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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birth of a market

Health Canada has only grudgingly allowed the industry to exist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not everyone is as cautious.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Its Canadian medical marijuana subsidiary is called CEN Biotech.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Risk and reward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The market will only assist this process."

Growing pains

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

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

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

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

Associated Graphic

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



*Subsidiary of a Dutch-based company

Cannabis seedlings at the Tilray medical marijuana grow-op.


Joey Arsenault uncovers cannabis seedlings.


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


The trimming room at the medical marijuana grow-op.


Shlomo Booklin trims cannabis plants at the grow-op.


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

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

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

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

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

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

But there is tremendous violence taking place on both sides.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even the clock is divided

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Islam by fiat

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

Enforcement is not subtle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

People do what they can to evade the constant surveillance.

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

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

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

"Who can help me?" he asks.

"Only God."

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

Sometimes, the next life seems too long to wait.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No place for a child

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Battle over who came first

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But that's not all he wants.

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

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

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

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

"They want equal rights."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Associated Graphic

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

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


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


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



Roger Bannister of Britain and John Landy of Australia had the eyes of the world on them 60 years ago. In front of a raucous crowd of 32,000 at newly built Empire Stadium, and heard and seen by tens of millions more on radio and TV, both men ran faster than four minutes, Bannister edging Landy. The race became the template for modern sports as massive spectacle, and raised issues on the boundaries of human potential that are even more relevant today, David Ebner writes from Vancouver
Thursday, August 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S4

In the middle of the previous century, the mile was a singular distance, a testing ground for the limits of human athletic ability.

The world in the early 1950s was emerging from the Second World War. After all that death, people were pursuing life, including the expansion of what the human body could achieve. In 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest. The next year, amid much speculation that man could not run a mile in under four minutes, Roger Bannister broke through at Oxford University. Six weeks later, a rival, Australian John Landy, ran one second faster.

The feats became prelude for a summer sensation. Vancouver, then a remote forestry town on Canada's distant West Coast, was host to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games, and the Bannister-Landy showdown was dubbed the Miracle Mile. Sports Illustrated, in its debut issue that summer, described it as the "most widely heralded and universally contemplated foot race of all time."

In front of a raucous crowd of 32,000 at newly built Empire Stadium, and heard and seen by tens of millions more on radio and early televisions, both men ran faster than four minutes, Bannister edging Landy. It became the template for modern sports as massive spectacle. It is commemorated today at the corner of Hastings and Renfrew, where the stadium once stood - a bronze sculpture of the two striding runners, nearly side by side.

In fact, the theme of 1954 - the boundaries of human potential - resonates far more on the track today. Following decades of gains through the 1990s, many records have been static for years, for men and women. The experiences of elite runners and coaches, and academic studies, suggest human beings have touched the edges of the body's ability.

Yet there remains a hint, even from the present plateau, of possible breakthroughs ahead. Certainly, the men who established new frontiers six decades ago believe there is more room to run. Bannister, a retired neurologist, has spoken about the complexity of the human body - "centuries in advance of the physiologist." Landy is unequivocal about the record in the mile, which has stood since 1999, when Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj ran 3 minutes 43.13 seconds.

"There's no question it can be run faster," Landy said in an interview from his Melbourne home.

For all the science now employed in athletics, knowledge of the body remains in some ways rudimentary, the interplay between mind and muscle not entirely understood.

"The big thing," said running coach and biomechanics professor Frans Bosch, "is we don't have a clue what is the limiting factor."

24.2 kilometres an hour

The origin of the mile run goes back to the ancient Romans. The Latin mille passuum was a thousand paces, as walked by the soldiers of Rome on the march toward conquests. The distance was malleable, shifting as the unit was exported. The Roman version was figured to be a little less than 1,500 metres. The mile, as it is known today, was codified in 1593 by the English Parliament.

For most people, a four-minute mile is as abstract as the summit of Everest. But the Himalayan peak can be reached by ordinary people, or at least those with the courage and the cash: 658 people made it last year, many of them wealthy amateur climbers. A fourminute mile belongs to the world's athletic elite - 73 men ran faster than four minutes outdoors in 2013.

The speed required to run a four-minute mile is dizzying, a sustained dash of at least 24.2 kilometres an hour over the mile. It is so fast that the typical treadmill at your local gym cannot even be set at such a speed.

'I had four minutes inside me somewhere'

It was failings at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki that propelled Bannister and Landy, two university students on opposite sides of the planet, toward their history-making runs. Bannister's plan was to win gold in the 1,500 m - the metric mile - and retire from competition and focus on his medical studies. But in the finals he ran out of energy on the last turn and finished fourth. The loss led to a new goal: the fourminute mile.

Landy, meanwhile, had raced seriously only for one year and did not get past the first heat in Helsinki. The agriculture sciences student did make gains, observing training methods of others and picking up better-quality European running shoes.

The four-minute mile had a mystique, a purity. It entailed sprinting over distance, and on an oval track it had a pleasing symmetry - four laps of 400 m, one minute each time around, a full rotation of the second hand on a stopwatch. Audiences loved it and the newsreels of the day made athletic heroes out of the best milers.

The record for the mile had stood since 1945 at 4:01.4, set by Swede Gunder Hagg, who with countryman Arne Andersson had shaved five seconds from the record in three years. And there it was stuck.

There was talk of four minutes as an ultimate barrier. The two young men studying science were not overawed, even in the year or two they pushed unsuccessfully to overcome it. Landy ran 4:02 numerous times. Four minutes felt like a brick wall, he said then, and wasn't sure he was the man who could do it. But Landy, now 84, remembered: "I did not see four minutes as insurmountable."

Neither did Bannister. He had run three-quarters of the distance in well under three minutes. "I knew I had four minutes inside me somewhere," said Bannister, 85, from his home in Oxford, England. "As a physiologist, a medical student, it didn't seem logical to me. If you could find Swedes who could do 4:01 2/5s, then you could find somebody to break four minutes."

Their training only faintly resembled a modern regime, involving small distances compared with even serious recreational runners today. Bannister ran at lunchtime. He would skip one of his classes and take the subway one stop or bicycle to London's Paddington Recreation Ground. He did not warm up or cool down afterward, and he ran intervals. In the months ahead of his breakthrough, Bannister would join training partners and a coach at the Duke of York's barracks in Chelsea. He would run a quarter-mile 10 times over half an hour and slashed the pace to 59 seconds per interval from 66.

Landy's work was similar. He was new to the idea that he had a special talent. As a schoolboy athlete, he said, "I was reasonably good, but I wasn't outstanding." After Helsinki, Landy trained late at night in Melbourne. He ran intervals and distance in the grass at a large park near his family's home. "I would study," he said, "and then I would train. It was a great break. It was something physical you could do to take your mind off your studies."

In spring 1954, with Landy pressing against four minutes, Bannister felt a sense of urgency. The day it happened was not propitious. The weather was inclement. Bannister spent the morning doing hospital rounds in London before taking the train to Oxford. He was wary of a record attempt, but when the rain and winds eased, he decided to run. Led by two pacesetters, Bannister breached the barrier, 3:59.4, and collapsed into the arms of officials at the finish. "I felt," Bannister wrote afterward, "like an exploded flashlight."

The record stood for 46 days. Ahead of the Empire and Commonwealth Games, Landy had flown to Finland to run a series of races. He was already there when news of Bannister's record arrived by telegram. Then, on June 21, racing against one of Bannister's pacesetters, Landy ran 3:57.9 in the southern port city of Turku. His world record would last three years.

Vancouver was suddenly in a spotlight. It was more town than city and in the year ahead of the games Vancouver almost lost them to Toronto, struggling to cobble together funds for a new stadium to hold the main events. Wealthy businessmen drummed up the $360,000 to get it built. Intrigue boiled by late July. Landy worked out at the University of British Columbia, sessions attended by several hundred spectators.

He ran three-quarters of a mile in under three minutes, stoking anticipation of a record performance. Bannister avoided attention and ran at a golf course close to the athletes' village, "almost in secret," according to The Canadian Press. The hype stoked breathless reporting. "Miracle Miler sick with cold," trumpeted a front-page headline of Bannister's dealing with a cough in an evening newspaper.

'Pandemonium broke loose'

Saturday, Aug. 7, was a hot day: blue sky, bright sun, the stadium on the city's east side framed by the North Shore Mountains. Landy, the favourite, planned to try to outrun his rival. "My technique was to run Roger Bannister off his feet, because it's the only way I knew how to run," Landy recalled. "I only gave myself a 50/50 chance." What Landy was trying to ward off was Bannister's wellknown final burst of energy, one the Brit used to run down opponents at the end of races.

The gun went off and the resounding memory in the mind of Charlie Warner, who took the iconic photograph of the race, was an eerie silence in the stadium. Landy burst out front and Bannister was more than 10 m off the pace nearing the halfway mark. "I regretted," Bannister said, "letting him get so far ahead."

Bannister closed the gap on the third lap and, amid the rising roar of the crowd, he unleashed his finishing kick on the final bend, passing on the outside, on Landy's right shoulder. In the same instant, Landy, sensing Bannister was closing in, glanced over his left. It is this moment Warner captured in his photo (the basis for the bronze sculpture). The men sprinted to the finish, Bannister winning in 3:58.8 and Landy less than a second behind, 3:59.6.

"Pandemonium broke loose," remembered Warner at his home in Ladner, south of Vancouver.

At the finish, Bannister jogged over to Landy. They commiserated, shook hands and embraced.

"We've been good friends ever since," Bannister said.

The Miracle Mile is where modern sports was heading. In the earliest days of television, the live broadcast from Canada to the United States was a first, and a British Royal Air Force bomber was on hand in Vancouver to fly footage back to Britain. The victor was painted in hyperbolic strokes.

Sports Illustrated, naming Bannister its inaugural sportsman of the year, described the runner as a "tall, pale-skinned explorer of human exhaustion" - conqueror of the "imaginary monster" of the four-minute mile.

'It looks like a long way off'

When Bannister and Landy were stars of the athletics world, there was no such thing as a professional running career.

Today, while a living can be made - albeit often a meagre one - society's roving spotlight swivels only once every four years to the track, at the Summer Olympics. In the pursuit of four minutes, the culture was enthralled, but attention has turned elsewhere as times have stalled. To those in the know, Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, who turned 25 in June, is the man most likely to break through in middle distance.

Still, with a number of records set during the era of blatant doping, there is a belief, especially on the women's side, that some of them will never be eclipsed. The mile itself is an orphan of a sort, a race rarely staged, its record elusive.

"Everything has to be completely perfect," said Canadian mile record holder Kevin Sullivan, who ran 3:50.26 in 2000. "The line between achieving it and missing it is so fine."

Alan Webb, who retired from the track this year and has moved into triathlon, first broke four minutes in high school, and his American record of 3:46.91, set in 2007, is the fastest time run since El Guerrouj's record in 1999.

"It takes a special person, a special moment," Webb said. "As we learn more about physiology and biomechanics, it's just a matter of time before you get that special athlete to mesh up with all that we've learned."

As running has evolved, attention has turned to the marathon. "The marathon is the new mile," said David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene. The distance of 42.195 km used to be a retirement home for elite middle-distance runners, who no longer were in the top echelon in the 1,500 or 5,000 m. However, as the economics of racing reward marathon winners, talent has gravitated to the event.

The times have come down steadily over the past decade - four record-breaking runs that cut 92 seconds from the mark. The current record, 2 hours 03 minutes 23 seconds, was set by Kenyan Wilson Kipsang in Berlin last year. Two hours is within sight, enticingly so. But the remaining gap is a chasm - too great, some say. Epstein doesn't think it'll happen in his lifetime.

The refrain is not uncommon. Richard Lee is the running coach of the B.C. Endurance Project, a group that includes top Canadian marathoner Dylan Wykes. "Not soon," is Lee's conclusion about a sub-two-hour marathon. Today's best times are being set in ideal conditions, in Berlin, where the course is relatively flat, has few turns and features elite pacesetters to lead the way for most of the distance.

"It looks like a long way off," said Wykes of two hours. "Maybe 30 years down the line."

The riddle is the requisite combination of engine and economy. The person with the biggest engine - aerobic capacity - is generally not the one with the best running economy, the right body type - just like the cars that are best on gas are not the ones that have monster engines. A 1991 journal article, assessing various physiological factors, concluded the theoretical person with a big engine and excellent running economy could complete a marathon in about 1:58:00. Trouble is, the person as imagined probably does not exist.

Other academic attempts to consider human limits conclude they have nearly been reached, such as a 2005 journal article by Alan Nevill and Gregory Whyte that used a statistical model. A 2008 article in the Journal of Experimental Biology, by Stanford University professor Mark Denny, used three statistical models and found that running speeds have mostly plateaued. He observed the same in other species that have been specifically bred for speed - thoroughbred horses and greyhound dogs.

But even at the edge of what might be possible, Denny said the likely existence of an ultimate limit "should not diminish the awe" with which we view elite athletics.

'You get a grasp of how hard it actually is'

For all the statistics, the question of what's possible may come down to intangibles. Seemingly crucial factors such as pain threshold, the will to win, dedication and passion cannot be measured in any precise way, said scientist Trent Stellingwerff, the director of innovation and research at Canadian Sport Institute Pacific who works with Athletics Canada.

"Those are incredibly important factors," Stellingwerff said.

Bannister spoke about the same thing six decades ago. He had exhausted all his energy at Oxford in his record-breaking attempt but pushed on. "The physical overdraft," he wrote a year later, "came only from greater willpower."

Talk of a plateau, of a limit discerned by statistics, is "totally made up," according to Bosch, the track coach and biomechanics expert at Fontys University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands.

Bosch pointed to the central governor theory, where "the brain backs off long before we reach our limits." It's pictured as a safety system, to protect the heart and the body from dangerous overexertion. If the safety margin could somehow be eased, Bosch said, whatever limit might exist gets pushed further out. Anecdotally, he cited athletes who compete when they are, off the track, in the swoon of romantic love - and in such circumstances he has seen elevated performances.

Speculation of a central governor goes back to the mid-1920s in London and Archibald Hill, a Nobel laureate in physiology, and came to prominence in the work of Timothy Noakes and his widely cited 2001 paper in the Journal of Experimental Biology. Noakes described a mechanism that corrals the body when it is starved for oxygen: "a central, neural governor constrains cardiac output regulating the mass of skeletal muscle that can be activated during maximal exercise."

It's here where there is the sense that, plateau or not, someone with a combination of innate talent and prodigious work ethic can overcome what has previously been achieved.

In the simplest of sports - no bulky equipment, no balls or bats or sticks, not even shoes are strictly necessary - runners foster an intimate relationship with time and distance, everything counted in minutes and kilometres and miles, and fractions thereof. The more ground run, the more innate the sense of time becomes.

Bannister, on his lunchtimes running at the Paddington Recreation Ground, would train untimed - "knowing the feeling of my own pace," he recalled.

"You're always calculating," said Lucas Bruchet, a 23-year-old who last winter cracked through four minutes in the mile for the first time. "We're always counting in some manner."

Bruchet graduated from UBC in the spring and now chases the life of a professional runner. He will not expand the limits of human capacity; his goal is to reach the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, and he is close to qualifying in the 1,500 m. As a runner in high school, he learned of the feats of his forebears, including Bannister.

"You start learning about how fast four minutes is," Bruchet said. "The more your run, and the more you try to do it, you get a grasp of how hard it actually is." As for ultimate limits, Bruchet pointed to the steady improvement in the marathon record, but knows progress seems less likely in the middle distances.

"Maybe it's possible we've hit our capacity, the human capacity, and we can't run any faster," he said. "Or maybe the athletes that did it were just so talented, and they only come along every 20 or 30 years."

Associated Graphic

John Landy led for most of the Miracle Mile at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games (now called the Commonwealth Games) in Vancouver. But Roger Bannister, right, won by several yards over the world-record holder, thanks to a burst of speed on the final bend.


Dispatches of a disaster
The following conversations took place on July, 6, 2013, on the night of the devastating derailment in Lac-Mégantic. They were between railway engineer Tom Harding and company offices in Farnham, Que., and Maine. The transcripts, which are based on audio recordings of MM&A's rail-traffic control communications, provide new insight into Mr. Harding's actions before the derailment, as well as the uncertainty and panic that took hold in the chaotic hours after the crash
Thursday, August 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

First conversation

11:04 p.m.

Length: 44 seconds

Harding calling RJ

RJ: CCF Farnham, bonjour

TH: Track release on the fuel

RJ: Yeah, go ahead, Tom.

TH: 5017 east of west, W-E-S-T siding switch euh, euh, Nantes right now.

RJ: West siding switch dead. Alright. 5017 - east E-AS-T is cleared the west W-E-S-T, siding switch Nantes. 23h04, 2-3-0-4, is that correct, Tom?

TH: 2-3-0-4 west Nantes is correct. Tom Harding. Can you call me up a taxi, RJ?

RJ: Yeah. Right Away.

TH: I'll call you from down below.

RJ: OK, thank you. RTC out.

TH: Tom out.

Second conversation

11:38 p.m.

Length: 42 seconds

Harding calling RJ

RJ: CCF à Farnham.

TH: Yeah, RJ, me here.

RJ: Yes, yes, you.

TH: I'm off the clock at 45.

RJ: OK, you know that you're supposed to send your ticket?

TH: Where?

RJ: Here.

TH: No, I didn't.

RJ: When you're through.

TH: Oh, I didn't know that. When when did that start?

RJ: Euh, I think it started yesterday, I don't know, something like that ... TH: Oh ... RJ: So tomorrow when you start to work ... TH: Send it in.

RJ: ... send it in

TH: Okay.

Third conversation

11:59 p.m.

Duration: 2 min. 39 sec.

RJ calling Harding at the Auberge hotel

FI: L'Auberge, bonsoir.

RJ: Oui, bonsoir, chemins de fer MMA. Mon, mon p'tit canadien y est-tu dans to coin?

FI: Euh ... ben normalementy viennent me le dire quandy arrivent pis là. J'ai pas eu de nouvelle.

RJ: Ok. Euh, lui y serait dans la 5 ou dans 15? Dans 5, je pense hein?

FI: Euh, ben on a 2 chambres, la 5 pis ou la 15 là, y en a 2 qui rentrent?

RJ: Ben y en a just 1 qui rente, ya juste Tom qui rente.

FI: Ha, mais je le sais pas ... RJ: Tu l'as pas vu?

FI: ... dans quelle qui va.

RJ: euh...essai-moi la 5 si vous plait FI: La 5? OK.

RJ: Merci.

Beeps - phone rings:

TH: Hello.

RJ: Hi, Tom ... TH: Yes, RJ.

RJ: Sorry to bother you.

TH: No problem.

RJ: Hey, euh, did you kill the units before leaving?

TH: Yes, four of them.

RJ: Which one did you keep running?

TH: 5017.

RJ: The leader?

TH: Yes.

RJ: Ok, apparently it's - it went on fire TH: It went on fire?

RJ: Yeah.

TH: Oh, really?

RJ: Yeah.

TH: Okay [laughs]. I had problems with that. I reported it to Dave. Have you talked to Dave?

RJ: No.

TH: Okay. I told Dave that I worked it hard coming up there and she was smoking pretty good when I left her.

RJ: Okay.

TH: Now you're telling me she caught on fire?

RJ: Yeah, she caught on fire.

TH: Ok, somebody up there to take care of it or?

RJ: Yeah, well, the firemen were there.

TH: Yes?

RJ: And apparently it's dead now ... TH: Oh.

RJ: And the the fire is, is all gone. It's extinguished.

TH: Okay.

RJ: ... and that's all I know about it.

TH: Do I need to go up there, start ... ... ...

RJ: No, no, no, no, Jean Noel Busque is. He went there to check if there's any damage and he's gonna call me back.

TH: Okay, call me back, RJ.

RJ: No, go to bed.

TH: There's nothing to do, hey?

RJ: There's nothing to do, we won't start up an engine now. For tomorrow morning. He's gonna start them up, the American is gonna start them up.

TH: Okay. So she caught on fire, then.

RJ: It might be a minor fire, mind you.

TH: Yeah, yeah.

RJ: It could be something in one of the traction motors, something like that.

TH: Ah.

RJ: But you killed the 4 units, you kept only 5017 running?

TH: That was the only one that was running, 5017.

RJ: Yeah, and it caught on fire. Okay.

TH: And she caught on fire ... RJ: Alright.

TH: Okay, RJ.

RJ: Okay, bye.

TH: Bye.

Fourth conversation

1:47 a.m.

Duration: 3 min. 40 sec.

Harding calling RJ

RJ: CCF à Farnham

TH: Hey, RJ. Tom here. Listen, emergency. The town of Mégantic is on fire. Do we have tankers in the yard anywhere?

RJ: Tankers?

TH: Tankers, any kind of tankers, of any kind?

RJ: No, what's the problem? Is it with us?

TH: Everything is on fire, from the church all the way down to the Metro, from the river all the way to the railway tracks. But what I can see, RJ - the box cars have all burned in the yard, the ties, everything, whatever is in the yard, rolling stock is now gone completely.

RJ: Is, is, is it the train that run, run down?

TH: No, I had all of the police here around me because they know I work for the railway. We got a loaded train up at Nantes, it's okay.

RJ: Okay.

TH: Yard is gone. Flames, RJ, are 200 feet high. It's incredible, you can't believe it here. From the river right to the station ... RJ: What the fuck happened?

TH: I don't know, I don't know, but everything, everything. ... I woke up 20 minutes ago, evacuate, evacuate, evacuate right away.

RJ: Okay.

TH:I t's incredible ... RJ: Okay.

TH: We got no tankers in the yard anywhere, right?

RJ: Tankers? No, I don't think so, no.

TH: Okay. That's what I told them and they're telling me: yes, that's what's burning in the yard is, is propane and gas, and go ... RJ: Oh, okay, wait, wait, wait, wait, I'll see if I have something.

TH: Okay. I can't find the American, by the way, here. They evacuated everybody so fast there, they evacuated so fast I haven't found the American guy, but everybody is out of the Auberge. I'm at the Esso gas station 24 hour there ... RJ: ... TH: ... not getting any closer than that.

RJ: Tom, there's only the, the, the oil, the tank there for the, for the machinery, so the ... TH: That's long gone ... RJ: It's long gone, so there's nothing there.

TH: Okay, that means it's got to be the natural-gas pipeline that's been ... RJ: Okay so, so it's not us?

TH: It's not us, RJ, but talk to whoever you need to talk to, RJ - it's incredible.

RJ: Okay.

TH: It's incredible.

RJ: Alright, okay.

TH: There's, there's no way to get a hold of me right away. I had to borrow a phone from a citizen to be able to talk with you, okay?

RJ: Alright.

TH: The only guy that's missing is the American, I don't know who the American guy is, I haven't found him anywhere.

RJ: Okay, give me a second, I'll tell you right now.

TH: Okay.

RJ: Samson.

TH: Samson? Okay, Mark Samson, okay. Here, I got the cop here right next to me, okay?

RJ: Okay.

TH: Just hold the line, RJ, okay?

RJ: Okay.

TH: Aucune tanker ferroviaire ... [No railway tanker] Unknown: (inaudible) RJ: Aucun dangereux. There's no dangerous.

TH:... comme 100 gallons de fuel pour la petite machinerie, mais à part de a ... Unknown: (inaudible) TH: a se peux-tu que a soit la ... en haut, chez Bestar?

Unknown: En haut de?

TH: En haut de Bestar, y a une compagnie Bestar en haut ... Unknown: Non ... TH: Oui, okay.

Unknown: ... non, non ... TH: Ok, y a aucun wagon ferroviaire?

Unknown: Non.

TH: Y a rien, rien, rien de ferroviaire ici?

Unknown: (inaudible) TH: Je comprends pas ... propane ou natural gas, ou quelque chose?

Unknown: (inaudible) TH: (inaudible) ... RJ, am I done with you?

RJ: And no, no dangerous at all in the yard.

TH: No dangerous commodities of any kind?

RJ: No dangerous commodities of any kind.

TH: Okay, RJ, thank you.

If you need to get a hold of somebody ...

RJ: Yeah, I got ...

TH: phone the police up here, okay?

RJ: Okay.

TH: Okay. Thank you, RJ.

RJ: Alright, okay, bye.

TH: Bye.

Fifth conversation

3:29 a.m.

Duration: 5 min. 47 sec.

Harding calling RJ

RJ: CCF Farnham.

TH: Has it calmed down at your end, RJ?

RJ: No.

TH: Okay. So what are you gonna do with me ... back for a couple of days, they've got to rebuild the tracks, hey?

RJ: Yeah.

TH: Yeah. They, couple of box cars have burned and the west end of the yard, all of this, are gone. Nasty fire. Now they've got a couple of pelles mechanics and dump trucks; they're trying to, to put out the fire that's stopping them from working, which is the natural-gas line behind the Jean Coutu.

RJ: Oh, yeah?

TH: Yeah, that's the problem right now. They can't, they can't do anything anywhere until they get that put out, so they've got dump trucks and pelles mechanics, and the pelles mechanics were up on the tracks. It has to be all inspected tomorrow there.

RJ: Euh ... TH: They go up the embankment between the station and the bridge over the river.

RJ: Okay, but it's worse than that, my friend.

TH: Why?

RJ: It's your train that rolled down.

TH: No.

RJ: Yes, sir.

TH: No, RJ.

RJ: Yes, sir.

TH: Holy fuck.

RJ: Yes, sir. That's what I got, it was confirmed at 2:30.

TH: At 2:30, now, the fuel train rolled down here?

RJ: Yeah.

TH: Ah, tabarnac de tabarnac! And it was secure, RJ, when I left.

RJ: Yeah.

TH: She was fucking secure.

RJ: That's what, that's what I got as a news.

TH: And when did you get the news? Few minutes ago?

RJ: At 2:25, to be correct.

TH: Oh, Jesus Christ.

RJ: Since (inaudible) ... phone is, it just stopped

ringing for a couple of minutes there.

TH: Just now?

RJ: Yeah. Since midnight it's been ringing like hell.

TH: Oh, fuck. So that means ... holy fuck.

RJ: Yeah.

TH: How the fuck did that thing start to roll down, RJ?

RJ: I don't know. How many brakes did you put on?

TH: The units, the V.B., and the first car, seven brakes.

RJ: I don't know what will happen. The best I can tell you is that Daniel Aubé is on his way there ... TH: Okay, well what's, what you want to do with me, RJ? Don't leave me out in the cold here.

RJ: I don't know ... TH: I'm at a payphone here, RJ, I got no way to talk to anybody anywhere.

RJ: Um ... TH: Oh, Jesus Christ ... RJ: You got the 1-800 number here, okay.

TH: The what number?

RJ: The 866.

TH: 866?

RJ: To call me, to call me.

TH: Yeah that's what I did ... RJ: Yeah, yeah.

TH: Oh, fuck.

RJ: Yeah, yeah, that's the news that I got.

TH: That the fucking fuel train rolled down, it was a question of, anyways. ...Were there any railway people that went up there to put the fire out?

RJ: Jean-Noël Busque.

TH: And everything was secure when he was there?

Everything was fine? Everything was ... RJ: Everything was fine, yeah.

TH: And then it rolled down, what, two hours later?

Three hours later?

RJ: Fire was up at midnight, and I got a call at 1:30 that there was a fire in downtown.

TH: There's no way to talk to me, RJ, I've got my radio on channel 20 right now... Euh, fuck. Dan Aubé is on his way, can he come to me?

RJ: I don't know if he's gonna be able to. Apparently the city is cut in two. From what I heard from Jean-Noël Busque.

TH: Yes?

RJ: He finally made it to Nantes ... TH: Yes?

RJ: ... to confirm me that the train was not there anymore.

TH: The police, they confirmed to me, RJ, when I talked to you at the very, very beginning - they confirmed that the train was up there, it ... I don't understand, RJ, if it rolled down.

RJ: Apparently, it rolled down.

TH: Okay, and where did it stop?

RJ: At the curve, at the crossing there?

TH: What? It derailed at the curve, that's what happened?

RJ: Can it be? I don't know.

TH: It's possible, RJ, it's possible, but it's ... RJ: That's what I think, but it would be the only thing that would ... when it hit that fucking curve there it must have derailed. I'm not sure.

That's the only ... you know what? I'm down here, hey, and I get the infos that I ... TH: Yeah ... (inaudible) ... RJ: Yeah, that's it.

TH: And I'm going by what the people are telling me here, too.

RJ: Yeah, that's it.

TH: Because they told me it was tankers that were blowing up here at this end.

RJ: As soon as I have some news there ... TH: Call me on channel 20, I'm standing next to the phone here, I'm out in the fucking cold.

RJ: Okay, as soon as I get some news there, I'm going to give you a yell. But you cannot go back to the Auberge?

TH: No, yeah I got, I got half of my stuff is still at the Auberge, I can't no way, no way I can go anywhere, I can't do anything anywhere.

RJ: Okay.

TH: When you get a hold of Jean, tell Demaitre I'd like to speak with Jean.

RJ: Yeah.

TH: Okay?

RJ: Alright.

TH: Ok. Thank you. Bye.

RJ: Bye bye.

Sixth conversation

3:53 a.m.

Duration: 1 min. 5 sec.

Harding calling RJ

RJ: ... Farnham TH: It's me again, RJ.

RJ: Yes?

TH: Did you get a hold of Dan?

RJ: Yep.

TH: And he's on his way?

RJ: Yeah, he's on his way, he's trying very hard to get to you.

TH: Okay. And did, did he have a look at anything over there? How many cars are burning?

RJ: No, he can't see. He can't get around there.

Yeah, he can't get around there. They won't let him go by.

TH: Okay. There's not much we can there, hey?

RJ: No, that's the best I can tell you right now.

TH: That's okay, RJ, thank you. So I'll ...

RJ: That's it, he's gonna try to get to you and from there I think we're gonna try to get you home ...

TH: I just saw Dan go by ... RJ: Okay.

TH: ... that's not Dan, but it's the Highrail.

RJ: ... TH: It's the American, I think, hey?

RJ: It must be Dan.

TH: Okay, I'm gonna go. It's a white truck. I'm gonna go see if it's him.

RJ: Okay, bye.

Seventh conversation

No date, no time

[Between 11:05 p.m. and 11:45 p.m.]

Harding calling Dave with U.S. Rail Traffic Control

RTC: Dispatcher's office.

TH: Yeah, Glen, Tom here. I'm up here at Nantes.

Shut down 4 of the 5 units, got the hand brakes applied. Do you have any questions for me?

RTC: No, no. I'm all set Tom, tied down at Nantes, just get me a yell when you're off time.

TH: Okay, Glen? The 5017, I worked pretty damn hard coming up here, ... (inaudible) ... I know it's going to settle down once she cools down and stuff like that.

I don't know how good it's going be on the eastbound, when I left Farnham, I had engine hunting on it, I got it to settle down when I started using the seventh notch only, and it pulled real nice, and this last little pull here from the bottom of the hill at 26, down at Scotstown, all the way up, to here, she worked pretty damn hard, once I got stopped here, I noticed when I got stopped here that she was smoking excessively both black for a minute or so, and then she would go white for a little bit, and then go back to black again.

RTC: Well you probably cleaned her out, Tom. This is Dave.

TH: Oh, Dave. Okay, yeah. Yes, I cleaned her out ... I've been here for 10 minutes, the smoke has cleared, I should say there's less smoke coming out of it right now. It's still changing colour back and forth, black and white, black and white, a little bit there, but, maybe if she sits here for another hour or so, she will cool right down.

RTC: Well that's all we can do, Tom. We'll check it in the morning and see what she says and see what she comes up with. Diagnose her then, I guess. Over.

TH: Okay, what time is the eastbound engineer ready to go tomorrow?

RTC: 7:30, over.

TH: 7:30, okay. I should be half hour behind him, them.

RTC: Okay, yep. Talk to RJ or how he wants to do it, over.

TH: Okay, Dave. I'll check back with you a little later.

RTC: MMA Northern Maine out.

TH: Tom Harding out.

This transcript has been edited and condensed.

Associated Graphic

Railcars from the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic train wreck are seen in Lac-Mégantic in this July 9, 2013 photo. The freight train was carrying crude oil when it derailed and exploded killing 47 people.


In our modern lives, we relegate beauty to the sidelines. But it doesn't have to be an expensive frill, defined only by museums, distant vacation spots and Hollywood screens. John Allemang goes in pursuit of the everyday aesthetic experience
Thursday, August 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L6

What do we have against beauty? It's meant to give us pleasure and make us happy. But somewhere along the line, we outsourced and offshored our relationship with beautiful things. Our daily grind is too often an aesthetic-free zone, where we use the excuse of being busy to avoid the social awkwardness of introspection, and the only concession to dreamy profundity is a pretty postcard tacked up beside the computer, where our eyes go to rest.

While we get on with our work and our lives, beauty belongs somewhere else. And so it becomes this elusive and expensive frill, preserved in museums and glorified on Hollywood's screens, pursued in distant vacations and renovation fantasies that go nowhere, disdained by tax-cutting politicians who insist it has no place in our impoverished public realm. Where do you think you are? Paris?

I wish. Paris is certifiably beautiful, proof that the art of everyday life is attainable in this world - at a price, and maybe not in August when the Parisians shutter their patisseries and head to the mountains or the coast, and always keeping in the mind the disenchanted poor living on the city's margins, and the fiscal naysayers who say French debt is unsustainable, and those fantasycrazed romantics who compromise Paris's magic vistas by weighing down its old bridges with their dumb love locks.

But maybe beauty doesn't need to be so rare or budget-breaking or exquisitely French or dependent on perfect conditions. What if it were sitting there right in front of us, like a croissant on an unexceptional Parisian plate, waiting to be enjoyed and cherished as part of our normal daily routine?

Paying attention in daily life is more than just a busy-intersection survival strategy: It is also a dependable source of happiness in a world that too often segregates the commonplace from the wonderful. As an increasing number of public-minded thinkers are discovering, household objects and everyday experiences are capable of offering a heightened pleasure normally associated with the more grandiose claims of great beauty and art.

"Aristotle was right: We all want happiness in our lives," says philosopher Thomas Leddy, author of The Extraordinary in the Ordinary. "So if you want to enhance your life or that of your community, you have to pay attention to the everyday experiences you're going to have. Everyday aesthetic experiences are so pervasive that if you make adjustments in your daily experience, it can have a long-term cumulative effect."

We may gain direct access to Van Gogh's Sunflowers for a few moments, if we're lucky, and then only in a crazy, compromised crowd of beauty worshippers determined to get full value from the glimpse of a rustic bouquet. Meanwhile, over the rest of our lives, an alternative version of more approachable beauty is hiding in plain sight.

But where to start looking? The danger in championing everyday beauty is that you can go from the sublime to the ridiculous a little too quickly - at least in the influential opinion of taste makers whose expertise depends on their capacity to shame the rest of us into a sense of inferiority. Is making and serving tea an aesthetic experience, or watching a monarch butterfly slowly begin its migratory passage from your backyard garden to the Mexico highlands? I'm prepared to say with the detachment of a summertime theorist that snow shovelling can and should be a thing of beauty. My tuque-clad reworking of raw nature gives a creative calm that wouldn't seem out of place in a medieval aristocrat's finely detailed book of hours.

I look around me on the snowbound street, and other unlikely aesthetes are thoughtfully carrying out their seasonal task. We stop and talk, and if our conversation isn't brilliant by the standards of Enlightenment illuminati - the kind who, missing the point entirely, dismissed Canada as a few acres of snow - it comes with a sense of connoisseurship regarding the massing of our snow piles, the cerebral efficiency of our clearance systems, the modest brilliance of our ability to perform in a tight urban space under harsh conditions, the unstated agreement that our confined indoor senses have been liberated in these sub-zero encounters.

A Chinese emperor might have found us worthy of reverent contemplation. Maybe we're not raking a Japanese Zen garden or perfecting a Renaissance piazza, but our thoughtful reordering and humanizing of these random symmetrical crystals can aspire to something higher and more pleasurable than mere grunt work.

Not that there's anything wrong with grunt work. All aesthetic achievement is sustained by repetitive behaviour and unintellectualized practice - from the soprano's scales to the baseball player's hours in the batting cage. My shovelling is the equivalent of your gardening, or dock building, or engine tuning under the hood. But extrapolating the art from all that active toil is a trickier proposition. Even someone like me who wants to validate everyday experiences has to recognize that not everything is capable of putting us on high aesthetic alert; my neighbour is making his hulking truck more resplendent with a noisy powerwasher at this second, but the aggressively desensitizing mechanical process lessens its own achievement. The basis of beauty is enhanced perception, and anything that causes pain confuses the aesthetic response.

To turn something ordinary into art, a thing of beauty, it helps to have a story, a context, a point of reflection, some complexity, a new level of appreciation and understanding, some arguable ideas perhaps, a moment of awe and a spirit of self-consciousness that should at the very least incorporate the potential of your aesthetic experience to alienate neighbours, scare pets and wake up sleeping babies.

That's neither easy nor instinctive - you're not going to get your sidewalk shovelled if you swan around and carry on about beauty like a frozen-fingered Oscar Wilde. So my starting point in elevating the ordinary is to do things in reverse, to begin by noticing the proliferation of the everyday in stuff we already think of as art.

I remember the first time I visited a Renaissance cathedral in Umbria, Italy, preparing to be humbled by artistic greatness I couldn't hope to comprehend, and instead saw an X-rated depiction of the Last Judgment that exuded all the gory appeal of a 500-year-old horror movie - Nightmare on Elm Street, the Prequel.

The everyday turns out to be everywhere in art when you start to look for it. It could be the lively street scene that envelops the not-yet-doomed lovers in Act II of La Bohème, or the worn and wrinkled human faces in a painting by Caravaggio, or the carved fisherman hard at work in a piece of miniature netsuke, or the family pets that have a small place of honour in museum-worthy art from across the millennia. I have a soft spot for the trains that started turning up in 19th-century paintings, thanks to open-eyed artists who realized that beauty didn't have to be rarefied and pastoral, that it was sitting there waiting to be noticed.

So aesthetic Paris may found be in the chambers of its museums and galleries, but it is just as much the spaces around Gare Saint-Lazare. When we see familiar things with an appreciative eye, we should then draw the obvious conclusion that great artists want to share our lives as much as we share theirs.

In a show of Chinese artifacts titled The Forbidden City, now pulling in crowds at Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum, the utter ordinariness of a tiny piece of white porcelain caught my attention.

Because the exhibition features relics from the court of China's emperors, the 15th-century cup is, by definition, precious. And yet in its style and theme if not its provenance and workmanship, it didn't look so different from the affordable bowls I used to find in Chinatown shops - a rooster, a hen and their chicks are pecking away in a pleasant yard, oblivious to their decorative role in the lives of emperors and low-grade Torontonians alike.

A few weeks after I stared happily at this everyday scene, a counterpart from the same imperial set came up for auction at Sotheby's in Hong Kong - and sold for $36-million (U.S.). Rarity has a price, obviously, but on any kind of sliding scale of value judgments, the barnyard chickens and the low-level world they inhabit deserve enhanced respect.

Beauty of this kind is universally accessible. The everyday objects we enjoy and treasure answer a universal impulse that doesn't need to be quantified by wealth and cost, or qualified by curatorial assessments and aristocratic connections. Great art may be the end point of beauty, but the aesthetic continuum needs to be seen as much more expansive and diverse. We're comfortable locating beauty in a landscape or an extraordinary vista - for me, casually looking out the window of an Athens-toLondon flight and seeing the engineered magnificence of a new bridge spanning a strait in the Gulf of Corinth where I'd made an ancient-world kind of ferry crossing in 1975.

And there are peak moments in our lives - the birth of a child, say - when the emotional outpouring can't be encompassed by any word short of beautiful. Yet we resist the concept in our normal surroundings as if it didn't belong there, despite the fact that the human species developed a reward system in the brain designed to be activated by what we call beauty.

"Our ancient ancestors had to have these rewards, otherwise they would not have survived," says Michael Trimble, emeritus professor of behavioural neurology at the University of London, and author of The Soul in the Brain: The Cerebral Basis of Language, Art and Belief. "Before there was a word called beauty, there must have been aspects of the environment for the developing homo sapiens that led to a cultivation and development of nature into culture."

Every successful species recognizes the long-term value of being discerning and alert: Feeling glad to be alive is just a higher form of survival. The experience of transcendent moments is highly variable (Proust was involuntarily transported by a tiny sponge cake) but it's built into the brain's nature that powerful autobiographical emotions can be instantly accessible.

I look around my house for the ordinary things that prompt out-of-the-ordinary feelings, that may even enhance my survivability if death-by-clutter doesn't count, and what do I find? Smoothed bits of coloured glass we collected as a family along a Toronto beach, early 20th-century postcards of leaping baseball players in long-gone stadiums (6), a scuffed cricket ball from an English friend who introduced me to the wonders of five-day matches on BBC radio (4), a hawk feather that fell to earth right in front of me (2), an Athens 2004 Olympic towel (featuring synchronized swimming mascots), threadbare Union Jack flags retrieved from my late aunt's dingy attic that harbour some untold family story (8), the locally made gargoyle hauled home from a nearby shop that beautifully mirrors (and mocks) my melancholy, postcards of Warhol's Nixon and Mao, presented by a fellow participant in a production of the opera Nixon in China (5), a tiny music box that cranks out La Vie en Rose as if Edith Piaf were about to step onto our cramped kitchen stage (3), fridge magnets that trace our disparate travels to a Florida orange grove or a Sicilian marionette theatre (1).

I'm never going to own a Picasso - but why do I not feel as if I'm missing something? A little sheepishly, knowing that I'm violating the traditional rules of taste and the laboriously constructed canons of art, I'll admit to finding pleasure in my childhood stamp collection (9) that probably exceeds anything I'm going to feel from a random work of Cubist greatness in a far-off museum.

The experience of beauty can be highly personal, and is arguably more powerful because it isn't imposed externally. I open the disorganized stamp album my mother couldn't bring herself to throw out and there I am, a Cold War kid of 8 or 9, captivated by Soviet-era pictures of space exploration transformed into postal propaganda and aesthetically enhanced by mysterious Cyrillic lettering that would become more familiar from the parallel world of awesome hockey sweaters and more terrifying from the doomsday notes of the Cuban missile crisis.

This experience isn't universally transferable the way the greatest art is supposed to be - although at the very least I can share the stories with my children and begin creating an oral tradition that will be supported over time by these fragile enduring artifacts and the historical moment they evoke. But you have something exactly equivalent in your life, capable of prompting a rush of feelings and thoughts.

The idiosyncrasy of under-the-radar beauty might be its greatest strength. Some people can find beauty in domestic order, in folding laundry, the way others spot it in the stately symmetries of Gothic cathedral architecture - though who's to say that you can't have both, that the underlying impulse for neatness and certainty and readily available transcendence might not be one and the same?

When I mentioned the idea of everyday beauty to a colleague, he immediately started talking about the joys of typefaces, a finer attention to detail than my mind is capable of, but clearly one of those corners of mundane life where a shameless aestheticism rooted in hundreds of years of laborious creation is available for the taking.

Brain studies have shown that an elegant mathematical formula can prompt the same response in the emotional brain as music or art - at least among the numerically receptive, too often dismissed as cold and indifferent by the humanities crowd. The neatness of a tight crossword clue (7) is its own kind of linguistic art, a verbal construction that takes the activated brain places it didn't know it could go until a sudden collaboration of unexpected thoughts solves the tiny perfect mystery.

We don't have to call these pleasures beauty, but the heightened sensations that come with such experiences duplicate the effects of great art. And this is to assume that great art always lives up to its vaunted reputation - too often it now stands before us more as an intimidating reputation than as an object prompting a thoughtful and pleasurable response.

Art galleries don't see themselves as being in the beauty business any more. "It's not a word we ever use," one highplaced artistic functionary told me. "Anyone who talks about applying standards in art is displaying prejudice based on ignorance."

I want to disagree; going to galleries should be as much a part of the everyday world's beauty-filled continuum as watching the Tour de France bike race with an artist's eye or thoughtfully munching dim sum. And then I realize that we might be aiming for much the same thing, a new midpoint where art is demystified and daily life is elevated to a place where they can more easily reconnect with each other.

The best place to exemplify that concept is in our public space, where it us now most resisted. "Beauty is a critical part of urban planning," says Jennifer Keesmaat, chief planner for the City of Toronto, somewhat to my surprise. I love my underrated city, but even my attentive eye often fails to find astonishment and inspiration in the day-to-day version of Toronto wrangled over by our leadership class.

The sharing of civic space invites arguments that depict beautification schemes as an endless assault on the taxpayer - over the cost of beach umbrellas or the design of a public washroom, the greening of a transit corridor or the preservation of heritage warehouses in a hot condo neighbourhood. We know we're not Paris, so why even try?

Because beauty isn't just a frill, whatever that means. It gives pleasure, provides civic pride that binds a community, raises us up out of the ordinary and creates a state of happiness that extreme fiscal prudence just can't touch.

Why should a city bother to go all European and mandate trams (Montpellier's are designed by Christian Lacroix) or plant trees that will give joy to future generations? Think of it as a long-term investment in our urban brand, if you have to, the public expenditure that will attract private-sector money. But really, at heart, it's still beauty.

"You take an ugly street and make it beautiful just by adding mature trees," Keesmaat says. "This becomes the difference between a street that feels gentle and welcoming and lovely, versus a street that feels hostile and alienating and unpleasant."

I was walking on one of those gentle, welcoming roads the other day when a piercing sound woke me out of my pleasant aesthetic daze. A red-tailed hawk was cruising above the urban canopy, shrieking some message across the skies. Within a moment, two more hawks appeared above the well-treed escarpment, one of them gripping a large rodent in its talons.

As the chief predator flew overhead, he dropped the animal, and the hawk below him caught it on the fly, with his talons, as if it were that most normal thing in the world. I gasped out loud - just another everyday experience on a quiet city street.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'The system failed her'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's when everything seemed to change.

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

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

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

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

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

'My God, what is happening here?'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With a report from Jill Mahoney in Toronto

Associated Graphic

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Mike is a movement now."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Not full Americans'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luck: $7.75 an hour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The backlash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Associated Graphic

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


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


Messages hang in bushes near where Michael Brown was killed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I asked how old she was.

"Eighty-two this year."

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

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

"This is not over," she told me.

And she looked ready for a fight.

A $270,000 moving bonus

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

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

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

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

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

It's a touchy subject, still.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is lost

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I asked if she thought it would happen eventually.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Associated Graphic

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Canadian legal community raised hardly a peep.

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

There was nothing personal in it, he says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rocco Galati on the business of law:

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

On the source of his sharp tongue:

"It comes from my mother.

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

On his previous work representing suspected terrorists:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Associated Graphic

Rocco Galati, Constitutional lawyer


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We're on the fourth floor."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What would she do if not journalism?

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

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


Born: October, 1970.

Education: Bachelor of Environmental Studies, focus on architecture.

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

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

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

In her own words:

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

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

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

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

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

Associated Graphic


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

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

So why is everyone so glum right now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'We are in an unusual period'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cash levels rising

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Excessive valuations'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Associated Graphic

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


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


2007 A Chicago futures trader after another day of losses.


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

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

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

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

"Do you see him?" he asks.

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

"That is your painted turtle," says Mr. Byron, owner of Great Horned Owl Eco Tours.

"Isn't it beautiful? Isn't all this beautiful? Why you wouldn't want to preserve this as a national park is simply beyond me. This is one of the most special and important places in the entire world."

The tour operator has brought us to the eastern edges of the proposed Grasslands National Park, a 286-square-kilometre tract of land in the south Okanagan that is home to more endangered species than any other region in the country.

The project has been the source of controversy almost from its inception, with hunters and some area ranchers opposed to any infringement on their daily pleasures and way of life.

A couple of years ago, the B.C. government broke off talks with the federal government on the park's future, saying there was not enough consensus in the south Okanagan to continue having discussions. But now a new, pro-park coalition is attempting to pressure Victoria to get back to the table and at least hear Parks Canada out on the benefits associated with its proposal.

The group's call comes amid heightening concerns that the integrity of the country's parks system is under threat as a result of budget cuts and fresh pressure being applied by resource-based industries to open up more land to exploration.

In a recent report, the Canada Parks and Wilderness Society pointed to changes made this year to the B.C. Parks Act as being particularly grievous. Those amendments allow industrial research in parks and make it easier to alter park boundaries to accommodate pipelines and other developments.

The latest offensive by Grassland park proponents is being led by some of the south Okanagan's most prominent citizens.

And their bid to get the park plan back on track has put them distinctly at odds with the region's provincial political representative, Liberal MLA Linda Larson, who is firmly against the idea.

Her position has led some to suggest she is simply repaying wealthy ranchers and others who financially supported her election campaign and who want nothing to do with a national park. The result is a fraught political and social environment that has seen tempers on either side of the debate sometimes get as hot as the summer weather here.

The dispute centres on land in the southern end of the Okanagan Valley that was created some 180 million years ago by a series of continental collisions.

This was followed by a period of intense volcanic activity. Then the Ice Age arrived and the valley became a huge glacier. It eventually retreated, leaving the valley in the state one finds it today.

But its history helps explain the rich topography of the valley, now one of the best wine-growing regions in North America.

Part of that landscape includes the desert grasslands that truly characterize the south Okanagan and set it apart from other valleys in the country. The area is home to a unique and thriving eco-system that boasts some of the rarest plant and animal species found anywhere on Earth. It is for this reason that Parks Canada wants to offer protection from future development by giving the area national park designation.

"There is no other place in Canada like it in terms of its environment and ecology," says biologist Dick Cannings, who has literally written the book on the subject.

"There is no other place in North America with a higher bird diversity rating than the Okanagan.

It's why birders come from all over to see it for themselves."

There are 56 federally listed endangered species in the proposed park area, including birds, mammals and plants not found in another region of the country.

Eleven per cent of all the threatened species in Canada exist here, including the Flammulated Owl and the Great Basin Spadefoot toad. Over 200 species of birds nest in the Okanagan Valley, more than anywhere else in Canada. Fourteen species of bats also call the valley home. There are more than 700 species of wildflowers, 150 different species of butterflies and more than 200 species of grasses in the Okanagan as well.

"The diversity of species is a condition of the diversity of habitat," Mr. Cannings explains. "You have desert grassland and valley floor, you have big lakes, rivers and marshes, you have ponderosa pine forests and Douglas fir and spruce forest and alpine parkland and alpine tundra. So there is a tremendous diversity in environment within a few kilometres of where they want to create this park. It's like no other place in that regard."

Parks Canada first rolled out its proposal in 2006, a design that called for more than 600 square kilometres to be protected. That meant hunting and fishing would be banned in the area, as well as any commercial enterprises. Under park guidelines, ranching would be prohibited too. The early response to the proposal was negative, especially with cattle ranchers and hunters.

Soon, large NO PARK signs began popping up along major roadways in the area. The few Yes signs that were erected were quickly vandalized, some even marred by bullet holes.

This made Parks Canada step back and reconsider its idea. It came back with a new plan less than half the previous size, cutting out an area that was popular with hunters. It also decided to allow existing ranching to continue in perpetuity, but also made clear that any rancher who did want to sell would have, in Parks Canada, a willing buyer at market prices. It also said it was prepared to grandfather the one existing business inside the park, a helicopter company. In other words, the federal government was prepared to give opponents of the park almost everything they wanted.

Doreen Olson, a long-time national park supporter and director of the South Okanagan Similkameen National Park Network, is one of many local residents worried that if ironclad protections aren't put in place, this vital area of the valley will eventually be developed like so many other parts of the region.

"I was in a coffee shop and heard a couple of developers talking about the park and they were saying, 'It's just a bunch of scrub land of no real value,'" Ms. Olson recalls of the moment when she realized that people didn't appreciate what they had here. "We don't have the megafauna that makes a park look attractive. People love to see elk and other flashy animals. We don't have that and most of the species that are endangered are small ugly things like rattlesnakes and bats and crickets. But all those things are important to the grasslands."

Ms. Olson said many people who support the idea of a park are afraid to speak out because they feel intimidated. "Mostly it's the old guard in the area who are opposed to it, and they are generally high-profile in the community and people are afraid to speak up against them. But there is a tremendous amount of silent support for this project, I know it." Jim Wyse, founder of the Burrowing Owl winery in Oliver, concedes the park proposal got off to a rocky start. But now, he believes, it is gaining traction with residents as they learn more about what is actually being proposed - as opposed to what critics are suggesting will occur.

"We need to get the province back at the table," says Mr. Wyse, who for a number of years has led a conservation effort to bring back to the region the owl named after his winery. "I don't think there has been nearly the recognition of the major compromises Parks Canada has made here. This park should be an absolute no-brainer, one that would be a boon for tourism in the area. It's madness that we've just walked away from this opportunity. Other areas would kill for something like this in their backyard."

Holly Plante, past president of the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce, said studies have been done that show the park would have a significant economic impact. A resolution passed at the recent B.C. Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting said a national park would support 570 full-time equivalent jobs, generate more than $37-million in gross domestic product, $25-million in annual labour income and $49-million in visitor spending annually. The motion called on the B.C. government to re-engage in talks with Parks Canada.

"There is a real solid business case for this park, which I think this provincial government really needs to consider here," Ms. Plante says.

So far, park advocates have been unable to sway the Liberals' Ms. Larson. Speaking on behalf of all the dissenters, Ms. Larson says she can't understand why those who want the park insist on "flogging a dead horse." She dismisses studies that say the park would be an economic generator, saying you can get a study to say anything you want.

She also rejects the numbers associated with the project as "hype" and said no one talks about the economic opportunities that would be squandered if the area was turned into a park - like mining. She said a national park would completely block any chance companies had of exploring their claims, suggesting the Liberals are open to the idea of seeing this area mined.

"Whether the pro-park people want to believe it or not," Ms. Larson said in an interview.

"There are as many or more nonpro people on the other side of this debate."

Ms. Larson believes there are other ways to protect the integrity of the park, without putting it under the restrictions a National Park designation would impose. She said a resource management plan for the area that was sketched out eight years ago would offer protections without infringing on others' ability to use the area to make a living.

For Mr. Wyse and others, the park is worth continuing to fight for. It would offer the greatest degree of protection, and a national park designation would bring in tourists from around the world, he says. He recently led a delegation that met with Environment Minister Mary Polak for nearly an hour. "She didn't kick us out so that's a good thing," he says. There could be further meetings down the road.

Meantime, Greg Byron, who spends several days a week traversing the roads and trails that the proposed national park would encompass, has trouble contemplating all the fuss.

"This is a very fragile ecosystem with all of these endangered species who make their home up there and the area is being degraded by the day because of the ATVs [all-terrain vehicles] running around up there, and the cattle grazing and lots of stuff," he says. "If we don't do something to protect this area we'll see some species disappear from the landscape altogether."

Mr. Byron shakes his head.

"I don't think people understand what they have here. This is special, really special. This is a one-time-only shot, I think. And if we don't do it, shame on us for letting it slip away."

Associated Graphic

Doreen Olsen stands in the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area near Osoyoos, B.C., on Thursday.


The south Okanagan region, which includes Blue Lake, above, is home to a unique and thriving eco-system.


The early response to the proposal was negative. Soon, large NO PARK signs began popping up along major roadways in the area. The few Yes signs that were erected were quickly vandalized.

Last stand
Behind the good-ol'-boy exterior, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons shows a keen baseball mind, tempered with a healthy dose of humility. 'Baseball's not rocket science,' he says, knowing that his job is on the line if the Jays don't improve
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

TORONTO -- John Gibbons is gregarious, with a distinctive cackle and a self-deprecating sense of humour, and it is often standing room only when the self-described "dumb Texan" meets each day with the media in his Rogers Centre office.

The coming game is often the last subject to be discussed. The latest crisis in the Middle East, the war on terror, U.S. gun control, Hillary Clinton - these are all topics that the Toronto Blue Jays manager has been known to weigh in on. The son of a career military man, a fan of the John Wayne guts-and-glory flick The Green Berets, Gibbons is a staunch right-winger willing to take on all comers.

"I'm a very proud, patriotic guy," the 52-year-old said in a recent interview. "It comes from watching my dad - very hard-working, very disciplined type of guy. The military brings a lot of that out of you. Sometimes, I guess when things are in your blood, it just kind of takes you that way."

Gibbons is in his seventh campaign as a manager in Major League Baseball, all with the Blue Jays, a job for which he was hired on two separate occasions even though he never actively sought the post. His detractors - and there are many - continue to doubt that the man with the good-ol'-boy persona (and the mumbling drawl of Boomhauer from the King of the Hill cartoon) is the right guy to lead the Blue Jays into the gloryland of the postseason, a place they haven't gone for 21 long years.

To others, Gibbons is the perfect fit for the tough job that lies ahead: a knowledgeable, personable baseball man beneath the often-taciturn exterior. Despite the Blue Jays' Jekyll-and-Hyde on-field performance this season, their play alternating between inspiring and indifferent, the confounding outfit remains in the hunt for an American League wildcard spot. After dropping three games in Seattle, the Jays opened a weekend series against the Chicago White Sox on Friday night.

