its recent five-year average. And that classic supply-demand response could trigger a snap-back in prices in two or three years.

At the moment, though, "it's hard to say anybody that relies on oil prices wins when prices are below $60 instead of $100 plus," said R.J. Dukes, senior analyst with the Wood Mackenzie consultancy.

The oil slump is giving Canadians a long-awaited break at the pump, but is a worry for the country's energy future. Since new oil sands projects are expected to have per-barrel costs of $80 or higher, they may no longer make sense, and the country may need to look to other sectors for new economic drivers.

Associated Graphic

A Saudi takes in the view from a dune looking over the Shaybah Gas Oil Separation Plant, a major gas and oil production facility located in the empty quarter desert.

BARRY IVERSON PHOTOGRAPHY/NEWSCOM

MICHAEL ENGLER/BILDERBERG

Sadad Al-Husseini: 'If you go down low enough ... you'll get to the point where there is little investment.'

ERIC REGULY

A ground flare burns gas at a well near Ray, N.D.

JIM WILSON/NYT

The Khurais oil field, about 160 from Riyadh.

REUTERS

Williston, N.D.

GREGORY BULL/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Oil from the Bakken shale field at a shipping depot near New Town, N.D.

JIM WILSON/NYT

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL SOURCES: U.S. TRUST, BOA PRIVATE WEALTH MGMT.; BLOOMBERG

Toronto's best new restaurants of 2014
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By CHRIS NUTTALL-SMITH
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M6


cnuttallsmith@globeandmail.com

Hummus was transformed from a deli-aisle afterthought to a bona-fide, and yes, even decadent restaurant dish this year. "Middleterranean" became the most dominant dining trend of 2014, with nearly enough tahini, pomegranate, sumac and za'atar around town to rival the great Spanish and ramen crazes of 2013.

You could hardly go out in the past 12 months without being offered a barrel-aged negroni or wine on tap, while roasted cauliflower entered its second year as the single-most overused (and granted: pretty delicious) vegetable dish in town. And drinking water finally lost its hard-earned status as restaurant going's most pernicious bill-padder, to be replaced by olives and bread, and the once-humble oyster on the halfshell. Of course we'll have some oysters, you'd answer as you were seated; "market price" you'd later realize, is menu-speak for $3.50 apiece.

The level of cooking and the range of cuisines around Toronto continued their upward climb; the city got its first unequivocally excellent Indonesian restaurant this year, as well as a brilliant backwoods Southern Italian snack spot, while weird but tasty (and totally Toronto) hybrids such as ChineseJamaican and Cantonese-Jewish also took off. The price of real estate became the most challenging issue for many restaurateurs; rents on prime downtown strips such as King West have more than doubled in the past two years. The Grove, Yours Truly and Ursa - respected restaurants, all of them - closed, not even waiting until after the holiday rush, and a few fading downtown giants look close to toppling any day.

But the best news for diners was how many talented chefs and front-of-house types were still eager to test their ideas on a voracious city; even as I was nailing down the contenders for this year's best list, the openings kept on accelerating, with new spots from the partners behind Bar Isabel, Buca and Oddseoul either just opened or about to, and highly promising launches from a few of the most interesting culinary talents in town. (I'll be getting to them, soon.)

These are my picks for the best new restaurants of 2014.

No. 10 King Place

It is not by any means a classy restaurant. Most of the trade here is brisk and takeout, conveyed in Styrofoam containers. King Place's gregarious chef and owner ("Mr. Butt," the regulars call him; Mr. Butt chuckles whenever he says this) keeps a bank of gleaming white microwaves behind the counter for customers who opt to eat in. Even the name is problematic: it's a direct rip-off of arch-rival King Palace, up on Church Street. If you can look past all that though - and really, you ought to - the cooking is something special. King Place serves the most richly nuanced, precisely flavoured, gloriously delicious Pakistani cooking I've had around the GTA. Get the pakora curry - that's spinach and chickpea dumplings in tangy yogurt gravy - and the wobblytextured beef nihari that thrums with deliciously sour-bitter-savoury-spicy tension. The chana masala and the okra are masterpieces of seasoning and precision; the beef and lentil puree called halleem, meantime, is one of the most genius cold-weather dishes I've found. It comes buried in fresh ginger, coriander and a warming floe of fiery red oil - breathtaking when scooped up with the kitchen's fluffy naan. 236 Sherbourne St. (at Dundas Street East) ,647-352-0786

No. 9 Kwan Dim Sum + Chinese Cuisine

While Susur Lee's dull dim sum vanity project sucked up most of the attention this year, this elegant new tea house at Yonge and St. Clair quietly showed the way to do Cantonese cooking right. Dinner service, run by the former Lai Wah Heen chef Ronnie Lam, reaches an all-too-rare level of refinement; classics such as two-course Peking duck and e-fu noodles with crab are exemplary, the flavours sharp and textures laser-focused. The daily dim sum, meantime, isn't as rococo as you'll find in the finest banquet halls farther north, and that's a good thing. Kwan does tasty, well-made, inexpensive little dishes: light-as-lace char siu pastries, superb egg tarts, very good dumplings and turnip cakes and sublime red bean and custard-filled dough balls to finish, shaped like bumblebees and porcupines. 1496 Yonge St. (at St. Clair Avenue West), 416-901-6618, kwandimsum.ca

No. 6 DaiLo

The chef Nick Liu spent an eternity trying to build this fun, cheeky, Cantonese-inflected restaurant. The city should be thankful he got it done. The room, expertly run by front-of-house pro Anton Potvin, is done up with hand-painted Chinoiserie landscapes on bare plaster walls, and globe lights inked with angry red dragons; it's the most beautiful new restaurant space this year. The new-Asian cooking, meanwhile, is some of the freshest and most original around town - this providing you catch Mr. Liu's kitchen at the peak of its form. I fell hard one night when dinner came in a blur of smart and breathtakingly tasty dishes: smoked trout and satay sauce wrapped in betel leaves; red-braised pork and octopus on jicama; a whipsaw fresh and savoury pomelo and fried pork salad. Another time I was less impressed; consistency is always the hardest thing. The Big Mac bao, made with 90-day, dry-aged beef, is a stroke of genius, though; if you prefer your steak less processed, order it straight-up, alongside the fried rice dish that arrives under an avalanche of truffles. It's one of the more baller steak spreads I've tried. (Mr. Potvin has built a wine geek's dream of a list for pairing.) For dessert, there's coconut cream cake made with the cheese-like byproduct of sake brewing; it's a strange, sweet epiphany in five perilously easy bites. 503 College St. (at Palmerston Boulevard), 647-341-8882, dailoto.com

No. 5 Byblos

Hanif Harji and Charles Khabouth's comfortable new restaurant gathers the spice market flavours of the Middle East and North Africa into a single kitchen, and polishes them with verve and deftness into unforgettably delicious plates. You should start with the soft-roasted beets that come sprinkled with fennel pollen and pistachios, set over swoon-inducing house-made labneh. Have the kibbeh - spiced, datestudded duck nuggets, fried to the colour of weathered bronze - and the fig salad, and the hand-rolled couscous, and the wood-oven baked flatbreads that Persians call barbari. Have the grilled Cornish hen and the deep-fried eggplant, too. Byblos is set over two levels, bright and cheery downstairs, a little more clubby upstairs; it's the only restaurant I've ever seen Bay Street types glugging nebbiolo next to Rosedale househusbands, next to tables of young, Arak-quaffing Turkish men, next to women wearing head scarves. Desserts are just one of executive chef Stuart Cameron's strengths (he also runs last year's No.2 pick, Patria; the guy is an all-star). Watch for the hand-pulled Persian candy floss, among the coolest things I ate in 2014. 11 Duncan St. (at King Street West), 647-660-0909, byblostoronto.com

No. 2 Yasu

I can't say for certain whether Yasuhisa Ouchi is the best sushi chef in Toronto - beyond a certain level of skill and fanaticism with fish and rice the differences between sushi masters diminish rapidly. But the Osaka-raised itamae's serene, 11-seat space on Harbord Street is without question the finest sushi counter in the city, if not in all of Canada. Mr. Ouchi's trick, if you can call it that, is focus. He serves no more than 22 people most days, and the only thing he makes is traditional, Edo-style sushi: just-warm, vinegar-seasoned rice draped with the best seafood available, prepared to order in front of his customers, and served one single, sensational bite at a time. The last time I ate at Yasu, a slice of crisp, fall-apple-fresh amberjack gave way to sweet, creamy South Carolina grouper, to a smooth, opalescent scallop dusted with floral green yuzu shavings, to a sublime little sardine that blew up everything I thought I knew about oily fish. There was horse mackerel, urchin and milky-briny East Coast shrimp, 20-odd pieces altogether for $80, a steal by any standard. It takes just two or three courses to fall under the spell of all those tastes and textures. Mr. Ouchi has turned uncompromising focus into art. 81 Harbord St. (at Spadina Avenue), 416-477-2361, yasu-sushibar.com

No. 8 Sea Witch Fish & Chips

Keep your fancy, modern fish and chips shops - I'll take the grease-caked dive with beef drippings in the deep fryer over the soulless canola oil progressives every time. Sea Witch opened on St. Clair West this summer; it is bright and clean and familyfriendly, a model modern fish and chips shop that just happens to fill its bank of fryers with boiling beef fat. Sea Witch's fish comes out of those fryers moist and substantial, locked in a crunchy, bubbly crust that's nearly as dark and intoxicating as a pint of Newcastle stout. (Sadly, the room isn't licensed.) Though it may be new, the place is one of the last of a breed: a properly English chippy that makes fish and chips the way good taste and decency and a century of working-class history intended them. To my mind, that's the most progressive thing of all. 636 St. Clair Ave. W. (at Wychwood Avenue), 647349-4824,seawitchfc.com.

No. 7 Los Colibris

Elia Herrera had established her reputation as a top city pastry chef when the backers of a new, spareno-effort Mexican spot in the theatre district came calling. Until that point, though, the Cordoba-raised chef never had to run an entire restaurant - to bang out 200 or 250 full dinners in a night. Seven months after Los Colibris's debut, Ms. Herrera has obliterated any doubts about her abilities; it's the first upmarket Mexican place I've been in Canada with polished service and genuinely uncompromising cooking, executed with love and craft and finesse. (Every bit as praiseworthy: Ms. Herrera's kitchen is majority female, no small accomplishment in such a bro-dominated industry.) Her chiles en nogada is a go-to dish: a fat, fried poblano pepper stuffed with meat, fruit and spices and napped with pomegranate and walnut sauce. The torta de elote - corn cake with beef brisket - is another stunner, along with the soulful chicken and masa dumpling stew called tesmole de pollo. There's Mexican craft beer and a good wine selection; everything about this place is designed to appeal across tastes and ages. And don't forget that no matter how superb Ms. Herrera and her kitchen's savoury cooking is, she's a pastry chef by training. Under no circumstances should you skip dessert. 220 King St. W. (at Simcoe Street), 416-979-7717, loscolibris.ca

No. 4 Little Sister

The kitchen at this groundbreaking Dutch-Indonesian spot takes a strange approach to Southeast Asian punch and spice, at least by city standards. Rather than tone down the Indonesian archipelago's exhilarating hots and layered sweets and dusky, warm-spice depths, they cook with love-it-or-leave it confidence. A dish as seemingly predictable as ground chicken satays builds up at Little Sister from softly floral galangal, turmeric and lime leaf to flame-charred sweet and meatiness to puckery, citrus and coconut highs; all for the price of a $6 starter. The flavours only become more complex as you work down the menu: the fried beef croquettes that are hitched with cloves; the smoky, wok-frazzled nasi goreng; the Arctic char in beguiling lime broth; the strange, but indecently tasty tacos filled with rendang beef. The best way to eat here is with a group of four or six, and to order the entire menu. A meal at Little Sister is the rare restaurant experience that engages every one of your senses. I've never left feeling less than delirious with gratitude and joy. 2031 Yonge St. (at Glebe Road East), 416-488-2031, littlesistertoronto.com

No. 3 Bar Buca

The proper thing to do in an Italian aperitivo bar is to down a nice vermouth and eat some snacks (but not too many) and flirt, egregiously, with the counter staff before moving on to a real restaurant for dinner. Nobody abides by that at Bar Buca; the menu at this rampacked, no-reservations spot from chef Rob Gentile and the gang behind King Street's burgeoning Buca empire is too extraordinary to abandon for a regular dinner some place else. It's drinking food from the rural Southern Italian vernacular, a lot of it: fire-grilled fennel sausage on smoked polenta; skewers of roasted ewe's meat drenched in lemon juice; Calabrese-style crostini topped with drifts of burrata cheese and fermented smelts; the most exquisite cow's stomach sandwich (it's cow's fourth stomach, to be specific) you're likely to ever eat. If your tastes run more straight-ahead, the gran fritto misto platter brings two tiers of fried and battered awesomeness (and none of the funny business), with frothy lemon zabaglione. Even the usual stuff - meatballs, say, and coffee (you can get your espresso topped with steamed water buffalo milk), and the Sicilian cannoli, from pastry chef Cora James - reaches an unmatched level of deliciousness here. Bravissimo, Bar Buca. It's an aperitivo bar you'll never want to leave. 75 Portland St. (at King Street West), 416-599-2822, buca.ca/bar

No. 1 Fat Pasha

You can't help but love a restaurant that feels more like the world's most welcoming kitchen party than a place of business. In summer, the wide, leafy patio out back heaves with young and old sipping fig liquor and the house vermouth made from Manischewitz, talking between tables and sharing dishes as if they've always known each other. In winter the little indoors space is loud and warm and packed in close, the service effortlessly generous. "Everything on the menu is large and in charge," a waiter told a table of chortling newbies one evening. The menu - chef Anthony Rose likes to call it "tasty Jew food" - plays sturdy, schmaltz- and caraway-laden European Jewish staples against fresh, vegetable-focused Israeli ones. For every (relatively) lighter dish, such as Fat Pasha's supernally creamy hummus topped with apricot conserve and confited duck, or the spectacular array of chopped, pickled, garlic-poached and tahini-bathed vegetables that goes by the name salatim, there is another, like the can'tmiss tableside chopped liver service (it involves a pitcher of rendered chicken fat), that seems designed to stop hearts before anyone's even tasted it. In between, there are latkes with pastrami-cured salmon, an exceptional, long-braised lamb dish, superb grilled fish and the tastiest cauliflower course (it's a whole head, buried in pine nuts, pomegranate, tahini and roasted halloumi) in town. What always stays with me, though, beyond Fat Pasha's excellent cooking, is its unshakeable spirit of fun and exuberance. One of the best desserts here is a Nutella babka smothered with shaved halva and maple syrup. It's a ridiculous idea: northern Italian, Canadian, Israeli and European Jewish all at once. It is also the most wonderfully only-in-Toronto thing I ate all year. 414 Dupont St. (at Bathurst Street), 647-342-0356, fatpasha.com

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND
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Jason Collett's Basement Revue, the intimate annual series combining literature and music, is about to stage its most ambitious incarnation yet on its biggest stage ever. Can a cult curiosity become a mainstream hit?
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By MARK MEDLEY
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R1


The Dakota Tavern, a subterranean, country-themed bar in Toronto's west end, has been sold out for days. This might strike some as strange considering most of the 130-odd people in the joint, who've each paid $25 a ticket, have no idea what they're about to see. It's a brisk Tuesday night in early December, though those who haven't glanced at a calendar lately would know the month by the festive lights strung over the bar, the garlands and red stockings hanging at the back of the stage, the small Christmas trees atop the upright piano, and the bulky winter jackets draped across the backs of chairs and shrouding bar stools. Nashville by way of the North Pole. Even the steer skulls look festive.

A few minutes past 9:30 p.m., Jason Collett, a red Gibson J-45 in hand, steps onstage.

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen," he says. "Welcome to the seventh annual Basement Revue."

It's actually the eighth edition, but no matter. Jason Collett's Basement Revue, taking place every Tuesday this month, has evolved into one of Toronto's most celebrated artistic forums - a now-biannual series of concerts defined, says Collett, by "a literary element and a complete rockand-roll sensibility." On the first night of this year's run, Collett kicks things off with a short set of acoustic tunes, then introduces Montreal writer Jacob Wren, who reads a passage from his novel Polyamorous Love Song, concerning an experimental filmmaker.

Over the course of an often raucous two-and-a-half hours, upstart Hamilton folk-rock outfit Harlan Pepper, novelist and playwright Claudia Dey, veteran rocker Tom Wilson, poet Aisha Sasha John, sibling electro-pop duo Brave Shores and beloved Maritime singer-songwriter Al Tuck - one of Collett's personal favourites - all grace the stage.

"It's like an advent calendar," John says of the Revue. "It's like, I don't know what's going to be in there, but I know it's going to be good."

Others know it, too. What was originally envisioned as a one-off residency has become one of the most sought-after tickets in town and a holiday tradition like The Nutcracker and eggnog.

Part variety show, part vaudeville theatre, part improv act and part poetry slam, the Basement Revue is a cross-disciplinary carnival where anything can happen, and often does. The list of past participants reads like a who's who of CanRock and CanLit, from Stars and Broken Social Scene to Sheila Heti and Vincent Lam. A couple of years ago, Michael Ondaatje performed with Feist; last year, Margaret Atwood took the stage with country-rock quartet The Sadies. Collett's guiding philosophy is simple: "I think it's a beautiful thing to sit in a room full of people and go to the same place together."

This year, due to circumstances beyond their control, the Revue will attempt to fill the largest room in its history for a "starstudded" charity event to raise awareness for missing and murdered aboriginal women, which will also serve as the launch of a significant new anthology featuring many of the country's finest writers. It is the most ambitious - and important - show in the Revue's history. "We've never done anything quite like this before," Collett says.

In an unprecedented move, organizers have also decided to reveal the performers ahead of time. There's a chance it might backfire. The Revue has earned its reputation thanks in large part to an intimate venue and the element of surprise. Can it transcend its reputation and become something greater? Collett isn't sure.

"Part of the point," he says, "is to just take some chances."

It's a Monday morning in midNovember, a little more than two weeks before the season's first show, and Collett, a veteran singer-songwriter and habitual member of Broken Social Scene, is sitting at a table in the Drake Hotel nursing a coffee. Beside him is Damian Rogers, the poet and editor who curates the literary half of the revue's programming. Leafing through her notebook, she rattles off a list of potential readers she's tempted to invite. "Just ask them all," Collett says.

Although tickets are on sale, the events are not fully booked. "We're still trying to figure out who we're going to plug in," Rogers says. "Some of it feels like it happens last-minute."

In addition to the weekly Revue, Rogers and Collett have organized an annual "big show" since 2012, which also takes place in December. It was here, during planning sessions that sometimes stretched on for hours, that they first discussed the possibility of using this year's larger show to raise awareness of missing First Nations women. "It was a bit of a hurdle to figure out how appropriate it was so curate that kind of thing," Collett admits.

A solution came in the form of Joseph Boyden, whom they'd invited to last year's Revue. He wasn't able to attend, but he agreed to co-curate the Dec. 18 Revue, which was scheduled to take place at Adelaide Hall, along with Juno Award-winning electronic trio A Tribe Called Red.

"All of us were just like, 'Oh my God, it's obvious what we have to do,' " Boyden recalls. "And it wasn't about even trying to make any kind of statement. With Rinelle Harper - that was what set me off. Tina Fontaine and then Rinelle Harper, back-to-back."

Plans for the show were well under way when Harper, a 16-yearold aboriginal girl, was sexually assaulted and left for dead on the banks of the Assiniboine River in Winnipeg last month. Coming three months after the murder of 15-year-old Fontaine, Boyden says he was compelled to use the show to address what he calls "a horror story" and "one of the most pressing issues in this country."

"Our country is only as good as how we treat our most vulnerable," he says. "And we're not treating our most vulnerable in a very good way."

In late November, Boyden wrote an e-mail to his friends and fellow writers.

"The murder of Tina Fontaine and the attempted murder of Rinelle Harper is obviously devastating," it read. "There's an ongoing crisis in our country, and yet our current government refuses to act, saying that this is a criminal issue, not a sociological one. Yes, it's certainly criminal, but it's far more than that. As artists, I think it's time we take responsibility and do what we can."

He asked those receiving the e-mail to consider donating a piece of unpublished writing - "it can be a few sentences, a poem, a piece of non-fiction, a chapter from a novel you're currently working on, basically anything you wish to share." He had no idea who, or how many people, would respond.

On Thursday, at the Basement Revue, Boyden will launch Kwe: Standing With Our Sisters, an anthology featuring the work of more than 50 writers, musicians, artists and activists. ("Kwe" is Anishinaabe for "woman" or "lifegiver," explains Boyden.) Contributors include Ondaatje, Atwood, Thomas King, Sherman Alexie, Gord Downie, Michael Crummey and Tanya Tagaq Gillis. The 100page book is published by Penguin Canada, which covered the entire cost of production. A limited number of print editions will sell for $10, while a digital version, available from all major online retailers beginning Dec. 16, will cost $2.99. All proceeds will be donated to Amnesty International's No More Stolen Sisters project.

"This anthology came from my absolute sadness, shock, anger and horror that this is going on and nobody's really speaking about it," Boyden says. The fact so many people responded to his call, he says, "gives me great confidence and faith in where we're going as a nation."

Everything was set. The artists were booked, the anthology was in production and tickets were on sale. And then, on Dec. 4, Collett received an e-mail informing him that, due to a fire, they could no longer hold the Dec. 18 show at Adelaide Hall. They had exactly two weeks to find a new venue.

They could either downsize to a smaller site, cutting into ticket sales, or risk moving the show to a larger room. "This late in the game, in this season, there's no lateral move to a comparablesized venue - everything's booked," explains Collett, who says he never considered cancelling or postponing the event.

Instead, they booked the Opera House, on the city's east side, which, with a capacity of 850, is 25per-cent larger than Adelaide Hall.

"I think it keeps us on our toes to keep raising the bar," Rogers says. "Although this particular bar, we didn't really raise it quite this high by choice."

They also made the unusual decision to announce the lineup, which includes singer Jennifer Castle, authors Naomi Klein and Lee Maracle, and visual artist Shary Boyle, but in keeping with tradition, they have a number of surprise guests waiting in the wings. The proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to a local organization, No More Silence.

"It was something that really struck a chord with me," says Leanne Simpson, a Peterboroughbased poet who will be performing at the event. "As an indigenous woman, and artist, and academic, and activist who's worked on this issue, I was really excited to see them taking this initiative. Because I think it's really important that the conversation around gender violence, and colonialism, and the 1,200 missing and murdered indigenous women and girls that we have in Canada right now, continues. And I think an artistic response on the scale of this one is a really important contributor to the conversation."

Boyden, speaking on the phone from Paris, is audibly upset when discussion turns to the topic of the murdered and missing women. But, he says, he doesn't want Thursday night's event to be a sombre affair.

"I want people to walk away with an incredible and powerful experience of hope."

Collett, from time to time, thinks about bringing the Revue to an end. What usually happens is, like this year, it winds up growing even larger.

During Tuesday's show earlier this week, Collett doesn't look like a man who's in a hurry for it to end. For much of the night he sits on the edge of the stage, his chin in his hand, a beer at his side, eyes fixed on the performers. There are readings by poets Susan Holbrook and Linda Besner, as well as appearances by The New Mendicants, BSS-fixture Brendan Canning, Kevin Hearn of the Barenaked Ladies and songwriter Doug Paisley, who embraces the spirit of the Revue by also reading passages from the biographies of artist William Kurelek and singer Stompin' Tom Connors. "This is as close as a musician can get to anything literary," he says.

At the end of the night, before the bar empties out onto Ossington Avenue, Collett returns to the stage to introduce a final surprise performer (it turns out to be Hayden). Collett carries a black notebook with him, in which he writes introductions for all performers.

He opens the book, then pauses a moment. I can feel the audience waiting, wondering.

He knows it, too. He smiles, looking like a man about to tell his friends the best secret in the world.

THE ENDURING MYSTERY OF THE BASEMENT REVUE

Jason Collett launched the Basement Revue in 2007. He was two years removed from the release of his third album, Idols of Exile, had written a handful of new songs, and was anxious to test them out. On a whim, he booked a residency at the newly opened Dakota Tavern, which has since become the unofficial headquarters of Toronto's music scene.

"I had no intention of making this an annual thing," says Collett, who also organized a songwriter-focused showcase called Radio Mondays in the early aughts, a series that could be considered the spiritual predecessor of the Basement Revue.

Not only has it become "an annual thing," but Collett and Damian Rogers (who replaced original literary curator Kevin Connolly) now also organize a springtime version of the Revue during Luminato, a Toronto arts and culture festival.

The composition of the performances has changed over the years in a trial-and-error attempt to find the ideal lineup; there was a time, for instance, when comedians took part. The Revue is now split between writers and musicians, though it's obvious the writers are playing the literary equivalent of an away game.

"I'm putting people in front of an audience which, for the most part, has never heard of their work," Rogers says. "As much as I'm thinking about the audience, I'm also thinking about the writer. I don't ever want it to be a bummer for somebody, to feel like they weren't being listened to."

That rarely happens. Rogers and Collett are proud of the audience they've cultivated over the years, which, although likely more familiar with the musicians, is respectful of the writers. It helps that the Revue has always taken place at the cosy Dakota, which helps foster the feeling that ticket-holders are witnessing something special.

"This is an extension of a dinner party, and we're always trying to retain that intimacy," Collett says. "You've got your friends over, and it's late at night, and, inevitably, the guitars come out and stories are told."

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Jason Collett, pictured at top stage-side at The Dakota Tavern, has been hosting the month-long multidisciplinary residency for nearly a decade.

PHOTOS BY DARREN CALABRESE FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Toronto's Dakota Tavern plays host to Collett's variety series with its signature grit and warmth.

PHOTOS BY DARREN CALABRESE FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Singer-songwriter Doug Paisley breaks from playing to read an excerpt from Stompin' Tom Connors's book Before The Fame during this week's Revue.

Singer-songwriter Hayden, who unveiled new material during his set, packs up his gear as Broken Social Scene's Brendan Canning plays the piano following their performances at the Revue on Tuesday.

Author Claudia Dey takes the stage to perform a reading during the Revue on Dec. 2.

NOT FADE AWAY
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It feels as though the conversation around sexual violence has reached a tipping point - but these moments have a tendency to slip through our fingers, erased from our collective memory. If we want to ensure today's teenagers aren't confronting the same issues years from now, Erin Anderssen writes, we need to commit to solutions
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By ERIN ANDERSSEN
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Friday, December 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1


There are moments in time when an issue rumbling under the surface makes a leap into the national consciousness. For sexual assault and consent, it started on campus, with misogynistic chants and concerns about how universities were dealing with sexual violence. Former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi went from interviewing people about rape culture on his show, Q, to becoming the centre of a scandal that led to vile accusations and criminal charges against the public broadcaster's most famous celebrity. In the nation's capital, after two Liberal MPs were suspended from their party following allegations of harassment, there was much parsing of details among the political class, and whether handing over a condom, as one of the women involved described, constituted consent.

This was also the year that Bill Cosby's Pudding Pop reputation was forever crushed by multiple sexual-assault allegations. U.S. President Barack Obama challenged schools to handle the issue better. Rolling Stone's botched story about a rape at the University of Virginia became a call to action, even as the facts fell apart. As points go, this one tipped from every angle.

As more victims came forward, and #yesallwomen roared at #notallmen on Twitter, finding solutions for the problem of sexual violence against women took on new urgency. Universities began reviewing their policies - and many discovered they didn't have any. Politicians fielded regular questions about harassment. Not since Canada amended its sexual-assault law in the early 1980s had a debate about consent - no means no? yes means yes? - made so many headlines.

So, now what? Now that we have nearly exhausted every variation of who-did-what-and-when, and whocame-forward-and-why, what happens next? The charges have been laid, the internal investigations are under way, the committees struck. The question left is whether we'll waste this moment, leaving the teenagers today to have the same conversation decades from now. It's time to talk about solutions - in the courts, on the Internet and in our schools.

IT SHOULD START IN THE CLASSROOM

While many universities are stepping up with consent training - either in workshops for first-year students, poster campaigns, or special sessions for frosh leaders - it needs to happen much earlier.

For one thing, not every teenager goes to college.

Teenagers are also increasingly exposed to pornography - a script for sex that hardly fosters consent conversation. (In a 2014 Canadian study, 40 per cent of boys between Grade 7 and 11 reported looking for it online - 88 per cent admitted doing so more than once a month.) They are witness to a sex-obsessed pop culture that dances to Blurred Lines. They sext before they drive. And by age 19, 43 per cent of Canadian youth report having had at least one sexual partner.

And yet, we water down "the talk," by delivering inconsistent and narrow messages in our sex-ed programs, until our children are practically adults. In most provinces, sex ed begins with health class in elementary school, but it varies depending on the teacher, and in high school it's often criticized for focusing too much on biology and pregnancy, and too little on relationships.

In most classrooms, the sex-ed curriculum predates social media. Official resources aren't much better, leaving advocacy groups to provide material that fills in the gaps. A search of the most recent Canadian sexual health-education guidelines published by the Public Health Agency of Canada does not produce a single mention of the word "consent," although it does reference teaching victims of sexual assault how to access support. While the document mentions the role of media in influencing "the timing of sexual behaviour," there's no specific mention of pornography or sexting. A question-and-answer document produced by the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada, which is listed as the first resource on its website, mentions consent only in relation to the legal definition of the age of consent - and pornography only in the same context.

Some provinces are working on it: Ontario Education Minister Liz Sandals is promising "explicit consent" will be introduced into the province's new curriculum, expected to be in place next fall.

In Alberta, a citizen's group has launched a campaign to modernize the curriculum there, including making consent mandatory.

"Kids are subjected to a mass of sexualized images and there needs to be a discussion about confidence and sexual autonomy," says Kim Stanton, legal director of the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund, which offers consent education to willing schools across the country.

"The building blocks need to happen a lot earlier."

Updating sex education is a conversation happening in many countries. A bill introduced in Britain's Parliament last year would make sex education mandatory in all state-funded schools; Prime Minister David Cameron has said students should be taught the "dangers" of Internet porn in the classroom. A similar push to make sex education - including consent - compulsory is under way in New Zealand.

"You don't let students get into a car without teaching them what a stop sign means. So why would you teach sex ed without teaching them what consent means," says Cristina Stasia, a lecturer at the University of Calgary, who is part of the Alberta campaign. "This is an unpopular thing to say: Students are having sex. [Understanding consent] is pretty useful information for kids to have before they go to parties where they are drinking."

Students themselves are also making the case for better education at an earlier age. "What people don't realize is that not having an open conversation about sex leaves an information vacuum," says Cody Kane, a student at McGill University who wrote a recent opinion piece in the campus newspaper arguing for consent education. "If [they're] not getting their information from parents or educators, they'll get it from the Internet, Cosmo magazine, porn - which leads to a really warped perception of sex in real life," he says.

Even though most sexual assaults are perpetrated by acquaintances, Kane says, "I think the vast majority of my peers knew next to nothing about date rape." Yet, there's a big push on bystander training as an important step for prevention, both online and offline, and particularly when alcohol is involved.

That's where sex education has to be comprehensive - if we want students to intervene when they see risky behaviour, we have to teach them what that looks like.

IT CARRIES INTO OUR COURTS

Most sexual-assault victims never take their stories to police. Why would they? According to Canadian statistics from 2012, less than 10 per cent of sexual-assault complaints to police result in convictions. (If the estimated number of assaults that go unreported are included, that number falls to less than 1 per cent.)

Canada's criminal code includes a charge for more serious sexual assault - those cases that involve violence or multiple perpetrators, use of a weapon, or result in bodily harm. But, in 2007, roughly 98 per cent of charges were laid under level one, the least serious category. According to Holly Johnson, a professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa, that was up from 88 per cent in 1983, the same time that Canada's criminal code was changed to remove rape as an offence, and group offences under the more broad definition of sexual assault, as well as limit how the victim's conduct and sexual history could be raised at trial. Despite best intentions, the legal amendments did not improve reporting rates.

Even now, "many women don't report because they are terrified about the court process, and very often advocates at rape crisis centres will say: 'You won't get a conviction,' and they are right," says Johnson. "We need, as a society, to take a hard look at this and see where we are falling down."

For one thing, when even the most serious cases are diverted away from the justice system, it often leaves universities to resolve complicated criminal allegations, with mixed results for the complainant and the accused.

One solution may lie in creating specialization within the court system - one that allows for continuing support for complainants, and expert prosecutors and judges to shepherd cases through trial. In recent Australia state elections, specialized courts were an issue. A pilot project is in the works in London, and New York State has specialized sex-offender courts. South Africa is re-establishing its special courts - a muchpraised system in which both criminal cases and victim support are co-ordinated. In a study of one of South Africa's courts, conviction rates of sexual violence cases rose to more than 50 per cent, compared with a national average as low as 9 per cent.

In Canada, specialized courts already exist for cases related to mental health and addiction, and domestic violence. The first domestic-violence court was created in Winnipeg in 1990, although it has morphed through the years.

The new court started with 14 specialized judges and a team of specialized prosecutors (now numbering 18) to deal with cases on designated days. By 2012, because of a backlog of cases, all provincial court judges began to handle the trials. But Jane Ursel, a sociology professor at the University of Manitoba who has been tracking the process for 24 years, says this change had no effect on the disposition of cases - she suspects because the system had been in place long enough to develop a pool of expert judges and prosecutors.

In addition to more reports coming to police, more cases proceeded to trial, or resulted in guilty pleas. In 1983, seven years before the specialized court existed, the two most common sentences were probation and conditional discharge, and a significant portion of charges were stayed and didn't proceed to trial.

Under the specialized court, Ursel says, "there was a massive change." The most common sentence was two years of probation, requiring court-mandated treatment, and the second most common was incarceration.

Ursel sees the same solution working for sexual-assault cases, given the similarities between the charges. In particular, she suggests a specialized group of prosecutors that can consult as a team, and are also experts to assist lessexperienced prosecutors in smaller jurisdictions, and in other provinces. In the justice system, "serious failures are often the result of a lack of community between the different parts," says Ursel. "If you have specialized units across the country, [everyone] knows where to call."

Creating the special domesticviolence unit, she says, also elevated the status of those kinds of cases, making it a valuable stop in a prosecutor's career. "If you have a really good Crown who prepares a solid case, everybody has to work harder."

WE HAVE TO CHANGE HOW WE LIVE ONLINE

As a society seeking to prevent assaults, technology might make our work easier.

In February, the University of Florida announced a campuswide safety project using an app called Tap Shield. The app, which has since been downloaded about 20,000 times - a number almost half the student population - allows students who find themselves in a dangerous situation to send their GPS location directly to police. The app, which works for students on campus, also allows students to send alerts to friends or family if they don't arrive at a location on time, to map out the safest routes, and to have a notification sent to police if their headphones are forcibly yanked out of their phone. In April, The Orlando Sentinel reported, a female student used the app after a man followed her on campus - he was apprehended by campus police. "The feedback has been incredible," says Cory Yeffet, the student president. "Students feel that extra layer of safety."

Safety apps have become trendy, especially last year after the White House created a contest for developers, called the Apps Against Abuse challenge. One award-winning app, Circle of Six, which allows users to link with six designated friends if they get into trouble, is being piloted at Williams College in Massachusetts.

Other inventions include nail polish and bar glasses that change colour when they come into contact with the date-rape drug.

This new technology, while promising, still relies on the victims to take measures to keep themselves safe, rather than considering the role that society - and the Internet, in particular - plays in making sexual assault permissible. Increasingly, women's groups are arguing for tougher responses to gender harassment and stalking online by law enforcement and by private companies, especially as social media has become central to our professional lives.

"You can't tell people to turn off their computers and that will solve the problem," says Danielle Citron, author of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, published this fall.

"That's a 1995 version of the Internet. Twenty years later it is indispensable to our economic lives."

Citron argues that both police and companies need to respond to harassment and stalking online in the same way as workplace harassment. "The Internet is a force multiplier," she says.

"We become really vicious and we also become our best selves."

Given that the online world is populated by bystanders, it seems that, rather than looking away, or laughing it off, "our best selves" might be the first defence against some of the hate-filled language online. Over the summer, for instance, after the #jadapose - pictures of people posing like a recent victim of a high-school sexual assault - began trending on Twitter, others quickly shut it down, by condemning those posts and supporting the victim.

Experts point out that solutions to prevent violence against women, and many others being proposed or researched, are interconnected. Implementing them requires resources, and most importantly, commitment.

Unfortunately, Citron observes, "We pay attention for five minutes and then we fall asleep." Will that happen this time?

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PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY MATT FRENCH/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

High-school students holding a vigil for sexual-assault victims recently at the University of Virginia.

RYAN M. KELLY/AP

EXTREME DINING
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'I'm gonna push you guys tonight,' the chef said. He kept his word, cajoling guests to eat bizarre combinations of ingredients with a odd assortment of utensils. Was it art? Culinary abuse? Adam Leith Gollner explores the boundaries of good taste
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By ADAM LEITH GOLLNER
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Special to The Globe and Mail
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1


This fall, large posters across Montreal announced a series of food nights providing "Improbable Gastronomic Experiences." These nine experimental dinners, called In The Mouth, were to be held at Phi Centre, a swish new contemporary art space in Old Montreal. No two menus would be the same. Each would recreate dishes based on attendees' childhood memories. These threecourse meals (cost: $75) would be served by a chef with mixed-up taste buds. "Let chef Nuno pimp your palate!" read the hype-line.

According to organizers, Nuno had been diagnosed with dysgeusia - a disorder that distorts the sense of taste. "The cause of his condition is almost stranger than the result," noted the promotional materials. "A growth was found in his brain, but rather than a tumour, it turned out to be a sprouted pea." As a result, for chef Nuno, nothing tastes the way it's supposed to. Cookies taste like beef jerky. Yogurt takes on the flavour of coffee. And now he'd decided to let others taste the world through his mouth.

I decided to investigate. Everyone signing up was asked to fill in a questionnaire about their food preferences and memories as inspiration for the evening. What would result from the mishmash of responses, I wondered.

On the night I attended, the crowd at the Phi Centre was severely fashionable. Elite representatives of the creative class milled through the multiroom gallery drinking cocktails from hollowed-out mini-pumpkins.

Mason jars dangled on strings, labelled with poetic descriptors that didn't match the contents. One marked "Her Lips" contained three strawberry-flavoured Pocky sticks; another, "Broken Heart," was full of dried parsley; "Unfinished Book" consisted of crushed peppercorns.

There were other installations, such as a "pollination chamber" and kokedama-style hanging plants. Some placards explained how a biologist named Dr. Brigitte Hough became "fascinated" with chef Nuno's case.

"The deeper you go," it read, "the more unconventional and intimate their explorations become."

The main act - dinner - hadn't yet begun, but this prepandial exhibit was a reminder that we live in a time when "food artists" such as the American radical caterer Jennifer Rubell are increasingly bringing culinary matters into the art world. The movement isn't brand new: Since the early 1990s, the conceptual artist Rirkrit Tiravanija has gained wide renown for a series of installations in which he cooks and gives out free Thai curry, pad thai or tom kha soup to gallery-goers. (The Museum of Modern Art recreated one such event in 2012.)

As early as the 1960s, people attending a Piero Manzoni installation in Italy ate hard-boiled eggs the artist imprinted with the his thumbprint. But food art may now be coming into its own. Emmanuelle Héroux, curator of In The Mouth, has been keen to highlight food as part of Phi Centre's programming. "Food is something we can all relate to," she told me at the event. "You don't need to know about contemporary art to experience this. Art opens us onto different horizons - and that's what's happening here."

In The Mouth is the brainchild of multidisciplinary artist Nicolas Fonseca, a 37-year-old Montrealer who told me his backstory is "a mix grab-bag experience in film, interactive pieces, installations." He has put together events such as culinary bingo nights and a sugar-shack treasure hunt. His goal with performative food-art projects is for people to "share stories about food and about themselves." Being Portuguese, he said, his earliest food memory is of salted cod, which he hated - he would only eat it smothered in peanut butter, to his mother's distress. "It was half pleasure, half revenge," he noted.

The meal at Phi Centre began with Fonseca and the dysgeusic chef Nuno - a telegenic, ponytailed, thirtysomething bro - inviting the people in attendance to huddle around a 10-metre-long dining table. Given his gustatory condition, Nuno wanted us to know that we'd be tasting things we might not be comfortable with. "I'm gonna push you guys tonight," he said, sounding like a personal trainer. The implication was that we would get a glimpse of what it means to have dysgeusia.

His artistic director added a few ground rules. "Don't ask what you are eating," Fonseca explained. He warned us to let the chefs have lots of access to the table. Chef Nuno chimed in: "We will get you dirty if you're in the way."

Nuno and another gruff, tattooed, bearded chef then proceeded to dump roasted chickens and melons and avocados onto the table, which was covered in myriad kitchen utensils. It felt like Marina Abramovic doing Top Chef Canada. A DJ played retro hits as the chefs Jackson Pollocked a bunch of sauce and crumbled cheese over whole thing.

"What does his 'condition' have to do with making messy food?" I overhead someone ask. It did seem like a stretch that this chisel-cheekboned guy had a pea growing in his brain, but everyone forgot about that as soon as the eating began.

People dove in and began pulling chicken off with their hands, scooping avocado out using whisks, dealing with the melons with whatever other implements they could find, piling everything into tortillas. It was playful, but chaotic. After jostling my way to a chicken carcass, I managed to score what was left of an errant piece of thigh that someone had already disabused of its choicest morsels.

The next course was even more of a jumble, with ice cream sandwiches, baked beans, turkey legs, and much more - all heaped together "artistically." A jumbo box of Froot Loops sat open. Getting into the spirit of things, I tried some with a Brussels sprout. It tasted exactly as you'd imagine. That said, I found myself thrown into a reminiscence of how I used to secretly buy boxes of Froot Loops (banned in my household growing up), and eat them covertly under the sheets while reading back issues of Archie by flashlight.

I was shaken from that reverie by the crowd moving hastily away from the table, as one of the chefs had started splashing beet purée onto the table. Some people who didn't leap away fast enough had it splattered onto their skinny jeans. Getting your clothes stained fuchsia is fine in a mosh pit, but this was a tad GWAR for a fancy dinner at an art gallery.

"It's a lack of manners," the person next to me griped, wiping off their shirt.

"I think the correct term is 'bearded,' " their friend interjected.

At one point, chef Nuno grabbed an oyster on the half shell and gestured for me to come closer. He started heaping random things onto it: a spoonful of vanilla cream, a thick piece of asparagus, some salmon tartare, a bit of seafood gnocchi. It was a huge, ridiculous-looking mouthful.

"Take it!" he commanded, shaking it in my direction.

"No, thank you," I said, smiling awkwardly and waving my pen in front of my face.

"Stop taking notes and eat this," he growled, leaning across the table and pushing the oyster toward me.

"No, no, please, give it to someone else," I offered, making an inviting gesture to others. Nobody moved.

"If you want to still have that notebook of yours when you leave, you better put it down and eat this," the chef said.

"No - really," I stated firmly.

He looked like he was about to jump over the table and start punching me. My girlfriend intervened. "I'll take it," she offered, valiantly.

Nuno huffily instructed everyone to start eating. His emotionality suggested that things had veered off course. The entire point of "relational aesthetics" is that the artwork consists of shared social participation. But there's an important distinction between being offered a free bowl of Thai curry and having a volatile personality force something on you. ("Pimp your palate?") My girlfriend took a teensy nibble and wrinkled her nose.

"Where can I throw it out?" she whispered.

Although the premise was ostensibly about challenging our taste buds, Fonseca and Nuno seemed to have overlooked two key responsibilities when serving food: thoughtfulness and generosity. No matter how dysgeusic a person may be, or what sort of social experiment they're dabbling in, it's no excuse for sloppiness. Food art is usually aimed at getting strangers to interact, and those who do it best (such as Rubell) go to great lengths to ensure the food component is at the highest possible level. Like any top chef, they're keenly aware of how to combine flavours in harmonious ways, and the importance of preparing everything with care. Nuno's ill-conceived ice cream, salmon, asparagus and gnocchi oyster was a long way from that.

At its core, In The Mouth wasn't really about broadening people's taste horizons. Instead, it was playing with our understanding of what is and isn't done in public. Communally, we were participating in a not-entirely-benign performance piece. And the edible portion of the evening was easily trumped by its "unconventional and intimate" spectacle.

This was less about connecting with food in any meaningful way than it was about connecting with others in an unorthodox setting.

The show's purpose became clearer during the third act. The final course consisted entirely of foods people said they'd loved as children. There were mounds of spaghetti sauce next to fried eggs and what looked like clumps of lentils. All these people's fondest food memories were laid across the table like so many messed-up madeleines - including mine: chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and Smarties on top! There it stood, the majestic dessert my mom made for my birthday each year, in the middle of a Rorschach test of other foodstuffs. I grabbed a taste; it was almost as good as I remembered.

There are few things as momentous as having birthdays as a little kid - and to relive that experience in such an unexpected context felt surprisingly wonderful.

"This cake is terrible," my girlfriend, an avid baker, told me.

"No - try it with a Smartie!" I insisted.

"I hate Smarties," she retorted.

"Have a purple one," I continued, unheeding, my eyes glazing over. "Purple Smarties are the best. Everybody knows they're the best."

Another woman came over to try the cake, with a few blue and brown Smarties. Pretty good colour choices, I thought to myself. As she ate it, she closed her eyes and did a happy dance. It was a disorienting feeling: This stranger was tasting my childhood memories - and loving it. Privacy had again been breached, but in a much more nuanced way than the torn-apart chicken meat and the purée splatters.

At that point, chef Nuno's mother gave a heartfelt speech that contained a moral to the performance: "You, too, might one day find yourself confronted with an insurmountable obstacle: Don't see it as the end of something, but rather as a new beginning. Just look at my son."

The crowd cheered. Only it wasn't his real mother, nor was the chef's condition one he really suffered from. Chef Nuno didn't actually have dysgeusia. In fact, he was an actor hired to play a part. The mother, too, was an actor. Nicolas Fonseca, the artistic director, had contrived the entire drama. This detail was not revealed at any point; I only found out when fact-checking with the publicist. Upon learning that chef Nuno wasn't a chef, let alone someone with dysgeusia, I felt even better about refusing his half-baked, all-dressed oyster.

Art is the lie that reveals the truth, sure, but one wonders if the audience's reaction would've differed had they been aware of the extent of the fiction. Fonseca says people realize that it's not supposed to be true: "I think most people guard themselves from wanting to know too much in order to keep playing along ... [to] consciously prolong the suspension of disbelief for their own pleasure."

But what about those with genuine dysgeusia or anosmia (the loss of the sense of smell) - how would they feel about the concept? Is it a trivialization of the challenges they actually face; or an opportunity to connect with others?

The beauty of a communal show such as this is that we all get to make up our own minds about it - as well as use our minds to make the meal. Despite some of the event's pea-brained moments, I did appreciate the way it explored the links between memory and food. But people don't need to undergo irritating Psych 101-style group experiments - let alone be force-fed moronic flavour combinations by make-believe chefs - in order to have a provocative food-art experience.

"I do get constructive criticism on very specific aspects," Fonseca allows. "I think what worked best is the individual/collective dynamic where you could recognize your individual contributions to the night's food and stories, but at the same time be part of a collective experience."

As is often the case in cooking, the strongest aspect of In The Mouth was also the simplest: food activates memories, and it is astonishing to share those personal memories. Fonseca and his team have plans to bring the concept to Paris, New York and Toronto. Nothing is confirmed as of yet. If they could smooth out the edges and hone the message, this kind of thing might have a future. With Smarties on top.

Associated Graphic

Diners are blindfolded at the In The Mouth experimental dinner in Montreal.

YAKO

At times, chef Nuno, right, had the demeanour of a personal trainer.

PHOTOS BY YAKO

In the Mouth is the brainchild of mulitdisciplinary artist Nicolas Fonseca.

Guests who don't jump out of the way fast enough are liable to get splattered by the chefs.

Guests dine on chicken, avocado and melon in a playful but chaotic first course.

HISTORY, MADE REAL
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You now have two ways to experience the wonders of ancient Greece, James Adams writes. Tour the tombs of kings and dramatic ruins in person - or take in a new groundbreaking exhibit of more than 500 artifacts in Montreal
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By JAMES ADAMS
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page T1


The past can be irritating. This is especially true if you're touring a country with such a plenitude of past that it borders on surfeit. In the late 19th century, Henry James famously decried America's lack of castles, ivied ruins, pictures and museums - civilization, in short. But what contemporary tourist in Italy, say, or France hasn't thought at the end of a long day's journey into history, "One more Madonna and Child and I'm officially an atheist"?

Every now and then, however, the past becomes present, a palpable thing, and not some musty near-abstraction or inert souvenir from a distant, long-vanished culture. I had this sensation one cool, overcast afternoon in northern Greece last month as I descended the 20 or so steps leading to the entrance to the tomb of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great.

Maybe it was the drama of the setting that got to me. The tomb, one of three excavated by archaeologists in the 1970s, is housed under a grass-covered mound near the village of Vergina (formerly known as Aigai, ancient capital of the Macedonian kings) into which the Greek government inserted a magnificent museum in the mid-1990s. Perhaps, too, it was the narration of the museum's archaeologist, Yiannis Grekos, as he walked the 1,000-squaremetre interior, its vitrines filled with treasures. The sepulchral calm, the chiaroscuro of the space - you felt like a character in a hologram of a Caravaggio painting.

Or maybe it was knowing that the entrance to Philip's tomb is, save for time's wear and tear, just as it was in 336 BC when Alexander, then 20, interred his murdered father's cremated remains and those of Meda, youngest of the 46-year-old Philip's seven wives, behind its doors. The entrance has never been opened since the doors were closed nearly 2,400 years ago. Fearful that the facade, with its famous frieze of Alexander hunting with his father, would collapse, excavators entered the tomb through its roof to discover its contents, among them two marble sarcophagi, one with a 24-carat gold chest enclosing Philip's ashes and the king's feathery crown of golden oak leaves and acorns.

Then again, perhaps that sense of all time being eternally present had to do with ... shopping. Grekos went to a display case and pointed to an exquisite gold medallion, fashioned in the face of a snakehaired Gorgon, originally attached to Philip's leather-andlinen breastplate. Stare into her eyes, legend has it, and turn to stone. "Does it look familiar?" Grekos wondered aloud, genially challenging a touring group of journalists, museum officials and documentary filmmakers. A few seconds passed and then ... eureka. Looming through the mists of Greek mythology was something close, very close, to the corporate logo Gianni Versace chose in 1978 AD as the lust-inducing face of his fashion empire.

Canadians can make the connection themselves at Pointe-àCallière, Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History. The gold Gorgon, one of 65 artifacts on loan from the Museum of the Royal Tombs, is on display there through April 26, 2015, as part of The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great. (After its Montreal berth, the show travels to the Canadian Museum of History [CMH] for a run starting in June, followed by showcases in Chicago and Washington that extend into 2016.) With a total of more than 520 antiquities, including ensembles, lent by 21 museums from across Greece, the busts, vases, jewellery, coins, weapons, sculptures and, well, bling represent what Robert Peck, Canada's ambassador to Greece, calls "the largest exhibition of Greek treasures ever presented in North America" and "the most important exhibition Greece has ever sent abroad." Indeed, the largesse far exceeds what Greece lent the Louvre in 2011 for an acclaimed Alexander/ Macedonia show that drew almost 300,000 visitors during an 80-day run. Unsurprisingly, negotiations and planning for the Canada/U.S. tour took more than two years, with the CMH leading the consortium of four museums.

That the loans are of the highest quality is exemplified by the Athens-based National Archaeological Museum's decision to include among its 150 offerings one of its most fabled and valuable antiquities: the gold funerary mask of Agamemnon. Sometimes called the "fat man mask," it was excavated in 1876 by German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann at the palace of Mycenae, 120 kilometres southwest of Athens. It was this mask, from a grave dating to the 16th century BC, that prompted Schliemann to famously declare, "I have gazed upon the eyes of Agamemnon." (Agamemnon being, as the Iliad has it, the monarch who united Greece's city-states in the 10-year war against Troy.) The mask's inclusion marks the first time it's ever left Greece (it's estimated 300 of the exhibition's other artifacts also have never left the country). By some estimates the mask is worth more than $250-million.

Moving beyond the beaches

Why, you may ask, is Greece, a nation historically loath to lend its antiquities and extremely cautious when it does, sending so many artifacts abroad for such a long time? A drive through the countryside provides part of the answer. The depopulated towns with their abandoned businesses and homes are evidence that Greece continues to suffer from what Greeks call the kriss - the crisis. Unemployment hovers around 26 per cent; youth unemployment, according to several politicians I spoke to, is at 60 per cent. The trade deficit in September was almost 210-million ($300-million), and per capita income is around $18,000 (U.S.).

Nevertheless, there are some positive signs - and the country's coalition government is keen to nurture these further through initiatives such as Agamemnon to Alexander. The number of tourists, for example, is expected to surpass 20 million by year's end, a record according to Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni. Canadians, 250,000 of whom visited Greece last year, are especially welcome, spending about 1,500 each, the most of any nationality. Kefalogianni and Culture Minister Konstantinos Tasoulas are keen to expand tourism beyond both its May-toOctober high season and the Aegean Islands, where visitors tend to speed upon arriving in Athens. Why not ski the slopes of Mount Vermio or Mount Kaimaktsalan in northern Greece in February? Why not tour the superbly curated New Archaeological Museum of Pella and environs in November?

At the same time, the exhibition is not just a tourist appetizer ("You've seen the best of Greece; now see ... Greece!"). It's part of a major diplomatic initiative, too. The Greeks are eager, desperate even, to see the return of the Elgin Marbles - or as they prefer, the Parthenon Marbles - which have been displayed at the British Museum in London for close to two centuries. Removed from Athens when Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire, the 2,400year-old marbles are seen by most Greeks as an egregious example of imperialist pillage, a wound only repatriation can salve.

The Greeks even have a place ready for their return, a magnificent neo-Brutalist museum at the foot of the Acropolis, completed five years ago. Head to the museum's third floor and you'll find the roughly 50 metres of original marble frieze Greece owns, supplemented by plaster copies it made of the 80 metres in the British Museum. Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos told our group the Agamemnon to Alexander tour could be the start of a "perpetual loan" of many antiquities beyond Greece's borders - if, that is, the world backs Greece's repatriation claim.

Time past becomes time present

Agamemnon to Alexander promises to be a stellar happening, with Pointe-à-Callière and the CMH each expecting between 150,000 and 200,000 visitors.

That there ain't nothin' like the real thing, though, was made palpable the sunny, summer-like afternoon we travelled to the palace of Agamemnon, about 120 kilometres southeast of Athens.

Returning to our chartered bus, we were told our next stop would be Nafplio, a lovely resort town on the Argolic Gulf and home to (uh-huh!) yet another archaeological museum lending antiquities to the exhibition.

About a kilometre or so into our journey, however, the bus abruptly pulled off the road to park by a security shed. We just had time, it was announced, for a brief visit to something called the Tomb of Agamemnon. Truthfully, I wasn't expecting much; yes, the palace experience had been impressive, but I was jet-lagged and daunted by the fact that an evening flight to Thessaloniki, Greece's second-largest city, lay ahead. However, as I approached the inclined entrance to the tomb, all weariness and wariness ebbed. Okay, the tomb, built around 1250 BC, probably didn't house the remains of Agamemnon who, as CMH archaeologist/ exhibition lead curator Terence Clark had reminded us at Mycenae, was as much figure of Homeric myth as verifiable history.

Nevertheless, it was clear from the seven-metre height of the portal, the eight-metre width of its lintel and the huge beehive of its semi-subterranean interior that one Very Important Mycenaean Person had been laid to rest here. As would happen a couple of days later at Vergina, time past nestled with time present and, awe-struck, I gloried in the glory that was Greece.

Costs of the author's trip were covered by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports in association with the Canadian Museum of History. Neither reviewed or approved his story.

SEE THE SHOW

The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great features more than 500 artifacts and spans more than 5,000 years of history. It is on now at Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History, until April 26, 2015. Adult admission is $20 and includes all museum exhibits. pacmusee.qc.ca

The exhibition will make three other stops:

The Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, June 5, 2015 - Oct. 12, 2015; historymuseum.ca

The Field Museum in Chicago, Nov. 26, 2015 - April 17, 2016; fieldmuseum.org

The National Geographic Museum, Washington, May 26, 2016 - Oct. 9, 2016; events.nationalgeographic.com/national-geographicmuseum

MUST-SEE MUSEUMS

The most famous are, of course, the National Archaeological Museum and the Acropolis Museum, both in Athens. Among others of interest:

New Archaeological Museum of Pella. This airy, uncluttered, thoroughly contemporary space feels as much like an art gallery as antiquities showcase. It includes the famous pebble mosaic of Alexander the Great hunting a lion with nobleman Craterus.

Numismatic Museum of Athens. Its three storeys, built in 1880, were once the mansion/ home of Heinrich Schliemann, excavator of Troy and Mycenae. The lovely grounds are an oasis from the bustle of downtown Athens.

Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki. In the 16th and early 17th century Jews were the majority population of Greece's second largest city. At the start of the Second World War, they numbered 50,000, today the city of one million is home to just 1,000 Jews. This fascinating museum presents the full, sobering history.

Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki. This a masterpiece of Greek modernist architecture is home to the famous Derveni krater, fashioned from bronze and tin circa 330 BC; its huge, elaborate surface, depicting the wedding of Dionysus and Ariadne, is often touted as the progenitor of the baroque.

Archaeological Museum of Nafplion. This small museum features Europe's oldest suit of armour, it's made of bronze, dated to 15th century BC and topped by a helmet made of boars' tusks.

Associated Graphic

The so-called Tomb of Agamemnon is one of the most impressive examples of a tholos (beehive, or dome-shaped) tomb in Greece.

GIORGOS MOUTAFIS/THE CANADIAN MUSEUM OF HISTORY

The funerary mask of Agamemnon was excavated in 1876 by Heinrich Schliemann at the palace of Mycenae.

GIORGOS MOUTAFIS /THE CANADIAN MUSEUM OF HISTORY

A technician at Thessaloniki packs up artifacts for The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great.

PHOTOS BY GIORGOS MOUTAFIS/THE CANADIAN MUSEUM OF HISTORY

Above: This suit of armour, made of bronze, is dated to 15th century BC.

Below: This gold medallion, fashioned in the face of a snake-haired Gorgon, was originally attached to Philip II of Macedon's breastplate.

All the views he's fit to print
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David Carr, media critic, The New York Times
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By JAMES BRADSHAW
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B3


NEW YORK -- 'Hey boss." This is the first time I've met David Carr, the weathered and worn, witty and sometimes caustic media critic for The New York Times. But he greets me like an old pal as he slides into a corner table at Casa Nonna, an elegant Italian joint a couple of blocks from the Times where he's welcomed as a regular.

Mr. Carr doesn't do lunch much these days - "it's sort of a lost art for reporters" - but he comes here for the tables, he says, as we settle into "the corner shot," both of us facing out at other diners around us. "It's a good gangster table. You've got your back to the wall.

At least if someone's going to kill you, you know who it is," he says. Mr. Carr is no gangster. Nor is the 58-year-old Minnesota native unfamiliar with drugs, guns or the wrong side of the law. The darker chapters of his life are detailed in his 2008 memoir, The Night of the Gun. In its 385 pages, he reports on his descent into an all-consuming cocaine addiction that derailed his journalism career, left him struggling to care for twin daughters born prematurely to a previous partner amid one of many binges, and ultimately sent him to six months of in-patient rehabilitation.

He has emerged from it all feisty and sober, although a permanent stoop to his body betrays a life lived the hard way. His devotion to his family is evident - wife Jill, daughters Meagan and Erin, 26, and Madeleine, 17 - and he seems to be relishing what might seem an unlikely second chance chronicling the turbulence in his trade from a perch at the world's most renowned newspaper.

We settle on sharing the meatballs and a Caprese salad and order a pasta each as the conversation turns to Mr. Carr's busy schedule, which is about to get busier. It is mid-August when we meet, and he has recently added an endowed professorship at Boston University to his day job at the Times, and will begin teaching his course - on making and distributing content, dubbed "Press Play" - in just a few weeks.

"It's going to be like a bomb going off in the middle of my life. I'm terrified," he says. He's done guest teaching before, "but to take custody of young lives like that is ..." he says, trailing off.

Since the 2011 documentary Page One: Inside The New York Times made Mr. Carr something of a rock star in media circles, he has had no shortage of job offers. But Boston U has an added perk: His youngest daughter Madeleine is to start there as a student.

"It was Jill Abramson" - the newspaper's executive editor, ousted very publicly just three months earlier, who approved the teaching gig because she had taught at Yale, he explains.

When we meet, the dust is still settling after Ms. Abramson's sudden dismissal, and my query about the atmosphere inside the Times newsroom is met, at first, with a long pause.

"Um, one of the primary lessons of being part of The New York Times is the organism supersedes any one individual. So we were taught that lesson anew," he says.

Reports suggested Ms. Abramson had clashed with Times executives, who were concerned about her management style and brusque manner, over hiring decisions and her own pay. Mr. Carr doesn't think most reporters found it hard working under her - "Jill was and is a very good newsman," he says. Rather, it was those working most closely with her who "found it difficult to make a paper in an ongoing way."

That her successor is Dean Baquet - "known far and wide as a great dude and also a great newsman" - has eased the transition. And where Ms. Abramson blazed a trail when she was hired as the Times's first female executive editor in September, 2011, Mr. Baquet is the first black man to hold the top job, "so you pivot from history to history."

Still, the shift in power has strained the newsroom and few people within it had a more uncomfortable seat to survey the fallout than Mr. Carr, who wrote a column likening Ms. Abramson's undoing to "a particularly bloody episode of Game of Thrones."

"It was incredibly unseemly how it all happened," he tells me.

"And it was a very difficult topic to cover from inside the paper."

Mr. Carr would just as soon have kept the topic out of his column, "but we just thought, optically, that would be too weird. So, I wrote what I thought, including being fairly critical of our publisher [Arthur Sulzberger Jr.], and I saw him the next day. He came into the media editor's office. We don't see him much on our floor, and we both kind of sucked in breath. He said: 'I want to thank you for the story you did yesterday.' I said: 'I'm glad you feel that way - I think it was a little rugged, saying you had failed in your choices.' He said: 'I don't care.

Good for the readers, good for the paper, I'm happy you wrote it.' "Mr. Carr describes his position as "kind of complicated."

"I mean, I play for the Yankees, or the Red Sox. I cover baseball."

But he insists he's been allowed to dispense his pointed views free of any meddling. "At our shop, I mean, I've never once felt - and I can say this - the cold damp hands of ownership up my skirt."

One of the reasons Mr. Carr seems sanguine about his job is that he treats it like a happy accident. When the Times first came calling in 2001, it seemed to him "the most preposterous thing I had ever heard," as he writes in his book. He had never envisioned himself as "a Times guy."

He knows now how good he has it. He has been fired from a magazine for refusing treatment, slapped in handcuffs, and laden with guilt for years of tightrope fatherhood when drugs consumed him. And he has worked less-rewarding jobs, including at restaurants, for less pay.

At Casa Nonna, he is unfailingly polite. Not just to me - when the appetizers arrive, he serves us both, and when we tuck into our pasta course, he shovels a couple of his gnocchi onto my plate, unprompted - but also to the waiting staff. He repeatedly stops mid-sentence to say, "That's lovely, thanks so much," or "everything is lovely, thank you." And it's more than common courtesy.

"I waited tables for seven years, so I really care about stuff like that. It's [expletive] hard. I had a waiter dream last night. It was like: 'Table Four's been here a half an hour and they don't have any [expletive] water, what is going on?' Still. From the old days.

That's stress, man," he says, "that's real stress."

At the forefront of an industry dealing with a massive decline in advertising and readers' shifting media consumption habits, The New York Times can claim its fair share of stress in recent years. Its head count has bobbed up and down amid a series of cuts and the launch of a digital paywall in 2011. Just six weeks after our lunch, the paper announced it would eliminate another 100 positions - about 7.5 per cent of the newsroom - through buyouts and layoffs, as the paper tries to adapt to new digital imperatives.

Mr. Carr has leaped feet-first into journalism's evolving digital playground. His chatty Twitter feed ranges from news to life at home . He reads long-form stories on Gawker and BuzzFeed.

Yet, he has also felt the "whooshing" of the online "info stream" and the danger of drowning in it. A day earlier, he had rescheduled our lunch and stayed home after falling ill. "All I did was lily-pad from one thing to another to another to another. And just vast reaches of my day disappeared. And did I work yesterday?

I guess I did. At the end of the day, I felt a little bit like I had been looking at porn all day."

Daily print newspapers, which even he had once abandoned, have returned to his table. He gets The New York Times and Wall Street Journal delivered to his home in Montclair, N.J., and spends an hour with them each morning. He worries about print's "continued dominance" at the Times but still sees a future for it, if a more limited one. And he's emboldened by the success of the the paywall, which had 875,000 subscribers at the end of October.

"We're making a club, that's what we're making. This mass niche called people who read. It's a weird, kooky activity. We could have annual conventions, like the Shriners, with go-karts and clowns," he says.

More seriously, he adds: "I think the fact that The New York Times makes more money off consumers than advertisers" - a recent phenomenon - "is definitional, and it points the way forward."

Mr. Carr thinks the recent media upheaval has hit bottom. The bounce back to prosperity is less certain, but the experiments at adapting can be fascinating to a media reporter.

"We were in one room where we put white paper out on the street, people gave us green paper back. Now we're trying to get to another room where we provide information on all kinds of platforms and people give us money back - it might be Bitcoin, for all I know.

We're in that long, dark hall, still. And you know what? I like it in here, because it's cool," he says.

"It's just, like, unexpected."

We decline dessert - it's getting late, and Mr. Carr has writing to do. His phone trills and, apologetically, he answers it. Daughter Madeleine is heading to the airport, then to Europe, before school starts. A nervous parent, he finishes his call while we stroll back to the Times headquarters.

Outside the building, as Mr. Carr puffs on his second Camel cigarette (one habit he hasn't left behind), a passerby approaches.

Star-struck, he asks for a picture then explains he teaches media in French. "Does that thing do video?" Mr. Carr replies, pointing to the man's phone, then records a message for the man's students - even managing a word or two of American-accented French. After a tour of the newsroom, he sees me out with a wave.

"Okay boss," he says as we part.

CURRICULUM VITAE

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

Media writer for Inside.com, editor of the D.C. weekly The Washington City Paper (19952000); editor of Minneapolis alternative weekly The Twin Cities Reader (1993-1995). Contract writer for Atlantic Monthly and New York Magazine.

RELATIONSHIPS

Mr. Carr is a middle child from a family of seven children who grew in suburban Minneapolis, Minn. He married his wife, Jill, in 1994. They have one child together, Madeleine, born in 1997. His twin daughters, Meagan and Erin, were born in 1988 to his previous partner, Anna.

BIO, AS HE WROTE ON THE SYLLABUS OF HIS BOSTON U. COURSE 'PRESS PLAY'

"Your professor is a terrible singer and a decent dancer. He is a movie crier but stonefaced in real life. He never laughs even when he is actually amused. He hates suck-ups, people who treat waitresses and cab drivers poorly, and anybody who thinks diversity is just an academic conceit. He is a big sucker for the hard worker and is rarely dazzled by brilliance. He has little patience for people who pretend to ask questions when all they really want to do is make a speech."

Associated Graphic

RACHEL IDZERDA FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Bad Santa
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We've all been left speechless by a terrible present. Did they misread you? Do they just not care? Here, the psychology behind ghastly gifts
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By WENCY LEUNG
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Friday, December 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1


It's the thought that counts when it comes to exchanging presents, right? So why is it so hard to choke back your resentment when you unwrap a diet book? A snow shovel? Or a coffeemaker from someone who knows you only drink tea?

Lousy gifts are relationship land mines wrapped in a festive bow. While decorum dictates you ought to be grateful to receive anything at all, a bad gift sets off doubts about whether the giver really knows you, whether it reflects their true feelings for you, or whether they even spared you a thought when they chose it. That uncertainty can sting long after you've banished the offending gift to the far reaches of your closet.

Ask Barrig Hayward. The Toronto resident once received a self-help book, titled When Your Loved One Dies, from a family friend for Christmas. No one in her life had died, nor was anyone sick. "I would have been fine if that person had given me no gift. But to open that?" Hayward says. "This was just like, 'Are you serious? I can't even regift it.' " So what, indeed, is the thought process that goes into choosing a bad gift? What goes on in the psyches of the gifting-challenged? The answer, according to psychologists, may be less mystifying, and perhaps even more thoughtful, than you might think.

1. They did put thought into it. Too much thought

Travis Carter, a psychology professor at Colby College in Waterville, Me., says bad gift-givers tend to make misguided inferences based on the recipient's behaviour. Often, those hunches are all they have to go on, given the general assumption that a gift-giver should be able to intuit what the recipient wants.

Even being aware of this phenomenon can't save you from it.

Case in point: Carter once gave his girlfriend a trash bin as a gift.

She was constantly complaining about the odours emanating from the kitchen garbage bin, so Carter decided he would impress her with a receptacle that would contain the smell. He did his research and spent several hours visiting different shops and browsing online to find the perfect can.

She did not love it as he had hoped. "The look on her face, it was pretty clear she was not expecting a trash can," he recalls. While he had correctly deduced that his girlfriend's existing smelly trash can annoyed her, "It didn't bother her on a deep spiritual level the way that I had interpreted it to be."

The only true insight you can get into what others are thinking is to ask them outright, however hard that may seem, Carter says. And even that's not foolproof.

"You can't always be sure they're going to be honest with you because it's hard for people sometimes to admit they want what they want," he says. So if you're reluctant to divulge your wish list, try not to judge too harshly the next time you receive a new toilet-brush holder.

2. They let creativity get in the way

Sometimes gifts do more than just miss the mark. What possible explanation could there be for the used body butter that Lisa, 42, of Calgary received from her mother-in-law last Christmas? (Some last names in this article have been withheld to maintain family harmony.)

Some gift-givers are motivated by creativity, or the need to be perceived as creative - ensuring everyone on their gift list gets something different rather than what they really want, says Monique Pollmann, an assistant professor of communication and information sciences at Tilburg University in the Netherlands.

A U.S. study published in the Journal of Consumer Research earlier this year found that when participants were asked to shop for only one person, they chose what researchers identified as the most appealing gift from a selection of items. But when asked to shop for multiple people, they skipped the appealing gift, and opted instead to get each person something different, even when they knew the recipients wouldn't compare what they got.

It seems Lisa's mother-in-law may suffer from a form of this gift-giving overload. Her Christmas-gifting strategy, Lisa explains, is to blitz every one of her numerous family members with large sacks full of small, random presents that aren't particularly personal, nor "anything that you would want."

"I know that kind of sounds ungrateful, but there's a pattern," Lisa says, noting that the used body butter came in one of these annual grab bags. "There were just goops taken out, like you could see people's fingers had gone through it and stuff. I never said anything to her because she would have been mortified, but ... this was par for the course."

3. You're Mars. They're Venus

A bad gift isn't necessarily an indicator of a bad relationship, says Elizabeth Dunn, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. It may just mean you don't have a lot in common.

"If I'm similar to you, I can just go, 'Well, I would like this,' " Dunn says, and the resulting gift would likely be reasonably successful. But the more different two people are, the harder it is to get into each other's heads.

This explains a lot in my own family dynamic. I'm guilty of years of dud gift-giving to my father, for this very reason. Much as I love him, no two people could be more different. He's outspoken; I'm reserved. He's a hawk; I'm a dove. He's hot-tempered; I'm a robot. The gap in our personalities and interests has made for some real stinkers in my selection of presents for him over the years - aftershave, a balaclava and, perhaps most horrendous, a model airplane made out of beer cans. None of these are things I'd actually want myself, but because I haven't a clue what he might like, I take blind shots in the dark. Men use aftershave right? Winters are cold in Canada! (Okay, I have no defence for the beer-can airplane.)

It's tough to break the bad gifting cycle, given the strong social obligation for recipients to feign gratitude, no matter what the gift. All these years, my dad has never once hinted he's hated my presents, and thus, my selection of ridiculous presents continues.

4. They don't care

Okay, maybe that's a bit harsh - but Pollmann's own research suggests some bad gift-givers are simply less interested in other people. She conducted a series of experiments, published in the journal PLOS One last year, that found men are generally worse at selecting gifts than women. The key difference between good and bad gift-givers was their "interpersonal interest," or their interest in others, which was measured through an autismspectrum quotient questionnaire, Pollmann discovered.

That's not to say bad gifting is a sign of autism, of course. Rather, as her study stated, previous research showed that autistic traits are normally distributed among the general population, and that men tend to have more autistic traits than women.

The autism questionnaire asked participants to rate statements, such as, "I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective."

"It was clearly the case," she says, "that if you scored high on the scale - or if you are a male, which means you score high on the scale - you were just worse at gift-giving than other people."

5. They really want to impress you

Gift-givers can get caught up in how attractive they believe a gift is, and neglect to consider how practical it would be for the recipient to actually use, says Nathan Novemsky, a professor of marketing at the Yale School of Management and professor of psychology at Yale.

In a series of experiments published in the Journal of Consumer Research earlier this year, Novemsky found that givers tended to focus on the perceived desirability of a gift, rather than its feasibility, or ease of use. For instance, he explains, if you know your friend loves Italian food, you might get buy him a gift certificate at a top-notch Italian restaurant an hour away, without considering what a pain it would be for him to get there.

Tessa, 23, of Toronto can relate. Every Christmas, her brand-conscious aunt gives her horrible brand-name gifts. One year, it was a pair of Juicy Couture tube socks - made for infant-sized feet; she was about 13 at the time. Another year, she received an XXL-sized designer sweater (she is petite).

"She'll do anything to give us designer labels," Tessa says. "The worst part is she makes a big deal out of the gifts too. She'll be like, 'Oh my God, I can't wait till you see what I got you. You're gonna love what I got you.' And then it's like the worst thing on Earth."

6. They'd rather not give you a nice present at all. And they want you to know it

Let's face it. Some gifts are downright insulting because the giver meant for them to be.

Signe Whitson, co-author of The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive Aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools and Workplaces, gives the example of a mother who gives her general contractor son gifts of expensive suits, ties and cufflinks that would be more appropriate for his financier father.

"To the general public, these look like kind and generous gifts from a loving mother, while to the son, the gifts are a clear passive-aggressive reminder of her disappointment and resentment of her son's career choice," Whitson writes in an e-mail.

Whitson calls this phenomenon "sugar-coated hostility," when people do what's socially expected of them but insult the recipient in a way that can be publicly justified. She says people who rely on passive-aggressive behaviours "believe their life will only get worse if they express their feelings directly."

Reacting to a passive-aggressive gift with overt hostility will only allow the giver to feel they've succeeded in provoking the recipient into expressing the anger they themselves were harbouring, Whitson says. It's better to point out that their gift sends the message they aren't happy with you.

"Usually, the passive-aggressive person will deny their anger ... but that's okay," Whitson writes.

"Admission of anger is not the point; sending the message that their anger is no longer a secret is the key to changing the dynamic."

Is there a way out of this annual tradition of awkward gift exchanges? Dunn doesn't offer much hope. "Basically, people suck at gift-giving as a general rule," she says. Short of asking point-blank what people want, Dunn suggests that a solution for the gifting-challenged may be to find someone similar to the intended recipient and ask what he or she would want. But alas, that would require bad gifters to recognize their shortcomings.

"In general," Dunn says, "the more incompetent people are, the less they realize it."