The final six weeks of the regular season will be the defining moment - not only for a franchise desperate to relive its 1992 and '93 World Series days, but also for a baseball lifer trying to prove he has the guile to pull it all off. He and the man who hired him the second time, Jays' general manager Alex Anthopoulos, are now inextricably linked, their jobs likely both on the line as the season speeds toward October. Gibbons deflects the pressure.

"Baseball's not rocket science," is his take on the game. "It's not like football, where Xs and Os are everything. Baseball, basically everybody does the same thing. They just choose when they're going to do it. It's really pretty much a simple game."

Gibbons was one of four managers whom Brian Butterfield worked for during his 10 years as a coach with the Blue Jays, and in his estimation you will not find a better baseball mind in the game.

"Everybody has their own distinct strengths, their own unique personalities," said Butterfield, now thirdbase coach with the Boston Red Sox. "It was easy for me to draw close to Gibby just because of the type of man he is. I think one of the things he brings, other than great baseball knowledge, is a great way with people. He's always got his players' backs, he always has his coaches' backs. He's a man's man. He's one of my best friends in baseball."

'I'm not too fascinated by myself'

Talk to people who know Gibbons best and, in a profession where egos soar, they all describe a man singularly without one.

Certainly his playing days were a lesson in humility. Gibbons was a first-round draft choice of the New York Mets in 1980, a hot prospect, but his major-league career was a bust. A star catcher in high school, he played in only 18 games over two seasons with the Mets, in 1984 and '86, batting just .220 and hitting one home run.

He doesn't have the home-run ball as a memento. Nor did he keep any of his baseball cards, either from MLB or the minor leagues, where he slogged through 10 years, from 1980 through 1990, before deciding coaching might be a better option.

"I've never been one of those guys - nostalgic, keeps a lot of stuff," Gibbons said. "At my house, there's a couple of baseball things sitting around. I'm just a normal guy. I'm not too fascinated by myself."

One thing he managed to hang on to was the 1986 World Series ring he earned with the Mets, even though he was not on the active playoff roster. The Mets kept him around to catch the odd bullpen session, and for that he got the treasured trinket.

It sits in a safe-deposit box in a bank in San Antonio, Tex., where Gibbons and his wife, Julie, raised their three children and where they still live.

Today, working in Toronto, Gibbons carries a cellphone that shows the San Antonio weather on the main display. He was a two-sport highschool star in Texas, baseball and football, and even then his tastes ran simple. The purchase of a Datsun 280Z, the classic Japanese sports car of the day, was one of the lone early extravagances he allowed himself after signing with the Mets.

"He was a big REO Speedwagon fan, I remember that," said Mike Hennessy, a former Mets minor-league player who roomed with Gibbons in the early 1980s. "Johnny just loved them and he turned me onto them. Then he had that beautiful 280Z. To this day, it remains my all-time favourite car."

Back then, Gibbons was a well-puttogether, 5-foot-11, 190-pound athlete, lantern-jawed with bright blue eyes. Blue jeans and cowboy boots were his clothing of choice - still are. "He always reminded me of Luke Skywalker from Star Wars," Hennessy said. "He wasn't a ladies man but he easily could have been. He was always focused on his career."

After retiring as a player, Gibbons started working in the Mets organization as a roving minor-league instructor. In 1995, he landed his first minor-league managing job in Kingsport, Tenn., a rookie-level Mets affiliate, and led them to the Appalachian League championship in his first season.

Managing gigs followed in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Binghamton, N.Y., and Norfolk, Va., before J.P. Ricciardi gave him his big break in 2002. Another former minor-league roommate, Ricciardi had risen to become the Blue Jays GM and was in the market for a bullpen catcher. Gibbons took the job.

Before the summer was over, the Texan was promoted to first-base coach and then, in August, 2004, was appointed interim manager after Carlos Tosca was fired. The team was 4764 at the time.

"We got pounded that day [8-2 by the New York Yankees]," Gibbons said. "I was just walking through the clubhouse and was about to get into the shower and J.P. said, 'Don't go anywhere, I need to talk to you.' So I hung around and he cut Tosca loose and then told me I was the new interim manager."

The placement was made permanent once the season ended. But the transition to the major leagues was not seamless for Gibbons, who can be a demanding taskmaster if he does not believe his players are performing to his standards.

His temper got the best of him on two celebrated occasions in 2006.

Gibbons challenged infielder Shea Hillenbrand to a fight during a team meeting after the infielder wrote the "ship is sinking" on the clubhouse bulletin board. About a month later, Gibbons got into skirmish with pitcher Ted Lilly, who became upset after getting removed from a game. Gibbons was embarrassed by the publicity and subsequently made a conscious effort to handle contentious matters behind closed doors.

Butterfield, who was on the Blue Jays coaching staff during both the altercations, said Gibbons's actions were justified.

"Every one of those run-ins that he had with every player that I know of, he was 100 per cent in the right," Butterfield said. "And if any of those guys that he had run-ins with that everybody knew about, they were 100-per-cent wrong. That needs to be out there."

Nonetheless, after a mostly undistinguished five-year run with the Blue Jays where the team's best finish was second place in 2006 with an 87-75 record, Gibbons was fired during the 2008 campaign. His big-league managing career, it seemed, was over.

Gibbons has shown his steely side

For Gibbons, though, it turned out there was a second act. Following a tempestuous 2012 season, when Blue Jays manager John Farrell decided he wanted to manage his former team in Boston, new Toronto GM Anthopoulos went searching for a replacement. He yearned to hire a manager not only with major-league experience but also someone he would feel comfortable working alongside, and his thoughts kept drifting back to Gibbons, whom he'd known during the Texan's first stint in Toronto.

When Anthopoulos contacted Gibbons, who was managing his hometown team, the Double-A San Antonio Missions, he assumed he was going to be offered a coaching position with the big-league outfit. He admits he was dumbfounded when Anthopoulos offered him the managing job - but not enough to turn down a second opportunity to run the show in Toronto.

His return season in 2013 was a disaster, despite being handed a seemingly gilt-edged roster, the result of a massive off-season makeover by Anthopoulos. Such high-pedigree stars as R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes were brought on board, but a team many predicted had World Series potential instead fell flat, finishing last in the division.

This season has offered more promise, the written-off team beating expectations in a weakened division. But while keeping his temper in check, Gibbons has shown his steely side. In June, Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar threw a tantrum, heaving his bat in frustration in the dugout after Gibbons dared to pinch-hit for the .225 hitter. After the game, Pillar was quickly exiled back to the minors - no fuss, no muss.

"He has a certain expectation level that he demands out of everyone, about how you handle yourself as a professional," said closer Casey Janssen, one of Toronto's longest-serving players. "He gives you just a longenough leash until you burn him and then he tightens it up a little bit."

Nonetheless, the rumblings have returned about the Blue Jays' leadership, and Gibbons himself allows that, whatever happens in Toronto, he is unlikely to manage anywhere else in the majors.

"I don't even know that I'd want to do it somewhere else," he said. "I'm not old by any standards. I've got kids; they're all grown up. My wife has been tugging my family along. I love baseball and would want to stay in it in some capacity. But I'm not one of those guys that has to have this in his life. I'm not obsessed with it."

For now, he is just focused on the next game, realizing that the only way to silence the critics is winning.

Losing, he says, takes a toll. "The lows from the losses last a lot longer than the highs from the wins," Gibbons said. "They just do more to you, they wear on you. You know what? If you ever get used to losing, it's time to move on."

Associated Graphic

Manager John Gibbons, whose Toronto Blue Jays are fighting for a playoff position, says, 'If you ever get used to losing, it's time to move on.'


Like a lot of players, John Gibbons had more of a minor-league career than a major-league one. His duties as a catcher took him to Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, Tidewater and 18 games with the Mets, before he eventually landed as a coach, then manager (twice), with Toronto.

For Ford, business and politics collide
Thursday, August 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1

As a councillor and mayor, Rob Ford fought against a ban on plastic water bottles; he helped an Etobicoke businessman get a seat on a city board; and he urged councillors to fast-track a controversial plan to expand Toronto's island airport.

In his other role, as part owner of Deco Labels and Tags, Mr. Ford counted among his clients: bottled-water manufacturers Nestlé Canada and Coca-Cola; an architecture and design company owned by Darius Mosun, who was appointed to the Toronto Parking Authority; and Porter Airlines, the regional carrier campaigning for permission to fly long-haul jets out of Billy Bishop Airport.

In each case, the contracts for the family business have been small in terms of dollars. But at city hall, the stakes have been high. These previously undisclosed relationships raise further questions about the extent to which Deco's interests have been a factor at city hall. In an ongoing investigation, The Globe and Mail has revealed instances in which the Fords have advocated for their clients with city staff.

Last month, the mayor was asked about Deco's relationship with RR Donnelley and Sons, a commercial printing giant that pays Deco to print airline tags. In 2011, the Fords helped several Donnelley executives lobby the city's top purchasing official regarding the city's $9-million in-house printing division.

"If that's a conflict, then I'm going to have a conflict with almost every business or every person in this city, because we've been around for 52 years. We've dealt from those little ma-and-pa shops to huge grocery stores to almost every company. So I guess I'm in a conflict," Mr. Ford said. "I'd have to declare a conflict with everybody."

Deco Labels' Canadian office has more than a thousand accounts on file, according to an internal company client list that was reviewed by The Globe. Deco clients include major Canadian brands, banks, small businesses, charities, hospitals and government departments. Also included on this list are a handful of companies that have tried to influence policy decisions at city hall in recent years.

At city hall, revelations about Donnelley and another client, Apollo Health and Beauty Care, have sparked probes by Toronto's Integrity Commissioner and revived calls for the Ontario government to modernize and clarify the conflict-of-interest laws that govern municipal officials. It's been three years since Justice Douglas Cunningham recommended that the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act be expanded as part of his inquiry into Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion and her support of a development company that was partly owned by her son.

In an interview, William McDowell, who served as chief commission counsel to the inquiry, said the provincial government needs to act on the justice's recommendations.

"We need better and clearer rules about when you as a councillor can put your thumb on the scale at council ... on behalf of companies in which you have an interest of any kind," Mr. McDowell said.

There is no law that requires the Fords to place their business in a blind trust, a mechanism that other politicians, such as former prime minister Paul Martin, have used to avoid the appearance of impropriety. The laws around what the Ford brothers must disclose about Deco's clients are murky. Municipal elected officials aren't required to volunteer their private business relationships. However, according to the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, city councillors are expected to recuse themselves from votes and debates at council in which they have a direct or indirect pecuniary interest.

In a letter, a lawyer for Deco, Gavin Tighe, said Mayor Ford and Councillor Doug Ford are not in a conflict of interest, "as defined in the legislation."

Because Deco is a private corporation, its finances are not made public, which makes it difficult to determine whether the Fords' conduct as elected officials intersects with their business interests. Interviews with former employees and a review of an internal client list shows there are examples of overlap between the needs and wants of Deco's clients, and the positions taken by the Fords on matters before council.

In December, 2008, as part of a sweeping motion to reduce waste in Toronto, city council voted to ban the sale of plastic water bottles in all municipal buildings (including arenas and city-owned theatres), put a five-cent tax on plastic bags and forced takeout restaurants to develop environmentally friendly food containers. Then a councillor, Mr. Ford voted against the motion. As mayor, Mr. Ford has complained that the bylaw banning bottles should be overturned.

Three companies that have done business with Deco - CocaCola, Cara Operations Ltd. and Nestlé Canada - were affected by this waste-reduction strategy.

Coca-Cola, which produces the Dasani brand of water, was sold at City Hall prior to the ban, a city spokesperson confirmed. It's unclear how much business Deco has done with Coca-Cola. Shannon Denny, the company's director of brand communications in Canada, said via e-mail "we do not publicly discuss any supplier relationships."

Cara Operations Ltd., which owns restaurants such as Swiss Chalet, Harvey's and Kelsey's, lobbied city council members - including then-councillor Rob Ford - on the packaging issue.

The Deco client list indicates Cara has an account with the Fords' firm, though The Globe has not been able to determine the value or timing of any orders. Cara declined to comment.

Nestlé Canada, which says it has done about $20,000 worth of business with Deco since 2007, got involved in the bottle-ban debate after Mr. Ford became mayor. On Nov. 26, 2012, a lobbyist acting for Nestlé Waters Canada - a division of Nestlé Canada - met with a member of Mayor Ford's staff to discuss the bylaw, Toronto's lobbyist registry indicates. A Nestle Waters official met with the Ford administration three times that year to discuss "recycling and diversion of beverage containers from waste, including bottled water."

A Nestlé spokesperson noted that the company's American counterparts have also purchased supplies from Deco "in very limited capacities" and that all considered the business "is a very small portion of our total packaging spend." The bottled-water division has not ordered any labels from Deco, the spokesperson said.

Another company that has contracted Deco is Soheil Mosun Ltd., an Etobicoke architectural and design firm. Darius Mosun, the company's chief, was backed by the mayor during the 2011 civic appointments process, where councillors choose civilians to sit on the city's various boards and agencies. An investigation by Toronto Ombudsman Fiona Crean determined that the mayor circulated a list of preferred candidates to the city manager's office and like-minded councillors. (The mayor has denied that his office created a list, although it has been viewed by The Globe.)

In the end, nearly three-quarters of the Ford administration candidates won seats, including Mr. Mosun, who was made a director on the Toronto Parking Authority board. Mr. Mosun declined to comment.

Of all the many policy decisions the Ford administration has had to tackle, one of the most contentious has been the proposal by the chief executive of Porter Airlines, Robert Deluce, to expand the island airport and extend the runway by 400 metres into Lake Ontario, allowing for the use of long-haul jets.

Between Sept. 21, 2006, and Nov. 15, 2010, Porter Airlines contracted Deco to print plane decals and other items - business worth about $8,500, according to accounting records provided by the airline. Mayor Ford is identified as the salesperson for the Porter account - POR005 - on the Deco client list that was examined by The Globe.

Porter is one of about 160 Deco accounts assigned to Mr. Ford, none of which include Deco's most valuable clients, former Deco employees say. These sources told The Globe that salespeople - including the Fords - receive commissions whenever one of their accounts places an order.

The last order was placed two weeks after Mr. Ford became mayor. The invoice -$1,232 for tray labels - was paid on February 21, 2011.

Porter's chief executive said he had no idea his company had done business with Deco Labels.

"[It was] never discussed at any time with any Deco individual, including the Fords. Nor was I aware until the other day that we actually had done work with them," Mr. Deluce said. He described Deco's work for Porter as "a pretty minor chunk of business" and said it was a tiny fraction of the airline's printing costs.

Since Rob Ford became mayor in December, 2010, the Fords have repeatedly and publicly supported Porter Airlines.

In 2011, five months after the last Porter invoice was paid to Deco, both Ford brothers voted to build an underground pedestrian bridge to the island airport, which passed council.

In April, 2013, when Mr. Deluce announced his expansion plans, he found early allies in Mayor Ford and Councillor Ford.

"If we didn't have Bob Deluce, there'd be a cornfield over at the airport right now," Councillor Ford told reporters. "This is going to create jobs. It's going to create more tourists coming into the city."

Two weeks later, the mayor filed a surprise motion at executive committee asking city staff to look at reopening the tripartite agreement that governed the island airport, paving the way for the new jets. The Fords continued to throw support behind the commuter airline. The mayor pressed councillors to quickly approve the plan, voted against several delay motions, unsuccessfully tried to block a proposal that would require additional traffic impact studies, and voted against motions that called for further investigation into noise levels and fuel-tank accommodation.

At April, 2014's final showdown at council - a meeting in which councillors voted unanimously to begin exploratory negotiations with a long list of conditions - both the Ford brothers rejected a request to consider health impacts of a larger airport.

A spokesman for Porter Airlines said in a written statement that the airline in no way received favourable treatment.

The Fords' lawyer, Mr. Tighe, told The Globe in a letter that the mayor made no attempts to leverage his position to help Porter in exchange for business at Deco.

"At no time have either Mayor Ford or Councillor Ford used their public office for personal benefit," he added in a second letter.

This is not the first time Mayor Ford has been made to answer questions about whether he has been in a conflict of interest. In 2012, he was taken to court for voting on an item at city council where he stood to lose $3,150. He won his case on a technicality.

During the trial, Mr. Ford testified that he had declared a conflict in the past. Public records show four instances between 2005 and 2006 where then-councillor Rob Ford recused himself from votes because he "owns a printing company," committee minutes show. The matters dealt with equipment purchases by the city's in-house printing division as well as the building in which it was housed.

Exactly what constitutes a conflict of interest, in law, is not black and white.

But as Justice Cunningham underscored in his final report on the Mississauga inquiry, municipal politicians can be in a conflict of interest without violating the narrow definition in Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. One of the cases he pointed to was a 1990 Supreme Court decision that said a conflict of interest arises when an elected official has an interest in a matter and "a reasonably well-informed person would conclude that the interest might influence" the exercise of their public duties.

Justice Cunningham called on the provincial government to expand the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act so that it covers all conduct by elected officials, and not just their actions inside council chambers. His recommendations will create greater transparency, he wrote. "Economic transparency will promote public trust," he concluded.

Associated Graphic

Deco Labels.


Since Rob Ford became mayor in December, 2010, the Fords have repeatedly and publicly supported Porter Airlines.


In the week since a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed African-American teenager in a small St. Louis suburb, the familiar demons of race and violence returned in full force to rattle the U.S. consciousness. In death, 18-year-old Michael Brown has become a rallying point - even a metaphor - for broader grievances over racial profiling, the militarization of the police and the absence of minorities in positions of power. Still, this is not the 1960s, or even the 1990s. The fury in this corner of Missouri sparked clashes and peaceful vigils, while social media proved itself a powerful venue for protest. Joanna Slater and Joe Friesen report on what we are learning from Ferguson
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A8


Police departments, even in small towns, are armed with military equipment

Some of the most disturbing images to emerge from Ferguson feature police officers sporting equipment that would be right at home in a war zone. The clashes in Missouri underscore the progressive militarization of America's police forces since the 1980s, a trend spurred by several government programs.

For decades, the U.S. Defense Department has handed off unneeded military equipment to local police forces at no cost. The Department of Homeland Security has also provided grants to police to purchase various types of equipment under the broad rubric of fighting terrorism. The allure of free stuff has proved irresistible. The town of Dundee, Mich., (population 3,900), acquired an armoured mine-resistant vehicle weighing roughly 20 tons from the U.S. military in 2013; so, too, did the campus police force of Ohio State University. The town of Keene, N.H., (population 23,000), successfully applied for federal anti-terrorism funds to purchase an armoured personnel carrier.

The increasing availability of such equipment has coincided with a growing reliance on military-style tactics. In a report released earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union found that police forces increasingly deployed paramilitary units - or SWAT teams - to carry out routine tasks such as "serving warrants or searching for a small amount of drugs." When heavilyarmed teams arrive with assault weapons, flash bang grenades and battering rams, the author of the report said, it sends "the clear message that the families being raided are the enemy."

Ferguson was part of the surplus equipment program, and received two tactical vehicles - both Humvees - along with other equipment, according to a spokesman for thee Defense Logistics Agency, the government's combat logistics support agency. A few congressional Democrats have vowed to introduce legislation to rein in the program.


Police forces still don't look like the communities they serve

For decades, police forces in the U.S. have sought to diversify their ranks as a way to bolster their legitimacy among the varied communities in which they work. It turns out that process is moving very slowly indeed. The town of Ferguson, for instance, has 53 police officers; 50 of them, or 94 per cent, are white. The population, by contrast, is 67 per cent black.

(The demographic change in the town was sudden: In 1990, whites made up nearly three-quarters of the population; by 2010, they were less than one-third.)

Major U.S. cities fare better and have made significant strides, but there's still a long way to go. According to an analysis of census data by The Washington Post, the 22 largest American cities all have a greater percentage of whites on their police forces than in their respective populations.

The big city with the best numbers: Los Angeles, where the 32 per cent white police force almost matches its 29 per cent white population.

Skeptics point out that women and minorities have found it harder to advance to the upper ranks of police forces, which means they have less sway over broader policies and procedures.

Several large police departments are attempting to change that situation. Earlier this year, for instance, the Boston Police Department appointed an AfricanAmerican as its second-in-command for the first time.


Shooting adds to list of incidents of violence toward unarmed African-Americans

Trayvon Martin. Jordan Davis. Renisha McBride. Jonathan Ferrell. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. These killings, all of which took place over the past two years, represent a shameful litany: instances where police or others inflicted violence on unarmed African-Americans with fatal consequences.

These deaths have sparked protests and vigils, but also a sense of despair. In each case, a relatively ordinary behaviour - walking on a street, seeking help after a car accident, returning from a convenience store - took a lethal turn. Mr. Garner, a 43-year old Staten Island man, died in July.

New York police put him in a chokehold after he protested their accusations that he was illegally selling cigarettes. Handcuffed and forced to the ground, Mr. Garner kept repeating, "I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe." The officers did not release him and provided no medical aid as he lay unresponsive.

The reaction in Ferguson is not only about Mr. Brown. "It is about the bitter sense of siege that lives in African-American men, a sense that it is perpetually open season on us," wrote Leonard Pitts, a columnist for the Miami Herald, earlier this week. "And that too few people outside of African America really notice, much less care."


First black president prefers to walk softly in racially charged situations

When he was first running for president, Barack Obama gave a landmark speech on race in the United States. But as the country's first black president, he has hesitated to address the issue in any major way, to the frustration of some in the African-American community. His preferred method for addressing raciallycharged situations is with an abundance of caution, an appeal to shared American values and a call to respect the common humanity of all those involved.

But the killings of two unarmed black teenagers - Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012 and Michael Brown in Missouri - have challenged Mr. Obama's careful approach. The President spoke in unusually personal terms about Mr. Martin, saying the teenager could have been his own son. He has made two public statements about Mr. Brown's killing and the subsequent unrest in Ferguson.

He also instructed federal prosecutors to pursue their own probe of the shooting and promised to follow up on that process.

On Thursday, Mr. Obama took care to be even-handed in his description of events. He paid tribute to the loss of a young man in "heartbreaking and tragic circumstances" while acknowledging that there are "passionate differences" about what happened in Ferguson.

"There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting," he added. "There's also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests."


Social media has proved to be an effective tool for mobilizing protest

Ferguson was defined for people outside St. Louis County largely by images being shared on social media - on the one hand of white police aiming weapons at black protesters, on the other of black protesters looting or throwing Molotov cocktails. Images, for their immediacy and as references to the past, remain incredibly powerful even in an age of hyper-skepticism and mistrust of the media. Interest in Ferguson first intensified on social media via a Twitter campaign that objected to the media's use of an informal photo of Mr. Brown with his fingers extended, in what was called either a gang sign or a peace sign. Thousands of young black people posted photos of themselves in formal settings, such as a graduation, and then joking around with friends, asking whether they'd be portrayed as a thug if they were killed by police.

The campaign aimed to expose racial stereotyping and its slogan, #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, was used more than 168,000 times on Twitter, The New York Times reported.

The size of the response suggests that the informal network that refers to itself as "black twitter" has considerable clout in the online world and can effectively push back against media messages that it sees as discriminatory.

Social media interest peaked Wednesday evening, four days after Mr. Brown's death, just as some journalists and at least one local elected official were arrested. The images and accounts of these arrests were shared widely and tens of thousands tuned in to watch live streams from the protest site, many of which focused on the array of weaponry trained on the protesters. Sociologist Zeynep Tufekci wrote that the way broad interest in Ferguson grew on Twitter shows why net neutrality is important, because Twitter feeds are not subject to algorithms that decide which items should be brought to a user's attention.

SOCIAL THEORY Race is a persistent and inescapable undercurrent in U.S. history

Despite the high hopes that accompanied the election of a black president, the United States is still haunted by an ugly racial history and fixated on its meaning, and consequences. More than class or gender, race is the first and most important expression of its divisions, and it instantly became the lens through which the shooting of Mr. Brown would be understood.

"We have this unwritten social theory that says we've come such a long way. ... People think we're a postracial society," says Garrett Albert Duncan, a professor of education and African-American studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He describes the U.S. social landscape as, instead, something much less settled, with race lying always just below the surface of any debate or public conversation. "It's more like a tug of war that goes back and forth. When there's economic crisis, there's racial crisis."

Prof. Duncan is originally from California. He was shocked by the rigid racial divides he found when he moved to the St. Louis area, which he describes "hypersegregated." "North," where Ferguson is located, is a code for black; "South" is synonymous with white. He says that even he, a middle-aged professor, would not be surprised to be pulled over by police without reason if he were to venture into South St.

Louis. That sense of invisible lines and competing realities is prevalent across the country. A 2013 Pew Research Center study that found 70 per cent of blacks said black people are treated less fairly by police; only 37 per cent of whites surveyed agreed.

PROFILING Minorities feel like they're being singled out, and statistics back them up

The question of whether Mr. Brown posed a threat to the police officer who shot him may never be answered to the satisfaction of everyone, or anyone.

But what is sure is that there will be an abiding suspicion that here, as in so many recent cases, racial profiling played a part in the unarmed teenager's killing.

Profiling is a reality in the United States, one that has prompted lawsuits on behalf of AfricanAmericans and also Latinos, Muslims and other groups, and forced changes in police training.

President Obama has highlighted it; in one speech he described a personal experience that he said would be familiar to many black men - that is, being followed by security in a department store.

(Only last week, there was an echo: The upscale store Barneys paid $525,000 to settle claims that it singled out minorities for surveillance.)

"All too often, young black men in our society are viewed as potential criminals," Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Centre, wrote this week. "They are targeted for arrest and incarceration more than anyone else. In schools, they are disproportionately subjected to harsh discipline. They fill our overcrowded prisons, often for crimes associated with the failed war on drugs. They are arrested for drug offences at three to five times the rate of whites, even though drug use among whites is comparable."

Ferguson's police statistics tell that story: In 2013, 86 per cent of stops and 92 per cent of searches involved black people. While a minority in Missouri, blacks were also 66 per cent more likely to be stopped by police than others, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, and the disparity has grown steadily for the past 14 years.

Associated Graphic

Police move in to detain a protester in Ferguson on Monday. The photographs of unrest in the town after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer have drawn comparisons to pictures of the Deep South in the 1960s.


A demonstrator hugs Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol in Ferguson on Thursday. In response to criticism that local police inflamed tensions with protesters, the highway patrol was placed in charge of security.


Framing the decisive moment
Visionary with the National Film Board devoted his life to immortalizing moments in the lives of others
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, August 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S10

You can see the evolution of the multitalented and innovative filmmaker Wolf Koenig by looking at some of his movies, such as Lonely Boy, Stravinsky, Neighbours, City of Gold, Corral, The Days Before Christmas, Ted Baryluk's Grocery and Universe, on the National Film Board website. Although his roles varied - he began as a splicer and moved on to animation, cinematography, directing and producing - his keen eye, narrative power and generous collaboration are always evident in these films, created during a nearly 50-year career.

"He was a very good still photographer, a brilliant animator, a superb cameraman and the most creative film person in Canadian history," said his friend, producer Graeme Ferguson. "He invented cinéma vérité in Canada."

Mr. Koenig's first step toward a life in film came in 1937, when his family fled Nazi Germany for Canada. That year, Walt Disney released his epoch-defining animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which became an early inspiration for the 10-yearold boy.

His parents settled on a farm near Galt (now Cambridge), Ont. Although he was a couple of years older, he became friends at high school with other creative and entrepreneurial types, including Mr. Ferguson, Robert Kerr and William Shaw, who would later found Imax, a company that used technological wizardry to create huge-format films and projection systems. Mr. Koenig was "extremely bright" and "one of the most creative people of our generation," according to Mr. Ferguson. Although he created Imax's first logo, Mr. Koenig never moved into the burgeoning private sector in the film industry because to him the film board was "a calling and a mission."

Mr. Koenig and his younger brother, Joe, attended the vocational stream at Galt Collegiate because their father, influenced by his experience in Germany, thought he could keep his sons safe by literally keeping them down on the farm. By chance, Mr. Koenig, who "had the instincts of an artist, not a mechanic," according to Mr. Ferguson, met a film crew on a neighbour's farm in the late 1940s and parlayed a casual conversation into a lowly job as a film splicer at a pivotal moment at the NFB.

That eventually gave him the chance to work in Unit B under the legendary Tom Daly, and as an animator with the equally luminescent Norman McLaren.

In the next few years, he began collaborating with Roman Kroitor, an aspiring philosopher who had been lured from academia by the lustre of a summer job in film, and who would later become the fourth of Imax's founders. Together they worked in the board's Candid Eye series produced for CBC-TV between 1958 and 1961 and made several award-winning films.

The final building block in Mr. Koenig's development came from a book. In the early 1950s, Mr. Koenig was given a copy of the great French photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson's The Decisive Moment, a collection of his photos and an essay explaining his philosophy that "photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression." Mr. Koenig was dumbfounded. This was exactly what he and his colleagues were trying to do in film. He talked about the book over sandwiches at work and he kept his copy for the rest of his life. When he met Mr. Cartier-Bresson during a shoot in Montreal in 1998, the legendary photojournalist autographed the book "À Wolf Koenig ... En souvenir de bien des moments au Canada qu'il a rendu decisifs sur film."

After Mr. Koenig died, at 86, on June 26, his family found a fourpage typed essay inside that book in which he described the tumultuous effect of encountering Mr. Cartier-Bresson's words and pictures as a 28-year-old aspiring filmmaker desperate to embrace the possibility of moving outside the studio to film real people in their own milieux. He recalled how he and Mr. Kroitor had spent their holidays at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, roaming the grounds "with haunted looks searching for 'reality' ready to siphon it into our Bolex whenever it should appear." The problem was: "How, in God's name, could we be sure of being present when the moment of truth arrives?" That was the problem and luckily, Mr. Cartier-Bresson pointed to a solution. He "gave us direction as well as courage," Mr. Koenig wrote. "We rushed out into the real world and made a lot of Candid Eyes. Many of them were bad - a few were acceptable, a couple good. Whatever success we had, we owe in large measure to The Decisive Moment. For us it had arrived at a very decisive time."

That homage stands as Mr. Koenig's own modest statement of artistic purpose.

Wolf Koenig was born in Dresden, Germany on Oct. 17, 1927, the eldest of three children of Nathan and Ethel (née Handel) Koenig. His parents owned a prosperous linen store, called Wasche Koenig (Linen King). As Adolf Hitler and the Nazis rose to power, Jews suffered increasing oppression and the Koenigs decided to emigrate while they still could. Mr. Koenig sold his store, which was subsequently billed as "Now pure Aryan," and sailed to Canada, where an older brother, who had left Germany before the First World War, had agreed to sponsor them. "The hills were beautiful, all right, but hell to plow and harvest," Mr. Koenig said, describing the family farm in an interview in Take One magazine. "So we got a tractor, one of the first in the area, a Ford-Ferguson - small but strong." That tractor changed Mr. Koenig's life and Canadian cinematic history.

After school and in the summers, the Koenig boys milked the cows, fed the chickens and plowed the fields. "When we hoed the turnips," Joe Koenig remembered, "Wolf talked about great movies we had seen in town and how he wanted to make film, too, some day." Invariably, these discussions were interrupted by barked orders from their father to "start hoeing from opposite ends of the long row and stop the chatter."

During spring planting in May, 1948, the phone rang in the Koenig house. It was a neighbour, the local representative for the federal department of agriculture, asking if "the boy" could drive over with the tractor to try out a new tree-planting machine.

His father said "Go," and so he did. As "the boy" was pulling the tree planter across a field he noticed a film crew from the NFB.

Afterward, he approached the director, Raymond Garceau, and said how he longed to work in film. With Mr. Garceau's encouragement, he sent in an application and was offered a job as a junior splicer at NFB headquarters in Ottawa at $100 a month.

"Go!" his father said. "It's the government."

That's how Mr. Koenig left the farm with "hay seed in my hair, hauling a cardboard suitcase bulging with clothing and my mother's cookies and sandwiches." He was 20, bristling with curiosity and sponge-like in his eagerness to learn not only splicing but editing and animation.

He even made his own animated film about birds by punching triangles and circles into discarded celluloid and splicing them together. That caught the attention of Mr. McLaren, the genius of pixillation (a stop-motion animation technique) and the man who had pioneered drawing on film. He wangled Mr. Koenig away from his normal duties to be the cameraman on Neighbours, the 1952 film that won an Academy Award for best documentary. Mr. Koenig also began working with Mr. Daly. "He was a master teacher as well as an artist," Mr. Koenig told Take One.

"Without his guidance and infinite patience, many of us would never have worked on a film." He also challenged them intellectually, pressuring them to read the classics of philosophy and literature, in effect "giving us a university education" on the job.

Back in those days, cameras were noisy and heavy, sound was recorded on a separate and equally cumbersome machine, and everything was spliced together back in the studio.

Along the way, Mr. Koenig learned another lesson in his apprenticeship as a documentary filmmaker: Editing is what makes a film live and shine. You have "to know the rules as almost second nature," but then you have to "let go and allow the material to lead you." He became adept at "shooting with a mind to the editing process," which meant collecting lots of cutaways, wide shots and close ups and using them as scene setters and bridges, the way a writer uses words to create continuity in print. And he also learned that sometimes you have "to lie to tell the truth," by cutting scenes and combining shots in the order in which they advance the story rather than chronologically. Otherwise, "the audience would die of boredom or the truth would be smothered under a mountain of chaff."

Shy, modest and unassuming, Mr. Koenig spent his last years at the film board - he retired in 1995 - mentoring a younger generation of filmmakers. "He was interested in putting his ideas forward through other people," Mr. Ferguson said. One of them was Peter Raymont, now head of White Pine Pictures, an independent film company that includes such credits as Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire and West Wind: The Vision of Tom Thomson.

"Wolf was one of the gods," Mr. Raymont said in a eulogy at Mr. Koenig's funeral, recalling a three-month contract he had at the NFB in the early 1970s, and describing his excitement at being asked to work as an editor on two documentaries about Moshe Safdie, under Mr. Koenig as executive producer.

"Wolf was so open and encouraging," he said. "I was invited on shoots. Wolf shot some second camera. I shot some third camera too!" Then Mr. Koenig, who had "a great love of the Inuit people and had started an animation film workshop in Cape Dorset" sent Mr. Raymont to the Arctic to make a film. "It was an extraordinary responsibility and an exhilarating experience." That was the way it was in those days, Mr. Raymont concluded. The executives would throw aspiring filmmakers "into the deep end to see if we could swim." That's not so unusual. What was different about Mr. Koenig, was how he tested you - with "kindness and caring and love."

Mr. Koenig, who never married and had no children, leaves his younger siblings Joe and Rachel, their families and a wide circle of friends.

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Associated Graphic

Wolf Koenig, filming Jour de juin (A Day in June) during the Saint-Jean-Baptiste festivities in Montreal in 1959, was 'one of the most creative people of our generation'


As a young man, Wolf Koenig, left, beside colleague Colin Low, spent his holidays at the Canadian National Exhbition, Bolex camera in hand.

The million-dollar dream
The cost of a single-family home crossed the seven-figure line this year. Prices fluctuate, but it was a real-estate benchmark for Toronto. Denise Balkissoon talks to homeowners about why they bought in and what they got for $1-million
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M1

One million dollars. It's still the stuff that dreams are made of, it's just that our dreams have become a little less extravagant.

In April, Toronto's wild housing market hit a historical benchmark, when the average price of a detached home hit $965,760.

Most real estate observers rounded up to $1-million, and clarified that they were discussing the cost of a house, not a mansion: just a nice place to live, where two kids can each have their own bedroom, and people are not constantly yanked into the drama between neighbours on the other side of a wall.

Prices fluctuate, of course - in July, a detached house was a mere $880,433 and yes, there are still good houses in good neighbourhoods for less money. But interminable gridlock and perpetually minuscule interest rates are a deadly combination for anyone hoping to find a house with a bearable commute to downtown.

Perhaps the biggest factor is that Toronto is a bustling city full of energy, ideas, and fun. Despite bidding wars and mortgage insurance, condo delays and endless real estate bubble talk, it's why buyers are willing to spend seven figures to live here. Here's a look at three who did, and what they got for $1-million.


Tim Hughes and Rozita Razavi lost three bidding wars, and were bullied out of a fourth before it started. "There were Seaton, Grafton and Manning," says Mr. Hughes, counting off the streets that could have been. "And then Beverley, that was the bully offer."

The couple began their search in March, when the condo that they were sharing with Ms. Razavi's sister finally seemed just too small. Ms. Razavi's parents visit often, for one, and Mr. Hughes, 46, is a bicycle aficionado with a lot of wheels and frames to fix. "The elevator in a condo drives me nuts," he says.

Their requirements were simple enough: three bedrooms within bicycling distance of the University of Toronto, where he's a professor and she's a research associate, since they don't have a car. Although they were approved for a mortgage of up to a million dollars right away, the couple originally planned to spend about $750,000. "That wasn't realistic," says Ms. Razavi, 42, of their early search. "Even if that was the asking price, the final selling price was always over a million." Mr. Hughes was pushing for a detached house, but they looked at semis and even rowhouses, including one on Beverley Street, just south of the university, that was sold before they had a chance to get their paperwork together.

By June, the couple was ready to take a break for the summer when their agent suggested they look at one more house in Parkdale. The commute seemed a bit long, though they both liked the neighbourhood's cool yet down-to-earth vibe. What convinced them, though, was the place itself, a 120-yearold detached house with a wraparound porch, many of its original features, and almost 4,000 square feet of space. "It's an amazing house," Ms. Razavi says. "Better than we expected." It does need some modernizing and renovations - Mr. Hughes is looking forward into making the unfinished, 1,000-square-foot loft (which has awesome vaunted ceilings) into a livable space.

Of course, there was a bidding war: theirs was one of seven offers. In fact, Ms. Razavi and Mr. Hughes were told by another buying agent that they'd lost out, and were headed home when the call came through that they'd actually won.

"It does sound like a lot to me," says Ms. Razavi of the milliondollar price tag. Because their down payment is less than 20 per cent, they had to qualify for CMHC insurance to get a mortgage, and the house was assessed three times before the deal was done. CMHC's willingness to insure high-ratio mortgages is capped at a million, so Mr. Hughes calls it "the magical number," the price point that defines the hottest competitions. "I think that Toronto is at the edge of not having houses for everyone who wants a house," Mr. Hughes says. "You can almost think of it as a luxury good."

Yonge and Eglington

"It's too expensive to move in Toronto," explains Adam Weitner about why he and his wife, Ginny, bought a house to raise kids in even though they don't have children yet. With the city's land transfer tax demanding thousands of every buyer, and housing prices consistently resisting deflation, the Weitners decided to skip the starter home. Their hunt was for a house they could live in for a really long time, maybe forever.

Not that this is their first venture into ownership. With a little financial help from his family, Mr. Weitner bought his first condo as a university student in Ottawa. When he moved to Toronto in 2005, he sold that condo and bought one here, which is where the couple were living when they got married. "If it was my first property there would be no way I'd be able to do it," says the marketing manager, now 30, of the cost of his new house.

The Weitners' search began in October, 2013 and took them to Leslieville, Little Italy, the Danforth and midtown - they wanted a place no more than a 20-minute commute away from downtown, where they both work, and that wasn't negotiable. "I cannot stand being in traffic, it's bad for my health," says Mr. Weitner, who grew up in Brampton. "I'd never move to the suburbs, I'd rather live in a condo my whole life."

All in all, it was relatively painless. There were no bidding wars, because the duo was so particular they didn't make any other bids. Though they toured some semi-detached homes around $700,000, the couple felt they were too small to stay in for a very long time. They rejected houses listed at $900,000 that were in such bad shape that Ms. Weitner calls them "haunted," and said a bittersweet goodbye to an almost-perfect place in High Park that shook when the subway rumbled underneath.

This past January, they found a newly built detached house two blocks north of Eglinton, just west of Yonge, in a midtown neighbourhood with good schools that they thought would be out of their price range.

Because it was originally a developer's own home, the work was much more solid and well-done than many of the shoddy flip jobs the duo had seen. There are four bathrooms, one with heated floors, and a heated driveway that was a lifesaver during last winter's ice storms. "We could tell it was really good quality," says Ms. Weitner, 27, who works in sales.

Although the lot is slightly shallower than they'd like, the neighbourhood is full of parks. Mr. Weitner credits the just-over one-million asking price for the lack of competition. On a Sunday night at 10:30 p.m., they made an offer of $20,000 under asking with no conditions and it was accepted right away. "Toronto is expensive," Mr. Weitner says. "If you're going to break the bank, you may as well go all the way."


Twenty-three years ago, Dawna Henderson bought a 1,500square-foot, semi-detached house on Bertmount Avenue in Leslieville for $186,000. This past October, she sold it for $870,000. Wanting to make the most of her return, she bought two more properties: another Leslieville house to live in, and a new penthouse condominium as an investment. Both of them cost about a million dollars.

"I like this part of town, it's not as congested as the west," says Ms. Henderson of her decision to stay close to her old home. The 52-year-old advertising executive wasn't planning to buy an investment condo from the outset - she grew up in the country, and isn't quite sure how people live without a backyard. But she was intrigued with the plans for the West Don Lands neighbourhood, south of King Street E. off of River Street, near the site of next summer's Pan-American Games.

"Perhaps the developers have learned what not to do downtown," says Ms. Henderson of the park-and-amenity laden plan. Corktown residents are anticipating a brand-new YMCA, and arevalready enjoying the splash pad at Corktown Commons Park. All three levels of government kicked in money to build affordable rental housing nearby, which Ms. Henderson hopes will help maintain the east end's traditional class diversity.

She began to consider the 12storey building, that is the third of a five-building, 1,000-unit River City development. Although the penthouse was much more expensive than a smaller unit, her agent advised that because bigger condos are scarce in the city, it's easier to rent and sell them. "There's a glut of one bedrooms plus dens," Ms. Henderson says. "Like in Liberty Village, you have to wonder what some of those buildings will look like in five years."

To visualize how big the unit would be, Ms. Henderson drove out to a field in Caledon, and used spray paint to outline the space. "I thought, 'Oh, I understand now,' " she said. It became real that the condo took up more space than her old house, especially since it came with a 700square-foot, LEED-certified green roof and patio. After asking an architect friend's opinion and getting an enthusiastic response (and some suggested redesigns for the space), Ms. Henderson decided to go for it.

Her plan is to rent the unit out for about $4,000 a month when the building is ready for inhabitants next year. She and her husband are considering the space as their retirement home, and in the meantime, she definitely isn't worried about her investment.

"It's a question of supply and demand - people are sick of driving out to the suburbs," Ms. Henderson says. "It doesn't matter where you live in downtown Toronto, it's all going to be worth something."

Rozita Razavi and Tim Hughes


Lot size: 30 by 110 feet

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 3

Asking price: $889,000

Sold price: $999,999

Agent: Chris Chopnik, Sage Real Estate Ltd.

Dawna Henderson


Bedrooms: 2

Bathrooms: 2

Square footage: 1,900 plus balcony .

Sold price: $1,000,049 .

Agent: Robin Pope, Pope Real Estate Ltd.

Adam Weitner and Ginny Weitner

Yonge and Eglinton

Lot size: 25 by 65 feet

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 4

Asking price: $1,220,000 ..

Sold price: $1.2 million

Agent: Christine Cowern, Keller Williams Referred Urban Realty

Associated Graphic

Tim Hughes and Rozita Razavi lost several bidding wars before they purchased their Parkdale home.


Dawna Henderson never thought she would buy a condo, but she really liked the River City development.


Adam and Ginny Weitner wanted a place that was only a 20-minute commute from downtown.

He brought Cape Breton style to world stage
King of the Jigs shared Gaelic music with a wider audience and led its renaissance in Canada and abroad
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S8

Hugh Allan "Buddy" MacMaster rightly earned his title as the dean of Cape Breton fiddlers.

From his early boyhood days spent imitating the fiddle style by rubbing two sticks together, to the countless square dances he led with his music inside packed parish halls, to his recent public recognition as one of the world's greatest traditional musicians, Mr. MacMaster is fairly credited with not only bringing Cape Breton fiddling to the world stage, but preserving the region's musical traditions.

Known as King of the Jigs, Mr. MacMaster was 11 years old when he played his first tune, The Rock Valley Jig, after finding his father's fiddle in a trunk in the family's home in Inverness County on the western side of Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island.

Some years later, Mr. MacMaster played his first dance at about age 15. Over the next four decades, his fiddle playing was a regular feature at house parties, weddings, dances and benefits throughout the region and on CBC-TV shows such as Ceilidh and The John Allan Cameron Show. But music remained mostly a hobby until Mr. MacMaster retired from the Canadian National Railway in 1988, after 45 years with the company as a telegrapher and station agent. In 1989, he released his first of several recordings, Judique on the Floor, and went on to play fulltime as a professional musician, gaining an international reputation.

Endlessly generous with his time and music, Mr. MacMaster taught, scoured old music books to rediscover and revive forgotten tunes, and remained forever faithful to the fiddle music he first heard in his parents' home.

He was known for mentoring younger players, the most notable being his niece, Natalie MacMaster, an internationally renowned fiddler, and her cousin Ashley MacIsaac, who brought Cape Breton fiddling to new audiences when they emerged on the scene in the late 1980s.

"He really did believe in giving to other people and not letting them down," Ms. MacMaster said. "He really did believe in the duty that he had in sharing his God-given talent."

As Mr. MacMaster liked to say: "The music really belongs to the people."

An unassuming, kind and humble man, he shied away from awards and public recognition. Despite his modesty, they kept coming his way. Earlier this year, Folk Alliance International gave Mr. MacMaster a Lifetime Achievement Award, placing him in the company of past recipients Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Stan Rogers. "I was surprised, especially at my age, to get this award when I thought I was all through," he told the Halifax Chronicle Herald.

Mr. MacMaster suffered a heart attack and died on Aug. 20 at his home in the tiny community of Judique, two months shy of his 90th birthday, leaving behind his wife, Marie, two children, Allan and Mary, and a large extended family. He had to stop playing the fiddle in recent years when arthritis made his fingers less nimble and his health deteriorated.

Natalie MacMaster remembers as a child hearing her uncle play in her parents' kitchen. He'd often stop by the house on his way home to play a new tune he had just learned. Later, when she started playing fiddle she listened to his recordings over and over again, pressing stop and rewind on her cassette player, while she tried to emulate his sound.

"I've copied Buddy's style more than anyone else," she said. "He had this amazing rhythm. In the drummer world they call it a wide groove or a big pocket. He never rushed an ounce. But his tempo was very lively."

Some of his gifts included his ability to pick pieces from the Scottish music canon, or turn a lesser-known tune into something special, Ms. MacMaster said. He'd infuse the tunes with personality, characteristic bow work and quick grace notes. She and others frequently refer to his nuanced, buoyant style as "the Buddy MacMaster lift."

Mr. MacMaster's musical style comes from a tradition that began in the Scottish Highlands and crossed the ocean where it has been preserved in the rural communities of Cape Breton Island, remaining, some would argue, even more true to its roots than modern Scottish fiddling, Dawn Beaton, artistic director of the Celtic Colours International Festival, remembers the joy his music brought to her as a young step dancer. She and her sister played Judique on the Floor so many times while dancing that they wore it out. They eventually had to replace the cassette tape.

"He did the most iconic version of [the tune] King George the Fourth," she said. At an annual step-dancing festival held in the community of Port Hood, he was the fiddler all the dancers wanted. "Every little girl got up and asked for Buddy to play King George the Fourth."

Born in 1924 into a Gaelicspeaking, musical family in the northeastern Ontario town of Timmins, Mr. MacMaster was the second eldest of eight children.

His parents, Sarah Agnes and John Duncan MacMaster, had moved from Cape Breton to the mining town so John could work in the mines. In 1929, the family returned to Cape Breton's Inverness County, where John resumed work at the mines.

Mr. MacMaster's father played the fiddle, but he didn't hear him play often, instead he learned his first tunes mainly from Judique fiddler Alexander MacDonnell, and revered players such as Bill Lamey and Winston (Scotty) Fitzgerald when they visited the MacMaster home.

He says, however, that his love of music came largely from his mother, who sang to him from birth. She would lilt, often referred to as mouth music or "jigging," with a Gaelic inflection peculiar to the area, and always encouraged people to play music in the house. Several of Mr. MacMaster's sisters became accomplished piano players and would accompany him when he played publicly.

"I'd be lying in bed jigging tunes," he once said in an interview of his childhood. "Then I got two sticks of wood and would be rubbing them together pretending I was playing the fiddle. My grandfather, Alain Iain, was up at the house and he saw me at this, so he whittled the pieces of wood down to resemble a violin and a bow. Somewhere along the way I got away from that. I guess I was getting older, saw it was foolish to be rubbing two sticks together."

His first paid gig came when he was about 15 years old. "I was asked to play for a dance at the Troy School," he recalled in the book Buddy MacMaster: The Judique Fiddler. "It was just a little dance, you know. Anyway, they gave me $4. I had to pay my way on the old bus to the dance and then on the train to get home the next day." On the train ride home he met a man he knew who was impressed by his earnings from the dance.

"You did well," he told Mr. MacMaster.

"In Cape Breton, step-dancing and square-dancing, I think, has a lot to do with the way we play," Mr. MacMaster told Fiddler Magazine in 2000. "You have to give it a lift or a lively feel to make the dancer feel like dancing or perform better, you know.

Then when you see a dancer responding to your music, that sort of puts you in a better mood to play."

At a typical dance, Mr. MacMaster would play from his repertoire of hundreds of tunes with precision timing and impeccable correctness, all from memory. He put so much energy into each performance that sweat would cover his shortsleeved, collared shirt. A young woman, named Marie Beaton, who frequented the dances where he played, caught his eye.

The couple married in 1968. By that time, Mr. MacMaster had been a regular player on Cape Breton's dance circuit for close to 20 years.

In the 1940s, his fellow CNR workers loved to hear Mr. MacMaster play reels and strathspeys over the wire connecting stations on the line. When the station agents were saying their good nights at the end of the late shift, Mr. MacMaster would play a tune and agents up and down the line would listen in on their headsets. Finding time between trains, he would often practise his fiddle at work. The train stations, with their traditional plaster and lath combined with Douglas fir panelling, made for good acoustics and were wonderful places to play.

"At least three generations [of fiddlers] have looked up to him as the gold standard," said Joella Foulds, executive director of the Celtic Colours International Festival, where Mr. MacMaster performed about 40 times over the years.

Wanting to ensure that the traditions of his music were passed on, he taught not only close to home, but in the United States and was one of the first Cape Breton fiddlers to be asked to teach in Scotland. Down the road from his house, at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre, people came from around the world to learn to play like him.

"One of the things on their bucket list, they would say, was to meet Buddy," said Frank MacInnis, vice-president of the centre's board. "Among the fiddlers, he was looked up to by everyone."

Generous with his time, Mr. MacMaster received countless calls to play at community events and fundraisers. He often played these events for free, sometimes attending up to three events a day in the summers.

Soon-to-be-married couples also sought him out. "I'd get calls to make a booking for a wedding," he recalled in Buddy MacMaster: The Judique Fiddler. "I always got a kick out of that. Because sometimes they would give a date and I'd say, well, I'm booked that day. There would be a little pause and I could hear some talking in the back[ground] and they would come back and ask if another date was open."

Outside of music, he was an active community member, serving as a municipal councillor, chair of the local school board and community college board member.

For his work as an ambassador of Canadian music, a mentor and a leader of the Gaelic renaissance in Canada and abroad, Mr. MacMaster was admitted to the Order of Canada. He also received honorary degrees from Cape Breton and St. Francis Xavier universities.

Mr. MacMaster's funeral will be held at 11 a.m. on Aug. 25 at St. Andrew's Catholic Church, an old, stone structure, near his home in Judique, N.S. Inside the sacred place, which traces its roots to the Highland Scots, his fidelity to his ancestors and the music he loved will be honoured.

Associated Graphic

Cape Breton fiddler Buddy MacMaster, left, mentored many younger players, including his internationally renowned niece, Natalie MacMaster.


Buddy MacMaster raises his Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award at the East Coast Music Awards in Charlottetown in 2006, just one of many honours he received in his career.


Canada is leading a worldwide life-or-death effort by drug companies and researchers to make available experimental Ebola treatment and vaccination drugs that could be administered in areas of Western Africa ravaged by history's worst outbreak of the deadly disease. Omar El Akkad explains
Thursday, August 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6



Perhaps the most widely mentioned drug during the current Ebola outbreak is a serum developed by a San Diego-based company called Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc.

The drug, called ZMapp, is a still-experimental Ebola treatment that functions in a similar way to some vaccinations. Usually, vaccinations work by exposing the body to a small quantity of some virus, prompting the immune system to produce antibodies. However, in the case of especially aggressive and fast-moving diseases such as Ebola, that process can be too time-consuming. Instead, ZMapp delivers the antibodies directly to the body. The drug is a cocktail of three antibodies - two of which latch on to the virus and attack it directly, while the third one alerts the immune system to the presence of the virus. In early trials, ZMapp has shown positive results. Perhaps most important, the drug also has a relatively wide window of effectiveness. In animal studies in Winnipeg, the drug was administered to nonhuman primates that had been infected between one and three days earlier - with very successful results, according to Erica Ollmann Saphire, a professor with the California-based Scripps Research Institute and an expert on viral hemorrhagic fever pathogenesis. Indeed, even in some cases where the disease had progressed to the hemorrhagic fever stage, some subjects could still be saved.


Another potentially effective treatment for the Ebola virus is being developed by a pharmaceutical company called Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp., based in Burnaby, B.C.

The drug, called TKM-Ebola, attacks the genetic material of the virus - and while testing is still far from complete, it has shown positive results.

For years, Tekmira worked on the drug in association with researchers at Boston University, and using research funding provided in part by the U.S. Department of Defense as part of a $140-million contract.

The basis of the treatment is a mechanism called Ribonucleic acid interference, or RNAi. Drugs based on RNAi try to shut down genes responsible for certain disease. The RNAi mechanism itself has been well-studied by biologists for years. To produce the Ebola drug, however, Tekmira combined the RNAi treatment with its proprietary mechanism designed to deliver the treatment to disease sites.

In early-stage testing, the drug showed significant potential. In a preclinical study published in The Lancet, researchers found that non-human primates could be protected from an otherwise lethal dose of the virus using the TKM-Ebola treatment.


An Ebola vaccine, generally, functions in a manner similar to many other vaccines. In essence, the body is given a small taste of the virus. This prompts the immune system to produce antibodies to fight the small infection, and as a result the subject is protected from full-blown iterations of the virus in the future.

There are myriad researchers in the U.S. and Canada working on such vaccines, and many have shown signs of progress.

In one study completed by an American pharmaceutical company, animals given an Ebola vaccine before the onset of infection had a 100-per-cent protection rate. In some cases the vaccine managed to stop the virus even when administered shortly after an infection.

But because the vaccines have had almost no testing at all on human subjects, it is unclear whether the promising results will translate. A vaccine would also be of slightly limited use, compared with other treatments, in helping those stricken during the current Ebola outbreak, in part because it is often difficult to determine when a patient was infected, and the vaccine's effective window of treatment appears to be smaller than that of drugs such as ZMapp.



Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. barely existed on the public radar before the recent Ebola outbreak. However, the company's drug, ZMapp, generated massive public attention after it was used to treat two American patients who fell ill with the Ebola virus. Since then, Mapp has been inundated with requests for the drug - requests the company is largely unable to meet because, until the outbreak, ZMapp was still in early experimental stages.

Zmapp is not entirely the work of the San Diego pharmaceutical firm. The drug is in part a joint effort with a small Canadian company called Defyrus Inc., which provided some of the antibodies used in the treatment.

After initially speaking openly about the development of the drug, the makers of ZMapp have shied away from providing much more information.

"The available supply of ZMapp has been exhausted," the company said in a terse statement this week. "We have complied with every request for ZMapp that had the necessary legal/regulatory authorization. It is the requestors' decision whether they wish to make public their request, acquisition, or use of the experimental drug."

Contacted by the Globe, Larry Zeitlin, president of Mapp, declined to comment.


Since its Ebola treatment came under the public spotlight at the start of the current Ebola epidemic, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp. has seen its stock price take a rollercoaster ride - jumping on Monday on news that the company may have a viable Ebola treatment, and then dropping again later in the week as the initial investor euphoria died down.

In July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration put a hold on Tekmira's Ebola treatment program trials. But as the outbreak grew, the regulatory body eased that restriction to allow for the treatment to be administered to patients with suspected or confirmed cases of the virus.

Keen not to raise expectations (nor inflate its share price) without ironclad evidence that the treatment works, Tekmira has played down the potential widespread use of its drug in the outbreak.

"Our therapeutic, TKM-Ebola, is currently an unapproved agent and the regulatory framework to support its use in Africa has not yet been established," the company said on Wednesday. "Given the severity of the situation, we are carefully evaluating options for use of our investigational drug within accepted clinical and regulatory protocols."

A Tekmira representative said the company has no further comment about its Ebola treatment at this time.


A number of companies and researchers around the globe are working on Ebola vaccines, but perhaps the epicentre of development and distribution at the moment is in Canada.

A vaccine that Canada is offering to send to Ebola-stricken countries was developed at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, which is part of the Public Health Agency of Canada and is the centre of Ebola-related research in this country.

The lab has in its possession about 1,500 doses of the vaccine, known as VSV-EBOV, all of which were produced in Germany.

Canada has offered to donate as many as 1,000 doses, keeping the remainder in Canada for research or for distribution in the unlikely event that Ebola turns up in Canada.

Although Canada still holds the intellectual property rights to the vaccine, it has licensed the rights to develop it to an Iowa-based company that said Wednesday it planned to step up production of the vaccine. Gary Kobinger, the chief of special pathogens at the National Microbiology Laboratory, said he expected a second batch - over and above those sitting in the Winnipeg lab - could be produced in two or three months.



So far, ZMapp has been administered to at least three patients. Two American health workers who became infected with the virus are now in a medical facility in Atlanta, and appear to be showing signs of progress. A third patient, a 75-year-old Spanish priest, died. In another case, medical officials decided not to give the untested drug to another doctor, who subsequently succumbed to the disease. It is uncertain how effective the drug would have been in treating the patient.

This week, the World Health Organization decided that the drug, despite being far from fully tested, could ethically be used as possible treatment in the Ebola outbreak. Since that time, the makers of ZMapp have quickly exhausted their supply of the drug, giving it away for free to a number of parties, including the government of Liberia, which planned to treat several infected doctors with the medication.

Mapp Biopharmaceutical is now scrambling to make more doses of the treatment, as demand far outstrips supply. The antibodies used in the drug are grown inside modified tobacco plants, and that process is usually slow. Now the company is trying to work with a number of partners to speed up production considerably.


Unlike ZMapp, Tekmira's Ebola treatment has yet to reach infected patients. However the company is not ruling out a move similar to Mapp Biopharmaceutical's that would provide its drug to outside parties.

Tekmira chief executive officer Mark Murray said on Wednesday that the company is closely monitoring the Ebola outbreak, and has had discussions with multiple government and NGO representatives, as well as those from the World Health Organization.

These discussions may result in an appropriate "framework" by which Tekmira could provide its investigational drug, but Mr. Murray cautioned that "there can be no assurance that ... an appropriate framework will be found."

Even if Tekmira reaches an agreement to make its drug available, it is unclear how much supply the company has, and how quickly it can produce TKM-Ebola. Company executives have said only that they "have an inventory" of the drug, without giving more details. Tekmira is also exploring how much time it would take to make more than the current inventory, but would offer no more specific a timeline than to say the process would likely take "months."


Canada will soon begin providing doses of the Ebola vaccine to the World Health Organization, after Ottawa approved the move earlier this week. The majority of Canada's supply of the vaccine will go to the WHO - about 1,000 doses - with a small batch remaining in the country in case an instance of the disease shows up in Canada. Ottawa is also sending about $185,000 to the WHO to aid in other efforts to fight the outbreak.

It is difficult to estimate how far the vaccine will go, in part because it may be used in many cases as a form of treatment, rather than vaccination, which requires a different dosage. As with other forms of treatment, it will likely take a few months to make more of the vaccine. However, the government has licensed its vaccine to some outside drug makers, who are also working on producing more doses.

There are other challenges that are likely to come up only after the vaccine is used on human patients - chiefly, it is unclear whether the vaccine's positive results in animal tests will carry over to human subjects. There is also the thorny ethical issues of which patients will get the doses.

Associated Graphic


After a rash of deaths across the country at music festivals, health advocates are promoting a harm-reduction approach to help attendees avoid the dire effects of dehydration, tainted drugs and overdoses
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

It's Friday evening at the Shambhala Music Festival, and a young woman in denim cut-offs is using an X-acto knife to separate a small quantity of a white powdered substance into three piles on a large white dinner plate.

She watches anxiously as a volunteer in gloves dispenses a drop of fluid onto one of the piles, turning it dark purple and confirming that the substance contains MDMA, the main ingredient in ecstasy.

Outside the tent near Nelson, B.C., where more than a dozen partiers are lined up, whiteboards bear descriptions of bad drugs circulating at the event: "Green playboy bunny baggie - sold as ketamine - actually methoxetamine."

"Bag with clubs on it - sold as E - unknown."

This is harm reduction at work. Health advocates are enthusiastic about the approach after a rash of deaths across the country thrust music festivals - and the drug habits of young people who attend them - into the spotlight. The heightened scrutiny has raised questions about how much effort festivals should make to keep participants out of harm's way.

The popularity of music festivals is on the rise, with new events every year. Electronic music alone is pegged as a $6.2billion global industry, according to the Association for Electronic Music, but that is only a slice of the pie. Canadian music festivals play a wide array of genres, including rock, hip hop and country. About 30,000 people flock to Kelowna every year for the Center of Gravity festival, while the Squamish Valley Music Festival drew more than 100,000 guests this year.

But as the number of festivals and attendees increases, so does the likelihood something will go wrong. About 80 people were admitted to hospital and a woman died of a suspected drug overdose at the Boonstock festival at the beginning of August in Penticton, B.C.

Last month, a man was found dead in his tent at the Pemberton Music Festival, which had an estimated 25,000 guests.

At Toronto's VELD Music Festival, which attracted about 70,000, two people died after taking drugs and another 13 were sent to hospital. Some people took upward of 10 pills or picked up drugs off the ground, Det. Sgt.

Peter Trimble of the Toronto Police told the media. Some organizers deny the existence of drugs at their events. The harm reduction approach forces organizers and volunteers to walk a fine line between acknowledging drug use and condoning it.

Officials at Shambhala say giving people safety information - such as the importance of staying hydrated, or which drugs mix well and which do not - can keep prevent trouble.

"We're not here to crash parties," says Shaun Wilson, the festival's security manager. "We're here to help people party safe."

It is virtually impossible to keep drugs out of a days-long event with campers and their gear, he acknowledges.

"We're not able, in our searches, to go through everybody's jar of peanut butter and their prescription bottles to see what's a controlled substance and what's not," Mr. Wilson says.

At outdoor music festivals, heat, dehydration, marathon dance sessions and tainted drugs sold by unscrupulous dealers can create a "perfect storm" of risk factors, says Adam Lund, a researcher at the University of British Columbia. In some cases, people in the midst of a crisis may sequester themselves instead of asking for help for fear of being reported to the authorities.

In a worst-case scenario, that can lead to an unpleasant death.

Chloe Sage, who volunteers with the non-profit group Ankors, which operated the drug-testing tent at Shambhala, says she has been seeing a resurgence of PMMA, or paramethoxymethamphetamine, being sold as MDMA, and suspects it might be responsible for recent incidents. It is a dangerous drug that can cause users to overheat.

"It's like their thermostat breaks and they keep heating from the inside like a microwave," she says.

"People have dropped dead from it; that's why it stopped being popular."

One of the challenges of providing medical aid at large gatherings is a lack of research on the topic. "There are no provincial or national guidelines that say what the minimum standard of care should be," Dr. Lund says. "The evidence base for best practice at large gatherings is really thin."

Dr. Lund is hoping to change that. For the past five years, he has been leading a group at UBC's department of emergency medicine that is interested in medical care of people at large events. Its database contains information chronicling more than 20,000 patient encounters at everything from music festivals to sports.

The goal is to identify risk factors and determine how much of a burden certain types of events are likely to place on local hospitals.

This summer, Dr. Lund's team is collecting data from Shambhala, Squamish and Pemberton.

In the Sanctuary

It is late Saturday night at Shambhala, and the Sanctuary, the festival's chill-out space, is filled with people, most wrapped in blankets and curled up on mattresses or in hammocks. Psychedelic first aid, as it is colloquially called, provides a safe, non-judgmental place for people to go if they are having an intense drug trip and need to get away from the loud music and the bright lights. It is staffed by volunteers who have experience in the mental health field.

In addition to the Sanctuary and the drug testing booth, which festival organizers contract out to Ankors, the festival has a safe space for women, a harm reduction outreach team and a sexual health division. It even has a sober camp for people struggling with addiction that holds three AA-style meetings a day.

The festival's medical facilities are in a permanent wooden structure staffed around the clock with doctors, nurses and paramedics - even administrators to organize medical records. The first-aid team typically treats 200 to 300 patients a day, most for scrapes, blisters and mild dehydration.

There are only about a dozen serious, drug-related issues each year, says Brendan Munn, the head of medical, calling it a small fraction given that the festival's population is more than 10,000.

The festival also has more than 100 security guards, plus a plainclothes investigation team to crack down on trafficking. Mr.

Wilson says he strives to find security workers who embody the Shambhala spirit. "We try to avoid the door bouncer type," he explains. "We want the caregiver types."

Security does not go after people for possession of drugs, but it does devote energy to finding drug dealers, Mr. Wilson says, especially those believed to be peddling dangerous drugs that are sending people to the first aid tent. "Hopefully, they end up in an RCMP vehicle leaving the site; that's our goal," he says.

He notes the festival has fewer fights and sexual assaults than any other music festival he has worked at, a fact he attributes to the no-booze policy.

But in spite of the festival's efforts to reduce risks, accidents happen. This year, seven people were taken to hospital, organizers said. It is unclear how many hospital admissions were drug related. In 2012, a man at Shambhala died of an overdose after ingesting a cocktail of illegal and prescription drugs.

A different democraphic

The term "overdose" typically conjures up images of a street youth in tattered clothes slumped in an alleyway with a needle sticking out of one arm. But those who have died at music festivals this summer have been described by friends, family and co-workers as bright, hard-working young people with promising futures who were simply looking to have a good time.

Annie Truong-Le, the 20-yearold who died after taking drugs at Toronto's VELD Music Festival this month, was a political science major at York University.

Ms. Truong-Le was too busy studying and working with community non-profits to be involved with drugs, says Chris Rugel, who had volunteered with her at Mentoring Arts Tutoring Athletics.

"She was a smart girl, she was going to school, she was doing all the right things," Mr. Rugel says.

"I don't know what happened that day at VELD. It's really sad.

But I can only attribute it to her youth and having a little bit of fun and making a really bad decision any one of us could have made in her position."

Toronto Councillor Anthony Perruzza said Ms. Truong-Le interned in his office for six months during the summer of 2013 and had stayed in touch, helping organize community events.

"She was going places," he says.

"I would never have looked at her and said, 'There are problems here.' Absolutely not."

The pictures emerging of the other festivalgoers who have died this summer are similar. Willard Amurao, a 22-year-old from Ajax, Ont., who also died after ingesting party drugs at VELD, had a diploma in marketing from George Brown College .

Lynn Tolocka, a 24-year-old from Leduc, Alta., died after she collapsed from a suspected drug overdose at the Boonstock Music Festival in Penticton, B.C. According to a newspaper report, Ms. Tolocka was a martial arts enthusiast who grew up in a U.S. military family.

And Nick Phongsavath, 21, who was found dead in a tent at Pemberton Music Festival last month, was a software engineering student at the University of Regina and was among the winners of the Regina Engineering Competition last fall, according to a blog post.

People who spend hundreds of dollars going to music festivals are a different demographic from street youth with addictions, Dr. Lund says.

"People who are going out to these kinds of destination events are going there to have a really good time," he says. "They're using whatever drugs they're using to enhance their experience, to have a euphoric feeling."

Dr. Lund says it is unfair to blame electronic music, or music festivals in general. After all, drug overdoses at concerts are not new, he says.

"Every generation detests the music of its youth," Dr. Lund says.

Even Elvis was considered risky once. "This is just a different brand ... I don't think that electronic dance music should be particularly villainized for that."

Associated Graphic

Top: Festival-goers relax at the Squamish Valley Music Festival last weekend.


Above: A volunteer tests an MDMA capsule at Shambhala Music Festival in Nelson.


Thousands of fans watch Arcade Fire perform at the Squamish Valley Music Festival on August 9.


A security guard checks on a woman in the beer gardens at the Squamish Valley Music Festival.

'It brought people out of the closet'
World Pride took over Toronto earlier this summer. LGBT events will bring thousands to Montreal this week. But in the developing world, violent homophobia is on the rise. What will it take to humanize gay people and galvanize the gay-rights movement? Surprisingly, argues André Picard, the answer may be HIV/AIDS
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F3

In the early 1980s, a new disease ravaged the gay community. It had many names: gay pneumonia, gay cancer, the gay plague and the more formal Gay-Related Immune Deficiency. The symptoms were visible and immediately recognizable: a disfiguring cancer called Kaposi's sarcoma, extreme weight loss (wasting) and suffocating pneumocystis carinii pneumonia.

The deadly disease, renamed Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome after the virus was identified, travelled quickly through the gay community, but fear travelled even faster in mainstream society.

Gay men, even men suspected of being gay, lost their jobs - they were evicted from apartments and they were ostracized. Newspapers carried earnest stories about the risks of catching AIDS from a toilet seat in a public restroom. Funeral homes refused to handle bodies, and hospitals turned patients away, or placed them in isolation. There was talk of quarantining the sick in modern-day leper colonies and tattooing the infected to warn prospective sex partners of the danger.

"No one is safe from AIDS," blared Time magazine which, in the pre-Internet era, was hugely influential. Pat Buchanan, communications director for President Ronald Reagan, called AIDS "nature's revenge on gay men." Some far-right fundamentalist preachers called for the death penalty for homosexuals and, across the Western world, there were moves to bar gays from the classroom, from health-care jobs and more.

It was a time of stigmatization and oppression, eerily similar to what is going on again now in large parts of the developing world, but on a grander scale and with more dire consequences. At least 76 countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean have enacted anti-homosexual laws, and homophobia - and more disturbingly state-sanctioned homophobia and vigilantism - is on the rise. Sudan has the death penalty for anyone found to have committed "homosexual acts," Uganda has harsh prison sentences for anyone who even dares to speak out in defence of a "known homosexual," and Russia has labelled gay-rights groups as "enemies of the state."

At the same time, three decades after the "gay plague" began, there is an once-unthinkable acceptance of same-sex relationships in the Western world: Gay marriage is widely accepted, human-rights protections have been extended to gays and lesbians, and events like World Pride are not only mainstream family activities, but tourist draws.

How did this happen? How did fear of pestilent homosexuals give way to acceptance of men loving men? And are the horrors that are taking place now in the developing world the last gasp of homophobes, an inevitable clash on the road to gay liberation?

"What we're seeing today is two parallel stories: the relentless rise of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual (LGBT) rights in the Western world and the rise of homophobia and the trampling of rights elsewhere, and something has to give," says Craig McClure, a former activist with the radical AIDS group Act Up and now the chief of HIV-AIDS at the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund.

He says that a lot of activists who fought the early battles for gay rights in the West are now in positions of power and influence, and they have an obligation to speak out for and come to the aid of those who are now being jailed, beaten and threatened with death because of their sexual orientation.

"I think we need to do a lot more to support our brothers and sisters in the developing world," Mr. McClure says. "We should be as furious today as we were in the early days of the epidemic." And furious they were.

When AIDS came along in the early 1980s, the gay rights movement was well under way. It was born, symbolically at least, in June 1969, when police conducted a routine raid on a New York bar called Stonewall. Angered by the harassment, members of the gay community took to the streets in what came to be known as the Stonewall riots. The scenario was repeated with raids on bath houses and gay bars in Toronto, Montreal and elsewhere, and the community pushed back with demonstrations and lawsuits. Emboldened, the gay bathhouse subculture came out of the shadows and many embraced promiscuity as a form of revolution.

When AIDS struck, priorities changed, and quickly, from hedonism to survival. And, ironically, the advent of AIDS probably advanced gay rights more than anything else in history.

"HIV-AIDS changed public perceptions a lot: It showed a more humane side of the community," says Ed Jackson, director of program development at Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange, and a longtime activist. "It also galvanized gay men into being more active and more visible. It brought people out of the closet."

Mr. Jackson said the large number of HIV-positive men, and the often-overlooked contributions of many lesbian women who cared for the sick, forced members of the gay community to interact with the system, instead of living on the margins. In fact, many of the early battles that mobilized the community were about seemingly mundane issues such as the right to visit partners in hospital (people were refused access because they were not considered immediate family, even if they were in long-term relationships), taking time off to be with loved ones who were sick and dying and claiming insurance benefits.

Gay rights came incrementally as these battles were waged before administrative tribunals and the courts and, in the process, gay and lesbian couples became more mainstream.

"We went from being marginalized as sick people to being normalized," Mr. Jackson says.

"Along the way, a lot of desires became mainstreamed; we wanted to be like everybody else, which is why you saw a push for things like gay marriage.

"We chose the straight path, if you will," he adds with a smile.

AIDS hit Africa about the same time as it did Western countries and affected the same demographic groups, principally men who have sex with men, recipients of blood and blood products and intravenous drug users. But the response was very different from places like Canada. Instead of rage and activism, there was denial and inaction.

AIDS was dismissed as a disease of Westerners with perverse sexual habits. The party line in virtually every country on the continent was that there are no homosexuals, and that Africans don't engage in the unnatural acts that spread the disease. This dismissal delayed any serious response to the epidemic, and AIDS spread like wildfire, assisted greatly by truckers who travelled the transcontinental route that came to be known as the "AIDS highway" and the sex workers who populated road stops. By the late 1980s, when the rates of infection became so high that they could no longer be denied, AIDS was portrayed as a heterosexual disease, which was spreading so rapidly because men were promiscuous.

"It was never true that HIVAIDS was uniquely a heterosexual disease in Africa," says Christine Stegling, executive director of the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, and a longtime AIDS activist in Botswana.

"The reality is that there are men who have sex with men in Africa, just as there are everywhere, but because of the stigma, they marry and otherwise remain hidden," she says.

"Politicians and governments have always refused to acknowledge that these practices and these communities exist.

"What's different now is that gay men and transgendered people are starting to come out - in large part because rates of HIVAIDS are so high in these communities - and that is making it a lot more difficult to deny their existence. This, in turn, has fuelled a backlash and the introduction of repressive anti-homosexuality laws."

"HIV has been devastating but it has also created an entrance for LGBT work to be done," Ms. Stegling adds.

"There is a lot of activism for rights in these communities but the response has put a lot of people's lives in danger."

Paul Semugoma, a Ugandan physician, knows that all too well. He is on a "wanted" list in his home country (where homosexuality is a crime) because he has spoken out for gay rights, and lives in exile in South Africa.

Dr. Semugoma decided to come out himself two years ago, for a couple of reasons. Gay activist David Kato, a close friend, had been murdered and he felt like a hypocrite. Also, he was treating large numbers of patients with HIV-AIDS but realized that men who have sex with men were reluctant to seek help for fear of being found out. Rates of HIVAIDS in men who have sex with men in Africa are about 10 times those of the heterosexual population.

"I was gay, I was having sex and nobody knew about it," Dr. Semugoma says. "But I realized that, with HIV-AIDS, silence is literally death, so I couldn't be silent any more."

As in the West, he adds, the AIDS epidemic is pushing gay men out of the closet and thrusting them into the public eye. But, unlike in the West, the evangelical movement that is so rabidly homophobic, holds much more sway, and corrupt, dictatorial governments are far less likely to "do the right thing" by extending rights to a beleaguered, oppressed minority. On the contrary, gays are a handy scapegoat.

"In Uganda, the anti-homosexuality law was presented as proAfrican, anti-West legislation. It's us versus them," he says. "But I reject that. I'm a gay man. I'm a Ugandan. I'm an African."

But the situation is not altogether dire, he notes. South Africa was one of the first countries in the world to legalize gay marriage and one of the few countries where discrimination against gays and lesbians is barred in the constitution. Uganda, because of its anti-homosexuality laws, is also becoming a human-rights pariah, in much the same way that South Africa's apartheid regime was isolated and pressured to change.

"All this discussion is forcing people to recognize that there are gays in Africa, just as there are everywhere in the world," Dr. Semugoma says. "We will always be a minority, but one day we will be a minority with rights."

"Even in Uganda?" he is asked.

"It's my country," he replies pensively. "Whether it's two years, 20 years or 50 years, I will return some day as a full citizen."

Andre Picard is The Globe and Mail's public health reporter.

Associated Graphic

This 1986 photo of Ken Meeks - taken three days before he died of AIDS - put a human face on the 'gay plague.'


The message in the bottle
Alison Pick on why we're still afraid of antidepressants - even when we take them
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F4

In the wake of Robin Williams' death, we have seen an incredible outpouring of compassion for those who suffer from depression. Suicide, so often met with accusations of selfishness, has instead been met with empathy - with an understanding that it's the result of unthinkable pain.

I want to feel hopeful that this new ethos of tolerance will last, and will encourage those afflicted to get the help they need and deserve. But deep down I fear it won't.

We are still suspicious of both mental illness and how it's treated. We might accept the idea of depression in celebrities, in our social circles, even in our friends - but surely we ourselves are stronger than that. Talk therapy, maybe. But aren't antidepressants for the weak or unstable, the truly sick?

I understand these biases because I suffer from depression and I hold them too.

I wasn't 'that' depressed

My first real experience with depression was in my early twenties, a typical age for onset. I had an old-school psychotherapist who did not believe in medication.

Depression, he said, is a sign that unconscious material is attempting to break free. It is a good sign that we are ready to heal. To medicate away your symptoms would be a kind of cruelty.

And he was right. I learned more about myself in those two years of therapy than I had in my entire life until then. I learned - I hadn't known! - about the way in which the unacknowledged within us has a way of running the show. I learned that to experience a feeling fully was the only way to release it.

I still believe these things. I know them to be true, because my depression passed. I experienced a long period of peace and ease - I published books, I enjoyed my life. Then the next dark spell hit. I hoped it was just plain old sadness. It was not. This pattern repeated several more times. Was each episode worse? It is so hard to be objective. To be depressed is to be swallowed by a fog. I can say with certainty that each episode made it very painful to be alive.

Still I resisted medication. I didn't want to banish my darkness at the expense of the rest of my personality - my insight, my authenticity, my sense of myself as an artist. And the fact that I was depressed did not line up with how I perceived myself, with how my life was supposed to be.

My fear is not only personal, but cultural. There's been a backlash against antidepressants since Prozac Nation came out in 1994. Part of our skepticism is about whether Big Pharma has our health at stake or just their profit. Part of our skepticism is about whether antidepressants actually work. These are valid concerns: according to a report in 2012, 42.6 million prescriptions for antidepressants were filled in Canada that year (our population is not quite 35 million).

But there's a deeper fear, too, that pills are a kind of cheating, a lazy way to deal with a problem, and that they will muffle our true or "essential" selves.

I spoke with Dr. David Goldbloom, senior medical advisor and staff psychiatrist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, who called this the "Frankenstein fear" of antidepressants. "This is the fear that medication will change me into something I am not, never was and don't want to be," he told me. "In my experience, most people who benefit from antidepressants feel more connected to, or more able to express and enjoy, their essential selves."

That would be nice.

But still I doubted. I wanted others who suffered to get treatment - of course! - but was I really a good cantidate? For me, the episodic nature of the illness means that when I am in the darkness it is hard to remember anything else exists, but when I am well I wonder if I'm making the whole thing up. I have such a good life. I have a family who loves me, financial stability, success in my career.

But depression, as Dr. Goldbloom told me, is not a logical reaction to external circumstances. My new memoir Between Gods is about the ways in which it can be inherited, like a family heirloom passed down the generations. Trauma, and its legacy, are very real. But so is brain chemistry, and despite the new research about the incredible plasticity of our brains, to a certain extent you get what you get.

Is this cheating?

Last fall, amidst a confluence of difficult personal events, I went to see my doctor. "Is there anything else I can try?" I asked.

"You're in therapy?" I nodded.

"Exercise works. But for it to have a statistically significant impact you have to exercise every single day."

Scratch that.

So I took a prescription and went to the pharmacy. After years of hesitation, the weight of my suffering all at once seemed heavier than the weight of all my doubts combined. Even so, I confess I thought of it as a kind of caving in, and my body's reaction to the drugs seemed like some bizarre punishment. For three days I didn't move from bed. I had every side effect - intense nausea, no appetite, dry mouth, dizziness - but the real sensation was of being buried alive.

In this way it was not so different from what I was trying to cure.

I was, as it turned out, having an "abnormal constellation of side effects." My doctor wanted to switch me to a different drug.

Was that wise? Maybe it was a sign I should not be on any drugs at all.

She looked at me with the kindest eyes.

"I'm just worried about how you felt before," she said.

The second drug muffled things in a way both pleasing and worrying. I was used to my feelings being like a chainsaw inside me. The jagged teeth tearing through my organs. Now I had some distance. I thought of the pain in my life. A sensation began in my body. But where a wave of grief and tears would normally have overtaken me, now it was thwarted. It rose in my chest and shivered along my shoulders, like goose bumps. Then it subsided.

A wave that did not crest.

I was grateful, for I knew the cresting would hurt. I was terrified, for the cresting would bring me relief.

Was this how normal people experienced emotion? It was so different from what I was used to. It was so good. It was so disconcerting.

I thought about a whole society on these medications, a nation of citizens lulled into permanent remove.

I talked to Andrew Solomon, the author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression. Mr. Solomon is on antidepressants himself, which he speaks about in his hugely popular and moving TED Talks.

Isn't there something lost in taking drugs? I asked him.

"A great deal would be lost if we had medication that eliminated sadness," he said. "We need sadness to have our basic human experiences of love and connectedness. I would not want to lose that. Antidepressants deal with a lack of vitality: the shift for me was that I stopped being depressed and overwhelmed by having to take a shower. Now I am sad about Gaza, about planes being shot down in the Ukraine. One can hold onto those things even when taking the medication."

Mr. Solomon suggests that we are constantly altering ourselves - with sleep, exercise, our eating habits - and that taking antidepressants isn't somehow bizarrely different from all these other things we do.

But wasn't depression natural? I asked him.

Tooth decay is natural, he said, but nobody advocates against fluoride.


Exactly who you are

The drugs worked for me. They took a while to kick in, but once they did I passed several months in the winter - usually my worst time - without the same degree of existential dread. I still felt sad, but that matched up with my life's circumstances, and I was able to function, to be a good parent, to work. I felt so much better that I thought the episode had run its course. Spring arrived. I had been on the drugs for six months. I didn't want to be on them any longer than necessary.

I lowered the dose and then went off the antidepressants entirely. But it turned out I had underestimated the degree to which the medication was shielding me from myself. By which I mean to say, the drugs had succeeded in replicating the feeling of an "authentic self" so even I believed it.

Four days later I started to cry. The tears leaked out of me like some noxious substance my body was expelling. It was a cry without contents, a chemical cry, but that did not remove the potency. On the contrary.

I told my small daughter that tears were good, tears clean you out.

"Stop it Mama," she said, swiping at my cheeks. "Stop it."

Andrew Solomon told me, "People somehow think taking anti-depressants is like losing your virginity; you'll never be able to be your old self again. But my experience is if you don't like the way you've changed then you can stop taking them and go back to exactly as you were."


Buddhism says every moment is new; we do not know what will happen tomorrow. But the past has a way of predicting the future. I find myself caught between these poles, leaving room for a different story, trying to not become entrenched in the idea of being depressed, while also being realistic about that eventuality.

I still don't know whether I will go back on the medication. Despite how well it worked, my niggle about it remains. Depression is not logical. It is animal, and vicious. It is like being held down by your throat in two feet of water - you can see the surface, the air, but you cannot get there. I know it will pass. I know, each time, that if I can make it through the month, or six months, or year, I will feel better.

On the other hand, that's still a year I will have lost.

Alison Pick is the author of Far To Go, and the upcoming bookBetween Gods: A Memoir , in stores Sept. 2.

Associated Graphic


Pebble Beach is an August feast for car fans: Bugattis, bubbly and Best in Show
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, August 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page D1

I have made it a life-affirming principle to attend the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Anyone who has ever found a car thrilling should go.

The price of admission is $275, increasing to $300 on the day of the show, Aug. 17. It's money well spent. My first visit, in 1991, a ticket cost $30. Money well spent.

The gathering on the 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links stands as the most significant gathering of collectible automobiles anywhere. The Concorsod'Eleganza Villa d'Este on Italy's Lake Como may have a longer history, the Cartier Concours at Mumbai, India, a certain exotic appeal, but Pebble, on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, has a niche all its own. Crowds of 15,000 attend, with 220 cars being judged this year in various categories.

For golfers, the view over Carmel Bay is forever associated with U.S. Open winners, memorably Jack Nicklaus in 1972, Tiger Woods by 15 strokes in 2000, more recently Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell in 2010. For those of us absorbed by the car hobby, Ralph Lauren's best-inshow win in 1990 is all the more memorable.

Monterey, Calif., eight kilometres to the east of Pebble, was famed for jazz festivals, then by breakout performances of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who and Otis Redding at its 1967 Pop Music Festival (tickets: $3-$6.50).

All that goes on during the Monterey Car week, which starts on Wednesday, is not to be missed. While the Concours is the climax to the week on Sunday, there's also an art exhibition, classic car auctions, a display of new cars (such as the McLaren P1 GTR that is to sell for $3.36 million in 2015), and experiences such as witnessing comedian and car collector Jay Leno momentarily speechless - a rare thing, even here - as he comes upon the one car he's never seen before.

On Sundays, the Pacific mist invariably cloaks the 18th fairway as the judging begins in the morning. An hour or so afterward, the public is admitted , and the sun comes out from behind the shield. Magnificent old coachwork is on display, and you're never disappointed, as with last year's best-in-show 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria. However, the cars beyond imagination bring me back, such as the Alfa Romeo B.A.T. concepts from 1953-55, with sculpted metal fins wrapping around their bodies for aerodynamic effect. They were featured in 2000.

This year, the featured marques are the Ruxton, Maserati on its 100th anniversary, and Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa. The Ruxton is the failed rival to Cord as the first American-built front-wheel drives. According to reports, 15 of the 19 surviving Ruxtons will be presented. Also featured: steam cars, eastern European motorcycles, cars bodied by Fernandez et Darrin Coachwork.

Champage sold for $25 a flute at concession stands when I last attended in 2010 - or $365 for a bottle of Dom Perignon Brut - and it flowed like Niagara. Some attendees were snoozing in the rough by the time the awards ceremony began at 1:30 p.m.

Car owners, on the other hand, remain adrenaline-charged and surprisingly ready to chat. In 1991, I recall Gary Wales, a retired stockbroker from Woodland Hills, Calif., chewing gum at a RPM redline rate as his 1947 Bentley Drophead, Body by Frenay, was being judged. Because I happened to be standing beside him, he said to me, "I'm not nervous.

Hoo-boy. Patter-patter-patter. I put my shoes on, didn't I?" He'd had the car upholstered with leather made from frogs imported from the Philippines, as a playful reference to the Bentley's French coachwork, and held a frog-bound portfolio documenting European concours won by the Bentley when it was new.

Wales really went the extra mile.

Four detailers in his employ kept polishing the car right up to the moment the judges arrived, with wax custom-blended for the paint, $1,000 per can.

His Bentley was judged Best In Class. "And ladies and gentlemen, this fabulous car missed Best In Show by a single point," announcer Paul Woudenberg intoned.

When I asked Wales later what would account for a single point, he looked me in the eye. "The point," he said, "was politics." Something about Ralph Lauren taking best-in-show the year before with his Bugatti T57 SC Atlantic, so the runner-up to Lauren was owed, and an American-made car hadn't won in years.

I look for Canadian connections. In the art exhibition, paintings by Jay Koka of Waterloo, Ont., always jump off the wall: this year he's premiering two characteristic works of fine cars in fascinating circumstances.

Torontonian Brent Merrill's 1931 Cadillac 452A Fleetwood Coupe, - a V-16 Cadillac! - won the American Classic Closed class last year.

On the 18th fairway, you never know what you'll come upon. In 2010, Toronto's John Long, who was importing rebuilt Citroen 2CVs when first we met, appeared in a seersucker suit and Panama hat overseeing his 1938 Tatra T77, the rear-engined, aircooled V-8 creation of engineering great Hans Ledwinka.

No prize for Long that day, but Pebble Beach this year is introducing a Tatra class, real recognition for the Czech make. Built in 1934, the coach-built automobile features a 75-horsepower rearmounted V8 that reaches maximum speed of 95 mph. This one is a 20-year restoration by a man named Pavel Kasik in the Czech Republic.

The strongest Canadian presence, year after year, is that of RM Restorations of Blenheim, Ont., with five Best In Show cars emerging from its shop since 2000, including last year's Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria owned by Joseph Cassini III, a Newark, N.J. Superior Court judge.

RM Auctions also is prominent among five auction firms that totalled $302-million from sales of 726 cars last year.

A 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale is on offer this weekend at RM, Bonhams has a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta owned by one family since 1965, less impressively a 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 at Rick Cole Auctions. The Porsche 917 that took the checkered flag in Steve McQueen's 1971 classic film, Le Mans, is Gooding & Company's headliner.

I've come to realize that pilgrimages to Pebble Beach have to be made more frequently. For if not directly comparable to Ponce de Leon's fountain of youth, Pebble Beach is, unfailingly, a font of pleasure, appreciation and learning.



Aug. 14, Carmel, noon to 2 p.m. Free

The parking is tight, the gawking tighter when 200 or so cars - some that will be judged at Pebble Beach - conclude a 60-mile Tour D'Elegance on Ocean Avenue.

While car owners and guests picnic in Devendorf Park, from noon through 2 p.m. their cars fill block after block of Ocean Avenue. It's an unbelievable show.

Car fanciers park along the route, the Monterey-Salinas Highway (Highway 68), to inhale the high-priced fumes.

Fans at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca get to watch the Concours cars making parade laps in two groups, at 8:50 a.m. and 9:50 a.m.


Aug. 15, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., $450 (sold out)

My favourite memory: Spotting a Ferrari V-12 tucked into the engine bay of a 1932 Ford hot rod. But, that's just me.

You're certain to find something up your vehicular alley, like the 1950 Ferrari 166 Inter Berlinetta exuding heat just a few steps away from my matte-finished hot rod.

The Quail is the longest drive you'll make from Monterey all week, 12 miles following Highway 1 and Carmel Valley Road, and worth it, absolutely. You get touchingclose to 200 cars of varied pedigree and quirkiness - and what a pleasant surprise that the champagne, the oysters and fabulous luncheon choices are included.

With the 100th anniversary of Maserati as a theme, anticipate seeing at least one splendid Tipo 61, the sports racing car famously known as the Birdcage because 200 tubular sections form its chassis.

Another theme, A Tribute to India, will go beyond Maharajas' over-accessorized Rolls-Royces, but how? Will Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of the Tata Group, the Indian owner of Jaguar Land Rover, attend? People do turn up and mix. Sir Jackie Stewart, the three-time world champion, is a featured guest, as is Nick Mason (Pink Floyd drummer, noted car collector, racer) and singerguitarist Neal Schon (Santana/Journey).

The Quail is followed by the Bonhams Auction at 7 p.m. in the Quail Lodge. Last year, it produced $32.7 million in sales.


Aug. 16, 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Laguna Grande Park

While serious cognoscenti find their way Saturday to Concorso Italiano (advertising 1,000 cars - Zagatos and Maseratis featured - tickets $135) at the Black Horse Golf Course outside Seaside, north of Monterey, laughs are free at the Concours d'Lemons.

Among d'Lemons, the only cars not disrespected are those that typically get no respect. A Ford Pinto appears in concours condition, and AMC Pacers and Concords are polished to the nines. A faded, dented Austin-Healey Sprite carries logos from Sprite pop cans in place of its originals.

Rueful Britannia is one class, Most Affluent another. Shag Vans are judged inside and out. Judges invite bribes. Promoted as "an ugly oil stain on the Pebble Beach auto week," it provides relief from the crushing seriousness of all the rest.

Dan Proudfoot


Poll Last week we asked, what is No. 1 on your bucket list from our series of Great Road Trips?

Countryside around Paris: 32%

Glacier National Park, Montana: 11%

Tail of the Dragon, Tennessee: 11%

Kokanee Glacier, B.C.: 21%

Lake Superior: 25%

This week's poll: With an unlimited budget, which classic car would you buy?

1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rosa

1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner

1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster

1909 Ford Model T (Tin Lizzie)

1981 DeLorean DMC-12 (Back to the Future model)

Associated Graphic


Pebble Beach: Magificent old coachwork on display in a beautiful setting.


Torontonian Brent Merrill's 1931 Cadillac 452A Fleetwood Coupe at Pebble Beach in 2013.



The firm hand on Canada's business tiller
'He was a mentor before mentoring was hot - he didn't even know what to call it'
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S10

It was 1957, and a little-known lawyer named Bertha Wilson - today better known as the first woman on the Supreme Court of Canada - was making the rounds on Bay Street looking for a job.

It wasn't an era when women were warmly embraced in the clubby male world inside Toronto's largest law firms, but she found supporters at the small firm of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt, where fellow Dalhousie law school alumnus Purdy Crawford was one of the lawyers who saw her potential and supported her hiring.

Initially Ms. Wilson worked primarily as a researcher at the firm. Over time, she increasingly worked closely with Mr. Crawford on cases, providing a depth of legal expertise as the gregarious Mr. Crawford won business and worked with clients.

Mr. Crawford later insisted he was not Ms. Wilson's mentor, but rather a colleague who relied heavily on her excellent work. But friends say his support for Ms. Wilson's advancement was characteristic of Mr. Crawford's career, in which he repeatedly became an advocate for people with talent. That included numerous women in decades long before it was common for men to sponsor women's professional careers.

"I often cite [Bertha Wilson] as a female role model, but I say that I would not likely be talking about her at all if she hadn't had a Purdy Crawford giving her an opportunity to use her talents fully," said Alex Johnston, a lawyer and long-time Crawford family friend, who now heads the women's advocacy group Catalyst Canada.

Mr. Crawford, who died in Toronto on Tuesday at age 82 after a long illness, became a pillar of Canada's business community as a corporate lawyer and as a business executive who headed giant conglomerate Imasco Ltd. for a decade from 1985 to 1995.

He was also a reform advocate who headed numerous committees and task forces to deal with crises or spur improvements to business regulations.

Author Gordon Pitts, who has just completed a book about Mr. Crawford's life, said his greatest contribution to Canada was a private role: serving as a personal mentor for generations of young people who now form a who's who of Canada's most influential leaders, including Governor-General David Johnston, Toronto-Dominion Bank chief executive Ed Clark, and former Home Depot Canada chief executive Annette Verschuren.

For most of his life, Mr. Crawford never thought of himself as a mentor, Mr. Pitts said, and the term was not as widely used in bygone decades. Instead, he fell into the role naturally. He had an outgoing personality, loved to remember details of everyone's life, and would generously open doors to help his legions of friends.

"There aren't many people like that, when you look at his influence," said Mr. Pitts, a former Globe and Mail reporter. "And I don't think there is any male business leader who had more to do with the advancement of women than Purdy Crawford. He was a mentor before mentoring was hot - he didn't even know what to call it."

In 2013, Mr. Crawford received a special recognition award from Catalyst Canada for advancing women on boards of directors.

Deborah Alexander, executive vice-president and general counsel at Bank of Nova Scotia, said Mr. Crawford was her most important mentor as a young lawyer. "He was also so much more," Ms. Alexander said. "He was a friend and a confidante, and much of my personal success is attributable to him."

Harold Purdy Crawford was born on Nov. 7, 1931, in the tiny town of Five Islands, N.S. His mother, Grace, was a divorcée with two sons when she met coal miner Frank Crawford, a widower. They married and later had Purdy, who grew up with two half-brothers and a half-sister.

His mother, who lived to 94, was "formidable," recalled granddaughter Heather Crawford, one of Mr. Crawford's six children.

Grace is credited as one of the early influences who helped make him a supporter of women in an era when they were rarely encouraged to succeed in careers or often even pursue higher studies.

He grew up modestly as a coal miner's son, and attended a tworoom schoolhouse in Five Islands, later moving to a small, four-room high school. It was there he met Beatrice Corbett, and the couple began dating as high-school sweethearts. They married when he was 20 and she was 18.

Mr. Crawford was completing his undergraduate degree at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., at the time of their wedding, and the couple then moved to Halifax, where he won a scholarship to study law at Dalhousie University. After law school, they moved to Boston, where Mr. Crawford earned a master's degree in law at Harvard University with help from more scholarships.

He later headed to Toronto to fulfill his ambition to work in a large city. He joined Osler in 1956, became a partner in 1962 and a member of the firm's small executive committee in 1970.

Osler vice-chair Brian Levitt said Mr. Crawford helped to transform the firm, which was small at the time and had a limited scope of work. (Others more bluntly say Osler was a stodgy 100-year-old bastion for old-money Toronto elites when Mr. Crawford first arrived in the mid-1950s.)

Mr. Crawford advocated for a more open hiring culture at the firm, and shifted focus into new areas of law, Mr. Levitt said. In the 1960s, Mr. Crawford served as counsel to the Kimber committee, which developed an Ontario Securities Act that became the foundation for securities law in Canada today.

Mr. Levitt said Mr. Crawford's experience in helping to shape the province's securities helped him garner the knowledge and contacts to push Osler deeper into the realm of securities law.

"It got us into the capital markets and [mergers and acquisition] business," Mr. Levitt said.

"And he had a real eye for talent - he simultaneously built the firm's capacity and built its talent base."

Mr. Crawford's work on the Kimber committee was just the beginning of a long series of projects involving public policy reforms. Over the years, he served on numerous panels, including a huge project in 2003 to develop updates to Ontario's securities laws, as well as a task force to propose a new model for a national securities regulator in Canada in 2005.

Perhaps most prominently, Mr. Crawford agreed in 2007 to head the high-profile committee working to resolve the collapse of Canada's $32-billion market for non-bank commercial paper, which threatened to leave many large institutions with huge losses. After months of tortuous negotiations, he helped persuade a host of truculent parties to accept a settlement and receive new restructured notes.

Lawyer Stephen Halperin, who worked with Mr. Crawford on the restructuring, said his partner was most proud of the fact the committee recovered full restitution for smaller retail investors.

"He was mindful of the small investors - mindful that they didn't have a seat at the table and mindful that his role was to represent them as much as the big institutions," Mr. Halperin said.

Mr. Crawford was also "incredibly smart and incredibly strategic" at seeing the big picture, and recognizing the public policy issues at play, Mr. Halperin said.

"You don't often get role models when you are 57 or 58. He was a role model for me," he added.

Mr. Crawford interrupted his law career for a decade, from 1985 to 1995, when he was offered the opportunity to head conglomerate Imasco, which at the time controlled a host of major Canadian companies, including Canada Trust in the era before its sale to Toronto-Dominion Bank; as well as Imperial Tobacco and Shoppers Drug Mart.

While the job allowed him to shape the future of a stable of Canadian companies, he also faced long-term difficulties with Imperial Tobacco.

Critics excoriated the company and its executives for selling tobacco in an era when it was becoming an increasingly socially shameful commodity, and Mr. Crawford later had to watch the legal aftermath that stemmed from a widespread industry practice of smuggling cigarettes into Canada to avoid high taxes and boost corporate taxes.

Long after Mr. Crawford had departed and Imasco was broken up, Imperial Tobacco announced a settlement in 2008 with federal and provincial governments to pay a $200-million fine for smuggling activities in the 1980s and 1990s. All other major Canadian tobacco companies faced similar penalties, and Mr. Crawford never spoke publicly about the legal issues.

Outside of work, he spent his holidays at his family compound on the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, and remained committed to promoting business and education causes in Atlantic Canada.

He made large donations to Maritime universities, especially to his alma mater, Mount Allison, where he has helped finance construction of the new Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts.

David Wheeler, president of Cape Breton University, where Mr. Crawford helped fund aboriginal business studies, said he was made an honorary chief of the Membertou First Nation and given the name Rising Tide in appreciation for his commitment to the community.

"He would joke that he was still searching for his twin, Chief Ebbing Tide," Mr.Wheeler recalls.

Mr. Crawford's daughter Heather said her father appreciated the honour so much that the family named his new vacation home on the Bay of Fundy "Rising Tide."

"It signifies that [Membertou] position, and also the fact that we really felt our father raised all ships, as the tide does. Whether in the business community or at home, his presence raised us all," she said.

In addition to Beatrice, his wife of 63 years, Mr. Crawford leaves six children: Suzanne, Heather, Mary, David, Barbara and Sarah; and 17 grandchildren.

With files from reporters Boyd Erman, Tara Perkins and Jane Taber

To submit an I Remember:

Send us a memory of someone we have recently profiled on the Obituaries page. Please include I Remember in the subject field.

Associated Graphic

Beatrice and Purdy Crawford at a family event in April, 2012. The high-school sweethearts were married for 63 years.


Purdy Crawford, shown in Toronto in 2009, led the high-profile committee that resolved the collapse of Canada's $32-billion market for non-bank commercial paper.


Ammo and camo: It's a girl thing
Supportive, nurturing, and very good shots. Alanna Mitchell on the rise of women who hunt
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F3

Last week, a self-described "diehard waiting on the big old buck" reassured his modest Twitter following: "Keep calm, deer season is almost here."

The advice may have been intended for men, but the biggest response came from a woman: Eva Shockey's retweet to her more than 39,000 followers.

A Canadian who identifies herself as a professional hunter, Ms. Shockey travels the world as cohost, with her Vancouverbased father, of Jim Shockey's Hunting Adventures, a wildly successful staple of the Outdoor Channel.

At 26, Ms. Shockey is being touted as the "new queen of hunting." Along with the Twitter throng, she has more than 600,000 "likes" on Facebook. Even the sporting man's bible, Field & Stream, recently declared her a "rising star," putting her photo on its cover - just the second such appearance by a woman in the magazine's 119-year history. (The first? The Queen almost four decades ago.)

F&S focused on Ms. Shockey's passion for hunting with a bow rather than bullets - a hot trend, especially since The Hunger Games. But when asked to predict the "next big thing" outdoors, she didn't reach for the latest high-tech arrow.

"Women are," she replied.

"Compared to just last year, the number of women I meet - young girls, teenagers, moms with babies, older women - who tell me they hunt, or are taking up hunting, is incredible."

She has a case. It is partly because of women that hunting is on the rise again after decades of decline. In 2011, according to a survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, their numbers were up 36 per cent from 1991 - versus a corresponding drop of 6 per cent in male hunters.

If anything, the trend is even stronger in Canada. The number of women hunters in Alberta almost doubled between 2006 and last year, while in Ontario it has risen 70 per cent in the past four years and in B.C. by 62 per cent between 2003 and 2012. Last year, enrolment in Saskatchewan's mandatory hunter-education course rose by more than half over 2012, with women accounting for more than onethird of all students.

This year three Canadians reached the semi-finals of Extreme Huntress, a TV competition for women around the world that began in 2010, about the time Ms. Shockey says she noticed that women's participation had "just gone crazy."

'It's an ethical decision'

Last fall, Jenna Gall took a break from her studies in the Okanagan Valley and went home to Saskatchewan for a few days. She didn't go back to school emptyhanded - her suitcase held almost 25 kilos of frozen venison.

An experienced hunter at 22, Ms. Gall bagged a handsome white-tailed deer in the first hour of what was supposed to be four days in the field with her father, who farms near Montmartre, an hour east of Regina.

The two spotted the buck shortly after dawn. Heart pounding, Ms. Gall sat down to steady herself and then, as the deer ran off across the snow and wheat stubble, took the toughest shot of her life. He went down right away.

She has gone on hunts since she was 7, but Ms. Gall remains something of a novelty to her friends, many of them amazed to learn that she not only eats wild game regularly but is willing to go out and get it.

And many women are trying to emulate her: Kelly Semple is executive director of the Hunting for Tomorrow Foundation, an Edmonton-based coalition of outdoors organizations that has long run an annual training program specifically for women.

What began as a day and half of instruction for a class of 20 ran for five days this month, with registration cut off at 200 people four months ago.

Ms. Shockey says that, in her grandfather's day, women wouldn't dare go out and shoot a deer for the dinner table. "Now, any woman anywhere can do it."

But why, in the age of environmentalism and wildlife conservation, do women want to?

With a pierced lip and a slash of bright red in her hair, Sam Pauzé hardly looks like a typical "sportsman." Yet on a Sunday morning she is one of four women in a class of about 30 taking a course at the Buckeye Firearms and Hunter Training Cabin northeast of Toronto.

The setting is suitably rustic: An imposing stuffed moose head overlooks the classroom, camouflage fabric covers the windows, and the tables are made of plywood and two-by-fours. There is also just one washroom. So when lineups begin to form, instructor Tom Ott invites those able to find relief standing up to visit the great outdoors.

"It's kind of a man's world," the 23-year-old Ms. Pauzé concedes, but then adds: "It's uplifting to be part of it, to be self-sufficient."

Classmate Jessica Wright, 23, is no less aware of being a trailblazer. "I've always wanted to do this," she says. "People see girls and they say: 'You can't hunt.' " That's hard to say about Ms.

Shockey, praised by many in the hunting community both for serving as a role model and for making the sport chic.

But she admits that even she "didn't really have the hunting bug, naturally." It was only under the tutelage of her famous father that she eventually came to hunting - as an ethical way to put meat on the table.

She is not the only woman put off by how commercially raised livestock are treated, says Dylan Eyers, who runs EatWild, a Vancouver company that preaches the virtues of game in the diet and teaches everything from how to hunt to what to do with what they kill.

"It's an ethical decision."

Ms. Shockey also opposes the commercial use of chemicals and growth hormones, and says it makes more sense to eat an animal that has lived a healthy, maybe happy life in the wild.

This school of thought certainly includes the deer-stalking Ms. Gall, who is thoroughly green, given her freshly minted honours degree in environmental and earth studies from UBC Okanagan in Kelowna.

In fact, if she didn't hunt, "I likely would be vegetarian ... I don't agree with eating meat if I don't know where it's coming from."

Dick Ott, who runs the Buckeye Cabin with brother Tom, says that, a few years ago, a female student had a bowl of the wild game stew on offer during a class and told him it was the first meat she'd eaten in six years.

"You can't get much more organic than wild meat," he contends.

Well, not quite: Studies show that wild game has about onethird fewer calories than even lean cuts of commercial meat and is lower in cholesterol, but health experts point out that wild meat isn't necessarily organic if, for example, deer have fed on pesticide-treated grain and that eating game taken with buckshot can elevate levels of lead in the bloodstream.

Also, wild deer, elk and moose in parts of the U.S., Alberta and Saskatchewan can carry chronic wasting disease, a brain-destroying condition that is fatal and thought to have originated on game farms. There is no evidence it can jump to humans but health officials warn against eating suspect animals.

Some women's attachment to hunting runs deeper than diet, though - it's a meditation on living off the land: If they don't farm it or hunt it, they don't eat it.

Ms. Semple of Hunting for Tomorrow calls self-sufficiency "a big motivator," adding that "women are confident. They're not dependent on anyone.

They're very empowered."

The backlash

For all its revived popularity, hunting remains controversial, with detractors especially irate at anyone who does it for trophies or the thrill of the kill.

For some, the idea of a woman hunting seems to trigger an almost primal response, as demonstrated by some of the comments posted on Ms. Shockey's Facebook page.

Given that they are expected to be "more supporting, nurturing, caring," says Lauren Everall, a 30year-old B.C. hunter, "maybe seeing women hunt brings up some deep-seated shock ... maybe it's seen as more violent than when men do it."

EatWild's Mr. Eyers says that a few years ago a woman featured in a local newspaper story about urban hunters was stalked by angry people on social media.

He says he's careful when marketing his company to steer clear of images of guns and dead animals, instead emphasizing the adventures and good food to be had.

Tom Ott warns his Buckeye class not to flaunt what they shoot, reminding them that Ontario cancelled its spring bear hunt in 1999 after a public outcry. When the hunt returned this year as a pilot project, irate animal-rights activists tried to stop it again in court.

"If it's all about the bloodsport," he says, "that's quite a negative image. The way we present ourselves makes a big difference."

Ms. Everall says choosing what to eat is highly political, no matter what you decide. She spent 10 years defending the fact she was a vegetarian and now must do the same for hunting, which she still doesn't support fully.

"I'm exploring it as an option," she says. "We humans, we're animals. We need to consume something."

Alanna Mitchell is an award-winning environmental journalist and author who lives in Toronto. Her father used to go hunting - with her brothers.

Canadian hunter Eva Shockey has clear market appeal. Her face graces the packaging on products such as the new Crosman Wildcat, a semi-automatic BB pistol that is hot pink. But her weapon isn't a gun, it's a bow and arrow - conveniently just like the heroine of the Hunger Games. Field & Stream played up the similarity to Katniss Everdeen right down to the braid over one shoulder when it put Ms. Shockey on its cover. But she doesn't mind: "Katniss has done a huge amount for women and bow-hunting," she says. "And she's not there because she's taking off her clothes. She's classy, she's independent - there's nothing negative about that."

Associated Graphic

If she didn't hunt her own game, says Jenna Gall, she'd 'be vegetarian.'

The AGO's massive new retrospective proves that there's such a thing as too much of a master. James Adams reports
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R1

It's usually a huge disappointment when a survey of a major artist fails to include a work or works that a viewer believes should be there. How authoritative and essential would a Tom Thomson retrospective be without The West Wind and The Jack Pine? Ditto a van Gogh exhibition minus The Starry Night, or a Manet sans Le déjeuner sur l'herbe from the Musée d'Orsay.

No one is going to complain about such absences in Alex Colville, an exhibition of paintings and studies by the man who, before his death last summer at 92, was Canada's most famous living artist. Opening Saturday at the Art Gallery of Ontario for a run through Jan. 4, the show spans his entire career, includes more than 110 paintings culled from public and private collections across the country, and sprawls over several galleries in the Zacks Pavilion on the AGO's second floor. The Toronto gallery hosted the first major retro of the artist 31 years ago, a two-month-long showcase that went on to tour other Canadian centres, as well as venues in Germany, China and Japan.

Of course, there are gaps - I don't recall seeing In the Woods, from 1976, for example; or 1954's Three Sheep; or Man on Verandah, the 1953 tempera on board that sold for close to $1.3-million in 2010, the most valuable Colville ever sold at auction in Canada. But this is just nitpicking. For a decidedly irreligious man, Colville had a knack for producing precisely rendered iconic images, and pretty much all of his greatest hits are gathered here. They include Horse and Train, To Prince Edward Island, Pacific and Dog and Priest, as well as quirkier, less familiar pieces like the Felliniesque Circus Woman from 1959. There are five works never before seen in public, including Woman with Clock, a 2010 acrylic of the artist's wife and long-time muse, Rhoda (she predeceased him by six months), generally deemed to be Colville's last painting.

It is, in fact, this feeling of completeness that is perhaps the exhibition's biggest flaw. Colville was a singular talent. But, in its very plenitude, the AGO show makes the case for an artist best consumed and appreciated in small doses.

Doubtless many Canadians can remember their first encounter with a Colville and the thrall in which they were held.

But almost 65 years after the artist finished what he considered his first truly successful Colville painting - Nude and Dummy, also on show here - repeat encounters in such a grand survey affirm the law of diminishing aesthetic returns. In short order, the persistent rectitude of Colville's palette, the geometric rigour of the compositions, the finickiness of his brush strokes (profligate in number, stingy in application), the impasto-bereft surfaces of the paintings, their atmosphere of existential melancholy and constipated terror, the artist's fondness for freezing a painting's action in media resall induce not so much reverential contemplation as a kind of fatigue.

Indeed, had this show been trimmed by 30 per cent (at least) and the balance hung in tighter proximity, its cumulative effect would have been more potent, not less. And it certainly would have been more in keeping with Colville's repressed, buttoned-down, Apollonian aesthetic. (One of the funniest artifacts in the current exhibition is A.C. Little's 1990 photograph of Colville, in suit and tie on a summer day, walking along railroad tracks with a dog - two quintessential Colville tropes.)

Andrew Hunter, the curator both of the show and of Canadian art at the AGO, says he went into its assembly determined to present the Colville oeuvre less as a "memorial" or "closed book" than as an argument for Colville's "ongoing" and "deep relevance" as a "significant artist."

To militate against the works' sheer familiarity, Hunter employs two strategies. One is to arrange the Colvilles by theme rather than chronology. Thus, there are sections with such titles as Of Light, Love and Loss; Home from Away; and On Good and Evil.

The other is to position, at various junctures, a series of what he calls "responses" and "echoes" by other artists, living and dead. They include William Eakin's monumental photographs of the six fauna-themed coins Colville designed for Canada's centennial; a 2013 colourpencil drawing, titled Hunters, by the late Cape Dorset artist Itee Pootoogook; a looped clip of a beach scene from Sarah Polley's autobiographical 2012 film Stories We Tell; and an eight-page comic book, Colville Comics, by Hamilton-based David Collier who (like Colville, in his case, during the Second World War) served as an artist for the Canadian military.