Here's the good news: People seldom consider the time and effort put into a gift; they simply focus on the gift itself, Carter says. But a bad gift can be rendered less so if the receiver understands the giver's motivations. Carter suggests you should tell people how much thought you've put into a gift when you give it to them. That way, he says, "Even if they end up taking it back, they'll at least understand the intentions behind it."

Time machine With Classic, BlackBerry goes back to the future
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By SEAN SILCOFF
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1


John Chen is about to put in place the last piece of his turnaround plan for BlackBerry Ltd. by doing something almost unheard of in the smartphone business, or the tech industry in general: launching a flagship product with old features the company previously abandoned in the name of progress.

On Wednesday, the chief executive officer of the Waterloo, Ont.based company will unveil the Classic, a smartphone aimed at its most die-hard, change-averse customers: executives and other keyboard-dependent "power users" who have held on to their aging BlackBerry Bold phones rather than upgrade to the company's newer touchscreen products. Mr. Chen will make the point by unveiling the Classic in the museum-like Italian neo-Renaissancestyle surroundings of Cipriani, a restaurant in New York's financial district with painted ceilings and marble columns.

The Classic will restore familiar BlackBerry features like the "belt" - a row of four physical keys for calls, accessing menus and going back one step, anchored by a mouse-like trackpad. The company is also bringing back many keyboard-based shortcuts that were mainstays on older BlackBerrys, such as typing C to compose a message. Those features disappeared from newer "BlackBerry 10" smartphones in 2013.

This is more than tinkering with product features: It is the centrepiece of Mr. Chen's effort to reconnect the struggling firm, which once ruled the smartphone market, with core customers it ignored in its push to match Apple and Android touchscreen devices. Gone is the pursuit of consumers; back is a focus on business people who mainly use smartphones for typing e-mails, and on serving the needs of employers who manage fleets of smartphones, whether or not they are BlackBerrys.

Mr. Chen, 13 months into his BlackBerry rescue attempt, has vowed to win back business and government customers by improving the company's software and services offerings and also by improving its smartphones. He launched Passport, an oversized smartphone aimed at business users in September, but the Classic is his attempt to offer something familiar to old friends.

In an open letter this fall, Mr. Chen said he was guided by the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," and recently told reporters: "I've spoken to a lot of people and they want it; a lot of people say 'I am waiting for this.'"

But is the Classic the right product to bring BlackBerry back to the smartphone fore? Or will it calcify the company's reputation as a has-been and herald its exit from making phones altogether? Even insiders aren't sure.

"A small subset [of users] will be pleased, but the overall market has completely moved past what this product will offer," said one former senior executive who worked under Mr. Chen. "This is a short-term capitalization play: They can meet [pent-up] demand and probably make some money off it. ... But my overall thesis is that BlackBerry will be out of handsets at some point."

Courting loyalists

Kristina Rogers is the kind of customer John Chen has in mind for Classic. Ms. Rogers, a Canadian based in Istanbul who heads the consumer products group of consulting giant Ernst & Young, now known as EY, is a diehard BlackBerry user who has made do with the all-touchscreen Z10 since 2013. But as a travelling executive who writes many e-mails, she misses the keyboard and plans to upgrade to a Classic.

"People who are actually typing still appreciate the tactile feeling of the buttons," she said. Judging by all the people she sees using old BlackBerrys or keyboard accessories for iPads in airports, Ms. Rogers expects many others will do the same. One such user is Peter Brorsen, deputy executive director of the European Institute of Peace in Brussels, who has used BlackBerrys for a decade. He never upgraded to BlackBerry 10 and considered leaving the fold "but I couldn't really find an alternative.

"Maybe we'll finally get a modern phone that's useful at work, too," he said of the Classic.

Mr. Chen believes there are millions of people like them. He has set a relatively modest target for BlackBerry's hardware division: If it can sell 10 million handsets a year, it will break even. If not, it shouldn't be in the phone business. That's a sliver of the global market (BlackBerry, which sold 3.7 million handsets to end users in the first half of this year, has less than a 1-per-cent market share), but even that could be a struggle; Morgan Stanley analyst James Faucette estimates the company will sell only eight million handsets next year, that division will lose $180-million (U.S.), and BlackBerry will struggle to meet its other revenue targets.

BlackBerry has fallen steadily in the smartphone race since Apple released the iPhone seven years ago. After trying unsuccessfully to compete with touchscreen phones built on its old software, then-co-CEO Mike Lazaridis decided BlackBerry needed a new operating system. But BlackBerry 10 took longer to develop than promised and was conceived at a moment when the leadership was split; Mr. Lazaridis wanted to focus on handsets while co-CEO Jim Balsillie favoured repositioning around offering software and services to carriers. Their successor Thorsten Heins chose hardware, but Mr. Lazaridis, then on the board, grew disillusioned when the new management focused on touchscreens at the expense of its flagship keyboard products.

That was followed by a disastrous launch of BlackBerry 10 in early 2013. Consumers were indifferent to the all-touch Z10 and many long-time power users were bewildered by the Q10, which had a keyboard but was missing popular mainstays like the belt. The user experience was different and non-intuitive compared with past BlackBerrys; customers couldn't figure out how to perform basic functions, including cutting and pasting, and even answering the phone.

"It was such a foreign experience, [long-time users] literally threw up onto it," one former senior insider quipped. Insiders say the company has sold fewer than seven million BlackBerry 10 devices to end users; at its peak four years ago, it shipped nearly twice as many smartphones in one quarter.

Weeks after the BlackBerry 10 launch, U.S. wireless giant Verizon gave the company a list of seven items it suggested should be changed immediately to make the devices more appealing, one former senior insider said. That included restoring the "back" button. BlackBerry's software engineers felt it was no longer needed because of touchscreen functions, but carriers and customers wanted it back. "Verizon got real pointed with us," the insider said. "They stripped us down."

It wasn't until Mr. Chen arrived that those concerns had the CEO's full attention. When Mr. Chen met with CEO-level BlackBerry users, many told him the Bold 9900, released in 2011, three years after the original Bold, was the best product the company ever made - even though it supported few apps and featured a sluggish Internet browsing experience. Mr. Chen decided the company should make a phone that ran on the new operating system but restored the physical keys and functions core users missed that made a BlackBerry feel like a BlackBerry.

"I still would like the user to experience all the new features," Mr. Chen said in an interview this year. "[Launching the Classic] is my statement to tell the world that we value our customers, we understand why some of the discontinuity happened, we are trying to bridge that particular gap."

Mr. Chen killed every other product in development except Passport (a product he initially didn't like but which was well advanced in development) soon after his arrival and directed his engineers to deliver the Classic as soon as possible. Developers initially struggled to meet his demanding timeline. Early models were "so ugly, like a child's flip-flop" sandal with a big rounded top, one insider said.

The Classic is now rectangular and a bit taller than the 4.7 inchlong Q10. Meanwhile, developers had to write a lot of code on top of the new touch-oriented operating system to ensure the physical buttons functioned properly.

What BlackBerry has produced, based on company previews and early reviews of the Classic, looks to be a sturdy smartphone that is far from cutting edge, but may be enough of an advance to impress old-fashioned users. The device has an eight-megapixel camera (industry standard on new smartphones, including Passport, is now 13); the screen, at 3.5 inches diagonally, is smaller than the five-inch standard on top-selling "phablet" smartphones, but much bigger than the Bold 9900 (2.8 inches) and the Q10 (3.1 inches). While the company has improved its app offerings by making Amazon's array of Android programs available, it still lags rival platforms. Its touch pad will not work properly in many Android applications as the programs were built for touchscreens and not with physical buttons in mind, tech blogger and app developer Eric Harty said in a recent posting.

"There's probably a segment of loyalists" who will like Classic and see it as an upgraded Bold, said John McKinley, former chief technology officer with several Fortune 1000 companies, including Merrill Lynch. But "I don't think this gets you new customer" demand, he added.

A big question is whether core users like banks and governments will order the device in big numbers. Sources at three Canadian banks say they haven't rushed to make major orders, and are increasingly letting employees pick their own smartphones. Many are choosing Apple's iPhone 6.

"One of the mistakes that BlackBerry made was to move away from their loyal customer base," independent technology analyst Rob Enderle said. "The result was that they lost a lot of customers to Android and Apple - because if you have to relearn something anyway, you might as well learn something totally new" and it will be hard to win them back. The Classic, he added, "is the phone they should have led with two to three years ago."

Some insiders who recently left the company aren't convinced that trying to right a historic wrong is the right answer for BlackBerry.

"It's such a nondescript offer that the only people who will be interested are those who are genuinely mourning the loss of a Bold," one said. "Of the people who say they're interested, only a fraction of them will actually follow through. I do believe it will be a letdown." Another said users expecting an updated Bold might be put off.

"The pitch is familiarity. The story sounds good. But it's still a completely different operating system." Besides, the source added, it is likely to appeal to "a small market. What you are left with are people who don't want to learn something new. It's not a bad idea to go in and grab some of those users, at least for one product cycle."

Will it be enough to keep BlackBerry in the devices business? "I don't necessarily see the Classic being a saviour," said Desmond Lau, an analyst with Veritas Investment Research. "BlackBerry needs to keep innovating every year."

Associated Graphic

BlackBerry CEO John Chen: 'A lot of people say "I am waiting for this."'

TOMOHIRO OHSUMI/BLOOMBERG NEWS

The BlackBerry Classic, held by CEO John Chen, restores familiar features like the 'belt' - a row of four physical keys for calls, menus and going back one step, that had disappeared from the Q10, top.

MARK BLINCH/REUTERS

CITY OF RENEWAL
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While the Oilers struggle, Edmonton seeks new ways to rebuild, rebrand and celebrate, reports Justin Giovannetti
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By JUSTIN GIOVANNETTI
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Monday, December 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A8


EDMONTON -- With a February freeze headed toward -20 and a long, dark night punctuated by a cold wind on Jasper Avenue, the only distraction in this city is watching the Oilers. At least that's what Wayne Gretzky said in 1985, months before he hoisted the Stanley Cup for the second time at the drafty Northlands Coliseum.

Back then Edmonton was on its way to being known as the City of Champions. For the past three decades, the motto has greeted motorists driving into Alberta's capital. Now, in what Edmonton officials say is a sign of civic maturity, City of Champions will be dropped. As it happens, the move coincides with a long drought during which the Oilers have looked nothing like the juggernaut that won five Stanley Cups in seven years.

At the same time, despite declining on-ice fortunes, hockey remains central to the northern Canadian city, both psychologically and economically. The Oilers' new arena, under construction, is at the centre of a multibillion-dollar rebuilding of Edmonton's desolate downtown.

Whether or not Mr. Gretzky's remark was true in 1985 - the same year Mordecai Richler stung the city by dubbing it the "boiler room" of Canada - flushwith-oil-money city fathers hope the Oilers help transform Edmonton into a destination.

The fast-growing capital is preparing to see its population surge past the one-million mark within the decade, catapulting it into the ranks of major urban centres.

In October, Edmonton City Council moved to drop City of Champions as a slogan, one of at least eight mottos that Mayor Don Iveson can count on his fingers. While Mr. Iveson says Edmonton is now a "post-slogan" city - there will be no replacement - the change drops a link with the glorious eighties when the Oilers and football's Edmonton Eskimos seemed unstoppable.

The slogan's origins are murky, but most accounts say it was coined after the city's response to a deadly tornado in 1987 and then-mayor Laurence Decore's view that Edmonton's fast rebuild had earned it the moniker.

Chiseled onto some of the city's now-obsolete welcome signs, the slogan soon became inextricably linked with sports and the city's neverending rivalry with Calgary, its Alberta neighbour to the south. Oilers president Patrick LaForge says the decision to get rid of the slogan was "regrettable," adding its original meaning still rings true in this young province that prides itself on rugged individualism.

Mr. LaForge fears the decision was made too hastily, but admits the team's poor performance - the Oilers are currently dead last in the Western Conference and are having trouble filling seats - may have galvanized council to look for a new way to celebrate the city. The Oilers haven't qualified for the postseason since 2006. "I wish that Edmonton being the home of champions for our fans and players was never a debate," he says.

Michael Oshry, the city councillor who led the charge to abandon the slogan, says it is "outdated" and Edmontonians are unlikely to see City of Champions on signs again. But, ironically, the team that once embodied the motto is at the centre of Edmonton's flagship rebranding effort.

Within two years, the Oilers will be leaving their first home, now known as Rexall Place. The last arena still in use where a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup, the plain concrete structure is a barn in a drab part of town. It has loud acoustics, weathered wooden blue seats and few amenities - an arena from an era when the players and game were the sole attraction.

"I feel sadness about leaving a building where the air on that ice saw us win four Stanley Cups at home," Mr. LaForge says. "There are very few buildings in the NHL that can claim that. I hope we can take that rarefied air with us."

Sitting in an Italian café midway between the Oilers' new home and Rexall Place, former defenceman Al Hamilton fondly remembers the moment the puck first dropped at the coliseum in 1974. Workers were still bolting down seats and trying to get the dust out, but the arena was widely considered one of the best in hockey at the time.

"It's a blue-collar city and we were playing to a family crowd.

There were no corporate seats. It was great, everything was lower key then, all we had for music was an organist," Mr. Hamilton says.

A defenceman who led the team through its time in the World Hockey Association and the transition into the rival NHL, Mr. Hamilton saw his number 3 jersey become the first to be retired by the franchise. His old number has now been joined in the rafters by that of Mr. Gretzky, Mark Messier and Paul Coffey, among others.

The lifelong Oilers fan says it's time to leave Rexall Place. The parking is sparse, the area dilapidated, and the arena is hard to reach. Just north of Jasper Avenue, a bowl of girders is slowly rising where the new Rogers Place will one day stand.

The metal-clad arena in downtown Edmonton will be one of the most expensive ever built for an NHL team. It will be nothing like what it's replacing. The team promises a state-of-the-art facility, a technological wonder - an excited Mr. LaForge compares it to Disneyland.

"You want to be humble, but the Oilers are the pinwheel on which everything downtown rotates," he says. More than $2-billion in new buildings are planned for the area around the arena, including new hotels, the city's tallest skyscraper and casinos. Downtown boosters are hopeful another $3-billion worth of projects on the drawing boards will go forward.

Finding itself at the centre of downtown renewal is a sign of resilience for a team that struggles on the northern fringe of the NHL. Now if the Oilers can only find a way to win again, perhaps Edmonton can return to being a city of champions, even without the slogan.

1. Oilers among the NHL's worst

Edmonton Oilers tickets that cost $62 at the gate could be bought at online ticket exchange StubHub for $7 in early December. Despite the steeply discounted price, nearly one-third of the seats in Rexall Place were empty on Dec. 1. The team's losing streak entered the double-digits that night after it lost 5-2 to the underwhelming Arizona Coyotes.

In a city where drivers can cruise on Wayne Gretzky Drive and Mark Messier Trail, Edmonton's Stanley Cup winning days seem far in the past.

One Twitter account tracks the Oilers playoff drought - nearly eight years, six months - while another asks the simple question: Did the Oilers win? A long list of "No" follows, with only a few "Yes."

With the team now tied for the bottom of the NHL standings, locals have their fingers crossed the Oilers will get either top prospect Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in the 2015 draft.

2. Edmonton Arena District

Daryl Katz is leading the remaking of Edmonton's wind-swept downtown as it tries to shake a reputation for underwhelming visitors. The city's first local-born billionaire, Mr. Katz turned a small mail-order drug store operation into a pharmacy empire. He is now selling a new Oilers arena as the key to rebuilding.

In a dilapidated corner of downtown, Mr. Katz secured public funding to pay for most of the $480-million Rogers Place arena.

The area around the stadium has been branded the Edmonton Arena District, with $2-billion in new construction already committed, including a Delta Hotel and a neighbouring tower that will be Edmonton's tallest.

The district's fortunes could change quickly. Edmonton is in a boom-and-bust province where oil prices are plunging. Former Oilers owner Peter Pocklington's net worth peaked at over $1.4-billion in the early 1980s, years later he auctioned his Stanley Cup rings and declared bankruptcy.

3. With a burgeoning population, sprawl

Despite municipal rules that require developers to add more density and build higher, Edmonton is casting an eye towards annexing surrounding counties as the regional population has doubled to more than 1.1-million over the past quarter-century.

City planners expect the population to double again over the next 50 years. With new sprawl expected, negotiators are finishing proposals to annex 161 square kilometres to the south. According to Mayor Don Iveson, the Vancouver-sized area will allow for only 30years of growth, despite rules that triple density requirements.

With the gently rolling prairie putting few physical limits on the city's growth, Mr. Iveson expects sprawl to slow as drivers wary of long commutes. City planners are being proactive, allowing small homes and designing new communities on formerly industrial sites near downtown. Calls for a second ring road have also been ignored, with money directed to more Light Rail Transit lines.

4. With growth, a Canadian mosaic

In recent weeks officials in Premier Jim Prentice's cabinet have argued that provincial caps on economic immigrants needs to be relaxed or removed completely for Alberta because of the province's demand for new workers.

Despite the predictions of shortages and promise of well -paying work in Edmonton, new arrivals to Canada have continued to favour the country's largest metropolitan areas of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver on a per capita basis.

Between 1986 and 2011 the percentage of immigrants looking to settle in Edmonton actually dropped, for 4.8 per cent of all new immigrants to just over 4 per cent. According to Edmonton's 2014 municipal census, only eight per cent of new residents were arrivals from outside Canada. Despite experiencing the fastest population growth in North America most new residents to Edmonton were from elsewhere in the country.

5. Cultural renewal in downtown

Images of the oil sands and gushing derricks may dominate when many think of Edmonton's economy, but the young city of blue-collar workers now has 80,000 students registered in postsecondary institutions, half at the sprawling University of Alberta.

While the U of A has sought to burnish its international credentials, MacEwan University has transformed itself from a community college into a bachelor's university with an iconic downtown campus. The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology has also expanded quickly, opening new buildings and laboratories annually over the past decade.

Edmonton's downtown is also undergoing a cultural renewal, led by the 2010 opening of the new Art Gallery of Alberta, a structure with winding steel and zinc ribbons designed by one of Frank Gehry's protégés. Nearby, a new home for the Royal Alberta Museum should be finished by 2016.

Associated Graphic

Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky celebrate after winning their fourth Stanley Cup with the Oilers in 1988. The team has not won a chamionship in more than two decades.

MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS

Gifted scientist made impact on health care
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Praised for making strides in birth-defect research, genetic counsellor was harshly criticized for her involvement with eugenics
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By RON CSILLAG
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Special to The Globe and Mail
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Monday, December 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S9


Margaret Thompson was one of Canada's most respected geneticists, a pioneer in genetic counselling and a devoted researcher into the causes of certain diseases.

She also participated in one of the darker chapters in this country's history.

Hailed as a gifted scientist who had a lasting impact on Canada's health care system, Dr. Thompson also served for two years on the Alberta Eugenics Board, which approved the forced sterilization of individuals deemed unfit to reproduce.

Margaret (Peggy) Anne Wilson Thompson, who died in Toronto on Nov. 3 at the age of 94, was born on the Isle of Man, in England, on Jan. 7, 1920, and was six years old when her family moved to Saskatchewan. Like many young women at the time, she completed teacher training, and taught in rural schools for two years. She graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1943 with a degree in biology, and completed a PhD in zoology, specializing in metabolic genetics, from the University of Toronto in 1948.

She spent two years teaching at the University of Western Ontario before moving to the University of Alberta in Edmonton, where she taught zoology and started the Hereditary Genetic Counselling clinic. She also served on the Alberta Eugenics Board from 1960 to 1962, which authorized the sterilization of institutionalized "mentally defective" people who presented "the danger of procreation" if discharged and risked "transmission of [their] disability" to potential children. She was the board's last surviving member, according to the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada.

Eugenics was introduced in 1883 by Francis Galton, who was Charles Darwin's cousin, to apply the ideals behind the selective breeding of plants and animals to humans in order to weed out defects, including insanity, criminality and mental incompetence, and improve the quality of the human "gene pool." It is widely dismissed today as pseudo-science and a violation of basic human rights.

Founded in 1928 to implement Alberta's Sexual Sterilization Act, the rotating, four-person eugenics board approved the mostly involuntary sterilization of 2,834 individuals until it was shut down, and the act repealed, in 1972 by the government of thenpremier Peter Lougheed. The only other eugenics board in Canada existed in British Columbia from 1933 to 1973.

In 1999, then-premier Ralph Klein apologized for the Alberta board's work and offered millions of dollars in compensation to survivors.

Dr. Thompson's death notice, the many online condolences and tributes, various biographies, her entry in the Canadian Encyclopedia and, most notably, her 1988 Order of Canada citation - none makes any mention of her involvement on the eugenics board. Instead, they focus on the life and work of a protean scientist, mentor and teacher.

"[Eugenics] was not a subject that I recall her speaking about," said her son Bruce Thompson, "until the mid-1990s, when she informed us that the actions of the board were being investigated and that her testimony would be required. Other than knowing that she was giving testimony in Alberta, I recall no further conversations with her on this matter."

Some of her former colleagues expressed shock at discovering Dr. Thompson's involvement in eugenics, and had difficulty reconciling it with what they knew of her. "She never mentioned it to me and I'm astonished, actually. I was completely ignorant of it," said Brian Lowry, a Calgary geneticist who knew Dr. Thompson since the late 1950s.

"It's a complete surprise and it doesn't fit in with my later warm knowledge of Peggy. She was a terrific teacher and mentor to countless number of students."

Though not a medical doctor, Dr. Thompson "was a superb diagnostician at the bedside, and more skilled in dealing with patients and their families than most physicians I've worked with since," said Kathy Siminovitch, a clinician and geneticist at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital who was once Dr. Thompson's summer student. "She was like a mother, friend and huge role model for me, and I am pretty sure that many women, and probably men, in the world of Canadian genetics feel the same way," she said in a printed tribute.

Some of Dr. Thompson's friends maintain that the eugenics board's decisions were based on the best scientific advice and medical techniques available in those days, and were in step with the public mood at the time. She meant well, they stress, she was young and maybe pressured to serve, and it was just two years in a long career.

Others have been less charitable. One scientist at a 2011 University of Alberta panel called Dr. Thompson's Order of Canada "a blight on our profession." And Rob Wells, an Alberta humanrights activist, launched a campaign years ago to strip her of the honour, based on her "serious attacks on human dignity and grave humiliation and degradation of human beings."

Detractors also argue that Dr. Thompson not only never apologized or expressed regret for her role in eugenics, but defended it.

Charles Scriver, Canada's first human biochemical geneticist, recalled Dr. Thompson as being "at the vanguard of what human and molecular genetics became what [they are] now." Asked whether a geneticist in 1960 would consider eugenics as part of her normal calling or, imposing the modern standard, repellent, Dr. Scriver replied, "on the border between repellent and part of [the] practice of the day."

After Dr. Thompson left the board, she headed back east in 1963, landing at the University of Toronto, where she taught molecular genetics, and at the renowned Hospital for Sick Children, where she continued with genetic counselling and worked on a method of early diagnosis of Down syndrome. At both institutions, she extended her research on human genetics and their role in childhood diseases, particularly muscular dystrophy. She retired from the Hospital for Sick Children in 1988.

She published widely on a variety of genetic disorders, but her passion was muscular dystrophy, according to a tribute published by two of her colleagues, doctors Lou Siminovitch and Ron Worton. Dr. Thompson "kept precise records of [muscular dystrophy's] clinical features, carrier status of mothers and a detailed family history." This proved invaluable when Dr. Worton identified the gene responsible for variants of the disease known as Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies.

She and her husband, James Thompson, a professor of anatomy, co-authored what has become a standard textbook, Genetics in Medicine, first published in 1966. Eugenics, they acknowledged in the textbook, was thought to have been "discredited" when it was used in Nazi Germany to justify mass murder.

Dr. Thompson had leadership roles in all her profession's main organizations - the Genetics Society of Canada (now folded into the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences), the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists, which ensures that physicians and scientists play equal roles, and the American Society of Human Genetics. She received top awards from all of them, and the Canadian organizations have annual prizes named for her.

The Order of Canada cited her as "a pioneer in medical genetics in Canada and one of the leaders in genetic counselling in North America. Her research into the genetic causes of muscular dystrophy, neural tube defects and the prenatal diagnosis of birth defects has brought relief from anxiety and suffering to families afflicted with genetic disease, and have had a considerable impact on the quality of health care enjoyed by Canadians."

In a 1996 National Film Board production, The Sterilization of Leilani Muir, Dr. Thompson spoke about the eugenics board's workings. "Patients were always seen by us personally, and that gave us an opportunity to see for ourselves what kind of people they were, to make some sort of judgment about their intelligence and their functioning - their ability to function as members of society. Would they make good parents and would they transmit their biological defects? Those were the two big considerations."

One study later showed that First Nation and Métis people had a 75-per-cent chance of being sterilized once they were approved, making them the group most likely to undergo the procedure.

Soon after leaving the board, Dr. Thompson conceded that eugenics had limited success.

Addressing a conference in Ottawa in 1964, she admitted that "the positive genetic effect [of sterilizations in Canada] is negligible" and "that sterilization of defective children was not particularly helpful eugenically."

Genetic counselling, not involuntary sterilization, was most likely to prove useful, she stated.

Even so, she defended her eugenics work in a 1996 article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. "My attitude is that, at the time, it was a reasonable approach to a very difficult problem ... males and females in institutions did indulge in sex, as you'd expect. The children that were produced - now what kind of prospects did those children have?"

She also argued that, in a sense, eugenics was still being practised through prenatal diagnosis and therapeutic abortion, "and people don't get up in arms over that because it's not something decided by the state."

In 1995, Dr. Thompson was a witness for the government of Alberta in a high-profile lawsuit brought against the province by Leilani Muir, who was 14 and an inmate at the Provincial Training School for Mental Defectives in Red Deer when she was sterilized without her knowledge in 1958 (prior to Dr. Thompson's time on the board). Ms. Muir was told that her appendix was being removed, which was also true.

The court found that Dr. Thompson believed eugenics "represented good social policy before the advent of easy contraception and before abortions were legal."

The idea of sterilizing anyone for social reasons "is something that we have never supported and we remain strongly opposed to any such activity," Dr. Lou Siminovitch and Dr. Worton said in response. They, too, found statements attributed to Dr. Thompson out of character.

In any event, Ms. Muir won her case and was awarded $740,780 in damages and $230,000 in legal fees. Asked years later in a CBC interview what she would say to Dr. Thompson, she replied, "I wouldn't even waste my breath."

Dr. Thompson was among those scientists who delivered early warnings against genetic engineering - the direct manipulation of a human genome. "Man can stop making atom bombs if he wants to," she told The Globe and Mail in 1976, "but a biological monster, once created, goes on reproducing itself.

Humanity might find itself in a sorcerer's apprentice situation."

Dr. Thompson was predeceased by her husband and her son Gordon. She leaves her son Bruce and two grandchildren.

Associated Graphic

Margaret Anne Wilson Thompson worked on an early diagnosis of Down syndrome while at the Hospital for Sick Children.

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO ARCHIVES

The Order of Canada cited Dr. Thompson as having eased the suffering of 'families afflicted with genetic disease.'

UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN

BOARD GAMES
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13TH ANNUAL CORPORATE GOVERNANCE RANKINGS
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By JANET MCFARLAND
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Monday, November 24, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1


Women make up just 7.8 per cent of seats on the boards of energy companies and 11 per cent in mining and forestry firms

Inthe financial services, utilities, health care, consumer staples and telecommunications sectors, women account for between 20 per cent and 25 per cent of corporate directors

The sector gap: Why are resource firms so far behind on gender?

jmcfarland@globeandmail.com

When it comes to putting women on company boards, Canada has two solitudes: the resource sector and everyone else.

Despite years of high-profile pressure to bolster the representation of women on boards - including new diversity disclosure rules from regulators taking effect Dec. 31 - Canada's resource companies remain far behind the curve. Women fill just 7.8 per cent of seats on the boards of energy companies in Canada and 11 per cent in mining and forestry firms.

In most other sectors - including financial services, utilities, telecommunications, health care and consumer staples - women now account for between 20 per cent and 25 per cent of corporate directors, a proportion that has been growing rapidly as companies respond to calls from regulators, shareholders and advocacy groups for greater diversity in senior roles.

Calgary-based corporate director Stella Thompson, a retired Petro-Canada executive, says the slow pace of improvement on board diversity in the energy sector is becoming an embarrassment for women in Alberta's oil patch.

"There are lots of capable women to help with boards," she says. "You don't necessarily have to be the CEO of an oil company - you need a few of those, but you don't need all of them."

Not all resource companies are dragging their feet, and some of the largest firms have made major strides to add multiple women to the boards. But they remain a minority, and the slow pace of change means the sector is falling behind as other industries move more quickly to embrace diversity.

A review of Canada's largest 251 companies in the S&P/TSX composite index as of Oct. 21 shows 55 per cent of energy companies have no women on their boards, and 42 per cent of mining and forestry companies have no women, compared with just 16 per cent of all other firms in the index.

Ms. Thompson believes no men in Calgary's tight-knit energy community are against the idea of diversity, but it has not become a priority for many, either.

They are accustomed to filling boards with colleagues who previously worked together, were joint-venture partners or helped form startup companies, she says. They often belong to the city's top three private clubs and even live in the same exclusive neighbourhoods in Calgary.

"There's trust and friendship, and it has worked well," she says. "Many of them have made lots of money. It's very comfortable and it's also very efficient for them, and there's no hassle - they've done this before they all know each other, and they just get together and move through whatever you have to do ... So in their minds there's no need or desire to change."

Success stories in the resources sector, however, serve to highlight how much more can be done for those who make the effort.

Vancouver-based copper miner Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd., for example, has both a female CEO - Kay Priestly - and a female incoming board chair, Jill Gardiner. The company, which is controlled by global mining giant Rio Tinto PLC, currently has three women on its eight-member board, but will have two after Ms. Priestly retires at the end of this month.

"The practical reality is that it often takes an individual to really get behind finding women for these roles," says Ms. Gardiner, who credits Ms. Priestly for pushing to have gender diversity on the board.

Ms. Gardiner said it can be a "self-fulfilling prophecy" for resource companies to argue they have few women directors because there are few senior women executives in the sector. Instead, she says boards should look for women with other needed skills, such as finance or legal backgrounds, to "fill the gap" until more mining women are available.

"An environment seen to be supportive of women at the top will be, on balance, more attractive to other women, including the talented young women entering the work force today," she argues.

Diversity advocates agree that adding women in top roles also sends a powerful signal to employees and customers that a company cares about equality and a modern work environment.

Bev Briscoe, chair of the board of heavy equipment dealer Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Inc. and a member of the Goldcorp Inc. board, says many mining companies have had other priorities as they struggle to survive in a period of low commodity prices, but are now facing strong regulatory and social pressures to become more diverse.

"I think companies that don't have women on their boards, that's the biggest shame on them," she says. "It's going to be hard over the next three years for a board to maintain the fact they don't have a woman on their board. What kind of employer are you? How progressive a thinker are you?"

Ms. Briscoe says there are clearly fewer women working in the resources sector than in areas such as financial services, but this is not an excuse for inaction.

"I'm not sure there is a shortage of women. But it's not simple. I think you have to work a little harder in the resource sector - you have to go a little further."

She joined the Goldcorp board, for example, after spending her career in the transportation sector working with resource clients. She calls it a "dotted line" connection to the mining industry.

On Friday, Vancouver-based miner Teck Resources Ltd. announced the appointment of two women to its board, both with financial services backgrounds.

Canada's largest institutional investors have not played a major role in pressuring companies to hire more women for their boards and are typically not linking their investment decisions to diversity. But the powerful Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, which represents most of Canada's largest institutional investors, is asking companies with no women what they are planning to do about it, says executive director Stephen Erlichman.

He has little sympathy for giving resource companies more time than other sectors to become more diverse.

"They just need to go beyond their current comfort level of friends or whatever, and I believe they will find them," Mr. Erlichman said.

Calgary-based corporate director Kathy Sendall, a former executive at Petro-Canada, has seen how much progress can be made when companies make a concerted effort to search for women.

Ms. Sendall was the only woman on the board of Paris-based geoscience company CGG, which serves the energy industry, when she joined in 2010. But the company later added three more female directors after France adopted quotas requiring companies to have 40 per cent women on their boards by 2017.

"One of my board colleagues said, 'It's amazing how many qualified women are out there when you're forced to look for them,' " Ms. Sendall recalls.

She said the experience of quotas helped convince many skeptics in France that there was no need to compromise on quality when companies recruited women.

"When you get into these discussions with some of these guys, there's this presumption of a dilution of quality - they presume that if they have to bring women onto their boards then somehow the quality of the directors sitting around the board table is going to be diluted," she said.

"And in fact you get some of these wonderful candidates who bring so much to the table, and they were blissfully unaware of them before."

Director Sarah Raiss, a former executive at TransCanada Corp. who now sits on four major corporate boards including Vermilion Energy Inc. and Canadian Oil Sands Ltd., says effective strategies for boards include creating targets for women, or pledging to choose a woman for every second or third board vacancy.

Boards with no immediate vacancies have temporarily increased their size to add one woman, she says, then have shrunk back when the next man is scheduled to retire.

"A lot of people are starting to say, 'We can either be forced to do this, or we can take charge of it and do it the way we think is most effective for our company,' " she says. "Every single one of my Calgary boards - and they are all resource-based - are looking at diversity."

There are many signs of mounting progress in Canada's resources sector.

Data from director search firm Spencer Stuart show women accounted for 12 per cent of new board appointments at mining companies between 2009 and 2011, but that proportion climbed to 42 per cent from 2012 to 2014.

The energy sector has remained steady with women accounting for 23 per cent of all new directors appointed in both time periods, which is the slowest pace of new intake of a major industry sector.

Over all, women filled 43 per cent of new board appointments in 2014 among Canada's 100 largest companies, a jump from 28 per cent in 2013 and three times higher than the rate in 2009, Spencer Stuart said.

"In mining specifically, we've had more inquiries from that sector for diverse [board] candidates than ever before," says Spencer Stuart board recruiter Tanya van Biesen, who is responsible for overseeing searches for diversity candidates for boards.

The progress is especially rapid at Canada's 60 biggest companies, which have often been leaders in corporate governance practices. Only three companies in the S&P/TSX index had no women on their boards until recently, and two of them - Crescent Point Energy Corp. and Eldorado Gold Corp. - added a woman to their boards in the past two months.

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. is now the only company remaining in the S&P/TSX 60 index with no women on its nine-member board. Company spokesman Brian Cattell said First Quantum "recognizes the benefits and importance of diversity" on boards and has been "actively" seeking a female director through a global search.

"Our practice, for proven effectiveness reasons, is to have a relatively small board," Mr. Cattell said. "This means that with normal rotation we only look for a new director every few years."

First Quantum added a new independent director to its board in each of 2012 and in 2013, but both were men.

WOMEN IN BOARDROOMS BY SECTOR: WORST TO BEST

Associated Graphic

MURAT YÜKSELIR/THE GLOBE AND MAIL; RESEARCH: JANET McFARLAND/THE GLOBE AND MAIL SOURCE: THE CLARKSON CENTRE FOR BUSINESS ETHICS AND BOARD EFFECTIVENESS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

MAKING UP FOR LOST TIME
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The restoration of diplomatic, travel and trade ties signals the beginning of the end of a long standoff
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By SIMONA CHIOSE
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Thursday, December 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A10


Photos of the days of gangsters, casinos and Frank Sinatra line the hallways of the century-old Hotel Sevilla in Havana, the pictures a reminder of what Cuba was before Fidel Castro and his band of Sierra Maestra rebels changed the destiny of the island country forever. Like other wealthy Cubans, the Sevilla's owner, a Uruguayan mobster by the name of Don Amleto Battisti y Lora, lost it all not long after the revolution of Jan. 1, 1959.

Within a few years, tens of thousands of well-educated professionals had left, the majority embarking on what they thought would be a short-term stay in Miami.

Time flies. A virulent nostalgia has coloured relations between Cuba and the United States ever since, with the "Miami mafia" - the Communists' favoured moniker for the exiles - funding and advocating for the overthrow of the regime, and the Cuban government warning that its death would return the country to the days when the CubanAmerican Sugar Company employed thousands for poverty wages.

As that first wave of migrants has died and Fidel himself, 88, moves closer to that inevitable future, the revolution's shadow has receded. In the words of U.S.

President Barack Obama, the revolution and the years that followed are "events that took place before most of us were born."

And so begins the beginning of the end, with an announcement that the United States will work to establish diplomatic ties and allow more travel and trade.

The United States will also reopen its embassy in Havana. The announcement is not an admission that the United States government has failed over the course of a 54-year embargo to destroy the regime. Instead, it's an acceptance of the reality that the flow of money and people between the two states is unstoppable.

Most importantly, the rapprochement between the two countries suggests the future: a day to come when the embargo could be lifted. That would deprive the regime of its perennial excuse for every failure, from internal political repression to the meagre rations that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

The fear in opening the window to the United States is that what will fly through it is the past.

Some have already glimpsed this future in the nightclubs and the Mercedes that drive along the Malecon even as the majority of the population is still holding together 1950s Cadillacs with electrical tape and elastics. The hope is that the opening is the beginning of an era that will see light bulbs return to the lamps on the Paseo del Prado and Americans take diving trips in the Bay of Pigs alongside Canadians. The hope is that those changes won't take another five decades.

When they were friends

Rita Hayworth, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Meyer Lansky.

That was the gang that ruled Havana - and the American imagination about Cuba - in the 1950s.

A "very lively atmosphere" in Irving Berlin's words had pervaded the city for decades and American singers and showgirls would fly in overnight for shows at the Tropicana. "It never stopped," said a society columnist of the time.

The swish had been built substantially on American economic and political domination. Periodic U.S. military interventions had protected the investments of the Cuban American Sugar Company and other U.S. companies from any hint of populist threat through the early part of the 20th century. Later, Mob money poured into luxury hotels, casinos and bars, but much of the population did not benefit from the boom. It all came to an end on Jan. 1, 1959, when U.S.-supported President Fulgencio Batista fled to the Dominican Republican and Fidel Castro's guerrilla forces formed a government.

'Those who wait'

Fidel Castro's arrival in power did not lead to an overnight exodus.

In fact, it was hard to read the new administration and there were even disagreements about whether closing the casinos would turn off an important financial tap. Within a year, however, the government nationalized major industries and, to the upper class and much of the middle class, it became clear that the changes would not be in their favour.

Alejandro Portes, a sociologist and a Cuban-American, has baptized this first wave as "those who wait" who were followed not long after by "those who escaped." The first group were waiting for a quick overthrow of the Castro government, the second departed after those hopes were dashed by the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Politics were personal. When the government closed private schools and universities, well-off families sent 14,000 unaccompanied children out of the country.

A dialogue

The current opening to Cuba has a precedent in a dialogue in the 1970s between then U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Fidel Castro. The two leaders opened some diplomatic relations, allowed Cuban-Americans to visit relatives on the island and negotiated the release of political prisoners.

Many Cuban-Americans were outraged. Extremists in this group had been implicated in terrorist attacks, including the bombing of a Cubana plane that killed all 73 on board.

These conversations culminated with the emigration of more than 125,000 exiles during what came to be known as the Mariel boatlift. They travelled in speedboats but also home-made rafts, taking advantage of U.S. laws that accepted refugee claims from any Cuban able to reach its shore.

Twenty-seven refugees died trying to cross those 140 kilometres.

The Cold War

Without the Cold War, Cuba's chances to withstand the American embargo, imposed less than a year after the revolution, would have been slim. Cuba's turn to the Soviet Union for protection led to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, but for decades after it benefited from billions in trade, with the Russians buying sugar and exporting oil.

It was a dependence that would almost lead to Cuba's collapse when the protection ended in the early 1990s and Cubans became accustomed to a new Russian import: lineups for everything.

Even as the Russians dominated, Canada was there too, never breaking off relations with the revolutionary government. Former prime minister Pierre Trudeau counted Fidel Castro among his friends. Canadians make up more than 40 per cent of Cuba's tourists, drawn by the beaches, but also by a country still seemingly frozen in time.

Handing over the reins

According to some counts, there have been 638 assassination attempts on Fidel Castro's life.

That number suggests how some believed that killing the bearded leader would end the Communist Party's reign. The past few years, since the elder Castro handed the reins over to his younger brother, now 83, show how wrong that calculation was. Raul is presiding over one of the most successful eras in Cuban history.

Indeed, it has been U.S. politicians who have made the larger adjustments. Until the 1980s, Cuban-Americans in Florida voted for the Democrats. Calculated efforts from Jeb Bush and George W. Bush stoked their support, promising no end to the embargo. The state has grown multiethnic, however, with a younger Cuban-American population that does not share its parents' vehemence. Opening relations with Cuba may once again open the hearts of these voters to the Democrats.

Looking to the future

It was a handshake that almost upstaged the main event: the funeral of Nelson Mandela. A year and a week ago, Barack Obama shook Raul Castro's hand, the first such public handshake between a U.S. president and a Cuban one since the revolution.

The symbolic gesture followed many more substantial changes.

Cuban-Americans have been able to visit relatives in the country and send money home for a few years (the new changes announced Wednesday include an increase to the amount of remittances). The impact of the policy shifts from the United States have been amplified by equivalent changes in Cuban government policy. Money from relatives abroad has been used to open restaurants and businesses, renovate dilapidated homes into bed-and-breakfasts and buy new cars that can chauffeur tourists around in air-conditioned comfort.

Casinos in Havana? Not if, but when.

Associated Graphic

1. General Fulgencio Batista, and his wife, Marta. He was the elected president of Cuba in the 1940s and in power as a dictator from 1952 to 1959.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

2. Fidel Castro and Che Guevara led the revolution that ousted the Batista regime on Jan. 1, 1959.

THE NEW YORK TIMES

3. Fidel Castro met Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in New York when the two attended the UN General Assembly in September, 1960. Cuba became increasingly dependent on the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

NEAL BOENZI/THE NEW YORK TIMES

4. Cuban counter revolutionaries were captured in the Bay of Pigs during a failed military invasion undertaken by a CIA-sponsored paramilitary group in April, 1961.

MIGUEL VINAS/AFP FILE PHOTO

5. In 1962 U.S. President John Kennedy met with Air Force Major Richard 'Steve' Heyser, left, and Air Force Chief of Staff, General Curtis LeMay, centre, to discuss U-2 spy plane flights over Cuba.

RICHARD HEYSER PRIVATE COLLECTION/AP

6. U.S. President John F. Kennedy annotated a map of the island during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a 13-day confrontation in October, 1962, with the Soviet Union over its ballistic missiles deployed in Cuba.

BRIAN SNYDER/REUTERS

7. The Mariel boatlift in 1980 saw a mass migration of more than 125,000 Cubans to the United States. Some 80,000 settled in Miami, whose future was being shaped by its large population of Cuban exiles.

TIM CHAPMAN/AP

8. American cars of pre-1960 vintage remain on the streets of Cuba to this day, partly because of the U.S. economic embargo of the island that cut off trade since 1960.

KEVIN VAN PAASSEN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

9. Six-year-old Elian Gonzalez was at the heart of a power struggle between Cuba and the U.S. in 2000. His mother drowned while attempting to flee the island. The U.S. initially placed the boy with Miami relatives, but then U.S. border-patrol agents seized him to send back to his father in Cuba.

AP

10. Two planes belonging to Brothers to the Rescue, a non-profit group formed by exiles in Florida, were shot down by Cuban fighter planes in 1996. Boatloads of CubanAmericans flocked to the site to leave flowers.

RICK BOWMER/AP

11. U.S. President Barack Obama greeted Cuban President Raul Castro during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg in December, 2013, in a rare gesture of rapprochement between the two nations.

KAI PFAFFENBACH/REUTERS

Vegan, pan-Indian, back-to-basics Italian, Northern Vietnamese - take your pick
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By ALEXANDRA GILL
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3


10. BLACKTAIL

Blacktail Florist is dead; long live Blacktail. The original Gastown restaurant, which opened early this year, was a modernist victim of these back-to-basic times. Vancouverites have limited patience for the molecular techniques - "pop rocks" on endive or precious mushroom "soils" - beloved by the opening chef, Jimmy Stewart. Geoff Rogers, a Top Chef alumnus from Calgary, usurped the throne last summer and turned things around by concentrating on haute comfort food (hearty pork chops seared in brown butter with pretzel spaetzle), housemade everything (bread, preserves, bacon) and classic techniques (meltingly tender duck breast seared on cast-iron from start to finish and silky bison tartar finely cubed to order). Mr. Rogers does use some modernist tools, but applies them judiciously, always with an eye on flavour over flair. His oysters, slightly plumped with their own brine and horseradish-cucumber mignonette, are the best ocean gems I ate all year. 332 Water St., 604-699-0249; blacktailflorist.ca

9. MR. RED CAFÉ

Can a mom-and-pop hole-in-thewall qualify as one of Vancouver's best new restaurants? It certainly does when the kitchen delivers food this delectably fresh, exquisitely balanced and altogether different. Almost every Vietnamese restaurant in the city hails from the south. Mr. Red Café's owners, chef Hong Nguyen and his charming wife, Rose, are from Hanoi in the north. The flavours are brighter, lighter, more herbaceous. Pho from the south is murky and rich, but theirs is green and fragrant, bobbing with shredded chicken, big shiitake mushroom caps, chives, cilantro and kaffir lime leaf. "Mmm, mmmm, mmmmm!" The moans grow louder with every dish - from sour-and-spicy bun cha noodle soup served with a bundle of fresh herbs on the side, to the velvety made-in-house chicken-pork paté smeared across a warm baguette sprinkled with crispy fried shallots. Don't forget to order a refreshingly sour coffee yogurt drink. 2234 E. Hastings St., 604-710-9515

8. BOULEVARD KITCHEN & OYSTER BAR

Boulevard may not be a steadily great restaurant, yet. The service is inconsistent, the food can be hit and miss. The design is a weird maze of dark dining rooms. But there's no denying that the bar has quickly become the city's most glamorous hot spot. Order one of Justin Taylor's gloriously inventive cocktails - the Van Dusen Sour smells exactly like a local cherry blossom-strewn street in spring. Chat up "Oyster Bob" Skinner as he shucks you a dozen. Try the funky, caramelized-fish-sauce-coated chicken wings or the extravagant seafood tower. Chef Alex Chen, a former Canadian Bocuse d'Or contender, spent seven years cooking at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The Oyster Bar, with its white leather, marble countertops and polished bronze accents, captures that luxe. Just look around at the dapper gentlemen in fedoras and well-manicured women wearing killer leopard-patterned Louboutin heels. It feels more like L.A. than Vancouver. 845 Burrard St., 604-642-2900; boulevardvancouver.ca

7. EXILE BISTRO

There aren't many restaurants in Vancouver where vegans and carnivores can happily break bread together. Exile Bistro might be "wild at heart," but it offers a safe harbour for all types. The plantforward menu, which leans heavily on foraged herbs, local produce and ethically sourced game meats (if you choose), makes healthy food taste insanely delicious. Eggs Benedict are so rich and creamy you won't believe the Hollandaise is not made with butter (they use yogurt instead). The green Caesar cocktails, mixed with algae and house-pickled veggies, taste too good to be cleansing. The flexitarian fondue, served with or without venison and elk, comes with a mushroom broth so ambrosial you'll want to lift the cast-iron pot to your lips and drink every last drop. Owner Vanessa Bourget, a holistic nutritionist from Quebec, has created a cozy neighbourhood hangout tucked beside the West End's rainbow-painted crosswalk, with delightful staff and lively DJ nights.1220 Bute St., 604-563-8633; exilebistro.com

6. CINARA

Chefs Lucais Syme and Gillian Book built their reputations on pasta. The husband-and-wife team have worked together at Parkside, La Buca, La Quercia, La Ghianda and La Pentola at the Opus Hotel (which they still own). So it was awfully brave for them to open a restaurant that only serves pasta as the occasional special. To some this might seem like sacrilege in an Italian restaurant. But Cinara isn't really Italian. It's more southern European with a repertoire that trips from salt-cod baccala and polenta crostini to fermented-kamut crepe stuffed with ricotta, braised oxtail and nettles. The fresh ingredients are constantly changing, but the cooking is rigorously classical and often labour intensive (silky brined veal tongue, tender octopus salt-rubbed and poached for hours). This whimsical room, with its mismatched wooden chairs and antique china, is so charming, you won't miss the pasta. 350 W. Pender St., 604-428-9694; cinara.ca

5. ASK FOR LUIGI

I have slavishly followed chef Jean-Christophe Poirier since he left Lumière to open the shortlived Chow. From Campagnolo to Pourhouse and Pizzeria Farina, he has never let me down. He's Québécois, but he caresses Italian cuisine with the deftness of a native. That's because he understands the fundamentals of taste. He knows that a touch of chili heat balances the fattiness in duck ragu. He knows that lightly cooking San Marzano tomato sauce to order will better capture its fresh acidity, rather than stewing it in heavy sweetness. He knows better than to blanch his fried cauliflower so it browns up nicely in the deep fryer. Ask For Luigi isn't trying to reinvent the wheel. The casual, wood-panelled room offers Italian basics - antipasti, salads and hand-made pastas - done well. The wines are always interesting. Even with all its long lineups and tightly squeezed tables, Ask For Luigi is my favourite offnight go-to dining destination. 305 Alexander St., 604-428-2544; askforluigi.com

4. CHEF TONY SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

There's been a sea change in the Richmond dining scene over the last few years. An infusion of affluence from mainland China has triggered an explosion of foie gras, truffles, first-growth Bordeaux wines and $100-plus fried rice plates in ostentatious restaurants. But nobody does luxury better than Chef Tony He, an e-commerce magnate and minor celebrity in China, where he also owns several restaurants. The chef-owner sold Richmond's Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant to an employee last year and reinvented himself with this glossy white restaurant, appointed with crystal chandeliers and jumbo TV screens. Why do diners line up out the door every day for his dim sum? Because the chef is a stickler for classic technique. The stuffing in his black truffle, pork and shrimp dumplings is hand cut with such tight precision it melts in the mouth. Pan-fried chicken wings, filled with goose liver and sticky rice, are magnificently deboned without a single sliver. Mushroom pastries are so buttery they leave a glistening sheen on your lips. 101-4600 Number 3 Rd., Richmond, 604-279-0083; cheftonycanada.com

3. CHAMBAR

If Vancouver is a polyglot city, Chambar is the quintessential expression of our diverse flavours. With its mélange of Belgian, Moroccan, French and Asian influences, this restaurant is impossible to define. Yet when chef Nico Schuermans and his wife, Karri, opened their doors 10 years ago, they certainly created a new gold standard for casual fine dining. Last summer, Chambar reopened in a larger location two doors down with a year-round patio and expanded menu that includes breakfast and lunch. The exposed brick and red-leather decor is still sleek and sophisticated. A few signature dishes - Congolaise moules frites, spiced foie gras terrine, lamb shank tajine - remain on the menu. Yet the restaurant feels new and exciting, full of surprises in every sip and bite. Superb cocktails are now garnished with hand-carved glacial ice. Silky frog legs that slip off tiny bones are gently sautéed in spicy sriracha. The best restaurants never rest on their laurels. Chambar is an exemplar of reinvention. 568 Beatty St., 604-879-7119; chambar.com

2. CAFÉ MEDINA

I hate lining up for a restaurant that doesn't take reservations. Yet I would happily stand outside in the pelting rain for upward of an hour (the typical wait time, even on a weekday) for a Moroccan "burger" with caramelized ground beef slid between pita bread spiked with hot housemade harissa paste and fragrantly spiced preserved lemon. Café Medina opened in 2008 as a humble spillover space for Chambar. But then its experimental breakfast service exploded. When the owners of Chambar decided to move last spring, they split up with their Medina partner Robbie Kane, who also chose to change location and move downtown. I don't think I've witnessed a more successful transformation. With chef Jonathan Chovancek - a master of spicing, seasoning and sourcing - at the helm, Café Medina has done the impossible. It's a brunch joint that has become one of Vancouver's must-try destinations. 780 Richards St., 604-879-3114; medinacafe.com

1. MY SHANTI BY VIKRAM VIJ

The shimmering exterior covered in 50,000 small, mirrored discs says it all. This pan-Indian restaurant is a singular creation inside and out. If you're not familiar with Vikram Vij, the new star of CBC's Dragon's Den and owner of the world-renowned Vij's in downtown Vancouver, you should know that his exuberant, down-to-earth yet consummately professional personality is perfectly encapsulated here. Whereas upscale Vij's offers contemporary Indian rooted in French technique, My Shanti is a semiupscale eatery that specializes in regional Indian inspired by the chef's annual sojourns through his home country. From Mumbai, we get incredibly tender squid perfectly balanced with mouthpuckering tamarind, bitter curry leaves and sweet spikes of sugar.

From Goa, we're introduced to oyster pakoras gently fried in chickpea flour so the batter stays soft and the meat still wiggles.

Right down to dessert, a luxuriously creamy barfi dusted with pomegranate seeds, every dish is divine. 15896 Croyden Dr., Surrey, 604-560-4416; myshanti.com

Associated Graphic

Clockwise from top left: Octopus salad from Cinara restaurant; steamed egg sponge cake at Chef Tony; Blacktail's roast scallops; pork bun cha at Mr. Red Café; uni on rice crackers from the Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar; the shiny exterior of My Shanti restaurant; chef Jonathan Chovancek dresses a dish at Café Medina.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The best cookbooks of 2014
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We ask a lot of cookbooks: to make us hungry, to comfort and entertain us, to open new worlds that are visible only through food. We want all that and we want them to help us cook delicious things, too. Chris Nuttall-Smith's top 20 picks do all that and more
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By CHRIS NUTTALL-SMITH
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Wednesday, December 3, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1


FOR DOMESTIC DIVOS, BUDDING CHEFS (AND REAL CHEFS TOO)

Prune, by Gabrielle Hamilton The first cookbook from the chef and owner - and best-selling memoirist - behind one of New York's most beloved little bistros, Prune is written like the pages of a restaurant cook's recipe binder, complete with all the smudge marks and stern marginalia. The recipes are French, sort of, and Italian, sort of: duck liver garbure with toasted chestnuts; carrots with preserved lemon butter and honeycomb - all filtered through Hamilton's singularly refreshing lens. An instant classic, and my favourite cookbook of 2014.

A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse, by Mimi Thorisson

As you cook through this effortlessly elegant look into a kitchen in the Médoc countryside, you'll have no doubts as to why so many top North American chefs have farmhouse French on their lips of late. Thorisson, a star food blogger and television host, makes excellent almond soup and chestnut ice cream, rustic beef cheeks stewed in wine and a knockout potato and Comté cheese pie.

Heritage, by Sean Brock

A backwoods Virginia coal-country boy who grew up to become one of North America's most respected chefs, Sean Brock embraces his roots rather than forsaking them. Heritage is a sublime journey into the soul of Southern cooking, with star turns from once-lost Southern ingredients, and cheffy, must-make recipes for the likes of dilled green tomatoes, brown oyster stew and bang-on fried chicken and gravy.

J.K.: The Jamie Kennedy Cookbook, by Jamie Kennedy with Ivy Knight

The pioneering Toronto chef has built his career adapting classic French techniques and recipes to Canadian ingredients. This cookbook, his third, is also his best, with dishes such as whitefish poached in sunflower oil, duck with sour cherries and a superb chicken soup enriched with wild rice noodles. The recipes are rustic and elegant, tasty Canadiana from cover to cover.

Historic Heston, by Heston Blumenthal

It's rare to find a great chef who doesn't scour old cookbooks and journals for inspiration; Blumenthal, the celebrated British modernist, does several better than that, enlisting top culinary historians to help reinterpret centuries-old dishes into preposterously complex modern restaurant recipes. The journey, documented in a series of fascinating essays and stunning pictures, makes for a deeply engrossing read. (First published last year at $160; this is the $75 re-release.)

FOR GLOBAL PALATES

Mallmann on Fire, by Francis Mallmann

The Argentine Mallmann is a master of gaucho-style cooking: Picture a roaring fire, an open plain and enormous cuts of fish and beef and you've pretty much got this book nailed. The man brings certifiable artistry to grilling: a whole pork leg, say, roasted slowly over embers and sauced with orange, black pepper and rosemary, or chicken livers seared on a scorching flattop with charred endives and parsley oil. If you've got a barbecue loon on your list, this one's a gimme.

Mexico: The Cookbook, by Margarita Carrillo Arronte

The breadth of this superb, 700page Mexican cooking bible is astonishing: There are more than 30 regionally specific salsa recipes alone. While it won't be the last word for all Mexican food lovers (some of the recipes are notably stripped down), it's a sure-fire first reference, with beautiful photos throughout.

My Portugal, by George Mendes

If you've eaten in Lisbon or Porto recently, you'll know that Portuguese cooking is one of the most vibrant, delicious and up-to-themoment cuisines on the planet.

George Mendes, the chef at New York's acclaimed Aldea restaurant, brings that sense of progress to every dish in this exquisite cookbook. There are plenty of chef recipes (crispy pig's ears with ramps and cumin yogurt), but enough simple, gorgeous entries, too (linguica and chourico omelettes; vinho verdepoached plums; an off-the-charts tasty seafood rice) to make it a must in any cosmopolitan home cook's collection.

Plenty More, by Yotam Ottolenghi

This follow-up to the London-Israeli chef and trend maker's vegetarian blockbuster, Plenty, continues Ottolenghi's roundthe-world search for "vibrant vegetable cooking." There are caramelized brandy pears with fennel-seed crackers; warming Indian curries; fresh gingery salads; and a show-stopping legume and noodle soup from Iran.

Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen, by Leela Punyaratabandhu

Punyaratabandhu's recipes are simple, but she hasn't dumbed them down for North Americans.

She's a masterful hand-holder: If you love Thai food but the ingredients and preparation have you cowed, this is the book to get.

There's a sensational red-curry duck with pineapple, excellent papaya salad, real-deal hot-andsour chicken soup, and sensible advice about what to make yourself and what to cheat and purchase at the Asian grocer's.

Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen, by Martin Morales

Peruvian cooking has everything it takes to become the next big international cuisine: exotic, bright-tasting ingredients; novel, but recognizable dishes; an inborn sense of decadence and fun. What it doesn't have much of is top-level Peruvian chefs or restaurants. London-based Morales is intent on fixing that; this approachable little book is an excellent guide. There's a tasty quinoa, butter-bean and avocado salad; mussels with cloves, cinnamon, star anise and finely chopped salsa; cassava and cheese croquettes; and a light, sweet cake made with the Peruvian spirit pisco.

FOR SWEET FREAKS

Sugar Rush: Master Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Sweet Baking, by Johnny Iuzzini

Iuzzini, an all-star New York pastry chef, breaks down dessertmaking fundamentals into photo-illustrated step-by-steps that anybody can follow. The recipes are sweet and populist, often with cheeky twists: frozen dark and stormy soufflés, Jamaican Christmas cake (with three cups of booze in it), a springtime strawberry and tarragon tart. The cover calls Sugar Rush "a complete baking course in a book;" that description's not far off.

Flavor Flours, by Alice Medrich

Medrich, one of the best baking authors going, chooses to emphasize what's in her recipes - novel, approachable ingredients such as chestnut, coconut, teff and sorghum flours - rather than what's missing. Namely, gluten. It's a semantic shift, but also an enormous one: Her chestnut meringues glacées, carrot coconut almond torte and fluffy, buttery white-rice Genoise cake taste like celebration instead of self-denial. Superb.

ASY, FAMILY-FRIENDLY

The SoBo Cookbook: Recipes from the Tofino Restaurant at the End of the Canadian Road, by Lisa Ahier

Lisa Ahier is originally from Fort Worth, Tex., and learned to cook at the Culinary Institute of America. At SoBo, her famed Tofino, B.C., restaurant, the chef has melded all those influences - along with a classically West Coast hippie sensibility - to wild, outer Pacific Coast ingredients.

Dulse, geoduck, oysters, nettles, salmon and scallops all make starring appearances in this excellent recipe collection; one standout combines kombu, bonito flakes and Japanese noodles into a brilliantly intertidal winter noodle soup.

Marcus Off-Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home, by Marcus Samuelsson

It's no surprise that Marcus Samuelsson, who was born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden and rose to star chefdom in New York, incorporates many cultures into his cooking; what's brilliant about his latest cookbook is how easy he makes it all. These are hotweather flavours, largely: plantains mashed with coconut milk, fish tacos, Durban curry buns, fire-grilled peaches with prosciutto. If you're keen to stretch your family's palate a little, this is a terrific place to start.

The Crumbs Family Cookbook: 150 Really Quick & Very Easy Recipes, by Claire and Lucy McDonald

The London-based McDonald sisters are masters of the scratchmade, kid-friendly recipe, written with humour and good sense. There's poached whole chicken with fennel and peas, "squeaky pockets of halloumi loveliness," cocoa-spiked "hipster chili" and a five-minute microwave chocolate-cake-in-a-cup that might just blow some little minds. This one's in heavy rotation around my house.

SINGLE-SUBJECT/SPECIALTY

The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, by Karen Page

The concept is gloriously simple: Instead of recipes, this indispensable reference gives buying information, "flavour affinities" and key techniques for just about any fruit, vegetable or vegetarianfriendly foodstuff imaginable, from acai to jaggery to zucchini blossoms. Want to know what to do with that farro, for instance?

There are more than 100 ideas here. And that's just one entry.

The most useful food book I've encountered in years.

Bitter: A Taste of the World's Most Dangerous Flavor, With Recipes, by Jennifer McLagan

Bitter's been a bad word for far too long. McLagan, one of the most prescient food writers going (her multi-award-winning books Fat and Odd Bits helped rehabilitate animal fat and offal), celebrates it here as a desirable flavour - "the gateway to adult taste." There are eye-opening recipes for everything from dandelion-spiked potato rosti, Campari granita and lamb with darkchocolate pepper sauce to a (wildly bitter, but beguiling) Asian bitter-melon and pork fryup.

Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails, by David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald and Alex Day

If you buy just one cocktail book, make it this one. By the partners in one of New York's most revered and beloved bars, Death & Co goes well beyond the usual dump-and-stir instructions, with detailed, highly entertaining entries on everything from glassware to ice (the ice section is genius) to stocking a bar to, well, cocktail recipes. It's The French Laundry Cookbook for boozehounds; I'd tell you to enjoy it responsibly, but then what would be the fun?

The Great Lobster Cookbook, by Matt Dean Pettit

Everything you'll ever want to know about buying, cooking and serving lobster, by the founder of Toronto's popular (and pretty terrific) Rock Lobster restaurant chain. Pettit's approach is as populist as they come: There's lobster bruschetta, "lobsicles" with Sriracha mayo, lobster thermidor made with spiced rum, and some of the best lobster rolls you'll have this side of Nova Scotia.

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PETER POWER FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

PETER FRANK EDWARDS

WILLIAM HEREFORD

PETER FRANK EDWARDS

Clockwise from top left: Charleston ice cream from Heritage. Grilled chicken wings with burnt scallion barbecue sauce from Heritage. Surfer noodle soup from the SoBo Cookbook. Four grilled fish from Mallman on Fire. Flor de jerez from Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails.

SANTIAGO SOTO MONLLOR

EREMY KORESKI

Islamic State: disease or cure?
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Patrick Graham takes a counterintuitive look at the radicals shocking the world
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By PATRICK GRAHAM
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F3


There is something reassuring about the latest atrocities committed by the Islamic State militants, whether a beheading video or this week's protocols on how to abuse the women they take prisoner.

These are obviously bad men, unsalvagable and inhuman. Many of the core fighters are foreigners - like a foreign virus - so by dealing with them militarily, so the theory goes, Canada and the rest of the U.S.-led coalition are finally applying the right medicine.

Outside Iraq, this contagion theory plays well because ISIS is so outlandish, like something out of a horror film.

But what if the metaphor is wrong? What if the Islamic State is not the problem but part of the solution - like a high fever caused by a powerful immune response fighting the virus?

After visiting Iraq recently, I found it hard not to leave with the impression that the West is fixated on the wrong problem, which is just what the militants want.

While the world's attention is focused on gruesome beheadings and gun battles, the fate of the group also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), will in fact be decided by politicians and religious leaders in Baghdad.

This is because ISIS is the result of a long process that began with the American invasion and has its roots, as well as its solution, in the politics of Iraq. Foreign military intervention is, at best, triage; at worst, counterproductive. As the Americans have proved, waging war there is the easy part.

On my way into Baghdad, I met in Amman with a wealthy Iraqi businessman whom I was told lost $200-million when ISIS took over one of his factories in Anbar, a vast desert area west of Baghdad and one of three provinces the militants partly control. It was a big loss, he said, but he'd gotten over it quickly because it was "for the people," by which he meant his fellow Iraqi Sunni Arabs, many of whom are now suffering horrifically under the yoke of ISIS.

And yet what would ISIS do if he returned to his factory? "They would kill me," he said.

Later that evening, I spent three hours with Dr. Mohammed Bashar al-Faidhi, spokesman for the Association of Muslim Scholars, the Sunni Arab spiritual body often said to have been behind the resistance to the American occupation.

Dr. Bashar is an adherent of Sufism, a spiritual movement despised by ISIS, and comes from Mosul, the city whose capture six months ago this week put ISIS on the world's radar. A fierce critic of ISIS who has condemned it on television, he too would be killed if he returned home. And yet after a lengthy explanation of the group's origins during the occupation, he spent an hour explaining why he feels that bombing ISIS is not only pointless but will only make it stronger.

So here were two leading members of the Sunni Arab community who, although threatened themselves, view ISIS almost as something positive. Like so much about Iraq, this makes little sense outside the country's peculiar logic. But these men are far from alone in considering ISIS, despite its gruesome tactics, to be attempt by radicals within a minority population to help it deal with years of political failure, alienation and violence.

For many Sunni Arabs, ISIS is simply a better option than the Shia-led government that has been running Iraq with the help of Iranian-backed death squads.

To them, ISIS is not a virus but their community's immune system in overdrive, combatting a deadly foe and, in the process, consuming everything it comes into contact with. The disease it is attacking emanates from the political backrooms of the capital, an illness that started with the initial American occupation. And a problem started by one war is unlikely to end with another.

Remarkably, for this part of the world, the history that led to the creation of ISIS is not very controversial. But Canadians, who were spared the American experience, can be forgiven for not having paid too much attention to it. We didn't have to worry about the way in which al-Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to ISIS, developed during the initial failed U.S. counterinsurgency in 2003-04 around Fallujah and during the violent collapse of Sunni Arab areas up the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.

Nor do we have to bear the humiliating responsibility of having set up a political system that encouraged the Shia majority to use its victimhood as an excuse to take revenge on the former Sunni rulers while pretending to the world this was democracy.

We had nothing to do with the creation of a new state that was so badly designed that it outlawed Sunni Arab militias while allowing Shia and Kurdish militias to flourish under a judicial system that made it virtually illegal to be a Sunni Arab - Sunni Arabs being roughly one-third of the population. Or set up a prison gulag that incubated future ISIS leaders such as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the selfstyled Caliph Ibrahim.

And we didn't pull out just as the Iraqi army was getting on its feet (and we'd spent $25-billion rebuilding it), only to watch as then prime minister Nouri al Maliki replaced experienced, mostly Saddam-era generals with incompetent lackeys.

Finally, we didn't watch in horror last January as al-Qaeda in Iraq, which had taken thousands of American lives and then virtually been wiped out, was revived in the chaos of Syria and poured back south to conquer towns like Fallujah, that had been graveyards for the U.S. Marines, with almost no effort. In other words, unlike the Americans, we don't have to worry that ISIS was, to a great extent, our own creation. But now we, too, are at war with it; and we risk fighting the wrong war.

The real battle involves not dropping the occasional bomb on Toyota pickups mounted with anti-aircraft guns. It is the horsetrading going on in Iraq's very broken political system. Even the war in Syria, while conjoined, is secondary to this limping process.

Despite all its its foreign recruits, ISIS is primarily an Iraqi creation led by Iraqis and, without its Iraqi power base, it is just one more faction in an ugly civil war.

But as a diplomat in Iraq told me, the Iraqi nature of ISIS is a good thing. Iraq, unlike Syria, where there is a much larger regional war involving the Russians, at least has a solution. Even enemies like Iran and Saudi Arabia are, generally speaking, on the same page as the West when it comes to wanting peace there.

For that to happen, the Sunni Arab population must be put in a position where getting rid of ISIS is in its best interest. Once that happens, the real fighting will begin. The people themselves will co-opt local ISIS supporters and then turn on foreign fighters, just as they did with those of al-Qaeda during the 2007 U.S. "surge."

Others may be able to help this process, but in a limited way.

While in Baghdad, I asked Deputy Prime Minister Saleh alMutlaq, a Sunni member of the new government of Haider alAbadi, a more moderate Shia, how long this would take. He estimated a year or so, if all went well (fast by Iraqi standards).

The diplomat also explained that, before the Sunni Arabs relinquish ISIS, several very big steps must be taken to mollify them.

First, the infamous Article 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Law has to be repealed. Passed in 2005 and aimed primarily at Sunni Arabs, it allows the government to arrest, imprison and even execute anyone suspected of terrorism.

Also, the Sunni nationalist armies that fought the Americans, including the Sufi-oriented Naqshbandi Army, have to be given amnesty, along with hundreds of thousands of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.

These are the real powers that allow ISIS to keep going. Finally, the Shia militias, revived again this spring to fight ISIS, have to be reined in.

These are extremely difficult steps for a majority Shia population who fear Sunni ambitions.

But ISIS is useful for bringing both these parties to the bargaining table. The Shia, who are the victims of most of the ISIS car bombings, despise ISIS; but they may be willing to make genuine compromises with Sunnis in order to stop the endless, random slaughter.

And ISIS has reminded the Kurds that, despite their recent success, they are still dependent on external help, as the latest deal with Baghdad has shown. ISIS has even given Kurds some sympathy for the Sunni Arab dilemma, which is surprising, considering their historical animosity.

ISIS may even force the Sunni Arabs to finally come to terms with the fact that they lost the war that followed the American invasion and are merely one component of a country, not the country itself, and that ISIS-like solutions are the inevitable result of Sunni chauvinism.

But without a deal to mollify the Sunni Arabs, no amount of bombing will get rid of ISIS until it is no longer useful in dealing with Baghdad.

And without a political solution in Baghdad, the virus metaphor may actually come true - but the U.S.-led coalition will be the foreign virus that must be resisted.

If this happens, Dr. Bashar explained in great detail, Canada risks participating in a conflict that will be seen as an attack on all Sunni Muslims, which is exactly what ISIS has been planning all along.

Patrick Graham is a Toronto-based freelance writer whose work in Iraq won an Overseas Press Club Award and the Kurt Schork Award for foreign reporting.

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Islamic State fighters on the march last January and more recently, right, under fire by coalition forces: Bad men - except, perhaps, to Iraq's downtrodden Sunni community.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

FEAR THEM. AND FEAR FOR THEM
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Orphaned bears Blizzard and Star are the latest additions to Journey to Churchill, an ambitious experiment taking place at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo. As Roy MacGregor writes, the aim is to get children to understand the plight of this 'Canadian flagship species'
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By ROY MACGREGOR
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Monday, November 24, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A8


WINNIPEG -- One-year-olds are not supposed to have breath that would peel paint.

Nor, on the other hand, are they supposed to stand eyeball to eyeball with you, close enough that you can hear the nostrils opening and closing, ready to tear you limb from limb and ... gulp ... happily eat you.

But meet Blizzard - just don't try to shake hands with him through the thick chain-link fence that is all that stands between you and the front page of this newspaper. Blizzard and his sister, Star, are one-year-old orphaned polar bears who are the latest additions to an ambitious experiment called Journey to Churchill at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo.

"Blizzard's ready to hold his own," says Brian Joseph, the zoo's new director. "He's not at all deterred by the presence of a stranger."

The stranger, on the other hand, is deterred, unnerved and twice frozen: once by the -15C temperature, a second time by the dark laser stare of a bear.

"There is nothing these bears are afraid of," Dr. Joseph continues. "They have no innate fear of humans because humans are merely another prey to them. There is no animal on Earth other than another polar bear - or a human with a rifle - that is a threat to them."

These bears may be confident and fear nothing, but a great many people are now fearing for them - and, sadly, are not so confident.

"The bears know nothing," Dr. Joseph says, "about climate change."

Five years ago, the Assiniboine Park Conservancy came up with an ambitious $200-million plan to rejuvenate the park, the old zoo and create something new that would be unique to the world, not just Winnipeg.

"There are lots of zoos in the world," conservancy president Margaret Redmond says, "and they tend to have animals from different parts of the world. The polar bear, however, is an iconic species for Manitobans."

Ms. Redmond and conservancy chair Hartley Richardson tapped into funding from the province, the city and private donors - "It's a Manitoba thing," she says - and the master plan is now two-thirds of the way there, with Journey to Churchill the signature piece.

Spread over 10 acres, the journey has three components: a transition area where the two new cubs are being kept; a sprawling tundra-like landscape where it is possible to view mature polar bears, Arctic foxes, snowy owls, muskox and wolves in what seems like a barrier-free setting; and a laboratory and interpretive centre where visitors can watch polar bears swim and react to ringed seals living and diving in a pool separated only by glass.

"We want to do this better than anybody can," Ms. Redmond says.

This year, they brought Dr. Joseph in from California, though he says he has spent enough time in the Far North not to be intimidated by Winnipeg's legendary winter. Last winter, in fact, was so bitterly cold that special heating had to be provided during construction - an unexpected expense that meant a cost overrun of $4.5-million.

The new director has 40 years' experience in animal care, having started as a keeper at the San Diego Zoo before heading off, at the age of 29, to veterinary school. Dr. Joseph is also a U.S. Army Reserve veterinarian with a specialty in the care of bomb-sniffing dogs, and has participated in humanitarian efforts around the world.

The plight of the polar bear, however, held special attraction to him. There are, he says, fewer than 25,000 such bears remaining on the planet. There are 19 subpopulations of the species, of which nine are known to be decreasing in numbers. And this country's North holds 60 per cent of the world's polar-bear population.

"They are a Canadian flagship species," Dr. Joseph says.

The alarms sound regularly. One scientific study predicts that by the year 2050 only 40 per cent of the polar-bear population will be left. Another study followed 80 polar bear cubs through their first year of life - and found only two survived.

Through a dramatic wraparound film at the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre and a series of interactive displays, visitors learn that the polar bear is entirely dependent on ice for survival.

"When sea ice shrinks," Dr. Joseph says, "it shrinks the length of time that the bears can feed. It gets shorter. During the off-season, the bear is denned up. It's trying to do as little as possible. It loses a huge amount of its body fat. And if that time between its next feed gets a month longer, it could increase mortality incredibly. One single horrific climate event could knock this polar bear population down to half in one year.

"This is something that could be very discouraging. But from my viewpoint, this is a chance for us to make a difference. This is a chance for us to connect with people, to connect with children and say, 'Let's look at how we live. Let's look at what we can do to make this a better world.' "

The centre is deliberately targeting children, fully aware that there is a magical connection between the cuddly, entertaining orphan cubs and young visitors. There is even a chance for children to get involved in "citizen science" where research scientists engage them in a Where's Waldo? search of aerial photographs for signs of bear activity.

"Children are the audience," Dr. Joseph says. "Adults are the audience, too, but if you think about who is going to change the world, they are the ones who have the open minds and open hearts. They are the ones who can make a true difference. So if you can reach that audience when they are little and you can start messaging 'Let's think about this,' 'Let's make good choices,' then when they get to be in decisionmaking capacities, they'll make good choices."