Another short loop is from a tense scene in a Texas suburb near the end of the Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men. Colville thought Joel and Ethan Coen were "great filmmakers," according to his daughter, Ann Kitz. He liked the way the brothers captured a sense of events "going along very smoothly" on a sunny day, then suddenly turning "horribly wrong."

Hunter's first strategy, while not altogether successful (it's finally like shuffling a well-worn deck of cards), does result in some artful juxtapositions. One my favourites involves the pairing of the female nude in Colville's 1987 film-noirish Woman with Revolver with the equally noir nude Dressing Room from 15 years later. Guns, of course, are a Colville motif. (If there isn't already an edition of Camus's The Myth of Sisyphus - which begins "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide" - with Pacific or Target Pistol and Man on its cover, there should be.) And it's carried even into the show's amply stocked gift boutique, which offers a revolver keychain for $9; and, for $27, a notebook with an embossed pistol on its cover.

In some respects, the most interesting works in the exhibit, at least from a purely painterly perspective, are the early ones - among them a couple of selfportraits from the 1940s; and scenes of the Second World War.

The latter include, of course, depictions of the horrors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp that a 24-year-old Colville witnessed, to life-searing effect, in April, 1945. Content-wise, these paintings are already distinctively Colvillean. To paraphrase Marc Mayer, CEO of the National Gallery of Canada: Alex Colville always was Alex Colville.

Yet, the brushwork is refreshingly looser, less refined; the compositions airier and not as beholden to the strictures that came to jacket Colville's mature work.

As for Hunter's second strategy, it's decidedly more interesting than the first, but frustratingly so. While its notion of "anticipations," "responses" and "echoes" more successfully realizes the ambition of updating Colville's artistic currency (rather than stranding him, as the art establishment did from the late 1950s into the early eighties, as an eccentric cul-de-sac doomed to history's dustbin by the grand sweep of abstract expressionism, pop, and conceptualism), it's realized with insufficient breadth and depth.

Certainly the conceit begins excitingly and enticingly enough, with Hunter positioning, at the exhibition's entry, Colville's 1965 classic To Prince Edward Island alongside a 10-second loop, from Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom (2012), of actress Kara Hayward staring worriedly through binoculars while atop an apparent lighthouse. This doubling, with its suggestions of surveillance, isolation, Hitchcockian tension, unknowability and voyeurism, motion and stasis, creates an anticipation that's only fitfully realized by the rest of the show.

For instance (through no fault of the AGO), Warner Bros. refused permission to run those excerpts from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining in which no fewer than four Colvilles (Horse and Train among them) appear. As a result, a gallery visitor is left to simply stare at those paintings and try to imagine their cinematic resonance via text panels outlining when each of the Colvilles appears and what's happening narratively when it does.

Still, the idea, at least, was a smart one. And proceeding through the exhibition, you'll likely be hankering for more examples of that kind of thinking, even if their realization might have meant fewer paintings of dogs, bridges, cars, and humans with their faces supplanted, averted, cropped or otherwise obscured.

Perhaps, too, had the AGO given itself extra prep time, it might have sourced more interesting and eclectic artists for compare-and-contrast purposes. The gallery's inclusion of hyperrealist paintings by Christopher and Mary Pratt is entirely apt but also entirely predictable. The show would be a lot cooler and hotter had the AGO scored, say, The Old Man's Dog and the Old Man's Boat by Eric Fischl, with its suburban sexual raunch; or one of David Salle's mid-eighties provocations; or a loan of Cindy Sherman's creepy Untitled Film Still #48, depicting a solitary woman at dusk, seemingly stranded with suitcase, beside a deserted highway.

As it stands, the exhibition affirms, if such affirmation is needed, Colville's stature as a Canadian original. However, as a machine for recasting or revaluating what the artist himself called the "authentic fictions" of his oeuvre in light of contemporary art practice, it is something of a missed opportunity. Or as Hunter prefers, in his introduction to the show's catalogue, a "beginning rather than ending."

Alex Colville opens Aug. 23 at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto and runs to Jan. 4, 2015. It moves to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa from April 24 to Sept. 7, 2015.

Associated Graphic

Alex Colville, Couple on Beach (1957)

Three Horses (1946): The most interesting pieces in the 110-work exhibit, at least from a purely painterly perspective, are the early ones.


The AGO show offers thoughtful 'responses' and 'echoes' to Colville's work by other artists, including a 10-second loop from Wes Anderson's 2012 film, Moonrise Kingdom (left), alongside Colville's 1965 classic, To Prince Edward Island.


The trouble with private equity valuations
As pension funds bet big on private companies and infrastructure, the worth of these investments can be hard to pin down
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B7

In the middle of a private equity bull run, with money managers such as Canadian pension funds searching for superior returns outside traditional public markets, Andrew Ang is one of the few brave souls waving the caution flag.

Early in 2013, the professor and chair of finance and economics at Columbia Business School put out a prominent paper that suggested private equity returns aren't as sexy as they seem. His research targeted large, longterm investors, such as university endowments and pension funds, which regularly cite their lengthy time horizons and deep pockets as key reasons to invest in private companies and infrastructure assets.

Because these funds often do not pay their beneficiaries for 20 or 30 years, they argue that they have the size and patience required to invest in illiquid assets that are thought to offer top-notch returns.

But Prof. Ang found that widespread biases inflate private equity returns. And even after adjusting for these, the gains often aren't enough to justify the extra risk that comes with this type of investing. In a public market, investors can buy and sell at any time; in the private asset world, the market can quickly dry up.

"Many [funds] have these expected return targets that I think are unrealistic," Prof. Ang said in an interview.

He isn't alone any more. As private equity heats up, there are growing questions about the industry and its valuations. Even the Securities and Exchange Commission, the major U.S. market watchdog, has weighed in, with reports surfacing in April that an internal review found widespread compliance shortfalls that can affect the way funds are valued.

The questions come just as Canadian pension funds pile into private markets, searching for juicy returns many claim cannot be made from investing in publicly-traded securities. The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the investment arm of the country's largest pension fund, now has 40 per cent of its portfolio in private assets, which includes privately held companies, real estate, infrastructure and securities such as private debt. Smaller rivals are following suit. OPTrust, the pension fund for Ontario public service employees, just signed its twelfth direct private equity deal in two years.

These pension funds are ramping up in what observers are calling an incredibly expensive market. Scores of private equity funds have emerged as the industry matured over the past two decades, boosting demand for a relatively fixed assortment of assets, and debt financing to fund takeovers is readily available thanks to the Federal Reserve's post-crisis stimulus program. "There's just a ton of liquidity out there," said Jane Rowe, head of Teachers' Private Capital, the private investing arm of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.

Undoubtedly, private assets can offer enticing returns. Teachers made boatloads by investing in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors, for instance, and Teachers' private equity arm has returned 19.5 per cent, net of fees, since its inception in 1991.

But such outsized profits can also be outliers and it isn't clear whether all of the country's pension funds know what they are getting themselves into - specifically, how difficult it is to build a first-class franchise. Even Teachers, a widely respected private equity player, acknowledges that it stumbled badly in its early days. "It is a business where we had to learn to crawl, then walk, before we could really ramp up," Ms. Rowe said.

One of the industry's major drawbacks is the difficulty faced when trying to value private investments between their initial purchase date and the time of their ultimate sale. Unlike stocks traded frequently on major indexes, providing observers with regular updates on what the market considers a fair price, private assets change hands much less often. The average holding period in private equity is four years, and a lot can happen during that time; in extreme cases, a pension fund could buy a water utility and own it for 25 years. As a result, the valuation process is full of subjectivity.

"A valuation is an estimate. I don't care if we do it or Goldman Sachs does it," said Andy Smith, a principal at valuation specialist McLean Group in Virginia. "It's an estimate, and you need to be asking questions."

Because there is so much more subjectivity when comparing thinly-traded assets such as water treatment plants or highways, "if you're valuing any asset, you're always plus-minus 10 to 15 per cent," Mr. Smith said. Annual performance metrics can't always be trusted, and they are especially problematic when markets sour.

During the financial crisis, Harvard University's endowment fund - then valued at $37-billion (U.S.) - famously lost 22 per cent between July 1 and Oct. 31, 2008, and university officials warned that even more value was destroyed after factoring in private equity and real estate, which could not be accurately priced in such a volatile market. Because the university did not have a clear picture, administrators were suddenly told to cut their budgets in dramatic fashions.

As for overall fund returns, Prof. Ang warns against relying on inflated data skewed by what's called survivorship bias. Whenever poorly performing private equity funds fail, they stop reporting returns, and that means these portfolios are then excluded from further industry calculations.

To account for subjectivity and biases, auditors and valuation firms have developed code phrases such as "range of reasonableness" and "disparity in practice" - all of which are "code words for 'fudging it,' " Mr. Smith said.

Global bodies such as the International Accounting Standards Board have become aware of the inconsistencies and laid out guidelines to standardize the valuation process as much as possible, including hiring external advisers to offer independent estimates. However, "it still is a subjective exercise by design," said Colin O'Leary, the Canadian leader for valuation and business modelling at Ernst & Young.

"Many times when you talk to people on the deal side ... they will give you this answer: 'It only matters what happens when we get to the end of the investment,' " said David Larsen, a managing director at valuation and corporate finance advisory firm Duff & Phelps, which does work for the Canadian pension funds.

The valuation team at PricewaterhouseCoopers deals with the same issue. Clients "may struggle with the concept of 'fair value' when it differs from their expectations," said Sean Rowe, a partner at the firm. "They may see the longer-term value, and not the immediate value."

Advisers stress that mid-term checkups are incredibly important. Mr. Larsen, who was on the drafting committee for the U.S. Private Equity Valuation Guidelines, said funds have a fiduciary responsibility to know exactly what is going on, and constant valuations help to determine which asset allocation changes need to be made - should the manager put more money in private equity or less? Should the manager buy more stocks or fewer of them?

The issue is a hot one at the University of Toronto's Rotman International Centre for Pension Management, which is run by renowned pension expert Keith Ambachtsheer. At this very moment the ICPM is doing research to find better ways to come up with mid-point valuations for illiquid, private assets.

These checkups are especially handy when material changes arise. This week, rating agency Standard & Poor's downgraded the debt of Teranet Inc., which has a monopoly on land registration data in Ontario and Mantioba, and is owned by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System. While the company's business model is still solid, S&P says, it worries about how much debt has been added to fund acquisitions - which could ultimately affect the firm's value.

When pressed about their private equity exposures, Canada's pension funds often point out that their private asset portfolios are largely comprised of infrastructure investments, such as toll roads or water utilities. Because these assets are government regulated and are often essential to daily life, they are widely viewed as extremely safe alternatives that are bound to see their values rise in the long run.

Not everyone is convinced. Jim Keohane, chief executive officer of HOOPP, the pension plan for Ontario health care workers, stresses that these assets are still illiquid. "Liquidity can have tremendous value at certain points in time," he said, adding that the risk premiums embedded in the values for these rarely traded assets often aren't high enough. "From what we can see in pricing, it's just not there."

This doesn't mean HOOPP is against all private deals. The pension fund has a sizable real estate portfolio, for instance. But Mr. Keohane worries that too many people have blinders on, especially with regard to government regulated infrastructure assets.

"I go to meeting after meeting, and I hear over and over again, 'I just made this investment last year and the regulator came in and changed the rules on me.' That happens all the time," he said.

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, for one, recently invested in Gassled, Norway's offshore gas pipeline system, and shortly after, the country announced major cuts to gas transportation tariffs, prompting the Canadian fund and its investment partners to sue, tying them - and their capital - to a lawsuit that could drag on for years.

There are ways to make private equity work for pension funds. Teachers has been investing in private markets for more than twenty years, and it is viewed as a global leader. But Teachers also has the luxury of being patient now that it has a sizable roster of investments.

"There's no pressure to have to do a deal, and that makes Ontario Teachers different than a typical private equity [firm], or a younger pension plan that is trying to get money into a particular asset class," Ms. Rowe said - especially in such a heated market.

"This industry has matured," Prof. Ang said. "It's always harder to get superior returns when there's a lot of money chasing deals."

Associated Graphic


The best native leader Canada never had
Osoyoos Chief Clarence Louie likes creating jobs, making money and fostering independence. He's also very good at it
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

OSOYOOS, B.C. -- The sun beats down on Canada's only desert - sagebrush on the far hills, rattlesnake warnings along the paths - and the luxury resort surrounded by ripening vineyards is packed with summer visitors.

A young blond woman wearing a small dress and large rings moves across the street toward a brand new Range Rover (from $119,990 at your local dealership) but halts suddenly, startled by the thunder of a Harley-Davidson rumbling down the paved approach to the resort.

She steps back and stares, slightly aghast. The motorcycle driver is dark and solid and wears a helmet featuring the face of Sitting Bull, the Lakota chief and holy man whose visions led to the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876 and who was later shot and killed by U.S. Indian agents. The driver calls the motorcycle Crazy Horse, after the Sioux leader who brought down Custer.

The man on the Harley is Clarence Louie, chief of the Osoyoos Band, which owns the Spirit Ridge Resort, the surrounding vineyards, the winery next door and the championship golf course in the distance. He is, in no small part, the creator of the Osoyoos Miracle in the Desert.

"Let us put our minds together," Chief Louie's great hero Sitting Bull once said, "and see what we can make for our children."

Mr. Louie's other great native hero is Billy Diamond, the Canadian First Nations leader who forged the James Bay Agreement in the mid-1970s and brought prosperity and an airline to the Crees of Northern Quebec.

Like Mr. Diamond, who died at the age of 61 four years ago, Mr. Louie may be the best national native leader the country never had - an intriguing thought during a summer in which First Nations leadership has rarely seemed on more uncertain grounds. Mr. Louie has no national ambition despite being only 54.

"I don't really think about Canada," he says. "I've got my hands full with my own issues. A lot of chiefs like travelling - I don't know why. Business travel got boring to me pretty damn quick. I like staying on the 'rez' here. I just like creating jobs and making money."

When first elected chief in 1984, he was paid $250 a month. Today, as chief, he is paid $18,000 a year, though this month's disclosures under the new Transparency Act have him listed at $146,369 for last year. While he agrees with disclosing what taxpayers rightly regard as tax money, he takes serious issue with having to disclose his First Nation's self-generated income: His additional compensation comes from operating as administrator of the successful band and as chief executive officer of the Osoyoos Indian Band Development Corp.

"Once again," he says, "First Nations are being treated like 'wards of the state,' whereby the old 'Indian Agent' mentality still exists. The federal government still feels the need to control and pry into everything (including our privately owned business and privately generated income) and at the same time announces year after year in the Speech from the Throne that First Nations must take their rightful place in Canada's rich economy and compete in the business world."

In a week in which one chief's salary of nearly $1-million created national outrage, the Fraser Institute immediately defended the Osoyoos chief, saying "Louie and his staff are worth every penny and it would be pound-foolish to be upset at his compensation."

Mr. Louie first rose to national attention a decade ago when he was featured in a Globe and Mail column in which he brusquely told an Alberta conference on aboriginal economic development: "My first rule for success is, 'Show up on time.' My No. 2 rule for success is, 'Follow Rule No. 1.'"

His blunt message reverberated throughout First Nations and beyond. "Our ancestors worked for a living," he told the conference, "so should you."

Mr. Louie's own work ethic came from his mother, Lucy, a single mom who raised a half dozen of her own and others' children. He believes there is a fair, if surprising, comparison to be made between isolated Canadian reserves and inner-city America. "Black people are like natives," he says. "They're mostly raised by single moms and most of the people who get in trouble are young men."

While the chief went to university for native studies and is respectful of native culture, there is nothing he believes in as much as discipline. Lucy Louie, still alive and thriving, kept her children in line at home and they learned to work in the vineyards, which then supplied grapes to various wineries. "Summertime wasn't play time," he says. "We started working at 11 or 12 years of age, and at four and five in the morning because there's no shade in the Okanagan. It was good training grounds."

Mr. Louie returned from university to become chief of the band while in his early 20s. He was unprepared, lost an election and then came back with a resolve that transformed the desert around Osoyoos Lake. The band went from poverty, soaring unemployment and bankruptcy to a shining success story, even hiring natives from 36 other bands across the Prairies, B.C. and the territories.

Mr. Louie is quick to note the band's No. 1 advantage - "location, location, location" - but it took far more than luck, climate and proximity to Vancouver to transform Osoyoos. Jake MacDonald, writing in ROB Magazine in May, noted that the band had $26-million in revenue a year ago and posted a net profit of $2.5-million.

The band has used available federal and provincial programs, astute hirings from outside and partnerships to transform its 32,000 acres into a thriving modern community.

Mr. Louie is short on sentimentalism, often politically incorrect - he cheers for the Washington Redskins and Chicago Blackhawks - and has captured the attention of so many other First Nations that he could easily spend half the year on the road giving speeches and business workshops.

"I keep telling government they should concentrate on economic development and then we wouldn't be in this mess. The original treaty relationship was a business relationship. It wasn't a dependency relationship. ... Even at the national level I never hear the national chiefs talk about that. They always talk about poverty. What is all this talk about poverty? You'll never get rid of poverty without jobs. Talk about jobs. Quit talking about poverty."

He says the chief and council should be the first "scorecard" for any band not doing well. But he says responsibility lies beyond the band, including the tribal councils, the regional vice-chiefs and the national leadership - all of whom have highly paid expertise at their disposal.

"Some of those guys get paid pretty damned good," he says. "That is supposed to be your checks and balances, your system. So if a band is really messed up, I go up the line and say, 'You guys mustn't be doing a very good job if one of your family members is really suffering.'"

Mr. Louie always prefers to talk about his own small world over the larger one of Canadian First Nations issues. Some topics he avoids completely: "Pipelines aren't an issue here," he says.

The recent Supreme Court ruling that upheld the Tsilhqot'in title claim regarding logging rights in B.C. is of interest because there is mining and forestry in the Okanagan. "I hope it's not another of those, 'Oh yeah, the natives win but it's really just smoke and mirrors,'" he says. "But at least it's a win, and that's better than a loss."

He also stands strongly behind the need for a better education system for First Nations, but with a caveat: "Once you get beyond the fluff about what education is supposed to do for you - make you a better person, more rounded, all that stuff - it's really about making yourself employable. The more education you get, the better job you're going to get."

No matter the issue, the answer always comes back to the same mantra: jobs, jobs, jobs. While once more conceding that the desert climate of Osoyoos puts his band in a fortuitous position - compared with, say, the troubled Attawapiskat First Nation of Northern Ontario - he says location is "only half the problem."

"The other half of the problem is the leadership focus," the chief believes. "Most bands say, 'We need more money.' And some people say, 'Well, give them more money.' Why give them money? Teach them how to work, how to have a work ethic and how to have them start focusing on the economy. Because if you feed them this week, who's going to feed them next week? You're going to have to keep feeding them."

When Mr. Louie speaks of his dreams for Osoyoos, he is always months, sometimes years down the line. A $200-million provincial prison will be going up near the band's headquarters at Oliver, B.C. Mr. Louie's experience while serving on a federal panel reviewing the operations of correctional services convinced him things could be done differently, so the band bid on and won the project, though it will not run it. Still, the prison will mean more jobs - and, he hopes, lead toward new approaches. Then there is the hobby racetrack, a new idea that is itself racing along as the Osoyoos band is convinced it can attract a rich clientele that prefers Lamborghinis to Land Rovers and might like to live out their Formula One fantasies.

The day done, Mr. Louie straps his Sitting Bull helmet tight, fires up the Harley and heads down the road toward the band office. There he will collect his truck, parked beneath the band sign that contains the same quote that runs along his truck's bumper.

"Native people have always worked for a living."

Friday, August 22, 2014

Jens Voigt, the German cyclist legendary for his masochistic brand of racing, retires at 42, Oliver Moore writes
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

Jens Voigt said the pain kept him young. But not even the legendary hard-man of pro cycling could suffer enough to ward off the effects of time.

Less than a month before his 43rd birthday - a milestone by which most cyclists have long since retired and gained weight - the hugely popular rider is finally calling it quits with a U.S. stage race that ends on Sunday.

The decision was expected but still had the power to sadden his legions of fans. No longer will races be enlivened by the German's self-punishing aggression and willingness to ride himself into the ground. Never again will spectators hear him bark "shut up, legs!" - which became his catch-phrase and the name of several cycling clubs.

"My body and my head go, 'listen, this is the last, we give you everything we have, you've squeezed everything out of us and we can't do it anymore,'" Voigt said in an interview.

Aging amateur cyclists everywhere are losing a source of inspiration. Fans who romanticize pros able to ride through the pain are losing one of the toughest of recent years. And top-level sport is losing a rare class act.

As the sport reeled through years of drug scandals - Voigt never tested positive and insists he "did not ever" dope - he was a journeyman whose grit made him a star.

Neither a sprinter nor a top mountain climber, he specialized in launching long attacks, often riding solo for hours while the pack chased after him. He would almost always be caught before the finish line, but he rode with the sort of panache and self-sacrifice that fans loved.

"I think they'd rather see me dying in a beautiful way in a breakaway than hanging on and being clever and super-smart and beat someone in the last 50 metres," Voigt said. "No, you would rather see me go out there for 50 kilometres or 100 kilometres and get caught in the last mile and you go, "Man, he put everything on the line.' " Fans traded stories about his exploits on the road, each more unbelievable than the last.

There was the time he crashed hard, passing out for several minutes and suffering a concussion and broken cheekbone. He called it "very lucky not getting severely hurt." Or the time he raced about 20 kilometres on a youth's bike after wrecking his own in another bad crash. "I was suffering and bleeding, but optimistic about my chances of finishing the Tour [de France]," was how he characterized it. "There were only four stages left, and dropping out would have killed me."

In a lengthy phone interview from Colorado on the eve of Voigt's last race, the seven-day USA Pro Challenge, he described his determination to leave everything on the road. The Trek Factory Racing rider spoke about his deep appreciation of the fans and revealed his belief that some younger riders don't have the necessary work ethic. And although he peppered the conversation with the slightly offbeat humour for which he is known, he also admitted his fears about the future.

"I'm happy that the sacrificing, the hard training, the travel, the time being away from the family is going to stop," Voigt said. "So I'm happy, I'm glad about that.

But I'm also terrified. Frightened.

Because, I mean, in my whole adult life cycling was the most consistent thing I ever did."

Voigt, who is finishing his 18th year as a professional, started riding the Tour de France before Lance Armstrong first pulled on a yellow jersey. This year the father of six competed against some people young enough to be his children. He is the oldest Tour racer since the war. And he was the oldest man in the race's history to wear the King of the Mountains jersey (albeit briefly), as top climber.

Over the years he rode in support of some of the biggest names in cycling, but wasn't a team leader and never had a chance of winning the sport's marquee race. He notched solo victories on only two of the hundreds of Tour de France stages he started. But just as a scoreless soccer match can rivet fans, Voigt's ability and appeal cannot be measured just by how he placed.

His willingness to suffer - a trait many cycling devotees respect more than mere victory - has become legendary.

"He will attack as soon as the flag drops ... because he has this enormous appetite to keep on racing," veteran cycling commentator Phil Liggett said in a 2013 phone interview from London.

"He never stops racing. And they're the most difficult racers to counter, because they never give up. He doesn't listen to his body."

Canadian national time trial and road race champion Svein Tuft, who wore the leader's jersey for a day at this year's Giro d'Italia, said he had "a huge amount of respect" for the German rider.

"I mean, he just gives everything," the British Columbia native, who rides for the OricaGreenEdge team, said from his home in Andorra. "A guy like that has so much experience that, for sure, if you're in a breakaway with him you're going to definitely be doing the right thing."

Rolston Miller, who rides with and races at the masters level for the Toronto-area Morning Glory Cycling Club, said watching someone like Voigt "suffer, crack, break and then to do it again the next day all over again" is an inspiration.

"The solo break or the small break, it's ... one of the most glorious ways to win a bike race," he said. "It's pretty damn impressive in my mind. You might say maybe we're masochistic for enjoying that, maybe it's some kind of weird form of athletic schadenfreude, the enjoyment of watching others suffer. Like, I feel bad for the guy but I love watching him do it, I love watching him grit his face. And when they do pull it off it's exhilarating, those are some of the best events."

Voigt was determined not to leave the sport "as a washed-up pro" and wanted to race hard until the end. So he kept attacking. In a typical move, he helped form a breakaway group on the second-to-last day of the 2013 Tour de France and then rode away from them with 60 kilometres to go.

Fans knew the move had little hope but still mourned when he was caught barely eight kilometres from that day's mountaintop finish. He ultimately came 32nd on a stage won by rookie Nairo Quintana, a Colombian climbing phenom barely half his age.

"There were moments when I actually thought he could do it," Liggett said. "That was a brilliant day and he was riding almost like I've never seen him before. He rode himself almost to a standstill."

It was days like these that inspired a Chuck Norris-style tribute Twitter account, where wags contribute accolades such as "For breakfast Jens Voigt adds cobblestones to his muesli." Other fan appreciations abound online. In one extreme case, a woman posted an essay called, "I Love My Husband, But Jens Voigt May Be The Coolest Man Alive."

Liggett, who as commentator has seen Voigt race for years, said the German helped his popularity with his gutsy attacking and his quickness with a joke. For Voigt, in spite of his aggression on the bike, is affably plain-spoken when off it.

He gives thoughtful answers in interviews, responds on social media to fans seeking advice about training and equipment, and says he once turned back in a race to shame a man who had snatched a water bottle Voigt tried to give to a child. In 2005, he agreed to take a blind fan out for a ride on a racing tandem and then, according to, invited the man and his wife home for Christmas cookies.

"What would we be without the fans?" he said rhetorically in our pre-Colorado interview. "They're more important than me, because they make our sport great, they make things happen.

We put on the show, but if people don't react to it we are nothing.

So, the fans, basically we should roll out the red carpet for them."

Fans have seen older cyclists score strong results in the last few years. Among them, then 41-yearold Chris Horner won the 2013 Vuelta a Espana and 37-year-old Jean-Christophe Péraud came second in this year's Tour de France. According to Voigt, older riders can handle suffering with greater maturity than some of the younger generation.

Determination can take you only so far, though. In recent years, Voigt would wake up hurting and be keen to quit. Then fan support would make him want to keep racing. But he knew he was slowing down and worried about pushing his luck.

"I don't want to have that one year too much where people actually behind my back start smiling at me and pointing fingers at me and go, 'Ah, look, that's Jensie, no, he's not good anymore,' " he said.

Voigt, who will continue to work with the team, made clear there will be no comeback.

"I'm going to put a big chain on my bike, lock it away and watch cobwebs grow on it," he said.

"I might go on the bike later ... but I'm not going to suffer anymore. I'm not going to do five hours. I'm going to do one hour, easy, in the sunshine, riding my bike to the next ice cream shop."

Follow me on Twitter:@moore_oliver

Associated Graphic

Jens Voigt prepares for the People's Choice Classic on Jan. 19. He spent 18 years as a professional cyclist.


With few hits in foreign-policy initiatives, Obama's time to deliver is running out
In 2009, the U.S. President rode in on a wave of hope to restore his country's reputation on the world stage. But since then, as the world lurches from crisis to crisis, Barack Obama's apparent aversion to risk has come back to haunt him, Paul Koring writes
Tuesday, August 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

WASHINGTON -- In the U.S. President's own succinct, if off-colour, phrase, the Obama doctrine is: "Don't do stupid shit."

Barack Obama has, in recent months, repeatedly used that vulgarism to define, defend and explain his foreign policy. And despite well-intentioned efforts by some media to sanitize the President's foul-mouthed version - usually by rephrasing it as "Don't do stupid stuff" - Mr. Obama, who first used the line with reporters on board Air Force One last spring as he returned from Asia, has repeatedly opted for the cruder version in subsequent interviews.

Unlike Theodore Roosevelt's much-admired "Speak softly and carry a big stick" - the phrase that became emblematic of foreign policy as the United States emerged as a superpower at the dawn of the 20th century - Mr.

Obama's crude dictum seems unlikely to be embraced by his successors or carved into the cornerstone of his presidential library.

Yet there's more than a trace of truth in the President's self-assessment, at least in terms of the realities of how Mr. Obama has performed on the world stage.

The President, who pocketed a Nobel Peace Prize within weeks of reaching the Oval Office, has little to show in terms of foreignpolicy successes after nearly six years in the White House.

His critics accuse him of hesitancy and mixed messages that have diminished U.S. power and emboldened the country's adversaries.

It's a way to "avoid errors," Mr. Obama claimed on his previous big overseas trip to Asia. "You hit singles, you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run." It's a far cry from the soaring oratory about ridding the world of nuclear weapons or delivering a new era in relations with the Muslim world or the pivot to the Pacific, all big sweeping visions unveiled by Mr. Obama at various stages of his presidency that have since been quietly discarded or downgraded.

Even his staunchest supporters find the "small ball" approach perplexing.

"Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle," Hillary Clinton, who served as secretary of state during Mr. Obama's first term, said last week.

Ms. Clinton evidently has decided to distance herself from Mr. Obama as she considers another presidential run in 2016. In an interview with The Atlantic, she made a half-hearted attempt to explain that the President was "trying to communicate to the American people that he's not going to do something crazy."

But Americans seem less worried that Mr. Obama is going off the deep end than they are just broadly disappointed with his presidency. The soaring "audacity of hope" has been replaced by the reality of ill-defined policy and uncertain action.

Sagging approval rating

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted earlier this month put the President's approval rating at an all-time low of 40 per cent. On coping with the world, it was even worse: When asked whether they approved of "the job Barack Obama is doing handling foreign policy," the rating sagged to 36 per cent.

That came with the world beset with crises: with Israeli warplanes pounding Gaza; a violent separatist insurrection threatening to spiral out of control in Ukraine; Beijing bullying its weaker, smaller neighbours in the South China Sea; an Ebola outbreak raging in West Africa; and the extremist Islamic State jihadis carving out a proto-caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

Mr. Obama hasn't even hit many singles.

His boldest first-term foray into foreign affairs - toppling Libya's bizarre and brutal dictator Moammar Gadhafi with a sevenmonth bombing campaign billed as a no-fly zone enforced by NATO - looked impressive at first, but Libya has since collapsed into simmering civil war.

Even Mr. Obama admits he failed to follow-up after the air war. "We underestimated ... the need to come in full-force," he told The New York Times. "It's the day after Gadhafi's gone, when everyone's feeling good and everybody's holding up posters saying, 'Thank you America,' at that moment there has to be a much more aggressive effort to rebuild societies that didn't have any civic traditions."

In Syria, where Mr. Obama first boldly drew a red line threatening air strikes then quickly abandoned it, the bloody toll after three years of civil war has topped 160,000. After backing down when Syria's dictator Bashar al-Assad refused to be cowed by the President's sabre-rattling, Mr. Obama had to seek help from Russia's President Vladimir Putin in a face-saving deal that left Mr. al-Assad in power.

Hesitancy has a price.

Failure to back Syrian rebels early and effectively gave the Islamist extremists now rampaging across western and northern Iraq the opportunity to emerge as a potent political and fighting force. The hesitancy to arm and support rebels in Syria "left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled," Ms. Clinton says.

Mr. Putin then outfoxed Mr. Obama in Crimea with the boldest land grab since the Cold War, restoring to Russia the Black Sea peninsula that had been given to Ukraine 60 years earlier.

Despite Washington slapping sanctions on some of Mr. Putin's rich and powerful buddies, Moscow continues to meddle in eastern Ukraine and Mr. Obama has failed to lead a concerted effort sufficiently strong to deter the Russian President.

Meanwhile relations with Israel - not least because of Mr. Obama's decision to open direct talks with the ruling mullahs in Iran about Tehran's secretive and controversial nuclear program - are at a nadir. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mr. Obama make little effort to disguise mutual disdain.

The President, perhaps seeking to turn away from violence, chaos and failure in the Middle East, two years ago loftily unveiled the Pacific pivot - a rebalancing of U.S. priorities in recognition of Asia's growing power in the 21st century. Since then, little of substance has emerged to match the rhetoric and Mr. Obama didn't even mention the pivot in his latest major foreign-policy speech to West Point cadets in June. Aside from finger-wagging at Beijing, Mr. Obama has largely left U.S. allies to fend for themselves as China bullies smaller countries in the South China Sea.

'A mixed record'

On some fronts, Mr. Obama has gone further than any previous president. The use of drone strikes to target and kill designated "enemies" - on lists kept top secret - has ranged far from established battlefields. Since Mr. Obama took office, more than 400 drone attacks killing at least 2,500 have been recorded in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. And Mr. Obama was the first president to explicitly authorize an assassination strike against a U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a Hellfire missile fired from a Predator drone over Yemen.

"The President has made some tough decisions," said Leon Panetta, who served in the Obama administration as director of the Central Intelligence Agency and also as defence secretary.

"But it's been a mixed record, and the concern is the President defining what America's role in the world is in the 21st century hasn't happened."

Even some of Mr. Obama's proudest moments are coming back to haunt him.

The Iraq war that he denounced as stupid and vowed to end - a promise that played a major role in his initial campaign for the presidency - is on again.

Mr. Obama's triumphal claim about "this moment of success" made when he pulled the last U.S. combat troops from Iraq three years ago now looks a bit hollow. "We're leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people," he said then.

Now, U.S. warplanes are again pounding targets in Iraq, hundreds of U.S. Special Forces have been sent back there, the central government in Baghdad is impotent and the Iraqi military that cost the United States hundreds of millions of dollars to arm and train has degenerated into a largely sectarian Shia force that broke and fled rather than defend non-Shia areas.

The President has also set a fixed exit date for pulling all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, where the "good" war - according to Mr. Obama and in contrast to Iraq - is now in its 13th year. "We will bring America's longest war to a responsible end," Mr. Obama said when he announced the last U.S. troops will be out by December, 2015, less than a month before he leaves the White House. But that was before the Afghan presidential elections descended into acrimonious deadlock and the first U.S. general to die in a war zone was killed there earlier this month.

More than six years ago, on the day he nailed down his party's presidential nomination, Mr. Obama proffered a glimpse of the future, of how he would change the world. "I am absolutely certain," he said then, "that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth."

Nearly halfway through his final four years in the White House, Mr. Obama is running out of time to deliver.

Associated Graphic


China broadens crackdown on foreign missionaries
Monday, August 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1

SEOUL -- Paul Yoo at first thought the text was a joke, or perhaps spam. "Chinese secrets are like the heavens and the big mountains. Do not reveal or talk about them," read the cryptic message.

It sounded like a poem, although not one Mr. Yoo or his friends had ever heard of. He was prepared to laugh it off, until he discovered that no one else had received the same message.

"That's when I realized something was going to happen," he said.

A week later, police arrived at his door in the northeastern Chinese city where Mr. Yoo, a South Korean missionary, had lived untroubled by authorities for years in a country where proselytizing by foreigners is, officially, illegal.

China is turning a blind eye no longer. The knock on Mr. Yoo's door two years ago marked the beginning of a quiet forced evacuation of foreign missionaries, including hundreds of South Koreans, some of whom have worked to train and convert Chinese, and others who have helped Christian defectors from North Korea.

Those who remain live in mounting fear that they will be next, as China's new president Xi Jinping seeks to rid the country of foreign influences and effectively nationalize Christian churches to bring them under state control.

"This crackdown, and the people being deported, has intensified starting from May," said Rev. Peter Jung, director of Justice For North Korea, which supports North Korean defectors. And, he said, "the number of missionaries getting arrested has increased."

The eviction of missionaries is in some ways a mark of China's own perceived global strength, as an increasingly confident Beijing seeks to define China, an atheist state with government-run churches, on its own terms. Yet it also threatens to revive a point of conflict between China and Western nations, which have long criticized the Communist country for its refusal to allow free pursuit of religion.

Conditions in China have never been easy for foreign missionaries, and most try to keep a low profile. They work for so many different organizations and denominations that numbers are hard to come by. But from interviews with nearly a dozen former and active missionaries, experts and academics it's clear at least hundreds - perhaps nearly 1,000 - have been forced out of China.

In early 2013, at the peak, China was home to some 2,000 to 4,000 missionaries from South Korea alone; U.S. missionaries made up large numbers as well.

The forced departures form the background to the detention a little more than two weeks ago of Kevin and Julia Garratt, a Canadian Christian couple who had run a coffee shop in Dandong, a Chinese city on the North Korean border. Chinese authorities have accused them of stealing state secrets, but said little about what they have done wrong. Canadian officials believe their detention is likely China's response to allegations of Chinese espionage in North America, including by a Canadian immigrant who is accused of co-ordinating hacking attacks to steal U.S. fighter jet secrets.

Yet the Garratts also stood at a dangerous nexus of issues that stir Chinese suspicion, by virtue of their personal faith, their humanitarian work with North Korea and the donations from Canadian churchgoers that supported them. That background almost certainly attracted the attention of authorities, though it may not be the primary reason for the couple's detention.

'It's extremely sensitive'

China is North Korea's closest ally, but the two nuclear powers still operate with great mutual suspicion, and the Garratts live in a place that is the focus of intense Chinese military and intelligence scrutiny. Some of that is directed at Christian missionaries who play a critical role in the underground railroad that secrets North Korean defectors out of China.

"If you are a North Korean in China, the only place where you can realistically be given food and shelter is a church," said Andrei Lankov, a Russian scholar and expert on North Korea. Often, that means the involvement of missionaries, who "actively proselytize among the North Korean refugees," and train them in spreading Christianity inside North Korea.

The Chinese pressure on missionaries, however, extends far beyond the North Korean border, suggesting Beijing's chief motivation is concern about religion.

"One of the aims of Xi Jinping's policies is to get rid of all missionaries by 2017," said one missionary who continues to work in northeastern China.

Such a claim is impossible to verify. Mr. Xi, the Chinese president, has publicly said no such thing. But fears in the missionary community of a coming clean sweep offer a window into the degree of alarm that has spread.

The missionary asked The Globe to reveal no potentially identifying details, including his age or nationality, how much time he and his wife have spent in China or the nature of their work there.

"It's extremely sensitive. A tiny little clue could identify us and get us kicked out," said the missionary's wife, who travels to China separately from her husband in case one of them is detained.

Mr. Xi's presidency has already coincided with powerful new campaigns to curb groups that could challenge the power of the Communist Party. Human-rights lawyers have been jailed and mercilessly tortured. (Last week, one lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, was released from prison mentally "utterly destroyed. He can barely talk," activists said.) Bloggers have been threatened with strict new punishment for "spreading rumours."

Underground churches, which Beijing sees as co-ordinated groups with the potential to organize political resistance, have been torn down. And missionaries, who represent a direct foreign influence on Chinese citizens, have been ejected.

The departures have happened quietly, often mandated by authorities who refuse to renew visas, a tactic also used to kick out journalists. Some missionaries accustomed to one-year stays are now being offered threemonth visas that place them in constant uncertainty.

'Government wants control'

Many, like Mr. Yoo, face probing and uncomfortable questions. The police officers who questioned him at his home wanted to know what he did every day, the source of his income, what he had done in South Korea before he came to China and how he was educating his children.

He said he avoided referring to "church" in his answers but had no doubt that authorities knew the truth. Months later, he took his wife and two children to Canada in hopes things would cool down.

Earlier this month, they headed back to Seoul where they hoped to secure a new Chinese visa.

Their flight took them through China, but they had new passports, with fresh numbers and pages clear of evidence they had been in the country before.

It didn't matter. Their names raised flags at immigration and the entire family was sent into a side room for questioning. Mr. Yoo and his wife were ordered to sit for mug-shot style photographs. Then, shortly before their plane to Seoul departed, they were released. An officer accompanied them to the door of the aircraft.

It was never said outright, but they were left certain they were no longer welcome in China.

"When they were taking pictures like I was a criminal, I felt I was being deported, for sure," Mr. Yoo said in Seoul, where he is now living with parents, without a home and unsure of what his future holds.

Mr. Yoo decided to be a missionary when he was barely out of high school. "I get so excited just breathing the air in China and meeting people there," he said.

He cried as his plane took off the last time from Beijing.

"I started praying, 'God, please forgive China. This is a land that needs healing. Christian work needs to be done.' " China has said little about what is happening with its Christians.

The State Administration for Religious Affairs and the country's Foreign Ministry did not respond to faxed requests for comment. In May, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, in one of the few official Chinese statements, said "the Chinese government earnestly protects the rights of Chinese citizens including safeguarding their freedom of religious beliefs."

In South Korea, a former missionary who asked to be called Brother Paul said he believes China is evicting missionaries amid a renewed campaign to require Chinese Christians to worship only in government-run churches. Those churches can be useful to Beijing in doing the state's job, easing social tensions and solving social inequalities through good works.

China wants its religious people "registered, because government wants control," Brother Paul said.

He asked that his full name not be used because he has, for a decade, met regularly with Chinese authorities who have studied the role Christians have played in shaping South Korea. Of China's estimated 50 million to 100 million Christians, only 21 million attend official churches.

In an interview, Bishop John Fang Xingyao, chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association - a state-sanctioned organization - described the official view of the church. It is a vision of Christianity as an organ of the Communist Party, not the haven of spirituality sought by missionaries and the underground churches with which they work.

Church, Mr. Fang said, "plays a role in maintaining social stability," he said. "Generally speaking, the crime rate among believers is much less than among non-believers."

Associated Graphic

A bible rests on a bicycle at an underground church, some of which are run by foreign missionaries, in Tianjin, China.


Christians in Tianjin, China pray at an underground church; authorities fear religious organizations have the potential to organize political resistance.

Versatile actor helped Canadian theatres
After an accidental start, his stage career expanded to decades of work in film and television
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, August 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S6

Walter Massey was born into a life of privilege and was being groomed to take a role in the family manufacturing company, Massey-Harris, when he decided to abandon that path and take up acting - a career that would last more than 65 years.

It was a choice that ran in the family; his close relation Raymond Massey was also an actor, famous for his 1940 movie portrayal of Abraham Lincoln, although Walter later one-upped him, playing two American presidents (Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft) in separate films.

Walter Massey, who died on Aug. 4 in Montreal of complications from cancer at the age of 85, started as on stage in Boston in 1949 while at university and did his last voice-over work in July of this year as Principal Haney in the popular children's television show Arthur.

The list of characters played by Mr. Massey runs to several pages, in stage, film and television. The highlights included a stage role in the 1950s as Brutus in Julius Caesar. It was an early production by flamboyant New York producer Joseph Papp, and morphed into the famous Shakespeare in the Park series.

"Walter was very proud of his Brutus," said Richard Dumont, a fellow actor and director who directed Mr. Massey in 52 episodes of Papa Beaver's Storytime, an animated TV series from France, dubbed into English in Montreal in the 1990s.

"Walter was a mainstay on any production. You could trust him to bring things to the character that even the writers hadn't thought of," Mr. Dumont said.

Both Walter Massey (as Mr. Tinker) and Mr. Dumont had major voice roles in the 1996 animated film How the Toys Saved Christmas, which starred Mary Tyler Moore and Tony Randall.

Mr. Massey had hundreds of roles in movies, many of them American productions filmed in Canada, including his major part as President Roosevelt opposite Rod Steiger in Cook & Peary: The Race to the Pole (1983). His other presidential role was that of Mr. Taft, in The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005).

For decades he was in demand to do voice work in cartoons such as the Emmy-winning Arthur. In the one the few times he portrayed an evil character - he was too likeable for that - he was the voice of Pollutto in an animated, environment-focused series called The Smoggies.

He was perhaps best known to television viewers for his role as Doc Stewart in the Canadian-produced series Lassie, which ran from 1997 to 1999.

"Walter was a delight to work with," said Susan Almgren, who worked closely with him for two years on Lassie, produced by Montreal-based Cinar. "I played Timmy's mother and I was a widow and a vet, and Walter was the avuncular Doc Stewart, my mentor. It was the last of the lavish productions and each episode took a week to shoot, because it involved children and animals. Walter and I spent a lot of time together in trailers and on sets and became quite close, like the characters in the series."

Mr. Massey also helped to start a number of theatres in Canada. He co-founded the King's Playhouse in Georgetown, PEI, and the Piggery Theatre in North Hatley, Que. And he was deeply involved in the now-defunct Mountain Playhouse in Montreal.

Walter Edward Hart Massey was born in Toronto on Aug. 19, 1928, into the family that was at the pinnacle of social and financial life in the city. He was named after his grandfather, who was president of Massey-Harris, the giant Canadian maker of agricultural equipment (later known as Massey Ferguson). His extended family included second cousins Raymond Massey, the actor, and his diplomat brother, Vincent Massey, the first Canadian-born governor-general.

Young Walter attended Upper Canada College, and then the University of Western Ontario. He went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering, in preparation for eventually running operations at the family's tractor manufacturing company.

But, by chance, he discovered acting. He planned to take on some small parts at the Boston Tributary Theatre while doing homework when not on stage, but instead he was thrown into a major role, the villain Comte de Guiche in Cyrano de Bergerac. His grades at MIT dropped. He told his family he would rather be an actor than an industrialist but promised his father, Denton Massey, that he would finish his degree. He did, and wore his MIT engineer's ring, although he didn't complete his master's thesis.

"His father went to see him act in Boston," recalled Mr. Massey's wife, Sharman Yarnell. "He told him, 'If you want to act you'll have to do it on your own.' "

(Denton Massey may have disapproved of Walter's acting choice, but he had drifted from an expected career path himself. Denton also graduated from MIT, and did go to work in the family business, but he was also deeply religious. He broadcast Bible classes on radio in Toronto in the 1930s and '40s and late in life became an Anglican priest. He was also a Conservative MP for a Toronto riding from 1935 to 1949, and ran for the party leadership in 1938.)

After his Boston foray, Walter made his way to New York. There he studied theatre at Harold Clurman's professional workshop, where classmates included Steve McQueen, Julie Harris and Marlon Brando. The workshop was for professional actors and classes were held late at night after the Broadway shows closed. Along with working actors, it took two non-professionals; 1,200 applied and Mr. Massey was one of those accepted.

His first major role was as Brutus in Mr. Papp's 1956 production of Julius Caesar. When the show finished, Mr. Massey went to Montreal, where he had promised to do a play; he turned down a request from Mr. Papp to return to New York.

"He was loyal and once he gave his word, he never went back on it," Ms. Yarnell said.

Montreal became his lifelong base. He bought a house in the downtown area known as Shaughnessy Village. "It was his centenary project. The house was built in 1867 and he bought and restored it in 1967. At the time he was also in charge of the on-site entertainment at Expo 67," Ms. Yarnell said.

She met her future husband at an audition in Montreal. In casual conversation, they discovered that each of their homes had been broken into. He suggested what was needed was a sturdy lock. He winked at a friend and said to Ms. Yarnell: "Why don't you come up and see my doublebolt deadlock?"

"That was Jan. 18, 1975," Ms. Yarnell recalled, "and we were together ever since."

In 1953, he had played Jason in Medea in London, Ont., one of his first professional roles on home turf. In the decades that followed, his stage work took him across Canada, to Ontario's Stratford Festival, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, the Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg and the Fredericton Playhouse in New Brunswick.

He was well-liked by cast mates, both for his collegial support and his sense of humour.

"Walter was always laughing. He was a renowned punster and he couldn't stop himself. He loved getting into sparring matches with puns, things that would make people both chuckle and roll their eyes," said Thor Bishopric, a Montreal actor who played the role of Mr. Massey's son in three separate productions. "He would always greet me, 'Hello my son.' Walter was very supportive of young up-and-coming actors."

Mr. Massey was also a member of the French-speaking actors' association, Union des Artistes. He spoke French with an English accent, but that worked well in roles such as Winston Churchill in a 1980s Radio-Canada TV program, Parc des Braves. In Les Belles Histoires du Pays en Haut, a television drama that aired live in the 1950s, he played another anglophone character speaking French.

In a more recent TV series, Edgar Allan, détective, which aired in the 1980s, he played a Scottish ghost and had to speak French with a Scottish accent. "He was a very talented actor and we got to know each other well doing that series," said Albert Millaire, a prominent Quebec actor who also works in both languages. "His French was very good. Of course he had an accent, but that's what we needed in the role."

In addition to performing, Mr.Massey was active in the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), and was a member of the board of the Canadian Actors' Equity Association for 20 years.

Along with his wife, Sharman, he leaves his sister Marilyn MacKay-Smith and many nieces and nephews.

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Associated Graphic

Walter Massey played Doc Stewart in the Canadian-produced TV series Lassie.

Walter Massey as Jason in a production of Medea at the Grand Theatre in London, Ont.


After a scathing audit revealed years of misspending, Brampton's council has been thrust into the spotlight and its residents are wondering how this happened. Continually re-elected incumbents - some have held their positions for more than two decades - have quashed efforts to bring more accountability to city hall. Disengaged voters are now tuning in, saying it's time to shake things up. Dakshana Bascaramurty reports ahead of an election that could change the face of the city's politics
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M1

Brampton has evolved from a sleepy suburb into Canada's ninthlargest municipality, but it seems city hall hasn't yet received the memo.

The faces on the 11-member council haven't changed much in the past two decades, even though the population it represents has soared from about 260,000 to nearly 600,000 in that same period - two-thirds of them visible minorities. Long tenures have made some on council a little too comfortable, and allowed accountability to fall to the wayside.

Deloitte Canada delivered a searing report last week, calling out Brampton City Council - and especially the mayor - for everything from charging $220 in mobile phone IQ tests to a corporate account to purchasing $128,000 of pricey flight passes on the taxpayer's dime. Brampton, one of Canada's fastest-growing and most diverse cities, has now been thrust into the spotlight with a spending scandal by a council that does not reflect its population. Residents who are finally tuning in are asking how this could happen.

The current crop of council members has served a collective 238 years on council - an average of 22 years each. A case of continually re-elected incumbents and a disengaged electorate have created the perfect setting for oversight to fall through the cracks. But the magnitude of the current spending scandal has reached even the most apathetic of voters: They're paying attention, plan to vote and may just overhaul council come election day.

Brampton real estate agent Bachittar Saini said he had voted for Susan Fennell in the past several elections because she was the incumbent. But after learning of her misspending and that of other councillors through the media in the past year, he's become politically active and is trying to encourage his fellow residents to elect a brand new slate of council members.

"I hope they wake up and don't vote for any of these [incumbents]. It's not one guy - the whole council needs to be replaced," he said.

On Oct. 27, Torontonians will head to the polls to elect their mayor in what has been one of the most colourful elections in a while, but just as big a change will be happening next door in Brampton. Political watchers predict voters will show up to polls in higher numbers - beyond the dismal 33 per cent seen in 2010 - eager to shake up what has been status quo for so long.

"Certainly, the mayor is in deep trouble and I imagine many of the councillors will be, too. It's not unheard of in this kind of situation for there to be a kind of tidal wave of throwing out the rascals," said Andrew Sancton, an urban politics professor at Western University in London, Ont. It's the first election when Ms. Fennell will face two serious challengers: former Ontario municipal affairs minister Linda Jeffrey and fellow council member John Sanderson, who is backed by many other councillors.

After completing its $243,000 audit, Deloitte identified the key reason for the many breaches of the city's spending policy by members of council: In 2011, council approved a new expense policy, which eliminated oversight. Previously, the city's finance department approved expense reports, but with one vote, council switched to an honour system - a system that allowed for $172,608 in transactions by the mayor and $46,000 by the rest of council that breached the city's expense policies to go unchecked. The audit report has now been passed along to Peel Regional Police, who may investigate whether the mayor and councillors broke the law.

"I don't know what happens to mayors sometimes in a lot of cities, but they think that after a long period of time, they're like kings or queens. And they don't need to listen," said Paul Palleschi, a 29-year veteran of city council. While he has long been a staunch supporter of the mayor, he said the report proved Ms. Fennell was not "lily-white."

Mr. Palleschi was found to not be "lily-white" either - auditors said he breached city finance rules, too. What's more, he voted in favour of the new expense policy in 2011 because, he says, he thought councillors were mature enough to handle an honour system.

Other mechanisms of accountability have also crumbled, or just never came to fruition, in the city.

In 2007, Mr. Sancton was appointed as Brampton's closed meetings investigator. By law, members of municipal councils cannot meet to discuss city business outside of open, public meetings (with a few exceptions).

Mr. Sancton, who quit his post earlier this year, said he had not received a single complaint during his seven-year tenure. That may have been because the City of Brampton charges residents $250 to make a complaint.

"I think it probably did have a chilling effect," Mr. Sancton says.

In what initially seemed a promising move on the accountability front, Brampton retained mediator Donald Cameron to serve as its integrity commissioner in 2011. Mr. Cameron investigated and filed a report on Ms.

Fennell, clearing her of accusations she had acted improperly when raising money for a private fundraising gala. Unhappy with that and other rulings, councillors voted to fire the integrity commissioner this past spring. A few months later, they hired a new commissioner, who is currently investigating the findings of Deloitte's audit report.

Ontario Ombudsman André Marin says council should not be able to meddle with these offices, which are there to keep them in check.

"You don't hire or fire. You don't suspend. You hire these people on terms. A five-year term is ideal. And you don't interfere - you let them run the show," he said.

The flaws in the city's government aren't limited to lack of accountability, though. As those who cover politics for ethnic media see it, the city is stuck in another era because, while 66 per cent of Brampton's population are visible minorities, only one member of council is not white.

Incumbents tend to clinch victory term after term, based on their name recognition, says Asma Amanat, a political reporter with South Asian Generation Next, a publication based in Peel Region.

"They have been there forever. They don't even come out in the community," Ms. Amanat says. She saw a bump in councillors attending events following the 2010 election, but believes they were there to win back favour, not actually engage with the community. For Ms. Fennell in particular, Ms. Amanat says she's won over much of Brampton's South Asian community by being a regular fixture at community events.

But at least three new faces will be on council this fall, as two councillors have announced their retirement and another, Mr. Sanderson, is not seeking re-election because he is running for mayor. Manan Gupta, who is running in one of those races, hopes to change that ratio, though establishing name recognition has been a challenge.

"There's no party machine, you know?" he says. "In municipal elections, there is nothing like that. So you are totally dependent upon your own independent credibility, your outreach, your passion."

Yudhvir Jaswal, the editor of South Asian Daily, which is distributed throughout the GTA, and host of several radio and TV programs, says there has been a lack of representation of South Asians on council because little importance is given to local politics in India and that mentality is imported to Canada when immigrants arrive here.

"Municipal-level politics - it's not discussed in the media, it's not discussed in the community that much," he says.

Vicky Dhillon, the lone South Asian on council, was defeated in two municipal elections before he was elected in 2006. When he went door-knocking to meet residents, they'd ask what post he was running for: MP? MPP? "I'm not running for MP or MPP," he told them. "I'm running for panchyat member" - the equivalent of a city councillor in Punjab state, India, where many of Brampton's South Asian residents are from. He would then have to explain what issues local government handled and why they should care to vote.

This campaign won't just be about property taxes or new recreation facilities, Mr. Jaswal predicts - the expense scandal has been widely discussed in the ethnic press.

"This time, the race will be really tough," Mr. Jaswal said. "I think, primarily, the voters are a lot more engaged now."

Associated Graphic

A report revealed $172,608 worth of transactions by Mayor Susan Fennell, above, and $46,000 by the rest of council that breached the city's expense policies. Brampton's council, top row from left: John Sanderson, Bob Callahan, John Hutton, Sandra Hames, Paul Palleschi. Bottom row: Elaine Moore, John Sprovieri, Gael Miles, Grant Gibson, Vicky Dhillon.

Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell questions two Deloitte auditors during a discussion on a report into her expenses at a city council meeting Aug. 6. The October election will be the first time the mayor has faced two serious challengers.


Two new books offer very different understandings of how we should relate to technology
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R14

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

By Daniel J. Levitin Allen Lane, 528 pages, $30

The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connections By Michael Harris HarperCollins, 304 pages, $29.99

Technology advances furiously, but the human brain remains stubbornly human.

McGill neuroscientist and author Daniel J. Levitin writes that, "In 2011, Americans took in five times as much information every day as they did in 1986," but our internal hardware hasn't adapted to keep pace. The average home computer has enough data to fill 500,000 novels, and yet the brain's processing power is estimated at a meager 120 bits per second, hardly enough to parse two simultaneous conversations. In his new book, The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, Levitin considers how we can use our limited mental capacity in an era of limitless information.

The book is a how-to manual and a mixed bag. There's lots of useful advice, but I'm not convinced that we can adapt to the 21st-century information economy - with its many demands and infinite distractions - as fully or easily as Levitin says we can. Some of his best ideas might be described as counterintuitive but useful.

He argues that, instead of relying solely on electronic memory aids, you should invest in index cards, which are tactile and wonderfully modular - you can rearrange them as your priorities change. Other pieces of advice are obvious but well worth emphasizing. Levitin repeats one sobering fact: you are not a multitasker. Studies show that when you switch between, say, work, e-mail, Instagram and BuzzFeed, you decrease the cognitive resources needed for deep thought and decision-making. For high-level mental work, Levitin counsels, you must avoid digital distractions.

Another category of advice might be labeled "impractical but thought-provoking." Levitin says that when making tough medical decisions we should revert to dispassionate statistical reasoning, drawing on Bayesian probability analysis and the binomial theorem. He crunches the numbers on well-known hospital procedures such as prostate surgery and biopsies, concluding that, when the side effects are weighed against the benefits, these treatments aren't as good as they're made out to be. I find this claim unsettling, but I'm too innumerate to second-guess it. My helplessness reinforces Levitin's point: if we were better with stats, we could form autonomous opinions instead of depending on the noisy external world.

A final advice category encompasses ideas that are so straightforward they hardly warrant more than a sentence or two. Consider some of Levitin's suggestions on home organization (make the things you use often easiest to reach), filing (use nested categories), or productivity (try to sleep regularly). There's nothing wrong with simple, practical ideas, but Levitin sometimes strays into what critics Sally Satel and Scott O. Lilienfeld call "neuroredundancy": the tendency to bolster obvious points with neuroscientific explanations. I don't need a lesson in evolutionary psychology, for instance, to appreciate that arranging household items by category is a good thing to do.

Maybe it's unfair to criticize Levitin for lapses like these, since any 400-page book is bound to have at least a few flaws. But I'm not sure the book needed to be so long. For all of its braininess, The Organized Mind is a piece of service journalism, so I find myself wishing it were more serviceable - that is, shorter, crisper, and focused on game-changing insights. It could have exemplified the efficiency and practicality, which, for Levitin, are hallmarks of an organized life.

I read The Organized Mind alongside Canadian journalist Michael Harris's comparatively pessimistic work The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connections, which was so engrossing I rarely stopped to check my phone. The book draws on research and interviews, but it's ultimately about Harris himself, a contemplative thirtysomething coming to terms with the rise of digital technology and the corresponding loss of absence.

"Absence," for Harris, means many things: immersing yourself in a book or conversation because there are no silicon devices making claims on your attention; experiencing a concert or meal for its own sake, without documenting it in a gauzy digital photograph; relying on old-fashioned flirtation over dating algorithms, or on memory and mastery over electronic aids. Absence is the deep restfulness you experience when you're miles away from the grind of connectivity.

Harris isn't an anti-tech evangelist. He's a moderate - a young writer with an active Twitter account who goes offline for stretches of time; a gay man who's squeamish about the meat-market mentality of hook-up sites like Grindr but willing to seek (and find) love on dating forums like Plenty of Fish. He's also a Romantic: just as his heroes (Wordsworth, Thoreau) retreated into unspoiled nature, he believes in the therapeutic benefits of reverting, temporarily, to the rhythms of pre-digital life.

The book isn't all Wordsworthian soulsearching. There's plenty of journalistic material too. The most compelling interviews feature social-media luminaries, like MIT student Karthik Dinakar, who's working on an artificial intelligence application - tentatively named National Helpline - that matches users with automated counselling services; or Noel Biderman, the Toronto-based CEO of Ashley Madison, the well-known hook-up site for cheating husbands and wives.

Harris shows these people for the savvy entrepreneurs that they are, but he takes issue with their slickness, their belief that efficiency is the only goal worth pursuing.

National Helpline may someday grow into a useful application, and I've read defences of the Ashley Madison as a tool for unsatisfied people to seek fulfillment without blowing up their marriages. The problem with people like Dinakar and Biderman is that they refuse to admit what's at stake here. (Why not automate psychology by removing some of the complexities of doctor-patient relationships from the equation, they implicitly ask? Why not expedite sexual encounters by dispensing with risktaking, trust building, or accountability to your primary partner?) Harris suggests that we might lose something when we mechanize the most fraught, therapeutic, or intimate human encounters.

Ultimately, Harris is an elegist: he acknowledges that with every technological gain there's an attendant loss, one that deserves to be recognized and maybe even mourned. Levitin is an accommodationist.

What matters, for him, is that we cultivate the right habits so that we can be organized and efficient, even in an economy of limitless data and distractions. This discrepancy in worldview might reflect differences in genre - creative non-fiction versus service journalism - but I instinctively trust Harris's stance more. True, some people are good at living emotionally healthy, productive lives in the digital world, but surely none of us are unaffected by the loss of absence.

To prove this point, Harris spends 30 days (from August 1 to 30) without going online. He describes how the experience makes him more observant, self-aware, and emotionally vulnerable. It also teaches him a few things: 1) it is extremely hard to be the one disconnected person in a hyper-connected world and 2) the more distance you take from digital culture the more peculiar it seems. On Day 24 of his experiment, he writes: "Behaviour that seemed utterly normal on the 30th of July now looks compulsive and animalistic. Now when I see teenage girls burrowed into their phones on the sidewalk I think of monkeys picking lice out of each other's hair."

If you're looking for an authoritative study on human psychology and the Internet, there are other books you could read. Harris's account is anecdotal and meandering, but that's okay: we don't expect theoretical rigour from an elegy. We expect compelling prose and emotional intelligence, which is exactly what Harris offers. If I could change one thing about The End of Absence, I'd put a question mark after the subtitle. Harris isn't convinced that we really can reclaim "what we've lost in a world of constant connections." He wants you to try, though, if only from time to time, since the pleasures are best experienced firsthand. And if you can't do that, you can at least take a pause and acknowledge what you've left behind.

"Think of that moment when the fridge shuts off, causing you to realize - in the silence that ensues - that you'd been hearing its persistent hum before," he writes. "You thought you knew silence, but you were really surrounded by the machine's steady buzz. Now multiply that sensation by the world. Think how cold, how naked, how alone, how awake, you might be."

Simon Lewsen is a writing instructor at the University of Toronto and a contributor to Hazlitt, Reader's Digest, Toronto Life and The Walrus.

South of 60
An expedition to Antarctica is a trip into the most hostile environment in the world. But, Tim Johnson writes, gale-force winds, frigid waters and a pervading sense of isolation are all part of the thrill
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page T1

NEKO HARBOUR, ANTARCTICA -- Ignoring every natural instinct, I stripped to the waist, acutely feeling the fresh slap of a frigid wind as I pulled off my shirt, kicked off my boots and peeled down to my skivvies. Standing barefoot on a frozen beach at Neko Harbour in Antarctica, I paused for a few seconds, allowing a line of handsome gentoo penguins to march by me - a dozen or so waddling adorably, wings out, in lockstep with one another.

A couple of birds split off then looked at one another, standing motionless for just a second before going horizontal, shooting under the water like tuxedoed torpedoes. I steeled myself and rushed forward, splashing into the gunmetal grey, 2.5 C water, picking my way around small ice floes. The unbelievable cold engulfed my legs and waist, but still I pushed forward, deeper and deeper. Then, like the penguins, I stopped for a second, and then decided to go for it. Holding my glasses up high, I dropped my torso and then my head down into the salty blackness. The cold - bam! - hit me in the chest and then the face, as real and as a vicious as a kick from an unruly mule.

In retrospect, I can see that it was a rather cold day for a swim. But I had come here to Antarctica - the darkest, coldest, driest, windiest continent on earth - seeking a truly epic adventure. The absolute south remains largely terra incognita to even the seasoned scientists who visit on a regular basis, never mind the 30,000 tourists who brave the journey each year. And while the risks and challenges are no longer as death-defying as those that faced Ernest Shackleton and other early navigators, it is still a continent that presents unique - and sometimes, almost unbelievable - experiences.

Part of the challenge - and the fun - is simply getting there. After flying to Ushuaia, Argentina - the southernmost town in the world - I boarded the MV Fram, an expedition ship operated by Norwegian company Hurtigruten, for a nine-day voyage. From there, the Fram, which holds around 200 guests, plunged south into the Drake Passage, reputed to be the roughest sea crossing in the world. Part of the Southern Ocean, the Drake forms the shortest stretch of water between Antarctica and any other continent, a 1,000-kilometre "pinch point" where the water and winds - unimpeded by mountains or islands or anything else that might provide a small bit of merciful resistance - slam with full gusto into any craft with the audacity to sail straight into them.

On our journey, we faced galeforce winds and waves as large as a two-storey building - enough to tip the ship 15 degrees back in either direction, tossing dishes from tables and even throwing people from their seats. But expedition leader Karin Strand told me that those conditions were nothing, relatively speaking. She recalled other voyages on the Drake where they dealt with hurricane-force winds and 15-metre waves for days at a time. But, she added, that's all part of the experience: extreme weather and isolation and a perennially harsh environment are part of the thrill.

"Down here, you're on a knife's edge," Strand said. "This is the most hostile environment in the world. The Fram is your lifeline, and if it were to disappear, there's no way you would survive it," she told me as we sat near a window while massive mountains moved slowly past outside in the distance. "When you step onto the shore, you're in awe of it. There's an existential fear that heightens your senses. It's an adrenalin kick."

During the Fram's two daily landings on and around the Antarctic Peninsula - a thin finger of land that points north from the main body of the continent - we called at Chilean and Russian research stations, where we heard tales of isolation and howling winds from bearded, burly men. The ship used powerful bow thrusters to crack through heavy ice that threatened to trap us inside the Antarctic Sound, and we stood against floor-to-ceiling panes of glass on the ship's top-deck observatory to watch, taking in the sight of an orange sun setting, very late, over countless blue icebergs.

But amid the tension came moments of great fun. I drank whisky chilled with 2,000-yearold ice. I hiked up steep slopes to take in vistas of ancient glaciers ready to calve, then slid back down the other side on my bum, sans toboggan. And, of course, I stripped down to my skivvies and ran into the sea.

And then there were the penguins. Everywhere. Before the voyage, I had expected to see a few of the curious, flightless birds, but I had never anticipated their sheer number, or variety. Or cuteness. I walked past vast rookeries, thousands and thousands of gentoo or chinstrap or macaroni penguins, sitting on stone nests, warming their eggs. I kayaked past them as I circumnavigated a small, snowy place called Cuverville Island while humpback whales flashed their flukes on the horizon. I saw them on ice floes and icebergs that floated past the ship, falling like dominoes as they dove, en masse, into the sea.

And I got very close to them at Port Lockroy, a curious British outpost on a small island that is home to a colony of gentoos. Established way back in 1944, Lockroy was originally one of two original British research stations on the continent. Once an important foothold for Britannia, it now operates as a tourist attraction, complete with a gift shop that boasts a satellite uplink for processing credit cards and a red Royal Mail box for you to send your friends some very cool postcards that feature a penguin postmark.

I walked through the various rooms, most of them preserved as a museum, and chatted with Helen Annan and Sarah Auffret, two of the four women who accepted a commission to run this place during the Antarctic summer. Part of their task is to monitor the penguins, and Annan told me that this was her favourite part of the job. "I love seeing the chicks grow up and to see the whole process, from nesting to eggs to the hatching and the chicks. It's very special," she said.

Auffret agreed. "Every so often, one will be cheeky and peck at your boots. They have very human traits. They're so sweet."

And while both women conceded that they have it infinitely better than their Lockroy forebears, who in previous generations depended on seal brain omelettes and a weak signal from the BBC for survival, they admitted that the isolation could still be tough. I asked them what they missed the most. Annan thought for a long moment and said, somewhat sheepishly, "I probably should say friends and family.

But I think I miss fresh vegetables the most."

As I rode back to the Fram on a small tender boat, it all seemed a little surreal. The 2,000-year-old ice that crunched underneath the boat. The stories of hardy explorers who braved this place in a time before satellites. The ship, anchored against a backdrop of impossibly white mountains, partially sheathed in a dreamy marine fog. As I looked back on Port Lockroy, I swear that some of those penguins were moving their little wings up and down, bidding me an adorably fond farewell.

The writer travelled as a guest of Hurtigruten. It did not review or approve the article.


Hurtigruten offers a number of itineraries aboard the MV Fram, from 10-day voyages that focus on the Antarctic Peninsula to 19-day trips that include stops in the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. Prices start at $11,500 a person (based on double occupancy) for a package that includes all meals on board, landing activities and lectures from experts on the expedition team. Visit for more info.

The expedition team also hosts a number of optional excursions during landings, from kayaking and cruising on small Polarcirkel boats to an overnight camping experience that allows you to sleep in a tent on the frozen continent.

Almost any trip to Antarctica aboard the Fram will include a stopover in Buenos Aires. Housed in the former palace of one of Argentina's wealthiest families, the Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt offers opulent rooms right in the heart of Recoleta, the city's most desirable neighbourhood.

Associated Graphic

Your welcoming committee in Antarctica: vast rookeries of penguins.


For the brave at heart, Antarctica offers many opportunities to get close to nature. You can venture out in a Polarcirkel boat or kayak, or even spend a night camping on the ice.


Tired of being forgetful? You don't need personal assistants to have an organized life (though it helps). The Globe's Wency Leung talks to McGill University's Daniel Levitin to learn how a bit of neuroscience can put you on the path to clarity
Monday, August 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

You can't find your keys again. You forgot to buy milk. You were supposed to call your niece to wish her a happy birthday - three days ago.

Don't worry, you're not losing your mind. It hasn't adapted to deal with modern life, according to Daniel Levitin, neuroscientist and bestselling author of This Is Your Brain on Music.

As Levitin explains in his new book, The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, the evolution of the human brain hasn't caught up with the demands of today's world. We're now chasing deadlines instead of the quarry that will become our next meal. We're keeping track of friends and acquaintances around the world through e-mail and social media instead of focusing on relationships within a single village. And rather than having to make do with whatever the environment deals us, we're bombarded with choices at every turn, from which shampoo to buy to where to plan our next vacation.

The brain has a limited capacity to process information and juggle multiple tasks. But Levitin, a professor of psychology and behavioural neuroscience at McGill University, says we can help the brain do its job more efficiently by organizing our lives around how it functions. By using so-called brain extenders, methods that offload some of the brain's functions, we can help declutter our thoughts and sharpen memories. As Levitin discovered through interviews with high-powered executives, military leaders, Nobel laureates and artists, adopting organizational tactics to reduce the brain's workload may help us become more successful.

Evaluate the probabilities

When making big decisions, like buying a home or considering medical treatments, it can be tough to wrap your head around a deluge of numbers and statistics. You may be inclined to trust your gut feelings, but your gut does not always yield the wisest results. To better systematize your approach to decision-making, Levitin advocates using Bayesian inferencing.

Bayesian inferencing involves updating one's estimates of probabilities, based on increasingly refining the information available, he explains. Consider, for example, what the odds are that the person you just saw at your local Starbucks was the Queen. Your answer is probably close to nil. But your estimates of those chances increase if you find out the Queen is in town. And they become higher still if you know the Queen had plans to visit that very Starbucks at the very hour you were there.

Levitin says this kind of reasoning is especially important in medical decision-making. Imagine, for example, your doctor tells you that you need to take a cholesterol-lowering drug.

Most people would likely assent based on their physician's recommendation, he says. But if you were to weigh the odds of that drug having a positive effect against the odds of experiencing side effects, you might find it wiser to decide otherwise.

"What I advocate is a more active role in medical care where you would say to the doctor, 'Well, what are the chances that I'll benefit from it? How many people take this medication with no benefit?' " Levitin says. Although doctors tend to be trained to think in terms of diagnosing and treating illnesses, they are not typically trained to think probabilistically, he adds. This becomes problematic when faced with the latest treatment options with questionable odds of a cure. "The way medical care is going in this country and in other countries, I think we need to become more proactive about knowing which questions to ask and working through the answers."

Take the time to write it down

According to The Wall Street Journal, the coaching staff of the Cleveland Browns is employing an old-fashioned tactic this year to help boost the NFL team's performance; it's encouraging players to write notes on team strategies by hand. "When you write stuff down, you have a much higher chance of it getting imprinted on your brain," coach Mike Pettine told the paper.

Pettine may be on to something. A recent study in the journal Psychological Science found university students who were asked to hand-write notes during lectures were better able to answer questions based on the lectures later, compared with those who typed their notes using a laptop. The researchers suggest handwriting required the students to engage more in processing the information, selecting only the most important details, instead of mindlessly transcribing what they heard.

Levitin offers another compelling reason to dust off your pens and pencils. Writing things down conserves mental energy that you would otherwise expend fretting about forgetting them. It frees the brain from what cognitive psychologists call the "rehearsal loop," replaying an idea over and over again to remember it.

While conducting interviews with highly successful individuals for the book, Levitin was struck by how many of them use this low-tech approach. But don't settle for organizing your thoughts with notebooks and to-do lists. Levitin suggests writing them on index cards. You may, for example, have a stack of cards for daily errands, reminding you to pick up laundry, call a client and drop off your collection of Breaking Bad DVDs for a friend.

"The beauty of it is, for one thing, you can carry them in your pocket, so they're always with you," he says. And unlike lists, you can easily re-sort them, as your priorities change. He notes some people even keep separate piles of index cards for to-do items at work and for home.

Your friendships could use a reminder

A 2012 study from the University of Edinburgh found that having more Facebook friends also means having more stress. The study suggested the average Facebook user has seven different social circles - among them, friends they know offline, extended family, siblings, friends of friends and co-workers. Having these disparate circles in their Facebook network increased users' anxiety because they worried about presenting an online version of themselves that did not meet the approval of certain groups.

It's no wonder juggling your social life is stressful. Levitin notes that our ancestors, with their limited social networks, had it easy by comparison.

Today, simply trying to keep track of all the people we wish to stay connected with is a source of stress on its own.

Levitin suggests actively organizing data about your social world to allow you to have more meaningful interactions. This means taking notes when you meet new people that help you contextualize your link to them, such as who made the introduction and whether you share any hobbies, and using memory "ticklers," such as setting a reminder on your electronic calendar every few months to check in with friends if you haven't heard from them in a while.

"Organizing your social world doesn't mean you turn your social world into an algorithm," Levitin says. "The idea is to maximize the opportunities that you'll have rewarding and pro-social interactions with people."

When in doubt, toss it in a junk drawer

The chaos of a junk drawer, a catchall place to store odds and ends, may seem antithetical to creating order in your life. But Levitin says there is an important purpose for the junk drawer. It allows you to cut down on time and mental energy spent making trivial decisions.

Previous research by Sheena Iyengar, director of the global leadership program at Columbia Business School and author of The Art of Choosing, found the average American makes around 70 conscious decisions a day. It's a safe bet Canadians are faced with a similar number.

Although our brains are hardwired to create categories for all the things and ideas we encounter, there are times when deciding the right category for an item is counterproductive.

Say, for instance, your plumber gives you a tool needed to fix your garbage disposal, and asks you to hold onto it until the next time the appliance needs repairs. Instead of agonizing over the best place to put it, Levitin says, "we throw it in the junk drawer. We're not wasting more time making a decision than it's worth, and we move on with our lives."

A junk drawer needn't be just for physical odds and ends. And it needn't be their final resting place. You can set up electronic junk drawers, or miscellaneous folders, on your computer to hold hard-to-categorize documents and e-mails until you find a better place to store them. Levitin notes that his former boss kept a folder titled, "stuff I don't know where to file," and would check it periodically to review the materials in it, and sometimes create new folders for them.

Associated Graphic



Popularity in Europe hard to come by in North America
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, August 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page D1

In 1989, the Volkswagen group debuted its first turbocharged direct injection (TDI) engine at the Frankfurt Motor Show under the hood of an Audi 100. It was revolutionary, with good power and good fuel economy at 5.6 litres/100 kilometres combined.

You could say the engine was ahead of its time; nine years to be exact. Because almost a decade later, the European Union and the European Automobile Manufacturers Association would agree to lower CO2 emissions on its roads with tax exemptions that made diesel more cost-efficient than gasoline.

It would spur other car makers to develop their own diesels, which, along with the lower fuel price, would spark Europe's embrace of the diesel-powered passenger car.

Here in North America? Not so much.

As gas prices soared in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the early generation of diesel passenger cars on Canadian roads were slow, sooty and smelly, with chugging, vibrating engines that made it feel like driving a truck. As gas prices dropped, so did the public's interest in diesel.

Today, you'd be hard-pressed to differentiate a diesel from a gas-powered vehicle. There's no smell, with just a soft ticktick-tick from the engine - you don't even have to warm the glow plugs. In fact, they have more torque than comparable gas engines and are often quieter and smoother running, partly because they operate at a lower rpm than a comparable gas version. That's on top of getting 3035 per cent better real-worlddriving fuel economy. Any diesels sold in North America must meet emission standards of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the most stringent in the world.

However, you'd be hardpressed to find anyone who knows this. Diesels make up about half of all car sales in Europe, but the engine has only a 3 per cent share of the North American market. It still can't shake the perception of being agricultural, and that's something auto makers are trying to change.

Education is key and the company has proved that by hiring someone to explain diesel's virtues - in this case specifically for its fleet sales - says Darren Maloney, director of sales at Volkswagen Canada. VW is the largest seller of diesel passenger cars in North America.

"Before we had somebody dedicated to talk with [fleet owners], these companies wouldn't have considered diesel," says Maloney. "But they also think about resale value; they work on a cost-of-ownership model, and they're looking for the lowest cost of ownership over the cycle of the car. And we demonstrate that, when you combine the fuel economy and the resale value, the total cost of ownership is better than a lot of comparable gas models."

Though the diesel option adds between $1,500 and $2,500 to the price of a car, their engines are more robust and last longer.

This factors into resale value, which has proven to be better than both gasoline and hybrid cars.

VW's strategy is working. "The percentage for diesel right now is about 30 per cent of our total [Canadian] sales," Maloney says.

"Our total fleet sales are about 5 per cent, and of that number, 50 per cent are diesels. So you see they [corporate fleets] understand it a little better.

"The difficult part now is to do that to the broad consumer market out there, and to try to get that whole message across in today's market is very difficult."

In Canada, Chevrolet, Dodge, Mercedes, Audi, BMW and Volkswagen offer diesel passenger vehicles. But the strict emission regulations, along with the low sales volume, make it difficult for other manufacturers to offer diesel cars.

Nissan sells a range of diesel vehicles in Europe but, as Christian Meunier, Nissan Canada's president, says, it's not just a matter of shipping them over here. "We're looking at [the North American market]. The only thing is to make them compliant with North America [emission and vehicle safety standards]. To make it compliant, investments are very, very significant, it's not a small change, it's major, major change.

Obviously, you need a critical mass, you need to be able to sell significant volume."

The only firm plan for Nissan is a new Titan with a diesel option coming in 2016; it's also toying with a mid-sized, dieselpowered Frontier pickup concept that is being shown to dealers and others for evaluation ("They would love to have it tomorrow," Meunier says). Both are powered with engines by Cummins, which specializes in commercial applications.

Fuel prices also factor into the disparity of diesel sales between North America and Europe. Diesel was priced at a Canadian average of $1.308 on July 22, while gasoline was $1.33, according to Natural Resources Canada. The two are roughly the same these days, though diesel has been higher recently. In the United States, diesel hovers around 25 cents more per gallon than gasoline.

However in Europe, diesel fuel is generally taxed far less and is cheaper than gasoline. Recently, for example, Germany priced diesel at 1.434 ($2.073) and gasoline at 1.635 ($2.364) per litre.

Though both fuels there are far more expensive than in North America, European diesel drivers tend to see more immediate savings at the pumps.

Additionally, not every fuel station in Canada carries diesel, an inconvenience for owners. And while the cars themselves do not smell any more, the fuel still does, even the ultra-low sulphur diesel used today.

But all is not bleak for this overperforming, underappreciated powerplant. Volkswagen has seen a slow but steady rise in diesel sales for the past 10 years.

And overall diesel sales in the United States are up 25 per cent so far this year, according to Hybrid and Baum and Associates - outpacing the increase in sales of gasoline-powered vehicles. That means diesels are still in the 3-4 per cent range in overall sales, but it's a start.

The United States has set a goal for manufacturers to have a corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) of 54.5 mpg by 2025, and auto makers will be desperate to develop more fuel-efficient cars to offset the gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs they make so much profit on. Those products will spill into Canada.

But will Canadians buy them? "Canadians are very pragmatic, so there's definitely potential," says Meunier. "You see hybrids are successful in the U.S., but not so much in Canada. You need to prove your case, the emotional component is important, but it has to make sense financially."

Perhaps it will take a generational change to shift perceptions, but Maloney says that having more options available to consumers would make a difference toward changing attitudes.

"If more car makers can bring them in, then diesel cars will be more well known and it would actually help us," says Maloney.

"Those who discover diesel typically stay with it. And I think they stay with it for more than just the economic reasons."

GAS A mixture of air and gas is drawn in by the falling piston.

Piston moves up and compresses the mixture to about 1/8th to 1/12th of its original size.

The air and fuel mixture is ignited with a spark plug. It burns and expands, forcing the piston down.

The burned mixture of air and fuel (exhaust) is pushed out of the cylinder by the rising piston.

DIESEL In diesel engines ONLY air is drawn in by the falling piston.

As the piston rises, the air is compressed up to about 1/14th to 1/25th of its original size.

Deisel fuel is injected at a high pressure into the hot, compressed air in the cylinder, causing it to burn and force the piston down. No spark is required.

The burned mixture of air and fuel (exhaust) is pushed out of the cylinder by the rising piston.


Diesel passenger vehicles sold in Canada (discounting pickups): Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel; Dodge Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel; Volkswagen Golf and Golf Wagon TDI, Jetta TDI, Passat TDI, Beetle TDI, Touareg TDI; MercedesBenz GL 350 BluTEC, GLK 250 BluTEC, ML350 BlueTEC 4Mati, E250 BlueTEC; Audi Q7 TDI, Q5 3.0 TDI, A8 and A8L TDI, A7 TDI, A6 TDI; BMW X3 xDrive28d, X5 xDrive35d, 535D xDrive, 328D xDrive .

2013 U.S. diesel passenger car sales: 135,740


30-35 per cent better fuel economy over gasoline engines Stronger engine means longer life No ignition system or spark plugs to foul Better resale value than gasoline or hybrid cars More torque, operates at lower rpm


Historically higher purchase cost Fuel not available at every station

Associated Graphic


John Tory's SmartTrack: Why his big bet on transit is a real risk
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M1

Recent polls show John Tory leading the race for mayor. One big reason, his team says, is SmartTrack, his $8-billion plan to use existing rail track to create a 53-kilometre, 22-station "surface subway." When he unveiled the idea back in May, illustrated with colour-coded transit maps, he said the system could be completed in just seven years and would "break the back of the city's congestion problems."

But anybody can draw lines on a map. The key question - frankly the only question, when it comes to transit in Toronto - is how to pay for it. A close look at his funding proposal suggests that the biggest, most costly proposal in his campaign for mayor is built on a shaky foundation.

The old-fashioned way to build rapid transit in Toronto is to borrow the money and pay it back by raising property taxes. That is how the city plans to cover most of its share of the proposed Scarborough subway extension, for example.

Mr. Tory proposes something different and, in Ontario at least, so far untried. He would avoid raising property taxes and instead use a method called taxincrement financing (TIF). As he put it in prepared remarks for a speech in June, this method "would help pay upfront capital costs by capturing ahead of time the increased tax revenues from development on lands near the new stations."

One big plus for Mr. Tory is that he doesn't have to pitch tax increases during an election campaign and put a target on his back for Mayor Rob Ford and others. "I don't propose to offer hardworking Torontonians transit relief in exchange for a financial headache that could last for years," he said in his June speech.

"Therefore, I will not raise property taxes to build the SmartTrack line. The city's one-third portion will come from tax-increment financing."

But it is far from clear that TIF could work here in Toronto, especially for such a costly project.

Three recent transit studies have looked at TIF and other forms of what experts call land value capture. None has recommended making it a pillar of a transit-funding strategy. City of Toronto officials say the concept is essentially useless to them in its current form. Some experts warn that by counting on a geyser of future property tax revenue that might never materialize, Toronto could be facing a serious risk. One-third of $8-billion is $2.666-billion. That is a lot of money, however you raise it. TIF has never been used in Canada on anything like that scale. In fact, says former TTC chair Karen Stintz, who pulled out of the mayoral race this week, "there is no example of tax increment financing working to that degree anywhere." The Tory campaign counters that TIF is sound, safe, backed by a pile of research and already in use around the world.

California pioneered tax increment financing in the 1950s. Since then, it has spread to most American states. Say a city wants to redevelop a rundown part of its downtown. The city creates a TIF zone there and makes plans for improvements. It borrows money, usually by issuing bonds, to pay for those improvements. It freezes regular taxes in the zone at existing, or base, levels and uses any tax money it reaps in excess of that - the increment - to finance the debt.

The Tory campaign says the tax increment from just three areas that will be served by SmartTrack stations - Liberty Village, the East Don Lands and the downtown core - could cover the city's share of the cost.

But TIF relies on identifying new development that comes from a project. Liberty Village is pretty thoroughly developed already. So is the downtown core.

It is one thing to rebuild a blighted area and claim that the bigger tax take is due to redevelopment. It would be trickier to claim that, say, a new cluster of downtown office buildings came from a new downtown transit station, considering that downtown is already well served by transit.

And what if the development never comes? TIF is a gamble that the property-tax income will rise enough to cover the money borrowed to build the project - in this case, the SmartTrack network.

"The real danger here is that those values don't increase in the way it was predicted at the start," says Enid Slack, director of the University of Toronto's Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance. "How do you pay back the loan?" The answer, almost certainly, would be to raise property taxes, the very thing Mr. Tory has promised to avoid for SmartTrack.

New York is using a form of TIF to help pay for a $2.4-billion extension of the 7 subway line, part of a transformation of Manhattan's Far West Side. A report last year showed that revenue from new development had fallen more than $100-million short of the $283-million expected by 2012. Tax increment financing is "a promising way of financing infrastructure but it's not working out very well so far in New York," says David King, an assistant professor of urban planning at Columbia University, who has studied the subject.

Mr. Ford proposed using TIF to fund a Sheppard subway extension before city council shot that project down. The Ontario government brought in legislation in 2006 to permit the financing method. It was to be used in a pilot project to help pay for the Toronto-York subway. But the government has yet to bring in regulations to put the legislation into practice.

Toronto and Queen's Park are locked in a dispute over TIF.

The city has asked the province over and over to allow Toronto to tap into the education portion of the local property tax, which goes to Queen's Park to pay for schools. "If we don't get the province to agree to waive their portion of the property tax, will this tax mechanism work? From our perspective, no," says city manager Joe Pennachetti. "It really is going to be of no benefit from our perspective." That is because, as the city sees it, it would only be tapping into its own future revenue stream, not gaining new resources.

Mr. Pennachetti hopes the discussion about TIF in the campaign for mayor will put pressure on Queen's Park. But there is no sign of that so far. In an e-mailed statement, the Ministry of Finance said that "before considering programs to divert future revenues away from our education system to fund municipal infrastructure projects, the province will carefully study the implications."

The government, it said, was "taking a careful and prudent approach."

Even if the struggle over the education portion of the property tax could be worked out, the Tory campaign admits there is another hurdle. The Ontario legislation says municipalities must keep TIF spending in any given year below 1 per cent of their total property tax take.

The problem with earmarking any amount of future tax revenues for a particular project like SmartTrack is that those revenues won't be available for other things like filling potholes, or creating new parks for the people who live in the redeveloped area.

Canadian transit authorities have been cautious about the idea of relying on TIF to fund big transit projects. An exhaustive report from Metrolinx, the Ontario transit agency, last year recommended raising hundreds of millions of dollars a year for transit through a five-cent-a-litre tax on gas and a one percentage-point rise in the sales tax. It estimated that various types of land value capture could reap only a modest $20-million a year, though the sum could be higher with the right policies in place.

A second panel, led by Anne Golden, recommended gas taxes, listing land value capture as one of its "smaller" revenue sources. In British Columbia, the mayors of greater Vancouver issued a report this spring calling for tolls, road pricing and a share of the provincial carbon tax. It recommended looking at land value capture, too, "although it doesn't have the revenue potential of other sources."

Mr. Tory once said that "transit plans without money are almost worse than no transit plans at all because they create nothing but false hopes." Now he promises to produce $2.5-billion dollars at no cost to the ordinary taxpayer through the alchemy of tax-increment financing.

This leading candidate for mayor is just feeding more false hopes.

Associated Graphic

John Tory's SmartTrack plan, above, is an $8-billion proposal that would rely on tax increment funding, which has never been used in Canada on that scale.


Loving the Romantic Road
A trip through time to the medieval castles and ancient walled cities of Germany
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, August 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page D10

Germany's Romantic Road traces a route used by the Romans as a link to Northern Germany and by medieval merchants as a perilous but wealthbuilding trade route.

For today's drivers, it charts a path through some of the most well-preserved historic architecture in Europe. Stretching 385 kilometres from Wurzburg in the Franconian region to Fussen in southern Bavaria, the road connects more than 20 historic towns, several still entered through the gates of their original walls.

Visitors of the past would have approached by foot, horse or donkey, while we drive the Autobahn and other modern highways. But on the side roads leading to these towns, it is possible to catch a glimpse of what approaching mendicants and merchants would have seen centuries ago. We have the Thirty Years' War to thank. Historians say this region was so devastated economically by fighting between Protestants and Catholics in the 17th century that it remained long neglected as a contender for urban renewal.

Marienberg Fortress in Wurzburg

We start our journey in a rented Ford Focus wagon in Wurzburg, the northern most spot on the Romantic Road, 120 kilometres southeast of the Frankfurt Airport. Here, the ancient Marienberg castle looms large over vineyards sloping down to the Main River, an imposing fortress that has stood the test of time. Erected in 1201 by a prince-bishop on the remains of a Celtic palace, it has been besieged by angry peasants (1525), Swedes (1661), the French (1796) and Prussians (1866). The most recent bombardment came from Allied planes during the Second World War. Throughout the centuries, the fortress was repaired and renovated. But some of the original castle remains, and an eighthcentury church still stands. Visiting its museums containing early Christian art and exhibits about the history of wine-making is worthwhile.

The Wurzburg Residence

We venture on foot across a pedestrian bridge at the bottom of the hill to marvel at the eighthcentury masonry and rebuilt statuary on our way to visit the Residential Palace, built in the 18th century when the bishops tired of hilltop living. It is replete with famous frescoes, lush furnishings and well-manicured gardens. Most interesting are photographs showing what the place looked like after Allied bombs hit Wurzburg in the closing weeks of the war, killing 5,000 people. The exhibit provides a detailed account of what is original in the residence and what has been painstakingly restored.

Unspoiled landscape

We head south on the A7, where the challenge is trying to stay out of the way of high-performance German cars - there's no speed limit on most of the Autobahn - while not getting trapped behind the massive transport trucks that populate the slow lane. But while the highways and cars are new, the scenes flashing by are literally as old as the hills - lush greenery interrupted by squares of yellow grain, patches of sunflowers, red-roofed villages and vineyards full of the Sylvaner grapes that have made the region famous for wine. We spot church spires, ancient monasteries and castle keeps in the distance, rising up to bright white clouds.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

The road takes us up out of the Tauber River valley to Rothenburg, 64 kilometres south of Wurzburg. It prides itself on being the best-preserved medieval town in Germany and with its wall and towers intact, it does not disappoint. We enter by driving over a moat-spanning bridge through Spital Bastion, one of six gates to the city. While it is amazing to drive over a moat, we soon learn that it's best to park outside the gates. The "best-preserved" marketing slogan has resulted in tour buses and a sea of visitors. Rothenburg, while busy, does not feel overrun and we enjoy gawking at the rare surviving architecture, tasting unique confections and marvelling at the infinite variety of lederhosen-clad animal statues available for souvenirs. A sobering fact is that Adolf Hitler loved this town, too, and was a big promoter of tours to let his followers experience quintessential Germanity. Though parts were damaged during the war, the medieval gem was spared complete destruction by a German commander who, against Hitler's instructions, surrendered when the Allies threatened to bomb it flat. Today it has a Jewish memorial garden.

Castle Colmberg

Rothenburg offers rooms in charming guesthouses, but we choose to head 18 kilometres east through cornfields on a twisty side road that leads uphill to Castle Colmberg. First mentioned in documents in the 1300s, the castle has been privately owned since 1880. A local family bought it in 1964 and opened it as a hotel. Much of the building is original, as the castle was never taken in one of the many wars that ravaged the area. Panoramic views and period furnishing - including two rooms with antique canopy beds of carved wood - give you a mental break from the 21st century. The landscaped courtyard is a great place to splurge for a gourmet dinner that includes venison hunted on the castle grounds and wine made locally from Silvaner and MullerThurgau grapes of the region.

Dinkelsbuhl and Nordlingen

After breakfast, we head back to the A7 for a 50-kilometre hop to Dinkelsbuhl, another walled city. It was built on the site of a court of a Frankish king and fortified before 1000 as a resting place on trading routes that stretched from Worms to Prague and from the Baltic to Italy. You can drive across the moat and under a magnificent entrance arch, but again, it is advisable to park outside the gate. Dinkelsbuhl is not crowded, but the rules on parking are confusing if you don't speak German. We wander through the cobblestone streets peeking into churches and ogling the half-timbered houses with their lush window boxes. For lunch, we opt for an outdoor table in one of the many restaurants and feast on locally raised fish. Then it's on to Nordlingen, 31 kilometres to the south, site of the Carolinian court from the ninth century and another important medieval trading centre. We hike the covered walkway at the top of the circular wall, peeking through narrow openings in the thick stones where watchmen once stood guard. There are fewer tourists here and we have the passageway to ourselves.


Our next stop is Augsburg, 72 kilometres southeast on B25. The third-largest city in Bavaria, it started as a Roman military camp and provincial capital of the empire. The main street, Maximilianstrasse, is said to follow the path of the Via Claudia Augusta, which connected the city to Verona in Roman times. With so many churches, museums and important buildings on offer, it's hard to decide what to do in one afternoon. We pick the birthplace of Leopold Mozart, now a museum dedicated to the illustrious musical family, and the famous Rathaus, a testament to how wealthy the city had become by the Renaissance. The Goldener Saal earns its name, as the ceremonial room (reconstructed after the war) is covered in gold leaf and paintings from top to bottom. Before leaving, we visit the Red Gate, once a main entrance to the city, now the site of an open air opera festival.

Castle Neuschwanstein

Highway 17 takes us to the foothills of the Alps and we find ourselves in a Bavarian wonderland of green meadows dotted with wooden hay shacks and wildflowers, the cloud-shrouded mountains looming beyond. The air is even fresher here and the drivers more relaxed. That's good, because in scenery this spectacular, it takes discipline to keep your eyes on the road. Then, about 100 kilometres from Augsburg, it comes into view, a mirage-like presence perched on a mountaintop far from civilization. Ludwig II, Germany's "fairytale king," built the castle in the 19th century as a place to escape from his real-world duties, be as eccentric as he pleased and pretend to live in a place populated by early German heroes such as Lohengrin, Tannhauser, Parzifal and Siegfried, whose stories are told in murals covering the inside walls. The climb from the parking lot is steep, and we're herded through the castle on an Englishlanguage tour that goes too fast. But if the word "romantic" connotes something set apart from everyday life, then the mad king's Neuschwanstein is the epitome of romantic and a fitting point to end a trip on the Romantic Road.


Gallery More photos from the Romantic Road.

Associated Graphic

Dinkelsbuhl was built on the site of a court of a Frankish king.

Rothenburg claims to be the best preserved medieval town in Germany.

Tech-savvy brides and grooms are urging guests to live-blog their nuptials. Others are demanding the big day remains unplugged. Zosia Bielski explores the divide among a generation raised on the Internet
Friday, August 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

If they forgot, the bridesmaids and groomsmen could always check their socks.

On the bottom of this customized, polkadot hosiery, bride and groom Lauren and Ryan Cohen had printed some vital information for their wedding this past June: #RyLovesLoLo. It was the hashtag the couple had picked for their nuptials - "Lolo" being Lauren's nickname. Guests were encouraged to amass snapshots and videos to post to social media under this hashtag, documenting for the busy bride and groom how their big day was unfolding in "real time," as the bride put it.

In the end, there were 113 references to #RyLovesLoLo online, a resounding success: "It just brought the whole evening together on Instagram, which we both absolutely love," said Lauren Cohen, a 27year-old advertising account manager in Toronto.

People Instagram their food and what they look like in the morning; it should follow that they'd want to catalogue every bit of nuptial minutiae as it happens. The customized hashtag is suddenly ubiquitous at weddings, allowing couples to collate everybody's photos, videos, congratulatory tweets and inebriated overheards in one place on the Internet. People are now enlisting wedding planners to brainstorm catchy hashtags.

The specialized hashtags are then broadcast from "wedding websites" in advance, displayed prominently on signs erected at ceremonies, or pressed into invitations and place-card holders - all a nudge for guests to serve as photographers and narrators of the big bash.

But with social media still relatively new terrain in the wedding-industrial complex, two camps have emerged: those who photograph, hashtag and post everything, and those who are going unplugged, pushing back against a sea of devices glowing down the aisle.

These camps stand firmly divided on what brides and grooms gain and what they lose when they encourage a communal recording and broadcasting of the entire day.

Social mores emerge and diverge at weddings, with nuptials often serving as a cultural litmus test. In this case, it's how a generation feels about the place of social media in their lives.

There are brides and grooms who feel it brings everyone together and others who believe it alienates guests from each other.

When you focus more on sharing the moment than the moment itself, what do you experience and what do you miss?

Kristin MacKenzie left her own phone in the hotel room on her wedding day this May but encouraged guests to post under #kpmmwedding, which fused her initials with her husband's.

"People used to put cameras on the table. I love having the scrapbook online. It turns a wedding into one big giant conversation," said MacKenzie, a 24year-old seminary student at the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax.

MacKenzie said her guests knew better than to snap photos or tweet during the traditional Anglican ceremony, whipping out their phones only at the party.

"There is a balance to be struck between actually having experiences and recording them," she said.

"We watch concerts through our phones. We take so long logging everything that we miss out. But with a wedding, there's a balance to be had for taking the day in but also having these records."

Ceremonies remain sancrosant for many guests, brides and grooms, who prefer them iPadfree. In July, Kimberlee McCormack was married in an unplugged ceremony at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music. Ahead of the vows, her wedding planner took the stage to request no smartphone photos, videos or social-media updates.

"It was an intimate setting. We wrote our own vows. It was really important for us to have everyone present," said McCormack, a 29-year-old account director at an advertising firm.

As a result of the tech ban, McCormack feels the audience was more attentive: "The quiet was what really surprised us. Everyone was looking at us. I've never seen that before at any wedding I've been to."

Jen Doll, author of the recent book Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest, advocates for fewer rules of any kind for guests. She believes both plugged and unplugged weddings have drawbacks. At nuptials heavily mediated by Instagram, Twitter, Vine and Facebook, guests lose out on "unscripted conversations" as their focus shifts downward to their phones. With outright tech bans, guests are probably distracted anyway by thoughts of what they're missing on those phones.

In both the plugged and unplugged camps, Doll sees a common element of "control mechanism."

Couples can sculpt their image by forbidding photos, videos and tweets, publishing only the best shots through their own wedding photographer, or they can shape their new personal brand as a unit through social media.

"Brides and grooms have paid the money and tried to orchestrate it to make it perfect," Doll says in an interview from Brooklyn, N.Y.

"If someone comes in, takes an unflattering photo and decides to put it on the Internet, it can feel like everything is ruined."

She remembers a time before weddings became a "manufactured environment," when our parents' nuptials were shot haphazardly with Polaroid cameras and even wedding photographers didn't enter the frame.

"Part of this is about how excessive weddings have gotten in recent times," says Doll. "It's everybody's opportunity to be a celebrity."

Meg Keene, the editor-in-chief of the wedding-planning website A Practical Wedding, is a "superbig fan" of device-free nuptials.

"I dislike the narrative that you're being crazy or demanding if you ask for an unplugged ceremony," Keene said in an interview from Oakland, Calif.

"Now every single person has a device and we're all so trained - if it's only even vaguely meaningful - to take a picture. Who wants to walk down the aisle to a whole bunch of smartphones in their faces?" No one gripes more against the hashtagged wedding than professional photographers.

Steve Koopman, who runs Unveiled Photography with his wife Katie in Kingston, Ont., rattles off a list of "frustrating scenarios," including "massive iPads being substituted for heads" in the audience during a ceremony.

More disappointing is the dynamic he sees playing out between family members who haven't seen each other in years: Instead of being together, they're hunched over their phones posting wedding content "in what often appears to be a competition to see who does it first."

Koopman's advice is undeniably appealing: "Sit back, have a drink, relax. Live in the moment. Don't worry. We've got you covered."


Lizzie Post is the great-greatgranddaughter of manners maven Emily Post, and co-author of Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette, which was updated in January with social-media rules for nuptials. In an interview from Burlington, Vt., Post offered these dos and don'ts: .

Timing is everything

Post dissuades brides (and grooms) from oversharing wedding plans using a hashtag in the weeks and months leading up to the big day. "It's not that fun for all the people who follow you on social media who aren't invited." Day of, guests should respect the hosts' wishes, if they wish to post their own content first. And never - ever - post photos of the bride before she walks down the aisle. "You don't want someone scooping your story," says Post. "Give the bride and groom a chance to post something on their own."

Location, location, location

For the hosts: Do not emblazon the hashtag on the invitation - that's just tacky. "It's not the place for it," says Post. "The invitation is the one place where we focus entirely on the guests. It's about letting them know that their presence is welcome." As for Instagramming by hashtag-happy guests, "It's really important that you don't lean in front of the photographer to get the photo," says Post. "Out of respect, he's the professional. You're messing up the bride and groom's shot."

Liquid courage

If you've taken it upon yourself to catalogue the evening's hilarity on Twitter, watch the booze. "Guests can get too caught up in it. Next thing they know they've posted something hurtful or inappropriate," says Post. "I'm thinking of a situation at a wedding a number of years ago. The person at the table next to me wasn't enjoying herself. She spelled out 'F me' on her dinner plate using vegetables, and posted that."

Associated Graphic


Kristin MacKenzie used #KPMMWedding to get her friends and family to post their photos and thoughts on Instagram and Twitter.


A life story that read like a movie script
A 'simple how-do-you' launched a Hollywood love story, and a remarkable career
The Associated Press
Thursday, August 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S8

NEW YORK -- Lauren Bacall had one of those incredible lives.

The wife and co-star of Humphrey Bogart. A Tony Award-winning actress. A National Book Award-winning author. A fashion icon. A friend of the Kennedys.

One of the last survivors of Hollywood's studio age. A star almost from the moment she appeared on screen to the day she died, on Tuesday at the age of 89, at a New York hospital.

"Stardom isn't a career," Ms.

Bacall once observed, "it's an accident."

What a lucky accident it turned out to be.

Her career was one of great achievement and some frustration. She received a Golden Globe and an honorary Oscar and appeared in scores of film and TV productions. But not until 1996 did she receive an Academy Award nomination - as supporting actress for her role as Barbra Streisand's mother in The Mirror Has Two Faces. Although a sentimental favourite, she was beaten by Juliette Binoche for her performance in The English Patient.

Ms. Bacall would outlive her first husband by more than 50 years, but never outlived their legend, which began in their first movie together, To Have or Have Not, when she uttered to him one of the most sultry lines in movie history (in part because of her come-hither delivery): "You don't have to say anything, and you don't have to do anything.

Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow."

They became "Bogie and Bacall" - the hard-boiled couple who could fight and make up with the best of them. They were A-list glamour and B-movie danger. Unlike Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, Mr. Bogart and Ms. Bacall were not a story of opposites attracting but of kindred, smouldering spirits. She was less than half Mr. Bogart's age, yet as wise, and as jaded, as he was. They threw all-night parties, laughed at the snobs, palled around with Frank Sinatra and others and formed a gang of California carousers known as the Holmby Hills Rat Pack.

After Mr. Bogart's death, she continued to forge her own distinct path. On television, in films, in her books, she was blunt, sardonic, demanding, loyal. Pity anyone who knocked Mr. Bogart, crossed one of her friends or voted Republican.

She was born Betty Joan Perske in New York, the daughter of Jewish immigrants living in the Bronx. Her parents divorced when Betty was 8, and her mother took Bacal, part of her maiden name, as their new surname; Betty added the extra "L" when she became an actress.

At first she dreamed of becoming a dancer, but thought herself too "gawky" and acting became her ambition. She studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and played a few walk-on roles in Broadway plays.

She was 18 when Diana Vreeland, the famed editor of Harper's Bazaar, recognized that the slender, long-limbed young actress was ideal for fashion modelling. Nancy (Slim) Hawks, the fashionable wife of film director Howard Hawks, then recommended the beautiful young woman to her husband for the big screen. Ms. Bacall went to Hollywood under a contract and her first film, To Have and Have Not, came out 1944.

In her memoir, By Myself, she wrote of meeting Mr. Bogart: "There was no thunderbolt, no clap of thunder, just a simple how-do-you-do." She was just 19. On her first day of filming, her hands were shaking so much that she couldn't manage a simple scene of lighting a cigarette. "I realized that one way to hold my trembling head still was to keep it down, chin almost to my chest and eyes up at Bogart. It worked, and turned out to be the beginning of 'The Look,' " she later wrote.

Work quickly led to romance.

Their quarter-century age difference (he called her "Baby") failed to deter them, but Mr. Bogart was still married to his third wife, mercurial actress Mayo Methot.

She was persuaded to divorce him in Reno, and the lovers were married on May 21, 1945.

The couple made three more movies together, and bantered best in the classic adaptation of Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep. She took time out from working to bear two children (son Stephen and daughter Leslie), and to accompany her husband as they roughed it in Africa for The African Queen, which costarred Mr. Bogart and Ms. Hepburn.

Ms. Bacall also became active politically, joining her husband in protesting against the Hollywood blacklist of suspected Communists and campaigning for Democrats. Few could forget the picture of her slouched on top of a piano, legs bare and dangling, with Harry Truman, then the U.S. vice-president, seated at the keys.

But the party began to wind down in 1956, when Mr. Bogart was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. For the next 10 months, his wife rarely left home in the evening. She organized late-afternoon cocktail parties where such friends as Mr. Sinatra, David Niven, Ms. Hepburn and Mr. Tracy buoyed her husband's spirits with jokes and gossip.

On the night of Jan. 14, 1957, he grabbed her arm and muttered, "Goodbye, kid." He died early the next morning at the age of 57. "At the time of his death, all I wanted ... was to believe that my life would continue," she told The Guardian newspaper in 2005.

Ms. Bacall later had a brief, disastrous engagement to Mr. Sinatra and a troubled, eight-year marriage to Jason Robards Jr., another leading actor, with whom she had a son, Sam.

Professionally, she thrived on the stage and remained busy in films. She won Tonys for the Broadway musicals Applause (1970) and Woman of the Year, the latter a 1981 production in which she revived the role immortalized by her friend Ms. Hepburn on screen. She was also memorably obstinate in an all-star film adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express (1974), co-starred with long-time friend Anjelica Huston in Mr. North (1988), and appeared in Lars von Trier's Dogville (2003) and Robert Altman's Prêt-à-Porter (1994). In recent years, Ms. Bacall played herself in a brief cameo for television's The Sopranos, in which she cursed out a robber and was rewarded with a punch in the face.

Ms. Bacall was also a writer, and in 1980 won a National Book Award for the first of her two autobiographies, Lauren Bacall: By Myself.

Although often called a legend, she did not care for the word.

"It's a title and category I am less than fond of," she wrote in 1994 in Now, her second autobiography. "Aren't legends dead?" She also expressed impatience, especially in her later years, with the public's continuing fascination with her romance with Mr.

Bogart, even though she frequently said that their 12-year marriage was the happiest period of her life.

"I think I've damn well earned the right to be judged on my own," she said in a 1970 interview with The New York Times. "It's time I was allowed a life of my own, to be judged and thought of as a person, as me."

Years later, however, she seemed resigned to being forever tied to Mr. Bogart. "My obit is going to be full of Bogart, I'm sure," she told Vanity Fair magazine in a profile of her in March, 2011, adding: "I'll never know if that's true. If that's the way, that's the way it is."

In the 1940s, she became friends with William Faulkner when he was writing scripts for Mr. Hawks. One of her prized possessions was a copy of Mr. Faulkner's Nobel Prize acceptance speech on which he wrote that she was not one who was satisfied with being just a pretty face, "but rather who decided to prevail."

"Notice he didn't write 'survive,' " she told Parade magazine in 1997. "Everyone's a survivor.

Everyone wants to stay alive.

What's the alternative? See, I prefer to prevail."

Associated Graphic

Lauren Bacall, shown at her New York home in 1965, knew she would be remembered mainly as Humphrey Bogart's partner, off and on the screen.


Lauren Bacall won the attentions of Vice-President Harry Truman in a 1945 visit to the National Press Club canteen in Washington.

Will Entrepreneur Barbie inspire girls to get an MBA? Wency Leung sizes up the new role models in the toy aisle
Friday, August 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

Think of your favourite childhood toys. What do they say about who you are today? Did you play with Barbie dolls?

Were you into trucks? Did you throw makebelieve tea parties? Or were Transformers more your style?

For years, parents have voiced concerns about the stark gender division in the toy aisles. Now manufacturers are taking note of their outcry. But rather than knock down gender walls, they have created a new space on the shelf, with toys that depict female characters in traditionally maledominated roles. Lego's latest laboratory set comes with a cast of all-female scientist figurines, Disney's Doc McStuffins doll comes with her own stethoscope and medical bag, Mattel's new Entrepreneur Barbie is equipped with a smartphone, briefcase and tablet. And fledgling construction-kitmaker GoldieBlox features a fictional girl inventor and a mission "to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers."

But do toys actually influence a child's future? Can Lego encourage children to seek careers in science and engineering? Can Entrepreneur Barbie motivate girls to pursue executive roles? And why, for that matter, do toys even need jobs?

Ellen Kooijman, a Stockholm-based scientist who designed the new all-female "Lego Ideas Research Institute" set, remembers playing with Lego from age 4. With their limitless combinations, the multicoloured bricks stimulated her creativity, spatial visualization and problem-solving abilities - skills, she says, that have translated well to her career as a geochemist.

But as Lego evolved from simple building blocks to specially themed sets, such as Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings and the controversial, pastelcoloured Friends line marketed to girls, Kooijman, now 32, found that her own image was missing in her beloved childhood toy.

"I had noticed a lack of female mini-figures in interesting professions in the available Lego sets," she said in an e-mail, explaining her motivation to design and submit her own figurines to the Danish toy maker.

The resulting laboratory set, released this month, has become an instant hit, generating overwhelming applause from parents thrilled at seeing a deviation from stereotypes. It sold out almost immediately on Lego's online shop.

With its gunpowder-grey packaging, the all-female lab set stands out among the sea of pink toys. Kooijman says the main goal was to pique the interest of both girls and boys, though she adds: "Of course, if it also inspires girls to pursue a career in science that's great."

Increasing the presence of women in male-dominated fields obviously involves far more than having girls play with Lego and Doc McStuffins dolls. Nonetheless, toys and games may, in fact, have a greater role in shaping us than we might think.

In a recent study, Aurora Sherman, an associate professor of psychology at Oregon State University, found that playing with Barbies can limit girls' career aspirations. Notably, it didn't matter whether it was a traditional "fashion" Barbie or a doctor Barbie from Mattel's moderncareers collection.

Sherman's research, involving 37 girls aged four to seven, showed the results were the same: Participants who played with the doll for as little as five minutes saw fewer career options for themselves than for boys. (In contrast, those who played with a Mrs. Potato Head doll felt they could do the same number of jobs as they thought boys could.)

"That was one of the things that surprised me about our data," Sherman says, noting she had expected a professional Barbie might encourage the girls in her study to have more expansive ideas about career choices.

Although her research did not test why the doctor Barbie failed to inspire her young participants, Sherman speculates the sexualized dimensions of the doll, its carefully crafted brand image, or some aspects of her getup (Doctor Barbie came in pink glittery jeans and a lowcut scrubs shirt) may override its professional persona.

According to Mattel, the original Barbie, which made its debut in 1959, was inspired by cutout paper dolls. But over the past 30 years, Sherman notes, toys have changed drastically, allowing for less open-ended play. Companies now promote the sale of single-use toys, with dolls and play sets depicting specific jobs or scenarios.

"I do think that Mattel is very slick and clever in paying some attention to parental desire for [inspirational] playthings for their girls," Sherman says.

"What I am concerned about is whether the costuming actually does anything to provide a better role-model experience for girls."

Gender stereotypes seem to have a way of spilling over into child's play, regardless of parents' intentions. Larry Cohen, a Massachusetts-based psychologist and the author of Playful Parenting, is a proponent of letting boys and girls explore a range of toys and games. Yet he remembers finding his own daughter, around the age of five, pretending to be a princess in need of rescue.