There are, of course, critiques. Some in Churchill fear that the centre will attract tourists who might otherwise come to their northern community where some 900 polar bears are a major summer attraction.

"This is not about breaching the trip to Churchill," Dr. Joseph counters. "This is about teaching the 750,000 people who live in Winnipeg, most of whom are never going to go to Churchill, as well as other Canadians. We would like those people to come here to see the polar bears and say, 'I want to know more. I want to go to Churchill and see what it's like there.' "

There are also the animal activists who believe no wild animals should be penned. "In a perfect world," Dr. Joseph says, "we wouldn't need zoos and aquariums. I'd rather have polar bears live in the world. I'd rather have them live safely in the wild. I'd rather the oceans were full of fish. But we don't live in a perfect world. We live in a world where we haven't taken good care of it. And we need to find ways to inspire one another to take better care of the world."

One critic suggested it would have been better to allow the wolves that had been tracking Blizzard and Star to kill and eat them - as wolves need to survive as well. "My response was twofold," Dr. Joseph says. "If I was able to give Star and Blizzard a choice between being eaten by the wolves or having an environment like this to live in, I think they'd probably vote for this. And two, if they were eaten by the wolves, how does that inspire people to live differently?"

Dr. Joseph is acutely aware that one cannot fake climate change. "But what you can do is you can tell a story," he says. "Most people learn by stories. And the story has to be compelling. If I tell you that the world's oceans are acidifying by a pH unit of .1 every 10 years, that's not very compelling. But if I tell you that polar bears are a threatened species because of climate change, I think that's a more compelling story. That's a reason to care.

"To me, it's not about teaching facts as much as it is about inspiring people to care and make good choices in their lives."

On a cold, sharp late November morning, there are few visitors to the Journey to Churchill. Workers scurry about. An elderly couple, bundled up to twice their bulk, move along slowly. A young family with a mesmerized toddler is at a window watching three polar bears comically roughhouse over which one owns a ragged rubber bucket.

"We have to 'repurpose' the zoo," Dr. Joseph says. Come in summer and people will see summer animals. While the wolves and muskox will be huddled in a corner in the shade, the polar bears will stick to the cool waters of the massive pool.

Come in winter, however, and it feels like you are yourself out on the tundra, with wolves and their thick winter coats staring down from a precipice, Arctic foxes dancing lightly through the snow and the polar bears seemingly close enough to touch - yet thankfully not close enough to touch you.

"The beauty of this exhibit is that the animals involved are incredibly active in cold weather," Ms. Redmond says. "Now that we've got Journey to Churchill open, we're excited about winter."

Associated Graphic

Far left: Blizzard the bear assesses his visitors through a chain-link fence at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg.

Above: A young visitor watches the bears tussle over a bucket.

Left: The bears roughhouse with each other. The polar bear is 'an iconic species for Manitobans,' Assiniboine Park Conservancy president Margaret Redmond says.

PHOTOS BY LYLE STAFFORD FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

ANYTHING BUT TURKEY
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Let's face it, traditional holiday trimmings can get a little ho-hum. Why not shake things up: salt-roast a fish, make double-decker latkes, serve up some winter ale. Jon Sufrin talks to leading Canadian chefs about how to make this year one to remember
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By JON SUFRIN
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Special to The Globe and Mail
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1


FOWL PLAY

Let's face it: Turkey isn't terrific. It's tough to cook, and the payoff just isn't there. "For special occasions, it's not for me," says David McMillan, chef and co-owner of Joe Beef in Montreal. Herewith, three other birds more suited for holiday meals. Just remember to source them properly (look for big, organic birds, McMillan says) and to serve them with lots of hot Dijon mustard. "At the end of the day, you really just want to eat birds and mustard, and drink wine."

Duck

"Just basting it with its own fat, it's absolutely delicious," he says. "The way we eat at home, in Quebec, nobody plates the food. Just put a big plate with ducks on the table."

Quail

"There's nothing more beautiful than 18 stuffed quails," McMillan says. "They are delicious, but make sure it's an intimate family setting, because you're going to have to eat those with your hands." Put bowls of hot water with lemon at every setting, and another bowl for the bones. "Try to get the biggest damn quails you can spend your money on." For a great sauce, deglaze the roasting pan with honey, mustard, soy, a splash of cognac and some sliced grapes.

Guinea hen

"For Christmas, I'd sooner do a guinea hen," McMillan says. "It's just like a chicken, but it has better flavour. It has the breasts of a chicken and the legs of a duck. That's why it's more fun to eat." Roast it on high for some nice colour, then for a really long time on low, basting it often. He likes to cook the bird until he can pull the leg bones right out. Another trick, he adds, is to season it beforehand with "too much salt."

FORGET MULLED WINE

Beer can be an atypical - but perfect - beverage for the holidays. At the Michelin-starred Luksus in New York, wine pairings are eschewed in favour of beer. Here, chef Daniel Burns (a Halifax native) and his beer curator, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso, offer their favourite winter brews.

Dieu du Ciel Aphrodisiaque

"It's made with vanilla and cocoa, and it reminds me of chocolate dessert," Jarnit-Bjergso says. "It's sweet, but the low alcohol keeps it a little bit dry;" (dieuduciel.com).

Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza

"Jolly Pumpkin is one of my favourite breweries," says JarnitBjergso. "This is their Christmas beer, but because of the yeast it's not your ordinary Christmas beer. Not overly sweet, more dry and crisp, with wooden notes from the barrel;" (jollypumpkin.com).

Bellwoods Brewery Witchshark

"The Witchshark is nicely strong with the hops, but still well balanced and refreshing," Burns says. "I don't go for IPAs every time, but this is one that I lean toward;" (bellwoodsbrewery.com).

SHAKE UP THE SPICING

Matthew Sullivan, executive chef at Real Sports in Toronto, has had a long love affair with Asian cuisine. He also married into a Chinese family. "During a Chinese Christmas, food is the most important thing," he says. "It's really stick-to-your-ribs, coldweather food." Here are his five tips to get great Asian flavours into traditional holiday cooking.

Chinese sausage

"It's so sweet and salty and fatty. It has a great soy flavour. You can use it in arancini, or for a great Chinese stuffing."

Fermented mustard greens

"Chop them up and use them as a condiment with anything to replace relish, and it's like $2 for a big bag. They're awesome."

Kewpie mayo

"It's mayo with MSG. You can take your leftover turkey and make a sandwich with Kewpie mayo, Sriracha and shredded lettuce - that would be really good."

Fish sauce

"It's a nice little addition to any gravy that you might be making. It'll add a nice umami, funky hit. I use Ca Com fish sauce."

XO sauce

"XO sauce goes with anything, and you can use it to make your own hot pot. Go to any Asian grocery store and they'll sell thinly sliced meat for hot pot. Make a basic stock, and dip the meat into the broth to cook it, then dip it into XO sauce."

BETTER THAN EGGNOG

In Haiti, the Christmas drink of choice isn't eggnog - it's kremas, a boozy concoction usually made with rum, evaporated milk and spices. Jen Agg, owner of the Black Hoof, Rhum Corner and Cocktail Bar in Toronto, has created an elegant version with her cocktail collaborator, David Greig. "I love eggnog, and it's delicious," Agg says, "but sometimes it's too much."

Make spiced rum by infusing a 26-ounce bottle of aged rum with a quarter vanilla bean, three allspice berries, a few black peppercorns and a quarter cinnamon stick (feel free to experiment with spices). Let it sit for three days minimum.

1 oz (30 ml) house-spiced rum 1/2 oz (15 ml) Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao 5 ml Fernet-Branca 1/2 oz (15 ml) condensed milk 2 oz (60 ml) coconut cream Bar spoon Shake, strain and garnish with nutmeg.

GROWN-UP HOT CHOCOLATE

There is a time and place for Cadbury's powdered hot chocolate. For something more mature, bicerin is an Italian chocolate beverage that has been around for hundreds of years. "It's like a combination of coffee and dessert," says David Castellan, co-owner of Soma Chocolatemaker in Toronto. The idea is to build the drink in layers: one-third chocolate, one-third coffee and onethird whipped cream. Traditionally, it's served in glass stemware to showcase the layers, but as Castellan says, "It tastes just as good in a mug."

35 g quality dark chocolate, 66-70 per cent 1/2 cup water 1 /2 cup 35-per-cent cream 1 tsp sugar Strong brewed coffee Whip cream with sugar until soft peaks form. Set aside. Whisk chocolate and water in metal bowl atop a saucepan of boiling water until glossy. Pour chocolate mixture into a cup until it's about 1/3 full. Gently pour strong black coffee on top of the chocolate until the cup is about 2/3 full. Spoon soft whipped cream over the top.

STRATEGIC SNACKS

"I'm lazy," jokes Stuart Cameron, the executive chef at Patria, Byblos, Weslodge and Nao Steakhouse in Toronto. His solution for fuss-free holidays is to stock up on good stuff from the grocery store.

Toum

"It's garlic and oil mixed together.It's kind of like what aioli is in Spain. It's basically a shawarma sauce, and you can put it on anything. It's the best thing ever. You can find it at Middle Eastern supermarkets."

Fever-Tree tonic

"I like drinking gin and tonics, and Fever-Tree is one of the great tonics. It's good on its own, and it uses the highest-grade ingredients possible."

Krinos sheep's milk feta cheese

"This stuff is amazing. I put it on salads and in omelettes; it goes well with tabbouleh and Middle Eastern food, and I use it in tomato salad."

Serrano ham

"For me, serrano ham [from Spain] is way better than any Italian ham. There are too many different kinds of prosciutto, so serrano is less bastardized."

OFF-THE WALL LATKES

During Hanukkah, nobody is ever going to complain about plainJane latkes, but that doesn't mean you have to stick with the status quo. "I'm a huge fan of going a little bit out there," says Eli Sussman, executive chef at Mile End, a Montreal-style delicatessen in New York. "Fried potatoes are so versatile that pretty much anything you put on them - sweet, savoury, salty - it doesn't really matter, it's all good."

Double-down latkes

"You can do two latkes with fried chicken schnitzel in the middle. You can dip that in gravy. It's an extremely rich, decadent way of going about it."

Breakfast latkes

"You can take braised brisket or corned beef or pastrami and chop it up and put it in a frying pan. Put it on a latke with a fried egg on top."

Herbed cream-cheese latkes

"You can take a bunch of cream cheese and chop up chives, scallions, parsley and some garlic, add a little bit of yogurt, and now you've got a very nice topping. There's a Jewishy element to it, but it's also just a nice topping for fried vegetables."

Dessert latkes

"I think a chunky fig-date compote could be really good. You could get creative with it and add ginger, cumin, coriander and honey, or you could chop up some dates and figs and oranges and just put that on top of the latkes."

CHRISTMAS CEVICHE

Even though pretty much everybody loves ceviche, it's almost never seen during the holidays. But as Lisa Ahier, chef at SoBo in Tofino, B.C., says, "it looks like Christmas." Scallops are a good choice, she says, because they are almost always in season. Here's what she does:

Chop the scallops into pieces that are roughly the size of your thumbnail. Put the chopped scallops into a bowl.

Squeeze lime juice over the scallops until they are just covered with excess liquid. Let the bowl sit in the fridge for two hours. As the citric acid "cooks" the seafood, go do other stuff.

Finely chop green jalapenos, red peppers, red onions, cilantro and avocado. You now have a festivelooking pico de gallo.

Take the scallops out of the fridge and drain off any excess liquid. Fold in the pico de gallo at a 50-50 ratio. Season with kosher salt and serve with tortilla chips (Ahier likes Que Pasa, especially the blue ones).

BOARD GAMES 13TH ANNUAL CORPORATE GOVERNANCE RANKINGS
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Monday, November 24, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B6


Report on Business has examined the boards of directors of 247 companies and income trusts in the S&P/TSX composite index as of Sept. 1 to assess the quality of their governance practices. Marks from the prior year have been included in the chart, but the scoring system has been adjusted, so earlier marks are not directly comparable.

RANK

COMPANY NAME

TOTAL 2014 (100)

TOTAL 2013(100)

1 Sun Life Financial Inc. 97 98

2 Bank of Montreal 96 90

2 Bank of Nova Scotia 96 95

2 Emera Inc. 96 91

2 Royal Bank of Canada 96 94

6 Manulife Financial Corp. 95 92

6 Potash Corp. of Sask. Inc. 95 96

8 Cameco Corp. 94 88

8 Finning Int'l Inc. 94 90

8 TransAlta Corp. 94 94

8 Intact Financial Corp. 94 94

8 Manitoba Telecom Svcs Inc. 94 90

13 Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce 93 89

13 Canadian REIT 93 88

13 National Bank of Canada 93 88

13 Toronto-Dominion Bank 93 94

17 Pembina Pipeline Corp. 92 86

17 Suncor Energy Inc. 92 95

19 Canadian National Railway Co. 91 88

19 Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. 91 84

19 Chartwell Retirement Residences 91 90

19 Pengrowth Energy Corp. 91 89

19 TransCanada Corp. 91 93

19 Vermilion Energy Inc. 91 88

25 Boardwalk REIT 90 86

25 Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. 90 85

25 Gildan Activewear Inc. 90 91

25 Keyera Corp. 90 89

25 Precision Drilling Corp. 90 82

30 Agrium Inc. 89 84

30 Fortis Inc. 89 86

30 Industrial Alliance Insur. & Fin. Svcs. 89 90

30 Talisman Energy Inc. 89 81

30 Telus Corp. 89 85

30 Tim Hortons Inc. 89 79

36 Enbridge Inc. 88 86

36 Goldcorp Inc. 88 91

36 Riocan REIT 88 81

39 ARC Resources Ltd. 87 89

39 Canexus Corp. 87 83

39 Kinross Gold Corp. 87 87

39 Stantec Inc. 87 83

43 DH Corp. 86 88

43 Metro Inc. 86 85

43 TMX Group Ltd. 86 84

46 Barrick Gold Corp. 85 83

46 BCE Inc. 85 83

46 Methanex Corp. 85 84

46 Silver Wheaton Corp. 85 82

50 Capital Power Corp. 84 78

50 Toromont Industries Ltd. 84 82

52 Cenovus Energy Inc. 83 85

52 Franco-Nevada Corp. 83 86

52 Rona Inc. 83 89

52 Savanna Energy Svcs Corp. 83 77

52 SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. 83 84

57 Aimia Inc. 82 84

57 CAE Inc. 82 84

57 Home Capital Group Inc. 82 83

57 MacDonald Dettwiler & Assoc. Ltd. 82 81

57 Magna Int'l Inc. 82 86

62 Canadian Western Bank 81 81

62 New Gold Inc. 81 82

62 ShawCor Ltd. 81 79

62 Superior Plus Corp. 81 78

62 Wajax Corp. 81 81

67 Crescent Point Energy Corp. 80 76

67 First Capital Realty Inc. 80 82

69 Enerplus Corp. 79 71

69 Laurentian Bank of Canada 79 85

69 Maple Leaf Foods Inc. 79 82

69 North West Company Inc. 79 79

69 Northern Property REIT 79 59

69 WestJet Airlines Ltd. 79 74

75 Cogeco Cable Inc. 78 76

75 Encana Corp. 78 84

75 Progressive Waste Solutions Ltd. 78 77

75 Trican Well Service Ltd. 78 67

79 Celestica Inc. 77 79

79 Sherritt Int'l Corp. 77 77

81 CI Financial Corp. 76 72

81 Cineplex Inc. 76 75

81 Enerflex Ltd. 76 72

81 Interfor Corp. 76 na

81 Russel Metals Inc. 76 73

81 Thomson Reuters Corp. 76 76

87 Allied Properties REIT 75 74

87 Baytex Energy Corp. 75 73

87 Canadian Apartment Properties REIT 75 79

87 Descartes Systems Group Inc. 75 na

87 Ensign Energy Services Inc. 75 64

87 Gibson Energy Inc. 75 69

87 Secure Energy Services Inc. 75 66

87 Valeant Pharmaceuticals Int'l Inc. 75 73

87 West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. 75 70

87 Yamana Gold Inc. 75 78

97 Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. 74 na

97 Linamar Corp. 74 73

97 Saputo Inc. 74 63

97 Veresen Inc. 74 80

97 Just Energy Group Inc. 74 68

102 Alamos Gold Inc. 73 70

102 AltaGas Ltd. 73 72

102 Crombie REIT 73 64

102 First Quantum Minerals Ltd. 73 68

102 Imperial Oil Ltd. 73 78

102 Penn West Petroleum Ltd. 73 70

108 Air Canada 72 na

108 Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. 72 57

108 AuRico Gold Inc. 72 72

108 Inter Pipeline Ltd. 72 58

112 Bombardier Inc. 71 72

112 Chemtrade Logistics Income Fund 71 na

112 Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Inc. 71 69

112 Silver Standard Resources Inc. 71 69

112 WSP Global Inc. 71 na

117 BlackBerry Ltd. 70 77

117 Brookfield Asset Management Inc. 70 75

117 Calfrac Well Services Ltd. 70 69

117 Dominion Diamond Corp. 70 74

117 Empire Company Ltd. 70 77

117 H&R REIT 70 75

117 Trinidad Drilling Ltd. 70 73

124 Artis REIT 69 38

124 Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. 69 71

124 HudBay Minerals Inc. 69 73

124 Newalta Corp. 69 na

124 OpenText Corp. 69 67

129 Cott Corp. 68 67

129 Eldorado Gold Corp. 68 66

129 Granite REIT 68 68

129 Horizon North Logistics Inc. 68 na

129 Jean Coutu Group Inc. 68 68

129 Parkland Fuel Corp. 68 69

129 Peyto Exploration & Devel. Corp. 68 71

129 Semafo Inc. 68 67

129 TransForce Inc. 68 68

138 Aecon Group Inc. 67 63

138 Bellatrix Exploration Ltd. 67 na

138 Detour Gold Corp. 67 61

138 Iamgold Corp. 67 74

142 Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. 66 70

142 Calloway REIT 66 70

142 CCL Industries Inc. 66 68

142 Element Financial Corp. 66 48

142 Enbridge Income Fund Holdings Inc. 66 62

142 Freehold Royalties Ltd. 66 59

142 Major Drilling Group Int'l Inc. 66 72

142 Tahoe Resources Inc. 66 64

142 Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. 66 64

151 ATS Automation Tooling Sys. Inc. 65 na

151 AutoCanada Inc. 65 na

151 Catamaran Corp. 65 62

151 Dream Global REIT 65 54

151 Dream Office REIT 65 58

151 Extendicare Inc. 65 na

151 Genworth MI Canada Inc. 65 61

158 Alacer Gold Corp. 64 66

158 MEG Energy Corp. 64 65

158 Pan American Silver Corp. 64 57

158 Shaw Communications Inc. 64 57

162 Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. 63 62

162 Canadian Utilities Ltd. 63 59

162 Canfor Corp. 63 57

162 Capstone Mining Corp. 63 51

162 Dream Unlimited Corp. 63 na

162 Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp. 63 56

162 Transcontinental Inc. 63 58

169 Hudson's Bay Co. 62 na

169 Husky Energy Inc. 62 62

169 Norbord Inc. 62 57

173 Paramount Resources Ltd. 62 57

173 Alaris Royalty Corp. 61 na

173 Badger Daylighting Inc. 61 na

173 Dollarama Inc. 61 63

173 George Weston Ltd. 61 59

173 Nevsun Resources Ltd. 61 52

178 Cominar REIT 60 64

178 Loblaw Cos. Ltd. 60 58

178 Rogers Communications Inc. 60 61

178 Northland Power Inc. 60 55

182 Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. 59 56

182 Pason Systems Inc. 59 58

182 Quebecor Inc. 59 74

185 Centerra Gold Inc. 58 62

185 FirstService Corp. 58 58

185 Intertape Polymer Group Inc. 58 na

185 Power Financial Corp. 58 53

185 Westport Innovations Inc. 58 56

185 Martinrea International Inc. 58 53

191 Argonaut Gold Inc. 57 60

191 Mullen Group Ltd. 57 55

193 Constellation Software Inc. 56 52

193 Crew Energy Inc. 56 54

193 Lundin Mining Corp. 56 52

193 Teck Resources Ltd. 56 56

197 Advantage Oil and Gas Ltd. 55 48

197 Atco Ltd. 55 54

197 Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. 55 na

197 Corus Entertainment Inc. 55 60

197 Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. 55 54

197 IGM Financial Inc. 55 53

197 Lightstream Resources Ltd. 55 57

197 TransGlobe Energy Corp. 55 50

205 AGF Management Ltd. 54 57

205 First Majestic Silver Corp. 54 56

207 BlackPearl Resources Inc. 53 53

207 Bonavista Energy Corp. 53 63

207 Labrador Iron Ore Royalty Corp. 53 50

207 NovaGold Resources Inc. 53 54

207 Whitecap Resources Inc. 53 43

212 Athabasca Oil Corp. 52 42

212 Legacy Oil + Gas Inc. 52 57

212 Onex Corp. 52 57

212 Torex Gold Resources Inc. 52 51

216 Bankers Petroleum Ltd. 51 45

216 Dorel Industries Inc. 51 50

216 Kelt Exploration Ltd. 51 na

216 TORC Oil & Gas Ltd. 51 na

220 Parex Resources Inc. 49 na

221 B2Gold Corp. 48 49

221 Canyon Services Group Inc. 48 na

221 China Gold Int'l Resources Corp. 48 44

221 NuVista Energy Ltd. 48 na

221 Painted Pony Petroleum Ltd. 48 na

221 Pretium Resources Inc. 48 55

221 Primero Mining Corp. 48 na

221 Great-West Lifeco Inc. 48 42

229 Black Diamond Group Ltd. 47 49

229 Canadian Energy Svcs & Tech. Corp. 47 na

231 Dundee Corp. 46 44

231 Gran Tierra Energy Inc. 46 na

231 Surge Energy Inc. 46 na

234 CGI Group Inc. 45 39

234 Ithaca Energy Inc. 45 na

234 Trilogy Energy Corp. 45 42

237 Power Corp. of Canada 44 45

238 BRP Inc. 43 na

239 Birchcliff Energy Ltd. 42 42

239 RMP Energy Inc. 42 na

239 Tourmaline Oil Corp. 42 44

239 Westshore Terminals Invest. Corp. 42 40

243 OceanaGold Corp. 41 41

244 Avigilon Corp. 40 na

245 Bonterra Energy Corp. 39 40

245 Raging River Exploration Inc. 39 na

247 Fortuna Silver Mines Inc. 35 32

Source: Marking data prepared by the Clarkson Centre for Business Ethics and Board Effectiveness at the University of Toronto

n/a = not applicable because the company was not marked in 2013

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Correction

A Nov. 24 Report on Business feature on corporate governance, called Board Games, included an incorrect ranking for Calloway REIT, showing a total score of 66 out 100. In fact, Calloway received a mark of 70 out of 100, tying for 117th place in the ranking.

The delicate art of global diversification
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Smart investing in stocks isn't about riding boom-bust cycles. It's finding sensible allocations that can weather all kinds of markets
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By ROB CARRICK
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B10


rcarrick@globeandmail.com

Woe, Canada. It's our new national investing anthem. After a great start to the year, Canadian stocks have been among the world's worst performers in the past month or so. The energy stocks that once drove our market higher are choking it right now.

Canada's stock market has been a global doormat before and rebounded stunningly. But smart investing isn't about riding boom-bust cycles. It's based on sensible diversification that carries you through all kinds of market conditions. In this edition of the Portfolio Strategy column, we look at how to globally diversify your exposure to stocks.

As a starting point for diversifying globally, let's consider the Canadian weighting in some indexes that act as a benchmark for the world's stock market. The MSCI world index gives Canada a weighting of about 4 per cent, while the FTSE global all cap index slots Canada in at 3.6 per cent. Back in the late 1990s, there were gung-ho global investors who used weightings like this to rationalize holding just a tiny amount of Canada in a portfolio (more on that later). That was too extreme a position to take back then, and it remains so today for people who will live, work and retire in Canada.

Another way to divide up your global stock market exposure is to look at what pension plans are doing.

The people at the pension and benefits consulting firm Eckler Ltd. provided some data from market data specialists Greenwich Associates showing that smaller-size corporate and public defined benefit pension plans average 22.7 per cent exposure to Canadian stocks in their portfolios and 30.5 per cent to non-Canadian stocks (for total equity exposure of 53.2 per cent). Small pension plans are most relevant to individual investors because they don't make as much use as big plans of alternative investments such as private equity and infrastructure.

Still another way to look at foreign content is to examine what some quality balanced funds - ready-made portfolios in a single product - are doing. Here are a few examples of how money is allocated in these funds to Canadian, U.S. and international stocks. Note: These weightings focus just on stocks and don't show percentages held in bonds and cash.

Beutel Goodman Balanced D: Canadian stocks 32 per cent, U.S. stocks 17 per cent, international stocks 18 per cent.

CI Signature High Income: Canadian stocks 14 per cent, U.S. stocks 13.4 per cent, international stocks 8.2 per cent.

Mawer Balanced: Canadian stocks 19 per cent, U.S. stocks 21 per cent, international stocks 17 per cent, global smallcapitalization stocks 7 per cent.

For more perspective, check out the accompanying chart showing how several investment advisers and portfolio managers divide up stocks between Canada and the rest of the world. You'll quickly notice there's zero consensus on this aspect of portfolio building. This means you'll have to find a mix that feels comfortable for you.

Now for a few caveats about global diversification. First, there's the additional layer of risk when investing outside Canada caused by currency fluctuations. When our dollar is weak, as it is today, your returns will be enhanced beyond what your underlying funds or stocks are returning. When our dollar rises, it undercuts your global returns. Note: You can reduce the impact of fluctuations in the Canadian dollar by investing in U.S. and international fund products using currency hedging.

Second, there can be tax issues when investing outside of Canada. Dividends are a great example in that only payouts from Canadian corporations qualify for the dividend tax credit. Also, depending on what type of account you invest in, you may lose a portion of your U.S. or global dividends to withholding taxes set by foreign governments.

One final point is that markets outside Canada tend to have less exposure to energy and metals than the S&P/TSX composite index, and more exposure to important sectors such as technology and health care. This works in your favour now, but a rally by commodity stocks could once again put Canada in a leadership position.

If history is any guide, Canadian investors often set their exposure to Canadian, U.S. and international stocks by reacting to market conditions as opposed to portfolio planning. Note: In investing circles "international" means everywhere but North America, while the term "global" means worldwide.

Back in 1998, bad times for Canada prompted a surge of popularity for global investing. The S&P/TSX composite index, known back then as the TSE 300 index, fell 3.2 per cent that year, while the S&P 500 rose 27 per cent and European markets climbed about 20 per cent on average. So great was the attraction of global investing that global equity funds were the fund industry's biggest stars. The trend didn't last.

After the tech bubble popped early in the previous decade, a couple of factors made the Canadian market the place to be. One was a rise in the Canadian dollar that crushed gains in stocks from other countries for several years, while another was a boom in the commodity stocks that are the foundation of Canada's stock market.

Today's market conditions in Canada look a fair bit like 1998. Commodities were out of favour then, and the economy's health was in question. These days, oil prices are plunging and the economy is fragile enough to deter the Bank of Canada from raising interest rates off the current historic lows.

Will investors respond to Canada's current problems by jumping onto the global investing bandwagon? It might already be happening. The exchange-traded fund with the largest inflows for the year through the end of November was the BMO S&P 500 ETF (ZSP) at $822-million, and the fund with the largest outflows was the iShares S&P/TSX 60 Index Fund (XIU) at $2.3-billion.

Don't chase trends in diversifying your portfolio. Find a sensible mix of Canadian, U.S. and international stocks and use that as a guide.

Follow me on Twitter:@rcarrick

DIVIDE AND CONQUER

Here's how some portfolio managers and investment advisers allocate money to the Canadian, U.S. and international stock markets. The percentages shown here apply to the stocks in a portfolio only. So if you had 60 per cent of a $100,000 portfolio in stocks, you'd use these percentages as guidelines for dividing up $60,000.

TARGET INVESTOR: 10+ YEARS TO RETIREMENT AND A MODERATELY AGGRESSIVE RISK TOLERANCE

Note:* Applies to a portfolio 60 per cent in stocks and 40 per cent in bonds; one-third of the U.S. and international exposure would be currency hedged.

Neville Joanes, portfolio manager at WealthBar, an online advisory service

Note: Equity exposure has been optimized to provide Canadians with global diversification while focusing on cash flow. This asset allocation was derived using historical trends, valuations, macro expectations, cash flow, accessibility, tax regimes and cost.

Lise Andreana, certified financial planner (CFP) with Continuum II Inc.

Note: The weightings apply for a balanced portfolio with at least 30 to 50 per cent in bonds. These numbers add up to 95 per cent - the remaining 5 per cent could go to real estate, which could be Canadian or global.

Eric Kirzner, head of the investment committee at the online advisory firm Wealthsimple and professor of finance at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management

Note: Many Canadian investors have a high concentration to Canadian stocks and end up with a relatively large exposure to financials, materials, and energy. There's nothing wrong with keeping a small home country bias, but investors are encouraged to own more of a global portfolio which will properly diversify their assets, assuming they can accept the foreign exchange exposure.

Paul Gardner, partner and portfolio manager at Avenue Investment Management

Note: Most Canadians have present and future liabilities in Canadian dollars. Sensitivity to foreign exchange can dramatically affect your wealth - remember when the Canadian dollar went from 65 cents (U.S.) to $1 (2002-07). Most important, owning a Canadian-based portfolio in today's context gives you global exposure due to underlying companies' reach (e.g., TD Bank has more than 50 per cent of revenue coming from the United States).

Larry Berman, chief investment officer and founder at ETF Capital Management Canada Variable U.S. Variable International Variable

Note: Start with Canada at 4 to 30 per cent, depending on your need for tax efficiency (e.g., the dividend tax credit) and views on energy, which is a key component of the Canadian stock market. Other regions are adjusted according to the opportunities available.

Nest Wealth, an online advisory service

Note: Since the financial crisis, international markets have demonstrated higher volatility than U.S. or Canadian markets, while also showing strong correlation with North American markets. This minimizes the diversification benefits they offer. Because of this greater volatility and the time horizon (10 years until retirement is not a lot of time to recover from inopportune market declines), it's suggested that this investor pare back on his or her international exposure.

Associated Graphic

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL COMPILED BY: ROB CARRICK

*NOTES BASED ON MANAGERS' AND ADVISERS' COMMENTS

How artists learned to stop worrying and love the leak
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By NICK PATCH
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The Canadian Press
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Friday, December 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L2


TORONTO -- When Caribou's Dan Snaith found out people loved Our Love, it was months before anyone was supposed to have heard the record.

The Dundas, Ont., electronic composer's follow-up to Swim had leaked. It was June and the album was due out in October.

As is often the case, news of the leak swept in to Snaith with an inflow of congratulations.

"Right from when it leaked, people [left] totally blatant messages on Twitter, Facebook, whatever," he recalled in a recent interview. "'Hey man. Your album leaked. I really like it.

Maybe I'll buy it or come to the show or whatever.' They're not shy. It's just a fact."

Snaith was far from devastated by the news, in part because this scenario has played out before. "Every single one of my records has leaked ages in advance," he conceded with a sheepish laugh. "In some way, it's gotta mean somebody's excited about hearing them."

Leaks have indeed become a fact of life in the music industry, just another indignance of the Internet era: artists can't control how much you pay for their music, and they can no longer control when you hear it.

The anticipated album that doesn't find its way onto the Internet prior to release is now the exception, usually the result either of tactical strategizing worthy of a Tom Clancy novel or, much worse, audience indifference.

"What doesn't leak?" mused David Bakula, senior vice-president of industry insights with Nielsen Entertainment, in a telephone interview from Los Angeles.

"You can go onto a site somewhere almost every day and find something the minute it's recorded."

Record companies initially reacted to the scourge of leaks with hysterical urgency, and still they continue to fight back with clever security measures and swifter counter-gestures. Their reaction time honed by experience, they usually counter a leak quickly now by putting up a clean and clear stream.

Leaks, to be sure, are still generally regarded as a negative force (several major record labels declined to comment on this story). But increasingly, some involved in the industry are admitting to the unexpected benefits of a record meeting the public prematurely.

"It's evolved over the years from people looking at it like it's just bad," Bakula said. "These things are leaking. We weren't ready to put it out. But it's a pretty good indicator of what's going to happen.

"We can't track leaks per se, but you can track the impact of the leaks. And that's where you really get a good sense of 'Yeah, what is the early demand for a new song?' " Even artists have learned to find the cloud's silver lining.

"I don't really worry about it no more," Atlanta rapper T.I. said recently in Toronto, reclining in his hotel room before a show.

"You kind of have it down to a science."

Long-time purveyor of slinkysmooth southern-rap bangers that he is, T.I. is speaking as both chart-topping artist as well as the label boss who signed lucrative pop-rap sensation Iggy Azalea. Both her recent album, The New Classic, and his most-recent effort, Paperwork, leaked.

"If something leaks, there's two things you can do: you can try to stop it, which you never can really; or you sit back and you notice how much attention the leak garners." When that happens, the album leak becomes simultaneously a tool of publicity (given that the premature release of prominent albums still merits news stories and social media chatter) and an opportunity for free focus-group testing.

"Sometimes a leak can tell you whether or not you have something," said the 34-year-old What You Know rapper.

"Sometimes if something leaks and it doesn't make a huge splash, then imagine if you would have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to find out that it didn't make a huge splash?" And thus a theory, from Bakula: "I get the sense - and I don't think anyone will necessarily admit it - that there are a lot more 'Oops, this leaked!' winkwink, nudge-nudge things going on."

Leaks are most commonly pinned on careless journalists, insecurities in the manufacturing or recording process or virtual thieves. Artists who do manage to keep their work under wraps tend to require plots more complicated than the second season of The Wire.

As documented in a Billboard feature, Kanye West and Jay-Z went to endless lengths to prevent the leaking of their 2011 smash Watch the Throne. With West still stinging from the premature release of his 2010 masterpiece My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, the pair forced anyone collaborating on the album to contribute in-person, rather than via the e-mail-swapping norm. They recorded in hotel rooms instead of studios.

Beyonce's celebrated 2013 "video" album, which halted productivity around the world with its surprise - and leak-proof - release, showed how buzz could be amplified when everyone heard an album at the same time.

But for most artists, it's not worth the conspiratorial manoeuvring.

"I feel like everyone gets music before it comes out now and even when it's out, they probably get it without having to pay," reasoned Nick Jonas, whose sensual solo debut leaked before being funnelled through a legal stream.

In the face of having their work spotlighted ahead of schedule, most musicians can react only with shrugging, begrudging tolerance.

Drake's studio debut Thank Me Later leaked, then sold nearly 450,000 copies in its first week in 2010. A Time magazine study at the time found that songs from the album were shifted online between 135,000 and 580,000 times per day prior to the record coming out.

He still handled the situation gracefully, tweeting: "I gave away free music for years so we're good over here." Other artists have responded less calmly. Lady Gaga went notably berserk when portions of her 2013 setback Artpop leaked, tweeting grandly: "Lord, in HEAVEN WHY."

Lights's latest record, Little Machines, leaked before its September release. The Torontobased synth-pop songwriter had been fretting for months over the record leaking, trying unsuccessfully to prepare for the inevitable.

"Every day [I'd say]: 'I know it's going to leak and when it leaks I'm not going to be upset,' " she recalled recently.

Then, over the summer, the record leaked. She sighs.

"I was still so bummed," she reflected. "It takes away the excitement basically of the first time people hearing it. People are tweeting you, saying: 'Oh, this song's my favourite.' And I'm like: 'Why do you have that song?' " Artists who want to monitor their upcoming record's water level, so to speak, can use hasitleaked.com, which keeps meticulous tabs on which hotly awaited new albums have dribbled into public ears.

Editor-in-chief Staffan Ulmert says he has a primarily positive relationship with record labels and artists, many of whom look at his site as a useful tool. And he believes labels have gradually become wiser in their response to record leaks.

"When an album leaks, they counter it by putting out the album as a stream," he said. "Instead of having news publications tell fans that the album has leaked, they instead tell them there's a stream available. I think that's a very good alternative.

Where leaks are particularly troublesome, then, is simply when the album is bad. Ulmert's website encourages early discussion of the leaked records, and he's seen debut artists "die before being born." Their albums are dismissed before they're even officially released.

"If something leaks and the sentiment around it is generally negatively slanted, then certainly it could hurt," Bakula said.

Ulmert, meanwhile, says the industry's middle-class are most often affected, since record companies still exert much energy to keep their biggest bets bottled.

"Caribou is not a big name but in the indie world, like Pitchfork and so forth, he's a big name," he said.

To some extent it is a problem, but Snaith, who has a mathematics PhD, is more solution-oriented. Though each of his records has met the masses earlier than he intended, it hasn't slowed his career climb. He's won the Polaris Music Prize and a Juno Award.

Our Love opened at No. 19 on the Canadian albums chart and No. 46 in the U.S., both career pinnacles. According to Metacritic, it's the sixth-best reviewed album by any artist in 2014.

"It's definitely not necessarily a bad thing that people are hearing it - even if it's early and it's not what the PR campaign and the record labels would want.

"I enjoy releasing control, feeding control to everybody else," he added. "It's my music until it's released, then it's only partly mine. It's also everybody's."

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Dan Snaith, who performs as Caribou, has won a Juno and the Polaris Music Prize despite seeing all of his releases leak.

THOMAS NEUKUM/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Flip flop
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With prices sky-high, the days when an entrepreneur could buy a house cheap, fix it up and sell at a sweet profit are long gone
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By KERRY GOLD
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S4


kgold@globeandmail.com

If reality TV shows were any guide, with a little elbow grease and some spare cash, a property flip can generate a tidy profit.

But is it such a great idea in unaffordable Vancouver? Judging by the feedback I got from builders, realtors and experienced flippers, not so much. The days of flipping appear to be over for anybody who is not brave of heart or connected to the industry.

Not so many years ago, you could buy a fixer upper, invest a few thousand and flip the property a year later.

"My husband and I flipped a bunch and it was fantastic," real estate agent Marni Tritt says. "We did five in a row within seven years. But we haven't done it for five years.

"There's nothing to flip, the inventory is so tight," she says.

"Everybody wants to flip in the same area, in the Main to Knight Street corridor. And unfortunately, the inventory is very tight right now. That's why people are paying top dollar."

A couple of different scenarios are playing out in the Vancouver market, particularly on the east side, where houses are more affordable. If it's a single-family dwelling zoned for duplexing, it's snapped up by a builder who can duplex the house and add a laneway house out back. The other common scenario sees the property purchased by a young family at a premium rate. If they have an income generator, such as a basement suite, that owner will either hang on to the house and fix it up, or tear it down and start over. In a city where the houses are almost worthless compared to the land, the math doesn't make sense to do flips any more.

"They are snapped up by builders or people who've missed the boat so many times by multiple offers," Ms. Tritt says. "By the time I get on MLS [multiple listing service] and call for an appointment, the house is gone."

Real estate agent Keith Roy is seeing a lot of young families chasing after single-family houses on the east side. The prices are so high in the house market, he's seeing builders backing off. On the east side of the city, there are still a few houses listed below the $1-million mark. Agents refer to that geographical boundary as the "the $1-million line." That line is getting pushed farther and farther east of Main.

"They buy the dirt for about $850,000, which is a dumpy-ish house, and they might live in it for a year or two, then spend about $550,000 to build a house," Mr. Roy says. "Around $200 a foot is the east side average, if you want to build something nice. And if you do a laneway house, you're looking at about $100 to $125 a foot for that.

"In Vancouver, the problem is adding value to a structure where the value is in the land. Even with a brand new house, the structure is worth less than the dirt.

"It's easy to flip in places like Arizona. You put a coat of lipstick on a house and make money because the land is worth less.

If you add value to a house where the house already has actual value, flipping is a success."

Mr. Roy offered up a couple of recent examples of condo flips gone bad. A buyer purchased a unit at 8622 Selkirk St. in 2009 for $199,000 and updated the kitchen and bathroom. He listed it for $239,000 in 2013 but couldn't sell it, even after lowering the price by $20,000. He's relisted it at $199,000, and put it back on the rental market. Another unit, at 8775 Cartier St., was bought for $190,000 in 2012. A year later, it was listed for $294,900, after a $30,000 renovation. It didn't sell until 2014, for $251,000. If you factor in the transfer tax, legal fees, strata fees, cost of financing, sales commission, insurance and property taxes, the investor wouldn't have made any money.

Builder Randy Kautzman is an experienced renovator and even he got caught recently in a doomed flip.

"I know exactly what it's like to be holding on to a property that you don't want," says the condo renovator, who has 20 years experience in the industry.

He bought an 800-square-foot, two-bedroom Coquitlam condo about seven months ago for $186,000 and did a $50,000 renovation. He put it on the market for $239,000 and, realizing it wasn't going to be a quick sell, has since lowered it to $227,000.

He's decided to live in it to get his money's worth out of it until the market picks up.

"You may break even, or you may make a couple of thousands dollars, but you won't make money off these flips. This is how it's going for 99.9 per cent of people I know. With the cost of property, and labour and materials, and the land transfer tax and real estate fees, you make nothing."

Mr. Kautzman says he's seen others fare worse, particularly when flipping single-family houses.

"They tear them down on a daily basis, then build them, and then they sit. You can lose your shirt. You can go bankrupt. I have known quite a few to go out of business, then they try to get a job with us. Because they are competing with so many contractors, the profit margin is only 7 per cent. I would say 60 per cent of the houses I see driving around are still sitting empty after three years with for-sale signs on them. That's a lot of money to be carrying.

"Ten years ago, you could make a killing at this. But now, all those properties have been bought up and the market is basically saturated."

Builder Lloyd Kinney says prices are so high that anybody who's flipping in this market is most likely compromising on quality.

"Unless you are cutting corners, there is no margin involved," he says. "To do it right you need to spend the time and money when constructing the product, and that costs money. So your bill goes up in development."

Mr. Kinney and his wife, a designer, tried flipping houses several years ago. Their last house, in Richmond, took a year and a half to sell. Because they got the land for a low price and he did the construction, they could afford the carrying costs.

Still, the return on investment proved too low. It's more risky for builders to attempt a flip because they might not be able to live there and make it their principal residence if all else fails, he says.

"After that, we decided to just deal with customer clients because of the risk."

A lot of Vancouverites only remember the heyday of flipping, which was only a few years ago.

But flipping properties has always had an element of risk. In the early 1980s, Robin Mulhern was so buoyed by a couple of successful flips that he expected to retire at the age of 25. "I thought, 'Whatever I buy will go up by 50 per cent immediately,' " he remembers. "I was so young and stupid, and I'd never experienced a crash before."

No sooner had he invested in a Kitsilano penthouse than the market nose-dived. Interest rates skyrocketed. He lost $100,000 overnight and took years to rebuild. A bad flip can have devastating consequences.

"I couldn't imagine doing it today."

Ms. Tritt says she's not done flipping just yet. She sees pockets around Vancouver, such as Mount Pleasant or False Creek, that still offer some promise. As well, the old Vancouver Specials offer renovation possibilities due to their practical layouts. It's easy to retrofit a Vancouver Special with an above-ground downstairs suite. "The more disgusting they are, the better," she says of the ones she searches out for her clients.

But as her own sideline, she's going to take a crack at flipping apartments. She wouldn't advise the average person to give it a try in this market, however.

"I think you have to have connections. You have to have a formula. Because who can afford to take that risk, really? It takes guts, at these prices. I'm out there every day, as an agent. I have contacts. I can keep costs down. I'm realistic - if I can make $60,000 on flipping an apartment, I'm happy.

"It's do-able," Ms. Tritt says.

"It's just buying the right product and having realistic expectations."

And a contingency fund if all else fails - because it could.

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Builder Randy Kautzman bought and renovated this Coquitlam condo earlier this year, but hasn't been able to sell it.

DARRYL DYCK FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

We wish you a frantic Christmas
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A professor in Fargo, North Dakota, has collected thousands of Christmas letters from around the world, going back decades. The missives used to intone the blessings of the season - but now, Zosia Bielski writes, busyness is the common currency
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By ZOSIA BIELSKI
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Friday, December 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1


We start every day at 4:45 a.m., launch ourselves through the day at breakneck speed (the experience is much like sticking your head in a blender), only to land in a crumpled heap at 8:30 p.m., wondering how we made it through the day. And the scary part is that our lives are no more hectic and stressful than yours are.

That's a festive specimen from Ann Burnett's collection of more than 2,000 annual Christmas letters, a pile that dates back to 1976. Burnett, a professor of communication at North Dakota State University in Fargo, started noticing 15 years ago how the holiday letters she was getting from family increasingly epitomized a fast pace of life. So she began asking friends, students and colleagues for redacted copies of their Christmas letters.

Since then, Burnett has amassed reams of the "brag sheets" that families exchange annually, many from people she doesn't know with correspondence spanning the United States, Canada, France, England, Scotland and India.

The holiday missives serve as time capsules of what people have felt compelled to share with their loved ones through the decades - what they valued in life then and now, and how they spend their time. And what people seem fixated on now, Burnett argues, is how busy they are, with the frenetic pace accelerating every year.

While letter writers used to intone "blessings of the season," now they're itemizing their "action-packed" year. Alongside the family portrait they enumerate everyone's achievements like a communal résumé: how the children are doing in school and on their sports teams, how the adults' careers are faring, which promotions they've won.

Burnett circles words and phrases that appear repeatedly: "crazy," "on the run" and "it's hard to believe it's that time of year again." The overall effect is that of a mental list spewed all over your Christmas card: "Check, check, check is what it seems like," says Burnett, pointing to one holiday letter mocked-up as a to-do list you'd stick on the fridge.

"By 2013, everybody's busy: The preschooler's busy, retired people are busy," she says. "Busy equals normal. This is the new norm."

Burnett's vast library of letters serves "as an archive of the rise of busyness," wrote Washington Post journalist Brigid Schulte in her recent book, Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time. Here, Schulte dissected North America's "great speed-up of modern life," with Burnett's collection as one artifact of many.

Year after year, the effect of correspondence with no rumination is that it normalizes the thoughtless racing, Schulte wrote. She and time scholars argue that, while people complain about the frantic pace of their lives, they seem resigned to accept it as if there is truly no other choice. More disquieting is that, increasingly, we're wearing that busyness as a mantle: When you move fast and are productive, you are relevant. With these priorities, leisure time presents a gnawing guilt.

For those on the receiving end of the annual, "busier than thou" brag letter, the messaging can feel like a competitive challenge, says Burnett: "You've got to one-up the other person. Nobody ever says, 'I took some time and really relaxed.' That doesn't look good any more."

So why are we compelled to spin this public persona to the people in our lives? It's best face forward, says Burnett: Nobody admits that their laundry piles are "insurmountable" or that they've busied themselves so deeply it's come at a cost to their close relationships and to their health.

Would it not rejuvenate the soul to write the occasional brutally honest Christmas letter - bad grades, belly flab and all?

"Broadcasting your accomplishments and successes builds your personal brand. People want their network to have a positive impression, so we're more likely to share our successes than our failures," says Jenna Jacobsen, a PhD candidate in the faculty of information at the University of Toronto who researches personal branding, community management and social media.

And since busyness is equated with success in our era, that's what people showcase in their family Christmas cards: the trackteam practices, school plays, university studies, home renos, family businesses, board memberships and volunteer hours. Jacobsen says it's less fabrication than "impression management."

"We don't often get the failures, the relationship breakups or the psychological breakdowns. When people do share those more real or human moments that some of us might cringe at or be uncertain of, we now label that 'oversharing,' " says Mitch Joel, president of Twist Image, a digital marketing agency with offices in Montreal and Toronto.

Joel, who blogs at Six Pixels of Separation, about how people use tech to market themselves, says that "even before social media, we were looking to show everybody in our family just how great and amazing things were" in our annual holiday cards. Even as Christmas letter writers are aware that they're putting forth a sanitized image, they still manage to buy into the enhanced personal brands offered up by family and friends every year. That's the human condition, says Joel: "We're curious about the lives of others. We all have aspirations. As much as we like to think that some individuals aren't on some form of hamster wheel of life, when you take a step back you see that we're all very similar."

There has been a backlash against such correspondence in England, where brag sheets are known as round-robin letters. Debrett's, the traditional British etiquette guide, now advises against the practice: "Round-robin newsletters are best avoided. They are impersonal and can seem boastful, especially if they are a rambling litany of the family's achievements. Recipients may, justifiably, feel that they have no special role to play in the sender's life. As such, round robins can actually do more harm than good."

Back in Fargo, Burnett and her colleagues decided to grade her letter collection, with "A" standing for "Authentic." Gold-star letter writers showed an appreciation for the present and understood that time is finite; these people are often ill or have faced a death in the family. Burnett points to a sample from 2005: "We've learned to take things one day at a time, to be thankful for the blessings in our lives no matter how large or small, to look for the silver lining on every rain cloud." Another comes the following year from a sarcastic elderly author whose plans include "trying to stay alive" and "completing his funeral arrangements."

Says Burnett: "That's pretty authentic. You realize that life is short and you enjoy being in the moment."

Analyzing 600 letters this way for authenticity, Burnett discouragingly found only 32 As.

Today, she is finding more Christmas letters being e-mailed than snail-mailed. The handful she scavenged from the 1970s were written by hand or printed on dot-matrix printers and detail a 30th wedding anniversary, a vacation to Acapulco and the excitement of wallpaper lessons.

"None of them mention being busy," the professor observed. She points to another correspondence from 1981 where a wife recalls her 50th birthday party, which featured a male stripper and an evening with her history department involving a roasted pig. In other words, real-life hilarity, not oneupmanship. "There's nothing in here that says, 'We're superbusy,' " says Burnett. "The tone of the letter isn't hectic or highstrung."

Still, by the eighties, letter writers begin fixating on busyness in their Christmas cards. By the nineties, letters start outlining what each family member has achieved throughout the year. In 1999, letter writers pause to contemplate the new millennium, with a few marvelling at "how much computers have changed the world." In 2001, the letters are more patriotic, recalling Sept. 11, 2001. By 2007, correspondences see families fretting about the economy and losing their jobs. The letter writers are also aging: Burnett sees more detail of ailments and poor health.

The letters of 2013 were rife with more busy chatter than ever before, especially about children's grades, extracurriculars and parents unable to keep up. Burnett says the harried dialogue isn't likely to abate soon: "Cultural change is very slow. In 10 years I suspect we'll be talking about how busy we are and how harmful it is to our health but I think we're still going to be living it."

As for herself, Burnett is behind on Christmas.

"Last year we had photo cards made that said 'Season's Greetings' and we didn't even send those out. Maybe I'll just cross the date out this year."

Associated Graphic

Ann Burnett has studied more than 2,000 Christmas letters.

ANN ARBOR MILLER FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

North Dakota State University professor Ann Burnett found that letter writers began fixating on busyness in the eighties.

ANN ARBOR MILLER

Proud and perplexed
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Ottawa Valley towns struggle to reconcile how one of their own fights for peace in Mideast as another sides with Islamic State
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By ROY MACGREGOR
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A20


rmacgregor@globeandmail.com

Two charming small towns in the Ottawa Valley of Eastern Ontario. Two healthy young men growing up in the same era, both into sports, both considered normal by their friends, both ending up in uniform in the Middle East - but fighting on different sides.

When news broke early this week that Abu Anwar al-Canadi, the fighter from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) who was threatening Canadians on the Internet, was actually 23-yearold John Maguire of Kemptville, the weekly Advance was already on the stands around town.

And there, on page K15, was the story of another young man from the valley: 26-year-old Dillon Hillier of Perth. Having spent five years with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry based in Shilo, Man., and having served one tour of duty in Afghanistan, the former soldier had paid his own way last month to Iraq, where he had joined the Kurdish Peshmerga militia and was now standing with Kurdish fighters against the very force that Mr. Maguire represents.

The irony was not lost on Randy Hillier, Dillon's father and, since 2007, the Progressive Conservative member of the Ontario provincial government for the riding of Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington. So much the same - age, background - yet so stark the contrast. Randy Hillier tried to keep the worst thoughts out of his head, that the two young men could conceivably meet in battle, but he wasn't always successful.

"It is indeed a possibility," he says.

The dramatic Islamic State video, initially posted on YouTube and subsequently played and replayed on news outlets, held a doubly chilling message for Canadians. The obvious one was praise for the fall attacks on soldiers in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., and at the National War Memorial in Ottawa that killed Patrice Vincent and Nathan Cirillo. In return for Canada joining the coalition battling against Islamic State, Abu Anwar al-Canadi warned: "Your people will be indiscriminately targeted as you indiscriminately target our people."

The other message, in some strange ways even more disturbing, was the claim that this young man dressed in mujahedeen garb was no different than any other young Canadian male.

"I was one of you," the man previously known as John Maguire says in the video. "I was a typical Canadian. I grew up on a hockey rink and spent my teenage years on stage playing guitar.I had no criminal record. I was a bright student ... "

Responding in the Ottawa Citizen with a sharp slap of sarcasm, columnist Kelly Egan "apologized" to the young man: "We didn't realize hockey was so dispiriting and wrong."

Down at the North Grenville Municipal Centre - where the motto is "Today ... Tomorrow ... Together!" - Shaun Armitage can only shake his head at the notion that any youngster playing in the Kemptville arena could ever take such a turn. Mr. Armitage is president of the minor hockey association, overseeing a healthy local program that includes 26 boys' teams, 11 girls' teams and six beginners' groups. The values stressed by the association are all about respect, says its president.

"It's really the coaches," Mr. Armitage says. "They are the ones who pass on the values of teamwork and good sportsmanship. I'm a big believer in sports. Keep kids active, keep them on teams, keep them out of trouble."

Mr. Armitage did not live in the town when Mr. Maguire was playing his minor hockey, but queries among other long-time coaches found that he was largely unnoticed and considered a "normal" kid. While people who knew him will talk about him, they almost always request anonymity, fearful of any connection whatsoever with this disturbing story.

Friends who went to North Grenville District High School recall their pal "JMag" as bright, with a biting wit and a love of punk and hip-hop music. A joker who sometimes took things too far - earning trips to the viceprincipal's office - but typical of young adolescent males. They thought him "ambitious" and likely to go places - but they never for a moment thought that might mean Syria.

His parents divorced, friends say, and John went to Ottawa to live with his grandparents and finish his education at Hillcrest High School in the capital's Alta Vista neighbourhood. But that is the last they heard of him. He simply vanished from the lives of the friends he left behind in Kemptville. He went to the University of Ottawa, travelled to California and converted to Islam. Some time after that, he adopted extremist views and bought a one-way ticket to Syria.

The RCMP tracked him and the Canadian government tellingly suspended his passport.

"Everything that I hear about him now is honestly nothing like the JMag I knew," one friend told Ottawa media.

But they heard nothing from him for years, not until that video showed up and the connection was made back to Kemptville.

"JMag" was now Abu Anwar alCanadi and he had joined ISIL, the extremist group that released that grisly video of them beheading American journalist James Foley.

Dillon Hillier, on the other hand, keeps in close contact with his old pals in and around Perth. He was also sports-obsessed, although more snowboarding than hockey, and kept a wide circle of friends. "He was no couch potato, that's for sure," his father says.

At 20, Dillon joined the army, and after being discharged in March he worked for a while in the oil patch before deciding to head off and help the Kurdish fighters. His Facebook postings to friends soon attracted some attention from the local media, something Randy Hillier tried, without success, to discourage. "It's a private matter," he argued at the time. Soon, everyone in the area knew, and the family's story could no longer be kept private.

"We are immensely proud," Mr. Hillier says. "Not many people would do what he has done. His convictions run deep. He has seen people being oppressed, not just having their freedoms taken away but living in tyranny. He decided something should be done and he's doing it."

It is really no surprise, Randy Hillier says, that someone from the area would volunteer to fight for a cause. The very first expeditionary force raised in Canada in the 1880s - nearly 400 volunteers heading off to the Nile River in the hopes of rescuing General Charles Gordon from the siege of Khartoum - was composed largely of Ottawa Valley men.

Another small town in the area, Carleton Place, lost 47 citizens in the First World War alone and produced Captain Roy Brown, the flying ace officially credited with bringing down Manfred von Richthofen, the "Red Baron."

"Beckwith Township contributed an overwhelming number of people to both wars," Randy Hillier says. "People in the military tend to come from the small towns and rural populations. I think the values that are inherent in rural Canada are to put Canada first, a desire and need for freedom."

Randy and Jane Hillier and their three other children say their pride is tempered with equal amounts of worry.

The Peshmerga forces claim that as many as 727 of their fighters have died in the battle against ISIL since the outbreak of hostilities in June, and more than 3,500 have been injured.

Several times Randy Hillier has been able to talk by telephone with Dillon. "He's trying to learn some of the language," the father says. "He tells me how impressed he is with the quality of the people he is trying to help. I tell him: 'Stay alert. Be strong. Be aware.' He's strong and he's a good man. We support him as much as we can, but there's no shortage of prayer."

As well, no shortage of wonder how one young man could go in one direction and another - once with so much in common - could go in the opposite direction.

John Maguire, Abu Anwar alCanadi, may be the only Ottawa Valley small-towner who has gone off to join Islamic State, but he is far from the only young, male North American.

"I heard there's something like 140 of them fighting with the bad guys," Randy Hillier says. "What's going on in this country when so many are willing to join up with something that is nothing less than evil? I mean, what the hell?" It is a question being asked far beyond the Ottawa Valley.

With an answer beyond anyone's reach.

Associated Graphic

Above, Dillon Hillier, 26, of Perth, Ont., in this photo supplied by his family, has gone to Iraq to help Kurdish fighters against the Islamic State. John Maguire, 23, who grew up down the road in Kemptville, surprised his former friends, when, under the name Abu Anwar al-Canadi, he vowed to fight Canadians in the name of the Islamic State. The irony has not been lost that the two could face each other in combat.

MORE THAN 50 YEARS AGO, CANADIAN FRANCES KELSEY AVERTED DISASTER BY KEEPING THALIDOMIDE OUT OF THE U.S.
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Doctor kept drug at bay by demanding more proof of safety while Canada granted approval
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By INGRID PERITZ
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Monday, November 24, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1


WASHINGTON -- Frances Kelsey has a credo that has served her well through the years, and those years have stretched now to 100. Her voice strong and her gaze firm, she offers advice to those who might face adversity: "Just stick to your guns."

A half century ago, the Canadian-born Dr. Kelsey stuck to her guns. An entire country - the United States - was grateful.

As a medical officer at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Washington in the early 1960s, Dr. Kelsey almost singlehandedly averted a publichealth disaster in the U.S. by refusing to give the sedative thalidomide her blessing.

Canada - by contrast - approved the drug, and more than 100 babies were born with missing limbs and other severe deformities. As the now-adult Canadian victims turn to Ottawa for funding to help cope with the enduring ravages of the drug, the actions of a lone scientist in the U.S. highlight one public servant's steadfastness as much as another country's failings.

Dr. Kelsey is a Canadian heroine. But her heroism belongs to another country.

"I just held my ground. I wouldn't approve it," Dr. Kelsey says in an interview in her home in suburban Washington, filled with a lifetime's recognitions as well as mementos of her well-loved childhood in British Columbia.

Dr. Kelsey's resistance to the relentless pressures of the drug's manufacturer likely spared thousands of American families from tragedy. It also elevated Dr. Kelsey to one of the most celebrated civil servants in that country.

To thalidomide survivors in Canada, her vigilance bolsters their argument that the Canadian government was negligent about thalidomide and, in the group's eyes, still carries a moral responsibility for its victims.

The Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada has launched a campaign seeking federal financial support for the 95 survivors in the country, who are coping with growing health and care needs as they age.

"She was an example of rigour. It's as if we were wimps in Canada," says Mercédes Benegbi, head of the association. "On the basis of the same data, we said everything was perfect, while it was unacceptable in the U.S. Someone here didn't do their job."

Despite her accomplishments, Dr. Kelsey's story and her roots in Canada are little-known.

The daughter of a retired British army officer father and a Scottish-born mother, Frances Oldham grew up exploring the fields and shorelines around her home in Cobble Hill on Vancouver Island. It fed her love of science. A high-school teacher at Saint Margaret's School in Victoria spotted her talent. "Her scientific ability should be encouraged in every way," the teacher wrote in the student's 1930 report card.

Young "Frankie" left B.C. to get her undergraduate and masters degrees in science at McGill University in Montreal. When an opening appeared as a research assistant at the University of Chicago, her McGill professor urged her to apply. She was accepted after the U.S. professor mistook Frances for a man and addressed her in a letter as "Mr."

"To this day," Dr. Kelsey later said, "I do not know if my name had been Elizabeth or Mary Jane, whether I would have gotten that first big step up."

She got a medical degree, married fellow faculty member J. Ellis Kelsey, worked at the American Medical Association Journal and moved to Washington to take a job at the FDA.

Dr. Kelsey had been at work only a month in 1960 when she was handed the thalidomide file. Approval for the new "wonder" drug was supposed to be routine: By that time, thalidomide had been for sale in Europe for years as a supposedly safe sedative, prescribed to pregnant women for insomnia or nausea. The U.S. drug-maker, William S. Merrell Co. of Cincinnati, was impatient to see it approved in that country's expansive market.

"They figured it was so popular in Europe," Dr. Kelsey says, "so I would be a pushover."

But gaps in the firm's application bothered her. "The information as presented was very sketchy," she says today. She requested further evidence of the drug's safety. All the while, the drug company representatives kept phoning and writing her.

"The company wasn't happy with me. They thought I was being pretty stubborn," Dr. Kelsey says. "They just wanted to sell their drug."

Dr. Kelsey was unfazed. "I just didn't like it from the start. It was just too overblown. And they didn't have any evidence to submit. They were so sure it was good because of its popularity in England. They couldn't understand what I was fussing about."

Yet while her "fussing" kept the drug at bay in the U.S., Canadian officials at the Food and Drug Directorate in Ottawa appeared to show no such qualms. Merrell submitted its application to Canada and the U.S. within days of one another, using the same research data. Canada signed off on the drug. There was nothing to raise concerns, C.A. Morrell, head of the agency, later said.

By early 1961, Dr. Kelsey's doubts appeared justified. A letter to the editor appeared in the British Medical Journal in which a doctor linked thalidomide to painful tingling of the arms and feet.

Dr. Kelsey asked the drug company for more information, including evidence that thalidomide was safe to take during pregnancy. Her own training was invaluable: While researching antimalarial drugs during the Second World War, she found that quinine was able to cross the placental barrier in rabbits, and could not be broken down by the embryo.

Merrell representatives continued to press her, growing impatient to get the drug on the market for Christmas, which they said was a busy period for sedatives. Then, in late 1961, reports arrived from Europe of horrendous birth defects linked to thalidomide. Babies were born with flipper-like arms or no limbs at all. In November, Germany announced it was pulling the drug from the market.

Britain followed.

Canada did not. The drug manufacturer did send a warning letter to doctors not to prescribe thalidomide to pregnant women, but Ottawa kept the drug on sale for three more months.

Dr. Kelsey, with modesty that would be familiar to Canadians, deflects the accolades about her contribution. "It was good luck and stubbornness," she says.

Others, however, recognize her deed. In 1962, she was invited to the White House south lawn to receive an award from President John F. Kennedy. It was a heady time in America. Astronauts John Glenn and Alan Shepard were there that day to get awards too.

Dr. Kelsey wore white gloves, and the President draped a medal around her neck. "It was a lovely day," she recalls, "and he was very handsome."

Her actions led to landmark new drug regulations in the U.S. In 2010, she was honoured by the FDA, which named a prize after her. President Barack Obama sent a message. "Our country relies on dedicated public servants like Dr. Kelsey to create a better, healthier future for our children and grandchildren," he wrote in a letter she keeps on a hallway table, near a 100th-birthday message from the Queen.

An object of admiration in her adopted home, Dr. Kelsey remains a virtual unknown in the country of her birth.

A high-school north of Victoria is named after her, and several Canadian universities have granted her honorary degrees. Yet she is mostly ignored.

Dr. Kelsey retains strong ties to Canada. She says she obtained dual citizenship in the mid-1950s only in order to practise medicine in the U.S. She has a sister in Victoria and one of her two daughters lives in London, Ont., where she visits regularly.

"I have the most happy memories of growing up in Canada," Dr. Kelsey says. She keeps a picture of her idyllic, broadporched childhood home in Cobble Hill displayed prominently on the wall of her living room.

The Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada calls Dr. Kelsey an idol, someone who stood firm while Canada's drug watchdogs failed. For Canadian victims of thalidomide, this clear-voiced centenarian is the guardian angel they never had.

Associated Graphic

Now 100, Frances Kelsey refused to approve thalidomide while working at the U.S. FDA.

MICHELLE SIU FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Frances Kelsey gives Senate testimony on corporate pressure to approve the drug in 1962.

COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

Frances Kelsey was featured extensively in publications for her work in preventing the sale of thalidomide in the U.S.

MICHELLE SIU/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

LESSONS FROM A BIG BORE
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As Canadian cities grapple with gridlock, Oliver Moore examines what we can learn from a deep dig in the British capital
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By OLIVER MOORE
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F4


As he was being sworn in last week, Toronto's new mayor renewed his central campaign pledge: to push through a controversial $8-billion public-transit plan that he says will make it faster and easier to get around Canada's biggest city.

Critics call John Tory's SmartTrack proposal ill-conceived, dubbing it a grandiose scheme unlikely to get off the ground. But much the same was once said of Crossrail, the £15-billion ($27-billion) expansion of London's rail network, which crews have nearly finished tunnelling. It is to open in 2018.

One of Europe's leading engineering projects, Crossrail promises to provide the city's biggest increase in transit capacity in 70 years. There will be an added 21 kilometres of twin-bore tunnels, allowing trains to run through the city core every 2½ minutes at peak times, carrying 200,000 people an hour. Outside the city, the central tunnels will link up with existing surface track to create a 118-kilometre transit spine connecting London and its suburbs.

The need for more transit has long been clear, says Isabel Dedring, London's deputy mayor for transport. "There's nobody really in London who's arguing that there should be more car traffic in the centre of the city, or indeed even the same amount," she says.

A congestion charge for central London introduced in 2003 prompted a 10-per-cent drop in traffic levels in the core. But the population is climbing and "the size of the roads is not growing," she notes. London is home to about eight million people, and is projected to add a million more by 2030. The city is expected to grow by another one or two million in the 20 years after that.

Despite the looming demand, Crossrail languished on the drawing board for a generation.

Even after its approval in 2008, it was by no means certain to go ahead.

Now, five years after work began, it enjoys broad support.

What happened? The ways it is being financed, justified and promoted all offer lessons that could prove valuable not only to Toronto but to other Canadian cities, including Vancouver as it pushes for the Broadway SkyTrain extension.

Have business chip in

Almost one-third of Crossrail's cost will be covered by London businesses, without whose contribution the project likely would not have gone ahead.

London First, a lobby group representing the city's biggest corporations, played a key role.

David Leam, the group's infrastructure director, says London First was born in 1992 when business was concerned about the city's lack of long-term planning. It seized upon Crossrail, recognizing it was "clearly a good project, which would bring economic benefits." Mr. Leam says that business realized that, if a private-sector contribution was necessary, "that was a price worth paying."

A 2-per-cent levy added to the tax rate on non-domestic London properties worth more than £55,000 is expected to raise £4.1billion.

Think bigger than transit

A vital part of Crossrail's pitch is that the project is about economic regeneration, not just moving people, says Ms. Dedring. And key to that is how it taps into East London, traditionally a less developed part of the city.

"London is historically going through this really fundamental structural reshifting, rebalancing between east and west, and Crossrail fits that narrative obviously very well," says Michael Hebbert, a professor of town planning at University College London, who chaired the review process for Crossrail's design. "Part of this is to enable London to grow its capacity without growing physically."

The new line will make East London a much-needed "dormitory" for the rest of the city, says George Iacobescu, the Romanian-born engineer who went to England more than 25 years ago to help Canada's Olympia & York build its renowned redevelopment of Canary Wharf.

Today, as chief executive officer of the Canary Wharf Group, he sees the need for "a place where the nurses and the teachers and the policemen and the firefighters can live very close to the city." As he said in an interview for the book Londoners, "if they all have to travel two or three hours to get to work, how productive are they and how tired are they by the time they get home?"

Sell the sizzle

Below Soho Square, southwest of where Oxford Street meets Tottenham Court Road, there's a tunnel that could fit a three-storey house. The huge space for the platform area of a key new Crossrail station began with a pass of a tunnel-boring machine (TBM) before being dug out to its current size.

The scale gives the site a sense of grandeur, even drama. Down here, the bustle of London - whose narrow streets and historic buildings posed the sort of logistical headaches that Andy Alder, project manager of western tunnels for Crossrail, cites as the biggest challenge to construction work - feels far away.

And it was here that one of the most attention-grabbing parts of the project took place.

The 7.2-metre-wide TBM had to "thread the needle," clawing its way through the clay within 80 centimetres of an existing subway line, and just 35 centimetres from an adjacent escalator. The 1,000-tonne boring machine made it through without a hitch, not stopping service on the other line. The engineering feat was great for project PR, attracting a lot of attention, and featuring prominently in a three-hour BBC program on Crossrail, anchoring a segment dubbed "Urban heart surgery."

Be specific about benefits ...

Walk past a Crossrail site, and the hoarding will make a very granular pitch for how the project will help Londoners.

Among the touted benefits: bringing 1.5 million people within 45 minutes of "all the best of London." There will be 57,000 new homes thanks to neighbourhood regeneration around stations. The project is pushing ahead by 100 metres every week and, when done, passengers will be able to get across the city in 12 minutes.

Prof. Hebbert said that people behind major infrastructure projects have gotten better in the last generation at identifying the sorts of effects that resonate with the public. "I think it's part of the new-style project management," he says. "Big civilengineering projects in town have always involved public relations ... but that aspect is being taken much more seriously nowadays."

Other selling points: cutting nearly in half the trip into the city from Heathrow Airport, reducing crowding at stations and carrying 200 million passengers a year. The new line is promising to increase capacity by 10 per cent, which would be the greatest single increase since the the Second World War.

... but manage expectations

London's Commissioner of Transport, Sir Peter Hendy, raised eyebrows last year when he said that Crossrail would be full immediately upon opening. He was exaggerating a bit, but the comment makes simple sense: New transportation options quickly attract new passengers. And it also made clear the fact that the project is no silver bullet.

"It's carrying 200,000 an hour in the peak. Now, that's a huge number, but because the city's growing, it'll fill in pretty quickly," Ms. Dedring says. "That's not going to solve the problem of capacity in the peaks in London for the next 100 years. So it's not transformational in that sense. But that isn't what Crossrail is trying to do, alone. That is part of its objective."

According to an oft-quoted statistic, every week one subway train's worth of people moves into London. The city's plan seeks to restrict urban sprawl by emphasizing growth within existing boundaries. Like other major cities, London is seeing increased downtown densification. Transportation strains will continue to arise. And future projects will seek to manage them, not solve them.

There are already plans to follow Crossrail with a new northsouth line to be dubbed, yes, Crossrail 2.

Oliver Moore is The Globe and Mail's urban transportation reporter.

Associated Graphic

A 7.2-metre-wide tunnel-boring machine had to move delicately during parts of its journey under London, at one point clawing through clay within 80 centimetres of an existing subway line.

The Crossrail system, almost one-third of whose $27-billion cost will be covered by businesses, promises to provide London's biggest increase in transit capacity in 70 years.

COURTESY OF CROSSRAIL

BOOZE YOU CAN USE
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A wine-spiked gift basket is the ultimate holiday present - and far more useful than an electric corkscrew
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By BEPPI CROSARIOL
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L11


wine@globeandmail.com @Beppi_Crosariol

I grew up in another religion but have long envied many Jewish customs. Things like seders, sweet foods at Rosh Hashanah and going out for Chinese on Christmas. The fascination started when I was a teen working as a waiter and bartender in the banquet hall of a prominent Toronto synagogue.

Back then, the legal drinking (and booze-serving) age in Ontario was 18. There were weddings and bar mitzvahs and all manner of fancy gatherings, including a fundraising event that featured John Diefenbaker as the guest of honour. As was the case that night with our former prime minister, I was occasionally required to don a kippah (fun to see Dief the Chief balance a skullcap as he spoke).

Specifically, I had to do so when called upon to help serve the head table as a gesture of respect, as I recall.

There wasn't much call for fancy cocktails at that venue, but I did learn the correct proportion of seltzer water to Ballantine's for a properly Jewish scotch and soda: "Lots of seltzer, bartender."

It was my first and most important mixology lesson: Know your customer.

Today, my admiration includes the tradition among some families of bestowing gift baskets during certain holidays, not least the eight-day celebration Hanukkah, which begins this year on the evening of Dec. 16. There's a symbolic sense of bounty and community in a gift basket, and it's a great way during the holidays (Jewish or otherwise) of avoiding the hazard of burdening someone with a lame non-consumable that might just add to the world's clutter, like an electric corkscrew or the 42-disc boxed set of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Give me a cellophanewrapped bundle of chocolates, olive tapenade, coffee, olive oil, Lucy Waverman cookbooks and wine bottles any day. Gift baskets also can cover the predilections of an entire family.

Including wine in a gift basket can, of course, acquit you of having to spend a bomb of money to make a grand trophy-cabernet statement for the collector in the house. Even moderately pricey bottles look enticing when combined with thoughtful food treats. The less-expensive bottles in this list qualify nicely, I think, although I have included a few bigger-ticket items for those with the spending power of the Prime Minister's Office.

Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque Brut Champagne 2006 (France) SCORE: 94 PRICE: $189.95

There are few bottles prettier than Belle Époque, with its famous painted-on image of Japanese anemone flowers. Creamy, rounded and subtle, this cellar-worthy sparkler delivers all the major notes for which luxury, aged Champagne is known. It's doughy and brimming with candied fruit, baked apple, lively minerality and a rancio essence reminiscent of dry fino sherry. $199.75 in Quebec.

Montes Purple Angel 2011 (Chile) SCORE: 94 PRICE: $62.95

Is this the world's greatest red carménère, a grape once common in Bordeaux and now the signature of Chile? Perhaps. Montes calls carménère the "Jurassic grape" that rose to new glory in South America after its decline in Bordeaux. There's a small proportion of the richly coloured Bordeaux variety petit verdot in this blend, but the signature is very Chilean. In other words, it's a mint bomb (though I know a wine critic who finds that that quintessentially Chilean essence to be more like gasoline - go figure). Big and succulent with black currant and chocolate richness, it would be best enjoyed somewhere between three and 15 years from now - ideally with a fat, pink-in-the-middle steak. Various prices in Alberta, $66.89 in Manitoba.

Château La Confession 2010 (France) SCORE: 93 PRICE: $64.95

John Howard of John Howard Cellars in Niagara, which produces Ontario's fine Megalomaniac wines, owns a large interest in this excellent St-Émilion property in Bordeaux. (Hey, if you were a megalomaniac, wouldn't you own at least part of a Bordeaux chateau?) The great wine critic Robert Parker scored this 93 points out of 100 and, with due humility, I agree with that assessment. From the great 2010 Bordeaux vintage, this chunky red is rich and ripe, with luscious texture that hints at chocolate, barnyard, roast beef, blueberry and vanilla. A great choice for uncorking 10 to 12 years hence.

Vidal-Fleury Vacqueyras 2012 (France) SCORE: 91 PRICE: $24.95

E. Guigal, the famous Rhône Valley producer, took over Vidal-Fleury in the 1980s, promptly annexing its best vineyard, La Turque, to make Guigal's now-famous and very expensive Côte-Rôtie La Turque. The wineries operate independently (I suspect most Guigal groupies don't even know they're related), yet Vidal-Fleury has improved significantly under the parent's watch. This chewy blend of mostly grenache and syrah is a classic southern-Rhône red, with layers of cassis, raspberry and black pepper infused with the wonderful herb essence known locally as garrigue. Available in Ontario.

Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc 2013 (California) SCORE: 91 PRICE: $22.95

Arguably California's most classic sauvignon blanc, this is an elegant white - light-medium-bodied and crisp with tropical fruit, melon and grapefruit and low in the grape's typically herbal notes.

A mellow California take on the varietal - like Sancerre dressed in sunglasses and board shorts. $25.20 in Quebec, $28.98 in Newfoundland, $26 in PEI.

Meyer Pinot Noir 2012 (British Columbia) SCORE: 89 PRICE: $29.95

Medium-bodied and jammy with berries and plum, here's a fine Okanagan red from a pinot-and-chardonnay specialist, with a smooth and succulent entry, nuances of dark chocolate and spice and a dry finish. Available in Ontario Vintages stores as well as direct from the winery through http://www.mfvwines.com.

H by Hine Cognac (France) SCORE: 91 PRICE: $69.50

A blend of spirits from the two best zones in the Cognac region, this fine, subtly floral VSOP brandy toys with chamomile on the nose before delving into flavours of caramel, apple and vanilla, with a smooth, soft caress before exerting its spicy grip on the finish.

Descendientes de J. Palacios Petalos 2012 (Spain) SCORE: 90 PRICE: $26.95

This medium-bodied red is a sort of cage match between plump forest berries and savoury herbs and spices. The wonderful thing is that there's no winner. Or perhaps they both win. Let's call it a victory for the consumer. Medium-bodied and made mainly from Spain's local mencia grape, it balances ripe fruit with notes of lavender, thyme, mineral, spices and espresso bean. Pretty label, too. Various prices in Alberta, $24.99 in Manitoba, $23.45 in Quebec, $34.49 in Nova Scotia.

Domaine de Grand Garant Le Vivier Fleurie 2013 (France) SCORE: 90 PRICE: $18.95

You like fish. You like red wine. You are considering therapy to work through the seemingly irreconcilable differences. Don't waste your money on a shrink or one of those monster reds designed to help you wash down a plate of Brontosaurus ribs. This is the answer, a bright, cheerful Beaujolais from the prestige village of Fleurie. Soft for a wine made from the generally crisp gamay grape, it's floral and could please even the biggest monster-red obsessive with its cherrycranberry fruit and polished texture. It's happy wine and happiest at a table with fish. Available in Ontario.

Castello di Neive Barbaresco 2011 (Italy) SCORE: 89 PRICE: $19.90

Barbarescos, made from Piedmont's tannic, firm nebbiolo grape, tend to start around $35. Named after a local town, Barbaresco is considered the slightly more delicate answer to nearby Barolo. Don't expect thick, lavishly oaked wine here. It's intensely flavoured but bright and rather pretty, a winemaker's wine, as they say, or at least a European winemaker's wine. It's got pure, bright cherry and subtle tar notes and light, sticky tannins - nebbiolo's signature. Drink it with osso buco now or cellar it for up to five years. Available in Ontario.

ONE YEAR AGO, THE INQUEST INTO ASHLEY SMITH'S DEATH MADE 104 RECOMMENDATIONS - INCLUDING A CAP ON THE USE OF SOLITARY CONFINEMENT. MS. SMITH HAD SPENT 2,000 DAYS IN SEGREGATION BEFORE SHE KILLED HERSELF. NOW THE CORRECTIONAL SERVICE OF CANADA HAS RESPONDED: THERE WILL BE NO CHANGES TO SOLITARY CONFINEMENT BECAUSE DOING SO WOULD CAUSE 'UNDUE RISK TO THE SAFE MANAGEMENT OF THE FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL SYSTEM'
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By JOSH WINGROVE
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Friday, December 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1


OTTAWA -- The Canadian government has rejected widespread calls to place limits on solitary confinement in federal prisons, dismissing the recommendations of a high-profile inquest into the death of prisoner Ashley Smith.

The Correctional Service of Canada published its long-anticipated response late Thursday to the coroner's inquest jury, which released 104 recommendations a year ago aimed at improving mental-health care for prisoners.

The government's response, however, was largely a summary of the CSC's existing practices. The response rejected some recommendations of the inquest jury and ignored others. It indicated the government accepted, in whole or in part, roughly four of the 104 recommendations, though a CSC spokeswoman argued a majority of the recommendations, "or their intent," have been implemented.

Among the recommendations rejected were any new limits on solitary confinement, in which Ms. Smith spent more than 2,000 days. She was 19 when she died in 2007 from self-inflicted strangulation. Guards did not intervene, leading the jury to rule it a homicide. Her death was "an absolute tragedy," the report acknowledges.

The use of solitary is increasing in Canada, even as other jurisdictions shy away from it, as detailed in The Globe and Mail over the past week. The jury asked for a 15-consecutive-day limit for solitary confinement, among other safeguards. In its response, the government said it could not support the changes "without causing undue risk to the safe management of the federal correctional system."

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney welcomed the report, and with it announced he was extending a two-hospital-bed pilot project for female inmates with serious mental-health needs. The pilot was launched, in part, as a response to the Ashley Smith inquest earlier this year.

The government report angered Coralee Smith, Ms. Smith's mother.

"It's an abomination. It's an embarrassment," she told The Globe and Mail Thursday.

CSC commissioner Don Head called her ahead of the release of the report, and the two spoke for an hour, Ms. Smith said. "They didn't do anything," she said. "He should be ashamed of himself. I don't know how he had the nerve to call me. I don't know how they have the nerve to publish that drivel."

The report includes some new developments, though many are pledges for future action. The CSC is, for instance, conducting an internal audit of 40 recent mental-health commitments, is promising to consult internationally on solitary confinement and says it will review various other procedures, the report says. Those initiatives are due out some time next year.

Howard Sapers, the federalprison Ombudsman, said there are roughly 10 new developments in the 26-page report. "Those are all worthwhile. But it has taken a year, and many of the things that are new are still forthcoming ... we're now faced with a response that says, well, we'll get back to you in March or June," he said. In particular, he hopes consultation on solitary confinement will lead the government to change its mind. "The door's not closed there," he said.

Kim Pate of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, which has worked closely with Ms. Smith's family, called the response "a very long-winded and verbose report designed to cloak a great deal of inaction."

Of the government's two-hospital-bed pilot project, Mr. Sapers said: "It's not enough, and they know that." The CSC is eyeing adding a third bed, the report says, and will create new beds for prisoners with "intermediate" mental-health needs by reallocating existing hospital-bed spaces.

Mr. Sapers said it's unclear precisely which hospital beds will be done away with to make room.

Mr. Blaney and Mr. Head have rejected daily requests from The Globe for an interview on the matter this week. The CSC refused as late as Thursday morning to say when it would release its report, even after The Globe reported it was coming out that day. It was eventually posted online with no briefing or news conference.

In a report last Saturday, The Globe detailed the case of another inmate, Eddie Snowshoe, who spent 162 days in solitary confinement before killing himself in 2010.

In a statement Thursday, CSC spokeswoman Melissa Hart said "more than half of the recommendations, or their intent, have been implemented," though the formal response does not indicate that. Another third of the recommendations remain under review and others can't be implement, Ms. Hart wrote.

The government has faced widespread calls to limit its use of solitary confinement. Those calls came from Mr. Sapers and from retired Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour, among others, while a UN Special Rapporteur has said no one should be in solitary for more than 15 consecutive days - anything beyond that can amount to torture, depending on the prisoner, he said.

The government rejected those calls. Canada will continue to have no limits on how long someone can be held in solitary confinement, despite various warnings about the psychological impacts of lengthy detentions in solitary.

The government response said "administrative segregation" in Canada is different than solitary confinement, because inmates can sometimes still have TV and staff visits, but in its report acknowledged "long periods in administrative segregation is generally not conducive to healthy living." Coralee Smith said TV and other luxuries are only given in solitary if the guards allow it. Nonetheless, the government response rejected the jury's calls for limits on solitary, saying it could not agree to them without risking the safety of guards and prisoners.

Ms. Pate dismissed the notion that Canadian "administrative segregation" was more acceptable than solitary confinement.

"Our cells may differ sometimes in dimension, in access to fresh air, in access to natural light - sometimes ours are worse, quite frankly - but they don't differ appreciably in the terms of confinement" from other countries she has visited, Ms. Pate said.

That rejection of limits on solitary confinement is what jumped out most at Mr. Sapers, who has called for solitary to never be used for inmates with mental illness, suicidal tendencies or a history of self-harm. "I think there was an opportunity to take much stronger steps here," he said.

The Globe asked a CSC spokesperson to point to any example in the 26-page document where any of the 104 recommendations were specifically accepted. The response provided did not cite any examples.

The Globe found at least four. The CSC says it will teach the Smith case as a case study, as per the jury's first recommendation. It has established a working group to eye creating peer support groups in women's prisons, as per the fifth recommendation.

The CSC is "assessing the need" to improve mental-health support for its staff, in apparent tangential response to any one of a handful of the jury's recommendations. Finally, the CSC pledged vaguely to "strengthen" the role of the deputy commissioner of women, a senior CSC official, where appropriate; the inquest recommended the deputy commissioner have direct authority over female inmates.

Otherwise, the report repeatedly makes vague references to things "linked to" or "concurrent" with recommendations, sidestepping a direct response.

The report is grouped in certain themes, rather than responding in numerical order to the 104 recommendations. People need a "very, very fine-toothed comb" to make sense of the report, Mr. Sapers said. "It's disappointing it's not made more clear what the Correctional Service of Canada has accepted and rejected," he said.

Coralee Smith visited Ottawa on Wednesday, calling for the government to release its report after a one-year delay. On Thursday evening, based on her conversation with Mr. Head, she had come up with her own concise response to that report: "Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. All of this time wasted, just wasted."

Associated Graphic

The prison cell where Ashley Smith was held in Kitchener, Ont. The Canadian government has faced widespread calls to restrict its use of solitary confinement, but has rejected implementing limits.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Wordsmith forged a literary community
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Vibrant and strong-willed, young writer gave hope to others facing cancer and helped create several literature clubs in Toronto
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By JUDY STOFFMAN
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Special to The Globe and Mail
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S6


As a writer, Alicia Merchant was incandescent. She loved words and knew how to use them with precision, honesty and humour - the hallmarks of a widely read blog she wrote for the past five years about her struggle with ovarian cancer under the title "A little bit worse." The title is derived from the children's rhyme that begins "Second verse/ Same as the first."

She was just 22, a student at Concordia University in Montreal, ready to spread her wings, when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer (rare at that age) in the course of a routine pap smear.

She had a complete hysterectomy and was told she had a bomb in her belly. On her blog she later wrote: "I may have survived cancer (touch wood) but there is a wasteland inside me. Not everything survived. A lot of what was important didn't." She never indulged in self-pity, not even when her dormant cancer returned after almost eight years.

Vibrant and beautiful, riding around town on her bicycle, she was also the soul of Toronto's effervescent storytelling and literary scene. She helped start and continued to host groups, including Raconteurs, the Write Club and Young Adultery, that met to enjoy the opportunity for self-expression and mutual entertainment without the commercial veneer.

Her friend, Megan GriffithGreene, who works on CBC-TV's Marketplace program, met her at a Raconteurs evening three years ago. "She was ill the whole time I knew her," she recalls. "It was difficult to reconcile the Alicia I knew with an ill person. She had so much energy; she made things happen."

Raconteurs, which Ms. Merchant ran with Laura-Louise Tobin, was modelled on The Moth series that started in New York. Anyone could come and tell a 10-minute story on that evening's theme (for instance, fish out of water; talking to strangers; it's all in your head) but it had to be true, had to be about the teller and told without notes.

Initially held at a bar, the event moved to the Tranzac Club, just off Bloor Street. The evenings were magical. Some stories, according to Ms. Griffith-Greene, "were terribly funny, others terribly sad," but everyone felt supported in the telling. "There was a tremendous sense of acceptance and love, fostered by Alicia. The way she curated it - she made it work."

Many are preserved on YouTube.

The Write Club, which Ms. Merchant created with Catherine McCormick, inspired by a Chicago series, featured pairs of storytellers in competition, reading seven-minute pieces on contrasting themes (provided in advance). Themes might be "attic vs. basement" or "light vs. dark."

The winner - decided by the volume of applause - receives a donation to his or her favourite charity. Like Raconteurs, it attracted theatre people, writers, journalists, artists, researchers, students - the motley habitués of downtown Toronto whom she helped to weld into a community.

Young Adultery was an original book-club concept Ms. Merchant dreamed up and held at Type bookstore on Toronto's Queen Street West. Participants would reread and discuss the Young Adult books that had influenced them in their teens.

Alicia Louise Merchant was born on April 6, 1980, in Merritt, B.C., one of three daughters of Coleen and John Merchant, who later divorced. She grew up in Kelowna.

"I met her in high school - we were part of a crew of autodidacts," recalls Ryan Van Huijstee, now managing editor of McGillQueen's University Press. "We dated for a year before she went off to Montreal. She was my first love. She was a great reader, with a sharp brain and a sharp tongue and was very funny."

After the surgery and chemotherapy that followed her initial diagnosis, Ms. Merchant moved to Toronto with her Concordia English degree, working at first as a nanny. Later, she cobbled together a living working on short-term writing, editing and research jobs.

She wrote questions for a new edition of Trivial Pursuit; did freelance work for Reader's Digest; worked for a company that put out human resources manuals; and was a fact checker at Zoomer magazine. All the while, her health was monitored by an oncologist and she began a blog titled "Bombinmybelly" under a pseudonym.

In 2009, when The Globe included her in an article about cancer survivors, she was, in effect, outed and started "alittlebitworse," a frank new blog under her own name, which found a larger audience.

"She formed a lot of friendships through her blog," said her sister, Rebecca Merchant. "It was important to the cancer community."

One cancer patient in Tennessee invited Alicia Merchant to her wedding, where they met in person for the first time.

In July, 2010, Ms. Merchant learned that her cancer had returned.

At first, her doctor had no treatment plan, but when she sought a second opinion, the result was surgery to cut out the new tumours and, starting in February, 2011, a new five-month course of chemo.

She worried about getting "chemo brain," a diminished ability to express herself. "When I lose words, I lose myself," she wrote.

The blog helped her control information about her own condition, but it also helped others, particularly young cancer sufferers like her. In addition, she moderated a website, wikicancer.org, and later worked on a book for young patients, This Should Not Be Happening, with Ann Katz, an American nurse, which was published this year by a Pittsburgh press.

When the chemo sessions at Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital ended in July, 2011, she rang the hospital's "Bell of Bravery" and her many friends brought Prosecco and filled her hospital room with noise and laughter.

"We were loud and had to be asked to keep it down," she blogged.

In a bitter irony, the cancer recurred again less than a year later. There was more surgery, more chemo and when her doctors could think of nothing more, a clinical trial of an experimental drug. Her blog became a heartbreaking chronicle of all the indignities to her body: rashes, fluid buildup in the abdomen, swollen legs, nausea and vomiting, bowel obstructions, mouth sores, an abscess.

Still, she tried to live her life in between treatments, continuing with her organizing activities and in 2012, she reported on the blog that she had travelled to Chicago, Scotland and Hawaii. She also took two writing workshops.

The spiky humour of earlier years was less in evidence. She found herself wondering, she wrote, "how to be funny when I live under the sword of Damocles."

The past year was especially brutal. Depressed and ill, Ms. Merchant found out about a clinical trial she was eligible for in Detroit at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, but there were costs involved in getting there every two weeks. She put out a call on her blog and in a short time raised $38,382 from 654 contributors through crowd funding.

She began the trial in April, 2014, but quit at the start of September, exhausted. She wrote that the side effects were too much for the slight payoff. That month she met with a palliative care team, knowing that other options were exhausted.

In her final months, she was trying to write fiction. Her last blog post was dated Oct. 1.

"She had two long-term battles with cancer," said Mr. Van Huijstee, "and ended up giving her creative energies to that."

She died on Nov. 13 at the Kensington Hospice in Toronto. She was 34.

To submit an I Remember: obit@globeandmail.com

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

Associated Graphic

Alicia Merchant ran the Raconteurs alongside Laura-Louise Tobin, below left, as a monthly, live-storytelling event, held at Toronto's Tranzac Club, where people would take the stage and share a 10-minute personal story: 'There was a tremendous sense of acceptance and love, fostered by Alicia.'

PHOTOS BY FERNANDO MORALES/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Watt not quite sure what he's got himself into
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Houston DE lends voice for episode of South Park, but he was a bit worried he'd be made fun of
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The Associated Press
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S7


J. J. Watt has moved from the football field to South Park. A cartoon version of Houston's defensive end appeared briefly on an episode of the Comedy Central show this week. He appears in the episode called (#)HappyHolograms as part of a Christmas special some of the characters on the show were involved with. He's depicted in his No. 99 jersey hugging a reindeer.

Watt said he wouldn't watch the show, but was a bit worried that they'd make fun of him. "I have never seen an episode of South Park before, but I've heard what they do to people, so it will be pretty interesting to see what they have to say," he said before it aired.

Even though he was slightly concerned about how he would be portrayed, he took it as a compliment that they decided to use his likeness in the show.

"There are some pretty big names on there, so it's an honour," he said.

Watt, third in the NFL with 141/2 sacks and who has scored five touchdowns, said a lot of people had talked to him about South Park since the image was leaked a few days ago.

"A lot of my friends think it's really, really cool, so I guess that means something," he said.

Support for Harbaugh

Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh have had their share of tense moments over the years, from the college game to their moves to the NFL. Yet Carroll, the Seattle coach and Harbaugh's biggest rival in the National Football Conference West, is supporting his 49ers counterpart at a time everybody figures Harbaugh is on his way out.

Harbaugh has one season remaining on the five-year, $25million (U.S.) contract he signed in January, 2011. His Niners play Sunday at Seattle, where the Seahawks beat San Francisco by six points in the NFC championship game last January on the way to a Super Bowl title.

Carroll said he wouldn't comment on the "garbage" of speculation surrounding the future for Harbaugh, who recruited Carroll's son to San Diego.

"I've never seen him not be a really good coach," Carroll said. "He's a fantastic football coach. I've watched him do all the stuff he did at Stanford and turned that program around. What he's done at the Niners, I know that he's a great football coach. Not everybody likes everybody or gets along with everybody, but sometimes they don't see the magic that guys have. I think he's a fantastic football coach. He's proven that. There's no question about that."

One of their infamous moments came in a surprising 55-21 rout by Harbaugh's No. 25 Stanford against Carroll's 11thranked Southern California team in 2009. The Cardinal even attempted a two-point conversion with the game way out of reach, prompting Carroll's infamous "What's your deal?" when the coaching rivals met afterward at midfield.

"He's a stud. He ain't going to waver," Carroll said. "He's going to keep battling and do what he does. He's a great competitor.

Always has been. That's why they're so dangerous coming in right now because of his leadership, his toughness about the way he runs his program. I have tremendous respect for him.

"All the other stuff you guys have always thought was going on [between us], there ain't much to it. This is two football guys going at it, two guys that love to compete and battle and there's nobody I'd rather play. I love playing against him and that's the way it's been since the beginning."

Coming home

This is the time of the season when bottom-of-the-roster transactions pick up with teams positioning for next season. So on the surface Minnesota's signing offensive tackle Carter Bykowski off San Francisco's practice squad was no special move.

Except that Bykowski grew up in Eden Prairie, Minn., a few miles away from where the Vikings have their headquarters, playing in high school for coach Mike Grant, the son of former Vikings coach and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Bud Grant. Bykowski was a boyhood friend and teammate of Ryan Grant, Mike Grant's son and Bud Grant's grandson, so he's no stranger to one of the most influential figures in franchise history.

"He might not recognize me or remember me. I was 240 back then in high school," said Bykowski, who's listed at 6-foot-7 and 306 pounds.

Bykowski went to Iowa State as a tight end but moved to tackle as his upper body filled out. He was a seventh-round draft pick by the 49ers in 2013.

"I had a great time there, but it's a good opportunity here so you've got to take advantage of it," he said.

The call from his agent with the news on Monday was entirely unexpected for Bykowski.

"It was unbelievable. It's pretty sweet to go home," he said.

Suh's swan song?

This weekend could be the last home game at Ford Field for Ndamukong Suh. The Detroit defensive tackle can become a free agent after this season.

The Lions are in the mix for a postseason spot, but there's certainly no guarantee of any more home games after Sunday's against Minnesota. Suh isn't tipping his hand on any future plans.

"Not a clue," he said Wednesday. "It's not my decision."

Huh?

Suh said reporters should talk to Jimmy Sexton, his agent, if they want information on his free agency.

"It'll be Jimmy's decision, so we'll go with that," the Lion said.

Chicken or fish? Von Miller is still in the bird business, raising chickens back home in Texas. But now he's also into fish.

The Broncos pass rusher said he just purchased a 1,135-litre saltwater tank for his home in Denver. He wanted some sharks, but they'd knock over the colourful coral. And he doesn't want to mix predators with nonpredators. So he's still deciding which fish to get.

Miller said he can't have a dog because he puts in such long hours at work, so he went with the fish tank.

When teammates asked him this week where they could buy some tropical fish themselves, Miller whipped out his phone and told them, "No, don't go to a pet store. I'll hook you up with my fish dude."

He's a got a guy that handles his fish?

"Yeah, he said he'll come over, and every week, to check on them," Miller said. "He's my fish dude."

One-back Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals are moving away from their two-back approach.

Cincinnati originally intended to use Giovani Bernard and rookie Jeremy Hill as complementary running backs. Bernard started the first seven games before he was sidelined for three by shoulder and hip injuries.

Hill emerged in his absence, running for more than 150 yards twice.

Offensive co-ordinator Hue Jackson tried blending Bernard back into the mix for three games, with unsatisfying results.

Hill carried only eight times for 48 yards during a 42-21 loss to the Steelers on Sunday, while Bernard had six carries for 17 yards.

It's apparent that Hill, more of a power runner, will be getting the bulk of the plays going forward.

"I'm used to having one guy kind of dominate some carries because in order for backs to be really good, they've got to get lathered up to play," Jackson said. "You've got to get a feel for the game.

"We have two capable guys and they're different guys and we'll let it play itself out, but I think we have a pretty good idea which way we're headed."

Finding strength in the potency of the wild
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By ALEXANDRA MOLOTKOW
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R3


Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail is the Leslie Feist, the Jennifer Lawrence, the Winona Ryder circa 1994 of international bestsellers. Midwestern housewives loved it. Serious book critics loved it. Friends whose taste you respect loved it. Oprah loved it enough to make it her first pick for Book Club 2.0; Reese Witherspoon loved it enough to option and star in the film adaptation. It sold 1.75 million copies and spent seven weeks at No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list, and still no one seems to resent its author, Cheryl Strayed, who comes across like a real person with a knack for making sense of senseless pain.

The knack was forged in pain: Strayed watched her mother die of cancer less than two months after being diagnosed, at age 45; four years later, after her life and marriage had unravelled, she hiked 1,770 gruelling kilometres along the Pacific Crest Trail. Wild reads with warmth and sincerity.

It speaks to how pain can pin us down like a toppled vending machine and how we find our way out from under. And here is a terrible admission: I didn't get it. Parts of it got me, but I didn't understand what hiking had to do with them. This is my problem: An indoor person, I don't understand the relationship between wilderness endurance and heavy, listless agony.

A few days after Wild, the movie, opened in limited release, a friend of mine, Teva Harrison, posted an article on Facebook about her climb up Gros Morne Mountain in Newfoundland. The trip was organized by Young Adult Cancer Canada, which, among other operations, holds adventure retreats for those who have lived with the illness. Last December, Teva, who is in her late 30s, was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer with bone metastases. She heard about the group through a psychologist at her hospital. I asked her if she'd be willing to talk to me about her experience, and she said she'd be happy to.

Teva is small and blond, with big blue-green eyes and a Glindalike presence. She has a talent for giving affection, and for putting you at ease enough to accept it; she is a deep hugger who can hold your gaze at length without making it weird. Like Strayed, she grew up in a house that her parents built themselves, near Ashland in southern Oregon, where Strayed arrived just as Jerry Garcia died. ("I remember that day," Teva said, when I mentioned this to her. "My mom cried so much.") She went to Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., and moved to Canada more than a decade ago, after meeting her husband, whom I would describe, with bias, as aggressively delightful. They are rarely apart, but they still go out, and they work parties at the same pace. In their harder-partying days, Teva would sew them matching costumes.

Their house, in Toronto's west end, is warm and open and full of keepsakes, preserves and tinctures and an exotic variety of booze. When I arrived, Teva introduced me to Gingerbread Boy, a four-foot doll from Value Village whom she talked about as if he were a stray. I sat in her kitchen while she cooked dinner for a friend who was due in a couple of hours - pizza with crusts made from a complex of healthy ingredients and sauce whose smell was distracting. She laughed a lot, and showed me the comics she'd been drawing: pithy, gut-punching stories from her life, drawn in pen and ink. She'd had a creative surge since receiving her diagnosis.

Before then, she'd directed marketing for a conservation non-profit. "I used to have a job and a schedule and an idea of the shape of my life," she said. "Physically I spend a lot of time in waiting rooms and hallways and transit, and psychologically I live with a kind of uncertainty that I didn't know was possible. The statistics are super dark. Statistically, women with my diagnosis tend to live an average of three to five years. Some women live much longer. You know, some women have relatively normal lifespans." She stirred the sauce as she talked.

"Someone once explained to me, it's kind of like being a trapeze artist - you're on the trapeze, and then you have to jump and trust that you'll be caught. I don't necessarily have another trapeze to jump to. It's a very different way of living." Teva's cancer is being treated as though it's a chronic condition, which means that her future is in permanent flux. "It's not like I have choices. I mean, my choices are do what my doctors tell me, or possibly die. And that's not a choice."

That's why the adventure retreat appealed to her, she said: It gave her a solid goal at a time when long-term planning had become impossible. Working toward it helped her feel like herself again. She trained for months, knowing that, as she put it, she'd become strong enough to do something that anyone would find hard. "When selfworth is tied to what you accomplish, and suddenly all you're accomplishing is staying alive another day, it's really reductive."

Teva seems very productive to me. I can't make a pita pizza, much less a pizza with a crust made from nuts and grains and cauliflower, in between making art and training to climb a mountain. But Teva is used to making special pizzas after a full day's work at the office, then going out to dance in costumes she sewed herself. She is that kind of person. Teva knew she had a family history of cancer, but not the extent; she'd had terrible back pains, but her doctors couldn't give her an answer. The cancer had metastasized by the time they found the lump.

There is plenty to be said about things like this - "God was a ruthless bitch," Strayed wrote - but nothing that can say it all. Teva is as eloquent as anyone could be, but if she were to fully describe what she's going through, she would never stop talking. So she climbed a mountain. Challenges like that have the power to "displace the sadness for a time, and to displace the monotony of days spent in hospitals," she told me in a Facebook message, after she'd sent me home with a pizza and a side salad, both of them better than any health food I've paid for. "Its very otherness can be a gift, and for me, time spent in nature is unlike anything else, a really potent clarifying force. When I'm in a beautiful natural place, I feel whole and right, like I've found my place in the world."

I think I get it - at least as much as I can, for now: Nature is sublime and chaotic and destructive. It does what it does, it will do what it does to you and those you love and there is nothing you can do about that. Climbing a mountain, or hiking the coast, is a way to be an agent when you don't have a choice - not to spite nature, but maybe to reconcile with it. "It's interesting, taking something that we often think of as metaphorical, like climbing a mountain, and making it literal," Teva had said at the table. "Like, there's something about that, something really powerful in - " She took a deep breath, and her voice softened. "Yeah. I don't even have to explain. You know what I mean."

Associated Graphic

Teva Harrison is pictured in Gros Morne National Park. Harrison says climbing Gros Morne Mountain gave her agency after her cancer diagnosis.

When a novel becomes a cover
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Emma Healey is happy to talk about her own life - but only if it's represented in text
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By SARAH HAMPSON
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R13


LONDON -- Emma Healey wouldn't like to be writing this. Articles defeat her. "A form of torture," she says with a sigh. Essays in school were difficult, too. But she has been asked to write a fair number of them now that she has become well-known as the debut novelist whose book, Elizabeth Is Missing, caused a bidding frenzy at the London Book Fair in 2013, earning her a six-figure sum.

Everyone wants to know more about her, a 29-year-old, who lives that mythic, life-changing fairy tale of first novelists. But she struggles with how to tell her own story.

"I think I'm too scatty," she confesses. "With novels, you're representing things. You're not explaining."

Her publicists like to highlight that she studied bookbinding, as if this were a good backstory for her skill in crafting a delightful and suspenseful novel about Maud, an octogenarian whose progressive dementia is complicating her ability to solve a mystery from the past. But she didn't do it well; bookbinding does not explain anything, she implies.

"Oh, no! I was useless at it!" Healey cries excitedly in a highpitched voice. The pretty bow of her mouth unties into a grimace.

The attention her success has brought seems uncomfortable for her - like that of some guy at a bar when all she really wants to do is sit quietly and think.

She will answer questions, but her replies often come in funny, little stories - a way to represent herself, perhaps. "This shows you how disorganized I am," she says, launching into a tale of how she applied to a three-year program at the London College of Communication but for her first semester failed to sign up for the photography course she wanted. "You'd have to get there early to get your name on the list." She scrapes a hand through her long, strawberry-blond hair.

"I was late, and one of the only things left was bookbinding."

She shakes her head. "I thought, well, okay. That doesn't sound terrible. And I got there and I loved it. You could put whatever you liked in them." She says this in the way a child might describe a favourite toy. The joy of it is private.

And what did she make? She answers with an uptick. "Books that were sort of like little journeys?" That degree led her on a bit of one herself. She worked in a bookshop and then for art galleries in London's Pall Mall area.

Which is why we have met here, in a greasy spoon down a street near the edge of Trafalgar Square, which she frequented with her friends and work colleagues. That revelation sends her off on another story tangent - about the snooty art dealer who decided that she lived in a "decent enough postal code" in London's Battersea neighbourhood (with her mother) and how one advised her what to wear (she had on something casual from Top Shop) when he sent her off to Paris on a business trip. "And I was, like, great! You've insulted me, and you're sending me to Paris! What fun!"

It was during those three years spent working for galleries that she began to write in her spare time - lunchtimes, evenings and weekends. She had always been a big reader. At the age of four, she wrote a few "gobbledegook" stories. An only child, she spent a lot of time by herself, growing up mostly with her mother. Her parents had split up after dating for five years when her mother, a former designer and teacher, discovered she was pregnant. Her father, a public-relations executive, is a former journalist who once worked as an editor of a romance magazine. When commissioned authors failed to deliver, he took it upon himself to fill the space, she volunteers.

"And he used my middle names as his pseudonym. So if you ever read a terrible short romance story by Constance Claire, that's my dad."

In 2007, she was sitting in a car with her father and her paternal grandmother when the trigger for her novel happened. "My grandmother was showing signs of dementia, and she said suddenly that a friend was missing."

The story kept nagging her but she had doubts. "At the beginning, I thought it wasn't the right story for me. I was 23 and my protagonist was 81, and I hadn't written a novel before, so it seemed awkward." But at the same time, the age difference gave her freedom. "I had tried to write about young women in London who had jobs and boyfriends, and it was so tedious.

And I also thought that if I made up some embarrassing scenario, people would be, like, 'Oh, that happened to you.' And so I thought, no one's going to say, 'Well, this is about that time in your life.' And so I felt I could say anything I wanted and people wouldn't assume it would be about me."

Healey wears her shyness like a bold, red dress, happy to let it be the first thing others notice about her. She describes how the story of Elizabeth Is Missing fell in place over the course of five years. She had the story in the present of Maud's disintegrating memory and the frustration of her daughter, Helen, who is trying to care for her - a deft observation of relationships. Maud is convinced that her friend Elizabeth is missing even though nobody believes her. "It was quite thin," Healey recalls. And then she added the layer of Maud's past, when her sister, Sukey, goes missing in post-Second World War London. "I knew there had to be another mystery," she offers. Stories from her maternal grandmother helped her capture the period. "I had just enough details that I thought I could make it real."

In 2010, with 14,000 words written, she decided to enroll in a year-long master of creative writing program at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. "I thought at least I could say that I had tried." She finished a full draft in the first term. For a year after she graduated, she kept working on it, while employed as a Web administrator at the university. When her agent phoned to tell her the news it had sold, "I was shaking. It changed my life."

I ask how her success has affected her life. And she offers another funny story. "I had to go to my gynecologist," she says. "And while I had my feet in the stirrups, two nurses and a doctor were there, and one asked me what I did for a living. I said that I wrote this book. And immediately, they were all on their phones, looking for it, and on their Kindle, downloading it. And I was still in this position." She pauses. "Yeah, it was kind of embarrassing."

Her willingness to tell stories about herself may seem odd for someone so shy, but they're a kind of deflection, a shard about a character in a fairy tale whom she observes from afar. On her Twitter profile, she quotes a line from an article written about her in The Times: "a pale-faced, slightly distressed-looking author." She thought it was funny, she explains when asked about it. And of course, it's a representation of her, not an explanation.

Associated Graphic

For her debut novel, Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey drew on the story of her paternal grandmother, who was showing signs of dementia when she suddenly said that her friend was missing.

JIM ROSS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

THE PERFECT TOUR GUIDE
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No one appreciates London more than Paddington Bear. This holiday season, the beloved character shows off the best of his adopted city - with a little help from his celebrity friends
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By BARBARA RAMSAY ORR
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Special to The Globe and Mail
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1


LONDON -- London, it would seem, is in the grips of Paddington Mania. The beloved storybook character is everywhere you look in this capital city - from the National Gallery to Hyde Park, from Notting Hill to Knightsbridge. This holiday season the plucky bear from Darkest Peru serves as a signpost for visitors, showing them the special sites of London in a style that both children and grownups can love.

Until Dec. 31, 50 different celebritydesigned Paddington statues serve as guideposts for the Paddington Trails, four touring paths that loop through London. Each bear - including a shiny Rolls Royce interpretation, a patchwork version by singer Rhianna and a golden one by supermodel Kate Moss - is placed in a must-see location. The trails were launched by Visit London in conjunction with the big-screen version of Paddington, starring Hugh Bonneville and Nicole Kidman, that hits theatres Jan. 16 in Canada. (Since its premiere in England in November, the film has topped the charts and received a 97-per-cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.)

It's a perfect fit because no one knows London better, or appreciates it more, than Paddington, who arrived in the city as a stowaway with a sign around his neck reading: "Please look after this bear. Thank you." He was rescued by the Brown family and named after the train station in which they found him, his Peruvian name deemed unpronounceable. That's the fiction. The source of it was a lone stuffed bear on a shelf at Selfridges that Michael Bond, then a BBC cameraman, bought as a Christmas gift for his wife in 1956. Shortly afterward, in the span of just 10 days, Bond wrote his first children's book, inspired by the bear, and the legend of the ever polite but accident prone Paddington began.

The many stories that followed - 150 published titles - relate how Paddington discovers the sights and sounds of London, falling into one calamity after another.

When he accidentally invites a tour group home to tea, he manages to lose them in the Hampton Court maze. At Buckingham Palace, he attracts the attention of the Queen and makes friends with the notoriously stand-offish guards. On each of his daily visits for "elevenses" with his best friend Mr. Gruber, an antiques dealer on Portobello Road, he bumbles from one sticky situation to another, usually with a marmalade sandwich in hand.

What is constant about Paddington is his sense of wonder and delight at the great city in which he washed up. He is a true connoisseur of London and as such, the perfect companion for exploring it.

I set out on the Paddington Trail with two young friends: Millie, 5, and Eddie, 2 and three-quarters, who brought his stuffed Paddington along and found the ursine icon to be a terrific tour guide.

Of the four trails, the Paddington Christmas Trail is the most festive, but also a possibly financially risky one for those visiting over the holidays. It leads past some of the best shopping opportunities in the world - including Selfridges, Harrods, Marks & Spencer and the many stores along busy Oxford Street - as well as cultural landmarks and historic sites.

The logical and organic beginning for the trails, and where we started our Paddington journey, is the Museum of London: On display until Jan. 4, 2015, is the exhibit A Bear Called Paddington. "The objects in this collection tell the story of Paddington from page to screen," curator Hilary Young says. "From Michael Bond's daughter, Karen Jankel, we have her own copy of her father's first book, as well as Bond's typewriter, several versions of Paddington from different countries and time periods and fan mail, addressed to Windsor Gardens, sent from children all over the world."

Eddie's eyes widened when he saw his bedtime bear's familiar belongings. "That's Paddington's suitcase," he whispered as he looked at props from the new movie. Right beside it was the bear's signature blue duffel coat and red hat.

We followed the trail through the centre of London, passing a sparkly Paddington in front of the Bond Street Tube station, a bowtied model called The Bearer of Gifts in front of Hamley's Toy Store, and Mayor Boris Johnson's Bear of London in Trafalgar Square. Eddie introduced his stuffed bear to the lion at the Natural History Museum (a key location in the new film), and shared with him many sights along the way - Trafalgar Square, the Serpentine Bridge near Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace.

The statues of their favourite bear delighted the children. Other A-listers tapped to play designer include Benedict Cumberbatch, David Beckham and Emma Watson. Eddie liked Hugh Bonneville's "marmalade" version - decked out with a gingham hat and a citrus-covered jacket - the best, even though he's never tasted marmalade and insisted on calling this one the "Jam Bear."

"Does he really have a marmalade sandwich under his hat?" Millie wondered. The shiny red coat and hat on the Beckham's Golden Paws bear in Green Park got her vote. "But I liked the one at the Queen's house too!" (That would be the version painted with the Union Jack near Buckingham Palace.)

"Why can't we visit all 50?" she asked.

A selection of the statues are being auctioned off online (bidding ends Jan. 7, 2015) in support of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, a prominent children's charity based in Britain. It's a coalition that holds special meaning for Jankel, Bond's daughter. "The Browns take in this lost bear, Paddington, and provide him with sanctuary and a family," she told me. "They love him despite his sticky fingerprints, his unfortunate accidents in the bath and his frequent spills of tea and droppings of cream scones on the carpet. Not all 'lost' children are as fortunate - they don't all find a loving family or safety. The charity helps those children."

So now Paddington can add philanthropist to his many achievements, alongside flying with Richard Branson to break a flightspeed record, visiting Buckingham Palace and attending a conference as a guest of prime minister Margaret Thatcher. He's also been the subject of a Google doodle and featured on a Royal Mail stamp; when the Chunnel was completed, he was the first object passed through to French workers by their English counterparts.

If you follow the Paddington Trail, you will not only be acknowledging a truly important charitable endeavour - you will be keeping company with an exceptional bear.

To miss it would be unbearable. (Sorry.)

IF YOU GO

Brush up on your Paddington Bear history at paddington.com or stop by the Paddington exhibit at the Museum of London until Jan. 4. A family activity space lets kids and parents experience the bear's most famous capers. (Also worth checking out is Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived And Will Never Die, on until April 12, 2015.) museumoflondon.org.uk

The London Official City Guide app features maps for the Paddington Trail, which runs until Dec. 30. visitlondon.com/paddington

WHERE TO STAY

The Draycott Hotel is offering Paddington packages that include a family suite, afternoon tea, a take-home stuffed Paddington, breakfast and more, starting at $1,270 a night. 26 Cadogan Gardens, London; draycotthotel.com

Associated Graphic

ALEX CARTER

This Paddington statue, designed by Kate Moss, is seen through a Selfridges store window in London.

ALEX CARTER

At left, a Paddington doll sits with its statue at its namesake railway station.

At right, my companions on the Paddington Trail in London: Eddie, 2, with Paddington, and Millie, 5.

LEFT: BARBARA RAMSAY ORR FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL; RIGHT: ALEX CARTER

Why is Martin Short so full of glee? 'The happy gene'
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By JOHANNA SCHNELLER
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Friday, December 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R1


jschneller@globeandmail.com

By the time Martin Short was 22, he'd lost his eldest brother to a car accident, his mother to cancer and his father to a stroke.

When he became famous and reporters heard that story, he'd imagine them thinking, "Now I can go to lunch, I've got my angle: Out of the pain came the laughter." He appreciated the headline. But it wasn't true.

"My natural orientation, from my DNA and my upbringing, is to be happy," Short said in a recent phone interview from his home in Los Angeles. "I'm the youngest of five kids from an Irish Catholic family in Hamilton, and everyone was funny and sarcastic. Out of the pain came insight, maybe, but my instinct to have fun and be funny is who I've always been.

I definitely have the happy gene." If happiness were contagious, Short, 64, would be a carrier. He's not only an actor and a comedian, he's a capital-E Entertainer who embodies old-school showbiz and affectionately parodies it at the same time. Ordinary mortals make conversation, but Short has material; he doesn't just talk, he delivers. Watch him slay David Letterman with a bit about meeting Bette Davis; listen to how he disguises carefully honed comic gold inside glee. As we chat, the smile in his voice is audible. He doesn't just make you laugh - he makes you laugh.

His humour is hard to convey because so much of it lies in his delivery. It's something about the way he speeds through some phrases and drags others out, the way he embroiders some ideas and tosses others off. He can get a laugh not only with a line, but also in anticipation of a line. He's talking, and then he pauses for a fraction of a second, and I swear you can feel the joke arrive in him, the way you feel a rush of air before the subway comes.

"I have this bizarre memory, where I can remember, for example, where I was in 1972 in March," he says at one point. "It's not as extreme as people like Marilu Henner, who can remember every single thing they ever ate." (She's the former Taxi star whose perfect memory inspired the TV series Unforgettable.) Then Short pauses, and his voice fills with amusement. I'm going to laugh at what he says next, and he knows it. "I was telling someone this the other day, 'I have that memory, like Marilu,' and then I couldn't remember 'Henner.' So I guess I don't have exactly that." Just like that, I am slain.

Joaquin Phoenix, who plays a soft-boiled private detective opposite Short's cocaine-addled dentist in Paul Thomas Anderson's new surrealistic drama Inherent Vice, has said that trying to keep a straight face in his scenes with Short was the most difficult acting he'd ever done. (The film opens in select cities today.)

Anderson likes to shoot a lot of takes without cutting, and he's happy if his actors improvise. But during a night-long driving scene, Short had Phoenix laughing so hard that he kept falling out of the frame.

"No matter what I'd say, whether it deserved a laugh or not, Joaquin could not stop laughing," Short confirms. "Around five in the morning, Paul finally had to say, 'Joaquin! Stop it! We are losing the light!' Like a stern teacher.

But the way Paul works, that's exactly what I love. You start something, you improvise, you go again right away, you try something else. You wouldn't call it guerilla filmmaking, but he's not precious with each take. I love that approach, because I believe getting the magic thing is luck."

Short isn't precious about what kind of magic he makes, either. Like a vaudevillian spinning plates, he's always kept multiple careers aloft. He springs from comedy series (SCTV, Saturday Night Live) to movies (Three Amigos, Father of the Bride, Mars Attacks); from movies to theatre (Fame Becomes Me on Broadway, The Producers in L.A.); from theatre back to TV specials and series (the drama Damages, the current sitcom Mulaney).

"I think of it as a Canadianslash-British career, where you're in all media simultaneously," Short says. "It may look like no one wants you in the movies, but the reality is you're not available.

Obviously you're not being asked to co-star with Brando, or you'd make yourself available. But I think a six-minute sketch that kills on SNL is as valid as a 90minute movie."

He doesn't work to earn the admiration of strangers, or to enhance his self-esteem. He does it because it's a really fun way to make a living, and because "I've always enjoyed the hang of actors and creative types. I go wherever the most fascinating offer is." This year is a good example - and he thinks in school years, by the way; he takes summers off at his Muskoka cottage: "This year I'm on a TV series, I'm promoting a book [his memoir, I Must Say], I'm in Inherent Vice, and in January I start a three-month run on Broadway. I find that a very interesting school year."

No matter what Short is doing, "the operative word is to be joyful that I'm there doing it," he says.

"If there are temper tantrums, my reaction is, 'I'll be in my trailer.' Anything but joy shuts me down."

Some of that perspective was honed by the loss of his loved ones, of course. When his brother and mother died, "it was 1970 Hamilton, no one was bringing in the 400 shrinks," Short says. "You had to figure it out for yourself.

But I instinctively knew I didn't want to move out of that state without any wisdom gained."

When his wife of 30 years, the actress Nancy Dolman, died four years ago (they have three children), Short found himself in the same state. That's why he wrote his memoir, and why he insisted it be about "something meaningful, or it would be a waste of time."

"We're all going to lose everyone, and then we're going to lose ourselves," he continues. "If you pretend that's not happening, you're missing something. Hopefully, after you go through it, you have some insight, you have a leg up on what the point of this all is."

I ask Short for an insight, and again, he makes me laugh: "No matter how much your friends love you, two days later they're saying, 'Oh my god, did someone scratch my car?' That's just where we humans go."

Then he nearly makes me cry.

"But I believe that when people pass, they zoom into us and we carry them," he goes on. "My wife Nancy felt she knew my mother and father intimately, and she never met them. My son Oliver constantly impersonates my father. Never met him. It's just from tapes and stories."

And then he can't help himself - he makes me laugh again. The latter part of our conversation has been accompanied by clattering noises; Short's been doing something in his kitchen. "Are you making a sandwich?" I ask.

"I have made an egg and toast sandwich," he replies, mockgrandly. "I love to multitask, and my son is meeting me - we're going to play golf. So I am eating while being interviewed."

Even over the phone, I could hear it: That egg sandwich made him happy.

The year that was
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From Boyhood to Snowpiercer, many of the year's best films were the ones that took risks
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By LIAM LACEY
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Friday, December 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R2


llacey@globeandmail.com

THE TOP 10 DRAMATIC FEATURES OF 2014

Boyhood

Richard Linklater's Boyhood, both a fictional drama about growing up and a wonder-rousing cinema experiment, deserves all the accolades it has been receiving.

Presented in 143 scenes shot in 39 days over a dozen years with the same cast, the film explores that permeable border between drama and documentary in a way that evokes recognition, melancholy and joy, while sticking to the mundane experiences of one boy's life.

Winter Sleep (Jan. 9)

This brooding Turkish drama by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in May, is about a retired actor managing a rural hotel, and his failing marriage to a younger woman. A richly humane study of selfdeceit and the struggle to communicate, Winter Sleep belongs to the dramatic tradition of Chekhov, Ibsen and Ingmar Bergman.

Foxcatcher

The third feature from Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball) tells the story of the murder of an Olympic wrestler at the hands of his rich patron. At the film's heart are three unforgettable performances: Channing Tatum as the physically powerful but emotionally vulnerable Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz; Mark Ruffalo as his shrewd, modest, older brother, Dave; and an unrecognizable Steve Carell as John du Pont, a crazy heir to the du Pont chemical fortune.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson's eighth feature offers the usual pop-up-book visuals and precision-timed deadpan humour, but there's a quality of both melancholy and grimness underlying this fanciful tale (set in a fictional Central European country in 1932) about a lobby boy (Tony Revolori) and a flamboyant concierge, Gustave H.

(Ralph Fiennes), the martinet of the gaudy, pink-wedding-cake of an alpine spa-hotel that gives the movie its title. At its core is the thinly disguised story of the destruction of old Europe and the rise of the Nazi regime, inspired by the writings of Mitteleuropean cultural chronicler Stefan Zweig.

Leviathan (Jan. 23)

Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev's Leviathan is a symphony of black comedy and tragedy, set in a stunningly shot Arctic fishing village in northwestern Russia. The fourth feature from the 50year-old Zvyagintsev (The Return, Elena) is a retelling of the story of Job, filtered through the pessimism of Thomas Hobbes, as a bleak state-of-thenation report on contemporary Russia. The film follows the fate of Kolya (Aleksei Serebryakov), a middle-aged auto-repair-shop owner who lives in the village with his young wife Lilya (Elena Lyadova). The village mayor, Vadim, an obese, hard-drinking buffoon, wants to expropriate Kolya's property for a development, and will use any method - legal or not - to get what he wants.

Mr. Turner (Dec. 25)

The later works of the Romantic English painter Joseph Mallord William Turner, with their atmospheric washes of colour that verged on passionate abstraction, have been called "fantastic puzzles," though his life, as an eccentric, reclusive wigmaker's son, is usually considered unremarkable. Filmmaker Mike Leigh, best known for his caustic portrayals of contemporary British life, explores the link between the grotesque and the sublime in this portrait that goes beyond warts and all - including phlegm, rashes, servantmolesting and a good deal of grunting on the part of star Timothy Spall, in a career performance.

Snowpiercer

In South Korean director Bong Joon-ho's English-language debut, everyone left alive is on a train circling the ice-covered globe, with the rich people at the front and the poor in the caboose, living on protein bars made from insects. Then the revolution starts. An allegory, a black comedy and a dazzling demonstration of production design (each railway car is almost a different world), Snowpiercer is the most entertaining and politically charged action film of the year.

Only Lovers Left Alive

Director Jim Jarmusch's take on the vampire genre is his best film since his 1995 western Dead Man, and another idiosyncratic story of a precarious journey. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston play Eve and Adam, vampire lovers who buy their blood - "the good stuff" - from black-market medical labs, live like bohemians in Detroit and Tangier, and shake their heads regretfully at the havoc the "zombies" (mortals like you and me) have wreaked on the planet. Elegant, melancholic and lightly humorous, Only Lovers serves as a manifesto of the director's cultural touchstones and, as usual, his eclectic musical taste.

Ida

British-based, Polish-born Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida, a black-andwhite film set in 1961, is the tale of a young Catholic nun who discovers, on the verge of committing to convent life, that she is Jewish and that her parents were killed in the war. She goes on a journey with her middle-aged aunt (stage actress Agata Kulesza) to discover their unmarked graves. The younger woman discovers her unknown history, while the elder, a party official, is forced to face the past again. Wonderfully concise (it runs 80 minutes), Ida explores the tangle of historical abuse without pretending to offer redemption or answers.

Force Majeure

This fiendishly precise and funny black comedy about bourgeois life and gender roles from Swedish director Ruben Ostlund pivots on a fateful moment at lunchtime at an outdoor restaurant terrace at a French Alps ski resort when a catalogue-attractive Swedish family is terrified by a controlled avalanche. Instead of protecting his wife and two children, the husband grabs his cellphone and runs for cover. Like Humpty Dumpty's crash landing, nothing can put the pieces together again.

THE TOP 5 DOCUMENTARIES OF 2014

Citizenfour

Laura Poitras's documentary allows us to experience the Edward Snowden leaks in real time, and offers a chilling portrait of the encroachments on privacy in the United States and around the world.

National Gallery

America's great chronicler of institutions, Frederick Wiseman, turns his camera on Britain's famous art museum, the layers of meaning in a painting and the role of money in culture.

Jodorowsky's Dune

Director Frank Pavich tells a great story about the attempts of shamanistic Chilean-French director Alejandro Jodorowsky's unsuccessful attempt to adapt Frank Herbert's 1965 sciencefiction novel, which he hadn't read. Jodorowsky, vital in his mid-80s, is a great subject, and the film asks an intriguing question: What if Dune, rather than Star Wars, had been the sci-fi film to change the course of movie history?

Altman

Canadian filmmaker Ron Mann's documentary Altman, an affectionate, moving portrait of the iconoclastic director of such eradefining movies as M*A*S*H, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, California Split and Nashville, leads you from Altman's life back to his films, and makes you want to see them anew.

Particle Fever

This unexpectedly gripping story of the CERN Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland will leave you sweating, along with a half-dozen scientists, about the mass of the Higgs particle the scientists have dislodged from smashing protons together. The stakes are as high as can be: Do we live in a universe of "beauty and simplicity and order and deeper and deeper insights"? Or a "multiverse" of chaos, where we are a minuscule part of an existence that is "mostly lethal"? No spoilers, but the results surprise even the scientists.

Follow me on Twitter:@liamlacey

Associated Graphic

The Grand Budapest Hotel offers director Wes Anderson's usual pop-up-book visuals and deadpan humour.

Steve Carell and Channing Tatum both gave unforgettable performances in the drama Foxcatcher, left. The documentary Citizenfour allows us to experience the Edward Snowden leaks in real time.

Leviathan is a symphony of black comedy and tragedy set in an Arctic fishing village in northwestern Russia.

A career cemented in PEI tourism
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He fought in the Second World War, created tourist attractions, became a senator and self-published eight books in his later years
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By ALLISON LAWLOR
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Special to The Globe and Mail
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Friday, December 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S8


Not long after Archibald Johnstone returned home from fighting with an RCAF bombing squadron during the Second World War, he discovered that his father was building tiny castles out of concrete and stone for fun on his PEI farm, and convinced him not only to build bigger, but to go into business. Together they started Woodleigh Replicas, a park of miniature castles and other landmarks from England and Scotland, which became one of the island's most popular tourist attractions.

Mr. Johnstone, who died on Nov. 8 at 90, was a pioneer in the development of the island's thriving tourism industry and eventually became a senator, and it all started with a seemingly preposterous idea.

"They tore down the barn" to make room for the replicas, his son Dean Johnstone said. "Their neighbours thought they were crazy."

Before long the father-and-son team were also taking down sheds on the family farm in the rural community of Burlington, in the western part of the island, and replacing them with a gift shop and more replicas. In 1957, Woodleigh Replicas opened to the public. The elder Mr. Johnstone, Ernest, who was of Scottish descent, named the park after a connection to his ancestral home in Annandale, Scotland.

"Archie was the business end and his dad was the workhorse.

That's how they each wanted it," Dean Johnstone said.

The family-oriented tourist destination featured at least 30 replicas of landmarks such as St. Paul's Cathedral and Dunvegan Castle.

The most ambitious one was of the Tower of London. One-third the original size, the replica included armouries, crown jewels and an underground passage complete with a skeleton-filled torture chamber echoing with taped screams.

Mr. Johnstone's father built the replicas as a labour of love. A replica of York Minster cathedral took him five years to build, with its intricate stained glass and lead work.

To ensure the replicas were accurate, they travelled to England to visit the landmarks and take measurements. In the late 1970s, the Johnstones sold the tourist attraction, but it remained open under new owners for another three decades.

Woodleigh Replicas was a top attraction in PEI in the 1960s, second only to Green Gables Heritage Place, the inspiration for the setting of Anne of Green Gables. "He was a pioneer in the development of tourism in PEI," said Don Cudmore, executive director of the Tourism Industry Association of PEI.

Mr. Johnstone never shied away from promoting the place he considered the best spot on earth.

"Very few people had the vision he had for bringing people to PEI," said Wes Sheridan, PEI's Finance Minister.

Active in countless community, business and tourism organizations, Mr. Johnstone provided direction on how to build the industry. "Archie wouldn't accept a non-answer if he asked you a question," Mr. Cudmore said. "He told it like it was. " Born in Burlington, PEI, on June 12, 1924, Archibald Johnstone was the eldest child of Ernest and Jane Johnstone. His father had served with the Prince Edward Island Light Horse during the First World War and earned the rank of lieutenant-colonel. After the war, he returned home to farm and served as the community fire inspector.

When the younger Mr. Johnstone tried to enlist in the army, he was turned away for being too skinny. He returned to the family farm to bulk up before applying to the Royal Canadian Air Force.

He served as a tail gunner in the Wellington and Halifax bombers.

As the oldest man in his crew, he became known as "old pop."

In later years, he spoke publicly about waking up in the morning after a bombing run. "Some days there were seven, some days there were 14, some days even 21 empty beds. It was hard," he once said.

After the war, he received a scholarship to study agriculture in England, but when he arrived he found his interest was tourism.

He fell in love with the British Isles and returned to England at least 50 times.

Back at home, friends introduced him to a woman named Phelicia Clark. He never forgot their initial meeting and later in life wrote a poem about it called, The Girl in the Little Red Coat. In June, 1949, the couple married and later had four children. In addition to raising the children, Ms. Johnstone also did the books for Woodleigh Replicas and ran the gift shop. Working seven days a week took its toll on her health.

She suffered from exhaustion. In 1978, they decided to sell the business.

"He was constantly going," Dean Johnstone said. "He never stopped."

In the late 1960s, Mr. Johnstone branched into the world of amusement parks.

He was still running Woodleigh Replicas, as well as a road building and construction company, with two business partners, when he got the idea for Rainbow Valley.

Situated in the Cavendish resort area, Rainbow Valley opened in August, 1969, becoming the first major amusement park in PEI.

Named after Lucy Maud Montgomery's book Rainbow Valley, the park opened with a fibreglass flying saucer that housed a gift shop. There was also a pond, fibreglass boats and a picnic area.

Over the years, more attractions were added including a reducedscale replica of the house of Anne of Green Gables and another called Fairyland Castle. Mr. Johnstone sold his interests in Rainbow Valley in the late 1970s to business partner Earl Davison.

Mr. Johnstone's last tourism venture was Kensington Towers and Water Gardens, which he started in the early 1990s with his son, Ronald. They sold it a decade later. It included a building designed to look like a British manor house and surrounding sprawling gardens, complete with waterfalls and ponds.

"He was a staunch businessperson," said Frank Lewis, PEI's Lieutenant-Governor. "He was tough to deal with, but always fair."

One day in 1998, Mr. Johnstone got a call from then-prime minister Jean Chrétien asking him to join the Senate. Since Mr. Johnstone was not a political man, the call came as a shock. He accepted Mr. Chrétien's offer and served as a Senator for 464 days until his retirement in 1999.

"It wouldn't have mattered if it was for one week," Mr. Sheridan said. "He was just so honoured to be chosen."

Having served as deputy chair on the Senate sub-committee of Veterans Affairs, Mr. Johnstone felt fortunate to have helped Canada's veterans.

After retiring from the Senate, he delved into writing. In the last decade of his life, he self-published eight books on everything from poetry to military history.

His home office, where he wrote his books in longhand, was stacked with research binders and photos.

Mr. Johnstone also enjoyed making the odd trip to the Legion in Kensington, named after his father. There he was joined by the Lieutenant-Governor, the mayor and others. "We'd have a chat and all play pool," Mr. Lewis said.

Mr. Johnstone, who died suddenly from a suspected heart attack at his home in Kensington, PEI, leaves his wife, Phelicia; sons Ronald, Erwin and Dean; daughter, Elizabeth; 10 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; sisters Doris and Elizabeth. He was predeceased by an infant sister, Margaret.

"He would talk to anyone, anywhere, any time," Dean Johnstone said. "He loved people."

To submit an I Remember: obit@globeandmail.com

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

Associated Graphic

Archibald Johnstone self-published eight books in the last decade of his life.

MARY MACKAY/CHARLOTTETOWN GUARDIAN

New supply system beset by complaints
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Low supply and high prices among list of patients' concerns after production became restricted to commercial firms
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By JAMES KELLER
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The Canadian Press
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3


VANCOUVER -- Shaun Simpson has had a migraine headache for the past seven years.

His medical problems started with surgery to remove a piece of his skull that was pressing against his brain. The procedure left him with a spinal-fluid leak, which, in turn, fuels a near-constant headache.

For years, Mr. Simpson took a dozen or more Tylenol 3 pills a day, but they caused unpleasant side effects and weren't completely effective.

About two and a half years ago, he received a prescription for medical marijuana, which he ordered from Health Canada.

"I don't feel like I'm drugged out or stoned [like I did with] the Tylenol 3; I'm actually more active and social," says Mr. Simpson, 34, who works as a photographer in the Maritimes.

"It's really changed my life as far as day-to-day routine goes."

Mr. Simpson is among tens of thousands of Canadians who have used medical marijuana legally since 2001, and, like many of those patients, he was forced earlier this year to adjust to a massive overhaul of the system.

The federal government implemented new rules prohibiting patients from growing their own pot and instead restricting production and sale to a new collection of licensed commercial operations.

But the system has been beset by complaints of low supply and high prices. Some commercial producers have long waiting lists and are plagued by frequent sellouts, and approvals for new operations to fill the gap have been slow.

Mr. Simpson initially signed up for Toronto-based Mettrum, but he said the company was often sold out of the strain he needed.

He is now on the waiting list for OrganiGram, based in Moncton, N.B., and in the meantime he's been using grey-market marijuana dispensaries.

Ottawa introduced the previous medical marijuana regime following a court decision in 2000 that ordered it to provide access to the drug.

About 38,000 patients received authorizations under that system, most of whom either chose to grow at home or asked someone else to grow it for them.

Several thousand bought directly from Health Canada, which sold a single strain for $5 a gram.

The previous regime was repealed on March 31 of this year, leaving fledgling commercial producers the only official option. However, a Federal Court judge issued an injunction that has allowed many patients to continue growing their own until a trial examining the updated rules in the new year.

There are currently 15 companies licensed to produce and sell medical marijuana; eight others are licensed to produce the drug but not to sell it.

Prospective suppliers must meet a list of strict conditions, including rigorous security requirements and measures to control odours.

Denis Arsenault, CEO of OrganiGram, says the regulations have mostly been working well.

He said he understands the need for security and inspections.

"It's been a very good experience; when they come in to do their inspections, it's very clear they want us to succeed," says Mr. Arsenault.

"Everybody is better off if a patient has access to their medicine, if there is a steady, regulated supply."

OrganiGram has a wait list for new patients, but Mr. Arsenault says the company hopes to eliminate that soon.

Health Canada says about 13,700 patients were registered under the new system as of Oct.31. That's an increase from about 5,100 in April and almost 8,000 in June.

Patients with a doctor's prescription place their orders directly with the licensed producer of their choice. The program is limited to dried marijuana; producers cannot sell other forms of pot, such as edible products or oils.

Costs range from as low as $2.50 a gram to as high as $15, depending on the producer and the strain, but most are between $8 and $10.

Those grams have added up: Health Canada says 1,400 kilograms - or 1.4 million grams - were sold by licensed producers between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31.

There have only been three new licences to sell marijuana issued since the summer, the most recent being MariCann, located in Southern Ontario, which was added in early December.

As of Nov. 24, there were 301 applications still being assessed by Health Canada. Of those, 13 were awaiting a prelicence inspection - the final step before being approved.

Sundial Growers, which wants to produce medical marijuana near Airdrie, Alta., just north of Calgary, is in the queue.

Company president Stan Swiatek says he asked Health Canada for a final inspection in May. He has received a few requests for more information, but so far no one from the department has shown up and he has no idea when they will.

"It's just sort of random - they arbitrarily decide which [application] to deal with," says Mr. Swiatek, a former cucumber grower. "The reality is, we just have to sit and wait."

In Nanaimo, B.C., Tilray says it's currently operating at 20per-cent capacity because Health Canada hasn't approved it to use all of its available space. A spokesman says the company has repeatedly asked Health Canada to inspect and approve the added production space, but there has been no response.

Health Canada says it does not track waiting lists at individual producers, though the department says there is adequate supply across the entire system. In October, for example, commercial growers produced 450 kilograms of marijuana, while only 240 kilograms were sold, the department says.

The federal government's comments on the issue have largely been limited to pointing out marijuana is not an approved medical treatment. The government discourages anyone from consuming marijuana and points out it only allows medical cannabis because it was forced to by the courts.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose did not make herself available for an interview, but her office issued a written statement that repeated the government's previous statements.

Neil Closner, CEO of MedReLeaf, based in Markham, Ont., says the government's talking points appear to ignore the reality of patients, who say marijuana helps with a list of ailments.

"It certainly doesn't help when messages are coming out from the government that it is not an approved drug and that it's bad for you," said Mr. Closner.

"There is mounting evidence - and it will only continue to grow - that this product is beneficial for many people."

Producers are prohibited from making medical claims to patients. Last month, Health Canada sent most licensed growers letters ordering them to remove content from their websites beyond product names, price and cannabinoid content.

Mr. Closner says prohibiting producers from guiding consumers to particular strains based on their medical needs will only hurt patients.

"It's our belief that patients need that information in order to make informed choices about which products to use," he says.

Canada's shift to a commercial market comes as federal politicians debate the larger issue of prohibition. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has been pilloried by the Conservatives for supporting legalization.

It also comes as several U.S. jurisdictions establish recreational pot industries.

Voters in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia approved ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana possession earlier this year, while Colorado and Washington state have already legalized the drug. Another 18 states have decriminalized possession of small amounts.

In addition, medical marijuana is available in 23 states.

Associated Graphic

The previous medical marijuana regime was repealed on March 31 of this year, leaving fledgling commercial producers as the only official option for those with prescriptions.

DARRYL DYCK FOR THE CANADIAN PRESS

WHY 'B' CAN BE BETTER
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Trying to be all things to all people leads to anxiety, irritability and burnout. It's time to dial it back - by about 30 per cent - and put your own well-being first
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By ADRIANA BARTON
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Monday, December 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L5


For the first holiday season in distant memory, I am not running around like a turkey with its head cut off. Sure, I have organized a carolling event with my neighbours and made Christmas crafts with my son, but as of yet, I have not baked a single cookie, preordered an organic bird or gotten around to e-mailing invitations for our annual New Year's Eve party. I have no idea what I'm going to send to my dear parents, who live 6,000 kilometres away.

I am okay with this. Unlike other years, I am not trying to cover all the bases to pull off a Hallmark Christmas - a strategy that has led to burnout before the stockings are hung, followed by PCD (post-Christmas depression). My goal this season is to follow the 70-per-cent rule.

The idea, promoted by fitness and work-life-balance gurus, is to stop "giving it your all" in every area of life and see what it feels like to devote 70-percent effort in most areas, most of the time. And since the pressure to be all things to all people is linked to anxiety, sleep disorders, irritability and other forms of psychological distress, a 70-per-cent approach could be a strong defence against these all-too-common health concerns (when there isn't an underlying mental illness).

The 70-per-cent rule, based on a somewhat arbitrary ratio, is not the same as the Pareto principle, well known in business circles, which dictates that 80 per cent of the outcomes come from 20 per cent of the inputs. It's better aligned with the principle espoused by fitness gurus who know their clients are more likely to stick with a goal, and less likely to get injured, if they give up the idea of pushing themselves to give maximum effort all the time. With the 70-per-cent rule, the focus is not on maximizing returns but on achieving reasonable goals, with well-being top of mind.

Constantly pushing ourselves to go the extra mile can have a negative impact on all areas of life, said Scott Schieman, a University of Toronto professor who researches the interface between work, stress and health. People who never take the time to recharge tend to feel overwhelmed and inadequate both at work and at home, he said. Stress may cause us to disengage from the people we love, and "you need those quality relationships to offset the demands and pressures of everyday life," he pointed out.

As daily demands send more of us to the brink, the concept of living "smarter, not harder" is dovetailing with the mindfulness movement and a new proliferation of life-balance books, such as Christine Carter's The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work, due for release in January. Common themes include scheduling mini-breaks, defining the limits of a project at the outset, being clear about what you won't take on and identifying areas where a B-plus effort is adequate, saving energy for projects that demand an A-plus.

As a stress-reduction tool, the 70-per-cent rule is both sensible and audacious. Renée Peterson Trudeau, a life-balance coach and author of The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and ReBalance Your Life, recommends that people reserve up to 40 per cent of their energy for themselves.

The strategy might sound unrealistic, lazy or even selfish coming from someone other than Trudeau, a former communications executive who has written three books and runs two businesses. Trudeau said she used to think the more she stayed on top of everything, the more effective she would be, "but I have come to know the opposite is true."

She now believes that the more time she takes to slow down and put important things first, "the more wise, the more brilliant, creative, centred and authentic I am in all areas of my life."

Even so, following the 70-percent rule is easier said than done - especially for those of us who put our noses to the grindstone to keep Protestant/ Jewish/Catholic/Muslim guilt at bay. We pull out all the stops to make our families happy, overbook our calendars out of FOMO (fear of missing out) and check work e-mail 24/7 in hopes of maintaining our value in the company and to avoid landing on the chopping block.

Some of us wear our maxed-out schedules as badges of honour, even though we are all too familiar with what happens when the well runs dry.

The motivation to go through life at full throttle is often based on the belief that doing it all "is what makes us worthy and acceptable," said Jennifer Berdahl, a professor of leadership studies at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.

But perfectionism is far more than an individual problem, said Linda Duxbury, a work-life balance expert and professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University. Today's corporate culture only reinforces the belief that we should be able to do more with less, she said. "Workloads are going up. The expectation that you'll be available 24/7 is going up."

Despite putting in overtime, however, many of us may be protecting our mental health by default. Research has shown that employees tend to be unproductive at least 30 per cent of the time, Berdahl said.

Some burn the midnight oil because the optics of careers such as law demand it. But the truth is, "nobody can sustain their maximum level of effort for very long," Berdahl said.

Taking regular breaks and curbing digital communications are simple ways to reduce stress. A UBC study published earlier this month found that adults - including financial analysts, medical professionals and students - instructed to check e-mail no more than three times a day experienced significantly lower daily stress than those who checked e-mail an unlimited number of times.

Another way to keep stress at bay is to adopt the notion of "haiku productivity." Leo Babauta, author of The Power of Less and creator of ZenHabits.net, a top-25 blog according to Time magazine, suggests setting arbitrary limits on everyday tasks. Like the 17 syllables permitted in a traditional haiku, putting tight constraints around a project forces people to "evaluate what's important and what doesn't make the cut," he said.

The principle could apply to everything from how many times you'll volunteer at your kid's school to a decision to serve no more than six dishes at Christmas dinner. The result, he said, is "you don't overwork yourself, or overdo it."

For many of us, giving work our full focus can be deeply satisfying. But when it comes to household chores and holiday preparations, I am finding it liberating to surf the sweet spot of 70-per-cent effort. Now that I've stopped overfunctioning to get it all done, my husband has suddenly volunteered to do things like organize our son's birthday, which falls a week after New Year's.

I'm still not sure how it will all come together, but if I end up going to a friend's party empty-handed, or the gifts to my parents don't arrive in time, I am determined not to sweat it. (I know they will love me anyway.)

DENG'S CHILDREN
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China's economy has seen unprecedented growth in the years since Deng Xiaoping opened up its markets, but at what cost? Nathan VanderKlippe hears from some of the country's biggest success stories about the spiritual price of doing business
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By NATHAN VANDERKLIPPE
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F1


Deng Xiaoping was no Winston Churchill. He possessed a thick southern accent most people found nearly impenetrable, and was anything but garrulous. In fact, little of what he said was memorable or even original. His most-cited aphorism - "To get rich is glorious" - did not actually spill from his mouth; historians suspect its provenance can be traced to the West.

But in deed more than word, Mr. Deng was the linchpin in redirecting China's economy away from the backward, centrally planned beast it had become under Mao Zedong. He set it on a path that would see decades of unrelenting growth and the creation of credulity-defying prosperity.

What he wanted to do, he said in 1978, was to "light a spark" for change. "If we can't grow faster than the capitalist countries, then we can't show the superiority of our system," he explained.

He succeeded in spurring growth, and wildly so, marshalling the power of the world's most populous nation. Now, 110 years after his birth - an occasion that its leadership has sought to celebrate with lengthy TV biopics and other remembrances - China is filled with millionaires.

But has the sudden influx of wealth made it happy?

Where chasing profit was once grounds for harsh re-education, the country's heroes and superstars - Jack Ma and an entire generation of tuhao, or nouveau riche - are now, in ways both spiritual and economic, the children of Deng.

President Xi Jinping has consciously sought to present himself as the current generation's version of Deng. But for many of Deng's figurative progeny, wealth and happiness haven't always come together. In a recent survey published in the People's Tribune magazine, worries about a moral vacuum, personal selfishness and anxiety over individual and professional status were high on the list of top concerns about the country today. The poll reflected a pervasive cultural disquiet that has reached even into the ranks of those most richly rewarded by the Deng-led opening up.

"On the social level, money became the only currency in terms of personal relationships, and that's a really sad reality," says Yang Lan, one of the country's top television hosts.

She points to "the lack of a value system" that she sees when she hears young girls "discussing how they would love to be a mistress so they can live a wealthy life before they are too old. And you see girls discussing these things very openly." China, she says, needs "a new social contract."

There is little doubt that those who no longer need to worry about making money are more free to criticize others, raising the spectre of hypocrisy. But pained reflection has been among the less-anticipated products of the wealth China has amassed. The comforts of financial security have provided a new space to rethink the path the country has taken and ways it has fallen short.

And as China's economy slows to a pace not seen in decades, it also faces a moment to consider the sweep of its modern history - decades marked by the vicious turbulence of the Mao years, followed by the full-throttle race away from it inspired by Mr. Deng.

From 1978, the first year of the Deng-led reforms, China has been so thoroughly reshaped that even numbers struggle to do it justice. Gross domestic product has expanded 156-fold, the value of imports and exports is 727 times higher, and savings are up by a factor of 2,131.

The growth has been driven by an extraordinary - and massive - cohort of people who have turned personal quests for profit into a national obsession. "China has, in absolute numbers as well as percentage of populace, the most successful entrepreneurs anywhere in the world," says Peter Fuhrman, chairman and founder of China First Capital, a specialist investment bank based in Shenzhen.

But even those who most warmly embraced the Deng mandate are now pausing for a second look at a country whose vast financial progress has become marred by other problems. China today is "selfish," says Wu Hai, a serial entrepreneur and hotelier who speaks with sadness about what his country has become.

The mandate to get rich has become a mandate "to take advantage of other guys, to make a killing. We are at that stage," he says. "It's not a good society. In the countryside, they kill a newborn girl because she is a girl. That's the country you are in."

He Yongzhi, who built a restaurant and hotel empire to escape the grinding poverty that keeps mothers up at night sewing clothes for their children, sees the nation as a work in progress.

"Deng Xiaoping built up the frame of a great building," she says. But it is far from complete, and "in some places, it's already leaking."

The most obvious improvements to that frame are ones that dominate the Communist discourse in China today, including efforts to vanquish corruption and build a more functional court system. But they amount less to building on the Deng foundation than to rejecting it, as Beijing oversees campaign after campaign that, acknowledged or not, constitutes a war on his legacy.

Among his more memorable exhortations was that it doesn't matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches rats. The ends, in other words, justify the means, a principle that catalyzed the spread of corruption.

Now, President Xi is leading a widespread effort to root out the rot. "Basically, they are saying it's wrong. In the past 35 years, whoever got rich must be suspected of being corrupt," says Bo Zhiyue, a senior research fellow at the East Asian Institute of the National University of Singapore. "That's really a cultural shift, and also a cultural shock for a lot of people."

As chief executives of stateowned companies face calls to temper their pay and restrain spending, fine hotels are removing star ratings, luxury brands face diminishing sales, and even Moutai, the famous Chinese liquor, has been forced to slash prices.

For the Chinese government, "the role model has changed - now you have Lei Feng ... basically you cannot have more than you deserve," Mr. Bo says, referring to a young People's Liberation Army soldier reputed to have died in 1962 and held up during the Mao era as an exemplar of selfless devotion.

It's an open question whether the President will be able to impose anything close to selflessness on a country that has, in recent years, come to quite like five-star hotels, Moutai and new freedoms.

Yet a desire for change has also brought a nagging doubt to the Deng generation: that the China it has helped build somehow fails to satisfy its people. One of the more difficult questions facing its leaders, then, is how to steer China toward more than just the accumulation of wealth.

To fail in that would be to court disaster, says Hung Huang, a magazine publisher and social-media personality.

"You cannot sustain a country with so many unhappy people," she argues. "They will rebel. You will have the French Revolution."

Nathan VanderKlippe is The Globe and Mail's correspondent in Beijing.

Associated Graphic

Yang Hongchang, above, is known as China's 'snake king.' He built his vast fortune on traditional medicine after taking a remedy as a young man that he feels turned his life around.