"It was very funny because she was very confident and powerful, and her friend was a boy who was rather timid. And yet, they played where she was the damsel in distress ... and he was the powerful, heroic, rescuing prince," Cohen recalls. "This was just the script they were given."

So how concerned should parents be if their children insist on playing to stereotype?

"I don't think it's an absolute disaster," Cohen says, noting that many successful, liberalminded adults played with Barbies. His daughter, he adds, ended up majoring in gender studies. "But I think as parents, we can just help expand the possibilities."

Karen McKenna, co-author of Games2Careers: Career Success Is Child's Play, agrees parents probably needn't be too concerned if their daughters refuse to give up their dolls or their sons won't part with their action figures. In fact, she thinks they may be wise to pay close attention to - and even encourage - those interests.

McKenna believes individual children are naturally drawn to certain types of toys and games. Career counsellors, including herself, often rely on the Holland Code model, a system developed by the late U.S. psychologist John Holland that helps people identify suitable careers by categorizing them into six general interest groups.

Those who are classified as "realistic," for instance, are practical and systematic and may like to build things, while those who are "social" are generous, patient and enjoy working in groups.

McKenna says these interests begin to emerge in toddlers, and tend to stay with people throughout their lives. A child who loves playing with puzzles, for example, would likely enjoy problem-solving as an adult, while a child who likes pretending to teach stuffed animals may very well enjoy a career that involves helping others, she says.

Although she recognizes that some toys do perpetuate gender stereotypes, she believes children have a knack for using whatever playthings are at their disposal to suit their own needs.

"They'll find a way. They'll make up their own game, or they'll do something, create something themselves that will allow them to express that interest."


The marketing of toys along gender lines is not just a concern for girls. Here, the parents of boys weigh in: .

"I am mother to a seven-yearold son. From the time he was two, James naturally gravitated to trucks and anything ocean-related. My husband and I have always tried to provide him with options without regard for stereotype, but he has almost always chosen toys that are often characterized as male specific. Sadly, most of these toys relate to the sciences - they should be gender neutral. Why aren't toys made more in a rainbow of colours instead of blue or pink?" - Laurie Dolhan, Halifax

"My youngest son, Cameron, is now eight. He has an older brother, 13, and an older sister, 18, which means he has inherited a fantastic collection of toys. But Barbie fascinated him from age three. He made fast friends with the girls down the street, once they discovered the treasure trove in our basement. Cam has amazed me with his ability to understand something adults struggle with: that his choice of playthings does not determine who he is as a person, and who he will become. He'll decide that, all in good time." - Cheryl Biswas, Toronto .

These comments have been condensed and edited.

Associated Graphic


The Disney doll Doc McStuffins comes with her own stethoscope and medical bag.


In praise of ugly
Many current trends belie traditional notions of beauty. What's behind our attraction to the garish?
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, August 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L11

It only takes putting "jolie laide" into Google images to realize our threshold for "ugliness" is subjective. Seriously, when Cate Blanchett and Charlotte Gainsbourg are considered beautiful despite their "ugliness," what hope do we mortals have?

That said, these days, the features we may have traditionally considered "laide" are edging out the "jolie." And not just in a Hollywood where Damian Lewis (a redhead) and Claire Danes (an "ugly crier") are two of the hottest stars on TV. Look around you. Skyscrapers are getting gaudier. Heritage plaques are being slapped on brutalist concrete high-rises that once inspired dystopian thrillers. Overalls, running shoes and asymmetric hair are back in Vogue. Lurid colours are creeping into our homes, and wood panelling, once the punchline of basement decor, is rather considered the last word in decorating chic.

What's so attractive about ugly? And why now? Some would say the world has become so sanitized that the only way to truly stand out is with gritty realism: a shocking dye job and a vile tattoo, accessorized with a pug. We find normalcy, even beauty, in that and push still further. We've become so tolerant of difference, it is increasingly acceptable to express a little Mr. Hyde with your Dr. Jekyll personality and find appreciation for it. All this ugliness? With some knowledge and a lot of exposure, it grows on you. Like a pop tune with an irresistible beat, an image, however unpleasant, with a little familiarity will breed content.

Here are a few trends that are doing just that.


The explanation: You can't swing an architecture award without hitting a new Zaha Hadid building. But is her work beautiful? Some would say no. Alex Josephson, co-founder of the architecture practice Partisans, reckons advancements in technology have allowed architects to mimic organic shapes in a "drive toward things that look foreign, toward something that looks as if it's growing ..." This is the "new grotesque," says Josephson: beautifully alien in a way that causes people to recoil from the unfamiliar. He cites Barcelona's most famous architect, Antoni Gaudi.

"His name became a malicious term - gaudy. He was interested in discovering new territory, questioning classical orders." We all know how Gaudi rates today.

Many see the concrete monoliths of Brutalism as the worst architectural period in history, but Josephson is more partial to it than the white-box modernism that followed. "The Brutalists had a willingness to explore the unfamiliar, and if you're lucky enough to create something unfamiliar enough - what an amazing thing," he says. "If I made something so unfamiliar that people across the world panned it, would that not also be some form of success? "

The example: Days before Zaha Hadid unveiled her latest design for the Tokyo Olympic stadium her Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, an undulating white triumph on the edge of downtown Baku, Azerbaijan, won the prestigious Design of the Year award from London's Design Museum.


The explanation: In his 2007 treatise How to Be Ugly, graphic designer Michael Bierut heralded the move against refined taste: "We can take taste, precision and understatement ... and shove them." His predictions were spot on. Design is going through a punk phase and critics have extolled ugliness over pretty.

In May, Meredith Mendelsohn wrote in The Wall Street Journal about the "cabinet of curiosities" approach to decorating as a way to showcase uncommon taste: "When almost everything around you is mass-produced and artificial, an intricate branch of coral, an elk's sinuous antlers or even a crustacean's alien shell can hold a powerful allure."

"People on the whole are seeking authenticity, whether it be in graphic realism or in the handmade craftsman's world," says Christine Chang Hanway, who writes for design blog Remodelista. "This stylized 'ugly design' ... has been very much influenced by filmmakers like Wes Anderson and Baz Luhrmann - both very visual and lush in their own ways."

The example: Mendelsohn referred to weird pottery by the Haas Brothers, designing twins from Los Angeles whose works include a pair of cast bronze, two-metre-tall penises and a California Raisin sofa made of black vermiculated leather. Meanwhile, University of Toronto-based designer Benjamin Dillenberger uses 3-D printing techniques to twist masses of sandstone into "new grotesque" grottos that look menacingly alive. How can we see beauty in that? "Suspension of disbelief," advises Alex Josephson of Partisans. "Ugly and beautiful is not a linear relationship."


The explanation: Paula Taylor, a colour specialist with Graham & Brown, suggests the appeal of lurid colour may be tied to economic anxiety. "It's a reaction to our need for a brighter future in the current climate," she says.

"We tend to surround ourselves with colour and pattern when the rest of the world looks a little weary." But her company's swing toward brash 1960s holdover - the orange-brown Trippy wallcovering has American Hustle written all over it - is likely a result of the current handicraft theme in home decor. "The handcrafted feel to this look lends itself to the hippie sixties and seventies - crochet, macramé and traditional appliqué," she says, throwing in the current attraction to nomadic references that's hot this season.

The example: A decade ago, Scottish outfit Timorous Beasties launched a Glasgow Toile that recreated striking urban scenes (a thug pees al fresco in one block) instead of pastoral ones. Since then, the designers have explored Rorschach test patterns and last year launched a garish Omni Splatt fabric that resembles an aviary caught in the crossfire.

You can't ignore it, then you realize you don't want to. Knoll launched a similarly splodgy fabric pattern this year called Arezzo, based on the fashion of Alexander McQueen, a trailblazer in hideous beauty.


The explanation: When "normcore" (dressing like a tourist) emerged as a fashion theme this year, we should have seen the trend for hideous rubber-soled shoes coming. Yet the popularity of Nike pool slides was a pleasant surprise for the orthopedic set.

Jezebel writer Kelly Faircloth says her big summer footwear purchase was a pair of Kork-Ease, "which look like something stolen from a retirement community and wheeze gently when I walk. And they were right in the front of the store, not tucked away in the back of Sears." She reckons the trend began as simply "something we haven't tried."

Although, she says, Birkenstocks were likely the gateway. "Everyone loves comfortable shoes, but for several summers sandals have been no-support cardboard garbage. So the minute news of the Birks trend began to trickle out, everyone treated it as permission for a free-for-all."

Lisa Tant, vice-president of exclusive services at Holt Renfrew, agrees. "It really comes down to comfort. After so many years of suffering in exceptionally high platform sandals, women are making comfort their top priority."

The examples: Labels such as Givenchy and Prada - proponents of the "ugly" trend in fashion - took it to an extreme this summer with their own versions of sporty pool slides. And they are the ones, says Tant, that are selling at Holts.


The explanation: With oversized Terry Richardson aviators a universal sartorial trope, homely retro frames seem here to stay.

According to Bob Karir, who supplies Torontonians with chunky, oversized frames in intense shades from his Karir Eyewear boutiques, the trend began not with the hipster tribe but with creative types looking to fashion a personal brand. "They don't want to hide behind them," Karir says. "They use glasses to show they have something special."

But just as likely, they demonstrate a yearning for authenticity in a world awash in uniformity. In his review of the book Pretty Ugly: Visual Rebellion in Design, British journalist Rick Poynor wrote: "The complexity and awkwardness of form is a means of projecting the authentic human element ... it is certainly a vital gesture of defiance against the curbed ambitions and conformity of so much market-led design."

The example: "I'm intrigued and a little entertained by the challenge of wearing ugly, old-lady things and making them kind of hot," says Sara Moshurchak, the Vancouver optician behind Eyeland Framemakers whose handmade MOSH range allows a genuine expression of self that becomes a distinct selling point.

At the galleries
Exhibitions across the country celebrate the creative and cultural diversity of painters, photographers and multimedia artists
Thursday, August 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L5

Inside the museums infinity goes up on trial/ Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while. - Bob Dylan Visions of Johanna (1966)

You don't see the word "beauty" or "beautiful" very much in current writing about art. Writers, reviewers and critics seem to find the notion of "the beautiful" as vague, soppy, old-fashioned, even faintly reactionary. Better, to their minds, to talk about "practice," "gesture," "discourse," "conceptual strategies," "the urban semiotic," "relational aesthetics" and other theory-laden, sentiment-averse concepts.

Still, there's a lot of beauty out there. If, that is, you don't get too highfalutin' about rigorously defining the beautiful and see it instead as being about the way a thing should appear, sound, read - be it a painting, an art installation, a performance by Marina Abramovic, a recording by Swans or the Beatles, or a James Salter sentence with just the right simile. Of course, one person's thing possessing this poise of intellect and feeling, body and mind, agitation and consolation may, could, to another pair of eyes or ears, be kitsch, an utter muddle.

The beauty of beauty is that, yes, it is in the eye of the beholder. But that shouldn't be so much the end of the matter as the beginning: While opinions and judgments can be held in a democratic society, they should also be defended and maybe, in that process, even changed. Who knew? Celebrating beauty - articulating it, debating it, engaging with it - is duty of citizenship.

Anyhow, one of the best places to experience beauty or to hone your notions of the beautiful is the art gallery, in either of its public or commercial incarnations. If a house is a machine for living in, a gallery's a machine for the manufacture of beauty and meaning. Here are four exhibitions, continuing or upcoming, in locations across Canada with that "sacred touch of beauty."

Vivian Maier: Photographs of Children Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto, through Sept. 13

Undiscovered until after her death at 83 in 2009, Vivian Maier is now recognized as one of the greats of modern street photography, someone to be spoken of in the same breath as Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander and Helen Levitt. Reclusive, secretive, mysterious, Maier spent most of her adult years as a nanny, working mostly in Chicago and New York. Unsurprisingly, children frequently found their way into the viewfinder of her Rolleiflex. A selection of 53 of Maier's photographs of kids, drawn from Chicagoan Jeffrey Goldstein's extensive collection, is currently on exhibition and for sale in Toronto.

W.C. Fields once recommended that adult actors "never work with children or animals." Here, Maier embraces and realizes Fields' worst nightmare: working with a charming preschooler and not one but two mutts to prove cute can be beautiful in New York (Girl with Puppies) (1950).

Indigenous Ingenuity Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, through Oct. 19

Art-making by contemporary First Nations creators has achieved a cultural centrality that it didn't have even a decade ago, when it was ghettoized in public institutions and aboriginal-themed commercial galleries.

This ambitious exhibition, drawn from the Whyte's own resources and those of several private and public collections, features more than 100 works in seemingly every idiom, including painting, installation, audio-visual and sculpture, from artists living and dead, famous and otherwise.

One of the show's highlights is Running Eagle Blackfeet Warrior Woman, a 2011 coloured pencil drawing by the Montana-raised Terrance Guardipee, 46. It's both a revival and update of the Plains Indian ledger art tradition that experienced its greatest flowering in the last half of the 19th century in the United States. Ledger art was largely a male preserve, as was engaging in combat, be it against other tribes or the U.S. cavalry - but here, drawing on a Blackfoot tribal cash disbursement ledger from the late 1950s, Guardipee portrays a proud-postured woman deftly firing an arrow while riding side-saddle! (The historic Running Eagle was born Brown Weasel Woman in the early 19th century in what is now southern Alberta, and died in combat around 1850.)

Alex Colville Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Aug. 24 through Jan. 4, 2015

Jean-Paul Sartre once said that, come a cultural revolution, he'd let The Mona Lisa burn "without giving it a second thought." You could sorta see his point. Sorta.

Da Vinci's beauty, after all, has been so overexposed and overconsidered through the centuries that, for many, it's more fact-oflife than artistic thrill.

Still, for all its extremity, Sartre's view points to how beauty occasionally requires refreshing for its charms to delight anew. Which is what the AGO is doing, in part, with its upcoming retrospective on Alex Colville, who, after Tom Thomson, is perhaps Canada's best-known painter. The show, opening about 13 months after Colville's death, features 100 or so works, including such familiarities as Horse and Train, Woman in Bathtub and To Prince Edward Island. But, in the interests of recontextualization, some of these paintings are being hung alongside works (paintings, photographs, stills, texts) by other artists, such as Itee Pootoogook, Wes Anderson, Sarah Polley, Christopher Pratt and Stanley Kubrick. In addition, the AGO has commissioned three original Colville-inspired projects, including a sound installation by Montreal's Tim Hecker and a video installation from Torontobased Simone Jones.

Also of major interest will be the presentation of five neverbefore-seen Colvilles. A finicky worker, Colville often produced no more than two or three acrylics on canvas in a year. Occasionally - and unsurprisingly for an artist as process-oriented as Colville - a painting wasn't completed. This work, titled Woman in Shower (1956), is one of two "studies" in gouache, graphite and ink, done in 1956 for just such an unfinished canvas.

Oh, Canada: Contemporary Art from North North America Charlottetown, Sackville, Moncton, through Sept. 21

Beauty is a many-splendoured thing. And sometimes the quest for those splendours involves a journey. A literal journey in the case of Oh, Canada. The acclaimed survey of contemporary Canadian art was originally installed by curator Denise Markonish in spring, 2012, at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the largest notfor-profit visual arts and performing arts space in the United States. Featuring more than 100 works by about 60 Canadian artists, the exhibition was a big success over a 10-month run. But when the inevitable calls arose to show its riches somewhere in Canada, organizers were faced with a big question: Where to put all that great stuff?

In the case of Atlantic Canada, the answer was: Spread the work among four galleries in three towns, and make an event of the experience. According to Fraser McCallum, communications manager of the Confederation Centre in Charlottetown, the 180kilometre trek from his institution (where about 45 works are installed) to Owens Art Gallery in Sackville and then to the Louise & Reuben Cohen Art Gallery and Galerie Sans Nom, both in Moncton, can easily be done in a single day's drive through beautiful countryside, "while still having time for lunch, refreshments and dessert."

One of the more immediately arresting objets can be found at the Owens, on the Mount Allison University campus in Sackville. It's Widow, a 240-cm-tall, life-size sculpture of a grizzly bear by New Brunswick-based Janice Wright Cheney. The standing bear, made of wool mounted on a taxidermy form, is covered with hundreds of hand-made velvet roses dyed various hues of pink. Nicely balancing art and craft, Widow's at once delightful and menacing (look at those claws!), the bear's wildness domesticated by its coat of roses.

Associated Graphic

The Whyte Museum pays homage to Plains Indian ledger art, above, with Terrance Guardipee's Running Eagle Blackfeet Warrior Woman; while the Owens Art Gallery offers Janice Wright Cheney's Widow, a rose-coated, life-size bear.


The coming Art Gallery of Ontario retrospective on Alex Colville includes some previously unseen works, including Woman in Shower (1956).


The Stephen Bulger Gallery showcases Vivian Maier's photographs of children, including 1950's New York (Girl with Puppies).


Music is the heart of Memphis, but sublime barbecue, a bustling downtown and that classic Southern hospitality all hit the right notes
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, August 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

MEMPHIS -- 'Let's go to Memphis in the meantime, baby."

That's the chorus of my favourite song on John Hiatt's breakout 1987 album Bring the Family. And once I'd booked my trip, I could not get it out of my head.

Every year, me and the boys head out for an adventure. (I know that sounds like the opening line of a cheesy beer commercial - the bad grammar's on purpose.) This year we settled on Memphis, thinking the barbecue would be good and the music possibly even better. We were right.

The largest city in Tennessee - with about 655,000 people - is an easy place to visit. It's best known, depending on your angle, for giving the world Elvis, rock 'n' roll and the distribution hub for FedEx. We found a relaxed, unhurried vibe running through the city, with just the right amount of urban bustle. What was one of the United States's poorest cities in the 1980s now boasts one of the country's most vibrant downtowns, according to a 2013 Forbes article.

We landed on Thursday evening and set our bearings over a few bourbons at the rooftop bar of our hotel, the Madison, while enjoying a panoramic view of the muddy Mississippi River. Turns out the Twilight Sky Terrace is something of a hot spot for the young and eligible of Memphis. We were neither, but lots of friendly folks offered suggestions for our weekend. One guy bought us a round. Score one for Southern hospitality.

Navigating the city is easy. The 20-some blocks from east to west along Main Street encompass many of the major attractions, hotels and a few museums. From our hotel to historic Beale Street was a brisk five-minute jaunt, and Main itself is lined with good shopping and eateries.

You can hop the buck-a-ride trolley and do the loop for a quick and easy survey of the city. It runs along Main and then circles back along the waterfront. The shore isn't much to see, though. The compact downtown buzzes till late most nights, centred on the always-hopping ground zero of blues that is Beale. It's there that today's household names - Elvis, B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis - got their start.

Truly, music is the city's beating heart, permeating every aspect of life. Memphis wears with pride the badges of such legends as Sun Records, where Elvis and Johnny Cash and many other stars recorded monumental hits in the fifties and sixties. Then there's the Stax sound and the likes of Booker T and the MGs, Sam and Dave, Tina Turner and Issac Hayes. Black and white musicians hung out at this neighbourhood recording studio and churned out hit after hit. While the United States tried to work out its racial issues, Memphis just set about making music. Colour didn't matter in the studio.

Tragedies occurred elsewhere as this complex history unfolded.

On our first morning, we visited the newly renovated National Civil Rights Museum at the former Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. It had reopened the week previous after an almost two-year, $28million renovation. It is eerie to stand in that tableau. But the exhibits are beautifully presented, and you track the chronology of the civil-rights movement as you wander through the entirety of the motel, finishing up in the perfectly staged rooms where MLK spent his final hours.

Over the next couple of days, we hit Sun Records, Stax, the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum and, of course, Graceland. The Stax collection of artists' costumes, gold records, microphones and amps are the stuff of dreams for soul music fans. Not to mention Isaac Hayes's goldplated Cadillac, which spins on a giant turntable so you can see every detail. Stax is a short cab ride from downtown; Graceland is farther. The Elvis mansion is out in the burbs, but it's sure worth the trip. The mansion is remarkably modest in size by today's megastar standards, though the gaudy decor is just what you'd expect - lots of shag and gold and mirrors, and more than a touch of trashiness. It's magnificent.

Downtown Memphis is littered with contemporary bars, cafés and diners. The historically designated Arcade is the oldest caférestaurant in Memphis (circa 1919), and it's a short hop on the trolley line, not far from Beale. The corner where it's located has a plaque touting the location's role in many movie shoots, including Jim Jarmusch's Mystery Train. The Arcade's suitably named Eggs Redneck - "a Travel Channel favourite!"- is a plate with many shades of beige, from the eggs and gravy to the grits and sausage. Not sure how they do that. It tasted beige, too.

At Restaurant Iris in Midtown, a lovely home converted into a fine-dining destination by Louisiana-born chef Kelly English, we enjoyed excellent high-end contemporary Southern cuisine (gumbos, braises, crawdads and seasonal fare). Jeff Frisby, the manager, armed us with a list of his favourite eateries. His top picks: Hogs & Hominy, Acre and Elegant Farmer. For ribs and barbecue he pointed to the Cozy Corner, Interstate and Central Ave.

Ah, barbecue. Music may be the heart of Memphis, but barbecue keeps it pumping. You hear soul grooves just about everywhere, carried along with wafts of smoky deliciousness. We had done a little pretrip research. A Toronto chef friend had suggested the Rendezvous, one of the largest and most "showy" of the downtown smoke shacks. Corky's also came up. But when I ran these past a music expert who travels to Memphis frequently, he sent me a terse e-mail: "Corky's is for suburbanites who don't know any better and the Rendezvous is for tourists. ... The very best ribs I have EVER found anywhere in the U.S. are at Payne's."

We visited the Rendezvous Friday night, and it was pretty damned good, but we were set on Payne's. We found it the next day, on the wrong side of the tracks, by the side of the road on the edge of a suburb about 15 minutes from downtown. It's nondescript par excellence. Panel board and mismatched chairs is the decorating scheme.

Payne's is serious. No music plays. It's quiet - hushed even. The kitchen is a dark room with an electric stove and a smoker. Here, mama and her two children conjure the most sublime barbecue I've ever tasted, as they've been doing for 45 years. Eight bucks for the rib sandwich, $1.25 for a side of beans and 60 cents for a Coke. The coleslaw was perfect, tangy, flavourful; the beans creamy and smoky.

It was the kind of food that leaves you happy, satisfied, but craving more. It figures that altrock icons Sonic Youth dedicated an album to Payne's. Not exactly soul music, but I sure do understand the sentiment.


Unfortunately there are no direct flights to Memphis from Canada. American, Delta and United have good itineraries connecting through Atlanta, Detroit or Chicago.


The grand and historic Peabody dates to 1869, though it moved to its present location in 1925. The lobby lounge is a bustling social focal point, and twice a day ducks march to the fountain for a dip, an 80year tradition. Lansky Brothers, tailor to Elvis, Roy Orbison and Isaac Hayes, runs its busy shop here. From about $300. 149 Union Ave.;

The Madison is a recently renovated former bank with a sleek contemporary-boutique vibe. It's a full-service hotel with pool, rooftop lounge and a solid restaurant. Bold art and graphics reference the music of Memphis. The 110 rooms are spacious and finely appointed. From about $175. 79 Madison Ave.;

Associated Graphic

Beale Street was named 'America's most iconic street' by readers of USA Today.


Beale Street is bar-clogged artery in the heart of downtown Memphis, with just three blocks of more than 30 nightclubs.


Left: The Sun Studios Café is always packed with music fans.


Above: Had your fill of ribs? A favourite at Central BBQ is the portabella sandwich.


'Helpless and hopeless'
The Ebola outbreak in Western Africa is the result of dysfunctional governments and broken health-care systems, writes Geoffrey York
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F5

A frightening disease hit an African country this month, infecting thousands of people and killing dozens. Hospital wards were jammed, health workers struggled to cope. As cases soared, overwhelmed officials called the impact "staggering."

But this outbreak didn't provoke any global headlines, because it was just another cholera outbreak in Ghana - an almost annual event in the capital, Accra.

Ebola, of course, has captured the media's attention: It has a much higher death rate than other diseases, and it's had a devastating effect on Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The world is right to send medical aid to those countries and to stay alert to suspected new cases. But it's also true that Ebola is less contagious than other diseases; it is transmitted by bodily fluids, not by air, water or mosquitos. The virus has been spread by commercial airplane only once, by an ill passenger to Nigeria.

Other diseases, including malaria and diarrheal diseases such as cholera, routinely kill far more people than Ebola across Africa. In the Ghana outbreak alone, more than 3,100 people were infected and nearly 50 were killed. Even at the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak, malaria has caused up to 35 times more deaths than Ebola this year.

But Ebola is a warning sign of a much bigger crisis: the fragility of African health and sanitation systems after many years of poverty, illiteracy, neglect and, in some countries, catastrophic civil war. Even in countries that have recently seen impressive economic growth and foreign investment, the money is failing to reach the hospitals and healthcare workers who can prevent disease outbreaks.

Government authority has been almost non-existent in many West African regions, including, crucially, the border crossings in the Ebola "hot zone" where a million people live. Hospitals and clinics, meanwhile, are severely under-staffed, suffer from shortages of equipment (even such basics as disposable rubber gloves) and medicine, and often lack even electricity and running water.

Everywhere the signs of state collapse have been exposed. Bodies of Ebola victims, often lie uncollected in homes and streets for days at a time. Some hospitals have been completely abandoned after staff and patients fled. Quarantine efforts sometimes fail because people simply walk around the checkpoints.

The spread of Ebola out from the villages of southern Guinea, the source of the current outbreak, was fuelled by a similar state failure. Guinea's first cases were confirmed in March, and by April the virus was taking hold. But the health system was so inadequate, and ignorance so widespread, that many people with the Ebola virus decided to cross over the poorly controlled border to Sierra Leone, where they sought treatment from a herbalist who claimed to have the power to cure Ebola.

Instead of curing others, she soon became infected with the Ebola virus and died. Mourners at her funeral then spread the disease across the region, according to published reports.

The herbalist's death led to hundreds of new cases of the disease in Sierra Leone.

Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, says the Ebola outbreak has "allowed the world to see what can happen when a lethal and deadly dreaded virus takes root in a setting of extreme poverty and dysfunctional health systems."

The hardest-hit countries "have only recently emerged from years of conflict and civil war that have left their health systems largely destroyed or severely disabled and, in some areas, left a generation of children without education," Dr. Chan said in a report this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"In these countries, only one or two doctors are available for every 100,000 people, and these doctors are heavily concentrated in urban areas. Isolation wards and even hospital capacity for infection control are virtually non-existent. Contacts of infected persons are being traced but not consistently isolated for monitoring."

It's clear that the world neglected the Ebola outbreak when it first emerged. Only a few aid agencies, notably Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), responded speedily to the crisis. The United Nations health agency, the WHO, was slow to act. But governments in Africa have also failed to invest in health. Most countries hit by Ebola were spending less than $100 annually per person on health care before the outbreak began.

In Sierra Leone, for example, there is just one physician for every 45,000 people. In Liberia, the ratio is even worse: one physician for every 70,000 people. (In Canada, by contrast, there is a physician for every 476 people. Some Canadian hospitals have more doctors than an entire country in the Ebola zone.) After the outbreak began, some of these few doctors fled the country or quit their jobs, and only about 50 doctors are still working in Liberia right now, according to one estimate.

As the Ebola crisis deepens and the medical burden becomes greater, the worst-hit countries have become so desperate for revenue that they've issued treasury bills as a crude way to raise money.

"The outbreak far outstrips their capacity to respond," Dr. Chan said of the governments afflicted by Ebola. "The attitude of the public is summarized in two sad words: helpless and hopeless. The most urgent request is for more medical staff ... According to current estimates, a facility treating 70 patients needs at least 250 health care workers."

Deep poverty and the legacy of civil war are among the key reasons for the poor health systems in these countries. But there is also growing evidence, across Africa, that most governments are failing to give enough priority to health care.

At a summit in Abuja in 2001, African nations pledged to increase their government health spending to 15 per cent of total government budgets. Today, only a few African nations have reached this target - and 11 governments have actually reduced their health spending since the Abuja summit.

Of the four countries hit by Ebola, three of them - Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone - have lagged behind the goals in the Abuja Declaration. Guinea and Nigeria, in particular, are far behind the target, despite their substantial revenue from mining and oil in recent years. Liberia was the only one of the four countries to reach its Abuja spending goals. But even this has been inadequate, as the Ebola crisis quickly showed.

To make the situation even worse, illiteracy has hampered the efforts to educate people about disease prevention. In the Ebola-hit countries, there is widespread distrust of the health system and a preference for traditional healers. People see hospitals as prisons or death sentences, since Ebola patients usually don't survive. They fear the stigma of being identified with Ebola, so they keep infected family members at home. Wild rumors have circulated, claiming that Ebola is a hoax, or a scam by governments to get money.

One of the biggest threats is the combined effect of many diseases at the same time. Because the Ebola outbreak has brought the health system to a standstill, common diseases such as malaria are going untreated, and death rates are rising - "which is completely ridiculous," said Joanne Liu, a Canadian who is international president of MSF. "What needs to happen now is we need to be able to restore basic health-care access as soon as possible."

In the Liberian capital, Monrovia, almost every hospital has been shut down by the Ebola crisis. Pregnant women have been seen wandering the streets, unable to get care to deliver their babies. Some have died of labor complications as a result.

Others have suffered miscarriages. "People are knocking on our doors in desperate need of health care," Dr. Liu told a briefing in Geneva.

And then there are the quieter health crises that don't draw any publicity at all. In Sierra Leone, more than 10,000 people are dependent on long-term life-saving drug treatment for HIV. When Ebola hit, the HIV treatment centres were so disrupted that many people stopped getting their medicine. In the months to come, they could become the victims that never get counted.

Geoffrey York is the Globe's Africa correspondent, based in Johannesburg. Reporting also contributed by Kelly Grant in Toronto.

Associated Graphic

A Liberian woman covers her face as health workers wearing protective clothing prepare to remove an abandoned body in Monrovia.


The struggle to find care
As a legal battle over cuts to refugee health care intensifies, many are relying on the help of volunteers
Monday, August 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

Two years ago, the Conservative government made cuts to refugee health care, arguing it would deter "bogus" refugees from coming to Canada and save taxpayers $100-million over five years.

The cuts drew outrage from many refugee advocates, doctors, lawyers, and some provinces that found themselves footing the bill. Last month, a Federal Court ruling called the measure "cruel and unusual treatment" and found "no persuasive evidence" the cuts reduced claims and costs.

The government is planning an appeal, saying failed claimants from safe countries like the United States or Europe should not receive more health care than Canadians.

"We will vigorously defend the interests of Canadian taxpayers and the integrity of our fair and generous refugee determination system," Alexis Pavlich, press secretary to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, said in an e-mail.

While the legal battle drags on, some refugees must rely on the help of volunteers or struggle to pay large medical bills.

At Toronto's FCJ Refugee Centre, one of dozens across Canada, Loly Rico is compiling evidence of how the cuts have affected refugees so it can be used as ammunition against Ottawa's appeal. "We need to be ready," says Ms. Rico, an El Salvadorian refugee who founded the centre in 1991 with her husband, Francisco Rico-Martinez.

Since the cuts came into effect, their centre has run a small free clinic for the uninsured every second Saturday. It has seen about 100 patients, many of whom Ms. Rico says were turned away by hospitals and walk-in clinics uninterested in filing complex paperwork that would not guarantee payment.

Under current rules, refugee claimants receive less than the basic coverage extended to social assistance recipients. Most medications and costs such as emergency dental work are not covered. If a claimant is appealing a rejected claim or is from a country Ottawa says is safe, like Mexico or Hungary, coverage is limited to illnesses that endanger public safety, like tuberculosis.

Due to the backlogged refugee determination process, eligible claimants often wait months for a health card. This leads to confusion over who is eligible for what, leading to some being billed for services that should have been covered, and clinics turning away all refugees and claimants whether they are eligible for coverage or not.

Free clinics help, but staff and volunteers cannot always find pro-bono specialists or the money for expensive medications, tests and procedures. The Globe and Mail asked refugee claimants to share their health care experiences. (Because they fear speaking out would have a negative effect on their claims, they are identified by their first names only.)

Kulasingham, a Tamil who owned a shipping company in Sri Lanka but fled persecution from the Sri Lanka Armed Forces after the civil war ended in 2009, has needed to see a heart specialist for two years. He had surgery to replace a valve in his heart in 2012; because of the federal cuts, he gets his blood work done at a walk-in clinic and has not received post-operation monitoring from a specialist.

The 62-year-old former businessman, who rents a single room - no visitors allowed - with his wife, cannot afford the $75 appointment fee. The couple arrived in Canada four years ago, following their daughter, who lives nearby. The family was shattered by the war: One son fled to Britain, the other was kidnapped almost a decade ago and never found.

This month, the application for permanent residency for the couple was denied, and Kulasingham had to scramble to assemble the paperwork to request a stay order. The stress of waiting to hear if they will be sent back to Sri Lanka is getting to him.

A few months ago, he was calm, talking about his love of cooking roti and reading Agatha Christie books at his local library. Now he is not sleeping and keeps forgetting things, like his breakfast, bank card and even his medication. "If I go back, I fear they will do something. There is no guarantee to my life," he says. The free clinic has given him medication to help him sleep and deal with the stress.

Rogelio, worked for a big oil company in Mexico, but in Canada he makes a living installing aluminum siding, windows and doors, despite a cantaloupe-size tumour protruding from his knee. The 45-year-old says he came to Canada seeking refuge from police persecution a decade ago, and has been applying to stay ever since - a process that is taking longer than it should because he opted to pay hospital bills before his immigration lawyer.

A few years ago, he went to an emergency room with an infection in his leg and ended up with a $3,700 bill. This year, he sought medical attention for the tumour, and is paying for a slew of tests - MRIs, biopsies, CT Scans - to diagnose the cancer that is in his right knee joint and creeping up his hamstring. The small bump he discovered on the back of his leg three years ago is now so large it is hard to bend his knee.

"It's impossible to put [on] my shoes, my socks. I'm working sometimes outside, [I do] the roofing, and [going] up and down the ladders is very difficult," he says. He works in spite of the pain; he doesn't want to let his hospital payments slip.

Miso, a Roma refugee who was living in Croatia before arriving in Canada two years ago, is in the final stages of applying for permanent residency and has health coverage - it is his two oldest daughters, 14-year-old Veronika and 17-year-old Monika, he worries about. Veronica was recently taken to the emergency room with flu-related heavy vomiting, and Monika has found a lump in her breast. Miso, who usually likes to make jokes, turns fierce when he talks about protecting his daughters.

The family faced severe discrimination as Roma in Croatia; Miso says police punched out his front teeth because of his ethnicity. (They were replaced recently and he guards them with a closed smile.)

His daughters were both tormented in school, but it was hardest on Monika, who missed two years because of bullying. "Croatian people hate gypsy people," she says. "I'd go to school, but I can't. People who are not gypsy [were saying], 'Gypsy stupid, you don't know nothing.' Teachers, same like that."

Miso came to Canada with his second wife and their two young children in 2012, and his older daughters arrived a year later and sought refugee status. Veronika's emergency room visit cost several hundred dollars - a big dent in the finances of a family of six. Miso is most worried about Monika, however. In late July, the whole family woke early to take her to an appointment at a free clinic. They are now waiting to find out why she has a lump in her left breast.

The girls share big dreams and a bedroom with purple walls. Veronika wants to be a lawyer, and Monika wants to be a pediatrician. Monika, who is set to enter her last year of high school, worries about her English skills, and still misses her mother and long-time boyfriend in Croatia. Although she, too, has found the adjustment difficult, Veronika has had an easier time grasping the language, she speaks enthusiastically about her Korean best friend, and is more upbeat about her future in Canada.

Associated Graphic

Kulasingham, 62, who had surgery to replace a heart valve in 2012, gets blood work done at a walk-in clinic, but has not received post-operation monitoring from a specialist.


Miso, 38, with daughters Monika, 17, left, and Veronika, 14, moved to Toronto from Croatia two years ago. Monika recently found a lump in her breast while Veronika returned from a visit to the emergency room with a bill for several hundred dollars.


Rogelio, 45, of Mexico, continues working in construction in Toronto despite a massive tumour that continues to grow in his right knee. He is paying for a slew of tests to diagnose the cancer that is creeping up his hamstring.


A fascinated student of his home province
Scholar's research unveiled previously overlooked French influence on Newfoundland and Labrador culture
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, August 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S6

Ronald Rompkey's wide-ranging research and energetic scholarship broadened and deepened the culture and history of Newfoundland and Labrador, and brought to light the often overlooked French element of the province's story.

Dr. Rompkey, who died in St. John's on July 31 at the age of 71, had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease).

"Ron Rompkey had a broad vision of Newfoundland and Labrador studies," said historian and author Peter Neary. "He wrote a masterful biography of [British medical missionary Sir] Wilfred Grenfell and broke new ground in our understanding of French influence in Newfoundland. His office at Memorial University was a research hub for the institution."

Dr. Rompkey, who learned to read and write French as an adult, was fluently bilingual and could lecture, publish, and research in both languages.

He "devoted a large part of his work in recent years to a fascinating, though largely unknown or forgotten, French side of Newfoundland's history," said Scott Jamieson, a professor in Memorial's department of French and Spanish. "He uncovered, in libraries and archives from St. John's to Paris ... numerous writings by French visitors to the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador."

These previously unknown writings, which resulted in a 2004 anthology of 19th-century French writings, La Patrie du Vent, "describe many aspects of the place and its people and enrich our knowledge of this important segment of our past," Dr. Jamieson said.

Dr. Rompkey was also the founding director, in 1995, of the J.R. Smallwood Foundation for Newfoundland and Labrador Studies. And he served as chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council from 1992 to 1997, and as a board member for the Canada Council of the Arts from 1994 to 2000.

At the heart of his academic work, he was a dedicated teacher of literature.

"Many of his students have told me how he drew them into English language and literature," said his older brother, Senator Bill Rompkey. "And he was an intense scholar. He had his own standards and he made sure what he produced was the best he could do."

"He was an accomplished scholar," agreed Donna Walsh, head of Memorial's English department. "He has a 22-page CV to show for it. But he was also funny, personable and very social. He had a silly special song for everyone and was a fount of goofy jokes. He made it a point to touch base frequently with almost everyone in the English department," she said.

"He had a horrendous degenerative disease with an inevitable end that he surely recognized, but it didn't get him down," Prof.

Walsh added. "He remained upbeat and endlessly cheerful.

He continued to work and make plans for more publications. He was a real inspiration and a delightful human being."

Whatever the project, Dr. Rompkey was a meticulous, thorough and tireless researcher whose many valuable contributions have been recognized by number of national and international awards. Not even his devastating illness could completely distract him from his life's work and he leaves at least one unpublished manuscript.

Since childhood, he had been interested in Dr. Grenfell, who died in 1940. During his decade of research for the 1991 biography Grenfell of Labrador, Dr. Rompkey interviewed the physician's sons, discovered letters and other records, and re-evaluated the influence of Anne Grenfell, whom he described as "absolutely central" to the physician's work. As for the biography's subject himself, he said: "I think Dr. Grenfell would love television. He was very much a public figure - he was a performer."

Grenfell of Labrador was very well reviewed, with one critic, William Kilbourn, calling it "a fascinating account of one of the great apostles of muscular Christianity and British cultural imperialism ... Rompkey's biography captures him live and whole."

His dozen other books include memoirs or biographies on other Labrador medical figures such as Harry Paddon and Jessie Luther, and Literature and Identity: Essays on Newfoundland and Labrador.

He also edited A Life Composed, a volume of essays and criticisms about Newfoundland visual artists Reginald and Helen Parsons Shepherd, which won an Atlantic Book Award.

Ronald George Rompkey was born in St. John's on Feb. 10, 1943, the second son of William Rompkey, an accountant, and Margaret Fudge. His father died in 1971, and his mother went to work at Memorial University Library.

As a lad, Ronald was involved in Boy Scouts, earning many badges. "But I think his real take from that was about looking after yourself, and being independent," said his brother Bill. "Ron was independent all his life, with his thinking and his personal affairs."

Ronald attended Bishop Feild school, liked to play hockey, and joined the naval reserve, eventually attaining the rank of commander.

At Memorial University, he earned two bachelor degrees, in arts (1965) and education (1966), and a master's degree (1968). He was particularly influenced by one of his teachers, Patrick O'Flaherty, who supervised his master's thesis.

"Ron then went to [the University of London, King's College] to do a PhD and I was on leave there working on Samuel Johnson," recalled Dr. O'Flaherty, an author, historian and former head of Memorial's English department. "I put him on to Soame Jenyns, the 18th-century [British] philosopher ... Ron not only wrote a dissertation on Jenyns but turned it into a fine book," he said.

"Ron really liked writers and literary figures whose reach was broader than the pen. His biography of Jenyns was his first major publication," said Noreen Golfman, dean of graduate students at Memorial, who was married to Dr. Rompkey for 15 years (they divorced in 1998). "Jenyns was a poet and essayist, but what attracted Ron was Jenyns's political engagement, as a member for the board of trade, as a pamphleteer and as a member of Parliament," she noted.

Dr. Rompkey had taught at several universities in Western Canada, including Victoria and Saskatchewan, before marrying Dr. Golfman in 1983. They then moved to the University of Maine where she was an assistant professor and he was housed in the Canadian-American Studies Institute. After a year there, in 1984, Dr. O'Flaherty offered both of them jobs at Memorial.

"When we moved to St. John's he finished the Grenfell biography, and the accomplishment of that motivated him to focus more intently on Newfoundland and Labrador writings," Dr. Golfman said.

"As a teacher, he was really turned on leading a graduate seminar in Newfoundland literature, a course he single-handedly designed and shaped," she said. "It's no small irony that he had real reservations about coming home again to work and live, but ended up embracing the culture and mining a rich vein of Newfoundland material - French and English - on which he built his impressive academic career."

Dr. O'Flaherty said his former student turned out to be a "real find" for Memorial: "Ferociously industrious, a stylish prose writer, varied in his intellectual interests, and highly productive in print. He had a great sense of humour, enjoyed life immensely, and had real aptitude for friendship. His books on Wilfred Grenfell and Soame Jenyns are solid contributions to knowledge."

Among Dr. Rompkey's other achievements, he was a commissioned officer in the Royal Canadian Navy, honorary French consul in St. John's, and received several French medals, including L'Ordre de la Pleiade, from the French Parliament.

In 2003 he was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada, and was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 2006.

He was also a visiting professor at the University of Bordeaux, teaching 18th-century British and modern Canadian literature. In 2001 he was designated university research professor at Memorial, which comes with research funding and a reduced teaching schedule.

"My last conversation with him [in June] was about his scholarly plans," Dr. Neary said. "Ron never gave up, and left behind a body of scholarship that will endure."

He leaves his partner, Jane Leibel; brother Bill, nephew Peter, and niece Hilary.

Associated Graphic

Ronald Rompkey's work embraces the lives of Labrador medical figures and Newfoundland visual artists.


Friday, August 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B5

When Charlie Sheen is the voice of reason and responsibility, you know things have gotten weird.

On Monday, a video emerged of Mr. Sheen taking part in the "ice bucket challenge" - an online sensation that began in Boston and has been spreading globally among celebrities and civilians alike. The challenge calls out people to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads in an effort to raise awareness for a debilitating disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Mr. Sheen, however, implicitly criticized those who have been enacting one variation that allows them to do the prank in lieu of donating to an ALS-related charity.

The actor who has become known for strange public behaviour declined to jump on the bandwagon. Instead of water, he dumped a bucket of money on his head - $10,000, he claimed, that he would donate - "because let's face it, ice is going to melt, but this money is going to actually help people," he said in the video.

The campaign has been criticized for "slacktivism," social media petitions and stunts that allow people to feel good about getting involved with a cause without actually doing anything.

But as it turns out, that critique, and Mr. Sheen's contribution to the tsk-tsking, weren't necessary.

The ice bucket challenge has actually pushed people into action. And it provides a lesson to other charities trying to market themselves with few resources in a digital age.

The donations are unlike anything the ALS Society of Canada has seen before. Due to overwhelming traffic, it has taken down its regular website and directed all visitors to its Ice Bucket Challenge page. While the campaign started in the United States, Canadian participants helped to direct roughly $400,000 in donations to the organization (and its provincial affiliates) on Tuesday alone. In total, the campaign has raised almost $800,000. As a comparison, in the entire summer period last year, "we're talking just thousands of dollars," said Interim CEO Tammy Moore.

In the U.S., the numbers are massive: $31.5-million (U.S.) in donations compared with just $1.9-million in the same period - July 29 to Aug. 20 - last year.

"It's not just a stunt. People are opening their wallets, and they're making themselves aware," Ms. Moore said. What's more, she believes the controversy around slacktivism has helped. People are called out if they don't mention the cause in their videos, or do not donate.

It's started a conversation.

According to Facebook Inc., more than 28 million people have either posted content, commented on or liked others' posts about the challenge, and 2.4 million videos related to the campaign have been shared on the social network globally.

Before the campaign, the organization struggled with branding ALS, Ms. Moore said. Its full name is too long for many to remember, and awareness of the disease is minimal compared with cancer or heart disease.

"This is giving a name to it," she said.

That is a huge opportunity for all charitable organizations: Social media have levelled the playing field for the thousands of groups working on a shoestring - not to mention for larger charities that would prefer to direct a smaller portion of donation dollars to advertising themselves.

"In this country, there are 86,000 charities," said Marina Glogovac, CEO of CanadaHelps, which helps charities process online donations. Many of its clients are small to mediumsized organizations. "There is an enormous long tail of small charities that don't have the marketing budgets, or the knowhow, and they're the ones that could benefit the most from social media marketing."

It's also a hugely important vehicle for connecting with younger people, who are not as involved in charitable giving as older generations. People born between 1981 and 1995 account for just 15 per cent of total giving in Canada, according to a study released last year. Far more than other generations, those younger people say that they prefer to volunteer, spread the word or fundraise rather than writing big cheques.

That sense of participation is partly what made the ice bucket challenge so popular.

"This was fun, it was relatively easy to do, and it had a bit of naughtiness to it. Those are terrific elements for something that people will pass along," said David Hessekiel, president of the Rye, N.Y.-based Peer-toPeer Professional Forum, which counsels non-profits on how to effectively engage people in fundraising through activities among peers, often online.

"There are two things we know motivate people to action: Peer opinions and the pursuit of unique experiences," said Mark Sutton, chief revenue officer for Washington, D.C.-based FrontStream, which offers online pay...

ment processing for businesses and charities. "The Ice Bucket Challenge offers both."

People pouring buckets of ice over their heads is also funny, and unexpectedly joyful - it's an easy way in for people who might not otherwise be convinced to Google ALS and read up on such a brutal disease.

Facebook is the No. 1 referrer to fundraising and donation pages online in North America, according to a study by Artez Interactive, a division of FrontStream focused on charitable giving. The social network accounts for 28 per cent of referrals.

Even beyond friends' appeals for fundraising drives, charities are learning that social media have the potential to get the attention of younger people. In 2012, for example, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada ran an awareness campaign for CPR training. It was targeted at people under 35, many of whom are not trained.

In a video released on YouTube, a zombie horde chases a woman in post-apocalyptic Toronto. Panicked, the woman suffers a heart attack. So the zombies perform CPR - complete with step-by-step instructions - and when the woman is revived, with blood flowing to her precious brains once more, they devour her.

The video received 1.5 million views, and 16,000 people have gone through training as a result of the campaign. What's more, it brought in money: HSF links more than $1-million in donations to the widespread attention the video received.

"It opened our eyes in terms of how effective social media could be," said chief marketing officer Geoff Craig. "[Young people] are going to be the givers of the future. So we have to figure out how to engage with them today."


What it's all about

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sometimes known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells we use to control our muscles. It can start with tightness or weakness in certain muscles, and eventually progresses until a person loses the ability to walk, speak, swallow and even breathe. While these functions deteriorate, the disease leaves cognitive functions mostly intact: a person with ALS is aware of what is happening to them. There is no cure.

ALS in Canada

3,000: the rough number of people currently living with ALS in Canada

1,000: the estimated number who will be diagnosed in Canada this year; roughly the same number of people will die from the disease this year.

90 per cent: the proportion of ALS cases where there is no hereditary link to the disease.

ALS is indiscriminate, and strikes regardless of age, ethnicity, gender - or family history.

Source: ALS Society of Canada

The challenge:

Where it's happening

Top countries by participation in the ice bucket challenge, according to Facebook:

1. United States

2. Australia

3. New Zealand

4. Canada

5. Mexico

6. Brazil

7. Germany

8. Philippines

9. Puerto Rico

10. India

Associated Graphic

Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri, left, and the Toronto Raptor are drenched on Wednesday.


Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, left, dumps a bucket of ice water over the head of actress Lindsay Lohan on Wednesday. Celebrities such as Ms. Lohan have flocked to the challenge.


Could this curious little berry help in the fight against obesity? One ambitious chef, Josh Rubin writes, is staking his career on it
Special to The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

There's a berry native to Cameroon, Gabon and the lowlands of West Africa that has a curious effect. Pop the small, red and surprisingly bland berry into your mouth and it temporarily tricks your taste buds into thinking that sour tastes sweet. Colloquially known as the "miracle fruit," it has long been trendy among foodies hosting "flavour-tripping parties" and as a gimmick at high-end restaurants. One prominent U.S. chef, however, is out to prove that the miracle fruit has utility far beyond that of a parlour trick.

Homaro Cantu, of Chicago's Moto restaurant, is an eccentric chef, famous for such cerebral dishes as edible menus made of soy paper. And he wants to take the miracle berry mainstream. Cantu is at the vanguard of molecular gastronomy, but he grew up in poverty in Portland, Ore., and spent three years living on the streets. He knows first-hand what it's like to lack access to hearty and nutritious food.

Cantu is growing miracle berries in indoor farms to use instead of sugar at his restaurant, and he's forging relationships with major food corporations. "I have two young daughters and I worry about their future and health. I'm concerned about what they consume and what is hidden in their everyday foods," he says.

The consequences of our collective sweet tooth have been debilitating. The most recent figures cited by the Canadian Obesity Network indicate that 25 per cent of adult Canadians are obese and more than half are overweight, placing a burden of nearly $6-billion on the health-care system each year. South of the border, where an estimated 45 per cent of the population is expected to be obese by 2030, the epidemic is even more profound. Although researchers have not proven conclusively that excess sugar intake causes obesity, the balance of medical research is coalescing around this conclusion.

In March, the World Health Organization issued a report encouraging people to consume less than 5 per cent of their total daily calories from sugars. And in July, federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose announced a recommendation that Canadians limit their sugar intake to 100 grams a day.

"People aren't addicted to sugar - what we're really addicted to is sweetness," says Cantu. "Since we're never going to give that up, miracle berries are a great solution for our cravings, minus the calories and chemicals."

The chef first stumbled across the berry in 2005 when he was asked to create something for a woman whose chemotherapy had altered her sense of taste (a common side effect called dysgeusia, in which food takes on a metallic tone). Cantu spent weeks experimenting by chewing on tinfoil until he was able to develop a recipe, a combination of the berry and edible paper, which neutralized the metallic taste. Since then, he's provided more than 1,000 chemo patients with the berry free of charge and has spent the past decade working to unlock its full potential.

In his quest to cook without sugar, Cantu had to recalibrate the ratios of his recipes to get his dishes to look and taste just right - since apart from sweetness, sugar helps lend food its colour, texture, body and aroma. Diners at Moto responded enthusiastically to his concoctions and Cantu is now focusing on his latest project, a miracle-berry-themed café called Berrista, slated to open this fall.

The miracle berry (or Synsepalum dulcificum) is one of the only naturally occurring tastemodifiers in the world. Unlike honey or sugar, which activate sweet taste receptors, when you eat the berry a protein called miraculin temporarily masks sour tastes. For the following 30 to 45 minutes, foods that are unpalatable on their own become as scrumptious as their sugary counterparts. Refrigerating or heating the berry, however, nullifies this effect; in order to bring miraculin readily into our diets scientists need to figure out a way to stabilize the protein.

Researchers in Japan have successfully modified tomato and lettuce plants to produce miraculin. PepsiCo, meanwhile, is working with San Diego-based biotech company Senomyx to create an additive that, like miraculin, tricks people's taste buds into detecting more sweetness than is present.

For his part, Cantu believes that bioengineering is too costly to be competitive. He grows the berry through a network of nine indoor farms in the Chicago area. And as a way to demonstrate the fruit's viability as a sugar substitute, he published The Miracle Berry Diet Cookbook last year, with recipes ranging from raspberry cheesecake to teriyaki chicken. All the recipes incorporate lowglycemic ingredients such as lemons, limes and sour cream and each one indicates the amount of calories saved per serving by using the berry. (The berries, commonly sold in tablet form, are easily found online.)

If all goes according to plan, the first Berrista should open next month in Chicago's Old Irving Park neighbourhood, with a jelly doughnut as its signature treat.

"It won't have any refined sugar in it, and in order to make the jam we'll take cherries and cook them down with a little bit of balsamic vinegar and water. It'll have 250 fewer calories than anything you can find elsewhere," he says. If the first location is successful, Cantu hopes to take the concept across the United States.

Could miraculin be the solution to the obesity epidemic? Not everyone is convinced.

"If people are buying the miracle fruit thinking it will do the entire job, I think time has taught us that there is no singular tool and that they will absolutely also require a life overhaul," says Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, a weight-management specialist and assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa.

"We've lost the skill of cooking, and calories are being hoisted on us every single place we turn. If the suggestion is that because we're going to eat fewer desserts with this we're going to be okay, then the imprint is that we're struggling primarily due to excess dessert," says Freedhoff. "I really don't think that's the case."

Anyone looking to commercialize miraculin will have to overcome significant regulatory hurdles. In 1974, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration declared that miraculin was an additive, meaning that the berries cannot be sold as a sugar substitute without further testing. Health Canada takes a similar stance.

In the 1970s a U.S. company called Miralin was on the verge of introducing the miracle berry into food as a sugar replacement until the FDA's controversial ruling effectively shut it down. Reversing that decision would require years of testing.

"Anyone wanting to go down that route would likely be successful, as there is nothing unhealthy about miraculin. They'd just need to have the financing and patience to see it through," says author Adam Gollner, who chronicled the story of Miralin in his book The Fruit Hunters.

If the ban is one day lifted, miraculin might still remain unappealing to large corporations - the cost of constructing greenhouses en masse or converting existing farmland could prove to be prohibitively expensive.

"It's a hard plant to grow and its productivity is relatively low, since only a quarter of all plants ever bear fruit. When you compare it to the cost of artificial sweeteners, investing money in miraculin doesn't really make economic sense at the moment," says Laura Jones, a global foodscience analyst at consulting firm Mintel.

Although Cantu won't discuss details, he says he has been in talks with at least one major food company and is convinced that with the right partnerships, the paradigm will eventually shift from sugar to miraculin.

"The miracle fruit is good for everything," he says. "We're updating what should have been updated years ago."

Islamic State denounced after journalist's execution
U.S. President Obama excoriates militants after group releases video of the death of American James Foley: 'They terrorize their neighbours and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision'
Thursday, August 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A3

WASHINGTON -- Vowing "relentless" attacks against Islamic State terrorists, U.S. President Barack Obama said the extremist jihadisseeking to carve a caliphate out of Iraq and Syria have no place in the 21st century.

In response to the deliberate killing of U.S. citizen James Foley, who was beheaded by a masked black-clad Islamic State executioner, Mr. Obama condemned the militant group as uncivilized cowards.

"They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence," Mr. Obama said. "They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims, both Sunni and Shiite, by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can."

As U.S. warplanes again pounded Islamic State militant positions Wednesday, the President made it clear he wouldn't bow to the their threat to kill another American unless he called off the air strikes.

But Mr. Obama, who made a brief but toughly worded statement while on a golf-and-beach vacation on Martha's Vineyard, didn't indicate whether he intended to ramp up attacks on the extremists who now control a swath of Syria and Iraq roughly the size of Vancouver Island.

Striking at Islamic State targets in Syria would amount to a massive escalation of Mr. Obama's so-far limited campaign of air strikes backing Kurdish and Iraqi forces.

On Tuesday, after retreating from Mosul Dam following scores of U.S. air strikes which backed an assault by Kurdish peshmerga troops, Islamic State posted a video of the beheading of Mr. Foley, an American journalist, who had been seized nearly two years ago in Syria.

It said it was killing Mr. Foley in retaliation for the air strikes ordered by Mr. Obama, the first U.S. bombing in Iraq since the last American troops left in 2011.

A video of the beheading ignited revulsion and outrage around the world.

The President called for an international coalition to stamp out Islamic State but indicated he wanted the U.S. military to play only a supporting role.