Lilly jumps back into the fray on her terms
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By JOHANNA SCHNELLER
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Friday, December 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R6


jschneller@globeandmail.com

No one had ever said this to me before. In a phone interview last week, Evangeline Lilly - who plays a Silvan elf in the film The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - told me the reason she quit acting for a few years: She didn't like it.

Given Lilly's career, which looks like a streak of home runs, I was surprised. Born in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., she was tapped on the street in Kelowna, B.C., by a modelling agent, and soon landed a plum role - Kate Austen, the kickass female lead - on what turned out to be the highest-rated show of the aughts, J.J. Abrams's Lost.

Next thing Lilly knew, she was living in Hawaii, working her tail off (she appeared in 116 of the 121 episodes), heading Breakout Star and Sexiest Woman lists and swanning down red carpets in flawless confections.

None of it made her happy. "I didn't like the majority of it," Lilly says. (At 35, she's a chatterer - forthright, earnest, eager to impart information, easy to laugh.) "I most certainly did not like any part of being famous. I didn't see the advantages as advantageous. And I had a hard time playing the amount of angst, fear, horror and sadness that I had to play on Lost. It's a negative head space to be in for six years, 16 hours a day. It wasn't healthy for me. And I'm a big believer that if you're not satisfied with your life, change it."

As much as she enjoyed the paycheques, she was careful to save them, right from season one, so that her acting career could end when Lost did. She turned her attention to other things: She wrote a children's book, The Squickerwonkers, based on a story she'd conceived as a kid, about a family of outcasts, each with a particular vice. She had a son, Kahekili (which means "the thunder" in Hawaiian), who's now three, with her partner, Normal Kali. And then Peter Jackson called.

Lilly was "gobsmacked" - not only was The Hobbit her favourite book as a girl, the elves were her favourite characters. She remembers lying awake fantasizing about being not just an elf, but specifically a Silvan elf. "I can't imagine any other role in all the world that would have made me come out of retirement at that time," she says. "I thought, 'What are these higher powers trying to do to me?' I'm a real believer in higher powers at work in our lives, and that things happen for a reason."

It was no small decision. Lilly's son was three months old; she was nursing "and my hips were still splayed," she says, which made her innumerable stunts difficult. Her character Tauriel (who is not in the book) is a warrior, so Lilly had to learn archery and Elvish. The final two films were shot as one, so she was on location for a year. And though she calls Jackson "such a goodnatured, happy, funny director," she adds, "I think it's important to say that his creative style is total chaos."

So, um, fluid was the schedule on The Battle of the Five Armies that time ran out before they shot the battle - they had to film it during reshoots a year later.

Then, Lilly and her stunt team would conceive and rehearse the complex fight choreography, only to have Jackson change it on the set. "Peter geeks out over the fights, he loves the blood and gore, but he wants to create it on the spot," Lilly says. "That was, for me, an endless source of frustration, because I'm a total perfectionist."

Her emotional state complicated matters. "Since having a baby, I have lost a significant amount of testosterone," she says, laughing.

"When I was working on Lost, you couldn't hold me back from stunts. I was like a greedy kid; I'd get gritty and angry and give it my all. But now, when I try to get to that aggressive place, it's not available to me. I'm like, 'But I feel happy! I feel sweet!' And I kind of love that."

Despite all that, Lilly fell for acting again, because Jackson and his team were so collaborative, beginning with the scriptwriting, where she helped conceive her character. She likes doing emotional scenes to music, so he played her the lyrical Elven sections from The Lord of the Rings score. For the (near-constant) scenes where she vanquishes Orcs, he lined up strings of stuntmen for her to battle, including one who was 6 feet 7 inches, so she didn't have to fake her grunts and flexes. "That's why everyone who's ever worked for Peter wants to work for him again, despite the chaos," Lilly says. "He's so, so generous."

He wouldn't put her on a wire for stunts, however - too dangerous. "He did put Orlando Bloom up there. That pissed me off!" Lilly says, laughing. "But I understand why. The injury rate on this film was high. One stuntwoman, I cringe for her, tore her Achilles tendon, and that's a career-breaker. So I didn't get thrown against the wall. I did have my face smashed into the stairs, though."

Also, while executing a long Steadicam shot where Tauriel mows down eight Orcs, Lilly forgot to duck on one take, and took a punch to the head. "I thought for certain I was going to K.O.," she says. "But part of me subconsciously knew that if I did, that poor, poor stuntman would never forgive himself. So I mustered everything I had in me to stay alert, get back to my first mark, and do it again."

Lilly learned two things from The Hobbit: She'll only work on projects that are collaborative and fun. And she'll confront her fame head-on. She's created Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, so she can get to know her fans "instead of being afraid of them," she says. "It lets me represent myself directly to the people who appreciate me, so I feel less out of control, and less controlled."

It must be working, because she went from Middle Earth into another potential franchise, for Marvel - this summer she'll be seen opposite Paul Rudd in Ant-Man.

And she has 17 more Squickerwonker books mapped out, with plans for interactive iBooks and a potential film or television franchise.

"I know, I'm ridiculous," she says, laughing again. "A friend told me recently, 'You know how people have commitment issues?

You have overcommitment issues.' I can't seem to do anything small."

At a climactic moment in The Battle of the Five Armies, Tauriel executes a jump that would make a pro basketballer proud. A stuntwoman could have done it, but Lilly wanted to, for reasons both practical and metaphoric. "There were no wires," she says. "It was just me. I just used my strength, and leapt."

She felt, she says, "redeemed. I went, 'Okay, I'm back. I'm back, and I'm bad, and I can do this again.' "

Associated Graphic

Evangeline Lilly credits Peter Jackson and his team's collaborative approach for her renewed interest in acting.

STUART C. WILSON/GETTY IMAGES

The Louvre through a lens
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Hamilton-born artist Mark Lewis has created four short films that explore the breadth, being and beauty of the great Paris museum
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By SARAH MILROY
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Special to The Globe and Mail
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R6


PARIS --

For more than two decades, Hamilton-born artist Mark Lewis has been on a paradoxical quest: making short films that take stillness and explore it in motion. Many of these films have been shot in London, where he has lived since 1997 as a professor of fine art at Central Saint Martins. These films have documented his encounters with everyday locations rendered strange through deep seeing: a boardedup public lavatory on a street in Smithfield; a concrete path through a housing estate in Elephant and Castle; a swinging tire suspended from a rope in a quiet courtyard in Churchyard Row. Another early film explored a long, low, time-weathered stone wall in Northumberland, its one, long continuous take a kind of structuralist blague on the sequential nature of time-based art. Through his lens, such restricted subjects become dilated, and we are made to pause and consider what we might normally walk right by, hypnotized by the languid lens and its fluid, disembodied glide.

More recently, Lewis has brought us increasingly into the mix of urban life - the Minhocao overpass in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for example, or a jumble of apartments, hotels and small businesses in Beirut. Here, stillness and movement intertwine in a dance of subject and viewer; people mill about in these ever-more curiousseeming spaces as the camera performs its serpentine movements.

What better place to explore such phenomena, of course, than in a museum, where people gather in the most peculiar way: to see, and to see one another, to wander together in collective aimlessness amid the static eternals of art history. Lewis has made work in museums before - most notably in the National Gallery, London, where he reckoned with the Old Masters galleries - and was invited by the Louvre in Paris to make work in the great Paris museum as well.

His current exhibition gathers the results: four short films - between 4.4 and 24 minutes in length - that prompt the viewer to their own kindred acts of exploration and even re-enactment. Through his lens, we receive a kind of private tour of the Louvre: the hall of Greek antiquities (seen at night as if lit by flickering torchlight, in the viewing tradition of the 19th-century night galleries); the European painting galleries (including a remarkable looping aerial encounter with the Winged Victory of Samothrace, created through his digital stitchery of thousands of still photographs); down to the subterranean spaces created by I. M. Pei's signature pyramid renovation of the museum's entrance; and into the warp and weft of Chardin's Child with a Spinning Top, the quintessential still rendering of movement and fleeting life, observed elbow-to-elbow with Chardin's painting of a dead hare in a contrapuntal memento mori.

Not surprisingly, one finds oneself wanting to retrace his camera's movements, comparing the artist's version of the Louvre with one's own. First stop, for me, was the Winged Victory of Samothrace, long installed as a magisterial preamble to all that is Europe amid the vaulting archways of the Louvre's grand staircase. An epic sculpture of the goddess Nike from second-century-BC Greece, she towers over visitors, leaning forward from her parapet of stone, wings outspread to command the space around her.

The Victory is the star of Lewis's In Search of the Blessed Ranieri, the longest of his four works on display, which starts with a view of a young girl in the galleries who is engrossed by il Sassetta's little Quattrocento masterpiece of the same name. Here is a moment of pause before the camera takes flight. Sassetta's painting, too, is about flying: Ranieri frees the poor from their incarceration in a Florentine jail, and Sassetta has depicted his haloed protagonist hovering above the fleeing prisoners, his lower body rendered as a blurred flame of white. Likewise Lewis, with his digital remastering of the real, delivers us from the restrictions of embodiment.

The film suggests another train of thought as well, touching down on landmark moments in the male artists' attempts to grapple with the power of the life-creating female body, or to imagine its subversion. In its wild digital ride, Lewis's stream of images reveal to us the muscular heft of the Victory, her thighs and torso expressing a monstrous force, before countering this with a glimpse of the delicate flesh-parfait of Girodet de Roussy-Trioson's Pygmalion and Galatea, where comely marble is seen to bloom into rosetinted life beneath the sculptor's hand (in this mythic fantasy, it is man who creates life), or the luminous curves of Ingres's Grand Odalisque, her satin-pillowy skin flushed with the warmth of invitation.

Meanwhile, Lewis is also capturing the experience of being in those galleries, his roving camera glancing past the Mona Lisa, behind her prophylactic bulletproof glass and double crowd barriers. (I'm with him here; why even bother trying?) In these interstitial moments, his camera swims through the throng of visitors like an upstreaming salmon, recording his interactions with the crowd - some onlookers curious and meeting his camera's gaze, even playing to it; others conscientiously making way; and some oblivious, such as the young man he encounters at the film's end, cellphone in hand and mind elsewhere, body and mind split by the technological intervention. The place is packed with them.

In the end, In Search of the Blessed Ranieri makes you wonder about the museum itself as a machine for seeing, as a lens that can focus our attention. This surely is the point of Lewis's descent in Pyramid, through the Louvre's famous I. M. Pei glass monument to the marble floor below via a circular, open, lens-like elevator, its platform gliding down through the volumetric core of the circular staircase like a well-oiled telephoto. At one point in its descent, Lewis's camera captures a metal handrail whose contour bisects the curve of the staircase like a sleepy eyelid.

Chasing Lewis's epiphanies, I found my own: a crust of bread immortalized by the 18th-century Spanish artist Luis Melendez (a new name for me); Goya's bloody mess of a sheep's head, its lifeless eye meeting our own across the centuries. At other times, though, fate conspired against me. The gliding circular elevator was, it turned out, closed for repairs on the day of my visit, its temporary indisposition declared by a makeshift sign. My search for The Blessed Ranieri, too, was thwarted by an officious museum attendant who told me, a full half-hour before closing, that the painting - though positioned merely 20 feet from where we stood and plainly visible at that near distance - was in a gallery that had already been cleared of visitors, in preparation for the museum's great lemminglike evacuation. No amount of supplication would sway her resolve, and I was instructed to return tomorrow, her gaze abruptly flittering heavenward, just above my line of vision, in contemptuous restraint. Would that one could muster Lewis's powers of flight. Sometimes art is better in art than in life.

Mark Lewis: Invention at the Louvre continues in Paris, at the Musée du Louvre, until Jan. 5 (louvre.fr).

Associated Graphic

Mark Lewis's film Pyramid showcases a descent through the Louvre's signature glass monument.

DANIEL FARIA GALLERY

A man of unusual talent
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By JOHANNA SCHNELLER
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Friday, December 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R5


jschneller@globeandmail.com

Don't try to lump Benedict Cumberbatch's characters together under the heading "eccentric geniuses." He won't like it. His display of displeasure will be subtle. He will glance away from you and emit a brief, exasperated sniff through his aristocratic nose. But you will feel it.

Because his schedule at the Toronto International Film Festival is overstuffed, you enter his hotel suite two hours later than your appointed time. The room is dotted with exhausted-looking people in various states of lounge, but he is the only one you see: Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch, his name crying out to be an A. A. Milne verse, his slender, six-foot frame balanced (approximately) on two legs of a chair, his lower limbs stretched out straight before him like twin felled trees. "Best not," he says, straightening up. "This chair feels like it's going to split at any point."

Quickly, you suss out that the man sitting in it feels much the same. Yes, Cumberbatch has played a brace of geniuses: physicists Stephen Hawking and Werner Heisenberg, painter Vincent van Gogh, spy Guy Burgess, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and Sherlock Holmes. Yes, he's currently starring as Alan Turing - the father of the computer, the leader of the covert British team that broke Germany's Enigma code and shortened the Second World War, the gay man who was prosecuted in postwar England and is only now being recognized for his heroism - in the elegant yet passionate period drama The Imitation Game, which opens in Canada next week. (The film won the coveted audience prize at TIFF, and it and Cumberbatch are both Oscar front-runners.) Yes, he supposes Turing could be called eccentric.

"I just don't like these labels," he says. "The differentiation [among my characters] is massive. I've played a dragon [Smaug in The Hobbit trilogy], I've played William Ford in 12 Years a Slave, I've played Charles Aiken in August: Osage County, I've played psychotics like Khan [in Star Trek into Darkness] and Shere Khan [in the upcoming The Jungle Book: Origins]. All were conditioned by the events of their lives, and have a purpose and reason to be who they are. So I always balk at this kind of" - here he flips into an American accent that is at once flat, dimwitted and overenthusiastic - "'You're really good at sexual deviants.' I've done some other stuff as well." The greatest actor of his generation is cranky. At you.

Still, there is something undeniable about Cumberbatch, 38, that renders believable his portrayal of men of unusual intelligence. It's some ineluctable combination of his talent (which is huge, and was evident from his debut, at age 12, as Titania in a school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream), his breeding (posh: He grew up in Kensington, attended Harrow, and is the great-grandson of a British diplomat and consul-general), his voice (which calls to mind a lynx, if that lynx were drinking whisky and eating dark chocolate) and his looks (just offhandsome enough to be both infinitely mutable on screen and the object of female fantasies).

"As soon as I knew Ben was doing this part, I thought, 'It's perfect casting,' " says Keira Knightley, who plays Turing's associate - and briefly, his fiancée - in The Imitation Game, in a separate interview. (The two also costarred in Atonement.) "He's got this ability to dive into characters, and not be frightened of their complexity. He wants to pull out every nuance. With an incredible amount of sensitivity. Somebody else might have made Turing into a machine, or made him far too soft. But Ben's internal mapping of a character is brilliant."

He's just one of those people - not unlike Meryl Streep, his costar in August: Osage County - whose brilliance is palpable, and who seems to live a life worthy of it. He once taught English at a Tibetan monastery in Darjeeling, India. Travelling through South Africa with friends in 2005, he was kidnapped at gunpoint, held overnight and then released without explanation. He played both Dr. Frankenstein and his creation on alternate nights at London's Royal National Theatre, and was showered with awards for it. He is an ambassador of the Prince's Trust. He meditates. He's been on Sesame Street. He narrates documentaries and audio books. Fresh episodes of Sherlock routinely paralyze Britain. He played John Mortimer's beloved Rumpole in a series of BBC radio plays, and recorded a song for the August: Osage County soundtrack. During his recent appearance on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart asked to marry him. He actually did become engaged this year, to the English theatre and opera director Sophie Hunter. He's named on every list that deems a person Powerful, Influential, Sexy or Connected. And he's pals with a who's-who of rollicking London thesps, including Tom Hardy, Jonny Lee Miller and Matthew Goode (who also costars in The Imitation Game).

"I'm not saying we're [Richard] Harris and [Richard] Burton, but we've had our moments," Goode says in a separate interview. "When Ben and I were starting out, there were many occasions where we'd practically be in the pub together, waiting to see which of us was getting the job. But he quickly went from up-andcoming to - well, he's come a long time ago, hasn't he?" He cackles. "He's wiped his [cough] on the curtains."

"It feels like an embarrassment of riches at times, it really does," Cumberbatch says. "I just try and focus on what's in front of me. But it is true that the odd moments where one can plan and strategize are getting interesting now." Late last year, he and his best friend Adam Ackland launched a production company called SunnyMarch Ltd.; its first project, a 30-minute, crowdfunded action thriller called Little Favour, is available on iTunes. "That's really exciting to me, because we're getting to make things, to bring them from that first evolution of ideas to reality," Cumberbatch says. "We want to make good, varied, beautiful, intriguing films of different scales. We'll work with extraordinary people, and try to crossfertilize from different disciplines.

So that writers from a theatrical background can tackle subject matters they've never versed themselves in before, or female directors can tackle male subjects, or visual artists can have a go at cinematography or directing. I'm really interested in what's happening with the synergy between art forms - moving between television and film so fluidly, and film being used as a medium on stage as well. I think it's happening across the board, with new artists and with professionals who've grown and delivered all their lives. It's exciting times to do this kind of work.

"So yes," he concludes, "things are really wonderful. I'm having a lovely run of it."

And if journalists ask tiresomely reductive questions, well, Cumberbatch can simply channel his ambivalence into his upcoming theatre run - as Hamlet. Twelve weeks at London's Barbican, beginning in August. Get your tickets now.

Associated Graphic

Benedict Cumberbatch's palpable brilliance on stage and on screen has been earning him accolades and Oscar talk.

CHRIS PIZZELLO/INVISION/AP

Researchers develop a search engine for DNA
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By CAROLYN ABRAHAM
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Special to The Globe and Mail
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Friday, December 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1


Often called the book of life, human DNA has been no easy read for scientists, who face the staggering challenge of figuring out which genetic mutations lead to disease. People carry millions of them in their code, and there has been no efficient way to tell the ones that cause diseases such as cancer from those that simply make ear wax moist.

Now, a research team led by computer engineers at the University of Toronto says it has developed a biological browser, a first-of-its-kind filtering technology that may finally solve the problem.

Like a powerful search engine that mines the Web for answers, the new computational system combs the human genome to seek and sort meaningful mutations. Google Inc., along with other companies, has already expressed an interest in it - raising questions about what could, or should, happen with publicly funded technology that is likely to be in demand in a growing world of Big Data.

The technology may transform medical research by pointing the way to the genetic roots of diseases. But not just diseases. The system, which has been named SPANR (short for "splicing-based analysis of variants" and pronounced "spanner"), could also be used to identify traits that make people healthier, smarter and even happier.

"Ours is the first example of a tool that will be able to efficiently figure out what's going on with your genome," said Brendan Frey, the U of T professor of engineering and medicine who led the l0year project.

At its core is a computational technique known as "machine learning," in which a system is programmed to recognize mutations based on examples researchers have input. With complex forms of it - called "deep-learning" technology or artificial intelligence - the system is designed to detect and decipher.

It is the kind of automated reasoning behind the latest voice-, text- and image-recognition engines, popular virtual-assistant apps such as Siri, and now SPANR.

The Toronto system is designed to detect glitches in the vast areas of DNA that regulate genes and have not been extensively studied. But it has also been "trained" with data and algorithms to analyze and rank each mutation in terms of its power to change the way a cell behaves. The higher the ranking, the more likely it is that the mutation leads to disease.

"Computers have been used to read the genome for quite a while, but this is using a computer to interpret and understand the genome," said Prof. Frey, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Biological Computation. "Our system is not perfect, but it works very well."

In a study published online on Thursday in the journal Science Express, the Toronto researchers report that their system accurately confirmed 94 per cent of the known genetic culprits behind well-studied diseases without any information related to the patients or their conditions. It also discovered new genetic mutations linked to colorectal and pancreatic cancers, spinal muscular atrophy (a leading cause of infant mortality), and most dramatically, 39 genes never before linked to autism.

Prof. Frey said the journal rushed to publish news of the system this week because it could bring much needed precision to genetic research, which has often involved collecting and comparing the genomes of sick and healthy people - "tens of thousands of them. But even those numbers haven't been enough to pinpoint patterns or mutations that might be relevant."

Consider how many patterns of text can be created, whole books, with an alphabet of just 26 letters, he said. The genome, meanwhile, is a biochemical alphabet of three billion chemical pairs: "The number of patterns possible in DNA is greater than the number of atoms in the universe."

Manolis Kellis, an expert in computational biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not involved in the study, described the Toronto work as a necessary contribution to the field: "We're really learning the cellular circuitry is much more complex than the human mind can grasp."

But, he noted, it would not have been possible without first sequencing many human genomes, since they contain the raw data needed "for training these [computer] models."

Prof. Frey believes machine learning will usher in an age of personalized medicine, when treatments can be tailored to a patient's DNA.

Doctors, he said, could theoretically use the system to quickly produce a list of the significant mutations in any patient. Or, he predicts, within a decade, when many people will have their DNA codes sequenced, it will be a tool, perhaps an app on smartphones, that allows them to share and compare mutations, and possibly crowd-source their meaning by swapping details of their ailments and traits.

"People with a certain mutation in common might find out they're all scared of heights," he mused.

He said people are already uploading their genetic codes into Google's Internet data-storage cloud. Last summer, the California-based internet giant revealed its research division had launched its own genome project to catalogue the biomarkers of a healthy human. This month, BlackBerry announced its new Passport smartphone will include a cancer-genome browser for doctors to access a patient's genetic data instantly.

All of this Big Data will require some form of deep learning to interpret, Prof. Frey said. Social networking and video gaming have already made the field so hot that his graduate students are "heavily courted" with six-figure salaries and signing bonuses of $3-million.

His students, he said, are thinking of a startup of their own.

As for himself, he said, "I didn't get into this make money. I got into totransform medicine."

PERSONAL TOUCH

Brendan Frey wasn't always a genome man. In the 1990s, the U of T engineering professor used to apply his machine learning know-how to digital communications. But in 2001, his pregnant wife received the results of a DNA test that said their unborn child carried a number of genetic mutations.

"No one could tell us if these were serious or benign. It was frustrating. DNA is like a digital code, and I thought, 'Why can't we understand?' " After he and his wife made the difficult decision to end the pregnancy, Prof. Frey aimed his computational expertise at the human genome.

Specifically, he opted to target those sprawling sections of code once naively dismissed as "junk DNA" because they contain no genes.

"It's like a recipe book. The genes are the ingredients. But if you just have the ingredients you really don't have anything at all. You have to know the amounts, and what to do with them," Prof. Frey said.

With a team that included postdocs and graduate students Babak Alipanahi, Leo Lee, Hui Xiong and Hannes Bretschneider, Prof. Frey spent a decade feeding a computer system a wide range of examples so it would know what DNA looks like, how to read and recognize its text, patterns and mutations. And in the same way a child learns to read, the system "learns" to predict biochemical effects. He estimated the system reads DNA at a Grade 1 level.

Associated Graphic

U of T professor Brendan Frey led a 10-year project that resulted in SPANR, a tool for filtering the human genome.

MATTHEW SHERWOOD FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Senators lend Lazar to world juniors
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Nineteen-year-old forward calls leaving Ottawa 'bittersweet' but relishes the idea of becoming the 'go-to guy' for tournament
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By STEPHEN WHYNO
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The Canadian Press
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Friday, December 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2


ST. CATHARINES, ONT. -- Curtis Lazar is temporarily leaving the Ottawa Senators to play for Canada at the world junior championship, a decision those involved consider a "win-win."

The 19-year-old Lazar gets the experience of playing against the best junior players in the world, Canada gets a polished top-six forward and the Senators hope to benefit down the road from the development their top prospect gets from his second of these tournaments.

"He's going to play a more prominent role," Senators coach Dave Cameron said. "With us he's in the bottom six, playing a safe role. There he's going to be a go-to guy. That's a real world-class tournament on a huge stage, so all those factors are going to make him a better player."

Lazar was Ottawa's fourth-line centre, averaging 12 minutes 45 seconds a game, second-lowest on the team and ahead of only Chris Neil. Wednesday night at the New Jersey Devils, Lazar skated 15 shifts for 8:30, his lowest totals of his rookie season.

Hockey Canada had discussions with the Senators this week about getting Lazar, but the organization didn't find out until Thursday morning that he'd be joining the world junior team. Understandably, those in charge of the team are thrilled to add Lazar to a group already favoured to win gold on home ice.

"He is a big piece of the puzzle," said Scott Salmond, Hockey Canada's vice-president of hockey operations. "He will come in here hopefully with a lot of confidence and a lot of experience of having been here last year. We expect him to be a leader, and we expect he is going to give our group a boost."

Lazar called it "bittersweet," leaving the Senators in the middle of the season, especially considering the upheaval lately with the firing of Paul MacLean and the hiring of Cameron as coach.

But he relishes the idea of becoming that "go-to guy" at the world juniors.

"The Ottawa Senators, I'm happy to be here, I love to be here and I feel I'm going to have a long, healthy career here with them," said Lazar, who has a goal and six assists this season. "Two weeks - it's not going to make that much of a difference."

Having Lazar could make a huge difference for Canada, which already had six returning players: goaltender Zach Fucale, defenceman Josh Morrissey and forwards Sam Reinhart, Connor McDavid, Nicolas Petan and Frédérik Gauthier. Lazar could slide in on Canada's second line on one of McDavid's wings, something he said would be a lot of fun.

Salmond said it was up to coach Benoît Groulx whether Lazar would play wing, as he did in 2014, or lineup at centre.

"I see him, imagine him, playing a lot," Salmond said.

That's part of the reason Cameron, who has a history of coaching with Hockey Canada, supported letting Lazar go. Ultimately, the decision rested with Senators general manager Bryan Murray, but he got input from Lazar and Cameron along the way.

Lazar's teammates saw last year what he can bring to a tournament like this when he was a point-a-game performer.

"Curtis brings everything, really," Morrissey said. "He is an allaround player, he brings a lot to our team on the ice with his skills and ability, but off the ice he brings tremendous leadership. He is a hard-working, honest guy."

Before he even skates with this group, Lazar becomes a top candidate, along with Reinhart, to be named captain. At the very least, the Salmon Arm, B.C., native will be part of Canada's leadership group because he's constantly smiling and can lighten the mood.

"He always brings down the pressure," McDavid said. "He's obviously going to be a huge leader, if not the biggest leader on this team."

Groulx, an assistant last year in Malmo, Sweden, has only good things to say about Lazar on and off the ice.

"He's well liked by his teammates, respected by his teammates," Groulx said. "He's won everywhere. He's a competitor; everybody acknowledges that.

He's such a great young man. I think he'll fit right in with our guys."

The downside of Lazar's addition will be felt by the one extra player who has spent the week at Canada's camp at Meridian Centre in St. Catharines but won't be starting the tournament with the rest of the group Dec. 26 in Montreal. Now three forwards will need to get cut, along with a defenceman, to get down to the 22man roster.

"That's part of the process," Groulx said. "Having Curtis back, obviously I think it puts a smile on everybody's face on this team.

Yeah, it's going to make our decision tougher, but I think it's good for our team to have him back."

Five forwards appear to be on the bubble of making the team: Gauthier, Michael Dal Colle, Jason Dickinson, Rourke Chartier and 17-year-old Lawson Crouse.

Though Gauthier is a returning player, the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect doesn't consider his spot safe.

"I think I need to earn it," Gauthier said. "I don't think I got it right now."

Dickinson, who centred the fifth line this week, understands he has to show his value Friday night in Canada's exhibition game against Russia at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. He isn't worried about the Lazar news affecting him mentally.

"It is one of those things that happens in hockey," Dickinson said. "There are going to be guys out there and take your spot, and you just have to battle through it."

There's little doubt that Canada is a better team with Lazar than without. He's the second full-time NHL player to join after the New York Rangers released Anthony Duclair to play.

"It obviously makes us a lot deeper," McDavid said of adding Lazar. "There's so many good players throughout this country at this age. Obviously he's one of the best. He's going to help all around."

Lazar will meet up with the team in Toronto but won't play in Friday's exhibition game. He's hoping to "put on a show for the Sens fans" Sunday when Canada plays Sweden in an exhibition game at Canadian Tire Centre.

Obviously the long-term goal is the games that matter and Lazar trying to help Canada win its first world junior gold medal since 2009.

"We're on home soil here and the expectation is for us to win gold," Lazar said. "My junior résumé, it's pretty complete except for a medal at the world juniors.

It's a big opportunity here and I like the team that they have in place so far and I'm going to go and contribute and hopefully I can check that one off the list."

Associated Graphic

Curtis Lazar, left, seen with Sam Reinhart during a summer development camp, was averaging only 12 minutes 45 seconds a game with the Ottawa Senators. GRAHAM HUGHES/THE CANADIAN PRESS

If these walls could write
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The homes where men and women of letters created endearing works endure chiefly by keeping the writerly tradition alive
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By ROBERT EVERETT-GREEN
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Monday, December 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L3


GREAT VILLAGE, N.S. -- The mother in the story is going mad, and the sign of her madness is a scream in the bedroom. The sound or its echo escapes from the house, and hangs over the village, forever. "Flick the lightning rod on top of the church steeple with your fingernail and you will hear it."

I'm standing in the front room of the house in Nova Scotia where this autobiographical tale first stirred, years before it was born on the page. Across the road is the white church with its high steeple. These things were seen every day, a century ago, by Elizabeth Bishop, the American poet who wrote the story, called In the Village. It appeared in The New Yorker in 1953, decades after her last summer with her grandparents in the hamlet of Great Village, in what is now called the Elizabeth Bishop House.

In a few months, it may be called something else, or nothing at all. The house is up for sale (for $130,000), after a decade as a retreat for writers, artists and Bishop scholars. The nine people who bought it in 2004 for its associations with the renowned poet, and who covered much of its upkeep out of their own pockets, have reached the end of their stewardship.

"We're not stopping this because there's no demand," says Sandra Barry, one of the co-owners, and author of Elizabeth Bishop: Nova Scotia's 'Home-Made' Poet. "We had one of our busiest summers this year, and 80 per cent of the people were first-timers."

Great Village is a good place to ponder the mystique of houses that have been homes for notable writers. Bishop lived here for only a couple of years as a child, visited periodically thereafter, and spent much of her adult life in Brazil and the United States. But for many who have studied her writings, including her many poems about Nova Scotia, the old two-storey building in Great Village is the Bishop house.

"It was central to Bishop's sense of herself," Barry says. "It appears in her work, but the more important thing is that it symbolically establishes her foundation, for looking at all other houses and homes, and at the world."

People have been making pilgrimages here, Barry says, almost since Bishop died in 1979. Their periodic knocking at the door alerted the previous owner to the house's place in the geography of literature. He had it registered provincially as a historical site in 1997. The gardens were damaged during a flash flood in September, but the house was not - contrary to some local reports.

The interior is furnished and decorated as it might have been when Bishop lived here as a child; photos of extended family hang on the walls. A guest book in the front room records the signatures of visiting writers, including those of Johanna Skibsrud, who wrote part of her Giller Award-winning book The Sentimentalists here, and Irish writer Colm Toibin, who came for a day.

"There was very little time when there wasn't anybody here," Barry says. "Virtually every writer has said to me: 'I've been able to write here in a way that I haven't anywhere else.' "

Some writers' houses become museums, such as the Lucy Maud Montgomery Manse in Uxbridge, Ont., and La Maison GabrielleRoy in St. Boniface, Man. The Bishop House is one of those that have attempted the more complex mission of trying to perpetuate, through new writing activity, whatever it is that persists in a building where a famous writer has lived or worked.

Typically, the houses are rundown, and sometimes crudely altered. Novelist Joy Kogawa's childhood bungalow in Vancouver had been sliced into rental flats and was facing demolition when a campaign began 10 years ago to save it as a place for writers to work.

"We don't need to restore the house to its 1930s look to achieve that," says Ann-Marie Metten, executive director of the Historic Joy Kogawa House Society. "But people expect to see what Joy described in her novel, Obasan.

You want to kind of carry on that reverence for place and meaning."

The Land Conservancy of British Columbia bought the house in 2006 for $686,000, intending to restore and endow it as a writers' centre owned by the not-forprofit society. The plan was thrown into doubt when the Land Conservancy filed for bankruptcy protection last year, and began trying to sell properties, including a West Vancouver house designed and lived in by artist B. C. Binning. That might have paved the way for a sale of the Kogawa house, but a deal for the Binning property was stopped in B.C. Supreme Court in January.

"That spurred the Land Conservancy to come up with some better solutions," Metten says.

"We're feeling optimistic, after almost two years of intense uncertainty, and are prepared to take title and move forward." The house is still awaiting full conversion back from rental units, though writers have been coming to stay and work there since 2009.

Another campaign, to save the A-frame cottage that poet Al Purdy built from found materials near Ameliasburgh, Ont., attracted a blaze of publicity from A-list writers and more than $325,000 in donations over the past six years. The cottage is now mostly renovated, but still has no solid financial footing, says Jean Baird, the Vancouver publishing consultant who runs it.

"It's a scramble, it really, really is," she says. When Katherine Leyton arrived as the first writerin-residence in July, Baird says, "we were $13,000 in the hole."

She now has the resources to continue at least till spring.

Like the Kogawa House, and the well-established Berton House in Dawson City, Yukon, the Purdy A-frame pays a stipend to visiting writers: $2,500 a month.

But the competitive Canada Council matching grants that those other places sometimes get for writers in residence aren't available for stays of less than two months, and many of Baird's 50 applications for 2016 are for shorter terms.

Baird is committed to keeping the cottage much as it was before Purdy died in 2000. "It's like Al's still here," she says. "If he came into the kitchen, he'd know where to find the can opener." An extra bit of Purdy mojo came to light last year, when workers found a poem stuck in a wall.

Only a couple of minor items at the Bishop House belonged to the poet, but the place feels like more than just an old country house. Its stillness has a special intensity. Sandra Barry says she and the other co-owners are open to any proposal to keep that available to writers, under new ownership. Any other buyer would have to prepare for more door-knocking by Bishop fans.

Associated Graphic

The childhood home of the poet Elizabeth Bishop in Great Village, N.S.

PHOTOS BY SÁNDOR FIZLI FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

A photograph of Elizabeth Bishop hangs on a wall in her childhood home.

A 'bull' who helped shape Toronto
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Peter Henry Caspari was ahead of the curve but unlike his mid-20th-century peers, his name isn't on the tip of our collective tongue
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By DAVE LEBLANC
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Friday, December 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page G4


daveleblanc@globeandmail.com

For decades, two sentries guarded the gateway to midtown at Yonge and Bloor: the bronzy CIBC building at 2 Bloor West, and the Hudson's Bay building at 2 Bloor East. Today, a forest of towers - some complete, some creeping skyward via crane - all vie for attention at this busy intersection.

But CIBC was first, and the architect-developer behind its construction, Peter Henry Caspari (1908-1999), was a towering figure on the Toronto landscape.

"He was always looking for the next turn in the road, he was always looking for the next question after the answer," says his son, Dr. David Caspari. "And it served him in good stead - for instance, he took the approach that development would follow the subway lines, and that was way before anybody else took that point of view." Indeed, connected to 2 Bloor West and following the Bloor line was "The nicest way from Yonge to Bay," Cumberland Terrace.

As with any good idea, however, others followed in his footsteps: an October, 1973, Globe photograph shows both towers under construction, with Mr. Caspari's tower (with Ogus & Fisher) edging out Crang & Boake's HBC tower by about nine floors.

Of course, being ahead of the curve meant he often locked horns with city bureaucrats. In fact, as the 34-storey tower was nearing completion in December, 1973, Mr. Caspari said he was "through with major design and development in Toronto - at least until City Hall makes up its mind on what it wants."

Perhaps he was thinking back to a battle he'd fought more than two decades earlier, when he lobbied for an apartment complex behind Maple Leaf Gardens, or forward to a megaproject then a few years in the future, Sheppard Centre. "He didn't tolerate resistance or objection terribly well," confirms Dr. Caspari with a laugh.

In any case, by the early 1980s when he retired, the Germanborn architect had left an incredible bricks-and-mortar legacy to his adopted city, and all created well after he'd celebrated his 40th birthday.

Raised by affluent Jewish parents, young Peter Caspari attended the Berlin Building College to study building and architecture. By 1933, the six-foot-tall, blackhaired, "imposing" young man was married to medical student Erika Lichtenfeld (1912-1998) and a member of a Jewish youth group in opposition to the rising National Socialist Party. When the family chauffeur/mechanic "tipped him off to the fact that the Nazis had him on the list to pick him up," says Dr. Caspari, "he and my mother got in a train and left for Switzerland."

From there, the couple went to London, where Mr. Caspari learned English quickly in order to secure work. That came quickly also: According to English-heritage.org.uk, Mr. Caspari's first effort, Kingsley Court (193334), a Z-shaped, six-storey apartment building for Davis Estates, was "one of the first blocks of flats in an expressionist style in England." The website also states Mr. Caspari was a "former assistant of Erich Mendelsohn," a pioneer of the art-deco style and an associate of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius.

This led to the design of more apartment houses in the Streamline Moderne style. Eventually, the curving walls and banded brick would give way to the angular lines of the International Style; by 1939, his no-nonsense Coleman Court on London's Kimber Road would foreshadow the first buildings he'd design in Toronto.

But why did he choose Canada's then-second-largest city? Why not Montreal, or New York?

"If you asked him, he would've said that there's lots of opportunity in Toronto, but why more here than [there], who knows?" asks Dr. Caspari, who was born in England in 1948 but moved to Toronto at age three after his father had made a number of scouting trips. Perhaps his father's "many connections to European money" considered English Canada a safe place to invest; indeed, shortly after settling in and developing/building the "small-m" modern Vincent Court and Buckingham Court (both on Eglinton Avenue West near Spadina Road) in 1953-54, he was in Calgary working on Rideau Towers, a four-building complex that avenue magazine claims was the city's "first postSecond World War luxury apartments."

In February, 1954, after a year of negotiation with the city, The Globe and Mail announced that Mr. Caspari and a group of Swiss investors had received the goahead to erect "the first major residential redevelopment in Toronto to be undertaken by private enterprise." City Park would consist of three crisp, "capital-M" Modernist 14-storey towers tucked neatly into four acres bounded by Alexander Street to the north, Wood Street to the south, Church Street to the east and approaching Yonge Street to the west.

While most evidence crowns Peter Dickinson's Benvenuto Place, which opened in stages beginning in 1953, as the "first" High Modern apartment building in Toronto, the domino-like trio containing 774 rental units nonetheless made a huge impact on the conservative city consciousness, as well as that of young David, who remembers climbing into his father's chrome-laden Chrysler Imperial on Sunday afternoons to inspect the site: "That smell of wet concrete," he laughs, "I remember it well."

Still in surprisingly good repair, the City Park complex is, today, notable for its masterful manipulation of monumental scale with expansive, humanizing green spaces in between; use of travertine on lobby walls; and projecting concrete frames (containing balconies) that soften each tower by "floating" all that visual weight above street level. In East/West: A Guide to Where People Live in Toronto (Coach House, 2000), Douglas Young wrote that "waiting lists are long" for the buildings, which became non-profit co-operatives in the early 1990s, and concluded that the scheme is an example of "high-rise, high-density site planning at its best."

And yet, Mr. Caspari's name isn't on the tip of our collective tongue (maybe it is on Sunnydene Crescent near Bayview Avenue and Blythwood Road, a street he created) like other mid-20-century Toronto architects. Perhaps, suggests Dr. Caspari, it's because he wasn't a "pure" architect such as John C. Parkin or Dickinson. He was a developer, too, "which was looked upon as being secondrate," and despite certain refinements such as crisply tailored suits and an office at Mr. Mies van der Rohe's TD Centre, he could be "moody" and behave like a "bull in a china shop.

"I don't think he saw himself as the architect's architect."

Time to respectfully disagree.

Associated Graphic

Peter Henry Caspari developed City Park, three Modernist 14-storey towers near Church and Wellesley.

DAVE LEBLANC FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Peter Henry Caspari, circa 1950. His first work was Kingsley Court in the London borough of Brent.

CLAIRE BENNIE

The CIBC building at 2 Bloor St. W. was Mr. Caspari's last major work in Toronto, while Buckingham Court, near Eglinton and Spadina, was one of his first.

PHOTOS BY DAVE LEBLANC FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

From movies to mascara
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Drew Barrymore explains why she's pulling back from the film industry and focusing on her burgeoning beauty company
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By JEANNE BEKER
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Special to The Globe a Mail
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L4


jbeker@globeandmail.com @Jeanne_Beker

"Love the way you look." That's the tag line of Drew Barrymore's Flower cosmetic line. It's an edict aimed at empowering women, a feel-good directive that the 39-year-old Barrymore probably wished she'd subscribed more wholeheartedly to decades ago, when self-doubt and unhappiness ran rampant in her young life. But these days, Barrymore is glowing, running a burgeoning beauty business, being a devoted wife to art consultant Will Kopelman (son of former Chanel CEO Arie Kopelman) and raising two young daughters.

I caught up with Barrymore at the Thompson Hotel in Toronto recently to talk about prioritizing, pushing one's boundaries and why the cosmetics industry is perfect for her.

Juggling is something some of us do better than others. Any key things you've found that really helped you?

I have had to prioritize, as every mother does, but I defi nitely think some work things have fallen off. I like to be prolific and I have a mind that never stops. I try to embrace that. But I can't risk not being at home with my kids - and that's a big part of work.

It's hard because you have to let go of things that you're passionate about, or that you put a lot of time and energy into. I mean, you could keep on doing those things but you wouldn't be there as a mom. The good thing is that I have a clearer focus on those things I do choose to keep. I've just really prioritized work stuff so my kids are always coming fi rst.

We know you as an actor, a fi lmmaker and an all-around creative person. Why did you decide to embrace the cosmetics business in particular?

It's a lot like producing movies, in that it's creative and it's business. I like the two hand in hand. I have the kind of mind that likes to work both ways. So the beauty business is the perfect world for that because it's so creative and so artistic and so much about messaging and empowerment. Also, I've always loved marketing and advertising and I love that in the beauty business you have to be nimble. It's a really competitive marketplace and you have to know how to do things in your own way and how to do things differently. You have to know what women want and what they don't want or what they don't even know that they want. And there are a lot of days I can work from home and be with my kids. And even when I work in the office or have to travel, I'm still home during normal hours with the kids. So it's really conducive to being a family person.

Creatively speaking, you're also very much a performer. Do you have to put that on the back burner to be there for the kids?

Yeah, moviemaking is crazy hours and it becomes harder and harder to do. I work on fi lms that are very few and far between and may even work less in the years to come until my kids are older.

But don't you miss that? Don't you just have that burning desire to get up there and act?

No, not right now. I do think I have acting in my DNA, in my makeup and my soul. But I also want to have as many lives in one life as you can and I think because I have been acting for 40 years it doesn't feel like the thing I have to do at this moment. It could come flooding and rushing back. But there are other things that excite me a little more right now. I haven't shut the door on it.

You have the reputation for being a very open-minded person. You've almost been like the poster girl for open mindedness!

I do like a darn open mind! I really hate a closed mind - gets everybody in trouble.

But thinking outside the box and pushing your own personal parameters is something that has been very important to you from such a young age. It's like you've been on a some kind of spiritual journey in that crazy maze of Hollywood life.

Well, it's important to figure out what you can and can't do, what you do and don't like, how to challenge yourself, how to try new things or scare yourself. I think I just like to try new things. And I have passions. I also just think I'm scared of doing the same thing day in and day out. But that doesn't always make me try new things. It sIt's all a slow-burning, organic ning, evolution. I don't just wake on't up and go, "God! I have got od! to do something different ng today!" It's more like one ore thing leads to another.

I heard that when you were e formulating yourour cosmetics line, e, you were thinking about ut how maybe one day your daughters could take over the company.

I love a multigenerational company! That's something that's probably in your our DNA, too. When en you think of your family ... Yes, we're a multi-generational company! Thank you for making that correlation. Some people wonder why I'd be passionate about that - and this is exactly why.

Well, it's very important to keep family spirits alive.

Absolutely!

And really carry the torch through the generations.

Yeah, like being proud of where you came from or building things for your kids. It's hard to pass off movies to your kids. You can't actually do it. They're not tangible things. But building a successful beauty company is something you have to earn. It's going to be many years away and many tremendously hard years of treme work.

But what if your kids want to get into the acting world when they grow up. After all, it's part of their legacy, too. Would you encourage them or discourage them?

I would support anything they wanted to do, as long as it wasn't self-destructive or hurtful to anyone else. But I would also say that [they] can act when [they're] 18.

You were a tiny kid when you started acting. Any regrets about having lost any part of your childhood?

Nope. Because it made me such a more proactive mom. So maybe if I hadn't started so young, I wouldn't be as all-in as I am. So it's a good thing.

This interview has bee condensed been and edited.

Associated Graphic

FLOWER POWER R Actress Drew Barrymore rymore is flexing her creative ative muscles off screen with en a cosmetics collection ction designed to inspirere women.

PHOTO BY GEORGE PIMENTEL/ GETTY IMAGES

SHOW YOUR STUFF
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We all know the benefits of de-cluttering. But certain possessions deserve pride of place. Marsha Lederman talks to three innovative Vancouver designers who put their knick-knacks front and centre
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By MARSHA LEDERMAN
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Thursday, December 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1


VANCOUVER -- The average British adult owns 200 books, I read recently.

Another survey out this year suggests the average American woman owns 18 pairs of underwear. I exceed expectations: I have several hundred books (occupational hazard), hundreds of CDs and enough underwear to get me through a two-month washing machine breakdown.

You probably have a lot of stuff, too. And chances are you are about to get a lot more of it. Even as I write this, there are little elves up north making it.

We are constantly being instructed to de-clutter; to free ourselves from our possessions - and thus make our spaces airier, our lives lighter. It can be enormously satisfying to get rid of things we don't really need. Yet, there is great comfort in being surrounded by things we love - books, our music collection, the beautiful things we've collected over the years; even questionable knick-knacks that hold significant meaning. Why not embrace the possessions we have? Enough with hiding things away in Rubbermaid bins or trucking it to a storage locker. Here, three Vancouver designers show us how to display our stuff in unique ways.

Peter Van der Grient's Cellos "My wife calls me the alchemist of junk," says Peter Van der Grient.

The artist has turned an old hospital gurney into a dining-room table and made bookshelves using salvaged gas pipe. Van der Grient believes we are too quick to part with old treasures, and as an example, picks up a 1920s hot water jug he inherited from his ex-wife's great-grandmother in Montreal - many years after the divorce. These are the kinds of items, Van der Grient laments, that are too easily discarded. "It's [considered] clutter. And to me it's cherished parts of our history."

The project that caught my eye (during November's Eastside Culture Crawl in Vancouver) concerns cellos. When Van der Grient found two abandoned cellos on top of the dumpster behind his Vancouver building of artists' studios, he took them in, and tracked down the person who had thrown them out - someone, it turns out, who repairs instruments for a children's music academy. Now cellos that are too damaged to be fixed wind up with Van der Grient, who transforms them into umbrella stands and decorative wall shelves (which he sells for $250). The cello shelves - made of wood or Plexiglass - are built to hold small, delicate items. "Anything fragile and valuable; things that you would like to maybe not scream at [people] but subtly whisper that they're something special," says Van der Grient.

There's also space on the bottom to dump your cell phone, wallet, change - any contents from your pocket. Or you can rest something in the cello's flip dip up top. In one version, he's affixed strong magnets to the fingerboard for keys. So when it's time to leave the house, it's easy to find the items you need; they're sharing space with small gems that might otherwise have been stashed away and forgotten - or worse, tossed out. Van der Grient's cellos sell for $250 at runswithscissorsdesigns.com.

Casika Modern's Free Span "We never really have enough storage," says Peter Chen, who knows this firsthand - he collects design and architectural magazines. "We all look at beautiful magazine shots of homes that tend to be large and spacious and devoid of life, really...They celebrate the affluent."

For the rest of us, Chen aims to make striking furniture with a modern minimalist aesthetic that is also functional.

Inspired by geography - specifically stalactites - Chen has created a smart, gorgeous shelving system, with dividers that slide across tracks suspended from the top of each shelf, creating easily adjustable bookends that also work wonders for magazines (sturdy mags with flat spines, like Canadian Art, look terrific - but the system also works wonders for the stack of New Yorkers sliding off your bedside table). Because you can easily adjust the tracks, books won't tip over and magazines won't sag if you take something out to read. And the reading material can be displayed alongside valued objects in a way that doesn't look cluttered and is easy to change up.

On the subject of ease, Free Span is made up of modular interchangeable components that stack together without tools, fitting together like a puzzle - each piece is interlocked front to back and side to side. (Imagine the domestic battles that won't erupt as you put it together.) The system, made with laminated veneer lumber is also reconfigurable - you can turn two planks into a bench, for instance; and you can add buy more elements later. Free Span, which can be custom built, ranges from $4,500 to $6,000. caskiamodern.com

Steidle Woodworking's LP and EP Cases

James Steidle has been collecting records since he was a teenager.

"Before LPs were cool, I kind of always had a thing for them," says Steidle, who grew up in Prince George, where he started carving at the age of three. Steidle figures he at one point had about 2,000 LPs at one point - a vinyl collection he has since pared down to about 200 (too many moves). There was a time when they fit perfectly into milk crates but the switch to metric changed that. So Steidle built his own storage solutions, often from reclaimed wood, for LPs and EPs with stackable and nestable wood crates, as well as stripey wooden cases that latch and have handles. (The cases are not only beautiful, but also practical if you want to hide your records away from a cat that likes to scratch itself on record spines, notes Steidle, from experience.)

Steidle went from hobbyist to full-time woodworker after creating a wooden carrying case for artists who sketch en plein air. He then started making beehives and cutting boards - and really struck a note with the record cases. The crates ($135) have become a favourite of DJs and the cases ($135 for EPs; $150 for LPs) have been shipped off to various high-rent addresses in Beverly Hills and on Park Avenue. He's also sold them to Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart.

"I think people are fed up with mass-produced garbage, basically that you pay a nickel for and throw it out," he explains in his sprawling East Vancouver woodshop. "I think there's a real demand for things that are longlasting, that are built to last, that I guess have some kind of meaning to them." steidlewoodworking.com

Associated Graphic

'My wife calls me the alchemist of junk,' says designer Peter Van der Grient.

JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Peter Chen's Free Span shelving system tidies up bookshelves with a modern minimalist aesthetic.

DARRYL DYCK/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

James Steidle never had a decent place to store his many, many records, until he built his own LP and EP cases.

JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Seeking simple returns in complex stocks
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Not sure whether to own a parent stock or the subsidiary? We dissect three Canadian corporate structures
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By DAVID MILSTEAD
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B12


With Power Corp. of Canada controlling Power Financial Corp., which in turn controls Great-West Lifeco Inc., some investors say there are three avenues to own Great-West.

It may be the most complicated example, but it's not the only case of a parent company and a subsidiary both trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. In some cases, most or all of the parent's value comes from the stake it holds in the subsidiary. The remaining assets are minimal, sometimes hard to value and often poorly understood.

It can naturally lead investors to wonder why, exactly, they should buy the parent's shares, rather than participating in the betterknown subsidiary instead. We're here to help, with dissections of three of the more prominent cases of parents and subsidiaries that share space on the TSX.

George Weston Ltd. used to own more than 50 per cent of Loblaw Cos., but the grocer's blockbuster deal to buy Shoppers Drug Mart pushed Weston's stake down to 45.5 per cent - of a much more valuable enterprise.

Today, the Loblaw stake represents more than $11.1-billion of Weston's $12.7-billion market capitalization. Weston also owns about $220-million of shares in Choice Properties, the real-estate investment trust created in 2013 from Loblaw stores. (W. Galen Weston, grandson of the company's founder, owns 63 per cent of the company's stock.)

That means Weston's remaining business, the bakery Weston Foods, is valued by the market at about $1.4-billion, despite $1.8billion in revenue. The market indifference may be understandable, given declining sales volumes and profits that have prompted Weston to do a strategic assessment of the bakery business, due at year's end.

Part of the problem, suggests analyst Perry Caicco of CIBC, is that Loblaw stores are Weston Foods' major customer. That means Weston shareholders have even more exposure to Loblaw than from the stake in the grocer itself. "Weston's baking business in Canada is not generally wellpositioned with discount/mass merchant players, Costco, dollar stores and ethnic grocers; and that's where the action is," he says.

Still, he believes investors are undervaluing the business, giving it a multiple of around five times its EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. He suggests eight is more appropriate.

Irene Nattel of RBC Dominion Securities makes a similar calculation, saying the implied value of Weston Foods is about $4 a Weston share, versus her valuation of $15. Her target price of $118 for Weston (versus Friday's close of $99.51) is driven primarily by her bullishness on Loblaw.

It may be harder to divine the difference between Cogeco Inc. and Cogeco Cable Inc. Cogeco owns 32 per cent of Cogeco Cable, a stake worth just over $1-billion.

Cogeco also owns 13 radio stations in Quebec and a company that does advertising on public transit, but describes the businesses as "non-material assets."

And, indeed, the market capitalization of Cogeco is actually a bit smaller than the value of its Cogeco Cable stake, likely due to the fact Cogeco also carries $2.8-billion in debt.

One analyst, who declined to be named because of company policy, notes that the value in Cogeco is in the voting shares. The Cogeco Cable shares that trade on the TSX are subordinate voting shares to the ones Cogeco owns, giving Cogeco control over the cable company, despite owning just 32 per cent of the stock.

"If the Audet family ever decides to sell the company, then they could command a large premium for Cogeco shares versus Cogeco Cable shares, owing to the value of voting control. Almost all of the Audet family wealth is in Cogeco shares and not Cogeco Cable shares, so they could be motivated to negotiate a premium for Cogeco. Since they are two separate companies, there are no securities laws or coat-tail provisions that could constrain this premium."

The Desmarais family, which controls Power Corp., has a similar arrangement. Shares of Power Financial and Great-West all have one vote, but Power Corp. ultimately controls them because of its majority ownership of both.

And the Desmarais family controls Power Corp. through "participating preferred shares" that have 10 votes to the common shareholders' one.

That means that investors who want to get closer to the Desmarais family's core investment have to get a little further away from Great-West, which nonetheless drives much of the value of the two Power companies.

Power Corp. owns 65.7 per cent of Power Financial, as well as a 0.6-per-cent stake in Citic Pacific, a Hong Kong-based industrial holding company, 14.4 per cent of small TSX-listed pharmaceutical company Bellus Health, tech startup investor Square Victoria Digital Properties and other investments.

Analyst John Aiken of Barclays Capital pegs the Power Financial stake as worth $34.87 of his $38.32 estimate of Power Corp.'s net asset value, or NAV, a measure that balances its assets against its obligations.

Power Financial, in turn, owns 67.1 per cent of Great-West; 58.7 per cent of Winnipeg's IGM Financial (also listed on the TSX); and 27.8 per cent of Pargesa, a European industrial company. Mr. Aiken says the Great-West stake represents $31.30 of his $40.49 NAV estimate, with the IGM ownership worth $9.94. (Power Financial's debt more than offsets the $2.67 a share he ascribes to Pargesa.)

While Power Corp. and Power Financial are both trading below his NAVs - they closed Friday at $29.95 and $34.02, respectively - the problem is that the two Powers typically trade at a notable discount to their NAVs, Mr. Aiken says. The long-term average discounts are 14.5 per cent for Power Corp. and 10.2 per cent for Power Financial. They currently trade at an even deeper discount than those averages, however, which means a "reversion to the mean" represents upside in the range of 5 per cent to 7 per cent. (Power Corp. has the greater upside of the two, he says.)

Of course, there's always just the option of buying Great-West shares themselves. That, as in all these cases, is the option for investors who prefer simplicity to the adventure of navigating these corporate structures in the quest for added profit.

George Weston (WN) Close: $99.51, up 18¢ Power Corp. (POW) Close: $29.95, down 25¢ Cogeco Inc. (CGO) Close: $60.22, up 2¢

ALL IN THE FAMILY

There are multiple examples of a parent company and one or more of its subsidiaries all trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. In some cases, most or all of the parent's value comes from the stake it holds in the controlled company.

Associated Graphic

Analysts believe George Weston Ltd., which owns 45.5-per-cent of Loblaw Cos., is undervalued at five times EBITDA.

DARREN CALABRESE/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Russia's KHL on the verge of financial ruin Putin's ambitious project coming undone with ruble's collapse
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By JAMES MIRTLE, MARK MACKINNON
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Thursday, December 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


When it began in 2008, the Kontinental Hockey League was envisioned as President Vladimir Putin's ambitious challenge to the NHL, a bid to keep Russian players in Russia by paying them exorbitant sums out of oil coffers.

Now, its survival - especially of its most vulnerable teams - may be at stake.

With oil prices dropping, Western sanctions increasing and the ruble cratering, sponsors have been forced to pull funding to a lot of KHL teams; as a result, many players are getting paid late or not getting paid at all.

Coaches such as Slovan Bratislava's Petri Matikainen have gone without a salary for the entire season.

And those who are receiving salaries are getting only a fraction of the value of their contracts due to the falling ruble, which has plummeted almost 50 per cent against the U.S. dollar since July.

At least three teams - Slovan Bratislava, Atlant Moscow Oblast and Dinamo Riga - are believed to be on the verge of financial ruin, prompting new KHL president Dmitry Chernyshenko to hold crisis meetings among team executives on Wednesday in Sochi.

Russian media reported the gathering would cover a long list of issues, ranging from teams in financial trouble to a rejigging of the revenue-sharing arrangement to a possible new cap on the number of foreign players.

"The economic issue and the survival of KHL clubs will be topic No. 1," Avangard Omsk president Vladimir Shalaev was quoted as saying.

That widespread instability has many foreign players who were contemplating a move to Russia thinking otherwise, which threatens the league's talent pool, especially in seasons to come.

"I've had a couple of guys in Sweden and Switzerland [who had offers in Russia] who said maybe I'll just stay where I am," Winnipeg-based player agent Darryl Wolski said on Wednesday. "After the mess now with the ruble."

Wolski added that, to date, his players in the KHL had been receiving their paycheques.

The KHL was reeling even before the season began, with Spartak Moscow and the Czech Republic-based Lev Praha both forced to withdraw from the league after last season because of financial troubles. The KHL's sole Ukrainian team, Donbass, was also unable to play this year because its hometown of Donetsk has become a war zone.

While those three teams were replaced on the 28-team circuit - by Lada Togliatti, promoted from a lower Russian league, plus a new team in Sochi and Finnish team Jokerit in Helsinki - there were worries even before the ruble's recent plunge that several more KHL teams could be forced to shut down.

Probably closest to the edge is Atlant, a club based in the Moscow suburbs. The state-run Tass news service reported it was "unlikely" that Atlant would play in the KHL in the 2015-16 season.

Club president Valeri Kamensky, a former Quebec Nordiques star, recently told the Sovetsky Sport newspaper that the club was a month behind in paying salaries.

Asked if Atlant would be forced to shut down midseason, Kamensky replied: "I don't believe so.

But in life, anything can happen."

At the very least, it's expected Atlant will have to offload its top players in an effort to reduce costs.

Latvia's Dinamo Riga, meanwhile, is attempting to unload some of its best players - former NHLers Marcel Hossa and Petr Schastlivy among them - by placing them on waivers.

In a brief interview with The Globe and Mail, Viacheslav Fetisov, the retired NHL legend who was chairman of the KHL when it was founded six years ago, claimed he was no longer kept abreast of the league's finances.

(He recently suggested that the league's rich clubs, many of which are owned by large statebacked corporations, should aid poorer clubs.)

But Fetisov, a close friend of Putin, acknowledged that the falling value of the ruble - and players' salaries - is "a very sensitive situation."

Putin, an avid hockey player who regularly suits up to play alongside Fetisov and other retired stars, is a big proponent of the KHL. As a result, the league's total collapse seems unlikely, though there has been talk of having the league focus less on attracting international stars and more on developing players - as clubs did during the Soviet era - who could play for the national team.

The ultimate goal would be to win gold at the Olympics, something Russia has yet to accomplish since NHL players started participating in 1998.

Andrey Safronov, chief executive of Dynamo Moscow, told Sovetsky Sport that the average KHL player had lost half the value of his contract if it were counted in U.S. dollars or euros, as would be the case for any non-Russian player in the league.

But he didn't appear to have much sympathy for them.

"Worst off are those who have loved ones or families living in the European Union or North America. But they have chosen their way - to play in the KHL, to play in Russia. So let them suffer," he was quoted as saying. "We live in the ruble zone. We live and play hockey in Russia, where the currency is the ruble."

One of Avangard's players, forward Anton Kuryanov, told the same newspaper that many of the league's foreign players were "grumbling" about the falling value of the ruble, which rose Wednesday to 61 rubles to the dollar - well off the exchange of 33 to the dollar it had at the start of the Sochi Olympics in February.

Kuryanov said he didn't understand English well, but it was obvious to him that some of the league's foreign players weren't happy. "It's unlikely they are delighted by the fact that every day the salary they are less and less," he was quoted as saying.

He added: "Hockey players are not the poorest people. Don't worry about us."

Janis Stepitis, a spokesman for Dinamo Riga, said in an interview that his team wasn't affected by the currency drop because all its contracts - and revenue - are denominated in euros. But he added it was obvious there was "some trouble" for the 22 of the league's 28 teams that are based in Russia.

Dinamo Riga's financial issues have stemmed from the loss of key sponsor Itera, an oil and gas company.

"All the clubs are speaking about next season," Stepitis said.

"I can't comment on next season because we must play this season and then we'll see."

Hockey isn't the only sport threatened by Russia's financial woes. The country's soccer teams are all facing the prospect of their top stars relocating elsewhere in Europe, and smaller teams could be bankrupt by next season.

Artur Petrosyan, editor-in-chief of the Sport-Express newspaper, also reported that Russia's status as host of the 2018 World Cup could even be in jeopardy.

"Dark times for Russia have begun," he tweeted. "Again."

Putin's financial reckoning
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By MARK MACKINNON
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1


17% Interest rate Hiked from 10.5 per cent by Russia's central bank in a failed effort to halt ruble's slide

-50% Ruble's value Russian currency falls to roughly half its worth at opening of Sochi Olympics

Through 15 years in power - through all the outcry about the shrinking of rights and democracy in his country - President Vladimir Putin has delivered Russians the one thing they craved most: the economic stability their country lacked during the crisis-wracked 1990s.

That era of stabilnost came to a definitive end on Tuesday, as a desperate effort by Russia's central bank - which jacked interest rates from 10.5 per cent to a growth-choking 17 per cent - failed to halt the precipitous slide of the country's currency, the ruble. After a record-breaking plunge on Monday took the ruble past the psychological mark of 65 to the U.S. dollar, or roughly half the value it had at the opening of the Sochi Olympics in February, it finished the trading day Tuesday at just over 72.

Mr. Putin's foes in the West are taking open delight in Russia's woes, hoping that a collapsing economy will persuade Russians to take to the streets against him. But in the short term, a weakened Kremlin is likely to become even more defiant and unpredictable.

Those close to Mr. Putin say he's far more likely to escalate his confrontation with NATO than back down now.

Despite the high-fives in Washington, Brussels and Ottawa, Western sanctions aren't the reason the economy is crashing. The anchor dragging the ruble down is the price of oil, by far the country's most important export, which hit a five-year low of $59 (U.S.) a barrel on Tuesday.

Adding to the bad news, Gazprom, the massive state-owned energy giant - and the employer of nearly half-a-million people - announced Tuesday that it would lay off a quarter of its staff. Meanwhile, the leading RTS stock exchange took a 17-per-cent dive, highlighted by an 18-per-cent fall in the value of shares in Sberbank, Russia's biggest bank.

The Kremlin has already admitted the country's economy is on course to shrink 0.8 per cent next year. That may prove to be a rather rosy estimate.

Russians have seen times like these before. It was called the Boris Yeltsin era, a period of time usually referred to with a spit by those who lived through the chaotic 1990s. Mr. Putin came to power in its aftermath, and made himself popular by delivering stabilnost, thanks in large part to skyhigh oil prices and a steady currency.

Stabilnost arguably came to an end back in March, when masked Russian troops oversaw the annexation of Crimea.

But the Crimea takeover, and Russia's subsequent backing of armed separatists in eastern Ukraine, were the work of an assertive Kremlin, one that felt strong enough to push back hard after what it saw as a Westernsponsored revolution in Kiev. All year long, Mr. Putin has seemed to be one move ahead of the West, seizing the political and military advantage by keeping politicians in the United States and European Union guessing about what he'd do next. An insecure Kremlin will be even harder to predict.

There has always been a divide in Western policy-making circles about how far Mr. Putin is willing to go in escalating this new Cold War that began in earnest in this year. Those who see the Russian President as a pragmatic operator have always believed that - Crimea aside - his actions in eastern Ukraine were defined by a set policy goal (keeping Ukraine from being able to join the EU or NATO), one that has arguably now been realized with the establishment of a "frozen" conflict in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

A second attempt at a ceasefire there appears to be holding, at least for now, raising the prospect of an end to the period of open warfare and perhaps the rolling back of some of the Western sanctions against Moscow.

But that scenario required a patient rebuilding of trust between first Moscow and Kiev, and then between Moscow and the West. And as Russia's economic woes increase, Mr. Putin may feel the patient and pragmatic route is no longer an option.

Which increases the likelihood that the pragmatists will be proven wrong, and that the alarmists those who see Mr. Putin as a miniHitler, intent on rebuilding the old Soviet Union - will seem the wiser side.

To head off any popular discontent, he will have few tools at his disposal other than rallying Russians around flag and country.

And nothing drives nationalism like war, particularly one with the alleged aim of protecting Russianspeakers living beyond the country's borders.

Russians have been told (by state-controlled media) since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis that the Kremlin took the actions it did to counter a coup by Russian-hating "fascists" in Kiev. Opinion polls show that most believed what they were told. Similarly, the economic sanctions that followed were portrayed as part of a Western plot to keep Russia weak. Again, most Russians swallowed that narrative whole.

It's likely that Mr. Putin, a former KGB agent who looks at almost everything through a Cold War lens, sees Russia's economic troubles the same way. The country is under assault; the West is preparing the ground for a Ukraine-style revolution in Moscow.

That's one thing Mr. Putin and his coterie have vowed will never happen. The actions they might take to head off this perceived threat could be even more shocking than what we saw in 2014.

One sign of how quickly the ground is shifting in Moscow is that even dark political humour is growing old fast.

There was a joke going around Moscow in early December that went something like this: What do Vladimir Putin, the oil price, and the ruble have in common?

All will hit 63 in 2015.

The ruble and the oil price have already plunged right through that supposed basement.

There's another number the Kremlin boss is said to follow as closely as the oil price and value of the ruble: his personal popularity among Russians. At the start of December, before the ruble began to plunge in earnest, Mr. Putin's approval rating was still over 80 per cent, fuelled by public support for Russia's stand toward Ukraine.

If that figure starts to fall as fast the other two, all bets are off about what Mr. Putin might do when he, too, hits 63.

Follow me on Twitter:@markmackinnon

Associated Graphic

Russian ruble to U.S. dollar, (daily) Dec. 16 close: 0.01469

People wait to exchange their currency as signs advertise the rates at a currency exchange office in Moscow on Tuesday.

ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Newspaper chief provided business brains
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Principal founder of The Toronto Sun took care of the paper's nuts and bolts and 'made sure things were shipshape'
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By FRED LANGAN
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Special to The Globe and Mail
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Thursday, December 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S7


Don Hunt was one of the principal founders of The Toronto Sun when it began in late 1971. There were 62 "Day Oners," almost all of them refugees from the old Toronto Telegram, but there were three main owners: editor Peter Worthington, publisher Doug Creighton and general manager Don Hunt.

Mr. Hunt was "the closest thing we had to business brains - and therefore automatic choice for general manager," Mr. Worthington wrote in his memoir. Mr. Hunt died of leukemia on Nov. 18 at the age of 85.

"Most of his journalistic life had been in sports. A huge man, he was known affectionately around the paper [the Sun] as Dr. No," the memoir said.

The Toronto Sun was born from the ashes of The Toronto Telegram, a paper owned by the Bassett family, which printed its last edition on Saturday, Oct. 30, 1971. Some of the senior people at the paper tried and initially failed to raise money to start a tabloid newspaper. The idea was a morning newspaper with street sales only, to cut down on circulation costs.

Each of the three main founders approached people they knew looking for money. One prospect was Steve Roman, the Slovak immigrant who made millions from uranium mines in Northern Ontario. He wanted too much control and also wanted an afternoon paper to compete with the Toronto Star, for which the mining magnate had an intense hatred.

It seemed a hopeless cause and Mr. Creighton and Mr. Hunt went to a cottage in Muskoka with their families for the Thanksgiving weekend. According to Mr. Worthington, Mr. Hunt was planning to move to California to work for a syndication service there. At the last minute, a Toronto lawyer helped them find the money, about $1-million (worth $6-million today, according the Bank of Canada's inflation calculator).

There were a number of investors, none of whom owned more than 10 per cent of the paper. Mr. Hunt, Mr. Worthington and Mr. Creighton split a 20per-cent founders' stake, which was worth nothing at the time but would eventually make them all rich men. Fifteen per cent went to other "Day Oners."

The three main founders, along with about 60 others, worked to produce the first edition of the paper in early November, 1971.

Mr. Hunt took care of the nuts and bolts at the new paper. He checked expenses, ordered newsprint and negotiated fees for things such as features, a job he had done as syndication manager at the Telegram.

"Don Hunt was the unsung founder of The Toronto Sun, the guy in charge of revenue and expenses," said Les Pyette, who worked at the paper as a journalist and eventually ran it.

"Don plugged ahead in the background. He was no pushover; far from it. He was actually very tough if you hadn't done your homework. His contributions were immeasurable. [He was] a down-to-earth family man who played a huge role in the success of the Suns."

Donald Hunt was born in Sarnia, Ont., in October, 1929, the month of the great stock-market crash. Though that event didn't affect the Hunt family much, another market crash almost 60 years later, in 1987, changed Mr. Hunt's life.

He started writing for newspapers in high school and graduated in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, where he was one of the tallest men on campus - he was 6 foot 6 - and a star of the basketball team. When he was a teenager he had played against the Harlem Globetrotters in an exhibition game. He worked for The Montreal Star and then The Toronto Telegram. His love of sports, especially baseball and basketball, made his writing career easy. Later he moved to the management side of the paper. When it came time to start the Sun, Mr. Hunt was a natural to run the day-to-day operations.

"He was always frugal and good with money, both the paper's and his own. He was very direct, almost blunt," said Scott Creighton, Doug Creighton's son, who knew Mr. Hunt well. "He made sure things were shipshape at the paper."

Mr. Hunt had many other interests, including auto racing.

He and the late John Bassett Jr. brought Indy car racing to Toronto, a race that still operates every year. He also helped bring Formula One legend Jackie Stewart to race at Mosport, outside Toronto, and helped bring Olympic alpine-ski gold medalist Jean-Claude Killy to compete in a World Cup in Canada. He loved baseball and travelled to Detroit from Sarnia to watch Tigers baseball games as a boy.

The Toronto Sun was so successful in its home market that it expanded to other Canadian cities: Edmonton, Calgary and later Ottawa. Mr. Hunt moved to Edmonton to manage the paper there. In early 1982, Maclean Hunter Ltd. bought 49 per cent of the Sun chain for $55-million, making the founders a pile of money. The next expansion was into the United States, when the chain bought The Houston Post, a struggling newspaper. The deal was described in a Globe and Mail article in 1985 as the Toronto Sun Publishing Corp.'s "most ambitious undertaking and biggest gamble."

Mr. Hunt moved to Houston to manage the paper. Right away, The Houston Post changed and started emphasizing sports and entertainment. The paper was redesigned, but its main competitor, The Houston Chronicle, fought back.

"We did try to be different than the Chronicle and everything we've done, they copied," Mr. Hunt complained to The Globe's Harvey Enchin.

In Houston, he became quite involved in community life and was a director of local groups from the Houston Symphony to the Economic Development Council. Mr. Hunt couldn't make The Houston Post mimic the success of The Toronto Sun. For one thing, the paper was delivered door to door over a wide area, not by newsagents and in street boxes.

"Houston is foreign territory for the little paper that grew," Mr. Enchin wrote.

By 1987, Mr. Hunt had found a buyer for The Houston Post, a rich man who would pay a premium to own the paper. Then the stock market crash of October, 1987, wiped out a big hunk of his wealth and the deal fell through. Mr. Hunt left the Sun organization and moved on to The Denver Post. He retired from the newspaper business in 1993 and split his time between Canada and Florida, where he belonged to a golf club in Bonita Springs.

Mr. Hunt leaves his wife, Helen, to whom he was married for 59 years, and their five children, Patricia, Cameron, Andrea, Ian and Paula. His brothers Jim and Jack (who was also a sportswriter) predeceased him.

Associated Graphic

Along with two other founders, Don Hunt, seen in 1985, created The Toronto Sun from the ashes of The Toronto Telegram.

HARVEY ENCHIN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

When skiing is a life and death proposition
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By MARSHA LEDERMAN
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Friday, December 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


VANCOUVER -- It has been a tough few years for Mike Douglas. The Campbell River-raised, Whistler-based "godfather of free-skiing," as he's known, has lost a lot of friends: skiers Sarah Burke, JP Auclair, Andreas Fransson and Shane McConkey. At nearly the same time that Mr. McConkey died in an extreme-skiing accident in 2009, Mr. Douglas almost lost another friend to a mountain tragedy - lifelong pal Kevin Fogolin, an avalanche consultant, went down in a helicopter crash in the Toba Inlet north of Whistler, but survived.

Mr. Douglas, 45, has made a documentary that is ostensibly about Mr. Fogolin's near-death experience - but it's as much about their friendship, and the bond they've formed through their love of the mountains. Snowman, Mr. Douglas's feature directorial debut, has its world premiere at the closing gala of the Whistler Film Festival on Sunday.

The Globe and Mail spoke with Mr. Douglas in Whistler.

You and Kevin go way back. How did you guys become friends?

We met in school as kids when we were about nine or 10 years old, and it was really once we sort of discovered the mountains that that friendship kind of ramped up to the next level.

Long before smartphones were around - or even home video recording equipment was common - you and Kevin made a ski film together at school. How did that come about?

Kevin's uncle had an old 8-mm film camera, and it was sitting in a closet at this house, and when this [Grade 11] term project came up where it was a really pretty open slate. We saw an opportunity to go skiing and to use it to get some credit at school. We managed to convince [the teacher] that it would be a worthy thing to do.

You became a professional skier. How does one make a living as a pro skier?

Well, I started by competing. I did a stint on the Canadian freestyle team. I was teammates with Jean-Luc Brassard and John Smart. And then went into coaching for a short time and then a group of friends and I, who became known as the new Canadian Air Force, we sort of came up with the idea for twintip skis which has led to all the new ski events in the Olympics - slopestyle and half-pipe and all these type of things. And from there I competed for a while and then got quite into the film side of the business. There's a bunch of annual ski films that get made and tour around to the mountain and ski world, and for the better part of 15 years I was one of the guys who was one of the staple stars in those types of films.

And now you're making films. Did you learn a lot from being on the other side of the camera?

Oh for sure - just the volume of films that I've been a part of, probably more than 50 now. You get to see how the cameramen work, how they set up the shots, how they compose a scene. And in addition to just doing the ski films, I've also done work for different TV networks. I was mostly a colour commentator for ski events, but I learned a lot of the behind-the-scenes processes and getting stories out and doing research. It all came together as I was hitting my late 30s and thinking about what I was going to do with my life after being a pro skier, because certainly you're not supposed to do it even as old as I am now. I decided that film was something I was interested in and started a small production company, and we've been fairly successful doing branded content and commercial work. And when this story dropped into my lap, I said [to Kevin] one day we should really tell the story of the crash. That is where it started and that led to us peeling back the layers of the onion and discovering all these bigger life messages that were underlying this whole thing.

The climax of the film deals with two very difficult events that happen at the same time. One is the death of Shane McConkey. The other is a helicopter accident in the mountains that Kevin was involved in. Did these events figure in your decision to become a filmmaker?

That's interesting. Now that you say it, it's something that has affected me. When I lost Shane he was the first really close friend that I lost and we had kids the same age and we had so much in common, and I can't even imagine if I would have lost Kevin that day. That would have probably changed my life even more dramatically. But I think stepping behind the camera and focusing on storytelling as opposed to just doing the coolest, latest trick - there's risk involved in that, in just putting yourself out there and making things that people are going to see and judge. But at the same time that physical risk has been reduced now that I focus much more of my time on filmmaking. And that has been a product of what's happened to my friends.

Because, for a bit of an epilogue here, Shane's death was just the first domino. I've lost so many friends in the last five years, it's absurd. I've become a pro at doing media eulogies for my friends. I just lost two - JP Auclair and Andreas Fransson back in the end of September, and Sarah Burke was like my little sister. JP was one of my dearest friends; he was at my wedding and has been through all these milestones in life with me. Andreas was the subject of my last film. So it's been incredibly difficult. As my kids grow up, it definitely weighs on you for sure and focusing on the filmmaking side has been a little safer, but also therapeutic in a way. As a filmmaker and as a writer, you actually can take positive things out of the roller coaster of life. This is what life is and it's not always going to be perfect, and sometimes it's messy and sometimes there's beauty in that as well.

Snowman has its world premiere at the Whistler Film Festival Sunday at 8 p.m. (with a second screening at 9:45 p.m.).

Associated Graphic

Mike Douglas's Snowman will have its world premiere at the closing gala of the Whistler Film Festival on Sunday.

DARRYL DYCK FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Professional skier and filmmaker Mike Douglas stands for a photograph on Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler on Thursday.

DARRYL DYCK/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
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Toyota celebrates 50 years in Canada
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By NEIL VORANO
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Special to The Globe and Mail
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Thursday, December 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page D1


In 1964, a small, relatively unknown foreign car company opened shop in Canada. It brought four model lineups with it and, in its first year, sold a grand total of 755 cars. It was a modest beginning.

But there is an old Japanese proverb: after the rain, the earth hardens. It means adversity builds character, and Toyota wasn't about to give up on Canada so easily. This year, the car maker celebrated 50 years in this country and, with more than 4.6 million cars sold since that first year, its tenacity has paid off. In 2014 alone, Toyota sold nearly 190,000 vehicles in Canada through November, including its Lexus and Scion brands.

It wasn't an easy road.

Bill Pasincky, 78, purchased a dealership in Fort Erie, Ont., for $3,500 at the age of 28, leveraging his successful gas station. "Financing was a problem because, with this company, the banks would not touch you," he recalls. "So I took a line of credit of $10,000 at 17.5 per cent - and the manager said he was sticking his neck out."

"There was still a natural skepticism to something new," says David Wortz, executive director of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association of Canada (JAMA). "The Detroit auto makers had dominated the market for so long. Volkswagen had a small hold here, Renault was here in small numbers, but Japanese auto makers were swimming upstream."

Wortz, with JAMA since its inception in 1984, has seen plenty of change in Toyota's involvement since it first entered the Canadian market, with its first offices in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

"At that time," Wortz says, "there were a lot of challenges; setting up dealers, even trying to convince Canadian businessmen to take a chance on your company. You can have vehicles, but if you don't have a good dealership network set up, then that's a critical part of setting up the business model. All of that takes time."

Another key for any business is having the right product for the market. In the early years, Toyota brought over vehicles from the Japanese market - the Corona, the Crown, the 700 UP10 and the venerable Land Cruiser, with the Corolla and Celica coming soon after. They weren't really right for the Canadian market - until suddenly, the market changed.

"I hate to lose, I didn't want to quit, but we had bad years," says Pasincky, who has owned and operated the dealership since 1965. "The late '60s was a really bad time; I don't know how many times I was about ready to toss the towel in, because I had to subsidize the car sales with my service station. But when the Corolla came in [first introduced in 1967] ... that started to change things."

The 1973 oil crisis was a boon for Toyota, as fuel prices rose and North American consumers looked for smaller cars with better fuel efficiency.

"That was a seminal moment for Japanese auto makers," says Wortz. "In taking advantage of the shift in market dynamic, that was really what defined the Japanese auto industry here."

Canadians began to notice Toyota. And Toyota imported a wider variety of vehicles, such as the Camry and 4Runner. Still, later in the 1970s, the oil crisis dismissed, the company had to jump another hurdle.

"A lot of dealers jumped ship and went back to the domestics but Mr. Togo came and talked with us individually and said that things will get better," Pasincky says, refering to the late Yukiyasu Togo, who joined the Canadian operation in 1976 and became its president in 1980, before taking charge of Toyota Motor Sales in the U.S. "I wasn't going anywhere because, as a mechanic, I liked the cars, even then they were superior than the British cars and the small domestics, like the Ford Falcon."

In 1985, it made a huge leap, opening its first Canadian factory, a wheel production plant in Delta, B.C. At the same time, it announced plans for a vehicle production factory in Cambridge, Ont., which would build the popular Corolla. There was no turning back.

Corollas started rolling off the Cambridge line in 1988 and, a year later, Seiji Ichii began his first stint here, with what had then become Toyota Canada Inc., in a junior executive role. After four years, he moved on globally in the company but returned in 2012 to become the president and CEO.

His earlier years in Canada proved formative, helpful in his new role.

"I learned the importance of listening, whether it was to the voice of our customers or the voice of our dealers or even the voice of our own Canadian associates," he says. "Now, internally, I tell our people that I have a hybrid management style; if we don't listen to each other - for example, a Japanese management style and a Canadian management style may conflict with each other - rather, why don't we try to find out the good side of each system. And then you can establish the best of the two, in a positive way."

Canadians differ from Americans in that we tend to choose smaller cars; Toyota's biggest seller in the United States is the Camry; in Canada, it's the Corolla.

"They are really tough customers because they focus on the value of a product, and if they find it valuable, they don't mind spending money," Ichii says. "I consider this market to be very similar to Japan, because Japanese customers are very demanding as well. I welcome that kind of demanding customer because that will only make us strong."

Kaizen - the mantra Toyota follows that means "continuous improvement" - has been and will continue to be essential to the car maker's success, Ichii says. Toyota is focused on improvements to fuel efficiency, emotion, aesthetics and quality; its winter testing facility in Timmins, Ont., enables the company to adapt its cars for winter climates. And new technologies, such as a recently announced fuel cell vehicle, the Mirai, to be offered in limited quantities in California and Japan, show that Toyota continues to be an innovator.

This year, in the midst of negative airbag publicity, Toyota's total car sales are down 1.3 per cent while truck sales have jumped 7.8 per cent. Veteran dealers such as Pasincky go with the flow, in confidence. His two sons are Class A mechanics. When he receives the 50-year pin from the company, he's handing over the dealership in Fort Erie to them.

Associated Graphic

Pictured: A 1967 Corolla.

TOYOTA

Fifty years ago, Toyota granted a distributorship agreement to Canadian Motor Industries, which would become Toyota Canada.

TOYOTA

In its early years, Toyota introduced the 1965 Crown, left, and the 1966 700 UP10 to Canada.

TOYOTA

DENG'S CHILDREN
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Thirty-six years after China introduced private enterprise, Nathan VanderKlippe talks to some of its biggest beneficiaries about what they gained - and lost - along the way. Portraits by Sim Chi Yin/VII for The Globe and Mail
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By NATHAN VANDERKLIPPE
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F5


Zhuo Wei

CELEBRITY PHOTOGRAPHER

'News can help us ... expose the dark side of humanity'

Zhuo Wei's office is an apartment on the outskirts of Beijing. In the living room, two people peck away at computers.

But a guitar sits on a couch, and the bedrooms have beds that are used - the place looks more like a dorm than the lair of China's No. 1 paparazzo.

Mr. Zhuo has parlayed a love for It's a Wonderful Life into making a living by taking surreptitious photos of China's rich and famous. For more than a decade, he has stalked a rising celebrity class, documenting the foibles of those who are having affairs or breaking the law, and helping to burnish the image of those who are not.

He has hidden in parking garages, loitered in bushes, spent untold hours waiting in airport arrival areas, and driven at breakneck speeds down freeways. He is indefatigable, once knocking on 500 doors to find someone, and possesses home addresses and licence-plate numbers for hundreds of celebrities. He knows what schools their children attend, and what their mothers and assistants look like. His networks of paid sources span bars, hotels, shops and restaurants.

And yet, Mr. Zhuo sees in what he does the seeds of the kind of journalism that could challenge power - if only China would let it. In a country whose political news is heavily censored, he feels he is trading in a form of truth. "News can help us judge ugliness and expose the dark side of humanity, the fake and bad parts of human nature," he says.

And in attaching himself to some of China's best-known names, Mr. Zhuo has accomplished something else: He has made himself matter.

He has established himself as a member of a generation that has shaken off communism to follow individual pursuits, and reap the rewards. "It's not important what you shoot or what you write," he says. "It's important to prove your existence."

Mr. Zhuo, now 43, was born into a working-class family in Tianjin, just east of Beijing. His father made furniture; his mother was an accountant. As a child, he was destined to a soot-stained job at the local state-owned steel giant. If lucky, he might have become a bureaucrat.

What he knew was that he was unlikely to rise much beyond the humble station of a family still living in a house bought by his great-grandfather. "Before the 1990s, it was quite difficult to change your fate in life," he says.

But his country was remaking itself. The same China that would produce a class of Ferrari-driving celebrities - domestic stars now pull in Hollywood-class incomes, with actress Fan Bingbing's annual earnings estimated at $22.5-million - was shattering old strictures to allow a new kind of social and professional mobility.

After high school, Mr. Zhuo, as expected, got an office job at the steelworks. But he nurtured a dream of being a journalist, a profession he saw as populated by people who are "well-educated and intellectual." He also developed a love of movies, joining amateur-critics groups where he practised his writing and discussed movies that came to inspire him. From the 1946 Jimmy Stewart Christmas classic, he came to believe that "after suffering failures and difficulties in life, human nature comes out victorious in the end," a thought that gave him hope that he could improve his circumstances.

And he discovered exactly the kind of tenacious reporter he wanted to be by watching a Japanese movie about a private investigator's tireless efforts to dig up government scandals. So when he got his first journalism job at a newly established newspaper, and it came time for him to find a particular actress in a Shanghai neighbourhood with 1,000 doors, he knocked until he found her - on some 500 doors in all.

It was a persistence that would serve him well when he began to make celebrities his main focus, amid a flourishing modern Chinese entertainment business. Last year, Chinese box-office receipts reached $3.6-billion, and the country is fast closing the gap with the United States (whose cinemas brought in three times that).

Mr. Zhuo helped to shape and feed an appetite for celebrity news. The Chinese paparazzi business remains small - there are just 20 or so doing it full-time on the mainland. Mr. Zhuo's team is the biggest: seven photographers; three drivers alongside himself; and a partner, who also takes pictures as needed.

"We are different from foreign paparazzi," Mr. Zhuo says.

"They only follow one person. We have to follow different people every day." Photos of individual stars don't yet tend to pay well enough to sustain a photographer, so his business takes a bulk approach.

Beijing through the eyes of a paparazzo unfolds in a series of tree-lined boulevards, foreign restaurants, and masses of luxury cars. It's also glimpse of the distortions that plague the Chinese system. Mr. Zhuo can name off the stars whose cars sport military licence plates, which provide a kind of immunity to fines, speeding tickets - or even rules of the road, like the need to stop at red lights.

"Many stars, when they reach success and win their fame, they start defining themselves as in a special class," he says. "What we do can at least play a role in supervising them a bit."

But privilege is one of the hallmarks of a Chinese system built on graft and guanxi, or relationships - and there are limits to how that power can be challenged. Those military licence plates, for example: Mr. Zhuo won't publish them. And although he has the tools and the skills to find and document corrupt behaviour among government officials, he doesn't do it. In a country run by heavily monitored and censored media, much of it state-owned, there simply aren't buyers for that kind of photograph.

His team has already broadened its coverage to sports stars, news anchors and business titans. "Maybe our targets could be even larger ... great social figures," he says. But in China it is "very, very difficult" to build the news industry into something credible. "Our work is far from deep enough and strong enough."

He nonetheless holds out hope that one day he will do the kind of journalism he dreamed about as a teen. Given the right environment, he says, "we will definitely produce wonderful, outstanding journalists - like the ones who worked on the Watergate report."

Associated Graphic

Zhuo Wei with his celebrity chasers: If stars 'start defining themselves as in a special class,' he says, 'what we do can at least play a role in supervising them a bit.'

Both sides now
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Laura Kipnis is a feminist who is fascinated by scumbags. Could ambivalence be the new righteousness?
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By LISAN JUTRAS
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R19


Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation By Laura Kipnis Metropolitan Books, 224 pages, $28.99

I first read Laura Kipnis back in the nineties, when she published her book of essays Bound and Gagged, a wide-ranging, prescient and super smart collection on the topic of pornography. I'd never read anything quite like it - her views were both hyper-rational and daring, challenging me, surprising me and even sometimes offending me. It was all kind of a thrill. I expected to see a lot more of her in the years to come. Well, the author and academic - she's a professor at Chicago's Northwestern University - has not been fallow, but 16 years later, she remains something of a hidden treasure. Not through any fault of her own - she has continued to publish books on a variety of hot-button topics: love, femininity, scandal, envy. But rather than becoming a hero in the mould of Naomi Wolf or a polarizing anti-hero in the mold of Katie Roiphe, she has remained a quietly prolific force.

Perhaps the most revolutionary thing about her is the very thing that keeps her from being more widely known: she could neither be hero nor anti-hero because, in her world, such absolutes scarcely exist. This quality, more than any other, sets her apart and, I hope, heralds a new kind of dialogue, a change from the tenor set by the Hitler-invoking cranks who populate online comments sections.

Kipnis is, by her own admission, a moral relativist. "There I sit," she writes, "fingers poised on keyboard, one part of me (the ambitious, careerist part) itching to strike, but in my truest soul limply equivocal, particularly when it comes to the many lapses I suspect I'm capable of committing, from bad prose to adultery."

Whatever you think of the sentiment, please just appreciate the turn of phrase "in my truest soul limply equivocal" for a moment. Limply equivocal! Really, of the honest among us, how many can say we've never felt this way about at least one inflammatory issue? Yet opinions, it seems now, have to be served up like meals in prison: hastily, loudly and with a minimum of care. Sure, I'll blame the Internet: the competitive pressure to be first out of the gates with Something Relevant, whether you're a blogger, a newspaper columnist or an ambitious tweeter, has leeched nuance from public discourse. Strong, ideological opinions earn you a quick following; you're embraced as part of a tribe, if not as one of its leaders, if you're fast and forceful enough. Humankind loves a tribe.

They provide us with the shelter and safety of the absolute. Which is why it's so disconcerting when the little voice saying, "But, guys, I see a problem here" is coming from the corner, not the other camp.

"It's what we'd prefer not to know about ourselves that I'm trying to speak of here," Kipnis writes in the preface to Men. No wonder, then, she's not more popular.

She's our very own imp of the perverse - a brilliant feminist who has just written a book that's a collection of essays on ... men. And not just any men, but the scumbags, the con men, the gropers and cheaters (to name the topics of a few of the essays). "They force you to think about them," she says, humming, as all the overshadowed do, with frustration at this predicament.

"What strikes me the most about these essays," she adds, beginning to rev her self-interrogating engine, "is my covert envy of men, including the ones I would also like to thrash and dismember." Immediately, Kipnis closes the distance between us (women) and them (men). So much for tribalism.

The enterprise of being human would be so much easier if each of us only felt what we were supposed to. Kipnis, though, seems to thrill to the experience of exposing what the rest of us try to conceal. She anatomizes her psyche, tidily peeling back every layer of thought, revealing her own internal conflicts, attempting to see herself with objectivity while acknowledging that no one can really succeed at that. Reading her is likewise thrilling, partly because of her sheer exhibitionism, and partly because the reader begins to feel she should match Kipnis's honesty with her own.

Inevitably, the author offends, as I believe she intends to, insomuch as offence is a byproduct of a challenge to one's values. Because she not only interrogates her own opinions, she interrogates those of the world at large, and more specifically, of people like her - academics, critics... eggheads. People who are big into their opinions.

What it means is that the book is not a comfortable read that bolsters our ideas of who we are, but it is a valuable one. An essay about male university professors veers into a truly thorny, but riveting, examination of studentteacher relationships. The essay is imperfect in ways I can only begin to enumerate, but ends on an anecdote that I found myself revisiting over and over, in an attempt to settle on a definitive opinion of it. These points of friction in the book are discomfiting but exciting. After being bludgeoned with certainty from so many different angles, it's good once in a while to just hang out feeling not sure.

Where she is on point is in her discussions of the ways power becomes eroticized, and the way, also, that the erotic is powerful. Any endeavour to make something absolute out of most sexual transactions runs aground on these shoals.

Camille Paglia famously trod this ground 20 years ago, but Kipnis is a far less pungent contrarian, and, unlike Paglia, she has no time for gender essentialism. Nowhere is this more evident than in the chapter in which Kipnis squares off against noted neo-con Harvey Mansfield. A transcript of their debate reveals a Kipnis who effortlessly steamrollers over Mansfield's conjecture that feminism harms humanity, and what we need is more "masculinity."

This is Kipnis as an old-school feminist, and she kills at it. She excels as both crusader and critic.

At a certain point, the astute reader must notice that Kipnis is trying to have it all - her book is both about "men," broadly, while also refuting the idea that there is any such a thing as an "us" and "them." But who can say women can't have it all? Not Kipnis. Of that, you can be sure.

Lisan Jutras is The Globe and Mail's deputy Books editor.

Associated Graphic

Over the last 20 years, Kipnis has written a number of compelling books on hot-button topics.

PIETER M. VAN HATTEM

PRESCRIBING MORE THAN MEDICINE
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The trend of health-care workers tuning in to patients' spiritual needs isn't about religion or shamanism or animal spirit guides. Research shows that treating the whole person, not just the disease, can improve outcomes and reduce costs. Adriana Barton reports
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By ADRIANA BARTON
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Monday, November 24, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1


When you are diagnosed with cancer, or blindsided by a stroke, a health crisis can turn into a dark night of the soul.

Many patients torment themselves, asking, "What did I do to make my body turn against me?" And if months of agonizing treatments stretch ahead, with no guarantee of a complete recovery, the burning question may be, "What is the meaning of all this suffering?" In addition to prescribing medication to help with physical symptoms, health-care professionals are increasingly tuning in to their patients' spiritual needs.

For the past year at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, outpatients have been able to book a 20-minute session of non-denominational support from a spiritual-care provider before or after a chemo treatment. Occupational therapists in Canada have enshrined spiritual care in their guidelines, making it their job to help patients - who may be physically or cognitively impaired - tap into life-affirming sources of personal meaning, such as nature or the arts.

The new approach to spiritual care is not the same as religious counselling or the healing response associated with the placebo effect. Rather, it is based on the idea that everyone has the need for hope, meaning and purpose in life, and that connecting to one's spirit, the essence of the self, can be a powerful motivator in healing.

Researchers in the emerging field of spirituality in medicine argue that science alone cannot meet the needs of aging populations who increasingly suffer from depression, social isolation and chronic diseases such as diabetes and dementia, which tend to worsen over time.

Physicians and nurse practitioners should not only prescribe pills or recommend psychotherapy, researchers say, but also support patients through compassion and mindfulness.

"Patients want much more than a cold doctor," said Dr. Christina Puchalski, a palliativecare physician and founder of the GW Institute for Spirituality and Health at George Washington University in Washington.

In the past two decades, more than 75 per cent of U.S. medical schools have integrated spirituality-related topics into their training.

Puchalski noted that a growing number of health-care workers, including doctors, are participating in group discussions and reflective writing exercises designed to enhance their own self-awareness.

Nurses and physicians may not be qualified to be spiritual guides for patients facing serious illness, but "we are witnesses, we are spiritual companions," Puchalski said.

Some studies suggest that addressing patients' spiritual needs in health-care settings has the potential to improve patient outcomes, and may reduce health-care costs by uncovering some of the underlying causes of stress-related mental and physical illnesses.

Spirituality in hospitals may help reduce health-care workers' stress too, says Marc Doucet, president of the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care. He noted that staff at Princess Margaret are starting to avail themselves of the spiritual-care sessions offered to patients.

Puchalski describes the alignment of health care with spirituality as a movement to reclaim medicine's spiritual roots, which date back to shaman healers and early hospitals founded by religious organizations to promote healing of mind, body and soul.

The difference is that today, belief in God, reincarnation or animal spirit guides isn't part of the prescription. The new approach is not mystical or esoteric - "it's intensely practical," said Melanie Rogers, a nurse practitioner who conducts research on spirituality in health care at the University of Huddersfield in Britain.

For a doctor or nurse, it may take only a few minutes to listen intently, convey a message of hope and ask about sources of meaning in a patient's life, she explained.

Rogers recalls working with a depressed patient who had given up her job to care for her elderly mother. When her mother died, the patient was socially isolated "and felt she didn't have any purpose any more," Rogers said.

She discovered that the patient had an interest in ceramics, and put her in touch with a local pottery group. Before long, the patient was volunteering in community arts projects and building relationships with other ceramicists. "She is just a completely different person," Rogers said.

But is the search for a worthwhile pursuit truly a "spiritual need?"

As "spirituality" becomes a catchphrase in health care, critics argue that the term is too nebulous to mean anything, and that the humanistic side of medicine is a better description of what doctors and nurses can offer - without the religious or new-age undertones.

Par Salander, a professor of social work at Umea University in Sweden, noted that in research papers, the term spirituality has referred to everything from religious beliefs to existential questions, relationships to people, animals or nature, and the abstract notion of "being at peace."

"Spirituality" is being used as a scientific concept, despite the term's lack of conceptual coherence, theoretical rationale and systemic meaning, Salander pointed out. The term "blurs more than clarifies," he wrote in an e-mail.

In health-care settings, however, patients and staff tend to respond favourably to concepts such as spirituality and mindfulness, which has been endorsed by neuroscientists, noted Mike Gartland, head of pastoral and spiritual care at South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in Britain.

In general, "people are much happier with the language of spirituality rather than religion," he said.

In British Columbia, the provincial government has replaced the term chaplain with job titles such as spiritual health practitioner to reflect the evolving profession's academic and clinical training requirements, as well as the shift away from traditional faith-based models.

In spiritual care, "the commitment is to the health-care process as opposed to a religious or denominational base," said Philip Crowell, head of the department of spiritual care at the Children's and Women's Health Centre of British Columbia.

The Vancouver-based centre has three spiritual-care professionals on staff to offer roundthe-clock services for patients and family members coping with events such as a life-threatening accident or death of a child.

Many are referred by doctors, nurses and social workers who have learned to flag patients in need of spiritual care, Crowell said.

"If this is a spiritual crisis, you don't address it with medical answers. You address what's happening - there may be fear, anxiety, distress, uncertainty, confusion," he explained.

"When we talk about spirituality, it's not so much about beliefs, but about fundamental values - and how you articulate these in times when you are beside yourself," Crowell said.

Associated Graphic

Philip Crowell of The Children's and Women's Health Centre of British Columbia says spiritual care is about the health-care process and is not tied to religion.

DARRYL DYCK FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Quebec moves to ban IVF for women over 42
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Fertility How old is too old to give birth? Quebec says new limit reflects 'clinical risk' but advocates say women can use eggs from younger donors
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By KELLY GRANT
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Friday, December 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1


Early next year, Barbara Ann Carroll is going to try her very best to get pregnant.

Having already endured three fruitless attempts at in vitro fertilization, the 44-year-old postmaster from Sainte-Adèle, Que., is hoping that eggs donated by the daughter of a friend will help her fulfill her dream of being a mother.

Ms. Carroll was already in a hurry to conceive because of her age, but now she has another reason to make haste. The majority Liberal government last week tabled a bill that would make it illegal for women over the age of 42 to undergo IVF.

Quebec's proposed age limit is just one part of a dramatic curtailment of the province's publicly funded assisted procreation program, but the change is reigniting the debate about a classic motherhood issue: How old is too old to give birth?

"They just don't want to spend money for that. I understand that. But let me pay for it. Don't punish me," Ms. Carroll said, her voice cracking. "The only ones that can understand this are the ones that live it."

The province would fine doctors as much as $50,000 if they perform the procedure on patients older than the threshold or direct those patients to co-operative IVF clinics outside the province.

Supporters of an age limit say society has an interest in discouraging older women from trying to pursue motherhood because they and their babies are likelier to have medical complications for which the public health-care system is ultimately responsible.

"There is a clinical risk," Gaétan Barrette, Quebec's Health Minister, said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. "When you are a government and you pass bills, you have to consider patient safety. We are there to minimize the risks to the patient."

Fertility doctors and advocates say the government has no business forbidding women over 42 from having IVF in Quebec if they want to pay for it themselves, especially if they use a younger donor's eggs, a practice on which the proposed legislation is silent.

It is not known yet when the bill will pass or take effect.

While some countries refuse to pay for IVF for older women, few, if any, ban it after a particular age.

"In Quebec, I can understand the government saying, 'We don't want to pay for treatment if you're over 42 and you're using your own eggs.' I get that," said Neal Mahutte, a Montreal fertility doctor and president of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society. "But to say we won't allow you to do fertility treatment doesn't make sense to me."

For the past four years, Quebec has had one of the most generous assisted procreation programs in the world.

In 2010, after a public campaign by megastar Céline Dion and TV personality Julie Snyder, both of whom conceived their children through IVF, Jean Charest's Liberal government allowed virtually unlimited coverage for IVF.

The goal was to help infertile couples conceive and reduce the number of twins and triplets by requiring doctors to implant just one embryo in most cases.

Quebec's multiple birth rate among women who had assisted reproduction declined from 38.5 per cent in 2009-10 to 17.2 per cent in 2012-13, according to a June report from Robert Salois, the province's Health and Welfare Commissioner.

But the savings did not make up for Quebeckers' enthusiastic uptake of IVF. The bill tabled last Friday would replace public insurance coverage with a limited tax credit.

The science is clear that a woman's fertility and her odds of conceiving through IVF decline as she ages.

The live birth rate for Canadian women pursuing IVF with their own eggs is 16.3 per cent at age 40. It falls to 11.8 per cent at 41, 7.6 per cent at 42 and 4 per cent at 43, according to data from the Canadian Assisted Reproductive Technology Register (CARTR).

The story is different if the eggs come from a younger donor, which is legal in Canada if the donor is paid no more than her expenses.

The live birth rate for Canadian women over 40 using donated eggs is between 33 and 38 per cent, and does not fluctuate much with the carrying woman's age.

Shauna Lussier, 44, gave birth six months ago to healthy twins, Brynlea and Coltan, using a donor's eggs. The Winnipeg government employee and her husband, Dominic Lussier, travelled to the Czech Republic for the $8,000 procedure after a miscarriage and unsuccessful fertility treatments in Canada.

Ms. Lussier does not feel limited by her age. She is healthy, secure in her career and better prepared emotionally to raise her twins than she might have been at a younger age, although she had not intended to start her family in her 40s.

She was saddened to hear of Quebec's plan to ban IVF for women like her.

"When you want to have a family and you have the disease of infertility, it would be like saying to a 65-year-old cancer patient, 'You're too old to have the treatment,' " she said. "I can't imagine how heartbreaking that would be, to have their government not support them to have a family."

Just because some older women can be candidates for IVF does not mean they should be, said Françoise Baylis, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Bioethics and Philosophy at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

"I think in this case what makes it complicated is that the state, arguably, could be bearing the consequences of some of these decisions," she said. "We do know that with older women, in terms of pregnancies, there are increased complications for that pregnancy."

Compared with women aged 20-34, women over the age of 40 have a 50-per-cent higher risk for developing gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia and placental abruption; they have an 80-percent higher risk of delivering by cesarean section, according to Canadian Institute for Health Information figures provided at the request of The Globe.

In 2012-13, over-40 mothers cost the Canadian health-care system 11 per cent more than the 20-34 group, CIHI said.

Associated Graphic

Barbara Ann Carroll, 44, hopes eggs donated by a friend's daughter will help her achieve her dream of motherhood.

CHRISTINNE MUSCHI FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Dominic and Shauna Lussier of Winnipeg hold their six-month-old twins. Ms. Lussier, 44, used donated eggs and travelled to the Czech Republic to have her fertility treatments.

LYLE STAFFORD FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Testament
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The Book of Strange New Things, which might be Michel Faber's last novel, chronicles a missionary's voyage to a faraway world
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By JOSÉ TEODORO
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R22


The Book of Strange New Things By Michel Faber HarperCollins, 585 pages, $34.99

A U.K. highway surrounded by ordinary earthly beauty, a lone hitchhiker along its shoulder: the opening pages of Michel Faber's awesome new novel - which he claims will be his last - will immediately summon up memories of his first. Indeed, The Book of Strange New Things makes a compelling companion to Under the Skin, Faber's indelible 2000 debut: both are intelligent works of science fiction that will appeal to readers not generally drawn to the genre; both closely shadow their protagonists, who venture to strange new lands with only limited knowledge of what they'll encounter there; both turn on a series of brilliantly crafted reveals. But where the relatively trim Under the Skin possessed a tightly controlled, ultimately quite simple narrative and only two characters of note, this ambitious new Book is expansive, brimming with story and secondary players. Where Under the Skin paid tribute to the wonders of life on our planet as experienced by an outsider, The Book of Strange New Things achieves the arguably more difficult task of imagining a completely foreign world and allowing one of our own to admire its alien allure.

Peter Leigh is a 33-year-old English minister delivered to an unfathomably distant, apparently inhabitable planet dubbed Oasis. He's to play missionary to the mysterious race of humanoid creatures with whom his employer, a powerful corporate entity calling itself USIC, is trying to forge a sustainable interdependency. Living in small villages of austere design, the Oasans resemble placid, diminutive variations on homo sapiens, the most notable differences being their inability to pronounce numerous sounds needed to speak any human tongue and faces that Peter can only describe as looking like foetuses. To Peter's astonished delight, he finds the Oasans hungry for the word of God, specifically the God invoked in the New Testament. (The novel's rather braggadocio title is actually derived from the name Oasans give to the Bible.) Spending long stretches of time living amongst the Oasans, Peter goes about preaching the teachings of Jesus and overseeing the construction of a church.

The conflicts that accumulate over the course of The Book of Strange New Things largely derive from the myriad challenges involved in adapting to an entirely new environment without losing a sense of one's roots.

Peter's struggle to maintain interest in life on Earth, which from all reports seems to be spiralling into catastrophe, or even in the life of Beatrice, the beloved spouse he left behind, is exacerbated by the insidious, eerie psychic effects of life on Oasis, which seem to include a gradual depletion of affect or desire and, for Peter, who spends more time away from the USIC base than any of his fellow Earthlings, a steadily eroding grip on reality.

Most ominous amidst the novel's early events is the unexpected discovery that Peter had a predecessor, a missionary by the conspicuous name of Kurtzberg, who "went native," and vanished without a trace. (The allusion to Heart of Darkness is a rare example of Faber making an arguably too-obvious reference, though a closing acknowledgment suggests the name was actually chosen in honour of Marvel Comics pioneer Jack Kirby, né Jacob Kurtzberg.)

The Book of Strange New Things prizes immersion above economy and, like Faber's bestselling Victorian melodrama The Crimson Petal and the White, opts to err on the side of abundant detail. (The Book also owes some debts to Victorian fiction; like the novels of Albert Sanchez Pinol, it looks back to the literature of that period not only to revive its best adventure-story tropes, but also to reflect on the ugly legacy of colonialism it foreshadowed.) Several bits of exposition are repeated and feel somewhat redundant; lengthy correspondence between Peter and Beatrice, featuring much news on the plight of various acquaintances and on the couple's cat, are quoted in their entirety, as is one of Peter's sermons.

So there's a slight bagginess to certain chapters, but here's the payoff: Faber needs time, colour and verticality to truly get under his newest protagonist's skin, to usher in his formidable insights into, for example, the way language can become a key to unlocking the deepest mysteries; the way damaged people can recognize the invisible scars in another; the way faith can transcend dogma; or the ways that distance can wreak havoc on love's equilibrium, throwing a lover's sense of self, so dependent on their partner's gaze, out of joint.

Which brings us back to Faber's announcement that this Book is to be his last, a decision prompted by the death of Eva Youren, his companion of 26 years, from multiple myeloma following a prolonged illness. It's impossible not to regard Peter and Beatrice's heartbreaking separation as something of a mirror to Faber's own grief, or Faber's evocation of a world slipping toward apocalypse as a mirror to the author's own private apocalypse. I've read that Youren, like many a writer's spouse, was Faber's first reader and editor, his closest collaborator. We're accustomed to thinking of novels as the products of a single mind, but Faber's resolve to retire in the midst of what would seem his prime - he's only 56, and didn't begin publishing until about 15 years ago - reminds us that art isn't created in a vacuum.

Faber is a writer of extraordinary gifts, but is it tragic that he should leave writing? He worked as a nurse for a decade before pursuing his writing career; who's to say his time won't be just as well spent returning to that earlier vocation? His stories are characterized by their macroscopic view, an ability to place individual life in a cosmic context; what's the big deal if one good, grief-stricken writer lays down his pen before he's exhausted his talent? These are legitimate questions, but they're also questions of stoic bravado.

Writers tell themselves fictions to arrive at a greater truth. I would not be surprised if Faber's retirement is not itself a kind of necessary fiction, doubtlessly essential to the terrible process of mourning, but disposable once life, however painfully, goes on.

José Teodoro is a Toronto-based critic and playwright.

Associated Graphic

Michel Faber's novel is both a domestic drama of love in peril and a sci-fi story about worlds literally apart.

ANDREW TESTA/NYT

TOO MUCH DRAKE?
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Before it was even cool, the rap artist staked his reputation on his love for Toronto - the city and the basketball team. And as much as his presence around the club may be irksome, his devotion is sincere and shouldn't be faulted
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By CATHAL KELLY
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Thursday, December 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


ckelly@globeandmail.com

Drake is standing there in a Drake-branded hoodie and a Drake-branded T-shirt on Drake Night and the first thing that comes out of his mouth is "It's really not about me at all."

He says it with such sincerity, you can't laugh.

In the year he's been formally associated with the Toronto Raptors, no public figure has become so synonymous with a sports club. Anywhere. He is more than a booster and a face of the franchise. He's the face of the city.

He's got a better claim on the title of chief magistrate than the mayor.

Whatever you think of him, his music or his PG-rated tabloid meltdowns, you can't deny that civic essentialism. He's put this town and this country on imaginative maps that used to end just north of Detroit.

His Joycean fixation on his hometown is so exaggerated, it's moved beyond cynicism. It's edging into epic poetry.

"I hate to be redundant, but I just care so much about this city and the people in it," Drake said, and I think to myself that he should cut a few tracks with a lute. "It's amazing to see all these people so passionate about something. ... Toronto is such a mosaic of different people from different cultures and different walks of life. You look around the building and you see all these people coming together for a great squad. It gets more and more exciting."

While he's free-versing this way, the pack of media jackals is pressing in on him, trying to figure out where to plant their pens in order to do the most terrible damage.

He knows that. He doesn't care.

He is immune to your scorn. He's going to sneak up and etherize you with earnestness. He makes Candide look hard-bitten.

That emotional heedlessness has given several million uptight citizens the freedom to love their city out loud. Drake deserves a thank-you for that.

He does a lot of other things you wish he wouldn't. All the courtside look-at-meism.

He's the kid who keeps interrupting Sunday dinner to make everyone watch him play piano.

He insisted on doing the team introductions. It was all inside jokes and bland clichés (Landry Fields: "We just found out today that we share a family!"; Kyle Lowry: He's "the baby-faced assassin").

That's the Drake that drives people a little batty. He can occasionally be a bit of a schmuck.

But he's our schmuck.

Around noon, they began laying the evening's real draw out on seat backs around Air Canada Centre - 20,000 limited-edition OVO/Raptors T-shirts. The marketing suits felt pretty sure they wouldn't start a riot. Sadly, they were right.

A year earlier, they'd guarded these things like gold bricks and handed them out at the door. A year earlier, the giveaways were selling for $200 on eBay an hour after the game ended. A year earlier, the shirts looked amazing - black and gold, highly stylized.

This year, they looked like something put together by a design team of bored suburban dads after a three-day bender.

Plain white tee, plain Raptors logo and of a quality that will last three machine washes - maximum.

It still took a great effort not to run through the empty arena stuffing dozens of them down my pant legs. A man has to eat.

(Notably, Drake was wearing the same shirt in a much sharper black. He wants you to be like him, but not so much that you might get confused.)

Pregame, Raptors coach Dwane Casey addressed a series of pointless questions about - ugh - basketball, before getting to the important stuff.

"Pumped for Drake night?!"

"Uuuuuhhh ...," Casey said, searching for le mot juste. Or maybe trying to remember which position "Drake" plays on the Brooklyn Nets.

"He is pumped," one of the team's flacks offered.

"I am pumped," Casey confirmed, not sounding very pumped.

You'll forgive him. Late in games, Drake likes to stand in precisely the spot Casey usually occupies - a few feet north of the Raptors bench. Whenever the coach speaks about the team mascot, it's equal parts a- and bemusement. Eventually, Casey is going to "accidentally" punch Drake in the head on live TV.

But lovingly.

It strikes you that Casey feels about Drake the way much of this city does. He's an exasperat.

ing attention seeker. He presumes too much. He's too familiar.

He continually refers to the Raptors as "we" or "our," as if he were up in the practice gym every day helping design the defence. And you just know, that if someone let him, he'd love to design the defence.

But all that melts away when you acknowledge that the foundation of this business relationship is love. Someone asked him if he plans to eventually take an ownership stake in the team.

That's an obvious step - he's hugely wealthy, and won't be a musician forever.

"These guys are my friends and the city is my city," Drake said.

"I'm not really looking to monetize or capitalize on my involvement. I'm here strictly for support and to be more unified."

I'm not sure what that means, but it means something to him.

Early on, when there was nothing to be gained from it, Drake bound his artistic identity to a deeply uncool city. It may have been a function of hubris, but the cause doesn't matter when compared with the effect.

A year ago, with a lot to be lost, he extended that embrace around a deeply uncool basketball team. More than a few of the good things that have happened since then have to be credited to him.

"I just show up at the games," Drake said, demurring so hard you can hear it in the next room.

"What the franchise has given to me just in terms of a purpose, confidence ... I just try and give it back."

Again, you'd almost laugh. But, man, he means it. It's hard to mock a man who cares that much, even if he's asking for it.

Follow me on Twitter: @cathalkelly

Associated Graphic

Brooklyn Nets centre Mason Plumlee shoots over Toronto Raptors centre Jonas Valanciunas in the first quarter at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto Wednesday.

PETER LLEWELLYN/USA TODAY SPORTS

The evolution of Hollywood's Christmas dad
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With the holiday always in peril in movies, fathers have been thrust into the role of protector and saviour time and time again
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By DAVE MCGINN
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Friday, December 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L6


Christmas is always in trouble. No other holiday is so consistently in peril. You never hear about anyone having to rescue Easter. Valentine's Day always happens, even if a few lonely hearts might miss out on romance. But some one or some thing always threatens to stop Christmas from coming. And there's only one man who can save it.

He can be tall and muscular or short and packing a few extra pounds. Sometimes this man is wearing an amazing Christmas sweater. Sometimes he's wearing a tank top and fighting German terrorists. Sometimes he's goofy.

He is always self-sacrificing. And nothing is more important to him than the well-being of his wife and children. Who is this man? He's dad.

Not your dad or my dad, but Hollywood's idealized version, who is never so conspicuously reflected in the movies as when he is called upon to swoop in and save Christmas.

Traditional family dynamics have always been a focal point of Christmas stories, whether it's the biblical tale of Joseph guiding Mary to Bethlehem or the Cratchit clan in Dickens's A Christmas Carol. And nothing is so central to those dynamics as the idea of a loving father who protects his wife and children when danger strikes.

"Traditionally, the father is the protector. ... So if there's something wrong with Christmas he has to save it because he has to save and protect the family," says Elizabeth Podnieks, a professor at Ryerson University and editor of the forthcoming essay collection, Pops in Pop Culture: Fatherhood, Masculinity, and Modern Parenting.

"But then because it's a holiday and it deals with emotions and children crying if they don't get their toys or what have you, it also shows the father tapped into the emotional and psychological well-being of the child. So you see both sides of it: the man in charge, the masculine force who's going to save the day, whether it's saving the family or saving the world, and the tender side which allows the father to be seen as this nurturer."

The definition of the "good father" in holiday fare has changed with family dynamics over the years, and recently, the emphasis on dear old dad has faded.

Here, a guide to yuletide dads of past and future.

FATHER KNOWS BEST

Era: 1940s to 1970s

Archetype: George Bailey, It's a Wonderful Life.

Fatherly virtues: Stoicism, self-sacrifice.

How he saves Christmas: After a dark night of the soul, wondering if his life has amounted to anything, Bailey (James Stewart) saves himself and Christmas when he realizes that a father's life is meaningful when he puts his family and community's wellbeing ahead of his own. Meeting those obligations made Bailey beloved by all. The idea of fathers as the family's moral centre would dominate pop culture for decades.

PROTECTOR DAD

Era: 1980s

Archetype: John McClane, Diehard .

Fatherly virtues: Courage, cockiness, ass-kicking.

How he saves Christmas: Are you seriously going to threaten protector dad's (Bruce Willis) family? Are you crazy? Masculinity was amped up to 11 in the 1980s, a decade defined by Stallone and Schwarzenegger. And that smash-the-bad-guys testosterone underscored a new ideal of fatherhood that was no longer only about moral strength but men of action. Listen, Hans. You think you and your buddies can hold protector dad's wife hostage when their kids are waiting at home on Christmas Eve? He's going to take you all out.

GOOFBALL DAD

Era: 1990s

Archetype: Clark Griswold, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Fatherly virtues: Clumsiness, unfounded confidence in his abilities, dedication to his role as provider.

How he saves Christmas: Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) would redefine the Christmas dad as a bumbling, sweethearted fool for years after Christmas Vacation premiered on Dec. 1, 1989. Tim Allen in The Santa Clause (1994) and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Jingle All the Way (1996) are both his spiritual brethren. Griswold may be just this side of incompetent - just watch him struggle to hang Christmas lights on his house - but he is completely dedicated to making his wife and children happy - he's trying to put those lights up for their joy, remember. That happiness, however, depends first and foremost on this Christmas dad's role as provider, whether it's getting a pool for the kids, getting his son a favourite toy or literally becoming Santa Claus.

THE HOLLOW MAN

Era: 2000s

Archetype: Willie, Bad Santa

Fatherly virtues: Grudging acknowledgment that family life might be better than bachelorhood.

How he saves Christmas: Holiday dads faced a crisis of their own at the beginning of the new millennium. If fatherhood meant being an idiot like Griswold, who got little more than mockery for his efforts, why even bother?

Christmas movies of the decade were desperate to pull men back to the idea that fatherhood was the path to a rich, rewarding life, not going solo. Willie's (Billy Bob Thornton) life is a pathetic husk until he reforms his boozing, lecherous ways for the sake of a young boy who needs a father figure. And in The Family Man, Nicolas Cage learned that the luxury life of a single investment broker is nothing compared to being middle class with a loving wife and two kids. The message was: Forget the Ferrari. Pack a family into a minivan.

HE INVISIBLE MAN

Era: 2010s

The Christmas dad has disappeared from the box office, even if a paternal influence can still be felt, however distantly, in movies such as Arthur Christmas (2011). Fatherhood is in too much flux for Hollywood to fall back on portrayals of morally strong, white, middle-aged breadwinners.

"The idea of the male as centre of the family is in question," says Derek Burrill, a professor at the University of California, Riverside, who studies masculinity. Judd Apatow and other contemporary directors have explored the current crisis in fatherhood, but it will likely be a long time before we see anyone try to do that in a holiday movie. Christmas films are about reinforcing traditional ideas of families, but very few of those ideas are still true, whether it's fathers as breadwinners, tough guys or moral centres. Hollywood doesn't know what the Christmas dad looks like now because none of the rest of us do, either. He's probably Paul Rudd in a Santa hat, but who wants to watch that for two hours?

Statue evokes memories of a dark history
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Hungary's opposing politics are highlighted by a monument some say whitewashes the country's role in the Second World War
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By MARK MACKINNON
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A19


BUDAPEST -- Two very different histories are told at the south end of Freedom Square, in the heart of the Hungarian capital.

A stone statue of the Archangel Gabriel, a symbol of Hungary, stands at the edge of the square looking innocent and unaware while an eagle - obviously crafted to resemble the one on the German coat of arms - dives toward him with extended claws. The date 1944 is attached to the eagle's ankle. "In memory of the victims," reads the inscription at the base of the monument, as if the Second World War, and Hungary's role in it, began with the Nazi occupation of the country that year.

Facing the monument is a reminder of all that's left unsaid by the angel and the eagle. Laid on the sidewalk in a long row are the personal effects - including a crumpled brown suitcase, a pair of eyeglasses missing a lens and a pair of blue toddler's shoes - belonging to some of the hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews who died in the Holocaust.

Among the dead were tens of thousands of Jewish refugees from Poland who were deported to German-occupied territories prior to 1944 by a Hungarian government that was allied to Nazi Germany for the first five years of the war.

Building of the monument was finished in the middle of the night shortly after Prime Minister Viktor Orban won re-election this spring. But the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary has condemned its erection and declared a boycott of all activities connected with what was supposed to be an official year of Holocaust remembrance.

"This monument is a lie," said David Tucker, a Jewish activist and a member of the opposition Socialist party. "They say the Holocaust happened because of the German occupation. They don't talk about the political situation in Hungary in the 1920s, '30s and '40s. It's very dangerous, I think."

That Hungary is again debating the role it played during the Holocaust is a testament to the dark turn the country's politics have taken over the past five years, as Mr. Orban - who has positioned himself as something of an heir to 1930s strongman Miklos Horthy - has consolidated his hold on power. Meanwhile, the extreme right Jobbik party, which employs antiSemitic and anti-Roma rhetoric, has emerged as the biggest challenger to Mr. Orban's centre-right Fidesz party.

Both parties idealize the Horthy era as the last time Hungary was strong and independent. Mr. Orban has cloaked himself in Horthy-esque nationalism as he has defied the European Union and United States to move the country closer to Vladimir Putin's Russia, arguing that closer ties with Moscow are in Hungary's sovereign interest.

Parallels are drawn to how Mr. Horthy charted an independent foreign policy in the 1930s, one that made him unpopular with the Allied powers, but helped regain the lands Hungary lost under the hated Treaty of Trianon after the First World War. Mr. Orban's supporters point out that Mr. Horthy later reversed course and deserted the Nazis when the alliance was no longer in Hungary's interest, provoking the 1944 invasion.

Zsoltan Kovacs, a spokesman for the Prime Minister, said the monument was not about rewriting history, as many critics charge, but "putting back history, or historical perspectives, to where they should be."

Negative perceptions of the Horthy era, Mr. Kovacs said, are rooted in Communist-era history textbooks that aimed to demonize that regime. "I don't think Horthy stands out in a negative way," compared to other European rulers of the interwar years, he said.

"One thing is for sure is that after March 19, 1944, the country lost its sovereignty. It was occupied. And there's a historical fact that before that there was no Holocaust in this country, and then after the Germans came there was a Holocaust. And there were, besides the victims of the Holocaust, many other victims actually."

That's a telling of history that makes many Hungarian Jews - and democrats - cringe. The Horthy government imposed a series of harsh anti-Jewish laws as early as 1938, putting restrictions on how many Jews could work in certain professions and stripping most of their right to vote. Eventually, marriage and sexual relations were banned between Jews and non-Jews.

Mr. Tucker said the monument risks inflaming anti-Semitism that's already on the rise in Hungarian society. Stereotypes about Jews controlling the media and financial system are widespread, leading to rising resentment, particularly in smaller cities and towns where the economy is struggling. While violence targeting Jews is rare, especially in Budapest, Mr. Tucker said that it was common to hear anti-Semitic remarks. "Walking with a kippa on your head is not too secure," he said.

Political analysts say the monument, and Mr. Orban's embrace of the Horthy era, are influenced as much by a desire to prevent Jobbik from claiming such a key nationalist figure as their own as by Mr. Orban's own ideology.

With the country's political left in tatters, Jobbik has seen its support rise in three consecutive parliamentary elections - it collected more than 20 per cent in a March vote - and the party finished second to Fidesz in 18 out of 19 counties in local elections this fall.

Jobbik uses the Horthy era to support its calls for the building of a "Greater Hungary." The party's campaign material includes a map that shows the country reunited with the Hungarian-populated land areas of Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine that were stripped from it under the Treaty of Trianon.

A Hungarian appeal court ruled last year that it was not slanderous to describe Jobbik as neo-Nazi - and a senior member of the party called in 2012 for a list to be made of Jews who posed a "national security risk."

In an interview, Gabor Staudt, a Jobbik MP who was the party's candidate for mayor of Budapest this fall, denied Jobbik is anti-Semitic. He said the party stands for Catholic and Christian values, and is unfairly described as anti-Semitic because it takes a pro-Palestinian position on the Middle East conflict. "I have some Jewish friends," Mr. Staudt said. "I don't see my party as anti-Semitic."

Follow me on Twitter: @markmackinnon

Associated Graphic

At Budapest's Freedom Square, protesters have laid belongings of Holocaust victims in front of a controversial monument.

MARK MACKINNON/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Two words: Carbon. Tax.
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F9


For years, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been promising a greenhouse-gas policy to deal with emissions from Canada's oil industry. On Tuesday, Mr. Harper abruptly revealed his sort-of plan. It can be summed up in two words: Do. Nothing.

"Under the current circumstances of the oil and gas sector," said the PM in Question Period, "it would be crazy, it would be crazy economic policy, to do unilateral penalties on that sector. We're clearly not going to do it." In case anyone didn't get it, he added: "With the current conditions in the oil and gas sector, this government will not consider unilateral regulation of that sector."

So, there you go. That's the policy. No background studies, no research papers, no long-term plan. After years of waiting, just a few throw-away lines. Move along folks, nothing to see.

For the better part of a decade, the Conservative government has declined to come up with a comprehensive greenhouse-gas (GHG) reduction strategy, and has instead favoured a so-called sector-by-sector approach. In theory, each sector of the economy will be ordered to achieve some level of reductions. Or, as is the case with the oil industry, more like not ordered.

The PM has been saying for some time that Canada wants a continental solution to oil and gas sector emissions - this country will do something, but only once it knows what the Americans are doing.

Hence the repeated use of the word "unilateral" in Mr. Harper's statement. And since the Americans, who may be on the verge of doing quite a lot on greenhouse-gas emissions overall, aren't doing anything to specifically target their own oil industry, the PM has his cover. No unilateral regulation means no regulation. And "current conditions" - low oil prices - also means no regulation.

Mr. Harper is mostly wrong about all of this. But in one small but significant way, he's right. The oil industry should not be the main target of a greenhouse-gas reduction strategy. It's not the main source of GHGs. Taking oil out of the ground doesn't produce a lot of greenhouse gases. The big GHG hit comes from using the oil - burning gasoline when you drive your car, for example. That's where any policy to reduce greenhouse gases should look.

Environmentalists who focus on the oil sands are missing the big picture. Even if they shut the oil sands down, the impact on the world's production of greenhouse gases would be very small.

Oil sands crude, as many environmentalists never tire of pointing out, is more carbon-intensive than most other forms of crude. They neglect to add this disclaimer: More polluting - but not by much.

According to the U.S. Congressional Research Service, Canadian oil sands crude produces about 17 per cent more GHGs than the average barrel of U.S. crude when measured from "well to wheels."

Yes, production from the oil sands generally requires more energy than conventional oil. That's why it's more polluting. But it's not much more polluting because most of oil's greenhouse-gas emissions come not from extraction, but from use. Burning gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and the like, regardless of source, is how most CO2 is generated.

And though Mr. Harper isn't interested in hearing it, it is possible for Canada to significantly lower greenhouse-gas emissions without targeting the oil industry - or even imposing much in the way of new costs on the industry. One province is already doing it. And it works.

In 2008, British Columbia introduced a carbon tax. It is exceptionally simple: Carbon-based fuels are taxed according to the amount of GHGs they produce. For example, gasoline in BC is subject to a carbon tax of 6.67 cents a litre, and a litre of diesel carries a tax of 7.67 cents.

The carbon tax is also revenue neutral - when BC introduced carbon taxes, it lowered income taxes at the same time. As a result, middleclass British Columbians enjoy the country's lowest income taxes.

The impact of BC's carbon tax has been profound. Between 2008 and 2012, per-capita consumption of fuels subject to the tax fell 17 per cent in BC, while rising 1.5 per cent in the rest of Canada. At the same time, BC's economy slightly outperformed the rest of the country.

Raising taxes on something society wants less of - pollution - while lowering taxes on the things we want more of - jobs, income, savings - has had the expected effect. Pollution is down. The economy is not.

A carbon tax works because it's Economics 101. It's about putting a price on pollution, and leaving it up to millions of people and businesses to figure out how to reorient their behavior so as to minimize their costs. This is exactly what free marketers, conservatives and Conservatives should love. No giant bureaucracy is required; no mega-projects need to be subsidized; no allegedly green industries of some central planner's fantasy must be lured to the province with multi-billion-dollar sweatheart deals. (Yes, we're talking to you, Liberal government of Ontario.) It's the most efficient way to cut pollution.

And what's more, BC's carbon tax doesn't single out the province's budding oil and gas industry. If Alberta or Ottawa got religion on carbon taxes, the result would be the same. Canada can have a greenhouse-gas policy that significantly reduces emissions while also having a healthy oil and gas industry, including oil sands. There's no contradiction. Put a price on carbon and let the market figure it out.

If Ottawa simply photocopied the BC model, it would mean higher taxes on gasoline and other fuels, but lower taxes elsewhere. Ottawa could cut payroll taxes, such as Employment Insurance premiums, which are widely seen as a tax on jobs and a disincentive for companies to hire. It could cut income taxes, too.

Nobody should be holding their breath for the Harper government to come around. But some provinces might. Because with a carbon tax, a government could do the seemingly impossible. It could cut income taxes and other taxes, without cutting spending. It could lower pollution, without spending a cent. And it could satisfy environmentalists and conservatives - with the same policy. Aspiring politicians outside of BC, book yourself a plane ticket, and go visit your future.

Hungary central to Cold War-style struggle between Russia, the West
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By MARK MACKINNON
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Monday, December 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1


BUDAPEST -- Zsolt Varady remembers the day the Iron Curtain fell. His father, who took the long view on such things, told him it might take 20 years for the good times to arrive, but he was sure from that point on things were going to get better in Hungary.

Twenty-five years later, Mr. Varady has had successes his father could never have predicted. He invented a wildly popular social network - International Who Is Who - two years before Facebook, making him famous and, for a while, rather rich. But Hungary, he feels, hasn't become the country his father promised him that day in 1989.

For that he blames the country's "nightmare" government, and in particular the populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has been in power since 2010. Now Mr. Varady is embracing a role that his father thought would no longer be necessary - he's a political activist, confronting a government he says has grown too close to Moscow.

Mr. Orban over the past 12 months has made Hungary the enfant terrible of the European Union, first by sympathizing with Russia in the conflict over Ukraine, Hungary's neighbour to the east.

Then Mr. Orban shocked Western ears by expressing admiration for the system Vladimir Putin has built, and declaring he wanted build an "illiberal democracy" in Hungary.

"It's kind of a nightmare," Mr. Varady said, his soft voice and gentle manner at odds with the role he's taken on as the face of the swelling anti-Orban movement. "We are getting closer to dictatorship, but we're not there yet."

Political activism is back in Hungary - tens of thousands took to the streets this fall to hear Mr. Varady and other speakers condemn what they see as Mr. Orban's authoritarian turn, and another mass protest is planned for Tuesday - and so is geopolitics. This country of 10 million people in the heart of Europe is once more the prize in a Cold War-style struggle for influence between Russia and the West.

To the consternation of Washington and Brussels, it's Moscow that holds greater sway here, signing a succession of economic pacts that have bolstered Mr. Orban's government, allowing him to dramatically slash utility prices on the eve of elections that saw his Fidesz party win a second consecutive majority government earlier this year.

The return price, many feel, has been Hungary's deference to Russia on matters of foreign policy, including the Orban government's decision this fall to stop pumping natural gas (that it had purchased from Russia) into Ukraine.

Last month, Mr. Orban's government removed the blueand-gold European Union flag from the front of the country's gothic-style parliament building, controversially replacing it with the banner of ethnic Hungarians living in neighbouring Romania.

It's all surprising coming from a country that is a member of both the EU and NATO.

But while Mr. Orban's opponents have shown their strength - the surprisingly large protests this fall forced the government to back down on plans to introduce a tax on Internet traffic - their calls for Mr. Orban to step down arguably lack the legitimacy of Hungary's 1956 and 1989 uprisings against Communist rule.

Mr. Orban and his Fidesz party, after all, handily won re-election in April, capturing a two-thirds majority in parliament .

Zsoltan Kovacs, a spokesman for the Prime Minister, said Hungarians admire Mr. Orban for the same reason he upsets many in the West - he makes decisions based solely on what he sees as the country's national interest.

"Mr. Orban is a charismatic figure, and the political means have been provided to make decisions, to exercise leadership. Europe really doesn't like leadership."

Mr. Kovacs said Hungary had a "pragmatic" relationship with Russia, and that it's "offensive to the core to come with the argument that Hungary is trying to switch or shift sides."

Despite the election wins, it's becoming less clear that Hungarians support Mr. Orban's new course. A poll released Thursday suggested a massive drop in support for Fidesz - from 38 per cent support to 26 per cent - since the October street protests over the proposed Internet tax.

"Orban's popularity in these past two months has collapsed. One third of his voters have left him," said Andras Deak, a senior research fellow at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Which is where the comparisons to Mr. Putin have their greatest poignancy. Since Fidesz won its first landslide election in 2010, Mr. Orban has seen party loyalists installed in key posts at the state Media Authority, giving them oversight over an increasingly compliant media scene.

Tweaks to the election law ahead of the 2014 vote helped ensure Fidesz would retain its two-thirds majority in parliament even as voter support fell.

Mr. Orban's "illiberal democracy" seems intended to produce what Mr. Putin's "managed democracy" has established in Russia: a system where elections are held, but the result is hardly in doubt. Monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe gave Hungary's 2014 election the same description they regularly bestow on Russia's votes: "free, but not fair."

"He's authoritarian, definitely. The rule of law is something that's not very important for him. The ability to execute his political ideas is what's important for him," said Kornelia Magyar, director of the Progressive Institute, a think tank based in Budapest.

But analysts say Mr. Orban is restricted in how far he can go by the fact Hungary is a member of the EU, its economy reliant on transfers from richer parts of Europe that are already warning of possible repercussions for Mr. Orban's turn to the east.

Every day since August, a small crowd of anti-Orban protesters has camped out in front of the Hungarian parliament building, their tents topped by the EU flag that's been taken down by the government.

"We don't like the direction where the country is headed," said Ilona Hutvagner, a 65-yearold retired librarian, standing in front of a handmade sign reading "Delete Viktor." "We are not afraid to go into the streets any more. We are forced to."

Follow me on Twitter:@markmackinnon

Associated Graphic

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives for a session of parliament in Budapest on Oct. 20. Mr. Orban surprised many in Europe by sympathizing with Russia in the conflict over Ukraine.

AKOS STILLER/NEW YORK TIMES

Donors' 'gift' giving a charitable success
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Organizations are seeing increasing success selling aid such as animals and vaccines to first-time donors during the holidays
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By SUSAN KRASHINSKY
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Friday, December 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B4


skrashinsky@globeandmail.com

When Gordon Pinsent walked into the studio, he did not know that he would be playing a goat.

The Canadian actor was recording his first commercial for Plan Canada in 2012. He came to the session thinking he would be the spokesman, recalled Karen Howe, senior vice-president and creative director at the charity's ad agency, One Advertising. They had to explain to him on the spot that the spokesman would actually be a goat. He paused for a moment, and said, "Great!"

The campaign in which the goat memorably shouts "Shop today!" has been a success for Plan - and a style of marketing that has paid off for a number of charities. Donations tied to tangible things are nothing new, but fundraisers have seen them increasing in recent years.

"Canadians spend a lot of money around the holidays, and we want to give gifts that are meaningful," said Jeff Cornett, Plan Canada's vice-president of donor marketing. The organization has seen its "gifts of hope" donations grow 10 to 25 per cent each year in recent years. At World Vision Canada, which runs a similar program, 5,478 goats were donated last year alone.

This is different from the "gift with donation" model, where people buy a product and some share of that money goes toward a cause. Oxfam Canada's "unwrapped" program, for example, sells goats, bicycles, beehives and other items. Causes are finding that donors respond when they can see items or services that a donation will pay for.

That can be particularly important for charities doing international work, Mr. Cornett said, since they struggle to attract donors more inclined to give close to home. Showing tangible results can make the need feel less distant.

That's the idea behind Unicef Canada's "survival gifts" such as vaccines, or a town water pump for bigger spenders.

To promote the program this year, Unicef commissioned a new online video from Lewis Hilsenteger, which launched on Thursday. The Newmarket, Ont.-based video producer's YouTube channel has 1.67 million subscribers.

He drew worldwide media attention in September for his "iPhone 6 Bend Test" video that showed a flaw in the new Apple Inc. phone.

Mr. Hilsenteger works in the popular genre of "unboxing" videos. He opens brand-new products, almost always technologically-related, such as gaming consoles, smartphones, tablets and headphones. Talking mostly off-the-cuff to the camera, he reviews them. His global audience is 92-per-cent male, and core viewers are generally between the ages of 18 to 30.

Unicef approached him in October to "unbox" some of their gifts, including a blanket, a mosquito bed net and food supplement pouches that he taste tests.

The products, he notes in the video that he produced pro bono, are "probably more important than your next video game."

"Lewis is going to give us exposure to a whole new audience," said Sharon Avery, chief development officer at Unicef Canada.

Younger donors are less likely to read Unicef's print catalogues. Its budget doesn't usually allow for television ads, she noted, but younger potential donors are not watching traditional TV. It is not unusual for Mr. Hilsenteger's videos to draw more viewers than an episode of a top TV show in Canada.

"We use [the gift program] to meet Unicef. First-time donors learn so much about us and the way we work through it," Ms. Avery said.

Mr. Hilsenteger himself did not know about the gift program before Unicef approached him, but immediately took to the idea.

"I do videos on products all year long - the latest and greatest stuff that people want and maybe don't necessarily need," he said. "... We're so tuned in to that part of commercialism. Why couldn't a charity be an extension of that system? ... You can envision an individual putting that [item] to use in a way that you don't get by dropping five bucks into something on the way out of the grocery store."

It's not just younger donors who crave a tangible idea of where their money is going. In 2004, when Unicef's "survival gifts" first launched, nearly $200,000 was donated through this method. By last year, $1.8million worth of gifts were given.

The marketing tactic is spreading.

"There are a lot of charities getting into this arena, making giving tangible," Ms. Avery said.

This is happening at the local level, as well as internationally.

For example, the SickKids Foundation offers donations linked to specific items or services, such as a visit from a therapy dog for a child ($25), and bigger-ticket items such as a child's wheelchair ($5,000).

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto has "gifts of light," such as supplies for art therapy ($72), and books and magazines for the patient library ($20). When that program started in 2008, it drew less than $100,000. This year, CAMH is forecasting "gifts of light" donations close to $700,000.

"Every charitable organization needs a bit of both. It's important that there are donors willing to give to a pool of funds. But charities realize that's not all donors want," said Caroline Riseboro, senior vice-president of marketing and development at CAMH. "Sometimes they want to start by giving something tangible, and when you have their trust that you've delivered on that for them, they'll give again."

And it's a good fit for the digital world, where charities are looking to connect with the next generation of donors.

"Because it's a virtual gift, it's perfect for online shopping. You don't need to try on the perfect goat for size," Plan Canada's Mr. Cornett said, laughing. "You just have to buy a goat."

WORLD VISION

The best-selling "gifts" for World Vision Canada last year: 1. Two hens and a rooster ($50) 2. Stock a medical clinic ($100) 3. Most needed (gifts needed urgently around the world, ranging $30-$125) 4. Goat ($100) 5. Supply a classroom ($50) 6. Medicine for 10 children ($30) 7. Agricultural packs for three families ($35) 8. Goat, two hens and a rooster ($150) 9. Educate a girl ($60) 10. Five fruit trees ($30)

Associated Graphic

Donations through Plan Canada's 'gifts of hope' have grown 10 to 25 per cent each year in recent years.

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown
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Leafs dethrone Kings, but the higher the climb, the greater the fall
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By CATHAL KELLY
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Monday, December 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


TORONTO -- ckelly@globeandmail.com

Things were going so well hockey-wise, we spent the pregame discussing immunology.

"I just got my shot today," said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle, referring to the NHL's widening mumps outbreak. "They dragged me in. I was the last one. I thought that I had it 58 years ago so I didn't think I'd need another one, but I guess there's a new strain out that they better look after us."

Sounds serious. What's this all about?

"I think it started over in England last year or two years ago. It's something we didn't really hear about," said Stéphane Robidas, snapping on his CDC nameplate.

Are they right? Should we all be stockpiling ammunition and getting mentally prepared to begin slaughtering our neighbours? Just in case.

Well, God knows. If we were any good at science, we'd have real jobs.

Everyone's just making sure to stay well away from everyone else. The usual hugs and gentle caresses between the Leafs and their many admirers in local media have been replaced by amicable, from-across-the-room nods.

It's a bit of a letdown, because we were beginning to come around to the idea that the Leafs might not just be looking good.

They might actually be good.

Less than 24 hours after laying a comprehensive beating on the Red Wings in Detroit, the Leafs were back at work against the Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings.

The Kings are presently Kingsing through the regular season - looking profoundly unengaged by non-elimination hockey. But they're still the Kings.

"I would say we played the game in two parts," Carlyle said following a 4-3 shootout victory.

He's exactly right. There was a good part and a bad part.

Toronto owned the first period, and came away with a 2-0 lead.

The season's surprisingest of a few surprise packages, Mike Santorelli, scored the opener on his 29th birthday. The Leafs are 13-0 in games in which they score first. They are also 1-0 on Mike Santorelli's birthdays.

After all that good early work, they lay down and died at the end of the second. Defenceman Jake Gardiner allowed L.A.'s Justin Williams to walk through him on a one-on-one rush. That the goal probably should have been called back on a high stick didn't seem to matter. It felt like the sort of bad call you deserved, as a form of punishment.

Two more soft goals on either side of the second intermission put Los Angeles into the lead.

And you began to think to yourself - this is where the Leafs start coming back to Earth. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.

They've been on a compelling roll since their 9-2 humiliation against Nashville a month ago.

That seems like a long time ago, but it doesn't feel like a memory.

They continue to win games in which they've been largely outplayed. Twenty of their 30 games have been at home, far and away the most in the NHL. They'll set out on an onerous two-week, seven-game road swing once the World Juniors ramp up around Christmas.

Everything is going their way, and it doesn't seem sustainable.

Hadn't we all agreed this team was puddle-thin and lacking gumption? But it's sustaining - what's more compelling than that?

They managed it again on Sunday, in front of a somnambulent afternoon crowd.

James van Riemsdyk tied it on the power play - which was remarkably fluid and very un-Leaflike through the whole game.

Having dragged it into overtime, you felt satisfied. That's the real Blue-and-White disease - a poverty of ambition. Toronto strung it as far as the shootout.

Joffrey Lupul was the only scorer.

Once again, James Reimer put in a strong performance. This town is finally enjoying the correct sort of goalie controversy - one where you don't want to drop the pair of them off at the bus station with 50 bucks and a warning to be gone before sundown.

The Leafs are 9-1-1 since Nashville. They're one win off first place in the Eastern Conference, with a game in hand. Aside from the reassuringly vicious presence of Richard Panik, nothing's really changed. They just carry themselves differently. It's all more purposeful. Randy Carlyle has gone from despair to acceptance to surprise to worry. If they keep winning, he's going to round back to despair again - he's learned not to trust anything in this city.

"I always try to temper my enthusiasm," Carlyle said mournfully. Pity Carlyle when he wins - it's immediately back to the professional ennui.

Given how threadbare these wins can sometimes seem, especially on the stats sheet, do you feel any sense of danger?

"There's always danger," Carlyle said. "Pro sports is about danger."

Hmm. I thought it was about bitterness and grinding disappointment. But unlike Carlyle, I grew up here.

It's difficult to not let that attitude infect what the Leafs are managing at the moment. You can metricize what they're doing to death. From that perspective, they are more lucky than good.

"It's still early in the year, but ... we've got room for improvement," Robidas said. "You have to keep moving."

Robidas, an off-season signing, is as close to a disinterested observer as you're going to find in the Leafs' locker room. That does not sound like someone who thinks the current wave is going to keep cresting. He knows that some of this is fortune.

But since luck is all they have to count on, and since this year had been treated like an extended mulligan from the jump, I'll take it. I suspect Robidas will as well.

However it turns out, this team has at least proved that while it may not be one of the NHL's bully boys, it has the wherewithal to keep swinging as its going down. And maybe - just maybe - the Leafs can do a good deal more.

Follow me on Twitter:@cathalkelly

Associated Graphic

James van Riemsdyk celebrates after scoring late in the third period to tie the game at three. The Leafs won in a shootout.

NATHAN DENETTE/THE CANADIAN PRESS

'THE GREATEST OTTAWA SENATOR OF ALL TIME'
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Daniel Alfredsson calls it a career in a remarkable day of wall-to-wall Alfie in Ottawa. The former Senators captain was overwhelmed by the adulation, calling it surreal
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By ROY MACGREGOR
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Friday, December 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


OTTAWA -- rmacgregor@globeandmail.com

Fire the ovens. Hockey players have been bronzed and honoured in Edmonton and Los Angeles (Wayne Gretzky), Boston (Bobby Orr), Detroit (Gordie Howe), Pittsburgh (Mario Lemieux) and Montreal (Howie Morenz, Rocket Richard, Jean Béliveau, Guy Lafleur).

All good Canadians, so far, who played the Canadian game at the highest possible level and came to personify the cities in which they played.

Strangely, though there are statues all over the City of Ottawa, none is of a hockey player, though a bronzed Rocket Richard can be found across the river in Gatineau and a statue is in the works to honour Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor-General who gave the Cup that mysteriously vanished from Canada almost 22 years ago.

It is hardly as if Ottawa has lacked for hockey gods. "OneEyed" Frank McGee once scored 14 goals in a single Stanley Cup game and was later killed in action in the Great War.

"King" Clancy once played all six positions - including goal - in a Stanley Cup match, guarding the net while goalie Clint Benedict served a penalty and finishing the game with a perfect 0.00 goals-against average and 1.000 save percentage.

But last night in Ottawa, the Canadian Tire Centre scoreboard called Daniel Alfredsson "the greatest Ottawa Senator of all time" - and there wasn't a dissenting voice in the sellout crowd that came to welcome the Swedish prodigal son home.

It was a remarkable day of wall-to-wall "Alfie" - radio and television filled with tributes, a morning news conference and a photo-op signing of a one-day contract so that Alfredsson could retire from hockey as an Ottawa Senator rather than the team he switched to in 2013, the Detroit Red Wings.

The media gave him a standing ovation at the presser; radio hosts interviewed every player who had ever touched a puck in his vicinity; his story led off the television newscasts; and the cheers during the warm-up, when the 41-year-old former Ottawa captain scored on the first "rush," were, as expected, the greatest cheers of the night.

It was a day on which they could have renamed the airport Daniel Alfredsson International, when the Ottawa River could have become Alfredsson Creek, when the road to Toronto could have been changed to Hwy. 11 - if only to jab the scab that Daniel Alfredsson will always be in the Toronto sports memory.

He went undrafted as a kid playing in Sweden, eventually plucked in the sixth round by the Senators as a 22-year-old no one expected to make the team. But he was, by far, the best player at the 1995 camp and could not be denied.

He was the NHL's rookie of the year in a season he almost bailed from, so dysfunctional was the team as managers changed, coaches were fired and a new rink opened. But it all began to change with him.

He stuck it out, playing 17 of his 18 NHL seasons in Ottawa, 13 as captain, and taking the Senators to the Stanley Cup final in 2007. In the summer of 2013, unable to come to financial terms with the team he had once rewarded by playing for a fraction of what he might have commanded, he left for Detroit and one last chance of a Cup. It was not to be. Eventually, back problems convinced the head that it was time to move on.

There was bad blood, but it dried and was entirely gone Thursday by the time Alfredsson, his wife, Bibbi, and their sons Hugo, Loui, Fenix and William took to centre ice for the anthems prior to Ottawa's match against the New York Islanders.

As in olden times, the fans chanted "Alfie! Alfie! Alfie!" and chanted it all again each time the clock struck the 11-minute mark of a period.

Alfredsson took one last spin of the ice in full uniform, the "C" once again over his heart and, as he had predicted, tears rolling.

"It was tough," he said when the tribute was over.

"It's so overwhelming that it's hard to comprehend almost. It gives you goosebumps and it makes me extremely nervous." He felt he had botched his memorized speech and left out things he wanted to say, but in reality it was less about him speaking to a city than a city speaking to him. They wanted to thank him for his hockey, for his dedicated work on mental illness. They want him back home. The family wants to come home. The team wants him back in any role he might wish.

"It's up to him where he wants to be," owner Eugene Melnyk said.

"I didn't expect my retirement would be this big a deal," Alfredsson said.

"The way I've been welcomed back has been almost surreal."

Surreal, too, during the warmup when, briefly, a curious thought passed through his head.

"I couldn't have played," he said. "I'm not in good enough shape. But I skated a couple of laps and you feel like, 'Maybe a few shifts.' " The Senators, struggling of late, might well use him, yet he leaves the NHL with better numbers than any player who was taken in the draft year in which he was ignored: 444 goals, 713 assists in 1,246 NHL games. He played in five Olympics, winning gold in Turin in 2006.

Talk will now turn to the Hall of Fame and whether those numbers are good enough - though a larger block may well turn out to be unforgiveness in Toronto, home of the Hall, for the various transgressions he is felt to have committed against the Leafs in long ago Battles of Ontario.

No matter. In Ottawa he requires no Hall, no statue.

"You made your town our town," he told them for himself and for his family.

"Thank you. À bientôt." Same to you, said the cheers.

Follow me on Twitter:@RoyMacG

Associated Graphic

Daniel Alfredsson acknowledges fans as he takes part in the warm-up skate before the Senators played the New York Islanders in Ottawa on Thursday night.

FRED CHARTRAND/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Former captain Daniel Alfredsson skates by Senators players as he takes to the ice for the warmup Thursday. The Senators were beaten by the New York Islanders 2-1.

FRED CHARTRAND/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Test your holiday nutrition smarts
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By LESLIE BECK
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L7


The holidays are a time to indulge in shortbread cookies, bite-size hors d'oeuvres, turkey stuffing and perhaps an eggnog or two. But they needn't steer your healthy eating habits completely off course. With a little know-how and a game plan, it is possible (honest) to survive the festive season with nutrition in mind - and without expanding your waistline.