"From governments and peoples across the Middle East, there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer so that it does not spread," he said, adding: "When people harm Americans, anywhere, we do what's necessary to see that justice is done. And we'll act against ISIL, standing alongside others," referring to the group by its former name, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

But Mr. Obama never used the word "war" except to disparage Islamic State's position. "They may claim out of expediency that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is they terrorize their neighbours and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision and the collapse of any definition of civilized behaviour," he said.

Mr. Obama, while approving air strikes, has insisted that no U.S. ground combat forces would be sent to Iraq despite the collapse of Iraqi forces who fled in disarray as the militants swept down both the Tigris and Euphrates valleys in recent months to control much of northern and western Iraq.

However, the Associated Press quoted senior, but unnamed, Pentagon officials as saying Wednesday that hundreds more U.S. special forces could soon be sent to Iraq.

Mr. Obama made no mention of Islamic State's threat to kill Steven Sotloff, another American journalist, unless air strikes cease.

Moments before Mr. Foley was killed, he deplored the U.S. air strikes.

Shown shaven-headed and kneeling in a barren desert location wearing an orange tunic with a knife-wielding executioner standing beside him, Mr. Foley, 40, says: "I guess, all in all, I wish I wasn't American."

Mr. Foley delivered what seemed to be a prepared statement with a chilling message. "I call on my friends, family and loved ones to rise up against my real killers, the U.S. government, for what will happen to me is only a result of their complacency and criminality."

At the end of the video, after an image of a severed head lying on a body, the executioner warned that Mr. Sotloff could be next.

"The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision," he says, speaking English with a British accent.

British Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his vacation and returned to London. "We have not identified the individual responsible, but from what we have seen it looks increasingly likely that it is a British citizen," he said.

An unknown number of jihadis holding passports from Western nations have joined Islamic State and other militant groups fighting to topple Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in the last three years as the civil war in Syria has escalated.

Mr. Cameron said the struggle against extremist Islam is "a battle we have to fight ... whether it is dealing with this problem in Somalia, in Mali, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Syria. ... What happens in these other far-flung places can come back and cause huge harm."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Wednesday condemned Mr. Foley's killing. "Unfortunately this is just the tip of an iceberg of an enormous campaign of really shocking and degrading and disgusting terror that is taking place across that entire region - Iraq, Syria," he said. "It is threatening more and more countries, and frankly, this terrorist caliphate in our judgment represents an increasing longterm threat."

At the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also spoke out against "the horrific murder of journalist James Foley," calling it "an abominable crime that underscores the campaign of terror the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant continues to wage against the people of Iraq and Syria," according to his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

With a report from Ian Bailey


Who are they?

The Islamic State used to call itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. It is a Sunni extremist group whose stated goal is to reestablish a caliphate, or theocracy, in Iraq and Syria.

Where did they originate?

The group traces its roots to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant who founded al-Qaeda's franchise in Iraq during the U.S. occupation. After its leader's killing, al-Qaeda in Iraq mutated into a more stand-alone entity that was eventually shunned even by al-Qaeda's leadership for being too brutal.

Where are they fighting?

Syria: After aligning themselves with Sunni tribes in eastern Syria (and northern Iraq), they muscled into the fight against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad before turning to battling more moderate rebels for control of territory, exploiting the antiAssad funding and weapons coming in from the Sunni Arab rulers of the Gulf.

Iraq: Parts of northern Iraq, including the country's secondlargest city of Mosul, have fallen to Islamic State fighters, prompting the exodus of hundreds of thousands.

Who is fighting them?

Kurdish peshmerga: Fighters from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq have made important gains in fighting the extremists.

The West: U.S. air strikes on Islamic State positions began on Aug. 7 and have continued in support of Kurdish and Iraqi army fighters.

Evan Annett, with reports from Associated Press and Reuters

Associated Graphic

James Foley is shown shortly before his death: 'I guess, all in all, I wish I wasn't American.' Islamic State has threatened to kill another journalist, Steven Sotloff, if the U.S. does not stop its air strikes.



How to build a Canadian rom-com
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R9

This summer, filmmakers are grafting all kinds of unnatural things onto the ailing genre of romantic comedy, to try to revivify it - "Hey, imagine Dr. Frankenstein and Gregor Mendel crossed with Sleepless in Seattle!" There's a zombie romcom (Life After Beth, starring Aubrey Plaza), an abortion romcom (Obvious Child, which Jenny Slate co-wrote and headlines), a supernatural dramedy (The One I Love, with Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass) and a middle-aged sex farce (Sex Tape, starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel).

So it's a delightful surprise that the freshest, most glowing-withhealth rom-com I've seen in ages - The F Word, which opened in select cities on Friday - has a straightforward plot. Chantry (Zoe Kazan) and Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) become friends, and begin to fall in love, but there's a hitch: Chantry has a perfectly interesting boyfriend. Simple, yes - but it works. And unlike many films that purport to be romcoms, this one is both romantic and comedic.

Added bonus: It's set in Toronto, which increases its unusualness - because, let's admit it, romantic comedy is not the genre that springs to mind when you think "Canadian film." (Note: In the United States, censors deemed the title too risqué for a PG-13 rating, so the title there is What If.)

At last year's Toronto International Film Festival, and again this summer, I spent some time with The F Word's director, Michael Dowse; its screenwriter, Elan Mastai; and its leads. Not only are Kazan's eyes like blue crystal balls in which one can ponder the mysteries of life, while Radcliffe's eyebrows are as thick and friendly as Muppet fur - they also helped me figure out three important romcom rules. They're worth following, because the genre can be insanely lucrative: When Harry Met Sally, for example - another look at friends who fall in love - grossed $93-million (U.S.) back in 1989. That's, like, $2-trillion in today's dollars. Well, close.

Rule No. 1: Men fall in love, too. Why do so many filmmakers treat this genre as if only women care about relationships? Isn't "two" the minimum number required to qualify as "a relationship"? Too many romantic comedies are built on the premise that Chicks - basically, Gorgons in eyeliner, who spend their days glugging pink cocktails, mainlining pedicures, shrieking rather than speaking and believing that heaven is an eternal shopping montage - must devote their 20s to scheming, in order to trick men into marrying them. The men I know, however, are not unconscious dupes. They are willing, in fact eager, participants in love.

Radcliffe agrees. "I think men are more romantic than women, frankly," he says. "The feeling of falling in love is great on both sides. In my experience, it's mainly my male friends who go, 'I love her, I don't know what I'd do without her.' It seems to me that women can function well without men. But as soon as a man has been in a relationship for a while, if that's taken away, all functioning goes."

To summarize: Include men in your rom-coms. Not only is it true to life, it could double your box office.

Rule No. 2: Don't cheap out on the details. Classic romantic comedies generally feature swoony shots of the city in which they occur. Toronto, on the other hand, "is usually treated coldly, in greys and blues," Dowse says. So he sought out and shot romantic locations, water views, street life, sparkly lights. Seems obvious, right?

The F Word is a summer movie, so Dowse, well, shot it in summer. While this doesn't sound radical, financing a Canadian film is a Kafkaesque labyrinth, so films often shoot in November. But leafless trees and grey skies do not scream "romance." "It just doesn't look good," Dowse obvious-states.

Dowse offers more useful advice: Don't cut the extras. "In a restaurant scene, you want 40 people, not two," Dowse says. "You're better off to take less money yourself and keep that $20,000 in the extras budget. And never cut the production designer's budget."

In other words: Make your film look great, and it will pay you back.

Rule No. 3: Don't omit the falling in love part. In a baffling number of romantic comedies, the section where the leads fall for one another is glossed over in a Generic Love montage: wordless scenes of walking along the beach, feeding ducks in a park, etc. In The F Word, that montage is actually the movie. Only with words in it.

And jokes.

And because Mastai bothered to write the love stuff, we viewers can see why these two particular people like particular things about one another, and we become invested in this particular relationship. It is the opposite of The Bachelorette, where ciphers in nice clothes pose against pretty backdrops, but have nothing to say to one another. Chantry and Wallace fall in love by talking. Like people.

"That's what I loved about the script," Radcliffe says. "It's so hard to write those moments of falling in love, to write the connection. Why do these two find each other so funny? Why do they want to hang out so much? We've all been through that first flush of, 'This person likes me, I like her, this is great.' Being allowed in, as an audience, to watch that intimate, fun process unfold is a gift."

If you squander the falling-inlove part in a montage, Radcliffe continues, when the course of true love runs momentarily rough, as it must, the audience "won't have anything to latch onto about what makes this love special. You'll be indifferent to it."

And that's bad.

Furthermore, because the script takes the time to create two realish-feeling humans in a realishfeeling relationship, it earns the right to posit a Big Idea: that by falling in love with someone, you're choosing who you are, as much as choosing who you want to be with. I don't recall anything that thoughtful in, say, Bride Wars.

It's also important in a romcom that the "com" is organic rather than tacked on. Remarkably, no one in The F Word needs to fall into a puddle to get laughs.

"The characters use the comedy as a way to flirt and get closer," Dowse says. "The more they take the piss out of each other, the more they're saying to each other, 'I love you' or 'I forgive you.' Instead of trying to build the moment with editing, we tried to capture the moment with writing and acting."

"Watching people connect is endlessly fascinating," Mastai says. "In the absence that, we'll take other stuff - car chases and explosions and nudity. But to me those merely fill in the gaps of what we actually want, which is to watch people try to communicate."

So please, filmmakers, spread the love. Because I don't think I can watch another rom-com in which a Mean Girl behaves dementedly until, I don't know, a bird poops on her, which humbles her into earning the love of a featureless Mr. Right - but only after she buys just the cutest pair of teal snakeskin stilettos.

Associated Graphic

The romance between Daniel Radcliffe's Wallace and Zoe Kazan's Chantry in The F World develops, like any normal couple, through talking.

Under a big top populated by humanoid creatures and extraterrestrial sea life, the storied company's 30th-anniversary show manages both to defy logic and be utterly real. Lee Marshall goes backstage
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R5

Everyone backstage calls Cirque du Soleil a family, but it's never more obvious than when director Michel Laprise is around. It's half an hour before a Friday matinee and so many performers in makeup come to hug and greet Laprise that his cheeks are marked with lipstick and green glitter.

Back in Montreal after a month travelling to Japan, China, Las Vegas and Toronto (where he spent three days dancing at WorldPride), Laprise is excited to watch his show, Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities, again. Throughout its first month this past spring, the director had been sitting in the audience almost every day. Today, along with a dark denim jacket emblazoned with the company's insignia, he wears an indefatigable smile - he is inviting every single person backstage to a party at his house on the weekend.

Laprise's directorial debut reinvents Cirque du Soleil, the Canadian entertainment company that is celebrating its 30th birthday this year. "I know the house, so I know how to challenge the rules," says Laprise, who started working with Cirque in 2000, first in casting and then in special events. "I don't want us to be sleepy; we have to be awake all the time."

Kurios certainly keeps the audience wide awake. Beneath the yellow- and blue-striped grand chapiteau, the show takes place in an alternate steampunk reality where a mad scientist transports an ensemble cast of mechanical, aquatic and humanoid creatures into his laboratory from a parallel dimension.

Invention plays a starring roll, from what was then new technology, like the airplane, to innovations on circus classics: a puppet show where a human hand is a creature that breakdances and rides a hot-air balloon; a big top where the performers are invisible; and a balancing routine with an antigravity, upside-down twist. Kurios is beguiling because it's more clever than merely deathdefying (although, beware, a few acts will induce popcorn stresseating). It captivates with novelty, evoking that same feeling of wonder Laprise says he experienced when he spied on a Cirque du Soleil dress rehearsal as a little boy.

Backstage - an ecosystem that supports 107 people on tour, 150 local hires in every new city, and comes complete with generators, cafeteria, laundry rooms and a medical centre - is equally remarkable. Every effortlessly polished performance belies the endless practice and personal sacrifice that is a prerequisite of life with the circus.

For many in the family, joining the company has been a lifelong dream. Australian Nathan Dennis started trampoline when he was nine, after watching Cirque's Saltimbanco, which ran for more than 20 years before closing in 2002. "It was never my goal to go to the Olympics or the World Championships," he says. "It was always, when I was old enough, audition for Cirque." For Dennis, the dream came full circle when he was cast in the same show. "I don't think I celebrated. I think I went straight to the gym to train," he says, laughing.

The acrobat toured with Saltimbanco for six years before joining Kurios when rehearsals began in January. In this new production, he is part of the Acro Net act, which features a net that stretches across the stage and allows acrobats dressed as extraterrestrial fish to jump to breathtaking heights, launched by the weight of other performers, their bioluminescent fins flapping slightly in the breeze.

Polish performer Lidia Kaminska plays the accordion in Kurios, a skill she has been perfecting since first picking up the instrument when she was nine.

She toured with Alegria for over four years before signing on with Kurios. "The show is always different," Kaminska says. "Seeing the acts is very inspiring every day - it's like real people doing unreal things."

Her own performance is anything but ordinary - even on the days she has two shows, she will practise for an hour or two before curtain. "It's never enough actually. There's always more practice to do," she says.

Kaminska describes the music played by the seven-piece band as "gypsy jazz." Along with electrical and mechanical sound effects - gears turning, clocks chiming, light bulbs buzzing - the musicians drive the show, even literally, conducting a locomotive around the audience.

Sixty per cent of the Kurios performers have been in a Cirque show before; many left ongoing productions, taking a reduced training salary for months because they wanted to contribute to something new.

But, at least for Kaminska and Dennis, the hardest part of the job is maintaining relationships outside of the Cirque family.

Kaminska has a husband who lives in Philadelphia. Dennis wants to settle down one day. "I think this will be my last show," he says. "I want to stay here a few years, but then I want to go somewhere and do personal training and coaching."

It's also a job that is extremely taxing on the body. Ryan Murray, an American acrobat in the Acro Net act with Dennis, hurt a toe during morning rehearsal, and is sitting out today's show, watching from backstage for the first time in some 80 performances. Greek singer Eirini Tornesaki, whose supernatural voice drives Kurios, is also sitting out her first show, to rest her vocal cords. It's unfortunate timing; she is expecting a friend in the audience.

Laprise says these last few days in Montreal will be the hardest on everyone. They've been rehearsing since January, and opened in April without a real break - but there will be some rest time between upcoming stops on their two-year North American tour.

Work days might just be longest for British general stage manager Alan Parry. "Stage management, we're the first in and we're the last to leave," he says. Parry joined Cirque 12 years ago as a stagehand, operating trap doors for the show Dralion, before working his way up the ranks. "It's more than a job. It's a life choice; I mean, we live on tour. For the last 10 years, I haven't had a home anywhere," he says.

In Parry's view, what makes Cirque unique is that the performers are involved with everything from applying their own makeup to executing set changes - including pedalling out the giant hand that is the performance pedestal for a group of contortionists who undulate like sparkling eels.

The cast's wardrobe, by Philippe Guillotel, mixes old-fashioned design - bathing costumes, short trousers and top hats - with fantasy. Full-body robot shells look equal parts alien and insect; an accordion suit moves and sounds like its musical model.

Laprise intentionally created a show around a mostly human cast of characters - that's also different from other Cirque shows, which emphasize the mystical and imaginary. Of course, there are elements of both in Kurios - but it's more about connection. "When you write a show that is going to last," says Laprise, "you have to have a language that is universal, that is profoundly human."

Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities runs in Toronto from Aug. 28 to Oct. 26.

Associated Graphic

Kurios comprises a complex ecosystem that supports 107 people on tour and 150 local hires in every new city. Unfolding in a parallel dimension, the show aims to evoke the feeling of wonder that director Michel Laprise (pictured at bottom) experienced when he spied on a Cirque du Soleil dress rehearsal as a little boy.


How much is too much exercise?
Physical activity is medicine for many ills, writes Alex Hutchinson, but like all medicines, the devil is in the dosage
Monday, August 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

Exercise is medicine. That's the slogan of a new initiative being promoted by the American Medical Association and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, and it reflects a growing realization in the medical community that the cheapest and most effective tool to fight dozens of conditions ranging from diabetes to depression might be a jog in the park.

But like all medicines, the devil is in the dosage. We all know the perils of too little exercise, but researchers are just starting to wrestle with the opposite question: How much is too much? And better yet, how much is just enough?

Two years ago, preliminary results from a study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine produced headlines that made joggers blanch and couch potatoes smile: "Running can shorten your life," The Globe's website warned, reporting that as few as three or four hours a week might be enough to damage your heart and wipe out the benefits of lesser amounts of exercise.

The ensuing debate forced runners and non-runners alike to reconsider long-held assumptions about exercise and health, and try to distinguish between what the evidence showed and what they wished it showed.

There's just one problem: The original analysis was deeply flawed, as the publication of the full study last month reveals. Instead of warning about the dangers of too much, the study now highlights the powerful benefits of as few as five to 10 minutes of running a day to cut the risk of death from heart disease in half.

The researchers, from Iowa State and several other universities, followed 53,000 patients at the Cooper Clinic in Texas for an average of 15 years after their initial checkup. In the original analysis, runners were 19 per cent less likely to die during the study than nonrunners.

However, that mortality advantage disappeared for those who reported running more than 32 kilometres a week or faster than about five minutes a kilometre.

Even at the time, the findings spurred a backlash. Dr. Larry Creswell, a triathlete and heart surgeon at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine, whose Athlete's Heart blog discusses cardiac health for athletes, pointed out that conference presentations, unlike medical journal articles, haven't yet gone through peer review. "Essentially, if you're invited to speak at a meeting you can say what you want - whether it's scientifically correct or not," he wrote when the findings were first presented. Others questioned the statistical methods used to analyze the study's data.

"One thing that's striking is that when it comes to factors affecting long-term health, it's really hard to change people's beliefs," admits Dr. Robert Gazzale, a dedicated runner and an economist at the University of Toronto, whose research interests include how people weigh the short-term and long-term consequences of their decisions. "I saw this in myself. When I read about the initial results, I was rather skeptical ... I want to believe that running - a lot - is good for my health."

So how did the message of the Cooper Clinic study change so dramatically?

In actuality, it's utterly uncontroversial to say that there is such a thing as "too much," whether you're talking about running, exercise in general or pretty much anything health-related.

"In the physical and biological worlds, there seems to be a sweet spot for everything," Creswell says. "It must be true for exercise, too."

The only debate is where that point lies. At the far end of the scale, a 2011 study found evidence of fibrosis - scarring, essentially - of the heart in six of 12 extreme ultraendurance athletes who had each completed an average of 178 marathons, 65 ultramarathons of 80 km or longer and four Ironman triathlons. It's not clear that this fibrosis had any negative effects, but it suggests that cardiac wear and tear can indeed accumulate.

The Cooper Clinic study was noteworthy because it suggested negative effects show up at a much lower level of exercise, not just in serial ultramarathoners. But there was a flaw in the original analysis, as cardiac researcher Thomas Weber of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York pointed out in a letter to the editor in the journal Heart.

The results were "adjusted" for body-mass index, blood pressure and cholesterol, meaning that the researchers used statistical techniques to artificially equalize these parameters among the various groups of runners and nonrunners. This is standard practice in epidemiological studies to eliminate confounding variables - for example, if one group happens to be older or younger on average than another, statistical adjustment can correct for age.

But in a study of the health effects of running, BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol are not "confounding" variables, Weber pointed out. Running directly lowers all three, so we should expect runners to have lower values on average. Artificially equalizing them hides - and perhaps even reverses - the effects you'd expect from running.

Sure enough, peer reviewers pointed out this flaw when the results were submitted for journal publication - and it no longer appears in the final analysis. That changes the conclusions considerably, since the benefits of running no longer seem to lessen with increasing mileage.

As a result, the take-home message is dramatically different and communicates that you don't need to train like a marathoner to be healthy - but neither is it unhealthy to train like a marathoner.

That's the conclusion Catrin Jones, a top ultra and trail runner from Victoria, has taken. The debate about heart health and running didn't dent her enthusiasm (or her mileage accumulation), but a prolonged struggle with an injured hip and a possible stress fracture over the winter has reminded her that more isn't always better.

"I'm still figuring out how much training in one week is ideal for me," she admits. "By gauging how I feel both physically and mentally, I can alter my training load on a day-to-day basis."

Creswell, too, continues to swim, bike and run enthusiastically. But he worries that the original message about too much exercise may linger much longer than the corrected one. "I have this uneasy sense that primarycare providers - the professionals that relatively healthy people visit - are subject to the headlines," he says.

Still, if excessive exercise does cause harm, he'd like to know, so he hopes research into the question continues.

"Is the debate worthwhile?" he asks. "Sure. In the right context.

In general, though, we have a problem with too little exercise, not too much."

Alex Hutchinson blogs about exercise research at


A conference presentation in 2012 suggested that running too much or too fast negates many of its health benefits. But the numbers were incorrectly 'adjusted' for BMI, cholesterol and blood pressure. How much difference does it make? The graph below shows an apparent rise in the relative risk of death during the study for faster runners, which is no longer present in a revised analysis published last month.

Associated Graphic

Dedicated runner Robert Gazzale, an economist at the University of Toronto, trains at Varsity Stadium.


'I want to believe that running - a lot - is good for my health,' says Dr. Robert Gazzale, a runner.


Friday, August 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B6

When was the last time you spent nearly two minutes reading an ad? It may have been more recently than you think.

Almost nobody looks at ads. That's the challenge facing all publishers in a digital world. Even if readers have not installed ad-blocking software on their devices, most have trained themselves to develop a kind of visual filtration system. Good content gets through. The rest is detritus.

But the acceleration of publishers offering up "native advertising" is changing that. Also known as "sponsored content," the idea is to present what looks like an article someone might want to read, brought to you by a sponsor. Examples include a piece on cloud computing branded with the IBM logo; an article about a trade show in Las Vegas sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority; and stories about the future of energy paid for by Shell and Chevron.

Looked at one way, this is the oldest media model there is.

Media content such as television shows, radio programming, and the news have for the most part been funded by the ads that appear on the page alongside articles, or during commercial breaks.

But the breakdown in the value of advertising brought on by the growth of digital media, for which rates are far lower, has threatened business models for publishers and blurred the traditionally firm lines between advertisers and the editorial work they sponsor.

The difference now is that advertisers are weaving their way more seamlessly into that content.

The idea is to create articles that are readable and attractive, so advertisers might avoid being ignored as usual. And publishers can charge more than the pittance that the ads at the top or the side of a Web page usually command. Sponsored content varies widely in format and scope, so prices vary too, but for many publishers it garners roughly a 40- to 60-per-cent premium on regular ads.

But does it work? Torontobased company Polar, which helps publishers manage their sponsored content and measure the results, says that on average, Canadian readers who click on sponsored articles spend nearly two minutes - 1:55 to be precise - looking at that content. (That is on desktop computers and tablets; on smartphones the average is 1:38, which is still much more than most people ever spend looking at an ad.) Polar's clients include Condé Nast, the Associated Press, The Telegraph in Britain, the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail (which publishes native advertising on its website).

This new format is gaining popularity among advertisers as people spend more time on mobile devices, where traditional online banner ads are an even more awkward fit.

For online magazine Slate, roughly 60 per cent of ad revenue now comes from campaigns that include some element of sponsored content.

"It's vital to our survival, and we're making investments in that area," said Lindsay Nelson, vicepresident of integrated programs at Slate.

The click-through rate on that kind of content - the percentage of people who actually click a headline to look at the article - is up to 1 per cent at Slate, dramatically higher than click-through rates on traditional online ads.

(Studies peg these roughly at a dismal one-tenth of 1 per cent.)

But sponsored content still struggles to get people to click on it. Polar's numbers are surprisingly low on that point: Sponsored headlines are clicked on just 0.16 per cent of the time on average in Canada on desktops; 0.3 per cent on tablets and 0.2 per cent on smartphones.

Polar CEO Kunal Gupta says that the average is deceiving: Publishers who do a good job on native advertising achieve clickthrough-rates closer to Slate's level, but many are still figuring out what works. The high average time spent with those articles, though, is an indication that once people do click, they are actually looking at what's there.

Not surprisingly, Polar found that in Canada, posts without shading (a light background colour many publishers use to indicate that this content is different from the rest) are 93 per cent better at encouraging people to click.

"If the ad looks and feels like editorial, they click on it more," Mr. Gupta said.

But that is causing critics to raise the alarm about a crisis of trust brewing for media companies.

"The only ones who are doing very, very well with it also happen to be the ones for whom the stakes are very low. That's Buzzfeed," said Bob Garfield, an author and host of the NPRdistributed show On the Media, who has covered media and advertising for years.

"It's hard to have a lot of moral indignation about native advertising in a slide show about cats.

But when Slate does it, when the New York Times does it, when the Guardian does it, when the Washington Post does it, it's a different thing. Somehow the whole industry has talked itself into ethical blinders."

Last month, the Interactive Advertising Bureau polled 5,000 people who visit U.S. news websites. The study called the transparency of this type of advertising into question: It found that for those reading general news, just 41 per cent were able to recognize that the material they were looking at was advertising.

"Nobody wins if you're tricking people," said Sam Slaughter, vicepresident of content for New York-based Contently, which works with brands such as American Express, Wal-Mart, and Coke to help format and analyze their sponsored content.

The solution, he believes, is to create more relevant content that is clearly labelled as advertising.

Mr. Gupta at Polar believes a standard is needed for how publishers do so.

Currently, the standard is all over the place. What used to be known as an "advertorial" in print frequently appeared in a different font, and with a clear label at the top of the page that said "advertising."

Native advertising, on the other hand, is often formatted to look much like other articles on a site.

When readers are fooled, there are consequences for publishers.

Contently released a study in June that found that two-thirds of readers "have felt deceived upon realizing that an article or video was sponsored by a brand," and that 59 per cent think that news sites lose credibility when they publish this type of material.

It's a risk that Mr. Garfield insists is not worth the meagre reward.

"The revenue ... is not in any way going to replace the shortfall that has come with the digital revolution," he said. "... The situation is simply more desperate and as such, people are willing to do desperate things - to barter away the trust you have accrued over your entire publishing history for a couple of bucks that won't even save your life."

Associated Graphic

Daily Show alumnus John Oliver recently addressed the issue of native advertising on his satirical news show. During the segment, he compared this blurring of the traditional division between news and advertising to ripping out a person's heart. His point? The trust in a publisher's integrity is 'what made the whole thing work.' (Mr. Oliver did not lay blame only on media companies: Many readers' unwillingness to pay for news online has also contributed to the financial threat facing the free press, he said.)

More and more families are choosing an urban lifestyle. Now they're waiting for the services they need to catch up
Friday, August 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page G1

Eight years ago, Hazel Liau's husband bought a 1,268square-foot, pre-construction condo in the CityPlace complex at Spadina Avenue and Front Street.

He spent two years in his bachelor pad before Ms. Liau moved in. Now, the two-bedroom-plus den unit is a family home for the couple, their two daughters, a French bulldog and a school of saltwater fish in a 300-gallon tank.

Their evolution has been mirrored in the neighbourhood around them.

"It feels like the kid population has maybe tripled in the past four years," says Ms. Liau, 33, who's currently on maternity leave with her eight-month-old second daughter.

She's almost right. Between 2006 and 2011, her Trinity-Spadina ward has seen a 20-per-cent jump in the number of under-five yearold residents - and since the majority of the ward lives in multiunit buildings, it's safe to say a whole lot of those kids live in condos.

Toronto's condo boom has kicked off a real-time experiment in ultra-urban living, and one of the most controversial aspects of the shift is whether the city is ready for the influx of high-rise families like Ms. Liau's.

With 21 buildings and roughly 7,500 units, CityPlace is perhaps the fastest-burbling test tube of them all. Ever since the developer Concord Adex began dropping towers onto the site in 2000, CityPlace has taken a lot of criticism for lacking sufficient infrastructure or amenities for its population. In some ways, the neighbourhood is catching up: In exchange for allowing extrahigh towers, the city got developers around the Fort York neighbourhood to kick in cash to build parks, like the Canoe Landing splash pad that Ms. Liau's daughters love, and a modern, high-tech library that opened earlier this year to an immediate influx of condo-dwelling families. "We use it all the time - everything's so new," says Ms. Liau.

Like many of her neighbours, Ms. Liau says she prefers a small downtown space to a big suburban home: She grew up in Brampton and spent much of her 20s commuting the 90 minutes there and back. Here, her husband can walk to his office in the Eaton Centre, while she can take her daughter to Mandarinlanguage preschool in Chinatown on foot. Ms. Liau also says that part of the draw are the child-friendly amenities offered in her complex, like a movie theatre for holding birthday parties, a swimming pool that lets her bypass the waiting lists for city recreation programs, and an indoor playground, which was especially appreciated during this past brutal winter.

But the air-drop of new people into already-busy neighbourhoods definitely brings problems. The snarl of traffic in, out and past CityPlace is formidable - cars, bicycles and pedestrians all act independently, regardless of the stop lights - and it's not the only capacity issue the neighbourhood is grappling with. Here, and in neighbourhoods from High Park to Yonge and Sheppard, condo parents are dismayed to learn that their kids might not automatically get into the high-rated schools in their district, because there just isn't room. Two new schools are being built to handle the influx from CityPlace and other Fort York condos, but in the interim, there will be a whole lot of busing.

Ensuring his daughter's smooth transition into a local school is part of why Andrew Geldard is currently renting an apartment in the Junction while waiting for his condo to be built. "That way, if she starts school before it's ready, she'll already be in the right one," said the 37year-old, who bought a 1,000square-foot unit in the Duke condos, a seven-storey apartment and townhouse complex at the corner of Dundas Street West and Indian Grove Avenue. The building is slated to be ready for occupancy at the end of 2015. By that time, Mr. Geldard's daughter will be almost five, and his son will be just over two years old.

Mr. Geldard and his wife spent a few months casually looking for a house before accepting that ground-floor real estate is currently too much for their budget, and anxiety levels. "There's all this frantic panicking that you have to do to win a house," he says of Toronto's current market, which is rife with bidding wars and competition. "We nearly made one bid and pulled out. I felt like a rabbit in the headlights."

As a senior designer with Quadrangle Architects - which is working with the developer TAS on the Duke - Mr. Geldard knew firsthand that the building's floor plans truly maximized the small space. It helps that he grew up in a narrow townhouse in England, though he does wish he had a "garden" for his kids to play in. Part of why he and his wife like the Junction is the proximity to parks: the wading pool at Vine Avenue makes it a favourite. Choosing an apartment as his starter home was a compromise, but it's one he thinks can work for the present time. "A condo seems like the stepping stone to a bigger property in the future," he says.

One major drawback for families considering condos has been the lack of larger units on the market, leading them to command prices comparable to smaller homes (especially once maintenance fees are added in).

Having noticed the demand, some developers are finally responding. Duke developer TAS has just launched a new mid-rise building, Kingston&Co, east of Main Street in the upper Beaches. Toronto's average condo size is 800 square feet - more than half of the units in Kingston&Co are that big or larger, with the biggest ones bordering on 1,600 square feet. Many units have eight-foot-deep terraces, with sizes from 160 to 520 square feet, and most are split into two or three bedrooms. TAS cheif executive and president Mazyar Mortazavi says these design decisions were made purposely to attract families.

"The units have the kind of space you need to keep a vacuum in, so you're not always running to your basement locker," says Mr. Mortazavi. He knows that many people choose condos over houses because of economic constraints, but says the upside of that is the decision to remain in downtown neighbourhoods. The goal is to make Kingston a building that appeals to buyers from singletons to parents to retirees. Rather than a condo, Mr. Mortazavi hopes they'll consider the seven-storey building a "home in a multiuse environment" - one they can stay in as they transition through life stages.

Ms. Liau says that her family will need more square footage at some point, but while her husband is set on a house, she'd consider another condo. "We'll probably move in a year or two," she says, "and I want to stay as central as possible."

Associated Graphic

Andrew Geldard, his wife Dionne Hingston, daughter Mea, 3, and son Ethan, 1, play together in their Junction-area apartment.


Andrew Geldard and Dionne Hingston bought a downtown condo after rejecting the frantic resale market.


This one's big
Construction is soon to begin on Vancouver House and the impact - stylistic, economic and cultural - is just beginning to be felt
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S5

Construction on Vancouver House will begin in the next four months and as it goes up, so, too, will the city's cachet as one of those places worthy of world-class architecture.

We've all seen the renderings of the tower that appears to twist, and few dispute that Vancouver House is a thing of beauty. It's also going up in a downtown location at Beach and Howe that needed a serious jolt of life, in a tight wedge of space darkened by a bridge off-ramp; a dead zone dominated by traffic and perilous for pedestrians.

Once finished, by 2018, Vancouver House will be the sort of sculptural building that lands in the pages of international architecture and design books. Sales of the 388 units began just three weeks ago, and the tower is already half-sold.

Developer Ian Gillespie believes sales are driven by the fact that the tower is unique, and has the lustre of being a Bjarke Ingels project. Since he hired Mr. Ingels for the job, the young Danish architect's demand has soared. He and Mr. Gillespie already have other projects in the works.

"Every city needs to have some special moments that take your breath away, that say to you, 'Okay, this is something unique. This is something beautiful,' " says Mr. Gillespie, the man behind Westbank Projects Corp. "And you can't have too much of that, because then it's not special. But you do need two or three or four special moments in a mature skyline, and Vancouver lacks that."

The tower appears to defy gravity, a top-heavy shape that ascends from a triangular base. It will be more than 500 feet tall and yet its foundation only 6,000 square feet.

"The total floor plate above is about 13,000 square feet, so your building is twice as heavy up top," says director of sales Jason Dolker. "It's the reverse of the usual building that gets skinnier and skinner as it goes up."

It wasn't a creation driven by ego, or the "edifice complex" that drives development in cities such as Dubai and elsewhere, insists Mr. Gillespie.

"This wasn't some attempt at being extravagant or trying to shock people into some crazy form," he says. "Instead, the form came out of the constraints."

As part of its $4-million amenities contribution, Westbank is building a market-style area under the nearby Granville Street Bridge. The project includes stores, restaurants and office space and 95 market rental apartments.

There's also a public art component, with Rodney Graham's spinning chandelier, located at market level. Over the course of the day, the chandelier will slowly descend and at 9 p.m. spin rapidly, then slowly ascend again.

Mr. Ingels, 39 - who was introduced to Mr. Gillespie by former city planning director Brent Toderian - has been directly involved in the design of the faucets, the copper backsplashes, the kitchen islands that are shaped like the building, an infinity pool, the lobby couch that resembles stacked sand bags, and floating mailboxes designed to encourage conversation between residents.

"There is a strong link between architecture and interiors, like some of the features in the architecture repeat in the interior design," says Bjarke Ingels Group partner Thomas Christoffersen, who met with Mr. Gillespie in Vancouver this week. "We are doing a lot of customized items, such as built-in furniture."

Like most major projects, it hasn't been without its controversy. Eyebrows have been raised about marketing to global purchasers. An influx of foreign money, mostly from China, has helped push Vancouver home prices so high as to make affordability an ongoing issue for a city where the average household income is among the lowest for a major North American metropolis. Locals are tired of competing with offshore money for a share of the real estate pie. It's typical for marketers to target overseas buyers, but for locals, it's a sensitive topic.

Westbank began its official marketing launch with real estate agent events in Vancouver in April. The company, which has offices in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong, then marketed the tower in Asia in June. It also marketed the project in New York, London and Beverly Hills.

When asked what he thinks of the unease with foreign ownership, Mr. Gillespie is forthright.

"I think it is a very provincial attitude," he says. "And Vancouver is one of only four cities in the world where 40 per cent of the population is born outside of Canada. The second thing I would say is that the foreign buyer is buying a unit that creates hundreds of construction jobs. That buyer closes on the unit, and then pays thousands and thousands of dollars a year in property taxes, and doesn't use infrastructure that those property taxes pay for. If that's the worst-case scenario, then maybe we have bigger problems."

Mr. Gillespie says we also need to define the meaning of "foreign owner."

"The majority [of units] will sell to local residents of Vancouver," he says. "And I don't know where the numbers will shake out, but 35 to 40 per cent will sell overseas. And at the end of the day, most of those people already are Canadian citizens.

About 90 per cent of the buyers in Hong Kong already have Canadian citizenship. Is it foreign because they don't carry a passport? What does foreign even mean? In today's world, what do those concepts mean?" As for the potential empty condo issue, Mr. Gillespie says that the number of empty condos typically shrink as the residents settle in. Wealthy global purchasers are often transient.

"These buildings mature and as they mature, the ownership of the units gravitates to people who are owner/occupiers," he says. "I could point out building after building that has been through the same pattern.

Because what happens is, you are a buyer from Singapore, and you buy a unit in Vancouver, and why do you buy that unit? They never, ever buy just on speculation. They don't buy to flip it.

Those days are gone 10 or 20 years ago. Our market doesn't go cyclical up and down. It's a very steady market. They buy because they think it's going to be a second home or because they have a child who will go to UBC, or because they are thinking of leaving Hong Kong because they are worried about air pollution.

And the ones who don't end up coming, it's because their kid who they thought was going to UBC decides to be a rock star.

Instead, they end up renting the unit out.

"But in those years they are paying property taxes, and supporting the City of Vancouver. So in the whole scheme of things in a city that will continue to blossom over the next century, why worry about something like a building not being occupied in next three or four years?"

Associated Graphic

Ian Gillespie, left, seen with Bjarke Ingels, insists Vancouver House wasn't a creation driven by an 'edifice complex.'


To fly off store shelves, it helps if a book has a good calling card - a cover that first grabs your attention (amid a world filled with attention grabbers) and then makes you want to leaf through the pages. Indeed, cover design is a fine art unto itself, filled with metaphor and, in the end, making the book look good on your own shelf
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, August 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L10

It used to be enough for a book to idly stand out in a bookstore. Nowadays, however, new books must jostle for attention with everything. Thousands of distractions are just a click away. Is it any wonder that book-cover design is more important than ever?

Good-looking books aren't new, of course. Booksellers have long understood the need for shelf appeal. Penguin has been producing handsome, thoroughly English-looking books for more than 75years - thanks in no small part to the design fundamentals of a pair of German émigrés, Jan Tschichold and Hans Schmoller. More recently, contemporary designers such as Jim Stoddart, Coralie BickfordSmith and David Pearson have designed covers that have both worked within Penguin's tradition and expanded it in new directions. Penguin remains one of the few publishers with a recognizable design identity. Since the early 1990s, however, it is Alfred A. Knopf - under the discerning eye of art director Carol Devine Carson - that has set the standard for innovative bookcover design. The New York imprint has fostered the talents of many designers, including Barbara deWilde, John Gall, Peter Mendelsund, Gabriele Wilson, and perhaps the most famous contemporary book-cover designer of all, Chip Kidd. Idiosyncratic and irreverent, some of their most brilliant designs have belonged to bestsellers. Other publishers have taken note.

In Canada, the 2014 Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design (announced in April) were dominated by Andrew Steeves and independent publisher Gaspereau Press. Over the years, however, Canadian publishers, such as Anansi, Douglas & McIntyre, and McClelland & Stewart, have all produced their share of notable covers. Canadian designers, such as Peter Cocking, Bill Douglas, Kelly Hill, Naomi MacDougall, Brian Morgan, Terri Nimmo, Natalie Olsen, Scott Richardson, Ingrid Paulson, Jessica Sullivan and Michel Vrana (to name but a few), continue to create eye-catching work for publishers both at home and, in some cases, abroad.

This year, the big trend in book-cover design continues to be hand-drawn lettering and illustration, especially for literary fiction - something that can probably be traced back to British designer Jon Gray (a.k.a. Gray318), whose wonderful covers for Jonathan Safran Foer quite possibly started the whole thing. Typographic covers also remain popular. Interestingly though, younger designers are embracing the kind of bold, curvy typefaces and ornamentation that haven't been in vogue since the 1970s. Acetate jackets, metallic foil, die-cuts and other fancy production techniques are also becoming more widespread. Even so, minimal, pared-down designs with strong visual ideas still have a place. Book covers that are instantly recognizable at small sizes have become all too important in the age of the thumbnail image. If we can't remember the title, we might at least remember that the cover was blue.

All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu - design by Isabel Urbina Pena (Bond Street Books / March 4, 2014)

This stylish jacket by Venezuelan designer Isabel Urbina Pena harks back to the handwritten book covers of the American designer Paul Rand in the 1950s. It's simple and effective. Not only is it highly legible, it looks wonderful on the bookshelf.

The Book of Heaven by Patricia Storace - design by Linda Huang (Pantheon / Feb. 18, 2014)

The design for The Book of Heaven is angular, awkward and looks like nothing else on the shelf. It's confrontational and provocative, but it's fascinating too. I'm interested to see more from designer Linda Huang.

Enlightenment 2.0 by Joseph Heath - design by David Gee (HarperCollins Canada / April 7, 2014)

A "recovering adman," David Gee still has the mind of a great copywriter. His witty cover design for Enlightenment 2.0 is an immediate visual joke that plays on the book's title and its central theme. (David is also responsible for the cover of Cheers! An Intemperate History of Beer in Canada by Nicholas Pashley, quite possibly the greatest Canadian book cover of all time.)

Les fantômes fument en cachette by Miléna Babin - design by David Drummond (Les Editions XYZ / Feb. 28, 2014)

It's often the case with David Drummond's designs that they appear so simple and incisive that it's a wonder no one else thought of them first. His recent work for Quai No. 5 is no exception - he has brought a certain Anglo-American je ne sais quoi to the Quebec imprint. The cover for Miléna Babin's Les fantômes fument en cachette is cool, cinematic and intriguing.

Friendship by Emily Gould - design by Jennifer Carrow (Farrar, Straus & Giroux / July 1, 2014)

Mercifully, Jennifer Carrow's design for Emily Gould's debut novel is a welcome departure from the kind of wispy clichés too often foisted on female literary authors by unimaginative publishers. The hand-drawn letters and illustration are perfect, and the neon colours work beautifully on the jacket's inky blue background.

Leaving the Sea by Ben Marcus - design Peter Mendelsund (Knopf / Jan. 7, 2014)

Perhaps best known for his cover design for Steig Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Peter Mendelsund's designs are frequently thoughtful and uncompromising. Last year, he surprised and delighted everyone with a paper-cut design for Ben Marcus's The Flame Alphabet. The same technique works just as well here on the cover of Marcus's new collection of stories.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka - design by Jamie Keenan (W. W. Norton / Jan. 21, 2014)

Jamie Keenan's design for The Metamorphosis combines an ornate typeface and the legs of a stag beetle. It resembles an insect pinned under glass in an elegant display case - something from another time that is at once fascinating and deeply creepy. I half expect it to twitch.

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee - design by Helen Yentus; lettering Jason Booher (Riverhead / Jan. 7, 2014)

Helen Yentus, art director of Riverhead Books, is consistently one of the most interesting and innovative book cover designers in the industry. As if this distinctive, beautifully rendered black and white book cover wasn't enough, Yentus also produced a 3-D printed slipcase for a limited edition of the novel.

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan - design by Janet Hagen; photograph Joy Shan (Scribner / April 8, 2014)

This jacket catches my eye every time I'm in a bookstore. The vibrant colours and stylish type have a freshness that makes the book feel very of the moment.

The photograph is a mix of confidence and vulnerability - perfect for a collection of essays and stories by a young writer. But with the beauty of this cover, there is also tragedy - Marina Keegan was killed in a car accident at age 22, and I cannot help but think of the life cut short.

The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart - design by Keith Hayes (Little, Brown & Co. / Jan. 14, 2014)

Keith Hayes's design for The Visionist needs to be seen in a bookstore - the digital image doesn't do it justice. The jacket is translucent acetate decorated with gold foil in the shape of a Shaker Tree of Life. The photograph of the Shaker woman so visible here is obscured underneath. It is a lovely, thoughtful cover.

Thoughts on depression from an artistic mind
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R3

I admire the (temporary?) openness about depression that is being displayed in the media and online in the wake of Robin Williams's suicide, and I want to add my two cents. My credentials are that I am a fellow sufferer, and have experienced depression (and its knife-wielding twin, anxiety) since I was an adolescent. I have been hospitalized for it, medicated for it (with both licit and illicit drugs), and I've had various therapies as well.

Like cancer, depression kills a certain amount of its victims; like cancer, it's an illness, not a weakness. Even so, I am ashamed to admit that I am a sufferer, which means I find it easy to internalize as well as somehow externalize - through my own silence - the attitude that depression is a failure of strength or character.

I am not an expert in the causes of depression, only an expert in the experience of it, and after four or so decades living with the illness, I know a few things about it:

There's no cure, only remission. People who suffer from depression (not "normal unhappiness," which was the goal of Freud's talking cure), are never fully out of danger because it is depression's nature to recur. Sufferers of depression have "episodes" the same way those who suffer from multiple sclerosis do.

It comes, wipes the floor with you, and then somehow returns you to the world. But it comes back.

Depressives don't make themselves sick. They don't choose depression. They may have a cognitive leaning toward interpreting events and feelings in a certain way, but they don't choose to get or stay depressed. The fact that it runs in families should indicate to fair-minded people that it has a genetic aspect as well. You may get your blue eyes from your father and your blue feelings from him as well. Recent research even suggests that ancestral trauma may be coded genetically, thereby passing a predisposition for mood disorders down through the generations.

Depression is a surfeit of empathy - a killing empathy - that makes depressives great friends to everyone but themselves. Having a self is a rough business and depressives can empathize with others who have to deal with it, but not with themselves. Fundamentally, people who suffer from this illness can give love, but when suffering from it, they can't accept it. That doesn't mean they don't need it, only that they believe they don't deserve it.

The only treatment is exercise and work. Many depressives become expert walkers. Solvitur ambulando - Latin for "it is solved by walking" - has profound application for depression. I think therapy would be more effective if the therapist and the patient had their sessions while walking, briskly, around a park.

Work equates to purpose, something that depressives think they lack. Working gives lie to the feeling of purposelessness and combats it.

Suicidal thoughts become suicidal action when the thought of your loved ones arranged around your grave is no longer a deterrent. When a depressive who wants to die thinks of the suffering it will cause others, it's a restraint, but it also feels like a trap. It's the last barrier between them and eternity, which the depressed person longs for. Once the idea of others' pain is trumped by their own, a peace descends and suicide is often inevitable. I'm not arguing for suicide, only acknowledging its draw. In a terrible way, self-murder is an act of self-love. It ends someone's suffering.

The only thing you can do for someone who is depressed is to be around them and love them despite their illness. Living with a depressive is a bloody nightmare.

They say things they don't mean, about themselves and others.

They cancel dinners. They won't look you in the eye. They use the words "always" and "never" liberally. The symptoms of depression often seem like they're directed at you. But it's not personal. If you can accept this, you'll be doing the most you can for the sufferer in your life. Be silent and useful and remember it's not about you.

Touch helps. Get a massage. Give a massage. If you can, make love to a depressed person.

Touch is primitive. Your reaction to it is in your reptile brain, but your thoughts are happening somewhere else. Touch creates some distance between the body and the self. Depressives are excellent in bed if you can convince them to take off their pyjamas.

The culprit is the mind. I think, therefore I am, said Descartes.

Therein lies the problem. Some depressives conclude, as Robin Williams did this past week, that not thinking and not being is preferable to the alternative. I'm shattered that he lost his battle, but I'm also glad he's free of his pain. If you have lost someone to depression, or another mood disorder, be aware that your love was enough. You couldn't have prevented their death and there's nothing you should have done differently. The suicide's logic has nothing in common with yours.

In the end, death makes mad, perfect sense to them.

Depression is a byproduct of consciousness, and addiction is a byproduct of depression. No one is depressed when they're asleep, which is why being in bed is such a safe place if you're really down.

The reason so many intelligent and creative people suffer from depression is that when you take the risk of being fully conscious, you open Pandora's box and you can't close it again. Alcohol, drugs, and addictive behaviours are a bulwark against what's in the box. They say people with addictions are escaping pain as if that's a foolish or illogical reaction to pain. It isn't. As the comedian Doug Stanhope said, "There's no such thing as addiction, there's only things that you enjoy doing more than life." If you know depression, you know what he means.

To all my fellow sufferers, then, slainte. Your depression exists not because you did something wrong or because you're a bad person, it exists because you're you. Remember the last time you survived it and how it cleansed you, and hold on to that if you can. That is the gift of depression: When it leaves you, it leaves you flayed but vividly alive. Dante's Inferno (an archetypal rendering of depression) ends with Virgil emerging from the seven circles of hell, reborn into life by a holy grace. The depressed person wants to live and wants to love and it is always a surprise to rediscover the pleasures of the world after despair. The final line of Dante's poem is a talisman to be held dear by anyone who has experienced depression's pervasive darkness: Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars.

Michael Redhill is a poet, novelist and playwright. His most recent work, Saving Houdini, is a novel for young adults. This essay, at the request of The Globe and Mail, was adapted from a Facebook post.

For a smooth commute downtown, take a kayak
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M1

The loon really was straight out of central casting.

Easing a kayak out of a garage in Toronto's east end, the piercing call of a bird more often heard farther north broke the quiet morning air. It was one of the only things awake around dawn to witness this test of whether paddling - the quintessentially Canadian way to get around - was a viable alternative to the road congestion for which the country's biggest city is now known.

It's never all that quick getting into the city from the Beaches. A normal commute can range from about 25 minutes in a car to an hour on the streetcar, if you don't short-turn. And the 501 Queen streetcar got a lot worse this summer, when a series of construction projects forced it onto epic diversions.

Not long before the construction started, the idea of water transportation had been mooted on the mayoral campaign trail, which left me wondering about bypassing traffic in a kayak. But how feasible is it to paddle to work? I recently set out to test the waters, "commuting" each way and storing the boat overnight at the home of a helpful expat couple.

The only company as I launched earlier this month, not far from the Balmy Beach Club, was a group of stand-up paddle boarders. A few of them carrying small dogs on their boards, they moved east toward the sun that was climbing huge and red from the horizon. I went west, paralleling the beach and then curving out to cross the mouth of Ashbridge's Bay.

The first half-hour toward the downtown was probably the most peaceful commuting I'd ever done.

Just me, the birds and the rhythmic dip and splash of the paddle. I was reminded of The Wind in the Willows and the water rat's love of "messing about in boats."

Urban life intruded near the base of the Leslie Street Spit. The distant hum of traffic was punctuated by the beeping of reversing trucks. The first plane roared overhead at 7:02, but quiet fell again as I looped around the spit, passing a couple of skippers who seemed to be waking up aboard their yachts near the end.

I was more than halfway there. Less than an hour later, I was pulling the boat out in downtown Toronto.

Taking to the water

When driving along the waterfront highways, gridlock often gives commuters a chance to look at the lake. In the summer months, it can be a beautiful glittering sight. And it's usually pretty empty, particularly in the morning.

People have long mused about using Lake Ontario as a commuting alternative. The urban theorist Jane Jacobs thought it could be done in all seasons, arguing decades ago that the city should start "hydro-foil and ice hovercraft transportation."

This spring, mayoral candidate John Tory's transportation plan included the teaser that "the water remains an untapped resource for most Torontonians." He mentioned water taxis and commuter services, but didn't go into detail.

The idea is not far-fetched, with the examples of many other cities to learn from.

In Chicago, a water-taxi service connects several parts of the city. Hong Kong has high-speed boats bringing commuters from outlying islands and the venerable Star Ferry remains used by residents in spite of the excellent subway between Kowloon and the island. And in Venice, while the tourists ride the clichéd gondolas, water buses operated by the transit agency help locals get around.

In Toronto, though, some issues would need to be resolved. Would there be a series of pick-up spots or a pair of major terminals, with correspondingly large parking requirements, to the east and west? Where would commuter ferries dock in the core and how would their passengers connect with the transit network? Could it be run in winter, or would it be service for summer only, when traffic volumes already are down a bit?

Of course, these issues do nothing to prevent a person driving their own boat into the city's downtown from the east or west. But there are not a lot of places to moor when you arrive. A kayak, on the other hand, is small enough that there are more options. Clubs in the core and near Cherry Beach offer storage, for a fee, and striking a deal with a waterfront condo resident could mean space in their storage locker.

The evening commute

It's a short walk from the Globe building at Front and Spadina to the water, and as I paddled I cut a beeline southeast across the harbour. The early August heat dropped immediately out on the water and a distinctly molasses sort of smell drifted over from the Redpath facility. It was a somewhat windy evening, though, with the chop combining at times with the ferries' wakes to make for a bouncy ride.

The water smoothed out through the Eastern Gap and the traffic on the lake dropped noticeably as well.

The Spit is closed to the public during the week, meaning it would be verboten to do a quick portage that would cut the trip by one-third. Taking the long way around, I powered past the guano reek pouring out of one of the bays. There were very few boats here - just a few jet-skis that made me think there could be a faster way to do this.

It was somewhere around here I started to wonder about the safety of the water, which was ending up on my face periodically.

The city is rightly proud of some of the cleanliness of some of its beaches, but water elsewhere is not tested. (A spokeswoman for Toronto Public Health reached later recommended that people stick to tested and guarded areas. She offered no specific health advice related to those using the water elsewhere. Maybe it's a good thing I've got all my shots.)

The passage across Ashbridge's Bay seemed more or less endless and I began to regret the incredibly heavy chain I'd brought along to lock up the boat. But my mood lifted after rounding the last headland. The Leuty Lifeguard Station was in sight and the finish was just after that.

All told, about two hours each way. The truth is, you'd have to be pretty driven to do this every day.

But it's not inconceivable to paddle to work occasionally.

Commute on the Queen streetcar, add in a visit to the gym and the timing is a wash. And it's a lot more fun than going to the gym.


Have paddle, will travel

Join Oliver Moore as he kayaks from downtown to the east end, and assesses if waterborne commuting is an answer to beating the traffic.

Associated Graphic

Oliver Moore pulls his kayak into the dock at HTO Park on Toronto's waterfront on Friday. His paddle from the Beaches to the Globe office took about two hours each way.


Leafs go big on analytics with creation of stats department
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

One hire was one thing. A whole department is quite another.

The Toronto Maple Leafs' new assistant general manager, Kyle Dubas, has been busy this summer. He's had to be, given his hiring came in late July and there was a lot of work to be done for an organization that had previously dedicated almost no resources to data collection or analysis.

No more.

On Tuesday afternoon, Yahoo Sports broke the news that Dubas and the Leafs were amassing an analytics team unlike any in the NHL. The trio features a mathematician, a sportswriter and a chemical engineer-turned-IT-professional who created one of the most popular hockey data sites out there.

Almost overnight, the Leafs will go from one of the league's least-progressive teams in this area to one of the most, dedicating considerable time and energy to numbers-based analysis of the team's roster, acquisitions and style of play.

How that will mesh with the more old-school staff - led by head coach Randy Carlyle - and how it will affect the team's fortunes on the ice will be a storyline to follow all season.

What's intriguing about the Leafs' trip down this path is just how unusual some of the additions are. Bringing in Dubas, the 28-year-old Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds general manager, was unusual, but the backgrounds of the newcomers are even further afield from typical NHL hires.

All three, for example, are in their 20s, and not one of them has held a management role in the sport at any level.

The closest to that has been Rob Pettapiece, who worked in relative secrecy as Dubas's righthand stats man in the Soo the past year.

With a math degree in combinatorics and optimization, Pettapiece has work experience everywhere from Statistics Canada to the City of Kitchener in Ontario as an economic analyst, and is more widely known for his work in baseball analytics than hockey.

Pettapiece will team up with Darryl Metcalf, who built analytics hub from scratch by scraping data from the NHL's website, and Cam Charron, a data journalist who wrote some of the most scathing critiques of the Leafs last season for various media sites.

The Leafs' sudden transformation on this front started with the hiring of Brendan Shanahan as team president in April, right at the tail-end of a franchise faceplant that included losing 13 of their final 16 games en route to missing the playoffs.

Toronto had been a hot-button team in terms of analytics from the start of the season, as the Leafs won games while being heavily outshot and often outplayed, something analysts such as Charron noted was highly unlikely to continue over 82 games.

Leafs GM Dave Nonis had also added fuel to the debate last November when he noted during an appearance at a sports business conference that he hadn't found a use for any of the team's available analytics budget.

A neophyte when it came to terms such as Corsi and Fenwick, Shanahan was barraged with questions about analytics right from his first press conference, and he made learning more a key off-season priority.

"It is something that I'm going to use," Shanahan told The Globe and Mail a month after he was hired. "I do have some thoughts, and I have some meetings with some people about that."

Those led to hiring Dubas, which in turn led to these latest hires, which are expected to be officially announced later this week.

One of the major advantages the Leafs have in this area is a nearly unlimited budget to pursue leads. With franchise revenues at roughly $200-million (U.S.) a season and the salary cap set at $69-million, Toronto has no excuse not to spend on off-ice personnel - including in analytics - and innovation.

Part of what Dubas's new team will do is track data not available from the league. Pettapiece and Metcalf's computer backgrounds will assist in developing software that can analyze their findings.

It's also likely they'll be able to create a more complex, in-house version of, giving the Leafs another resource not available elsewhere.

Then there is the possibility of introducing new optical-tracking technology - like the SportVU cameras being used in the NBA - although that likely remains a year or two down the road.