To sharpen your healthy eating skills this holiday season - and to pick foods with the best overall nutrition value - take a few minutes to complete my nutrition-IQ quiz. Then, score your answers.

1. The average person gains five pounds during the holiday season? True or False?

False. In truth, holiday weight gain is minimal. Research has revealed that healthy-weight individuals gain only one pound over the holidays. People who are overweight, on the other hand, can gain five pounds or more. Despite an average weight gain of one pound, the problem is that most people don't take it off in the New Year. That extra pound accumulates year after year. Bottom line: Your eating habits January through November matter the most when it comes to managing weight.

2. Nuts are a healthy cocktail snack, but which type delivers disease-fighting omega-3 fatty acids?

a) Peanuts b) Walnuts c) Almonds d) Cashews

Answer: b. While all types of nuts are nutritious, only walnuts contain alpha linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fat linked to protection from cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes (flax and chia seeds are also good sources). One ounce of walnuts (14 halves) serves up 2.5 grams of ALA; women require 1.1 g each day; men need 1.6.

3. Which glass of holiday cheer delivers the fewest calories?

a) Light beer b) Pomegranate martini c) Mulled wine d) Champagne

Answer: d. If you're counting calories, choose bubbly. A fourounce serving will cost you only 78 calories. The highest calorie choice is the pomegranate martini (vodka, cranberry juice, orange liqueur) serving up 185 calories. Mulled wine (5 ounces) made with sugar and spices has 150 calories and light beer (12 ounces) serves up 95.

4. Turkey, rich in an amino acid called tryptophan, causes postmeal drowsiness. True or False?

Answer: False. It's true that tryptophan in turkey (and chicken) is used to make serotonin, a brain chemical that facilitates sleep and improves mood. But to achieve its relaxing effects, tryptophan would have to be consumed alone and on an empty stomach. Dozing off after a big holiday meal is more likely due to overeating and, if you've imbibed, the sedating effect of alcohol.

5. At what temperature is your stuffed holiday turkey considered safe to eat?

a) 63°C (145°F) b) 71°C (160°F) c) 80°C (175°F) d) 82°C (180°F)

Answer: d. 82°C (180°F). Use a digital meat thermometer and cook your turkey until the temperature at the thickest part of the breast or thigh is at least 82°C (180°F). To kill harmful bacteria, turkey should be roasted at or above 177°C (350°F). It's not recommended that poultry be partly cooked one day and finished the next.

6. Condiments add flavour to holiday meals. Which one is the best source of antioxidants?

a) Grainy mustard b) Cranberry sauce c) Horseradish d) Applesauce

Answer: b. Cranberry sauce rules thanks to its impressive content of anthocyanins, potent antioxidants thought to guard against urinary tract infections, gum disease, ulcers and, possibly, heart disease. Applesauce comes in second due to quercetin, an antioxidant with potential anti-cancer properties. (Raw apples have more quercetin.)

7. If you want to save plenty of calories, forgo the gravy on your turkey and mashed potatoes. True or False?

Answer: False. Gravy is not the calorie-buster many people think it is delivering, surprisingly, only 8 calories per tablespoon. That's insignificant compared to the butter basted on turkey, whipped into mashed potatoes and added to stuffing (120 calories per tablespoon). To save meaningful calories, replace butter (and cream) in mashed potatoes with plain yogurt or sour cream and moisten stuffing with sodium-reduced chicken stock.

8. Your holiday meal leftovers can be safely refrigerated for:

a) 1 week b) 3 days c) 5 days d) 2 weeks

Answer: b) To ensure safeness and best quality, refrigerated leftovers such as turkey, potatoes, vegetables and stuffing should be consumed within three to four days. (Store gravy for one to two days.) Reheat leftover turkey to a temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) and gravy and soup to a rolling boil.

9. If you're going to indulge your sweet tooth, which holiday treat is the lowest in calories?

a) Pecan pie, 1 slice (1/8 of a pie) b) Traditional fruitcake, 1 slice (1/12 of a 7" cake) c) Pumpkin pie with whipped cream, 1 slice (1/8 of a pie) d) Mincemeat pie, 1 slice (1/8 of a pie)

Answer: c. Pumpkin pie, even topped with whipped cream, comes out the winner at 348 calories (316 calories without whipped cream). It also serves up calcium, potassium and nearly a full day's worth of vitamin A.

Fruitcake is a close runner-up at 366 calories; it's also a good source of iron and potassium thanks to dried fruit. A slice of mincemeat and pecan pie clocks in at 477 and 503 calories, respectively. Ouch.

10. If you want to get fitter and healthier in 2015, it's best to make a New Year's resolution. True or False?

Answer: True. Research suggests that people who make resolutions to get fitter are 10 times more likely to make it happen, at least in the short term, than those who simply wish to change their habits. Now is the time to make specific, realistic and timeframed goals to improve your diet and exercise habits in 2015.

WHAT'S YOUR SCORE

Add up your correct responses to see how you scored.

9-10: I'm impressed. You score an A+

7-8: Not bad. Review your answers to see what you need to brush up on.

6 or less: Homework required.

Consider consulting a dietitian in 2015.

Leslie Beck, a registered dietitian, is based at the Medisys clinic in Toronto. She is a regular contributor to CTV News Channel.

Associated Graphic

ISTOCKPHOTO

I returned to a place I'd rather not go
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A year ago, I died while running a half-marathon. But I remembered almost nothing about it
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By TED GULOIEN
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Monday, December 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L8


On Nov. 3, I drove to Hamilton's beautiful Confederation Park to locate the spot where I died. Much like the weather on that day one year ago, it was sunny and crisp when I visited, with enough wind to rustle the leaves and make my eyes water. But unlike a year prior, when it was crowded with enthusiastic runners and cheering spectators, the park was now deserted, with only a small crew cleaning up from the half-marathon held the day before. Apart from a cyclist or two, and a few people walking, I was alone on the paved trail by the water's edge.

A year earlier, my daughter Sydney and I had been racing from the top of the Niagara Escarpment down to this spot on the shores of Lake Ontario, in the Road2Hope half-marathon. Sydney pulled away quickly, quietly determined not to allow me to finish before her again, as I had in our two previous races. I felt fine about that; I'd been focusing on cycling that fall, having completed a 140-kilometre GranFondo at an average speed of 30 km/h and cycled to the top of Mont Ventoux, a tortuous part of the Tour de France. I could see Sydney's pink running jacket well ahead, as I surveyed the runners in front of me. The panoramic view of the lake with the trail of runners was stunning.

About 200 metres from the finish line, I stumbled and collapsed face down on the pavement. After I failed to respond, a spectator rolled me over. I had stopped breathing and was without a pulse. The spectator and a very pregnant nurse practitioner started CPR and were soon joined by St. John Ambulance volunteers and race medical personnel with an AED (defibrillator). Those involved estimate they performed CPR for at least 15 minutes. There was a faint pulse when I was loaded into the ambulance and taken to Hamilton General Hospital, where I was put into a medically induced coma for two days. All this I found out after the event.

Standing over the spot where I fell, I tried to summon memories of that day. I remember very clearly running down Red Hill Expressway toward the lake, crossing the orange pedestrian bridge over the QEW and along the footpath. I remember the crunch of the gravel on parts of the footpath and running beside two women, the older of which appeared to be coaching and trying to motivate the protesting younger one to keep going. I remember thinking how good it felt to be outside and running, and that's it. The next thing I recall was waking up two days later in a bright hospital room to the tired and worried faces of my wife and children.

It didn't seem familiar, the spot on the path. It didn't feel like I'd ever been there before. From where I stood, I could see the medical tent from the previous day's running events being taken down, 100 or so metres away, just over a small rise. But no memories of my own event or what happened before it came rushing, or even trickling, back. Whatever thoughts I'd been thinking, things I'd seen or felt at this point in the race, were gone.

Given the nature of what had happened there a year ago, I felt a surprising lack of any emotion as I stood over the spot on the path. But it is a very pretty and peaceful spot.

According to data from the GPS watch I was wearing that day, I had my cardiac arrest where the path curves gently toward the lake, just before the final straight 300-metre stretch of the course. I would surely have realized how close I was to the finish line and would have started my finishing sprint. The data on my watch indicated my pace did increase just before this spot, as did my heart rate - the latter more dramatically than the former - jumping to 165 beats a minute and then suddenly to zero. But I have no memory of this, of being at this particular spot or of feeling anything but the joy of racing.

If my misadventure last year in Hamilton was a message, I'm unclear what it is. I'd been diagnosed with arteriosclerosis six months earlier, just weeks before my 60th birthday, and was religiously taking my meds. I'd been advised to keep running, as the health benefits of exercise outweigh the potential risks, in my case an estimated 3 per cent probability of an adverse heart event. I had been running and cycling all summer and, just days before the event, checked in with my cardiologist about running the halfmarathon. What happened to me surprised us all.

One consequence of the experience is I don't fear death or, more precisely, being dead. I did hesitate when presented with the Do Not Resuscitate option on a liability waiver I was expected to sign, prior to a stress test at Toronto Rehab. If I had a cardiac arrest on the treadmill, I didn't think I had the psychological strength to go through this again. Not wanting to provoke the attention of the staff, I signed the form. Once back home, alone and away from the distractions of hospital life, my thoughts and feelings had me on a roller-coaster ride, fuelled by a powerful sense of loss. My heart recovered faster than I did.

As I left the spot by the lake and walked back to the car, I received an e-mail from one of my running partners in Toronto, with a link to CBC News: Hamilton Road2Hope Marathon Runner Dies after Collapsing. He was 56 years old and fell just a few metres from the finish line of the half-marathon.

He'd made it further than I had a year ago. Remembering those faces staring at me when I awoke from my coma, I felt very sad for his family.

With the car windows shut tight against the wind, and watery eyes, I headed back to Toronto.

Ted Guloien lives in Toronto.

Submissions: facts@globeandmail.com

We want your personal stories. See the guidelines on our website tgam.ca/essayguide

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STEVEN HUGHES FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

The worldliness of Islam
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The Lost Dhow, showing at the Aga Khan Museum, explores the robust system of trade between the Muslim Abbasids and China
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By JAMES ADAMS
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R4


Hear the word "Islam" these days and, for many, visions of beheadings, demagogic mullahs, hollow-eyed refugees and guntoting jihadis are almost sure to follow. While hardly fair or truthful, this mental slide show is nevertheless an understandable result of the way Islam, or at least acts perpetrated by some in the name of Islam, is portrayed via the 24/7 news cycle.

It was something of a balm, then, to visit the recently opened Aga Khan Museum in North Toronto the other day for a tour of its newest exhibition. The Lost Dhow: A Discovery from the Maritime Silk Route presents more than 300 artifacts from a cache of more than 50,000 recovered in 1998 from the remains of a ninthcentury Arab dhow found at the bottom of the Java Sea. The discovery, initially made by two divers looking for sea cucumbers near Indonesia's Belitung Island, prompted international headlines. It provided both the earliest and the most substantial physical evidence of a robust system of trade between the Muslim Abbasids, whose empire included parts of Iraq, Iran, Egypt and central Asia, and China's Tang dynasty, whose reach stretched from China to Iran.

The artifacts in the show - all from the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore, which holds the full dhow cargo - are compelling, often beautiful, their almost pristine condition due to the anaerobic conditions created by the silt covering the wreck site. But what's also edifying is the subtext underpinning all the bowls, vases, copper-alloy mirrors, cups and boxes: that of an outgoing, confident religion-culture actively engaged with the world, shaping and being shaped in turn, sharing ideas and technology as well as things.

"This isn't stuff being shipped across the world on spec; this is stuff being made specifically for exchange and sale ... for both mass-consumption and specialty taste," notes John Vollmer, the New York-based guest curator of the exhibition. "This stuff makes it very clear that communication was occurring at a very sophisticated level." (A round-trip by sea back then could take as many as three years.)

"This exhibit," he adds, "reminded me of a thing I learned in university [Harvard and University of Toronto]: When the Abbasid Empire was established [after 750], the caliph built the [House of Wisdom] in Baghdad, gathering all the written literature of the world, translating it into Arabic. We wouldn't have Aristotle, we wouldn't have Plato, without that."

The vast majority of the artifacts recovered from the shipwreck were of Chinese origin, proof that the dhow was sailing back to the Persian Gulf, perhaps to Siraf or Basra, with likely stopovers en route to trade in ports in the Kingdom of Srivijaya and southern India. The dhow was not large - the Aga Khan Museum has helpfully traced its shape and size, 15 metres long by six wide, on the gallery floor - but its cargo was huge, filling every nook and cranny, weighing more than 20 tonnes. Included in the exhibition are several of the huge jars that, when opened, were discovered to contain more than 50,000 Changsha bowls, named after the kilns in Hunan where they were produced.

The Aga Khan Museum displays about 130 or so of these small bowls, which, though handmade, clearly demonstrate the Chinese were adept at mass production centuries ago. What's also fascinating is how creators would occasionally personalize their wares: One bowl, for example, is embellished with a cartoon of the head of an Arabic male, complete with beard and curly hair; another has Chinese characters providing a brief autobiography of the artisan; yet another's calligraphy turns out to be a poem.

Also included in the show are three dishes with blue flourishes on their glazed white surfaces. They're significant for two reasons - as early, fully intact examples of now-common Chinese blue-and-white ware, and as markers of Chinese-Islam interaction 1,200 years ago. The use of blue on white ceramics originated, in fact, with Iraqi potters importing cobalt from Iran. These artisans, it's believed, had learned techniques in pigmentation, glazing and firing from their Chinese counterparts, while the Chinese later experimented with raw cobalt shipped from the Middle East to get the blue effect on their porcelains, sometimes emulating Arabic motifs.

The Aga Khan show has bling, of course, including eight wonderfully preserved silver boxes, their covers festooned with lyrical images of deer, birds, bees and ibexes. These likely were used to hold cosmetics, incense, rare spices, perhaps medicines. Most spectacularly, there is a large, octagonal-shaped cup made from one pound of pure gold, its exterior chased with reliefs of Chinese dancers and musicians.

The exhibition's signature piece is a bulbous ewer - roughly a metre in height, it's the largest ceramic recovered from the Belitung wreck. It certainly looks great, especially the green dragon head that forms its lid and spout.

But how functional is it? Not very, according to Vollmer: "You'd need a very tall servant to make it work."

More charming is a smaller, green-splashed ewer, this one about 30 centimetres high. Two elements account for its appeal: the handle, which is shaped like a lion, its jaw and paws clamped to the ewer's rim; and the spout, a cartoonish dragon head. Equally charming - indeed, charm is its sole function, unless it was used as a paperweight - is a novelty figurine of an Akita or chow chow, its tail like a comma, the face the soul of friendliness.

The Lost Dhow is a calm, quiet show that encourages an engagement at once relaxed and attentive. It's about "the testament of the object" and another demonstration of this still-young museum's determination to educate audiences in the aesthetics and worldliness of Islam.

The Lost Dhow: A Discovery from the Maritime Silk Route has its North American premiere Saturday at the Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr., Toronto, and runs through Apr. 26, 2015.

Associated Graphic

Left: This green-splashed ewer features a handle shaped like a lion and a cartoonish dragon head for a spout.

Centre: This octagonal-shaped cup, made from one pound of pure gold, depicts Chinese dancers and musicians.

Right: This ewer, the largest ceramic recovered from the wreck, features a green dragon head for its lid and spout.

'Little can be done to rescue my ego...'
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R21


Joseph Kertes is the founder of the comedy and creative writing programs at Humber College, where he currently serves as Dean of Creative and Performing Arts. His novels include Winter Tulips, winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour; Gratitude, winner of the Canadian National Jewish Book Award; and The Afterlife of Stars, which was recently published by Penguin Canada.

Why did you write your new book?

Because I have a day job, I have the luxury of writing only those books that foist themselves upon me. But with The Afterlife of Stars, this phenomenon took on new meaning. I was inspired to write a novel about my family's own escape from Hungary when I was not yet five. I had vivid and traumatic memories of seeing Hungarian soldiers hanging from lampposts and of one in particular who seemed to be looking straight at me, though his eyes were no longer taking in the light, and of running by night across a minefield to freedom in Austria. In my novel, I doubled the age of the two brothers, so that they could make more sense of the world for me, more sense of displacement, of leaving a life behind, and then something magical happened. The book wrote itself almost entirely. My two protagonists commandeered the plot away from me. I had to run after them to see where they were going and overhear what they were saying. I could barely keep up with them. And when the book took a surprising turn, one I hadn't anticipated, it surprised me most. It was a transcendent experience.

Whose sentences are your favourite, and why?

When you read the sentences of Alice Munro, they seem lifted straight out of real life. There isn't a false note, as if the sentences were still warm from the oven or found just over there by a stone on a night walk, or heard on a breeze. But I love many writers' sentences. I so admire the lyrical sentences of Charles Frazier (in Cold Mountain) and the propulsion and inevitability of the sentences of Philip Roth as they hurtle forward (Sabbath's Theater and American Pastoral). Nothing can stop those sentences.

What's the best advice you've ever received?

The great Tim O'Brien once said, "You have to tell the truth in fiction, even if you have to lie." In other words, you need to create a world big enough or dark enough to accommodate the profound truths you're trying to uncover. As I said, I didn't write The Afterlife of Stars until it was ready to write itself. (I believe Mark Twain said that of his masterpiece, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.) I had scant memories to go on of our flight from the old world to the new, so I had to "make up" a world dark enough, miraculous enough and alive enough to convey the feelings we all felt - my brother, my parents, my grandmother. We were going through a terrible yet wonderful time, so I used a boy narrator to capture the horror and wonder both.

Which historical period do you wish you'd lived through, and why?

Fin de siècle Paris. There were hugely exciting works of art being made as the age of individualism, nationalism and imperialism began to decline. It would have been exciting (yet worrisome) to see the 20th century looming - although who could have known? I think what was most surprising and shocking was that some of the great cultures could implode and become the perpetrators of some of the greatest horrors we have ever experienced.

Would you rather be successful during your lifetime and then forgotten, or legendary after death?

My insecurity is so vast and deep that it will spill over into the next few lifetimes. Little can be done to rescue my ego in this lifetime.

What agreed-upon classic do you despise?

"Despise" is a strong word, but recently I reread Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence, all of it, every word. I couldn't believe how wind-baggy it was. You wanted to take D.H. by the throat and make him be quiet or at least quieter. Too much, D. Too much. No publisher would touch that book today.

Which fictional character do you wish you'd created?

I wish I'd created Huck Finn. Since I met him way back when, I've been trying to recreate the essence of that beautiful boy with his innocent and hopeful outlook and the stunning code of conduct he invented for himself. He is Twain's very best creation because he is Twain's truest spokesman - or spokesboy. It was telling when Huck Finn, after a long journey up the Mississippi with a runaway slave, once again encounters his pal Tom Sawyer, who is still locked in childhood and wants to play childish games. By then Huck has turned the morality of his age on its ear - he will not betray Jim, the runaway slave - so Huck seems the wise old man beside his friend Tom. I actually have someone in The Afterlife of Stars present my two protagonists with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because the contrast between my two boys, Robert and Attila, is much like the contrast between Huck and Tom.

Which fictional character do you wish you were?

Holden Caulfield. I wish I could point to the people in my life and say who is phony and who is genuine and sincere, and yet, in the end, miss them all and love them all equally. (Hmmm...is he the 20th century's answer to Huck Finn?)

What question do you wish people would ask about your work (that they don't ask)?

I wish people would ask what parts of my story were made up rather than the other way around - what parts are based on my own experience. Writers use real people only as inspirations for fictional ones. Then fictional characters live their own lives. Their experiences have their own trajectory, quite apart from the writer's experiences. What writers want you to do is marvel at the richness of their imaginations. See above: their egos are puny and frail.

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TONIA COWAN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

PM denies sending China mixed signals
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Harper says his government's policy isn't just to get along well but to have the best relationship that is in Canadians' interests
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By STEVEN CHASE
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Thursday, December 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A4


OTTAWA -- Stephen Harper says he is not interested in merely pleasing China, and in cases where his government has discouraged Chinese investment in this country - an acquisition of Blackberry, takeovers in the oil sands or the use of telecom giant Huawei's equipment in core networks - he is acting to safeguard what is best for Canada.

He rejects the suggestion Ottawa is sending conflicting signals to China, Canada's second-largest trading partner, by signing investment agreements with Beijing and mounting trade missions but also blocking or warding off some Chinese business interests.

"First of all, let's be clear what the government's objective is. These are not mixed signals, as you put it. They are carefully calibrated decisions with an objective in mind," Mr. Harper said in an end-of-year interview.

"The objective is not to have the best possible relationship we can have with China in terms of getting along," he said.

"Our policy is not just to get along as well as possible. Our policy is to have the best relationship that is in Canadians' interests," the Prime Minister said.

Mr. Harper - who has alternated between being a hawk on China and not selling out to "the almighty dollar" and being a pragmatist seeking deeper economic ties - has struggled to find the right balance in this crucial trading relationship.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Globe and Mail this week at his Langevin Block office, Mr. Harper, dressed in a dark suit and occasionally resting one foot on a coffee table, spoke about his rebuke of Russian President Vladimir Putin at November's G20 meeting, his government's success at balancing Ottawa's books and stewarding the economy, as well as about its ethics record and his opposition to a federal inquiry on missing and murdered aboriginal women.

The Prime Minister said serious challenges in the Canada-China relationship cannot be ignored.

China, a nation of 1.4 billion people, is now a major economic player that can exert a stabilizing role in world affairs. Canada can benefit as long as it asserts itself.

"We have to go in eyes wide open, and we have to stand up for ourselves."

But Beijing could also be a security threat to Canada. Last summer, Ottawa said Chinese state-sponsored hackers had broken into federal government computers.

"We know that on a level of values, democratic values, on a level of security threats and interests, there are some very real challenges in this relationship," Mr. Harper said. "And those challenges cannot just be pretended away." Mr. Harper, who visited China briefly in November, was asked about instances when Chinese companies have been rebuffed.

In 2013, Ottawa told Blackberry it would not accept a takeover by China's Lenovo because of national security concerns. In 2012, Mr. Harper banned foreign state-owned firms from buying oil sands companies, a measure aimed at China, and in 2013, Ottawa sent signals that it did not want technology from Beijingbased Huawei, founded by a former People's Liberation Army member, used in the government's telecommunications and e-mail network or used in transmitting government messages.

"Some of the things you've mentioned we're not pursuing because they are frankly not in Canada's interests," Mr. Harper said.

Mr. Harper said China's restrictions on foreign investment still outweigh the limits Ottawa has placed on China.

He said he thinks the Chinese appreciate Canada for asserting itself.

"Far from being bewildered and seeing mixed signals [in] this, I think they get it fully and I think they respect us a lot more for standing up for ourselves in this relationship."

Mr. Harper, the most vocal hawk among Group of Seven leaders on Russia's annexation of Crimea, said he really had no choice on how to handle a chance encounter with Mr. Putin at a Group of 20 meeting in Australia last month.

He told Mr. Putin to "get out of Ukraine" - a remark that made headlines around the world.

"What else am I supposed to say? 'How about those Capitals?

How about those Leafs?' "Mr. Harper said.

"I mean, seriously. This is a move of enormous global destabilization," he said.

Mr. Harper, in his ninth year in office and seeking re-election in 2015, insists his government will balance Ottawa's books and run a surplus next year despite falling oil prices. He touts new tax cuts and benefits of $4.6-billion a year for families among his government's achievements, and says he wants to remain prime minister to preserve Canada's relatively strong economic position and reap the fruits of trade deals signed on his watch.

"What we want to do is consolidate the gains we've made as a country over the past few years.

... A decade-plus ago, we were at best in the middle of the pack when global times were pretty good. Now, we've been through challenging times and we have come out of that leading the pack. And I believe the new approach we've taken has a lot to do with that."

The Prime Minister played down political scandals, saying the record of misdeeds or alleged wrongdoing is relatively thin given the Tories took office more than eight years ago. MP Dean Del Mastro was found guilty of Elections Act breaches this year and has resigned. Former Tory staffer Michael Sona was convicted in the Guelph robocalls scandal, and one-time Prime Minister's Office adviser Bruce Carson will face a trial in 2015 on influence peddling charges. Harper Senate appointee Mike Duffy will go to trial on fraud and breach of trust charges next spring.

"I am not trying to make excuses. We don't want these things to happen. But they are pretty small and they are almost all about individuals and about individuals doing things wrong. And in some cases, like the Carson example you mentioned, frankly [has] nothing to do with the government of Canada itself. We have put in place very strict rules. We have enforced those rules when there have been violations," he said.

Associated Graphic

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, seen in his Ottawa office on Monday, says serious challenges in the Canada-China relationship cannot be ignored.

DAVE CHAN FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Awed by rare sight of a group of leopards
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By STEPHANIE PLENTL
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Special to The Globe and Mail
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L6


JAWAI, INDIA -- 'Expect the unexpected," I'm told as we approach a sacred mound in the rural Jawai region of Rajasthan, in western India.

It's 6 a.m. and the hill's chunks of rock glow peach-coloured under the rising sun. A Hindu mantra blares from a nearby temple, part of a daily ritual of respect for this mysterious land. There's an undeniable aura about the place, but I've been drawn by something more tangible: leopards.

Here on this hill, at least 11 leopards - a notoriously lone species - are living together in unusual harmony. I'm with Adam Bannister, a big-cat expert from South Africa, who is part of a pioneering team at Jawai Leopard Camp, located about halfway between Jodphur and Udaipur. The team is dedicated to conserving this rare phenomenon across several hills in the Jawai region. Not only does Bannister believe that this hill offers the densest population of leopards in the world, but it is also located beside a thriving village.

People and leopards are not traditional neighbours.

A leopard appears on the hill crest, lazy after a night hunting among the fields of sesame and wheat. Bannister recognizes him as Chacha Kaan, a young male well-known to the team at Jawai. Like all leopards in this area, he's unperturbed by our presence, or that of the priest who lives in the tiny temple on the hill slope.

As the workday begins for nearby farmers, Chacha Kaan retreats to his sanctuary: private land belonging to an owner sympathetic to the cats that have claimed it. Moments later, with our binoculars and cameras trained on his sleek silhouette, Chacha Kaan elegantly leaps from view. It's a brief but thrilling encounter.

Leopards are at risk across Asia, whether from hunters after their coats or those trying to control attacks on livestock. But in Jawai, the community itself set up a council to protect the leopards.

Rabari herdsmen - distinguished by their magnificent scarlet turbans - shepherd their cattle to fields by day and shelter them at night, although if any animal left behind is hunted by an opportunistic leopard, the government may compensate the owner.

Villagers have a fierce respect for the leopards that roam the area; the cats are seen as guardians of its sacred hills (the last recorded attack on a human here was 154 years ago). Women in colourful saris walk along the dusty lanes balancing bundles of greenery on their heads, curious boys peer down at us as they play on the granite mounds - all absolutely at ease with their proximity to the big cats.

After our sunrise drive, we're greeted at the gates of Jawai Leopard Camp with refreshing cordials made with crushed rose petals. The eight-hectare ecocamp, which opened December, 2013, is part of the Sujan collection of luxury tented properties in India and Kenya. Boasting not only 24 leopards recorded within a 15-minute drive, the camp's idyllic setting is soul-stirring. By mid-September, the monsoon season transforms the normally dry scrub into a lush landscape awash with wildflowers. The land is peppered with enormous granite boulders and teems with peacocks, grey langur monkeys and mongoose.

That evening, it's a short ride to Dev Giri hill, where a leopard kill occurred the previous night.

Perched on the slope is a white temple, where Bannister once came upon a leopard napping on the steps. Soon we catch sight of the region's dominant male leopard, Nag Vasi. He pads out from under a rock - blue eyes blazing - as I try to capture him with one of the Nikon P600 cameras that Jawai lends its guests. The 80kilogram cat slips into a cave, into which he had dragged a 120kg cow to feed upon.

Still awed by the sight, we return to camp and find it transformed into a galaxy of tiny lights - its pathways and trees studded with more than 200 gas lamps.

Beyond the very likely chance of glimpsing a leopard, the Jawai region holds several other aces.

You can hike or cycle along Jawai Bandh Lake, spotting crocodiles, flamingos and migratory birds, or explore the ancient Ranakpur Temple or formidable Kumbhalgarh Fort, both about an hour's drive from the leopard camp.

But perhaps its most ravishing sight is what Bannister calls the Silent Valley, a stretch of rocky undulations that is an offshoot of the Aravalli Range. We stopped there during an evening drive, transfixed by a sinking persimmon sun. The blushing scenery had an otherworldly quality that rooted us to the spot - a magnetism to the land that we, in that moment, shared with the villagers and leopards.

The writer was a guest of Original Travel and Jawai Leopard Camp, neither of which reviewed or approved this article.

IF YOU GO

Jawai, in the state of Rajasthan in western India, is about three hours by car from both Udaipur and Jodhpur airports. Jet Airways connects those airports to Delhi and Mumbai and onward to Canada. jetairways.com

GETTING AROUND

Original Travel creates bespoke itineraries that include hassle-free transfers; you'll need their experienced drivers to negotiate the unconventional driving conditions (think cows, goats and cars coming the wrong way). 1-800965-1937; originaltravel.co.uk

WHAT TO SEE

Jawai Bandh Lake: Spot birds, crocodiles and flamingos while hiking or cycling along the edge of this reservoir.

Kumbhalgarh Fort: A UNESCO World Heritage site, this enormous 15th-century fortress lies at the end of the world's second-longest wall (an impressive 36-km stretch).

WHERE TO STAY

Jawai Leopard Camp: A tent for two costs about $940 per night including twice-daily game drives, meals, soft drinks, house wine, beer and laundry. The camp is open September to May. sujanluxury.com

Raas Hotel: In Jodhpur, this boutique design hotel offers spectacular views of the colossal Mehrangarh Fort - particularly vivid during cocktail hour from the rooftop bar. From $375. raasjodhpur.com

Taj Lake Palace: For an overnight stay in Udaipur, nothing beats this elegant oasis floating on Lake Pichola, renowned as a location for the Bond film Octopussy. From $650 per night. tajhotels.com

Associated Graphic

Leopards are at risk across Asia. But in Jawai, the community has set up a council to protect them.

STEPHANIE PLENTL

More than Main Street
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David Pay's performance series helped usher in a casual scene in which to experience classical music, with wine - or beer - in hand
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By MARSHA LEDERMAN
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Friday, December 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


mlederman@globeandmail.com

Every Friday in Globe B.C., we interview someone who is doing something notable in the arts in this province. For the final Culture Q&A of 2014, I wanted to talk to someone who does great work in the arts all year but remains a bit of an unsung hero.

There are a lot of people who fit this bill, but I immediately thought of David Pay.

His innovative Music on Main series, which he launched in 2006, does much to animate Vancouver's arts scene, and thus the city as a whole - well beyond Main Street.

Mr. Pay was in the middle of a big move this week - Music on Main is moving with three other arts organizations into a new cultural space in the CBC building.

But he found some time to speak with The Globe and Mail.

How did Music on Main get started?

Back in 2006, I was hanging out on Main Street quite a bit, seeing people who were engaging in interesting literature and visual art and we'd go to cool theatre and cinema, but there wasn't really a lot of musical offerings. So I started off with a series at Heritage Hall. We launched on Steve Reich's 70th birthday. The idea that year was to be a bit modest: to do four concerts and see how it goes. But then we started doing concerts at The Cellar. And that first year, instead of doing four concerts we ended up doing 28. I look back at how the ecology has changed in eight years.

9 It was really novel that you could sit with a glass of wine and listen to a Beethoven sonata; that you could grab a beer and hear some new music. Since then, clubs have opened up around the world doing classical music in this way. Vancouver was part of the beginning. It has become a big global movement - this informal way of listening to classical music.

With alcohol.

Totally. It's a social lubricant, right? And what's funny is at a Music on Main concert, people don't cough. They've got a glass of wine, they have a sip, they feel relaxed. And I think we had our third cellphone go off recently. Around 250 concerts and we've had three cellphones go off. People are really paying attention.

How would you describe the kind of concerts you aim to mount?

I describe the concerts as classical but most of the world describes them as 'new music.' So that's the aesthetic side of it. But then there's the social side of it. For me, there's an essential quality around the social connection. So using intimate spaces, finding ways to make sure people are really comfortable, where they can connect with each other and the artists.

Because I think that when you feel comfortable that way, you can listen better.

You mentioned The Cellar, which closed earlier this year. What has that meant for Music on Main?

It meant that we lost this wonderful place where we could do weekly events. But we had a chance to experiment with other venues and that's helped us launch our new series coming up in 2015 called Roam that takes us into new venues yet again, with even shorter sets, where there's more opportunity to connect socially. My plan is to reintroduce the weekly series in the fall of 2015.

Your office is no longer on Main Street. How did this move to this new collaborative space come about?

Touchstone Theatre and PuSh Festival three years ago started talking about creating a co-location space with other partners.

They were courting other organizations to see who would be good partners, and they chose DOXA Festival and Music on Main. It was a really rigorous process before they chose us. But the moment they chose us, we became four equal partners.

It's about creating something that will make the city better - rehearsal space in downtown Vancouver where people won't freeze, where actors and dancers won't get hurt from [a substandard] floor, where musicians can actually read their music and be able to hear each other. It's a thrill. We walk around just with our jaws on the floor still.

Has the culture scene here changed much over the past decade? When I moved here from Toronto shortly after you started Music on Main, I was told by some that the scene wasn't very dynamic. I don't believe that's the case at all.

I think it has changed a lot. It's amazing the kind of work that has happened in the last 10 years: the PuSh Festival, Music on Main.

And I think one of the reasons that great stuff happens here is that we are a little bit out of national and international focus.

It means we can try things, we can experiment. Ten years ago, we had different conversations about what was happening in the city.

And today those conversations are old fashioned. They don't happen any more. Actually, one of my most thrilling oh-my-goodness moments: I was in Amsterdam talking to one of the senior people from Lincoln Center. They had just launched a new festival and I asked her what was successful and she said, 'Well one of the things that really works is we do what you do at Music on Main; we make sure everybody has a drink in their hand.' And I thought, oh my God, she knows what's going on at Music on Main. That was one of those little moments where you're like, 'Oh, I have to tell my mum.' I was so honoured and thrilled that people are paying attention to what happens in Vancouver.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Associated Graphic

David Pay, who runs Music on Main, at the group's new offices and studio space in the CBC building still under construction in Vancouver on Thursday.

JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

David Pay, right, says Music on Main's new office space is about 'creating something that will make the city better.'

JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Pushing Pacers aside offers little insight
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With the 17-6 Raptors now evaluating what it takes to really make it, brushing off a bottom feeder only complicates things
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By CATHAL KELLY
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S5


TORONTO -- ckelly@globeandmail.com

Four months ago, the Toronto Raptors were comfortably engaged in future mode.

Team executives knew they'd be good. They felt sure they'd win the Atlantic, and thought they had a decent shot at taking a playoff round. But that was the reasonable limit of their aspiration.

In terms of "windows," they believed their championship slot would open in 2016, with the hoped-for arrival of free agent Kevin Durant. The team's emo mascot, Drake, was out there flirting madly on that front.

In the NBA, tampering is a pervasive, private affair. But Drake is incapable of non-public acts. The league threatened the team. The team shrugged. For the first time ever, it all seemed so fun and simple.

Things are getting complicated now.

The 17-6 Raptors are moving beyond their "Wait, we're really good' moment into the, 'How good are we, really?" stage.

If the answer is, "A whole lot better than we expected," what do they do about that?

That evaluative process is not being helped by the likes of Indiana. The Pacers arrived in Toronto Friday night for a game they mistook for a very confusing practice. Without injured star Paul George, Indiana is a bunch of guys who play NBA basketball but haven't figured out how to play it together.

The Raptors continued to ride their new redoubtables - the surprisingly effective Jonas Valanciunas and the dead-eye shooting of Lou Williams.

Valanciunas has been sporadically excellent this season, but the team's braintrust still doesn't believe he's the sort of centre you can ride through a playoff series.

A team like Chicago would design all their tactics to go through a Valanciunas-sized hole in the Raptors' mid-section.

Williams is in the midst of an unending series of heat checks. In the second quarter, he mishandled a long pass, corralled it, wandered aimlessly into the corner with a man draped all over him and tried a stupid three - just because. Of course, he made it.

Williams could be the first guy to win the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award for playing an entire season of HORSE.

Despite the fact that no starter scored more than 10 points, Toronto bulldozed Indiana 10694.

The Raptors arrived with real questions about their rear guard.

They've been fading toward the bottom of the league in terms of defensive efficiency and rebounding. They held Indiana to 41-percent shooting and outrebounded them 52-39. Is that a significant improvement? Or, put another way, should it be regarded as such, considering the team they managed it against?

It'll go on like this for a while.

The Raptors next five games are against teams with a cumulative record of 24-66.

It's a nice ego boost, but it tends to obscure an honest appraisal of their quality. DeMar DeRozan's absence with a groin tear makes that job even harder.

You know Kyle Lowry is going to be an animal in the playoffs.

Beyond that, you're not sure of much.

Players like Valanciunas and Williams are tending to make this team special right now. They're also confusing the hell out of everything.

Because if you believe that what they're doing is sustainable, than this team is shifting philosophically from a next-year-or-beyond mindset into a we-can-win-rightnow frame.

Waiting for 2016 already seems like a poverty of ambition. The odds of getting Durant fade daily (he's either going to stay in Oklahoma, or end up in Washington - mark it down.)

A player that increasingly intrigues Raptors management is Memphis centre Marc Gasol.

The Spaniard is a free agent this summer. The greatest lack on the Raptors roster is a truly dominant big man. Gasol is a Jungian figure that features prominently in general manager Masai Ujiri's bedside dream diary.

Gasol, 29, has good fiduciary and competitive reasons to stay where he is, but it's still the Western Conference. He might be great for five or six more years and never make it past the second round of the playoffs. Maybe Gasol can be convinced that he should take a free-agent discount in order to ride roughshod over the Eastern Conference for the foreseeable future.

However that pursuit shakes out, you still need to tighten the focus.

The Raptors know their main bigs - Valanciunas, Amir Johnson, Patrick Patterson and James Johnson - are good, but not good enough to go deep. Valanciunas is too fragile; Amir Johnson is fragile in a different way, and James Johnson comes and goes. Only Patterson can be said to fit perfectly in his (limited) role.

So do you go out and overpay for a large, human rental to toughen up that core? Indiana's David West is that sort of player.

So are Sacramento's Reggie Evans or Denver's Timofey Mozgov.

There are a bunch of these sorts of guys in the NBA - second-tier veterans who can add spine to a team that already has finesse.

But those sorts of players are going to cost you - either in expiring contracts that you'd hoped to hold on to in order to provide cap flexibility, or young talent.

There's also the chemistry consideration. You don't often find players like Tyler Hansbrough, ones who are happy plugging away on measly minutes during a contract year. Do you want to replace Hansbrough with someone who might not adjust so neatly to a bit part on a very tight team? Sometimes, an isolated improvement can lead to an aggregate decline.

The safe thing to do is nothing. It's actually a pretty good rule for life as well as basketball. The team's winning and the fanbase is euphoric. Why take chances?

But Ujiri has already proved that he's willing to take calculated risks from a position of strength.

While it's hard to precisely gauge his position, his leverage is practically unlimited.

Follow me on Twitter:@cathalkelly

Associated Graphic

Toronto Raptors centre Jonas Valanciunas, left, eyes the ball next to Indiana Pacers centre Roy Hibbert during their NBA game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Friday.

NATHAN DENETTE/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Meat-of-the-month club's marketing too raw for some
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By JORDANA DIVON
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Special to The Globe and Mail
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Wednesday, December 3, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B5


Each week, we seek expert advice to help a small or medium-sized business overcome a key issue.

When Tim Ray set up an Indiegogo campaign last year to seek funding for Carnivore Club, his meat-of-the-month subscription concept, he knew he'd have to produce a marketing campaign that would stand out from the crowd.

The result, "Man as Vegan," exploited stereotypes for laughs. In the ad, which appeared on the crowd-funding site, a woman in yoga gear prepares a green smoothie in the kitchen as she brags to a friend about how virile her boyfriend has become since she convinced him to go vegan. In another room, the boyfriend mocks her claims while attributing his newfound virility to the Carnivore Club's fancy meats.

Mr. Ray, 34, had recently sold his first e-commerce business, FoodScrooge.com, after a successful stint on Dragon's Den. The Toronto-based entrepreneur had a sense the ad's potential for controversy would generate the attention he desired.

He was right. Despite an initial deluge of negative feedback from those who found the messaging sexist and sophomoric, the commercial resulted in a doubling of his initial fundraising goal, to $22,000 from $10,000.

And while he lost out on some partnership interest, Mr. Ray says he's happy he stuck to his vision. "We had a great opportunity to do a deal with American Express. They loved the product but they ended up backing away because of our controversial marketing."

The bold humour, however, has "really paid off as far as getting us where we are today," he says.

Carnivore Club has 500 regular subscribers who pay $50 a month for a box of cured - and curated - meats including duck breast prosciutto, bison jerky and artisanal cured sausages.

In June, he launched in Britain. But the branding that worked so well in Canada failed to translate there. "The female consumer in the U.K. finds the humour distasteful and sexist." Mr. Ray decided to remove the video from the British website.

In January, Carnivore Club will launch a new marketing campaign created by Canadian advertising giant Bensimon Byrne. The new commercial will "make the old video seem PG-13," he says.

Mr. Ray considered how the raunchy humour in his marketing message might affect sales, but "at the end of the day if we were to whitewash it down we wouldn't draw the attention we do," he concludes.

Mr. Ray is confident the video will have a good reception in North America, but he's unsure how it will affect his already tenuous foothold in the British market. "I have no idea how they're going to react but I suspect the humour will outweigh the derogatory messaging," he says with some optimism.

The experts

Should Carnivore Club stick with its raunchy humour, or embrace a more palatable campaign abroad, if not at home too?

Peter Bolt Senior vice-president and managing partner at the Britain-based digital marketing agency DARE, Toronto

While I'm a big fan of advertising that cuts through, I would challenge Tim that the core to his appeal and success hasn't been from the type of humour, but rather because he has, perhaps inadvertently, hit upon something more fundamental - something along the lines of "man's primal love of meat."

With a real understanding of his brand's "truth" he can use this as the basis of his positioning to extend the brand to other markets. My experience is people are attracted to brands that fundamentally know who they are and remain true to that. In most cases, these truths, unlike tone or in some cases humour, transcend borders quite well. My advice is find your brand's truth that's compelling and motivating (not sexist) and those who buy into your truth will come flocking.

Janet Desautels Program director for culture training at the business-education entity Center for Organizational Cultural Competence, Calgary

The key to cross-cultural business success is capitalizing on the differences and similarities between the cultures in a positive way. Even when we're approaching a culture that looks the same, there are many cultural nuances that, if missed, could be very costly to a business.

This doesn't necessarily mean compromising Tim's vision. It means building a bridge and finding common ground for the roots of successful commerce to flourish. And the key to that is suspending assumptions about how and whether humour should be used in marketing. I would recommend researching British culture and finding out what humour works in their ads, and how their gender relations play out. It helps to get clear on your own cultural preferences that are likely embedded in the original campaign, taking those right off the table and starting again.

Will Poho Founder of the outerwear firm Moose Knuckles, Toronto

We have been known for our racy and provocative campaigns. About a year ago, I produced a video depicting a fake French Canadian army in the planning stages of taking over Canada.

The video stirred up a great deal of controversy. I got called everything from Quebec racist to sexist pig and Nazi. The video was discussed in every major Canadian newspaper. Ultimately I got the attention I wanted, offending a very few with big mouths but creating a strong brand loyalty with the many.

I like Tim's marketing a lot. Yes, it is a bit juvenile, but today's large corporations do actual damage by marketing harmful products with slick campaigns and celebrity endorsements, like Coca-Cola, which sponsored the Olympics but is full of high-fructose corn syrup. Tim's strategy at best makes people laugh and at worst irks a few prudish Brits. He's to be commended for not mimicking the marketing strategies that are less offensive but cause real harm.

Facing a challenge? If your company could use expert help, please contact us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.com.

Interviews have been edited and condensed.

Associated Graphic

Carnivore Club has made a name for itself with bold ads that have paid off. But some viewers have labelled them sexist and sophomoric. Founder Tim Ray wonders: How far is too far?

PETER POWER FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

BESTSELLERS
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R23


FICTION

THIS WEEK / LAST WEEK / WEEKS ON LIST / TITLE / AUTHOR / PUBLISHER / PRICE

1 1 7 Gray Mountain, by John Grisham (Doubleday, $34).

2 3 4 Revival, by Stephen King (Scribner, $36).

3 2 3 Captivated By You, by Sylvia Day (Berkley, $18).

4 4 2 Hope To Die, by James Patterson (Little Brown & Company, $32).

5 6 5 The World Of Ice And Fire: The Untold History Of Westeros And The Game Of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin, Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson (Random House, $58).

6 6 6 Blood Magick: Book Three Of The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, by Nora Roberts (Berkley, $19).

7 1 1 The Rosie Effect, by Graeme Simsion (Harper Avenue, $19.99).

8 - 1 Tom Clancy Full Force And Effect, by Mark Greaney (Penguin, $34.95).

9 1 1 Edge Of Eternity, by Ken Follett (Dutton, $42).

10 7 4 Private India: City On Fire, by James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghi (Grand 10 Central, $18).

NON-FICTION

THIS WEEK / LAST WEEK / WEEKS ON LIST / TITLE / AUTHOR / PUBLISHER / PRICE

1 1 8 You Are Here: Around The World In 92 Minutes, by Chris Hadfield (Random House Canada, $29.95).

2 3 8 Mr. Hockey: My Story, by Gordie Howe, foreword by Bobby Orr (Viking Canada, $32).

3 5 6 Yes Please, by Amy Poehler (HarperCollins, $32.99).

4 4 13 What I Know For Sure, by Oprah Winfrey (Flatiron, $28.99).

5 6 4 So, Anyway..., by John Cleese (Doubleday Canada, $32.95).

6 7 45 An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Earth, by Chris Hadfield (Random House 6 Canada, $32).

7 8 5 Straight Up And Personal: The World According To Grapes, by Don Cherry (Doubleday Canada, $29.95).

8 - 15 What If?: Serious Scientific Answers To Absurd Hypothetical Questions , by Randall Munroe (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $31).

9 10 7 Common Ground, by Justin Trudeau (HarperCollins, $32.50).

10 9 10 Not That Kind Of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned,", by Lena Dunham (Doubleday Canada, $32).

The bestseller list is compiled by The Globe and Mail using sales figures provided by BookNet Canada's national sales tracking service, BNC SalesData.

CANADIAN

RANK / TITLE / AUTHOR / PUBLISHER / PRICE

FICTION

1 Us Conductors, by Sean Michaels (Random House Canada, $26).

2 Punishment, by Linden MacIntyre (Random House Canada, $32).

3 All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews (Knopf Canada, $29.95).

4 Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995-2014, by Alice Munro (McClelland & Stewart, $32.95).

5 The Back Of The Turtle, by Thomas King (HarperCollins, $33.99).

6 The Secret Book Of Grazia Dei Rossi, by Jacqueline Park (House Of Anansi, $19.95).

7 Adult Onset, by Ann-Marie MacDonald (Knopf Canada, $32).

8 Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel (HarperCollins, $21.99).

9 Stone Mattress, by Margaret Atwood (McClelland & Stewart, $29.95).

10 The Legacy Of Grazia Dei Rossi, by Jacqueline Park (House Of Anansi, $19.95).

NON-FICTION

1 You Are Here: Around The World In 92 Minutes, by Chris Hadfield (Random House Canada, $29.95).

2 Mr. Hockey: My Story, by Gordie Howe, foreword by Bobby Orr (Viking Canada, $32).

3 An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Earth, by Chris Hadfield (Random House Canada, $32).

4 Straight Up And Personal: The World According To Grapes, by Don Cherry (Doubleday Canada, $29.95).

5 Common Ground, by Justin Trudeau (HarperCollins, $32.50).

6 I Must Say: My Life As A Humble Comedy Legend, by Martin Short (HarperCollins Canada, $33.50).

7 We Are Your Leafs: The Toronto Maple Leafs Book Of Greats, by Michael Ulmer (Fenn/McClelland & Stewart, $40).

8 Where I Belong: Small Town To Great Big Sea, by Alan Doyle (Doubleday Canada, $32.95).

9 Sarah Style: An Inspiring Room-By-Room Guide To Designing Your Perfect Home, by Sarah Richardson (Simon & Schuster, $32).

10 Rise To Greatness: The History Of Canada From The Vikings To The Present, by Conrad Black (McClelland & Stewart, $50).

SELF-IMPROVEMENT RANK / TITLE/AUTHOR / PUBLISHER / PRICE

1 Money: Master The Game, by Tony Robbins (Simon & Schuster, $34).

2 Chicken Soup For The Soul: Christmas In Canada, by Amy Newmark and Janet Matthews (Chicken Soup For The Soul, $16.95).

3 Chicken Soup For The Soul: Touched By An Angel, by Amy Newmark, foreword by Gabrielle Bernstein (Chicken Soup For The Soul, $16.95).

4 You Can't Make This Stuff Up: Life-Changing Lessons From Heaven, by Theresa Caputo (Atria, $29.99).

5 Wreck This Journal, by Keri Smith (Perigee, $16).

6 Wheat Belly Guide To Total Health: The Next-Level, Grain-Free Guide To Increased Energy, Peak Performance, And Astonishing Weight Loss, by William Davis (HarperCollins, $24.99).

7 The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, by Michael A. Singer (New Harbinger, $19.95).

8 Your Chinese Horoscope 2015: What The Year Of The Sheep Holds In Store For You, by Neil Somerville (HarperCollins, $17.99).

9 The Gifts Of Imperfection: Let Go Of Who You Think You're Supposed To Be And Embrace Who You Are, by Brené Brown (Hazelden, $17.50).

10 How To Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie (Pocket, $18.99).

BIOGRAPHY

RANK /TITLE/AUTHOR/ PUBLISHER/ PRICE

1 Mr. Hockey: My Story, by Gordie Howe, foreword by Bobby Orr (Viking Canada, $32).

2 Yes Please, by Amy Poehler (HarperCollins, $32.99).

3 Wild: From Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed 3 (Vintage, $18.95).

4 So, Anyway..., by John Cleese (Doubleday Canada, $32.95).

5 An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Earth, by Chris Hadfield (Random House 5 Canada, $32).

6 Common Ground, by Justin Trudeau (HarperCollins, $32.50).

7 I Must Say: My Life As A Humble Comedy Legend, by Martin Short 7 (HarperCollins Canada, $33.50).

8 Unbroken (Movie Tie-In Edition): A World War ll Story Of Survival, Resilence, And Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House, $19).

9 Where I Belong: Small Town To Great Big Sea, by Alan Doyle (Doubleday Canada, $32.95).

10 The Crazy Game: How I Survived The Crease And Beyond, by Clint Malarchuk with Dan Robson (HarperCollins, $32.99).

The Canadian Fiction and Non-Fiction bestseller lists, and the Canadian Specialty Books list, are compiled for The Globe and Mail by BookNet Canada.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ironman lessons for a longer life
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Not a performance athlete? Even five to 10 minutes a day of running can reduce the risk of dying from all causes
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By MARTIN GIBALA
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Monday, December 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L7


The Ironman Triathlon World Championship was recently held in Kona, Hawaii. This annual event brings together more than 2,000 participants who want to subject themselves to a four-kilometre ocean swim, a 180-km bike ride and a 42-km marathon run in conditions of high heat and humidity. There may be no fitter place in the world than Kona in the week leading up to the big event.

The annual Ironman Sports Medicine Conference preceded the race, and many of the keynote presentations were focused on high-performance athletes. A key reminder that I took away from the meeting, however, was the profound importance of cardio-respiratory fitness for health, and the potential for even modest doses of exercise to extend your life.

Cardio-respiratory fitness is a marker of the functional status of the cardiovascular, respiratory and skeletal muscular systems. Put simply, it reflects the capacity of the body to transport and utilize oxygen. A high cardio-respiratory fitness is critical for a triathlete who wants to compete in Kona. But even if you never aspire to be an endurance athlete, increasing your cardio-respiratory fitness can help to extend your life.

This message was reinforced in a recent report based on the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study that examined the relationship between leisure-time physical activity and mortality in more than 55,000 adults. It found that running even five to 10 minutes per day at a relatively slow pace (more than six minutes per kilometre) was associated with a markedly reduced risk of dying from all causes.

Is there something special about running? Probably not, and it is more likely the improved cardio-respiratory fitness achieved by running is what helps to extend your life. That's good news because many different forms of exercise can improve your cardio-respiratory fitness, so long as large muscle groups are engaged. So if running is not for you, choose another activity, such as walking, hiking, cycling or swimming.

Compelling scientific evidence has established cardio-respiratory fitness as a strong and independent predictor of the risk of dying from all causes. In fact, several studies suggest that poor cardio-respiratory fitness is at least as important as the other major risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

However, the importance of cardio-respiratory fitness is sometimes overlooked from a clinical perspective. This may be due in part to the fact that it is easier to assess some of the other traditional risk factors, for example, by measuring waist circumference.

Cardio-respiratory fitness is measured directly during an incremental exercise test to exhaustion. This test typically involves running or cycling at progressively higher workloads, while the amount of oxygen used by the body is measured through a mouthpiece or airtight mask.

This test, which is also known as a maximal oxygen uptake or "VO2max" test, requires specialized laboratory equipment and considerable effort on the part of the subject. Cardio-respiratory fitness can also be estimated based on submaximal tests such as a stress test.

One way to express cardio-respiratory fitness is using metabolic equivalents, or "METs," which are multiples of the oxygen uptake required to support metabolism at rest. (One MET is precisely defined as an oxygen uptake of 3.5 millilitres of oxygen per kg of body mass per minute.)

A healthy adult of average fitness might have a cardio-respiratory fitness of 10 METs (or an ability to work 10 times higher than rest), whereas endurance athletes can have values that exceed 20 METs.

One review that examined the association between cardio-respiratory fitness and mortality considered 33 studies involving more than 100,000 men and women. It found that every 1-MET increment in cardio-respiratory fitness (corresponding to approximately 1 km/h higher jogging or running speed) was associated with a 13-per-cent reduction in the risk of dying from all causes.

To put this change into context relative to some traditional risk factors, the authors explained a 1-MET increase was comparable to the effect of a 7-centimetre decrease in waist circumference, a 5-milimetre Hg decrease in blood pressure or a 1-millimole reduction in fasting blood sugar.

Cardio-respiratory fitness is influenced in part by non-modifiable factors such as age and gender. However, the main determinants are lifestyle-related, and in particular, habitual physical activity. One of the best ways to increase and maintain your cardio-respiratory fitness is to meet the recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, such as brisk walking.

Most Canadians do not meet the minimum physical activity recommendation, often citing "lack of time" as the main barrier. Brief sessions of interval training may provide an option for timepressed individuals to improve cardio-respiratory fitness, but the trade-off is that the exercise needs to be very intense. A recent study from our laboratory found that subjects who performed only three minutes of "all out" intermittent cycling per week, within a total weekly time commitment of 30 minutes (including warm-up and cool down), improved their cardio-respiratory fitness by 12 per cent, or approximately 1 MET, after six weeks of training.

Brisk walking is effective, though. In fact, walking speed is an objective measure of physical capability that has been used to predict survival. An Australian study analyzed walking speed and mortality in over 1,700 older men. It found that men who could walk at speeds greater than three kilometres per hour were less likely to encounter death.

The authors estimated that the Grim Reaper's likely maximum speed was five kilometres per hour, since no men in the study who could walk at this pace were caught by death. Those who wish to outpace death are therefore advised to move faster than the Grim Reaper's maximum pace.

Health Advisor contributors share their knowledge in fields ranging from fitness to psychology, pediatrics to aging.

Dr. Martin Gibala is a professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University. You can follow him on Twitter @gibalam

Associated Graphic

A high cardio-respiratory fitness level is required to participate in the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii.

MARCO GARCIA/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

TFC reveals its heretofore secret formula for a goon show
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By CATHAL KELLY
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Friday, December 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


TORONTO -- ckelly@globeandmail.com

The most unsuccessful franchise in North American sport decided on Thursday to give an expansive demonstration of how they achieve success.

Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko advertised it as a privileged look inside the team's "methodology and pedagogy." In retrospect, this was the point at which I should've thrown a chair through a window and jumped to freedom or my death. Either would've been okay.

For a solid two hours, we were drilled with charts, graphs, diagrams and endless lists of words that sound bold and decisive and mean nothing. Words like "innovation" and "collaboration."

When someone starts going on about innovation, my hand moves protectively to my jacket pocket. I know I'm about to get fleeced.

The two key speakers were the club's director of sports science, Jim Liston, and its director of cognitive development, Michael Rabasca. They said many learned things with enormous confidence, only a small fraction of which seemed to have anything to do with the winning of soccer games.

The presentation is the same one that's done internally - and here I cross myself and say a small prayer for anyone who had to sit through this numbing corporate bafflegab twice. It gave you some small sense of why this team is so consistently adrift. The boat is taking on water, and everyone's up on deck debating which colour emergency flare to fire off.

Two moments stand out.

The first was when someone claimed that they had isolated a method to "measure grit." If this was a joke, no one laughed.

The metrics movement is fast becoming a warm, moist place hiding all sorts of opportunists looking to gull the rich, desperate people who own sports teams.

But if someone in MLSE actually believes that, I'd love to sit in on the experiments. Exactly how many times do you have to be punched in the head before you are "gritty?" After 90 minutes, I had a bad case of the nods. I'm not sure who was speaking, but I wished he would stop for a second so that I could volunteer to sign my confession. Then this was said out loud: "Anyone familiar with myelin?" (The guy sitting beside me muttered, "Anyone familiar with boredom?")

No, I'm not familiar with myelin. I'm pretty sure that if you force me to become familiar with it, I'm going to forget a more useful piece of information - like where I parked my car. That didn't stop anybody. For the next five minutes, we discussed neural pathways and electrical conductivity in the human body. That must have been the secret to Pele's success - he was pulsating with electricity.

We were lectured on personal training portals, and trust exercises, and growth mindsets, and neurology, and "core values" and ... God, it just went on like that forever. This wasn't in connection with the senior team. It was largely focused on the 150 players in TFC's youth academy. This was a discussion about 12-year-olds.

Toronto FC has never been in a playoff game. It's had nine head coaches in eight seasons. The last one spent half a season at war with the general manager and had to be tied up in a bag and thrown off deck in the middle of the night. The team's best player is AWOL and will never come back.

But we're sitting around talking about the optimal sleep patterns for 13-year-olds who, odds very strongly suggest, will never play professional soccer.

This is not to suggest the academy and player development don't matter. The future should be a consideration, but never at the expense of the present. This isn't an NGO. People don't pay good money to watch the future.

So when the present continues to be an absolute goon show, it may not be smart to be invite strangers to sit down crosslegged in your circle of trust and listen in while you moon on about how awesome this will all be in 10 years.

It finally ended. There was a moment's pause while everyone rebooted their internal hard drive from sleep mode. The first question boiled down to, 'How confident are you that, if you're fired tomorrow, any of this will outlast you?' "We don't know," Bezbatchenko said brightly.

I need about 300 more words to flesh out this column. Poetically, a long string of random numbers and letters signalling that I've spent that space smashing my face into the keyboard would work best. But there's a very specific line about that in my contract.

Eventually, we worked our way back to the only thing that matters - the team they have right now, regardless of its conductivity. On that front, there weren't any satisfactory answers. A talk that had been microscopically specific now became galactically vague. Neither is of any use.

We all know striker Jermain Defoe is never coming back to Canada. Never. Never ever. But we continue to pretend that, you know, maybe.

What's the plan?

"We're planning to have him on the team," Bezbatchenko said. "If he happens not to be here, we also have a plan."

Does the team have a plan for Lionel Messi not being here as well? Because I'm feeling only slightly less confident about that one.

Are you actively seeking someone to replace Defoe?

"We have names," Bezbatchenko said. "We are actively vetting those names. We're watching film on those names. We're speaking to clubs about the names on that list."

Wouldn't it be easier to just say, "Yes?" But apparently, nothing simple can ever be said at this club.

We're beyond forests for trees.

These guys have become so focused on the details, they're slowly going blind. They've lost sight of their one and only concern - winning right now.

As yet, we have no clue what they're doing on that front.

"The football world moves very fast," head coach Greg Vanney said by way of summation.

Not here it doesn't.

Follow me on Twitter:@CathalKelly

Top creative minds pick five favourite ads from 2014
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By SUSAN KRASHINSKY
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Friday, December 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B9


skrashinsky@globeandmail.com

W hen ads are good, they don't feel like an interruption.

The best allow marketers to speak to people without arousing their animosity, they can affect purchasing decisions in subtle ways, and they make other ad people think, "I wish I'd made that."

The Globe asked some of Canada's top advertising minds for their favourite campaigns of the year. Here are their picks:

SER PADRES (PARENTING)

Advertiser: Coca-Cola Argentina Ad agency: Santo Buenos Aires Chosen by: Aaron Starkman, partner and creative director, Rethink

A hip young couple has their first child, and we watch time lapse as dad's record collection is defiled with some nameless goo, a love life becomes nearly impossible and the stylishly appointed house descends into clutter and chaos.

At the end, when the woman announces she is pregnant again, her husband begins to scream.

But in a beautiful performance twist, that scream turns from horror to joy. The parents embrace with a slightly panicky elation.

Not only is the insight universal, but so is the commercial itself: There is no dialogue whatsoever.

"As brands become more global, nailing this is becoming really important. Coke can air this all over the world, if they want," said Mr. Starkman.

"The magic is the range of emotions it takes you on," he said. "... It's relying on some of the oldschool things we've kind of lost sight of in advertising: It's not about the latest gadget or making the best use of a new medium. It's about storytelling."

MONTY THE PENGUIN

Advertiser: John Lewis department stores Ad agency: adam&eveDDB Chosen by: Christina Yu, executive creative director, Red Urban

U.K. retailer John Lewis is known for its Christmas ads and this year's didn't disappoint. A little boy has the best imaginary friend: a playful penguin named Monty. But the boy notices Monty is glum, especially when he sees couples in love. On Christmas morning, the boy surprises his friend with the ultimate gift: a lady bird named Mabel. The boy's mother peeks in; we see through her eyes that the boy is sitting under the tree, playing with a pair of toy penguins, absorbed in his imagined love story.

"How amazing is it when people are looking forward to seeing your commercial? That's a marketer's dream come true," Ms. Yu said. "Especially nowadays, when there's so much skepticism. You go to focus groups, and they talk about brand positioning, they're so savvy. ... This is a holiday ad, but it seems like such a memorable one that it will resonate throughout the year."

THE SOCIAL SWIPE

Advertiser: Misereor - the German Catholic Bishops' Organisation for Development Cooperation Ad agency: Kolle Rebbe, Hamburg, Germany Chosen by: Anthony Chelvanathan, group creative director and art director, Leo Burnett Toronto

It's difficult to ask for donations. If people say yes, they may feel railroaded into giving. If they say no, they feel guilty. It's a problem Mr. Chelvanathan has faced doing work for not-for-profit causes at his agency.

This campaign made the ad itself the medium for donations that were seductively small: just 2 ($2.85). Digitized posters were installed with a slot to swipe a credit card. As people swiped, the picture on the poster changed to show the effect of the donation.

The card might appear to slice a piece of bread for a hungry family, for example.

"Actually seeing the video playing shows you what you can do. It pushes it to the next level," Mr. Chelvanathan said.

When his agency analyzes ideas, they look for "the lazy ask." That means the simpler the request, the more likely people are to respond to it.

And the campaign went a step further: When poster donors received their credit card statements, they saw a thank you for their donation and a request to make it a monthly habit.

THE RGB NEWS

Advertiser: Observator Ad agency: Geometry Global, Bucharest Chosen by: Cosmo Campbell, senior vice-president and chief creative officer, DDB Canada

Romania ranks last in Europe for blood donations; only 1.4 per cent of people give. TV station Antena 1 drew attention to the issue by broadcasting a report on its evening news program, Observator, for a week. During the three minutes the report ran, the red went missing from the RGB (red, green and blue) colour spectrum, rendering the program in unusual colours.

Blood donations increased 80 per cent in just six weeks. The Romanian government also responded, quadrupling the budget for blood donations in 2015.

Even for-profit marketers could learn from the campaign, Mr.

Campbell said.

"You start with a problem, and you say, 'How much money do we need to solve it? Who is the target audience? What will the media be?' It's a deductive process that runs you down this path you've been down 100,000 times before," he said. "But when something like this comes up, it's a complete game changer."

LIKE A GIRL

Advertiser: Always feminine products, owned by Procter & Gamble Co. Ad agency: Leo Burnett Toronto, Chicago and London Chosen by: Luc Du Sault, partner, vice-president and creative director, lg2

Standing in front of a camera, people were asked to perform activities - running, fighting, throwing - "like a girl." Older girls responded with weak body language that mocks girls' abilities (a man and a boy did the same). Meanwhile, the youngest girls, who had not yet reached the confidence-crushing stage of puberty, responded with more gumption.

All the participants in the video were then asked to reflect on what it means to do something "like a girl" - and why that became an insult.

"Right now, advertising is more about values. It's about true human insight," Mr. Du Sault said. "People are ready to hear and see things that will make them think a little more. And brands are more aware that you won't be loved by your target audience unless you do something for them. It elevates the standard."

Associated Graphic

Monty the Penguin, a British ad for John Lewis department stores, is an imagined but memorable love story.

Asbestos top source of workplace deaths in Canada
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By TAVIA GRANT
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Monday, December 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1


Asbestos exposure is the single largest on-the-job killer in Canada, accounting for more than a third of total workplace death claims approved last year and nearly a third since 1996, new national data obtained by The Globe and Mail show. The 368 death claims last year alone represent a higher number than fatalities from highway accidents, fires and chemical exposures combined.

Since 1996, almost 5,000 approved death claims stem from asbestos exposure, making it by far the top source of workplace deaths in Canada.

The numbers come as the federal government - long a supporter of the asbestos industry - continues to allow the import of asbestos-containing products such as pipes and brake pads. A Globe and Mail investigation earlier this year detailed how Ottawa has failed to caution its citizens about the impact that even low levels of asbestos can have on human health. Canada's government does not clearly state that all forms of asbestos are known human carcinogens.

Dozens of other countries including Australia, Britain, Japan and Sweden have banned asbestos.

Canada was one of the world's largest exporters of asbestos for decades, until 2011, when the last mine in Quebec closed. The mineral's legacy remains, as it was widely used in everything from attic insulation to modelling clay in schools and car parts and in a variety of construction materials such as cement, tiles and shingles. Health experts warn long latency periods mean deaths from asbestos will climb further.

"The indications are that we can expect an increase [in asbestos-related diseases] to continue for at least another decade or so. And that's assuming we as a nation ban it now. If we don't do that, we can expect it to continue to rise indefinitely, but perhaps at a lower rate," said Colin Soskolne, an Edmonton-based professor emeritus at the University of Alberta.

In Australia, which banned asbestos in 2003, asbestos-related diseases continue to climb. The "responsible public-health action would be to ban the use of asbestos in Canada and other countries and replace it with substitutes," said Dr. Soskolne, who is also chair of the International Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology, adding that there is "no demonstrated safe way to use it in Canada."

Asbestos-related diseases have a long latency period of typically 20 to 40 years. Many victims die of mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos, and asbestosis, a fibrosis of the lungs.

The data come from the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada and is typically updated every fall. For 2013, the most recent year for which annual data are available, it shows the single greatest cause of death was mesothelioma, with 193 fatalities. Asbestosis was a factor in 82 deaths.

"There's some misconception that we banned it - and we haven't," said Jim Brophy, former director of the Occupational Health Clinic for Ontario Workers in both Windsor and Sarnia. Canada now has "an enormous public-health tragedy, disaster on our hands."

All commercial forms of asbestos including chrysotile, the type formerly mined and most commonly used in Canada, are classified as carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Its evidence shows there is no "safe" form of asbestos nor a threshold that it considers safe.

The agency's position is at odds with Health Canada, whose website continues to play down the risks of asbestos exposure. It never clearly states that all forms of asbestos cause cancer, but rather that chrysotile asbestos is "less potent" than other forms and that there "is no significant health risk" if the fibres are enclosed or tightly bound.

"Asbestos poses potential health risks only when fibres are present in the air people breathe," Health Canada says.

The problem is there's no way of ensuring that all products are always bound or enclosed. Brake pads wear down; renos stir up dust while pipes and tiles get sawed.

Britain's national regulator for workplace health and safety informs its citizens that asbestos causes about 5,000 deaths a year - but there is no comparable information on Health Canada's site. Health Canada told The Globe and Mail it has no plans to update its website, last revised in 2012.

And while the World Health Organization bluntly says "all types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis," Health Canada still says asbestos fibres "can potentially" cause asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer "when inhaled in significant quantities." The potential link between exposure to asbestos and other types of cancers "is less clear," it adds.

The workers' compensation numbers don't fully capture the total number of fatalities in Canada as not everyone is covered by workers' comp and not every claim is successful. Separate Statistics Canada data show almost 4,000 people died of mesothelioma alone in the decade to 2011.

Heidi von Palleske says the numbers also don't capture wives and children who have been affected. She calls herself an asbestos orphan - her father died in 2007, with asbestosis and lung and prostate cancer. He was a former worker at a plant run by Johns Manville, which made asbestos-fibre products. Her mother, who shook out and washed her husband's clothes for years, died of mesothelioma in 2011 and Ms. von Palleske's sister and brother have since been diagnosed with pleural plaque (a calcification of the lungs).

"It's inexcusable," said Ms. von Palleske. She wants to see a ban and better supports for families affected by workplace exposure.

Miners were among the first to be affected, but the range of occupations with workers exposed has expanded in recent decades.

About 152,000 workers in Canada are currently exposed to asbestos, according to Carex Canada, a research project funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. The five largest groups are specialty-trade contractors, building construction, auto repairs and maintenance, ship and boat building and remediation and waste management.

Associated Graphic

Heidi von Palleske lost both parents to asbestos-related illnesses, and her siblings have been diagnosed with pleural plaque.

CHRIS YOUNG FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

When the argument turns to semantics instead of violence: The Rices pick up Goodell's fumble and run with it
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By CATHAL KELLY
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Wednesday, December 3, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


ckelly@globeandmail.com

The Ray Rice redemption flotilla left harbour quietly on Friday.

Coming up on a week later, it's puttering along in very shallow water. But, amazingly, the fleet is still seaworthy.

A month ago, we agreed that Rice was finished as an NFL player. In a milieu where you can always find a contrary voice, none had piped up in his defence. The video showing him knocking out then-fiancée Janay Rice in an Atlantic City elevator was too jarring.

But where there is the promise of money and an engaged audience, no story can be allowed to die. The average cable-news viewer was willing to plow through only so much soulsearching on domestic violence.

No one was going to read/listen to/watch reports on Rice's quiet withdrawal into private life.

There was only one way to push this boulder forward.

So right now, it's probably 50-50 that Rice plays again. He could be back in pads by the weekend.

How did that happen?

Most of the fault lies with the chief disciplinarian. Most of the work has been done by the victim. In between, the news cycle continued to lend the story legs, long after it had lost the use of its own.

It started with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. He was of two minds on this file. When he first heard about it, he moved to protect his employers and his employee. When the release of the video showed that to be a disastrous error in judgment, Goodell pulled the handbrake in the midst of freeway traffic. He accused the running back of a cover-up, attempting to suspend him into retirement.

Because no American tyrant can admit what he is, Goodell wanted the cover of capital-J Justice. He brought in a retired judge to review the case. She cut emotion out of the mix, reducing the incident to an administrative matter.

In a disciplinary meeting, did Rice tell Goodell he'd "slapped" his fiancée, or did he say he'd "hit" her? Did he say she'd "knocked herself out" as she fell, slamming her head into a railing?

The judge sided with the player, as well as the recollections of others in the room. Rice hadn't tried to minimize what he'd done. There was no basis on which to impose a second punishment of indefinite suspension.

Rice's lifetime ban was rescinded.

It didn't change a thing about what he'd done, but suddenly we were in an argument about semantics instead of violence.

This was the wedge the Rice camp needed to swing the narrative in their favour - "Roger Goodell is a liar."

The media - old and new - don't like Goodell. He's too slick, too imperious and, most important, too rich. After chewing all the flavour out of Rice, the pack's attention turned on the wounded commissioner.

The public went right along with them. They'd spent months kicking Rice's head around. They wanted a new one.

The ruling came down Friday.

The Rice camp had seen this moment coming a long ways off.

They'd already dangled an exclusive in front of ESPN, and been hard at work on a sympathetic take. The Worldwide Leader in Sports does tend to enjoy following.

ESPN spent hours with the woman Rice had beaten, and her family. Janay Rice told a moony, compelling story about her husband. Parts of it read like the back cover of a Sweet Valley High novel.

The key point: This was a onetime-only mistake by an absolute sweetheart of a guy.

Everyone will view what Ray Rice says through the lens of their own experience, but it is impossible to aggressively rebut someone in the midst of an act of forgiveness. Janay Rice placed herself in front of her husband. Attacking him now seems like attacking her.

So everyone stopped.

Janay Rice blamed the man who'd hit her, but she did not fault him. "I know for a fact ... that Ray told the honest truth that he's been telling from February," she told NBC's Today.

Ray Rice: formerly a wife-beater, currently a teller of honest truths.

The only fault Janay Rice wanted to talk about was the commissioner's.

On Goodell: "I can't say he's telling the truth."

Roger Goodell: formerly a stand-in for every slippery authority figure in your life; currently a liar.

What's lost here is why Goodell played loose with the language.

He absolutely did it to deflect attention away from the league.

Doing whatever's necessary to protect the shield is why he's paid so much ($44-million [U.S.] last year).

But Goodell also wanted to give people what they were demanding - a way to get rid of Ray Rice.

The commissioner miscalculated on the motivations of a medialed mob. It wants something until you give it to them. Three or four cycles later, there's no new information. Nobody's squirming. It's all getting pretty dull.

Now the mob wants the opposite of what you give. It wants pathos and redemptive tears. It wants all of this to mean something and be tied up neatly so that it can move on to the next outrage.

The NFL had nothing to give, so it turtled. It lost control of the story. Ray and Janay Rice and their team of flacks and lawyers picked up that abandoned initiative. They gave people the cheap transcendence they were looking for.

We won't know if it's paid off until a team decides to offer Ray Rice a job. Even if his plan works, he may come to regret it. A return to football gives people a chance to be furious with him again. Only this time, they'll know where to find him.

Shortly after the ex-judge's ruling came down, the Rices were spotted out at a New York bar.

They seemed to be celebrating.

Out with a few friends. Drinks on the table.

Back to where they started, just like the rest of us.

Follow me on Twitter: @cathalkelly

Poorly reported rape story may do more harm than good
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By LEAH MCLAREN
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Friday, December 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L4


'Never let the truth get in the way of a good story," goes the old newsroom joke. It's been on my mind this week as I watched the unravelling of Rolling Stone magazine's University of Virginia fraternity rape story. The original 9,000-word article, published last month, recounts a violent, three-hour gang rape from the point of view of the crime's alleged victim, "Jackie," a UVA student who spoke to the magazine on condition of anonymity.

Several other reporters, most notably from the Washington Post, began to pick the piece apart, and by late last week, it became clear anonymity was not the only condition Jackie insisted upon when it came to talking to the magazine. In a statement posted late last week, the magazine admitted that certain "discrepancies" had come to light.

The magazine's managing editor explained that "because of the sensitive nature of Jackie's story, we decided to honour her request not to contact the man who she claimed orchestrated the attack on her, nor any of the men who she claimed participated in the attack, for fear of retaliation against her."

Which is really just another way of saying that Rolling Stone decided, in effect, to not to let the truth get in the way of a good story. Not only did the magazine fail to contact the alleged assailants, who it accused of a brutal crime, it barely corroborated the story at all - a decision that is now coming back to haunt it. The problems with Jackie's account, it has now emerged, were not just minor inconsistencies but major holes with gale-force winds howling through them. Friends who saw her after the alleged attack say she wasn't physically injured and that her account of what happened at the time was different from what she later told Rolling Stone. The fraternity she identifies in the magazine claims it didn't have a party on the night of the alleged attack, and denied that one of its members (the alleged ringleader) worked as a lifeguard with Jackie, as she'd said.

When other reporters managed to track down the alleged ringleader after talking to Jackie's friends, he said he'd never actually met her and belonged to an entirely different frat to the one she'd named in the story. The fraternity denies the gang rape occurred; the university, which comes under a great deal of criticism in the article for it's mishandling of sexualassault cases, is conducting an investigation of its own.

Of course none of this is to say that Jackie wasn't assaulted in some way, or that UVA doesn't have a problem with unreported sexual violence. It's just that this story, the one Rolling Stone chose to go big on, seems to be heavy on shock value and light on verifiable facts. As journalistic car crashes go, it's a six-lane pileup.

But why would a respected source of American long-form journalism allow itself to fail in such a spectacular way?

The answer, I think, is twopronged. First, Rolling Stone let down its editorial guard because of what it perceived as extraordinary circumstances. Secondly, it justified doing so out of confirmation bias - a natural human tendency to interpret situations so they confirm our preconceptions.

I recently had a conversation with a surgeon about how doctors in triage situations make mistakes. When things get desperate, he said, people often instinctively resort to desperate measures - they panic, circumvent routines, take shortcuts to get to their desired ends. But as doctors working in emergency wards have learned the hard way, desperate times do not require desperate measures. Desperate times require systems. The crazier things get, the more methodical emergency doctors need to be in their adherence to the rules. Otherwise, mistakes happen.

The same goes for journalists. The hotter the story and the higher the stakes, the more important it is for reporters and editors to play by the book and make absolutely sure the facts are solid. How do we do this? By testing the story in various ways, almost like a scientist testing a hypothesis. It's the really excruciating part of reporting - but it's also the most important. In skeptically fact-checking and corroborating your fantastic story from a trusted source, you have a good chance of finding out that a) your story is not so fantastic, and b) your source can't actually be trusted. Many potentially award-winning cover scoops fall apart at this stage - and for good reason.

Today in Canada, in the wake of the Jian Ghomeshi assault scandal, it's paramount that journalists seek out the facts above all else, and stick to our systems.

In making a decision to abandon their procedures, the editors at Rolling Stone weren't just careless, they also fell prey to their confirmation bias. They did this by allowing the issues in the story to overshadow journalistic process, and by doing so, they were deluded into thinking that they were "protecting" Jackie when in fact they just really wanted the story. This backfired spectacularly because, by not fact-checking her version of events, they left a clearly troubled young woman terribly exposed. When the story fell apart, the magazine turned on its source, saying its trust in her was "misplaced." How convenient that it had someone to blame. (It has since retracted this statement.)

Any rape crisis counsellor will tell you that the vast majority of sexual assaults go unreported, and that historically, far too many of the victims who did come forward were either disbelieved or stigmatized by the authorities. Sexual assault counsellors are trained to believe the victim. Journalists are trained to report facts. Desperate times do not call for desperate measures. They call for systems and skepticism and rigour. If journalists want to help victims of sexual assault, we should do our jobs and look for the truth. Because without the facts, there is no story.

Associated Graphic

A Rolling Stone magazine story about an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house was found to have 'discrepancies.'

JAY PAUL/GETTY IMAGES

BC Cancer Agency heads are spinning tales
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The Health Minister and others point to low mortality rates as evidence of positive results - but the numbers need a closer look
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By GARY MASON
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Friday, December 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


VANCOUVER -- gmason@globeandmail.com

In the face of criticism over the way the BC Cancer Agency is being run, those responsible for its management have responded by saying British Columbians have the best cancer outcomes in the country.

Health Minister Terry Lake and others point to British Columbia's cancer mortality rates, which remain the lowest in the country - evidence, it is suggested, that the agency is fine and producing positive results. And they add that they're the result of a cancer-control strategy crafted under the guidance of the Provincial Health Services Authority, the provincial body that has been roundly condemned for the dismal state of affairs at the agency.

While pointing to cancer mortality rates helps deflect the criticism that has been aimed at the health authority - staff oncologists and researchers at the agency have complained about low morale, growing waiting times and surging levels of stress and burnout because of understaffing - experts in the field understand they have little correlation with the care being provided in the province.

"I'm afraid that everybody in B.C. has drunk the Kool-Aid the government has poured for them on this idea of the health service making people healthier," says Terrence Sullivan, the former decade-long head of the Ontario Cancer Agency and now an esteemed professor at the University of Toronto's school of public health. "It's true that B.C. has, by a small margin, a better life expectancy and lower mortality rates, but it's not specific to cancer. You have a healthier population, a more active population, that has lower risk factors for all chronic diseases, not just cancer."

Mr. Sullivan says there is little question there are extremely talented people working at the cancer agency in B.C., but adds: "Selling people the idea that the cancer system is generating higher life expectancy in B.C. for cancer patients when [higher life expectancy] actually occurs across virtually every condition is a bit of a fairy tale."

So let's look at some of the statistics underlying this issue. These are from the 2014 Canadian Cancer Society annual report.

It is true that B.C. has the lowest mortality rate from cancer in the country: 137.7 per 100,000 population. (In 2013 that amounted to 9,900 deaths). That compares, for example, to a rate of 240.9 per 100,000 in the Yukon to 143.2/100,000 in Ontario and 163.5/100,000 in Quebec.

Now let's look at the incidence rate for cancer in B.C. - that is the number of people getting the disease each year. Last year it was 360.9 per 100,000 people, which amounted to 24,300 new cases. That is the lowest incidence level in the country and compares to a ratio of 402.2/ 100,000 in Ontario, 414.2/100,000 in Quebec and 367.3/100,000 in Alberta.

This raises the question: Are B.C.'s low mortality rates related to the lower incidence of cancer in the province or the quality of care? The answer might be found in another chart contained in the cancer society's report related to survival rates.

If B.C.'s mortality ratio is low because of the work of the cancer agency, then you would expect survival rates from cancer in the province would lead the country. Except that isn't the case.

The report looks at the fiveyear survival rates for four different types of cancer: prostate, female breast, colorectal and lung cancer. In the case of prostate cancer in B.C., for instance, the average five-year survival rate is 93 per cent. In other words, of those diagnosed with prostate cancer, an average of 93 per cent are still alive after five years. In Ontario, as a comparison, the average is 97 per cent. In Nova Scotia, 95.

The survival rate for female breast cancer in B.C. is 88 per cent, which is similar to Ontario, and is a point below New Brunswick. Other provinces are in the same ballpark as B.C., or a point or two lower. For colorectal, the Canadian average is 64 per cent.

In B.C., it's 61. For lung cancer, the national mean is 17 per cent, which compares to 16 per cent in B.C., 20 in Manitoba and 19 in Ontario.

While Mr. Sullivan finds survival rates interesting, he says they do tend to fluctuate yearly, from province to province. He says the low cancer mortality rates in B.C. are fundamentally a product of the population itself. The two major risk factors for cancer are diet, exercise and smoking on the one hand, and nationality on the other. For instance, people of Asian background have lower rates of prostate cancer. Consequently, a province with a high concentration of people of Asian origin (see British Columbia) will notice that fact reflected in its prostate cancer incidence rates.

The fact B.C. is a destination for healthy older people also affects cancer mortality rates. As does the fact it has low rates of people who smoke and high rates of people who are physically active and who eat healthier than those in many other jurisdictions in the country.

"Mortality is really a function of incidence," Mr. Sullivan says. "The more cases of the disease you get the more people who will die. B.C. has healthier people in general. Take any indicator you like of death: heart disease, arthritis, new degenerative disorders, B.C. will be low on all of them. You have a more active population that have lower risk factors for all chronic diseases, not just cancer."

It's certainly accurate to say that a good cancer agency produces good methods of cancer control for its entire population.

However, to say that is what's keeping people living longer is a myth being propagated by people who have a vested interest in spinning such tales.

"Everyone loves the fairy tale that this is what's keeping people living longer," Mr. Sullivan says.

"But it's simply not the case."

Follow me on Twitter:@garymasonglobe

BlackBerry bets on Classic to revive handset hopes
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Throwback smartphone designed for loyal users gets a lift from an agreement with AT&T - but will it be enough to bring customers back?
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By SEAN SILCOFF
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Thursday, December 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1


NEW YORK -- BlackBerry Ltd. on Wednesday unveiled its latest smartphone, the Classic, a product aimed at providing a familiar experience to its diehard customers who refuse to give up their old keyboard devices. But the launch was a throwback in another sense, as one major U.S. carrier committed to get behind the product with marketing support - a key ingredient in BlackBerry's past success that has been missing in recent years.

The Classic, which restores popular features such as a belt of physical function keys and a series of keyboard-activated shortcuts that disappeared from recent BlackBerry smartphones, will be carried in all AT&T Inc. stores across the United States, said Steve Hodges, president of the northeast region with AT&T Mobile.

"I can't wait to see this product all throughout the country," Mr. Hodges said at a launch event for the Classic in New York's financial district. The other giant U.S. carrier, Verizon Communications Inc., will also offer the Classic, as well as several major European carriers, including Vodafone Group PLC, Orange SA and Telefonica SA, and Canada's three dominant wireless carriers, Telus Corp., Rogers Communications Inc. and BCE Inc.

The agreements represent a promising sign for the company, whose recent devices have failed to capture the interest of U.S. smartphone users or wireless carriers. But whether BlackBerry can count on the big marketing push from U.S. carrier it needs to climb back into the handset market remains to be seen.

In the past, the company benefited from huge carrier-backed campaigns costing tens of millions of dollars that featured BlackBerrys prominently.

Those ads are now the domain of Samsung and Apple products, while BlackBerry's market share has dwindled to less than 1 per cent. And if the company can't break even on handsets, it shouldn't be making them at all, BlackBerry chief executive John Chen has said.

"When I first showed up [carriers were] a missing part of the equation," Mr. Chen, who joined the company a little more than a year ago, said at the launch. He acknowledged "it will take a little bit of time" for BlackBerry to become important enough for carriers to commit serious dollars to pushing its devices.

"You've seen AT&T show up today ... I think there is strong renewed interest for the key carriers around the world to work with BlackBerry." He added AT&T and BlackBerry are still "in the process" of discussing what marketing support the carrier will provide, while BlackBerry chief operating officer Marty Beard said the two "are working together on a full marketing plan. That's all I can say."

Despite the surprise early success of the company's other recently released smartphone, the oversized, business-oriented Passport, Mr. Chen acknowledged AT&T is still not carrying the device.

One former senior BlackBerry executive said "the facts for smartphones don't change in that you can't succeed without full carrier support."

James Faucette, an analyst with Morgan Stanley, questioned the company's chances of winning that support. "I don't see a carrier putting a lot of support behind BlackBerry unless they feel whatever BlackBerry offers will attract more subscribers, reduce churn or increase average revenue per user. You have to do at least one or probably all three of these things to win carrier support.

They'll leave it up to BlackBerry to prove they have a product suite to do that before they put meaningful resources behind promoting it."

The launch of the Classic and Passport are part of a push by Mr. Chen to reconnect BlackBerry to its core business and government customer base, which it had largely ignored in its earlier push to offer more consumer-oriented touch-screen-based phones. Mr. Chen is also trying to increase revenues by selling new software and services to large users to help them better manage their fleets of smartphones.

"The good news is ... the conversation has changed about BlackBerry," Mr. Chen said. "Now we are going to have to engineer our growth."

But Mr. Faucette cautioned that BlackBerry is unlikely to see a bump in sales from the new products. He forecasts BlackBerry will sell about eight million devices this fiscal year, and about the same next year. That's short of the 10 million devices Mr.

Chen has said the company needs to sell to make money in hardware. Analysts on average expect BlackBerry to report third-quarter revenues this Friday of between $900-million and $1-billion - up slightly from the second quarter - and a 4-centper-share loss on the heels of steep cost-cutting efforts.

BlackBerry is positioning Classic as an upgrade of the Bold 9900, released in 2011 and regarded by devotees as the best smartphone the company ever made.

Shortly after taking over as CEO in November, 2013, Mr. Chen said CEOs of U.S. banks and other core users "pulled out their [older BlackBerrys] and they told me, don't mess around with this thing." He directed his engineers to make a new BlackBerry 10 device that restored the older, missing physical keys and functions.

He struck a deal with Amazon to make its Android app store available on BlackBerrys, giving users access to hundreds of thousands of apps that weren't present before, addressing a chronic weakness. Many diehards have declared their excitement about the Classic, taking to Twitter to say they will buy a device. One of them, Scott Reid, a principal with Canadian communications strategy firm Feschuk.Reid, said he has "largely hated" his Q10, and plans to "switch [to a Classic] within days. Happily."

"I know I should feel guilty and unfashionable for me to travel back in time," Mr. Reid said. "But it pleases me. I can live in 2009 forever."

Associated Graphic

The latest smartphone from BlackBerry brings back the popular belt of shortcut keys.

MICHAEL NAGLE/BLOOMBERG

BlackBerry chief executive John Chen, shown attending the BlackBerry Classic launch in New York on Wednesday, says if the company can't make a profit on its phones, it should get out of the market.

BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS

A lawyer's long wait for justice
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How blowing the whistle on JPMorgan's substandard mortgage deals has burdened UBC grad
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By GAVIN FISHER
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Special to The Globe and Mail
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Wednesday, December 3, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


VANCOUVER -- A layne Fleischmann is back in her native Vancouver, looking for work with a résumé that includes an uncomfortable stint in the spotlight at the crux of one of the world's most devastating financial collapses.

Experience as a whistle-blower, it seems, is not a qualification many employers in her industry are looking for.

It "shuts a lot of doors," Ms. Fleischmann said in an interview last week, a conversation she agreed to after her story was published in a feature in Rolling Stone magazine last month.

Ms. Fleischmann, who grew up in Terrace, B.C., and studied at the University of British Columbia, worked as a transaction manager for JPMorgan Chase & Co. from 2006 to 2008.

She was the key witness in the U.S. Justice Department's investigation into the bank's dubious mortgage deals, which resulted in a landmark $13-billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase, announced on Nov. 19, 2013.

A confidentiality agreement with JPMorgan Chase made her keep quiet for years - not even her closest family and friends knew the information she possessed and had given to U.S. authorities. Ms. Fleischmann said in an interview last week she was "utterly shocked" by the settlement, but hoped criminal charges would eventually be laid against the bank's executives, since the Department of Justice had asked her to keep time aside in December that year to meet with criminal investigators.

"These are awful crimes; they're not clean, sterile whitecollar crimes," she said.

The months passed with no follow-up, and when she came across a video last May of U.S. Attorney-General Eric Holder explaining the complexities of filing a criminal charge against a bank, she doubted whether she would ever be called to testify in a criminal case.

"I just stopped believing and actually almost started getting sick," she said. "If they do close this off and the facts never come out I'm going to be living with this massive secret for the rest of my life, feeling like I never did anything, when maybe I could've possibly made a difference."

So she approached investigative journalist Matt Taibbi, and her story was published in a feature article in Rolling Stone.

"The difficulty is you just don't want to tangle legally as an individual with an institution like JPMorgan, but certainly the argument is that I'm coming forward about criminal activity which wouldn't be covered [by the confidentiality agreement]."

Ms. Fleischmann majored in philosophy at UBC and studied international law at Cornell University. She trained as a securities lawyer and began working at JPMorgan Chase in 2006. As a transaction manager, she was responsible for ensuring the home loans the bank bought - from third-party originators such as mortgage brokers - met certain standards before being repackaged and sold to investors as mortgage securities.

By early 2007 she had witnessed enough incidents of toxic loans being approved for sale as reliable investments that she decided to write a letter to a superior. The deal she used as a specific example in the letter was a set of home loans worth $900-million from the mortgage company GreenPoint.

These were shoddy loans - they had been rejected or returned by other banks, and 40 per cent of the home loans had overstated incomes. On one home loan a manicurist had stated her income was $117,000 (U.S.), a figure five times larger than what the diligence managers estimated for that profession.

But the diligence managers Ms. Fleischmann worked with had been under pressure to push these loans through.

"This diligence supervisor just started yelling at them and berating them and insulting them and making them to do the reports over and over again," she said. "He was just going to keep doing that until they cleared these loans."

Before writing the letter, Ms. Fleischmann approached an executive director and a managing director in December, 2006, to warn them against labelling these loans as a higher quality than what they were.

A few weeks later she submitted her letter to another managing director outlining the breakdowns in the diligence process and the consequences of selling these faulty loans to unknowing investors.

There was no response to her letter, and she was let go in a round of layoffs in 2008.

In the 11-page statement of facts that accompanied JPMorgan Chase's $13-billion settlement, the bank admitted this conversation took place and the letter was received - although the directors weren't named and Ms. Fleischmann was simply referred to as a "JPMorgan employee."

Several investors, including community banks, credit unions and retirement funds, have since filed civil suits claiming they suffered massive losses from buying these substandard mortgage-backed securities from JPMorgan Chase.

JPMorgan Chase declined to comment for this article.

Ms. Fleischmann was contacted again by the U.S. government in August. She's now providing information for civil cases against JPMorgan Chase and she recently met with lawyers in the Fort Worth Employees' Retirement Fund's case against the bank. This week, she is meeting with lawyers representing the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston.

The U.S. Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

Meanwhile, finding work in Vancouver remains tough.

"It's a sign of what's really wrong with these settlements, that you an have a situation where the whistle-blower is actually finding themselves stamped as a criminal," she said.

"I had moved back to Vancouver in mid-September [2013] and started interviewing for a job as a lawyer and then literally less than two weeks into that was when the news broke all over the media that there's been this massive fraud at JPMorgan. And of course my résumé has the exact time, transaction manager, all mortgage-backed securities. So anything I had going just evaporated."

Associated Graphic

Former JPMorgan employee Alayne Fleischmann was the key witness in the U.S. Justice Department's investigation into the bank's dubious mortgage deals, which resulted in last year's landmark $13-billion settlement.

BEN NELMS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Quit cold turkey or phase into retirement?
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An abrupt end to a career 'is really hard on a person.' Ideally it should be a retiree-employer dialogue, career coach says
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By GUY DIXON
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B7


Freddi Dogterom is a career coach who's done some selfcoaching.

After 33 years working for various government organizations in employment and career planning, Ms. Dogterom faced an important, sometimes difficult option for many approaching retirement. And for many others, it's a hard necessity.

Phasing in retirement, rather than abruptly ending a career, is a choice for those wanting to continue the fulfillment of work, as did Ms. Dogterom. Yet for others still carrying debt or a mortgage or any number of financial burdens, there may be no choice but to keep working.

Phasing in requires a plan: "One of the things that is part of my core belief - one of the things that I teach - is that you always have to have a plan," Ms. Dogterom said from her home in Lethbridge, Alta. "Plan for the transition. Going from full out to absolutely nothing is really hard on a person."

After a working life in career training, "I thought, I'm not going to sit in the corner and knit until I die. I was looking at doing a transition from one employment activity to another," she said.

Ms. Dogterom, who is 60, has always looked long term. "I've always had a rolling 10-year plan. I teach in career planning to always be looking 10 years down the road. Because it's easier to adjust ... than if you're looking at one year."

Here's how she did it: Toward the end of her 30-plus years in the work force, she worked for what is now Alberta Human Services. Yet, near the end of that job, she had also been running her own corporate-training and keynote-speaking business on the side. So while still holding a full-time job, she was getting her own business up and running, "making some of my early business mistakes in a safe environment," she said.

Ms. Dogterom then gave herself a two-year window to switch from full-time office work to self employment. Within that window, after leaving her government career, she took a short-term contract job, helping to set up a company's training division.

"I though, 'Yeah, that's something I'd like to get my teeth into.' But I didn't want a job, just to take on this contract for a period of time," she said.

Her new life running her own business though is the opposite of slowing down and kicking up her feet. "Oh heavens, no. I'm locked and loaded and ready to go!"

Her keynote speeches and workshops keep her on the road constantly. "But that's my choice," she said.

"Some months, I may only be home five or six or seven days. But then I take all of August off, and I'm taking off all of December. It's really being in control of what you're doing, and when you're doing it." That for her is the definition of phasing-in.

The financial transition was also key.

She and her husband, who is an accountant and financial planner, had been living for the past decade on only one of their salaries and banking the other.

"When you start doing it, it is really doable, because you just make little adjustments. So when my government salary stopped, it wasn't a big thing."

Nell Smith, a retirement coach in Calgary, says so many people approaching retirement undervalue how attractive they are to employers.

Life experience and maturity are prime assets for contract jobs and mentoring work that trade on years of expertise. And maturity can also be a plus for work that requires less experience such as retail.

She pointed to retiredworker.ca, for instance, a website that specifically advertises jobs for older applicants.

In fact, many older workers phasing in their retirement find that they suddenly have more similarities with much younger workers. They may find themselves employed on a contract or freelance basis, doing business over a latte and laptop.

"More and more [older] people are self-employed, working from home, meeting people in coffee shops. That is the trend," Ms. Smith said.

"It's a whole new world for a lot of people. There are a lot of people still mired in that traditional retirement sense, especially the ones who get the defined-benefit pension" with a guaranteed payout, Ms. Smith said.

Some employers also see a clear value to their company in phasing out their retiring talent, rather than just watching them walk out the door. Auditing and consulting firm Deloitte sees it as preparing employees for retirement and preparing the organization for their departure. (Equity partners still have mandatory retirement, other employees don't.)

Many gear into retirement with more flexible vacation and work schedules. It depends on each employee's circumstances.

"We had one individual who took three months off in the summer to prepare for retirement," said Jason Winkler, managing partner of talent, who heads all of Deloitte Canada's human resources operations.

"So he started getting himself used to having three or four months off in the summer, also using that to have his team and his clients getting used to him being away."

Another professional in the firm worked with her successor eight months before she retired, allowing her to gradually work less over time, down to working just two days a week during her last three months.

"Certainly for key roles where there is huge organizational knowledge and skills, we want to make sure we have sufficient time to transfer that. Because you can't do that in a week," Mr. Winkler said.

"That's kind of been a win-win for both sides."

Ultimately, a rewarding, phased-in retirement isn't a gradual fadeaway. It's a process, ideally a dialogue between retirees and their employers. Mostly it takes planning.

THE SERIES Retirees find more than theatre in Stratford Read more in the retirement planning series at tgam.ca/retirement-rrsps

Associated Graphic

Make a plan for the transition to retirement, says career coach Freddi Dogterom in Lethbridge, Alta.

LARRY MACDOUGAL FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

CALGARY 43, EDMONTON 18
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Stampeders quarterback Mitchell throws four TD passes and runs in a score himself to secure an easy victory in the West final as Calgary looks to cap a stellar season with a Grey Cup win over Hamilton
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By ERIC DUHATSCHEK
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Monday, November 24, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


CALGARY -- A couple of days ago, Nik Lewis told everybody about his nightmare: How just before the Calgary Stampeders were to play host to the CFL's West Division final, he'd dreamed they would lose to their archrivals, the Edmonton Eskimos, in what was likely his last-ever game at McMahon Stadium. Lewis's fears summed up the city's mood heading into a game in which the 15-3 Stamps were the heavy favourites.

They couldn't lose to an underdog opponent in the playoffs again, could they?

Could they?

No. It turns out Lewis's premonition was as faulty as the Eskimos' play in the first 35 minutes of a game that was never as close as the final score. The Stampeders raced out to a 25-point halftime lead and then made it last for a 43-18 victory to qualify for their second Grey Cup final appearance in the past three years.

On a perfect Sunday afternoon weather-wise, with the temperature a moderate -1 C at kickoff, the Stampeders won what was effectively their first meaningful game in five weeks, or since they clinched top spot in the West back in mid-October.

There were concerns expressed then about their readiness, after three games of playing out the string at the end of the regular season followed by a bye directly into the final. Their fears, like Lewis's, proved unfounded.

"Nobody let us forget that we've had a couple of stumbles in the playoffs, and the guys remember that," linebacker Juwan Simpson said. "We came in on day one and said we were going to get to the Grey Cup. We stayed focused, regardless of what it took - practising a lot during the bye week, whatever it was, guys were ready and did what they had to do. We got a win, but we're not happy [yet].

We want to win the Cup."

The Eskimos set out to stop the Stampeders' ground game, and on a purely statistical level, their game plan mostly worked. Calgary managed just 10 rushing yards in the first half and 44 in all.

But that didn't stop the CFL's rushing leader, Jon Cornish, from rattling off two big plays through the air, including a 78-yard touchdown completion that came off a two-foot shovel pass from quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell.

Mitchell, making his first playoff start, was exceptionally sharp, completing three passes of 45 yards or more in the first half alone - touchdown tosses to Cornish and Marquay McDaniel, along with a 61-yard completion to Simon Charbonneau Campeau, which set up a two-yard quarterback sneak for a third TD.

By then, it was all over but the trash talking. Calgary pledged not to turn the ball over - its single biggest failing in last year's divisional final loss to Saskatchewan - and the Stamps lived up to that promise. They had zero turnovers in the game.

"We knew they were going to try and take away the running game and stop Corn [Cornish]," Mitchell said, "but Corn is one of those guys, you can get him the ball anywhere. We got him the ball in the pass game and made some great plays - everybody all around did. The defence stopping them, giving us field position, and receivers making great plays down the field."

Mitchell's counterpart, Eskimo QB Mike Reilly, gutted it out on a bad foot until early in the fourth quarter, when a hit from Stampeders defensive end Shawn Lemon knocked him out of the game. Reilly had a hard time getting anything going against the Stampeders' defence until midway through the third quarter, at which point Calgary had switched into bend-but-don't break mode and he rattled off consecutive TD passes to get Edmonton to within 18 points. Matt Nichols finished up and couldn't get the Eskimos any closer.

"The better team won today," said Eskimos receiver Adarius Bowman, who scored one of the two Edmonton TDs. "Hats off to Calgary, they're a great team."

"It was mental for us," added Edmonton defensive back Aaron Grymes. "We didn't come out with the spark we had the last two weeks. If you come out flat against a team like this, they're going to capitalize on it."

So the Stampeders, who last won the Grey Cup back in 2008, will travel to Vancouver and try to avenge their defeat in the 2012 championship at the hands of the Toronto Argonauts. Calgary won both its regular-season meetings with Hamilton, but they haven't played each other since mid-August.

"We stood up to a giant today," said Stampeders defensive end Charlston Hughes, who returned to the lineup after a long injury absence, but left the game early and had his right foot back in a walking boot afterward. "Those Eskimos are a good team and they came out and played their hardest. Mike Reilly came out and gave it his all. But we overcame. We were clicking on all cylinders. The offence played good. The defence played good. Special teams held them at bay. I can't tell you how proud I am of my teammates today."

It was a celebratory locker room afterward, but cautious too. The sense that nothing had been won yet permeated through the bedlam, from coach John Hufnagel to Mitchell and to Eric Rogers, who caught two TD passes, one in each half. Rogers's 30yard catch with five minutes gone in the third quarter put Calgary up 36-4.

"I want to smile, I want to have fun, I want to celebrate it, but we've been in this position before," said Mitchell, who threw for a season-high 336 yards and four TDs in all. "We're one game closer to the goal we set at the beginning of the year - and we're going after it."

Follow me on Twitter:@eduhatschek

Associated Graphic

Stampeders back Jon Cornish, centre, was held to 44 yards rushing, but had a 78-yard touchdown on a shovel pass.

LARRY MACDOUGAL/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canada's foreign mission 'fire sale'
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The federal government is unloading scores of high-end properties around the world, from the former ambassador's residence in Oslo, which recently sold for $12.5-million, to the former consul-general's residence in Denver, now on the market for $1.7-million. Ottawa says the properties are unnecessarily palatial and costly to maintain; critics question whether the government is getting proper value for unique assets - and whether the sell-off is harming Canada's reputation abroad. Bill Curry reports
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By BILL CURRY
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Friday, December 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A10


The federal government has sold an Oslo mansion for well below its original asking price of $20-million, fuelling new concern that the Conservatives are unloading diplomatic assets at fire-sale prices.

The sell-off of official residences is picking up steam - at least seven houses have been sold since June.

Canada's official residence in the Norwegian capital sold for $12.5-million on Sept. 29 after two years on the market. Ottawa's $20-million asking price was front-page news locally when the property first went on sale.

A Foreign Affairs spokesperson said a municipal zoning decision limited the development options on the land, which is why it sold for considerably less than the original asking price.

Canada is not alone in looking to cash in on the growing demand for key urban properties in major world cities. The World Property Journal reported this year that this is an international trend as governments view older, centrally located buildings as too costly to maintain. The heightened need for security also makes urban street-front properties less appealing.

The federal government argues some of these buildings are needlessly opulent and expensive. The sales are defended as being in the best interests of taxpayers in an era of spending restraint.

But the unique nature and history of some of the properties exposes the government to criticism as to whether it is getting proper value. There are also questions as to whether the selloff of key gathering spots could ultimately harm Canada's reputation abroad.

"It seems to be a bit of a fire sale on diplomatic assets," said NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar, who questions whether there is proper oversight to ensure value for money.

The seven recently sold residences include homes in Mexico City ($3.33-million), Detroit ($840,000), Seattle ($2.07-million), two residences in Washington ($2.6-million and $1.7-million) and one in Brussels that was for the head of Canada's NATO mission ($2.1-million).

The government also has a conditional offer on Canada's official residence in Bern, Switzerland.

In addition to the combined $22.7-million raised by the sale of the seven houses, nine other properties are on the market for a combined asking price of $30.8-million.

Details have not yet been released on the most controversial potential sale - Villa Grandi, Canada's official residence in Rome.

The federal government was accepting bids until Dec. 1, but never posted an asking price for the Italian residence.

Foreign Affairs spokesperson John Babcock said the government is reviewing the results of the process.

Some former diplomats and veterans have opposed the sale, given that the house was purchased with war reparations from Italy and holds a symbolic connection to the role Canadian troops played in Italy during the Second World War.

Two former Canadian ambassadors to Italy, Robert Fowler and Jeremy Kinsman, have strongly opposed the sale. Mr. Fowler, who lived in the residence from 2000 to 2006, told MPs that the embassy "was paid for with the blood of 6,000 Canadian soldiers."

In an interview Thursday, Mr. Kinsman - who lived in the residence from 1996 to 2000, said he generally supports selling off residences and having ambassadors live in less-expensive condos, but Villa Grandi is an exception.

"It reflected a status for Canada that we enjoy because of that campaign," he said. "Italian-Canadians were also very proud of that status and the prominence that it gave Canada." Mr. Kinsman said the government is presenting a misleading picture of the maintenance costs of the building to justify the sale.

"This is something that we didn't pay for and for Canada to make this windfall of 30-million bucks or something out of something that was a gift from the Italian government for our soldiers ... it just strikes me as really cheap and dishonest and with no sense of history or meaning," he said.

Diplomatic assets can generate a hefty price, and the John A. Macdonald embassy building in London sold last year for $530million.

Former ambassador Peter Sutherland, who led Canadian missions in Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and India, said decisions should be made on a caseby-case basis and take into account whether there will still be accessible places for the ambassador to host receptions.

"Residences can be very useful for holding official events," he said. "They can be cost-efficient.

If you go to a hotel for example, you've got more of an institutional surrounding, but you've also got a very high cost. At the residence, you can control all the factors involved and can create a very comfortable ambience where you can have interesting discussions."

3413 Drexel Dr., Highland Park, Tex. Former consul-general's residence in Dallas Asking price: $2.55-million Six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, swimming pool

247 Robin Hood Rd., Atlanta, Ga. Former consul-general's residence in Atlanta Asking price: $2.6-million Five bedrooms, eight bathrooms

22 Rantapolku, Helsinki Former residence for Canadian ambassador to Finland Asking price: $4.4-million Four bedrooms, six bathrooms, sauna, indoor swimming pool

Port of Spain, Trinidad Former residence of high commissioner of Canada to Trinidad and Tobago Asking price: $4.28-million Five bedrooms, four bathrooms, swimming pool

Phillips Drive, St. Michael, Bridgetown, Barbados Former residence for high commissioner of Canada to Barbados Asking price: $1-million Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, guest cottage

Woluwé-Saint-Pierre, Belgium Former residence for Canadian ambassador to Belgium Asking price: $7.5-million 16 bedrooms, eight bathrooms, swimming pool

7 Granhøjen, Copenhagen Former residence for Canadian ambassador to Denmark Asking price: $3.15-million Five bedrooms, four bathrooms

445 Dexter St., Denver, Colo. Former consul-general's residence in Denver Asking price: $1.7-million Four bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms

11 Via di Porta Latina, Rome Former residence of Canadian ambassador to Italy Public tender process 10,700-square-foot main villa and caretaker's cottage

35 Lokevägen, Stockholm Former residence of Canadian ambassador to Sweden Asking price: $3.3-million Five bedrooms, four bathrooms, swimming pool

Surrender to an assault on the senses
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By JOHN SEMLEY
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Special to The Globe and Mail
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L2


The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Directed by Peter Jackson Written by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro Starring Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom and Benedict Cumberbatch Classification: PG; 144 minutes 2

I' m not being disingenuous when I say that some of the best modern film criticism is being done by comedians.

First is Peter K. Rosenthal, host of The Onion's "Film Standard" segment. His reviews often chronicle his own descent into cinematic insanity, literalizing clichés of "checking your brain at the door" when you sink into the plush multiplex seats. Rosenthal may be fake, but the essential thrust of his "criticism" strikes me as valid: Hollywood filmgoing has become a maddening proposition. For Rosenthal, watching Gravity or Dawn of the Planet of the Apes or the second Hobbit movie is an act of bearing witness, of savagely grappling with a sublime terror.

Elsewhere, there's Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington, whose web series On Cinema at the Cinema reflects the rabid, entirely uncritical fanboy glee that animates the online film writing of the Ain't It Cool News variety. Where Rosenthal succumbs to madness, On Cinema offers an alternative tactic for suffering through modern Hollywood cinema: numbness to the onslaught of sensation. Want to enjoy the latest blockbuster? Compose yourself like a stunted man-child suffering from a slightly debilitating head injury.

Without even seeing the movies in question, Heidecker and Turkington issue wholehearted, totally blind raves, reflexively awarding every movie full marks (usually five "bags of popcorn" out of a possible five). And among Heidecker and Turkington's broad range of Hollywood enthusiasms, there's a franchise they're particularly passionate about: The Hobbit.

The Hobbit is the ultimate fivebagger. It's massively scaled, monstrously budgeted blockbuster filmmaking deliberately calibrated to win the fanboy fervour of viewers who can rattle off all 13 of the franchise's company of dwarfs.

It's similarly engineered to seem somehow distinguished from whatever other low-hanging Hollywood fruit, attributable as much to its Awards Seasonrelease date as the rep of its director (Oscar-winner Peter Jackson) and vaguely literary pedigree (J.R.R. Tolkien's kiddie lit classic). In their stateliness, their spurious air of prestige and their cheery triumphalism, The Hobbit films manage to wick off the cynicism that sticks to more obviously soulless, shamelessly profiteering blockbuster franchises.

It's a bizarre double standard. And altogether misguided considering that The Hobbit wrapping its reductively simplistic moral messaging (good guys are good; bad guys are bad) and computer algorithm action sequences in the muted corduroys of nicety and whimsy makes it seem even more cynical than the latest cashgrab Transformers or Ninja Turtles reboot-sequel-whatsit.

In The Hobbit's latest (and final) outing, titular halfling Bilbo (played with perfectly cast awshucks timidity by Martin Freeman) prides himself on being an "honest" burglar. But Jackson and his army of bankrolling studios are anything but. The Hobbit's a franchise as empty and moneygrubbing as any: splitting a book that can be read in an afternoon across three bloated epics, threading in subplots to pad out the action and to foresee the weighty seriousness of Jackson's Lord of the Rings pictures.

Adapted from a few paragraphs near the end of Tolkien's story, The Battle of the Five Armies resolves the second movie's cliffhanger before the subtitle even fades across the screen. After being loosed from his den in the Lonely Mountain, the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) is summarily dispatched by Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans), slaying the franchise's most substantial villain in order to clear the table for its centrepiece scuffle.

Meanwhile, having reclaimed his subterranean kingdom, dwarf honcho Thorin (Richard Armitage) grows callous and psychotic atop his hillocks of gold. There's little room in Tolkien's good versus evil mythos for nuance, but Jackson finds shades of Shakespeare in his characterization of Thorin as a wrathful, avaricious monarch, head hanging everheavy under his art deco-ish Wonder Woman tiara.

Such subtlety of characterization is short-lived. As the ragged wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) has urgently warned, an onslaught of orcs, goblind, trolls and other disfigured, amputated, somehow uniquely evil ghoulies, goofs and snarks arrive on the doorstep of the recovered dwarf kingdom, burrowing out of their nasty, dirty holes and forcing rival factions of dwarfs, elves, men and other kinds of dwarfs to band together. So begins the clamour of iron and steel, the clinking of blades and battle axes, the hacking and slashing and bounding and twirling - my god, the twirling. It plays out as if someone chucked a whole bunch of carefully detailed Warhammer figurines into a centrifuge - goblins, goats, dwarfs, wizards and wolves bouncing off one another in waves of alternating tedium and punishment.

The intimate, one-on-one skirmishes prove much more gripping, if simply by virtue of their legibility. But Five Armies only feels truly entertaining when it embraces the arch silliness of its material; like when 92-year-old actor Christopher Lee whirls about in combat with a handful of ghosts, or when an enormous elk scoops up a half-dozen goblins on its massive antlers, or when an especially fiendish orc mini-boss is seen sporting a human skull codpiece. Laughing at such ludicrous touches may be an alternate tack for surviving the sensory assault of The Five Armies. Though it's not much preferable to surrendering to madness or wide-eyed, half-lobotomized rapture.

Eventually the dust settles, the clanging subsides and the icy thaw of the Lonely Mountain chills as Bilbo returns to the cozy comfort of his hobbit-hole. Winter turns to spring as the noble hobbit totters back to the verdant bloom of the Shire. But the long Indian summer of our interminable cultural adolescence drags on - an arid, stifling season bearing no promise of reprieve.

Associated Graphic

Ian McKellen stars as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the third, and last, movie based on the J.R.R. Tolkien novel.

The last battle
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Roch Carrier, Canadian icon, writes about the Plains of Abraham in his latest book, but the telling falls curiously flat
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By MICHEL BASILIÈRES
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R18


Montcalm and Wolfe: Two Men Who Forever Changed The Course Of Canadian History By Roch Carrier, translated by Donald Winkler HarperCollins, 328 pages, $34.99

The story of Montcalm and Wolfe's decisive battle on the Plains of Abraham at Quebec City in 1759 is, of course, one of the founding myths of our country.

As schoolchildren in Montreal, it was as familiar a story to us as that of Jacques Cartier planting the cross atop Mount Royal. In the English school system in which I was educated, it was usually presented as the moment the two Founding Nations of Canada were united. We were proudly told how the English victors were generous and accommodating to the French colonists they had conquered: they were granted the right to maintain their own language and religion.

By contrast, on the city streets and in the lanes I had to navigate between school and home, it was commonly regarded as the moment the French were beaten and their long suppression began. Occasionally the neighborhood kids would gleefully strike up the battle once again, especially when the odds were not even. As an Anglophone child with a Francophone name who preferred books to sports, I was bullied, threatened, and beaten alternately by French and English gangs. This was in the years that ran up to the October Crisis of 1970, when everyone's parents were cursing either the separatist Pepsis or the maudits anglais.

These days, we usually pride ourselves on our multiculturalism and this ancient squabble between early European settlers seems hardly important at all. So it's no surprise that this book is written by a well-established and venerated cultural figure, someone for whom, like me, it was a central part of identity building, and not by a younger historian. Roch Carrier is famous in English Canada as the author of another iconic Canadian story of our two solitudes, The Hockey Sweater, a tale which once even found its way onto our currency. He's also a novelist and playwright, winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and formerly both the National Librarian of Canada and Director of the Canada Council.

These impressive credentials certainly instill confidence in the reader. But strangely and unfortunately, Carrier undermines his own authority almost immediately. The very third paragraph of the entire book begins with this phrase: "Blessed as we are to be living in an age when intolerance and racial prejudice have been expunged from the human spirit, it is perhaps difficult for us now to acknowledge that such sentiments existed in the past."

One hardly knows what to make of this, except that its author is either willfully naïve or living in some parallel universe. Fortunately, this seems to be the only egregious factual error in the book. For the rest, his scholarship seems thorough and credible and he scrupulously avoids taking sides or moralizing. In a matter-of-fact, plain style, he presents a dual biography of these two men, alternating back and forth as he traces their lives from the time of their earliest ancestors, through their early military careers and up to the famous battle itself, where both men were mortally wounded.

What's perhaps not surprising is that the two were in fact more alike than they were different: born into respectable military families, raised in privilege, ambitious to distinguish themselves, loyal to their kings and their men, and unhappy with being posted to the backwoods colonies, where they were away from the glory and the importance of European battlefields. In both cases their story is one of dedication, courage and competence hampered by political considerations and unscrupulous rivals.

Carrier paints a portrait of corruption in the colonial government of New France, where the king's representatives and his cronies did all they could to line their own pockets with fraud and graft, allowing the high society of Quebec and Montreal to live in a luxury imitating that of the French court at Versailles, while the colonists themselves, the farmers and tradesmen and craftsmen, lived in poverty and starvation - a perfect reflection of the situation in France, where the ancien régime feasted and danced on the backs of the peasants.

Walking us through events leading up to the climactic battle, Carrier closely follows the unraveling of even the most minor details, forays and skirmishes, sticking closely to facts without embellishment. To be frank, this makes them mostly colourless, and since we aren't provided even a single basic map, little more than a series of obscure place names one after the other. He also refrains from contextualizing the experience of anyone other than his primary subjects. So, for instance, he mentions native nations only as allies either of the French or English, and when they're directly involved in some incident (usually making things difficult for either Wolfe or Montcalm by insisting on looting and scalping). And women are mentioned only as colonist's wives, or nuns. What any of these people thought, did or experienced is largely ignored, making this book a recounting of military manoeuvres and little else.

You can't fault an author for the book he didn't write, and this isn't a novel, but the result is plain reportage and so closely focused it feels narrow, as if the atmosphere of the day and variety of the events was purposely ignored. But maybe this founding myth of two easily defined and opposing peoples simply no longer resonates with the multiplicity of Canadian experience, now that we're no longer racists. That's a good thing, right?

Michel Basilières is the author of Black Bird, a novel set during the October Crisis. His second, A Free Man, will be published in the spring.

Associated Graphic

Carrier presents a dual biography of the two men, alternating back and forth as he traces their lives.

KEVIN VAN PAASSEN/FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Don't look now, but the Raptors are - gasp - the best team in the East
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By CATHAL KELLY
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Monday, November 24, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


TORONTO -- ckelly@globeandmail.com

By the end, even LeBron James couldn't believe what was happening.

In the dying moments of his team's 110-93 whipping by the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night, cameras caught James sitting on the Cavaliers bench, staring disconsolately into the vast nothingness.

He'd come out fairly vibrating with intensity. As you may have heard, things are not going quite to script in Cleveland.

The Cavaliers were up by 18 points within four minutes. That speed burst lasted a single quarter. Cleveland spent the next three sliding into the ditch. The knife was fully stuck in by Toronto's Lou Williams, who repeatedly embarrassed James one-on-one. Williams scored a career-high 36 points, and looked as if he could've scored 80 if he'd felt the urge.

Williams only rated a news brief when he was brought here over the summer, as part of the deal to get rid of John Salmons. Right now, he may be the best off-season pick-up by value in the entire NBA - and that's including James.

Williams for Salmons doesn't just seem like a great deal any more. It seems as if it ought to prompt a criminal investigation.

"This is not even the lowest it's going to get for us," James said afterward, surprising America with the news that there can be something worse than losing to Canadians at basketball.

There was a Freaky Friday feel to the whole thing. One of these teams was supposed to walk away with the East. And it's the other one actually doing it.

Toronto didn't just dominate - they swaggered. Even behind by 20, you could sense their ease.

They knew they were coming back.

James and his Cleveland coworkers left the opposite impression - brittle, waiting for the sandbag to come out of the rafters.

"We're a very fragile team right now," James said. "Any little adversity hits us, we just shell up."

A week ago, you figured Cleveland would work out the kinks. Just by himself, James should be able to drag this team to a final.

Now, you're not so sure. They may still be great. But that 'may' is beginning to pulsate in the background. Eventually, it will completely undo them.

And if Cleveland isn't the best team in the East, I've got some alarming news for you - Toronto is.

We knew the Raptors would be good. We had no idea they could be this good. What's happening here is beyond numbers and rotations. It's alchemy. This roster fits together perfectly. They have what great teams have - contentment. Each man knows his place and is comfortable in it. With due respect to general manager Masai Ujiri, you can't build a team like this. It just has to happen.

You wish you could go back in time, to the start of the season, and truffle out a prediction from every guy in the room. Not one would have given themselves any chance of winning their conference.

"I haven't heard one person in our locker room talk about where we are in the standings," coach Dwane Casey said Saturday. Just because they aren't talking about it, doesn't mean they aren't thinking it. I'll bet you anything they've started thinking it.

They're 11-2, and already six games ahead of the competition in their division. The Atlantic is already won. That puts them no worse than fourth in the East come playoff time.

That was the optimistic guess at the start of the year - third or fourth, with a decent shot at winning a playoff round.

But this run to the top suddenly looks sustainable. They are beating teams every which way, at both ends of the floor. Every night, there's a new hero, and usually off the bench. This team is talented, but just as importantly, it's deep. It's built to travel the distance of a season.

No other Eastern squad has quite the same advantage.

The Cavaliers are edging toward a Lakers-level meltdown. It doesn't look as if Derrick Rose will ever get back to fully fit, which pushes Chicago's dial toward mediocrity.

Washington's been great, except for that time two weeks ago they got annihilated at the Air Canada Centre. Where Dwyane Wade goes, Miami will follow - so far, so good, but history suggests there's at least one major breakdown coming.

Everyone else has problems. The Raptors have solutions. As long as they remain healthy, there is no reason for them to fade.

There is a large part of you that would like to see them embrace their new status as front-runners. That's another defining characteristic of great teams - they don't pretend anything short of titles will satisfy them.

It's still early days in that regard.

As the season gets better and better, everyone connected to the Raptors has gotten quieter and quieter. They're terrified of jinxing things. That's the exact word. After an orgiastic early season column, one of the team's execs came to me fretfully and said, "Don't jinx us."

They're beyond jinxes now, but they still push the underdog angle hard. Even Williams - who's only been here for a few weeks - spent much of Saturday's postgame talking about "respect" and the old "chip on the shoulder."

It sounds a little tinny considering how many opposing coaches and players are lining up to heap praise on this squad. U.S. outlets are falling over themselves trying to be the first to 'discover' this team.

But if that's what Williams & Co. require as motivational fodder, continue on with the imaginary poor mouthing.

That's what makes this team so different from any Raptors side of the past. Those squads, even the good ones, were always asking for respect. City by city, this one is taking it.

Follow me on Twitter:@CathalKelly

What's perfectly fine for my husband is not fine for me
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By LEAH MCLAREN
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Friday, December 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1


A couple of years ago, a woman I knew died. She was in her late 30s, a stay-at-home mother of three small children who lived a nice house in an affluent area of Toronto, and kept herself busy with charity work. Her partner, who worked in finance, was devastated but - unlike everyone else - not entirely surprised.

It turned out he was the only one who knew her secret - and even then only part of it. For several years, his wife had been putting the children to bed, waiting for her husband to turn in, and then drinking vast quantities of wine. White wine was her poison, often consumed from two-litre bottles she took great care to conceal. She drank like this every night for years while her family slept upstairs, unaware of her oblivion. She was so secretive about it that none of her friends had any idea - those who knew her thought she barely drank. But the coroner's report, when it came, told another story: Alcohol-related liver failure caused by cirrhosis.

It's Christmas party season and if you drink alcohol, you're probably drinking more often than normal - which, if you're anything like me, is probably a little bit more than you should. But after years of habitually splitting a bottle of wine with my husband over dinner (like the French do, right?), I have, in recent months, started taking at least a couple, sometimes a few, nights off the sauce per week - usually when I'm home and not required to be sociable.

My new state of semi-sobriety, if you can even call it that, wasn't taken because alcohol was ruining my life or relationships. It wasn't because I was stashing empties in a neighbour's recycling bin or needing a shot of vodka to get through the morning daycare run. I'm drinking less because, after years of rolling my eyes at public-health campaigns and dreary proponents of "dry January" and "sober October," I had a very honest chat with my new GP that forced me to face facts.

And here is a seriously unpalatable one: I'm a smallish woman in my 30s, and drinking 21/2 glasses of wine a day is enough to cause me serious, long-term health problems.

What's perfectly fine for my husband is simply not fine for me.

This lack of equality is, in a nutshell, the problem with women and drink.

All over the Western world, women are drinking more than we ever have before. In Britain, where I live, rates of alcoholrelated liver disease in middleaged women have spiked in recent years. In the United States, women are drinking more than at any time in the country's history. The latest Statscan figures show a startling 30-per-cent rise in the number of Canadian women engaging in risky drinking (consuming five or more drinks in a sitting, once or more a month) from a decade ago.

According to Elizabeth Epstein, director of the Center for Alcohol Studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey, it's not that women have started drinking more than men - it's that we've simply caught up. "There has been convergence in drinking rates between the genders in the last 20 years or so," she told me in an interview this week. "While men have held steady, women have been steadily increasing."

The problem is, alcohol, even when it's taken in relatively modest daily doses, is much worse for women than for men. This is not a sexist double standard but a physiological reality. In addition to being generally smaller than men, women have on average 10 per cent more body fat and less fluid, which makes it more difficult for our bodies to dilute and process alcohol. When we do drink, it travels around our bodies in a more concentrated form and causes more harm. The effects, even with fairly moderate drinking, include increased rates of breast cancer, liver damage, weight gain, broken sleep and generally feeling like crap. And you can get the latter three just by having children.

Not surprisingly, more women are getting arrested for drunk driving (up 21 per cent over the past decade, according to U.S. statistics), as well as for antisocial behaviour. But for the most part, says Epstein, female drinkers - even the seriously addicted ones - are pretty quiet about it, particularly the educated, middle-class, gainfully employed "good girl" types she sees coming through her office door looking for treatment.

"You'd never know it to look at them. These women come in here and they're highly attractive, high-functioning people with children and jobs and partners, and they say, 'I've been drinking two bottles of wine a night for years.' And we're the first people they've ever told. Not their friends, not their partners. And these are just the ones who seek help."

A couple of generations ago, "respectable women" didn't go to bars or do shots or crack a bottle of Sancerre alone at the end of a long and stressful day. Now, almost all my girlfriends have a nicely stocked wine rack and a bottle of premium vodka in the freezer (at my house it's gin). The morning after book club is never a pretty sight.

Drinking has become more socially acceptable for women, which is, on the face of it, a good thing. Drinking can be a great release, and as women we should obviously be encouraged to get off our faces just like the boys when the mood occasionally strikes. But heavy drinking is also worse for us. And when we have a problem with it, we're better at hiding it.

We are drinking the men under the table, but it's not a game we can win.

Associated Graphic

Alcohol, even when it's taken in relatively modest daily doses, is much worse for women than for men.

ALY SONG/REUTERS

Designers eye Japanese style to loosen up 'stiff' Montreal
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The city's prevailing conservatism has curtailed Stéphane Rasselet's desire to import the open-minded attitudes of the East
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By ELLEN HIMELFARB
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Special to The Globe and Mail
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L7


How do you carve out a radical career in Montreal? Emulate the Japanese, apparently.

Perhaps that's unfair. Stéphane Rasselet, principal of the Montreal architecture studio Naturehumaine, has cultivated a singular style since launching his practice with partner Marc-André Plasse (now with Snohetta in New York) 11 years ago. His clean, graphic, residential design - characterized by looming windows, juxtaposed materials and oddly angled footprints squeezed into tight plots - pushes the envelope for functional, bare-bones modernism.

It just isn't very "Montreal."

Rasselet, who graduated with a bachelor of architecture from McGill, cut his teeth with the Old Montreal firm Lapointe Magne & Associés but left after five years - not because he wanted to get away from Old Montreal physically, but because he wanted to get away from it philosophically.

"There is still a stiff way of living in Montreal that hasn't much evolved in 40 or 50 years," Rasselet says. "A closed way of living."

The new practice would, in his words, "completely rethink the way we live" and spearhead a new kind of residential design.

Japan, which tends to endorse a more experimental urban fabric, has been a source of inspiration for Rasselet since the proliferation of architecture blogs a decade ago. The freewheeling attitude toward building and rebuilding nets a more avantgarde style with vast tracts of glazing, voids and inner courtyards - often at the expense of privacy.

As an example, Rasselet cites Atelier Bow-Wow, whose architects Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima are renowned for designing graceful spaces wedged into tiny plots like puzzle pieces. "They do interesting residential projects of an extreme even we won't go to."

Alastair Townsend, a U.S.-raised architect and founder of the Tokyo studio Bakoko, is also a fan of Bow-Wow and a frequent pundit on the subject of Japanese residential design. He ascribes Japan's nothing-to-lose approach to the country's peculiarly depreciating housing market (a house instantly loses a chunk of its value upon purchase, like a car). When "value" is this capricious, you can embrace all manner of eccentricity.

"Some Japanese clients indulge in adventurous flights of fancy," Townsend says, "whereas radical ideas are suppressed in the West, where clients conservatively safeguard their homes' resale value."

If America's modernists invented the glass house, the Japanese took it to an extreme. "On architectural websites, we see a steady stream of radical Japanese houses, mostly designed by young architects, that often elicit bewilderment," Townsend says.

Though he warns the blogs can be misleading - architectural showpieces are the exception to the rule, even if their viral circulation would have us believe otherwise - he concedes: "It can seem that in Japan, anything is permissible - balconies without handrails, rooms flagrantly cast open to their surroundings or homes with no windows at all. ... Working as a foreigner in Japan has taught me to keep an open mind to each new challenge and to cherish the purity of concepts."

Rasselet says, "In the past eight years we've been really connected, really influenced by what's going on there."

Last year Rasselet completed a renovation on a 1950s house in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, 80 per cent of which is now exposed to the garden by a 10-foot wall of glass. He inserted huge glazed panels in the monochrome façade - one of them in the master bedroom, within view of the residential street.

"That's the distinctive feature," he says. "That's what gives character to the house" - not for the sake of it, mind you, but to break down barriers between indoors and out, bring in light and create a sense of dramatic scale.

Inside, Connaught House reinforces the feeling of openness and community with flexible rooms that expand or contract with sliding panels instead of ordinary doors. The children's rooms are connected by a shared "secret passage." The study has no door at all, and yet it, along with the kitchen, bathrooms and master bedroom, are remarkably intimate - despite massive windows to the outside.

"Nowadays people want a lot of light despite having their neighbours close by," Rasselet says.

"They don't mind neighbours - that's the big change I've noticed."

By "people," Rasselet is referring to his own clientele, not Montrealers at large. Among the latter, that open-minded attitude - at least regarding residential architecture - is still relatively rare.

Rasselet says it creates a tension between his upwardly mobile clientele, who "want to be surprised" by new ideas, and the prevailing conservatism in Montreal, where bureaucrats require that 80 per cent of any new building façade must be built from masonry. "On our Chambord Street project," Rasselet says of a recent renovation in the Plateau neighbourhood, "80 per cent of the back façade is glass."

Montreal has ended up with a standardized look "that gives a distinct image to the city," Rasselet says, "but not in a good way."

And yet there is no homogeneous way of getting past red tape, as each arrondissement has its own Comité consultative d'urbanisme (CCU), an architectural panel with its own set of rules. "It takes just one conservative architect to stop what we want to do," Rasselet says.

Rasselet and Plasse chose their name, Naturehumaine, partly to reject the tradition of sameness in residential Montreal. "[The name] initially evolved to illustrate that architecture is for human beings - clients with special needs. There's a human aspect to it you can't pave over."

Some might say they've interpreted the human aspect of architecture quite literally. Squint and you'll see a dynamic, almost anthropomorphic profile that is rather human indeed.

"We do try to introduce new forms people haven't dealt with before," Rasselet says. Not in a home, anyway.

Associated Graphic

Architect Stéphane Rasselet says clients in Montreal avoid radical design to preserve their house's resale value, whereas the Japanese market is conducive to extreme designs.

CHRISTINNE MUSCHI FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

A HISTORIC BREAKTHROUGH AS U.S., CUBA RESTORE TIES
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'Isolation has not worked': Obama and Castro signal U.S. trade embargo against Cuba must end
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By TAVIA GRANT
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Thursday, December 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1


The United States will restore full diplomatic ties with Cuba, a historic step in healing divisions between the two nations that have lasted for more than half a century.

In a dramatic shift after decades of both frost and hostility, U.S. President Barack Obama announced an end to an "outdated" approach that will see the reopening of the U.S. embassy in Havana along with an easing of travel and commerce restrictions.

He also suggested he will push Congress to end the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, which has contributed to crippling the island's economy since the early 1960s.

Just 140 kilometres separate the two countries, but the ideological rift has been much wider. Their shared history reads like a novel encompassing spies, CIA assassination plots with exploding cigars, a missile crisis that brought the U.S. and Soviet Union to the brink, Cold War tactics, secret Vatican diplomacy and the two grizzled Castro brothers, who outlasted 10 American presidents.

Mr. Obama's announcement came after the release earlier Wednesday of American contractor Alan Gross, who had spent five years in a Cuban prison.

On the same day, the U.S. released three Cubans convicted of spying who were jailed in the United States - the last of the "Cuban Five" depicted as heroes in murals across the Communist-ruled island. In exchange, Cuba released a prisoner who had worked for U.S. intelligence.

"Isolation has not worked," the U.S. President said.

In many respects, it is the United States that has found itself isolated in its position on Cuba. The United Nations General Assembly has voted 23 times to condemn the U.S. embargo . At its last vote in October, 188 countries voted in support of the resolution to end the embargo. Only two opposed it: the U.S. and Israel.

The thaw "is extraordinary," said John Kirk, a professor at Dalhousie University who has written several books on Cuba and has been going there since 1976.

"The whole world has been waiting for this to happen."

In Havana, church bells tolled and some citizens cheered at news of the release of the remaining three prisoners of the Cuban Five. In a speech televised at the same time as Mr. Obama's, Cuban President Raul Castro said the two countries can work together in a "civilized manner," despite their differences in areas such as human rights.

He also urged the U.S. to end its trade embargo which "has caused enormous human and economic damage."

The United States broke diplomatic relations with Cuba on Jan. 3, 1961, after the nationalization of U.S. assets without compensation. Its embargo - or blockade as Cubans call it - forbids almost all trade and travel to the country.

"Re-establishing diplomatic relations is going to open doors to much more rational discussion in the future," said John Price, Miami-based managing director at Americas Market Intelligence. "There are lots of people in both countries who realize the embargo is doing more harm than good."

Cuba is home to just 11 million people, but it carries a far greater geopolitical weight in the region, and the move will bolster U.S. relations with Latin American as a whole.

"Cuba has always been a sticking point for relations between the United States and Latin America," Mr. Price said.

Canada played a key role in the lead-up to this week's announcement. U.S. and Cuban officials have been in talks for about 18 months - and Canada hosted and facilitated most of the meetings. Mr. Obama thanked Pope Francis for his efforts in urging reconciliation and the government of Canada.

The shift has longer-term implications for Canada and Canadians, who are the top tourists to Cuba. About 1.4 million Canadians visit Cuba's white-sand beaches and old Havana's cobblestone streets each year and they will, eventually, find their holiday destination a lot more crowded. It could also mean increased competition for Canadian businesses there - and diminished diplomatic clout in Havana.

The opening will bolster Cuba's anemic economy, injecting muchneeded cash into its system through more remittances, more visitors to the island and eventually more foreign direct investment. It will also affect Americans, more of whom will finally be permitted to travel to Cuba for professional or educational reasons.

The announcement triggered outrage among some Republicans and will doubtless be a subject of heated debate in the 2016 presidential race. It also set off small protests in Miami. But even there, public opinion about the embargo has shifted significantly. A majority of Cuban-Americans in South Florida now oppose continuing the embargo, a poll this year by Florida International University showed. "The main trend has been a growing erosion for support of the embargo," said Jorge Duany, director of the university's Cuban Research Institute. The poll, conducted since 1991, "shows increasing support for engagement rather than isolation."

"It's going to profoundly transform and challenge the way Cubans think about their nation and its relationship with the outside world," said Jason Colby, associate professor at the University of Victoria who specializes in U.S.Latin American relations.

That's because "the touch-point of Cuban identity and Cuban government's legitimacy has been the argument that we're under siege from the United States and we're protecting you from American imperialism. So when that vanishes - and kudos to Raul Castro for having the courage to open this up - when that central pillar of your government's legitimacy gets removed, it opens the question of what is the basis of the revolutionary regime's power and legitimacy now?"

Associated Graphic

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks with Cuban President Raul Castro from the White House Tuesday. At right, Mr. Castro tells his nation the news on Wednesday.

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Alan Gross, jailed for five years in Cuba, embraces a member of Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy's staff after his release Wednesday.

JILL ZUCKMAN/REUTERS

Exercising to avoid sickness? It's all about the sweet spot
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By ALEX HUTCHINSON
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Monday, November 24, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L6


jockology@globeandmail.com

Exercise boosts your immune system, but too much exercise suppresses it. Everyone agrees on that.

But with peak cold and flu season barrelling toward us, the more pressing issue is how to find the sweet spot. A new technique that tests immune function in humans rather than in Petri dishes suggests that the duration of your workout may have a greater effect on your immune system than how hard you push - yet another argument in favour of including some highintensity exercise in your workout routine.

"Our data challenge the concept that short, high intensity exercise decreases immunity," says Dr. Neil Walsh of Bangor University in Britain. Instead, "it appears that exercise lasting two hours or more decreases the immune response."

The basic relationship between physical activity and immune function is illustrated by two oftrepeated epidemiological observations. First is the fact that, in the general population, the more active you are, the less likely you are to get sick. For example, a 2011 study of 1,002 adults by Dr. David Nieman at Appalachian State University found that those who exercised five or more days a week were 43 per cent less likely to develop upper respiratory tract infections during the fall and winter than those who exercised once a week or less.

At the other extreme, elite athletes - and particularly endurance athletes - are more likely to get sick during periods of intense training or immediately after arduous competitions such as marathons. A forthcoming study of French elite swimmers in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, for example, found that the odds of illness rose by 50 to 70 per cent during periods of intense training. And, like the rest of us, the swimmers were significantly more likely to get sick during the winter months.

The more difficult question to answer is: What types of workouts are hardest on the immune system? While hundreds of studies have explored the links between exercise and immune function, nearly all use rodents or approximate immune function by measuring the abundance of certain markers in the blood or saliva. But the immune system is a co-ordinated network throughout the body that includes neural and hormonal responses, so testing the response of a few cells in a test tube doesn't give a reliable prediction of immune behaviour, Walsh says.

In a study published this month in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Walsh and his team administered an irritant called diphenylcyclopropenone (DPCP) through a patch on the lower back of 64 healthy males, 20 minutes after exercise bouts of various lengths and intensities. The strength of the immune reaction was tested by applying more DPCP to the subjects' upper arms four weeks later and measuring the degree of skin response.

The skin test is a good proxy for overall immune response, Walsh explains: "We would expect those with a very low response to our skin patch test to be more susceptible to opportunistic infections and the like."

The researchers divided their subjects into four groups. One group did 30 minutes of treadmill running at a moderate pace; another did 30 minutes of more intense running at 80 per cent of peak oxygen uptake, "where you would struggle to hold a conversation," Walsh says; a third did 120 minutes of moderate running; and the fourth was a control group that did no exercise.

Contrary to earlier test-tube studies, 30 minutes of intense running had no effect on immune response. In contrast, 120 minutes of slower running did spark a significant reduction in immune response. One theory is that prolonged exercise triggers a gradual rise in blood stress hormones such as cortisol, which in turn temporarily suppresses immune function. That dip explains why runners are more likely to catch an infection in the week immediately following a marathon. The results are consistent with previous studies on exercise and immune function, according to Dr. Peter Darlington, a professor in Concordia University's department of exercise science who studies immunology.

"The way they measured the immune system in vivo was quite informative, as other studies have used less specific tests," he said in an e-mail.

If you do have a multihour workout planned, the best way to protect your immune system probably won't come out of a bottle, according to Dr. Michael Gleeson of Loughborough University in Britain: "There are so many of those things in the health-food shops that are claimed to boost immunity," he noted at a recent conference, "but most of the studies that have been done in athletes have shown that they don't really work."

Instead, studies have found that a more effective approach is to take in carbohydrate to minimize your energy deficit during intense exercise lasting longer than 90 minutes, which will reduce the immune-suppressing rise in stress hormones.

For most of us, the risks of overdoing it at the gym are dwarfed by the likelihood that our workouts will actually bolster immune function. But it you still have doubts, take a cue from Walsh's study - and push harder instead of longer.

Alex Hutchinson blogs about exercise research at sweatscience.runnersworld.com.

PROTECTING YOURSELF

If you're exercising heavily, these steps can help keep your immune system at full power, according to a recent review by Dr. Michael Gleeson and Dr. Clyde Williams of Loughborough University in Britain:

Good hand, food hygiene.

Adequate sleep and low overall stress.

A diet that provides sufficient calories, protein, and micronutrients.

A probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus.

A diet rich in polyphenols, a compound found in green leafy vegetables, onions, apples, pears, grapes, citrus fruits.

As a potential post-run drink, non-alcoholic beer, which in a recent study reduced respiratory infections in marathoners.

Source: Nestlé Nutrition Institute Workshop Series

Associated Graphic

Studies have shown that working out boosts your immune system, but analysis of elite athletes shows that too much exercise can actually make things worse.

FRED LUM/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Edmonton's rebuild within the rebuild will be a tough pill to swallow
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Phenomenon of starting over again isn't something teams want to acknowledge because it makes everybody look bad
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By ERIC DUHATSCHEK
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Friday, December 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


eduhatschek@globeandmail.com

The question the Oilers need to ask - and this is why MacTavish is behind the bench right now - is which of the players from the spinning-their-wheels stage of the team's rebuild survive, and which ones move on?

Dallas Eakins said something the other day he didn't think Edmonton Oilers fans wanted to hear - despite eight years out of the NHL playoffs, they would need to show patience a little bit longer. After being deposed as the Oilers coach by general manager Craig MacTavish this past Monday following a 1-15 slide, Eakins suggested he could speak more freely as the former coach than as someone charged with the day-today task of improving a young team that still needed time to mature.

It's an interesting idea - that an incumbent coach cannot lay it all on the line while he's still working, presumably because of the need to consistently toe the party line.

Eakins figured the Oilers wouldn't be humming on all cylinders for another year or more - until they move to their new building, in 2016.

Of course, you can look at it the other way, too. Most people who care enough about the NHL to follow it closely also understand that in the era of the quick fix it does take time. What should bother them is how many of those years were wasted at the beginning - three years of futilely struggling to make the playoffs before finally making the decision to go all scorched earth; and then coming up with so few real prospects during the next five years that they've quietly had to begin the rebuild within the rebuild.

This phenomenon - of starting over again - is not something teams want to acknowledge, because it makes everybody look bad and because it really amounts to the hardest sell in professional sport.

Teams genuinely believe they cannot turn to their fan base and blurt out the painful reality - that Plan A didn't work and so now they're off to Plan B. Just trust us, this one will work better.

Really, it will.

The fact is, it can - and for proof, you need only look at another once-proud NHL team that had fallen on hard times, the Chicago Blackhawks, to see how its blueprint for success eventually emerged.

Starting in the 1997-98 season, the Blackhawks missed the playoffs for six out of seven seasons, and the seventh, 2003-04, turned out to be the worst of the bunch.

They'd finished 15th in the Western Conference, with a miserable 59 points, and imagined they'd eventually turn it around with a young core of players that included Daniel Cleary, Ty Jones, Steve McCarthy and the infamous ABC line of Tyler Arnason, Mark Bell and Kyle Calder.

They drafted Russians high that didn't play (Mikhail Yakubov, Pavel Vorobiev); Finns that spent their careers chronically injured (Tuomo Ruutu); and the one home run they might have hit - goaltender Craig Anderson, 73rd over all in 2001 - got away before he hit his NHL stride.

By the time the NHL shut it down for the 2005-06 season, they'd effectively wasted seven years - and had to start all over again, under general manager Dale Tallon, who took over in 2005, as the team underwent a massive front-office shift.

The building was empty, and interest minimal when the Blackhawks, in consecutive drafts, plucked Jonathan Toews at No. 3 in 2006 and Patrick Kane No. 1 over all in 2007.

Tallon inherited a couple of quality defensive prospects, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, but made arguably the smartest decision of his managerial career when he hired Joel Quenneville to replace Denis Savard as coach four games into the 2007-08 season.

This was no easy sell.

Savard was one of the most popular players in Blackhawks' history, a franchise icon (sound familiar Edmonton fans?) And yet, Tallon understood that the Blackhawks, at the same time as they were reengaging with players from their glory days, needed an experienced and fresh voice from outside the organization handling the bench.

Most of the players accumulated during the first phase of the Blackhawks rebuild were shipped out and Quenneville was tasked with taking the second wave of youngsters and accomplishing with them what the first wave couldn't do.

You know the rest of the story.

The Blackhawks have become a model NHL franchise - two Stanley Cup championships in the past five years, plus a trip to last year's Western Conference final.

But they couldn't have managed it without saying goodbye to a lot of promising players, many of them high draft choices, who didn't pan out.

That's a hard thing to do - and a harder thing to sell. But if it works, who's going to complain?

If the Oilers continue to struggle, they'll have a chance to land a Toews-like piece in either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in the 2015 NHL entry draft.

The question they'll need to ask - and this is why MacTavish is behind the bench right now - is which of the players from spinning-their-wheels stage of the team's rebuild survive, and which ones move on?

Eakins didn't quite phrase it exactly that way, but that's really what this is all about in Edmonton - the rebuild within the rebuild; and the sooner they characterize it as such, the easier it will be for a pretty sophisticated Oilers' fandom to digest why it is necessary.

Follow me on Twitter:@eduhatschek

Associated Graphic

Fans of the Oilers react during the game against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday. Edmonton lost 2-1 in a shootout.

CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES

Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish, centre, talks with Leon Draisaitl and Taylor Hall during the first period of game against the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale, Ariz., on Tuesday.

CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES

Why women don't stay in Alphaville
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It's true that both sexes can make it to the top, but happiness doesn't always rest on staying there
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By MARGARET WENTE
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Saturday, December 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F2


mwente@globeandmail.com

I had dinner recently with a friend who lives in New York.

She's a top news executive with one of the big networks. She directs their global news coverage: Ebola, Islamic State, earthquakes, stuff like that. She's on call 24/7. Her last vacation is a distant memory. She has no time for kids. After our dinner, she was heading back to work.

My friend lives in Alphaville - a realm that's wide open to brainy Type-A women, but still populated overwhelmingly by Type-A men. Alphaville includes the most senior ranks of business and science, and much of Silicon Valley and high tech. It includes the math, physics, engineering and economics departments of most major universities. It includes top law firms, big media and much of federal politics, as well as big-risk, big-reward enterprises like investment banking, venture capital and hedge funds. People look at the scarcity of women in Alphaville and wonder how much progress we've really made.

Many people will dispute the assertion that Alphaville is wide open to women. Custom, prejudice, old boys' clubs, corporate culture, hidden barriers and negative views about women's capabilities still keep women out, they argue.

The answer to these problems is more affirmative action, more mentoring, more female-friendly policies and culture, more paternal leave, and, if all that doesn't work, more quotas.

Other people (and I am one) argue that men's and women's career preferences tend to be different. Women would rather be teachers than economists. Advocates say this problem can be partly solved by reducing stereotyping, introducing young girls to math and science, finding more female role models in STEM fields and rejecting sexist toys.

Then there's motherhood, which changes everything. Once women get on the mommy track, they're screwed. According to Facebook and Apple, the answer is to pay for women to freeze their eggs - just the kind of technojerky solution that software engineers are likely to come up with. The other answer, advocated by many younger feminists, is to socialize husbands to do their share. The revolution begins at home.

There are good ideas in these proposals. But we've been trying them for years, and Alphaville still looks pretty male. A fascinating new study conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University helps explain why. (The full title is Life Paths And Accomplishments Of Mathematically Precocious Males And Females Four Decades Later.)

The research tracks the life trajectory of 1,630 intellectually gifted 13-year-olds - 1,037 boys and 613 girls - beginning in the 1970s.

These kids were exceptionally bright. All scored in the top 1 per cent of mathematical achievement, known to be an excellent predictor of success in later life for both males and females. By the time they grew up, these kids would have meaningful, high-level career options.

Four decades later, the researchers went back for midlife followup. Both the men and the women, now in their 50s, have done extremely well. They are extraordinarily accomplished, highachieving and happy. But the choices they've made, and their definitions of success, turn out to be quite different.

The men are more likely to work in technology and engineering, and to be CEOs. The women are more likely to work in general business, education and health care. (They're about equally represented in finance, medicine and law.) The men are far more intensely engaged in high-powered careers. They work long hours and make lots of money. Only two-thirds of the women work full time. The women who are married have high-earning husbands who make more than they do, and the married men have wives who make much less. Both agree that family is the most important thing in their lives.

These differences do not stem from workplace discrimination. They're rooted in different preferences, values and temperaments.

The biggest gender differences concern the role of work and achievement versus family and community. The men want to make money, excel at work and make an impact. The women care more about free time and flexibility than money. What's important for them is time for family, community and friends, for "being there." Women are more socially minded. They are far more likely to agree with the statement, "It is important to me that no one goes without."

The gifted men in this study, as you might expect, are much more individualistic and aggressive.

The greatest asymmetry among men's and women's answers describes the classic technomacho mindset that's so prevalent in Alphaville. By a wide margin, men are more likely to agree with the following statements:

Receiving criticism from others does not inhibit me from expressing my thoughts.

Discomforting others does not deter me from stating the facts.

Society should invest in my ideas because they are more important than those of other people.

The conundrum of Alphaville is that it is wide open to gifted women - as long as they resemble alpha men. Such women are not that common. Maybe they'll become more common in the future, as men and women feel less constrained to conform to typically gendered behaviours.

Or maybe Alphaville will change, although I think not. The world is too competitive, too global for that.

There's one more interesting conclusion in this study. The women don't feel they've been cheated or shut out. They think their lives are great. On every measure of psychological wellbeing, they scored about the same as the men.

What do these findings mean? Maybe that the women have been brainwashed. But the authors guess it's that "there are multiple ways to construct a meaningful, productive and satisfying life."

In other words, there's more to life than Alphaville. And that's a good thing.

Associated Graphic

The senior ranks are wide open to gifted women - as long as they resemble alpha men.

ANDY CLARK/REUTERS


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