Regardless, the culture change Shanahan promised is certainly well under way in this particular area. No one can claim the Leafs aren't at least pursuing some new ideas, which is a welcome change from what's gone on for years in the organization.


Credit Brendan Shanahan with another intriguing move in the executive suite.

The Toronto Maple Leafs president made his second major front-office hire on Tuesday afternoon, adding Brandon Pridham, who Shanahan knew from his days working for the NHL.

Pridham's title will be assistant to the general manager, but what his duties will really be are those of team capologist: "salary-cap analysis, contract negotiations and collective bargaining agreement interpretation."

Pridham, 40, has a strong reputation around the league.

After working as senior director of the league's Central Registry, he has an excellent grasp of the NHL's CBA. He also served as senior adviser to NHL Central Scouting, where he began his career in 1999 as a co-ordinator.

One executive with a rival Eastern Conference team called Pridham "a great choice" by the Leafs because of his extensive knowledge of how the cap and CBA function.

Pridham is one of the bright minds at the league head office who are credited with helping create the cap system the NHL brought in following the 2004-05 lockout.

Around the league, his hiring is being compared to when the New Jersey Devils added Steve Pellegrini in 2006; he had previously been a league vicepresident in charge of central registry.

"For 15 years, Brandon has played an integral role in the central scouting and central registry departments for the NHL," Leafs GM Dave Nonis said in a statement. "His intimate knowledge of the complexities of the salary-cap system and strong relationships around the league will serve our team well." "I always looked forward to the opportunity to bring that experience [with the league] to an NHL club," Pridham added. "I'm thrilled with the chance to join Dave Nonis and his team."

The Leafs could certainly use some help in the capology department. Last season, they finished 23rd and out of the playoffs, yet they exceeded the salary cap by more than $500,000 (U.S.) due to performance bonuses.

That amount will now come off the team's available cap space next season.

Shanahan fired assistant GM Claude Loiselle and vice-president of hockey operations Dave Poulin late last month prior to hiring 28-year-old Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds general manager Kyle Dubas as the team's new assistant GM.

Places of higher learning expand up, not out
Two-storey addition on top of Thompson Rivers University building gives B.C. law school sweeping style and space
Tuesday, August 26, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B6

Academic architecture isn't what it used to be.

For many years, stretching back to the 1950s, universities and colleges in this country and beyond were constrained by the notion that buildings of higher education could work only on three or fewer storeys. According to some experts, however, that concept is now as outdated as the abacus.

"I would say it's totally an academic planning prejudice that universities can only work in three floors," says Don Schmitt, principal at Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc. in Toronto, a firm that has worked with 40 colleges and universities and has designed roughly 100 academic buildings over the past decade and a half.

"It's partly because that's been the tradition across many campuses. There's some vague idea that we have to accommodate the flows of people, that at the bell between this lecture and that lecture, there's 250 people flowing out and 250 people flowing in.

"Well, a typical office tower, say the TD Centre [in Toronto] that has 3,000-4,000 people working in one tower, how do they move them in and out?" While some schools have adopted a high-rise philosophy, such as Chicago's Roosevelt University with its 32-storey all-inclusive "vertical campus" served by highspeed elevators, others start to feel a little uneasy when the idea of even a sixth storey is discussed.

Case in point was the work Diamond Schmitt recently completed at the University of Ottawa, where it designed a 15storey faculty of social science building on a tiny footprint of land squeezed in between the existing five-storey Vanier Hall building and the Rideau Canal.

"Vanier Hall, everybody thought of it as fronting the canal, and we did a little work and said there is a ... building site here that could be made to work and it could integrate with Vanier Hall," Mr. Schmitt says. "They said academic buildings don't make sense on 15 floors."

But the building opened two years ago to widespread acclaim, offering five storeys of undergraduate classroom and lecture space, with seminar, office and research space occupying the upper floors.

But given the increasing complexities that come with operating in an urban environment, responding to growing student bodies and the demands for collaborative learning methods, utilizing the space most effectively is of the utmost importance.

"I think we are mindful of the footprint that we have because we are in an urban setting," says Alan Wildeman, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Windsor. "We don't have a lot of land around us and so we haven't gone much higher than three or four storeys but we are mindful of the fact that we need to create compact spaces that maximize the land that we've got."

That overriding principle was certainly at the forefront when Diamond Schmitt was asked to redesign an existing academic building at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops to accommodate a new law school. Though space wasn't necessarily a problem, there was a feeling among the faculty that the campus had started to sprawl, and that it needed to be refocused around a central core.

"When we did our campus master plan, one of the principles of that master plan is we wanted to create greater densification of the core of campus," says Matt Milovick, vice-president of finance and administration at TRU.

TRU had an existing circular piece of topography designed by famed Canadian landscape architect Cornelia Oberlander, which Mr. Schmitt saw as a crossroads for students. Diamond Schmitt built the university library there a few years ago, and the firm decided to re-emphasize that area of campus when it came to the neighbouring law school, too.

The existing multi-use two-storey 1970s structure, known as Old Main, which Mr. Schmitt fairly describes as a "bit of a beast in the middle of campus," was short on style, but long on function.

The university decided that rather than knocking it down, it would add to it. Instead of increasing the footprint horizontally, Diamond Schmitt went vertical instead, adding another two storeys.

"The old building being two storeys and fairly low, it didn't really take advantage of the views," Mr. Milovick says.

The extra height allows law students to capitalize on the breathtaking vista presented by the mountains that surround the campus, particularly Mount Peter and Mount Paul. They became the inspiration for the undulating wooden roof that echoes the landscape.

A painting of Mount Paul by Group of Seven artist A.Y. Jackson gave Mr. Schmitt what he calls the "aha moment" and it also helped him avoid putting a "flat pancake on a flat pancake."

In addition to the law library and reading rooms housed in the new space, which officially opened in June, the extra room also allowed for teaching areas to be reinterpreted. The lecture theatre, for instance, was designed following discussions with local First Nations people, who viewed it more as a gathering space as opposed to a more Western view of a talking head in front of a group of students.

"It's that whole issue of how is the lecture space changing to accommodate new ways of thinking about teaching and how is academic space overall changing to accommodate the collegiality," Mr. Schmitt says. "How are universities, particularly urban universities, taking advantage of diminishing campus space?

They're going more compact and taller, partly a real estate circumstance of making more effective use of the site they have available."

For Thompson Rivers University, the result is one that takes maximum advantage of the landscape around it, and while it is hoped the new facility will enhance the learning experience, the increased height and stature of the building is one that the faculty hopes will offer greater exposure to the school across Canada.

"You think of universities that have iconic buildings," Mr. Milovick says. "OCAD's got the Sharp Centre of Design and anybody that knows that building [with its table-top structure] relates it to OCAD; Queen's has their clock tower, the University of Guelph has [historic] Johnston Hall.

"I think in the future when people see this building, as it becomes more well-known, people are going to immediately identify it as 'That's TRU.' That is the building that will define us in people's minds."


The additional two storeys provide 45,000 square feet of space, housing the law library, reading room, lecture theatre and offices.

Roof panels were prefabricated and made of glued laminated timber beams, called glulam, wood joists and plywood sheathing.

The 122-metre-long roof was installed in just seven weeks in the summer of 2012.

$20.2-million - total cost of the addition to Old Main.

Existing two-storey building was reclad in cement-board planks to form curving bands that reference First Nations basket-weaving traditions.

Associated Graphic

Signature curved roofline on Old Main building reflects the natural B.C. landscape. Reading room below. See more photos at


The jewels in Buffett's crown
A look at some of the investments that helped make Berkshire Hathaway a $200,000-a-share stock
Special to The Globe on Mail
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B9

Warren Buffett's good oldfashioned stock-picking has a been a big part of Berkshire Hathaway's path to $200,000 (U.S.) a share.

The company's $100-billionplus portfolio of publicly traded securities makes up about a third of its value. As for the rest, the earnings from giant insurers, a wide portfolio of energy companies and manufacturers, and one of the United States' largest railroads have helped Berkshire cross a price barrier no company has ever crossed before.

Alas, the individual investor can't get in on its fully owned subsidiaries, such as GEICO, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, MidAmerican Energy Co. or Nebraska Furniture Mart, except to the extent a share of Berkshire provides a small slice of their worth. (Berkshire also has a "baby" Class B share that trades for about $135, giving investors an even smaller piece of the pie.)

So that's why there's so much attention on Berkshire's stock portfolio, even as it changes modestly from quarter to quarter, year to year. Mr. Buffett's list of picks is a special kind of validation for a stock, a seal of approval from one of the greatest investors of all time. If it's good enough for Warren, it's certainly good enough for me! (Setting aside all sorts of issues of risk tolerance and investment horizon, of course.)

In that spirit, we thought we'd take a look at some of the investments that helped make Berkshire a $200,000 stock, from the old standbys to the new arrivals, from the shares seemingly falling out of favour to the ones Berkshire is buying now, including a well-known Canadian name.

(The holdings are as of June 30, per a report Berkshire filed with U.S. securities regulators late Thursday.)

Through it all, keep in mind this maxim, which Mr. Buffett first shared with his stockholders in his 1989 chairman's letter: "It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price."

The mainstays

Three of Berkshire's four biggest positions have been part of the portfolio for at least a quartercentury.

American Express Co. ($14.4billion at June 30) dates back to 1964 and the Buffett Partnership Ltd.'s biggest-ever investment, when it scooped up 5 per cent of the company for $13-million after the Salad-Oil Scandal of 1963 that saddled American Express with bad loans and crushed its stock price.

Berkshire began buying the stock of Coca-Cola Co. ($16.9billion at June 30) in 1988.

Its largest holding is now Wells Fargo Corp. at $24.4-billion as of June 30. Berkshire first bought in in 1989 at split-adjusted prices of less than $2 per share (versus Friday's close of $50.21). While Berkshire hasn't added to its American Express and Coca-Cola stakes, it bought Wells Fargo actively through the end of 2013.

As a corollary to Mr. Buffett's "wonderful company" principle, he also recently told stockholders in a letter that "we much prefer owning a non-controlling but substantial portion of a wonderful company to owning 100 per cent of a so-so business; it's better to have a partial interest in the Hope diamond than to own all of a rhinestone."

In Canada

In the second quarter, Berkshire trimmed a number of its energy holdings, including ConocoPhillips, National Oilwell Varco Inc. and Phillips 66. But it increased its position in Suncor Energy Inc. by more than 25 per cent, buying almost 3.5 million shares. Berkshire owned almost 16.5 million shares, worth just over $700-million, at June 30. The holding is a little more than 1 per cent of Suncor's outstanding shares and less than 1 per cent of Berkshire's portfolio, which may explain why Suncor hasn't yet made it into one of Mr. Buffett's chairman's letters.

Cashing out

Mr. Buffett is known as a longterm investor, but sometimes he does exit holdings. In addition to the energy companies mentioned above, Berkshire trimmed its positions in DirecTV, as well as Liberty Media Corp. and Starz, two companies affiliated with cable magnate John Malone that have posted impressive gains; and Precision Castparts Corp., an industrial components maker that hit a 52-week high in the June quarter.

The newest arrival

Mr. Buffett famously eschewed technology stocks during the first Internet bubble. So it came as a bit of a shock when he disclosed in November, 2011, that he'd spent $10.7-billion on 64 million shares of International Business Machines Corp., an average price just under $170 a share. He's added six million shares since, including 1.8 million in the quarter that ended in June. The position is worth $12.7-billion now, making it one of Berkshire's four biggest holdings.

This one, however, may not promise the immense gains Berkshire has seen with the other three top holdings. IBM is no higher than it was at the time of Mr. Buffett's disclosure, nearly three years ago.

While IBM bulls see a company actively adapting to the new world of computing and creating shareholder value through stock buybacks, skeptics see a company that has shockingly lost big-ticket government contracts to Amazon Inc.

The newest theme

Much like technology, telecommunications hasn't traditionally been a big part of the Berkshire portfolio. That may be changing. The company bought into Verizon Corp. in 2014's first quarter and added to its position by more than a third in the second. It owned more than $700million in Verizon stock at June 30.

Berkshire also initiated a position in regional U.S. cable company Charter Communications, buying 2.3 million shares worth $365-million at quarter end. It increased its share position in international cable concern Liberty Global plc by 17 per cent to 17.2 million shares worth just under $750-million at June 30.

The author owns Berkshire Hathaway and Wells Fargo stock and also contributes to a Wells Fargo magazine for its clients.

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B)

Close: $134.34 (U.S.), down 96¢

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A)

Close: $201,227 (U.S.), down $1,623


Since the financial-crisis low for the S&P 500 on March 9, 2009, Berkshire has tracked the index, while Wells Fargo has appreciated more than 450 per cent and American Express has gained more than 800 per cent. Coca-Cola has lagged the index as its sales slowed in increasingly health-conscious developed markets. Now, it's trying to buy into fast-growing trends in the beverage market, as evidenced by stakes in Keurig Green Mountain Inc. and Monster Beverage Corp.

Associated Graphic

Berkshire Hathaway first invested in Coca-Cola in 1988 and its 400-million-share stake is now worth $16.9-billion.



Amusement-park stocks offer a bumpy ride
SeaWorld's struggles highlight the danger of the big debt loads that its competitors Cedar Fair and Six Flags are also carrying
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B9

Call them orcas or call them killer whales - the big mammals helped to sink SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. last quarter when their new-found human friends stayed away from the marine theme parks over concerns about the whales' treatment.

And yet there's something else sizable lurking nearby that threatens SeaWorld. Its peers in the amusement-park business are in jeopardy, too.

The creature of which we speak is orca-sized debt, weighing down the balance sheets at SeaWorld, Cedar Fair LP and Six Flags Entertainment Corp. And investors who see the healthy yields at all three concerns need to be aware that the companies are using their cash to reward shareholders, rather than pay down their significant obligations. When a highly leveraged company runs into trouble, as SeaWorld has, management faces more pressure to make its payments.

This story serves to update an article in this space in May of last year, "Theme-park stocks could give even staid investors a thrill."

The thrust: Investors had already bid up the shares of the three because they discovered the companies could grow revenues in a lacklustre economy, albeit modestly, while throwing off gushers of cash promptly returned to shareholders in the form of dividends. The shares "may have further to climb," we said, particularly if the North American economy didn't slip back into recession, a common fear at the beginning of last summer.

The advice was, shall we say, mixed. Cedar Fair, owner of 15 parks including Canada's Wonderland outside Toronto, is up nearly 30 per cent since the article. Six Flags, with 18 parks including La Ronde in Montreal, is up 8 per cent. SeaWorld's earnings disaster earlier this month, however, leaves it down 40 per cent. (All returns include dividends with yields ranging from 4.4 to 5.4 per cent.)

To be clear, none of the companies is in any serious danger of default at this time. All have BB or BB-minus ratings from Standard & Poor's, near the upper end of "high-yield" ratings, less politely known as "junk."

The debt numbers, however, are worth considering, particularly when investors are confronted with a sudden, sharp drop in earnings, as SeaWorld admitted last week. All rely on debt for nearly two-thirds or more of their capital. Cedar Fair and Six Flags actually have negative tangible book value. This means when you strip out intangible assets such as "goodwill," an accounting entry made to reflect the cost of past mergers, the two don't have enough hard assets - such as, say, amusement parks - to cover their liabilities.

Each company has about $1.4billion to $1.6-billion (U.S.) in debt and generates roughly $400-million in EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. That means each has a debt-to-EBITDA ratio between more than 3 and a little more than 4.

Again, that's not necessarily in the danger zone: A search on S&P's Capital IQ database reveals that about 20 per cent of the companies on the New York Stock Exchange with both $1-billion in sales and positive EBITDA have debt-to-EBITDA ratios of more than 4.

But earnings misses like SeaWorld's show how quickly a company can go in the wrong direction. SeaWorld had told analysts to expect $450-million to $465-million in EBITDA for 2014.

The new guidance implies EBITDA as low as $369-million.

The difference means a debt-toEBITDA ratio that could have been 3.5 at year-end is more likely to be 4.4.

When S&P downgraded SeaWorld's debt to BB-minus on Aug. 14, it also changed its outlook to negative, because of its fears of continued reputational risk from the Blackfish documentary that purported ill treatment of SeaWorld's orcas. S&P said a deterioration of the debt-to-EBITDA ratio to 5 or higher would suggest another downgrade; an upgrade could occur if SeaWorld could get that ratio back to less than 4.

So, is our new advice to run screaming from these themepark stocks as if you're plummeting to the bottom of a roller coaster? Not necessarily: When things go right for these companies, the cash flow thesis remains intact.

Cedar Fair increased revenue 6 per cent and EBITDA by 8 per cent in 2013, which led management to boost the dividend by 60 per cent. Six Flags's revenue gain of slightly less than 4 per cent in 2013 led to EBITDA growth of 19 per cent and a dividend boost of nearly 35 per cent.

In recommending Six Flags shares, S&P Capital IQ equity analyst Tuna Amobi sees "potentially sustainable pricing power" at the company's parks and believes the company "appears to be settling into a more consistent dividend and cash flow return phase of its life cycle." (His target price is $44, versus Friday's close of $37.54.)

Jeffrey S. Thomison of Hilliard Lyons says his "buy" rating and $55 target price on Cedar Fair is because its "strong cash flow can allow for meaningful reinvestment in the properties ... comfortable debt service, and an attractive cash distribution policy."

And there's even a case for SeaWorld. Citi Research's Jason B. Bazinet, admitting an "extreme mistake" in his previous "buy" rating for the stock, says SeaWorld may beat its new, lowered guidance; move toward turning itself into a tax-saving real estate investment trust; or plunge into a $250-million stock buyback that could take 16 per cent of the company's shares off the market at today's prices.

One or more of these things could happen, he says, before investors decide the Blackfish documentary has done permanent damage to the company. There's still risk, though, that SeaWorld could see a sustained attendance decline. "As such, investing in SeaWorld's equity, even at current levels, is not for the faint of heart."

It's a risk found in any company that relies on the good graces of the public for its revenue - and passes on its profits rather than aggressively reducing its whale-like debt.

SeaWorld (SEAS)

Close: $20.27 (U.S.), up $1.26

Cedar Fair (FUN)

Close: $49.88 (U.S.), down 80¢

Six Flags (SIX)

Close: $37.54 (U.S.), down 27¢


The big U.S. theme-park operators generate plenty of cash, and use much of it to pay generous dividends. But all carry significant debt loads - and, as SeaWorld illustrates, a sharp drop in profits can put the squeeze on a highly leveraged company.

Associated Graphic

Canada's Wonderland is one of 15 parks owned by Cedar Fair, which has seen its stock rise nearly 30 per cent since May, 2013.



B.C.'s Martha Sturdy has become internationally renowned for her rich, sculptural works, from jewellery to furnishings, in resin and metal. But she isn't resting on her laurels. These days, she tells Deirdre Kelly during visits to her Vancouver studio and farm in Pemberton, she has two fresh passions: horses and fine art. 'I did that already,' she says of her past successes. 'Now I'm onto something new'
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L9

Being able to reverse gear in a camo-print ATV when there's a bear staring you down on a wooded path might not seem like an especially valuable skill to have when you're a globally acclaimed designer.

But for Martha Sturdy, it certainly comes in handy.

On a recent scorching-hot summer afternoon at her 250-acre farm in Pemberton, B.C., Canada's reigning doyenne of design rollicked through sky-high grasses while making hairpin turns through a cedar forest in which bears, hungry for the season's first crop of wild raspberries, had torn down trees now threatening to block her path.

But there was - or, rather, is - no stopping her.

Throwing the stick shift back a few aggressive notches, Sturdy, who had encountered her bear during a morning ride on one of her horses, turned and whirled and drove on past some of the ancient conifers that have inspired her new line of burnt-cedar furniture as well as various abstract sculptures and paintings. Sturdy produces all her work in her studio in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, just over an hour's drive south.

"Everything in life is either a positive or a negative," says the 72-yearold powerhouse, revving the motor and jerking forward in the direction of majestic snow-peaked mountains surrounding her sprawling property. "I think, just get on with it."

It's a philosophy that has served Sturdy well throughout a 35-year career that started in 1978 (when she graduated from Emily Carr University with a degree in visual art) with the making and selling of wearable art, Sturdy's description for the chunky, poured-resin jewellery that fi rst made her famous.

Almost from the start, Sturdy's sculpted pieces were featured in leading fashion magazines from London to Milan to Tokyo, including Vogue.

Prominent fashion designers, among them Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, Carolyne Roehm, Geoffery Beene, Gianfranco Ferre and Calvin Klein, all clamoured to have her work showcased on runways alongside their clothes.

Today, Sturdy still crafts spiralling brass rings and bracelets, but just for herself. "I did that already," the designer, who is dressed in her usual head-to-toe black, including short shorts paired with leather cowboy boots, declares of her early success as a jewellery maker. "Now I'm onto something new."

In recent years, Sturdy has returned to her first love, fine art, which she sells under a moniker, Martha Varcoe Sturdy, that includes her maiden name. Supporting that endeavour are the profits from Sturdy Living, her hugely successful Vancouver-based company specializing in maxi-sized furniture made of brass, wood, resin and steel, as well as home accessories such as sinks (some produced in collaboration with the U.S. manufacturer Kohler), vases, trays, serving bowls, light fi xtures and utensils. Sturdy's design work will be showcased at New York's Boutique Design Show in the fall, followed by the Maison et Objet expo in Paris this coming winter and the Architectural Design Show in New York in March.

Major pieces include a $20,000 castresin sectional with white leather seat cushions and a $3,000 zigzag stool made of dramatically cut steel. While expensive - "my labour is Canadian labour, so it costs more," Sturdy says, unapologetically - her furniture and home accessories are in high demand. Among those commissioning them are commercial clients including luxury hotels (such as, most recently, the Four Seasons in Miami) and restaurants such as Vancouver's new Boulevard (where the champagne is chilled in one of Sturdy's oversized resin bowls) and Chambar (whose bathrooms are outfitted with her brass bowl sinks).

"I am very practical," Sturdy says of work as minimalist in form as it is materially rich. "I make things people can actually use." Having opened her studio showroom to the public, people can come to buy directly from her now. On a recent afternoon, the visitors there included an interior designer and a backpacking design student who waited until Sturdy was off the phone to thank her in person for inspiring him. "I just love your work," he told her. Sturdy smiled from behind her trademark fringe of dark hair, offering a calloused hand for him to shake.

"The visual is very important to me," Sturdy remarked later. "What I do is I come with an idea and I never worry about cost, because the integrity of the creation is what is important; money is what happens after the fact. Integrity is what it's all about; if I design something that's too expensive, oh well, that's life.

But in the end I feel good."

Feeling good when in your 70s isn't always a given. But Sturdy, who was born and raised in Vancouver among an upper-middle-class family that encouraged reading and education ("We went once a week to the library with a wagon fi lled with books," she recalls), is blessed with good genetics.

Her mother, for instance, lived well into her 90s. Photographs of the woman Sturdy calls the Queen line the walls of the Pemberton farmhouse in addition to images, hundreds of them, of other family members, including her three grown children and five grandchildren. "I know what my priorities are," Sturdy says, pointing out the faces in every frame. "Family fi rst."

But as she ages, staying creative is becoming increasingly important to her as well.

To ensure the creative juices keep flowing, Sturdy maintains a strict regime of exercise and good living at her farm, including the eating of vegetables and garlic she plants herself.

Each morning, just as the sun is breaking through the sky, she does an hour of yoga, followed by another hour of horse riding around her property and in the ring of a 100-by200-foot arena where she practices the jumps that have earned her a barn full of ribbons at equestrian competitions. Among them is the top prize she took at a recent event at B.C.'s Olympic-calibre Thunderbird Equestrian Show Park.

Not bad for a woman who didn't start her equine training until she was well into her 40s.

"I got myself a horse when I thought I knew everything and then I discovered I still had more to learn," she says.

"But that's what's great about life: You get to keep on learning. Once you stop, then it's over."

Associated Graphic

ARTIST IN RESIDENCE Martha Sturdy (top) sits on one of her trademark metal zigzag stools in her studio in Vancouver. Although she continues to produce a wide range of household objects, such as the resin bowl and salad utensils pictured at middle, she is increasingly focusing her energy on creating fine art. A brass sculpture (bottom) is just one example of her efforts.


Putting honesty centre stage
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R6

I Will Tell You Exactly What I Think of You begins with Zeesy Powers, 31, alone onstage, a camera off to the side. If you want to know exactly what she thinks of you, you can sign a contract and take a seat to her left.

"For the past two performances, I've been keeping it a little lowkey," she said on Saturday, during the last of three events for the SummerWorks festival in Toronto. "I thought we'd bring it up to something a little intense and ugly tonight."

A full hush. Then, a middleaged man, with a workaday resemblance to porn star Evan Stone, stepped forward. He stared intently at the artist. "You look like a sadder version of an actor who sat in that chair last night," Powers told him, adding that, judging by his face, "Maybe things have worn at you a bit more." She spoke lucidly, though not in a cruel way, about his "sad, worried lines," the psychology of his ponytail, and his "sultry" eyes.

He took it with stoicism. When he mentioned he was trying to be more honest with himself, Powers replied forcefully, "That is not a good reason to come to this show tonight."

I've known Powers socially, not well, for about a decade. She's been performing this show for seven years, but this was the first time I'd gone to see it. I'd always been scared to, and though I loved the concept, the fact that Powers could pull it off made her seem a little other than human.

This is a typical misconception, she explains over the phone: "People in the audience are expecting Don Rickles, like an insult comic or something like that. And I'm not an insult comic, at least not intentionally."

Onstage, she appeared to be more vulnerable than any of the eight participants, partly because her task is impossible by design.

The piece originated at a zine fair, where Powers, an interdisciplinary artist, was selling portraits for $10. "I thought it would be funny to sell something that I thought nobody would buy," she says. So, for half the price, she offered to tell customers exactly what she thought of them. Like the portraits, the readings were only her take, for which she was surprised to find a demand. "I realized that a lot of [people] were looking for something a little more nuanced than just a confrontation." For some, it was "just the fact of having somebody pay attention to them for an extended period of time. It's almost a little bit like going to the spa."

The live show, with its intimation of gore, was inspired by daytime talk shows; for a while, Powers kept a box of Kleenex onstage. This was ballyhoo - the "nurse" stationed outside the midnight movie. Hurt feelings are not the point. Her judgments are nuanced. When they're harsh, she talks them out. "We invited all the mayoral candidates to come," she says. "And none of them did. But somebody said, 'Oh, it would be so exciting to tell Rob Ford exactly what you think of him.' Well you know, I could very easily tell him that I think he's fat, but that's also not exactly what I think of him. I think he's a really sad person who's trying his best."

After the ponytailed man came a young actress, for whom Powers mostly predicted success, followed by a polished man in his early 30s, pegged as applecheeked but sporadically intense. Halfway through the show, a graceful woman in her 70s emerged from the front row.

"Ohhh," Powers said affectionately, breathing heavier. "You already know what I think of you." This woman had been a mentor of Powers for more than a decade, and the reading seemed so effusive that I barely noticed the part about mortality; I ask Zeesy if she'd pulled her punches. "The big one with that was talking about death," she says. "Of course, by the time I was finished talking about it, it didn't seem bad at all. To just say to somebody, 'You really make me think about dying' - well, that's super harsh. And I did say that," but couched in enough detail to soften the blow.

Before that, I'd gone up. I hadn't planned to: When you know someone long enough without really knowing them, you tend to assume they dislike you, for all the reasons you've disliked yourself. But I was mostly touched by what she had to say, and even when I didn't exactly agree, I found myself absorbing a certain characterization; it was flattering. (I later ask Powers, who hadn't known I was coming, if the possibility of my writing about the show had influenced her reading. "I think I was more concerned that I might have to see you again," she replied.)

"People can be very selective - people should be very selective in what they want to hear, or what they want to take with them," which is why some participants, she says, find it so hard to watch themselves after the fact. In this way, the performance "isn't any different from a cold reading that a travelling psychic would do. I'm just much more transparent about my methods and also my prejudices."

What a psychic offers - or an astrologer, or even a therapist - isn't the truth so much as the illusion that somebody knows it. My need to feel as though someone has all the answers is different from my urge to figure them out. Onstage, I felt myself imbuing Zeesy with these powers. I was projecting my own reasoning, but I'd paid for the opportunity, which is partly the point of the piece.

"I do feel uncomfortable if people walk away going, 'Yup, everything got sorted out in that session. We got some answers, we figured out the truth of the matter.' " It's impossible to know exactly what you think of someone: Any one person is too many people. As Powers makes explicit, her readings are partly a reflection of her own needs - ones that are sometimes elusive to her - and partly a response to those of her subjects. The spectacle is of two people trying to make sense of themselves, alone with the same motivations. "It's an obnoxious setup," she says, "that all just leads to this one little point: Am I okay?" .

To see a selection of performances of I Will Tell You Exactly What I Think of You, visit IWTYEWITOY.

Associated Graphic

I Will Tell You Exactly What I Think of You originated when Zeesy Powers decided it would be funny to sell something people wouldn't want.

DIY sensation is a cause for optimism
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R4

I'm a child of MuchMusic, but even in the nineties, music videos seemed "iffy" - something apart from The Art, which threatened its integrity. Now, people are used to getting their music as part of an audiovisual onslaught. The song is part of a grid of associated projects. This is marketing, but the difference between art and marketing is indistinct: Beats by Dre ads are also music videos, Saturday Night Live specials promote the latest Arcade Fire.

Videos sell albums, but the album isn't necessarily the point; sometimes the marketing is the art, and the artist is a flavour available in cake, pie and muffin. But beneath all that, the artist needs a persona interesting enough, or absent enough, to fascinate consumers with a million other bids on their attention and little intention of paying much for music. This goes for acts large and small, though very few acts, large or small, have pulled it off as well as FKA twigs, who'd made herself iconic before releasing her first LP this Tuesday. (More on her in a second.)

For acts with limited resources, branding is both a creative endeavour and a necessity. It's also an ideological pose, a repudiation of the old taboo against trying. Liberated, indie acts sometimes make a point of chasing stardom. Two years ago I watched John O'Regan, a.k.a. Diamond Rings, a formerly independent act who'd recently signed with a major, and his creative director, Lisa Howard, who is also his cousin, work on the visual campaign for his upcoming record in her basement apartment. Howard is a makeup artist, while O'Regan has a degree in fine art; for them, hype building was a project, and a challenge, to see how big they could make themselves with a small machine.

Their ambition was part of the show - an earnest pose, shared by artists such as Claire Boucher, or Grimes, who recorded her last album, 2012's Visions, in her Montreal apartment. "I really hate being in front of people," she told Pitchfork's Carrie Battan around its release. "I'm also obsessed with becoming a pop star."

Last December, Boucher announced that she had signed a deal with Jay-Z's Roc Nation, whose website refers to Grimes as Boucher's "multimedia project"; in June, she released a song that had been written for, and rejected by, Rihanna. The track was underwhelming, but that seemed beside the point.

Small acts take cues from huge ones, just as huge acts ape the small. Artists whose show is the work of many hands have to project a sense of creative control, and stand out in a precarious marketplace. The most obvious example is Lady Gaga, whose solid pop hits earned her an audience while her team of creative collaborators made her a living parade float. Two of its most essential members quit before the release of her most recent album, ARTPOP, which was launched with an "artRave" at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. There, Gaga took a ride in a hulking "flying dress" designed by her tech team, and performed in front of a Jeff Koons sculpture in her likeness, flailing from side to side in a wall-socket mask and inflatable suit like a drunk accosting a pedestrian.

The effect was blue-fluorescent and blinding, making it hard to tell where she was coming from: Gaga may well have good ideas, but she tends to throw money at them until they're buried under giant piles of it. It's nice to get a multimedia display along with your radio single, but the spectacle does risk swallowing up the music. Which brings us back to FKA twigs: one of very few artists to make her own spectacle convincingly. Twigs is a sensibility that flows across disciplines, and the aura surrounding her has grown so naturally that it's no surprise her album, LP1, meets all expectations - not that LP1 needs to be the focal point for what she is.

Born Tahliah Barnett in Gloucestershire, in 1988, twigs (she spells it lowercase) started out as a dancer, appearing onstage and in videos for major pop acts, before realizing that, as she told Zane Lowe of BBC, she loved dancing to music more than dancing itself. In 2012, she released a video for the song Hide: Co-directed with a friend, the filmmaker Grace Ladoja, it showed her torso in black and white, hyperreal against a red background, hands creeping toward, but never touching, the tip of the anthurium between her legs. (A literal anthurium, not an awful metaphor.)

Her music has been filed under trip-hop and alternative R&B, but from the beginning, twigs seemed to come with her own genre: high, trembling vocals exuding both vulnerability and strength; shifting tempos and disappearing melodies; sound effects as cryptic and precise as machine guts. More videos, created with Ladoja and the stunning Jesse Kanda - the best friend and roommate of producer Arca, with whom she's also worked - made her seem like a subculture unto herself, a foregone star. Without a full-length under her belt, she was filling venues, including New York's Webster Hall and Toronto's Danforth Music Hall, where, from reports, she was as transfixing as everyone hoped she would be.

It isn't just her music, or her videos, or her movement - or her style, or her beauty. It's the fact that all of it, even her face, seems to come from the same mysterious place. The work is excellent, but just as impressive is the fact that it all manifests the same arresting sensibility. Twigs pulls this off far more professionally than most independent acts, and with far more integrity than most superstars. Her show is more than music because she's more than a musician.

To mention "integrity" feels square - it smacks of the old attitude that sees the well-presented as phony, and the phony as impure. But it's still important that a spectacle feel organic, the outgrowth of a real idea. An audience needs to trust the figure throwing abstractions - to have faith that she's tapped into whatever makes it make sense.

You could say that twigs's success is a triumph for DIY - she's made herself a sensation with just a small community of wellchosen collaborators - but artists are rarely ingenious enough to pull this off. For me, twigs is a cause for optimism, proof of how pop is evolving. What I love about music, or any art form, is the sense of a world I want to spend time in; twigs, like Bjork or David Byrne before her, shows how expansive a world can be.

Associated Graphic

FKA twigs released her first album, LP1, on Tuesday.

Poised for takeoff
She may be 16, but world No. 2 amateur Brooke Henderson possesses the work ethic, composure and focus that her peers lack
Friday, August 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

LONDON, ONT. -- Brooke Henderson drives through her first tee shot of the day with a commanding ping, and those looking on whoop and utter their amazement. This poised heavy-hitter is only 16 years old.

The teen from Smiths Falls, Ont., is the No. 2 amateur female golfer in the world, hardly a favourite at this week's Canadian Pacific Women's Open alongside seasoned LPGA pros. Yet with stellar results at the recent U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Women's Open, the youngster now really draws a crowd. She has verbally committed to play at the University of Florida in 2015, yet she could leap to the LPGA sooner. She's Canada's most promising female golfer and a likely headliner for the country when golf debuts at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.

She's been compared to rising Canadian tennis star Eugenie Bouchard because of her success at such a young age and poise beyond her years. No doubt, the likeness is also drawn in part due to Henderson's glowing smile, blue eyes and blond braided ponytail.

But the young golfer could also be paralleled with Canadian NBA draft pick Tyler Ennis, who was raised in a basketball-loving house, a little boy playing on a Fisher Price hoop with his older brothers and father long before thriving as the Syracuse point guard at just 19. Like Bouchard and Ennis, Henderson fell in love with her sport early and went all in.

Henderson's first brushes with golf came when she was about four, watching sister, Brittany - six years her senior - play in local tournaments.

"I wanted to be just like her," Henderson said. "She'd be swinging her club on the fairway, and I'd be picking up a stick in the woods trying to match her swing.

I just loved it."

Their father, Dave, taught the girls how to golf. The longtime schoolteacher also ran an after-school golf program called Junior Linksters, where Henderson would hack around on the end of the range while he taught.

Soon, the younger Henderson was winning golf tournaments, too. As her golf talent grew, so too did her ability as a hockey goalie, taking after her father, who had played net at the University of Toronto. She honed her skills at an indoor golf school in Smiths Falls all winter while also playing girls' hockey.

"I can remember, when she was like 11 or 12, she would come into my golf school in the winter and she'd hit some balls, then sit down with a healthy snack, and get back up with a tennis ball and go throw it against the wall in the warehouse to work on her reflexes for goaltending," said Paulin Vaillancourt, her coach at Smiths Falls Golf & Country Club. "Then she'd be right back to hitting golf balls. Her work ethic was always tremendous, and she and her sister always had incredible maturity."

Her sister went off to play golf at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C. The younger Henderson would travel to watch the occasional tournament and sometimes visit her sister in the college dorms. She dreamed of playing college golf herself some day.

"Starting around 12 or 13, I started to feel I would love to have a career in the sport and make it to the LPGA, so I gave up playing hockey, which was tough," Henderson said. "But being a goalie, I faced a lot of heat sometimes and it could be stressful, so I think that has helped me on the golf course, playing with big crowds, coming down the stretch and having to finish strong."

Women's national amateur team coach Tristan Mullally had heard about the youngster before he took over the job three years ago, but seeing her up close was something special.

"Her focus in that training environment was way higher than I had seen at that age," said Mullally, who saw her at age 14. "To be that focused and in-tune with herself at that age is pretty unique."

Today, Henderson can drive the ball in the 250-yard range, which puts her among the top 85 on the LPGA Tour.

"She swings more like a male golfer," Vaillancourt said. "I used to have a clubhead speed radar here at my golf school, and I used to try to get them to swing as fast as they could, get that clubhead speed up. She gets her legs and hips right into it, and she hits it dead-straight. When she hits it, it just makes a different sound."

She recently set a new championship scoring record on her way to victory at the PGA Women's Championship of Canada, where she piled up 14 birdies and an eagle in the two-day event at Fire Rock Golf Club in Komoka, Ont.

She was the runner up at the U.S Amateur Championship, and finished 10th at the U.S Women's Open - the low amateur of the event.

In this, her third appearance in a Canadian Women's Open, Henderson will try to make the cut for the first time. She scored a two-under 70 in Thursday's first round, tying with Rebecca-Lee Bentham, Elizabeth Tong and Sara-Maude Juneau as the second-lowest from Canada. Of the 15 Canadians in the event, LPGA rookie Jennifer Kirby of Paris, Ont., was the low one of the day with a five-under 67. South Korean So-yeon Ryu leads the tournament at nine-under.

As an amateur, Henderson doesn't collect prize money when she plays LPGA Tour events, but she is currently the highestranked Canadian golfer in the Women's World Golf Rankings at No. 199. Yet, the rising talent remains very humble. She returns to Smiths Falls to work for Vaillancourt, picking up golf balls, cleaning clubs or selling raffle tickets, even as many golfers there now ask for her autograph. After the Canadian Open, she will go caddy for her sister in Palm Springs, Calif., as she plays in the first stage of qualifying school for the LPGA Tour.

"This year, my goal was to get inside the top three, and I've been able to do that, so now I'm setting my sights on the No. 1 spot," Henderson said. "When I think back, a year ago last January, I was the No. 32 amateur in the world and now I'm No. 2, so it's been a great run and I want to continue it."

Associated Graphic

Brooke Henderson hits a shot during a golf clinic at the Canadian Pacific Women's Open at the London Hunt and Country Club in London, Ont., on Tuesday.


One child and two adults are in critical condition after a magnitude-6.0 earthquake slammed the San Francisco Bay area, shattering vintage buildings and bottles in the famed winery region. And yet, despite widespread damage and more than 100 injuries, 'it certainly is not the Big One'
The Associated Press
Monday, August 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

NAPA, CALIF. -- The largest earthquake to hit the San Francisco Bay Area in 25 years sent scores of people to hospitals, ignited fires, damaged several historic buildings and knocked out power to tens of thousands in California's wine country on Sunday.

The magnitude-6.0 earthquake that struck at 3:20 a.m. about 10 kilometres from the city of Napa, Calif., ruptured water mains and gas lines, left two adults and a child critically injured, upended bottles and casks at some of Napa Valley's famed wineries and sent residents running out of their homes in the darkness.

Dazed residents, too fearful of aftershocks to go back to bed, wandered at dawn through Napa's historic downtown, where the quake had shorn a threemetre chunk of bricks and concrete from the corner of an old county courthouse. Boulder-sized pieces of rubble littered the lawn and street in front of the building and the hole left behind allowed a view of the offices inside.

There were no reports of any fatalities but the quake shook up residents, said Barry Martin, community outreach co-ordinator for the City of Napa, which has a population of 77,000.

"This was a pretty big jolt in Napa, but it certainly is not the Big One," Mr. Martin added in comments to local television, referring to fears Californians have of a catastrophic quake.

California, which sits along a series of seismic faults, is forecast to experience a much more powerful earthquake at some point, but scientists do not know exactly when it will come or how strong it will be, said Don Blakeman, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

"Usually when people talk about 'the Big One,' they're talking about something on the order of a magnitude 9, which of course is tremendously more powerful" than Sunday's quake, he said.

President Barack Obama was briefed on the earthquake, the White House said. Federal officials have also been in touch with state and local emergency responders. Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for southern Napa County, directing state agencies to respond with equipment and personnel.

Most damage appeared centred on Napa, a major tourist destination in northern California.

One hard-hit building housing winery tasting rooms had to be closed to tourists, and the floors of many wine stores were stained red from the contents of broken wine bottles.

Napa Fire Department operations chief John Callanan said the city has exhausted its own resources trying to extinguish six fires, some in places with broken water mains; transporting injured residents; searching homes for anyone who might be trapped; and answering calls about gas leaks and downed power lines.

Two of the fires happened at mobile home parks, including one where four homes were destroyed and two others damaged, Mr. Callanan said.

The earthquake sent 120 people to Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, where officials set up a triage tent to handle the influx. Most had cuts, bumps and bruises received either in the quake, when they tried to flee their homes or while cleaning up, hospital chief executive officer Walt Mickens said. Three people were admitted with broken bones and two for heart attacks.

The child in critical condition was struck by part of a fireplace and had to be airlifted to a specialty hospital for a neurological evaluation, Mr. Callanan said.

The earthquake is the largest to shake the Bay Area since the magnitude-6.9 Loma Prieta quake in 1989, the USGS said.

That temblor struck the area on Oct. 17, 1989, during a World Series game between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics, collapsing part of the Bay Bridge roadway and killing more than 60 people, most when an Oakland freeway fell.

Sunday's quake was felt widely throughout the region. People reported feeling it more than 300 kilometres south of Napa and as far east as the Nevada border.

Amtrak suspended its train service through the Bay Area so tracks could be inspected.

Napa city manager Mike Parness said at an afternoon news conference that 15 to 16 buildings were no longer inhabitable, and there was only limited access to numerous other structures, mostly ones with broken windows.

Officials say they are still assessing buildings in the area.

In Napa, at least three historic buildings were damaged, including the county courthouse, and at least two downtown commercial buildings have been severely damaged. A Red Cross evacuation centre was set up at a high school, and crews were assessing damage to homes, bridges and roadways.

"There's collapses, fires," said Napa fire captain Doug Bridewell, standing in front of large pieces of masonry that broke loose from a turn-of-the-century office building where a fire had just been extinguished. "That's the worst shaking I've ever been in."

Mr. Bridewell said he had to climb over fallen furniture in his own home to check on his family before reporting to duty.

The shaking emptied cabinets in homes and store shelves, set off car alarms and had residents of neighbouring Sonoma County running out of their houses and talking about damage inside their homes.

Pacific Gas and Electric spokesman J.D. Guidi said close to 30,000 lost power right after the quake hit in Napa and in the neighbouring cities of Sonoma, St. Helena and Santa Rosa. But by Sunday afternoon, the number was down just under 19,000. He said crews were working to make repairs, but it was not clear when electricity would be restored.

The depth of the earthquake was about 11 kilometres, and numerous small aftershocks have occurred, the USGS said.

"A quake of that size in a populated area is of course widely felt throughout that region," said Randy Baldwin, a USGS geophysicist in Golden, Colo.

California highway patrol officer Kevin Bartlett said cracks and damage to pavement closed a portion of a westbound interstate highway. He says there haven't been reports of injuries or people stranded in their cars, but there are numerous flat tires from motorists driving over damaged roads.

Associated Graphic


Nina Quidit cleans up the Dollar Plus and Party Supplies Store in American Canyon, Calif., after the biggest earthquake to strike the region in 25 years wreaked havoc early Sunday morning. The magnitude-6.0 quake ruptured gas and water lines, started six fires, killed power to 30,000 residents and sent more than 100 people to hospital for treatment.


Mobile homes in Napa, Calif., such as Steve Brody's, were hit hard by the quake.


The earthquake rendered 15 to 16 buildings uninhabitable and ripped bricks from Napa's post office.


A turf war over very valuable real estate
Putting numbers to the Arbutus Corridor may help focus the mind to future development options
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S6

As bulldozers showed up for demolition duty on the Arbutus Corridor last week, the battle between the city and Canadian Pacific took a controversial turn, with innocent fava beans and zinnias squashed in the middle.

Judging from the outcry, residents were divided between those who thought the railway company was stomping all over the little guy, and those who believed that CP had every right to do what it wanted with its own property.

The city says it had offered CP $20-million in exchange for the 11-kilometre strip of land that runs from Granville Island to the Fraser River.

It is zoned as a transportation corridor and CP owns the right of way. CP's asking price is $100-million. A train hasn't run along the line in 14 years, which is around the time when west side gardeners started growing a patchwork quilt of community gardens at various points along the line. Victory Gardens in Marpole has been in operation between 50th and 57th Avenue since 1942, supplying produce during the war years.

But the corridor issue goes beyond the lovely gardens, and we are definitely a city known for our gardens.

Arbutus Corridor is a political hot potato because of a prolonged battle and the west side's escalating property values, which have made the land worth a fortune. CP has never formally discontinued the track, so any talk of other uses is a moot point until a deal is struck. Negotiations, and court battles, go back for more than a decade, and the value of the land in question has gone up considerably - and will continue to do so. We need to figure this one out.

A green corridor that cuts along the city is unique, which is why it would make an ideal linear park. There would seem to be an opportunity here to create a valuable public amenity that all taxpayers could enjoy, something akin to New York's successful High Line, which is a former unused railroad converted into a one-mile walkway. As to the value of the Arbutus Corridor, a respected real estate analyst supplied some numbers anonymously. As I said, the issue is an extremely hot potato, and he didn't want to get embroiled in the controversy.

Let's look at the hard numbers to put things in perspective, even if the matter is a more complex story than the data can provide.

It took him a couple of days to gather these numbers, and he based his figures on an almost contiguous right-of-way that totals about 42.8 acres of land, or 173,139 square metres, extending 500 metres from both sides of the railway centre line.

Property values vary considerably along the line. However, existing parks adjacent to, and in proximity to the corridor, average an assessed value of $2,344 per square metre.

If the city were to designate the Arbutus Corridor for use as a park, its average assessed value is $406-million, according to the data.

However, if valued as a railway, the number drops considerably. Railway land is relatively inexpensive, and this line is abandoned and rundown. At an average of $145 per square metre, the value comes in at around $25-million - closer to the city's offer.

Let's look at the housing number, because we Vancouverites love to talk about residential real estate. Hypothetically speaking, if the land were to be rezoned and developed for use as single-family housing, it would have an average assessed value of more than $2-billion, according to the data. That's based on an average land value per square metre of $12,254.

That's probably never going to happen, mind you, but it illustrates the land's worth. We won't even bother calculating its use as multi-family or condo tower housing because that figure is in the stratosphere.

Although the city has never talked about development, some argue that parts of the line would eventually cry out for some sort of development, especially since there are already some adjacent city-owned lands.

"It's worth more than $20-million," says real estate analyst Richard Wozny. "The speculative premium alone would more than double that figure.

"The site is so large and complex that no matter how green or how transportation-oriented, any logical land use plan would warrant a little development here and there."

For example, without a rail line running through it, Kerrisdale would no longer need east and west boulevards. That would free up land for development of some kind, he says.

"The rail line cuts across the city with extensive roadways beside it," he says.

"If the city were to consolidate it with some of the roads, which would now become redundant, it could create large properties for possible development in the future."

Mr. Wozny isn't referring to just market housing development.

A future plan might include retail, affordable housing, rental housing, neighbourhood amenities, as well as that High Linestyle linear park, but with proper cycling and jogging paths. An Arbutus Corridor cycling path could tie in at the north end with the path heading east, around Olympic Village. Considering that there is more green space on the west side than the east side of the city, it would be reasonable for east-side residents to connect to the corridor with an extended bicycle path.

It's a sure bet that any talk of development would be met with some outrage. Back in 1999, when CP said it wouldn't service Molson Brewery any more - its only customer along the corridor - it also announced a proposal to zone the land for residential and commercial use.

That was met with huge backlash from neighbours who pushed for public transportation and jogging paths. The city's Arbutus Corridor Official Development Plan came out of a series of public hearings in 2000, designating the land for transportation and greenways.

There's another aspect to consider, says a well-known urban planner who also wished to remain nameless. The public land was granted to CPR a century ago for use as a railway, he points out.

"When the railways were given land by the provincial government to build railroad connecting the country it was for that purpose.

So when a railroad is through with the land for its intended purpose, should it not go back to the people of B.C.?"

Associated Graphic

A CP Rail officer, right, stands by as workers remove community gardens from a stretch of CP Rail line. The once-abandoned 11-kilometre-long Arbutus Corridor has been used by residents for many years as a greenway where community gardens were erected.


The Blue Jays are underserviced on a number of fronts, but you get the queasy feeling that the most pressing of these is late-in-the-season mettle. And at this point, the Jays aren't fighting another team every three or four days. They're wrestling with the odds
Friday, August 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


Ten days ago, in this space, I wrote a take-a-deep-breath column on the Blue Jays. Long way to go, I said. Plenty of baseball left. No need to panic.

Well, scratch that. It's getting close to time to panic. Not precisely time, but it wouldn't hurt to change into roomy panicking clothes and maybe put on a helmet. For all the thrashing about.

Taking the series at home against Detroit over a bajillion innings was a wonderful highlight. That seven-hour game on Sunday may have been the best Jays moment in a decade. (Not for me, though. For me it was the day B.J. Ryan left. That was the moment the ship began to turn.)

Then they go to Seattle and roll over in three straight latenight West Coast games. It's as if they know we've all gone to bed, and so don't feel the need to try very hard. More than any team in town, the Jays require the rest of us keeping an eye on them. This team is underserviced on a number of fronts, but you get the queasy feeling that the most pressing of these is late-in-the-season mettle.

You watch the Yankees flailing about behind them and think, "Yeah, but they're the Yankees. They'll figure it out when it really matters."

Maybe, or maybe not. But they've earned that benefit of the doubt. The Jays haven't.

At this point, the Jays aren't fighting another team every three or four days. They're wrestling with the odds.

In the two years since the introduction of the second wildcard spot, the lowest win total that's sneaked you into the American League postseason is 92. Since the wild card's debut, no team has made it with fewer than 91 wins.

The Jays have 63 victories.

They have 40 games remaining.

Probabilities suggest they need to win at least 27 of them - that would be a baseline. That's .675 baseball for a team that right now is just a smidge over .500.

That's more than a big ask.

What's more alarming than the numbers is the tenor of the conversation.

Commenting on the number of Jays fans at Safeco Field over the past few days, starter R.A.

Dickey said this to the Toronto Star's Richard Griffin: "Regardless of what we do the remainder of season, and we're all hopeful that we're going to be in the postseason. It's an incredible environment to come to this place and see so many loyal Canadian fans support us."

You don't have to live long in this town to pick up the general baseball vibe, such as it's been since dinosaurs roamed the Earth: "Just get us to September.

We'll forgive you anything if you give us a reason to care about something beyond the Leafs' training camp."

It's understandable in fans, but the team can't allow themselves to imbibe that draft of mediocrity. The numbers bode against them, but their competition isn't doing any better.

The real key to a playoff race isn't the number of games you're behind, but how many teams stand between you and a playoff spot. The odds that three or four teams will stumble in front of you are depressingly slight. Right now, it's still only the bumptious Tigers and the who-knows-exactly-what-theyare? Mariners. It's still only three games.

The division is probably gone, but the wild card is there to be plucked.

So, please, no more "regardless of what we do" and "we can make it if we all wish upon a star" talk.

You know he means well, and he's speaking after a night in which he was disappointed in his own performance, but Dickey must understand that that sort of shoulder shrugging from a veteran is contagious in a locker room.

Until this is done, the attitude must be win or win. No second options.

This team will be a serious player when it's moved beyond the heroic-loss phase of its building process.

In the fullness of time, we may agree that this team wasn't deep or formidable enough to be serious contenders. Let's not do it while they're still serious contenders.

The season can't be won in the next two weeks, but it can most certainly be lost.

On Friday night, the Jays begin a three-game stand in Chicago, playing the wrong Chicago team, the White Sox. After that, two games in Milwaukee. Meanwhile, Detroit and Seattle will be playing each other.

That has the feel of a treadingwater stretch. Unless the Jays completely pooch it, they will come out of that no worse than they entered. They win a couple or three. The Mariners and Tigers split the three-game series.

The Jays neither lose nor gain ground. Given how they've looked over the past three nights, that's a best-case scenario.

It's when they get back home that matters grow deeply serious. For 15 games, the Jays go hard against the AL East, including a dozen against the Red Sox and the Rays.

Those two teams have given up on the year. They're lowhanging fruit. Fifteen of their next 18 games are against teams with losing records. Twelve are at home. The schedule tilts toward them for the next while, and then away toward the end.

If the Jays have changed - in that fundamental way that is supra-statistics, and speaks to an alchemical mix of bluster and refusing to accept what's likely - they will tear through this telling stretch.

The season is still set up for them to succeed. They're thin on every front. They aren't hitting. They don't have much pitching.

But at some point with this franchise, you have to move past the regular excuses, and do the things that some successful teams manage through force of will.

Follow me on Twitter:@CathalKelly

Associated Graphic

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher R.A. Dickey found a silver lining in the pro-Toronto crowd in Seattle when he was beaten by the Mariners this week. But Dickey must understand that that sort of shoulder shrugging from a veteran is contagious in a locker room, Cathal Kelly says.


The Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Reyes strikes out against the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday. The baseball season can't be won in the next two weeks, but, for the Jays, it can most certainly be lost.


Discovering the sweetness in bitter
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

By his third day in town, my father had emptied our sugar bowl. He eats the stuff by the heaping tablespoonful: three in his coffee, three (or more) on his cereal and far, far more highfructose corn syrup than I can quantify in the Cokes that he mixes with his evening rum.

I let it ride at first. At 84, he is by most measures preposterously healthy. Every time I heard the crack of another Coke can or the clanging trawl of the sugar spoon around his coffee mug, I thought of the geriatric smokers who live into their 90s, stained-flesh-andnicotine-blooded rebukes to all the clean-living marathoners who drop dead at 61.

Yet, I also thought of what might happen next year or the one after that: how, every day, my father's sweet tooth increased his risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and liver damage. The evidence is so damning that the World Health Organization recommended an ideal consumption of no more than 100 calories in added sugars daily. Between his cereal and his coffee, my father consumed three times that by 10 a.m. every day.

I had a second issue with all the added sugar he was eating. Unlike sour, spicy, bitter and umami, workaday sweetness is the dullard of the flavour family. It's white and cheap and onenote once the empty high has subsided. My father, I liked to think, was better than that.

By the third day, I started haranguing him. The next morning, he didn't ask for sugar with his coffee. Instead of the sound of that spoon in his mug, I heard a tentative sip, a contemplative pause, followed by a howl of shock and disgust. It isn't always easy, getting with the times.

It might have started in the world of cocktails. Fifteen years ago, cosmos, appletinis and sickly saccharine Goldschlager shots were go-to orders. Today, you'd be hard to find them outside of TGI Friday's. Refreshingly bitter and sour cocktails, such as negronis and French 75s, have taken over. (Sales of Campari, the bitter herbal liqueur that's the basis of the negroni, climbed 20 per cent in the U.S. last year.)

Or maybe it began with the rise of New Nordic cooking, with its unsweetened creams, its cinnamon pastries that taste like cinnamon instead of sugar and its embrace of sea buckthorn, a bright orange fruit that's nearly sour enough to peel nail polish.

It could also be the pendulum at work: Where sticky toffee pudding and molten chocolate cakes once dominated Canada's better dessert menus, I now see green strawberry sorbets, celery panna cotta and bracing sours from citrus, tamarind, green mango and pomegranate. Even citric acid, the coarse white powder that gives Sour Keys their puckery character, has become a go-to ingredient.

There's plenty enough cloying sweetness to go around still, but our collective sugar high may be ebbing.

At Per Se restaurant in New York in the spring, the 10-course dessert tasting menu I ate was notable as much for its restraint and lack of cloying sweetness as for its deliciousness. One of the courses included a lime leaf ice, as well as celery leaves and tiny cubes of jellied ginger. Another played soursweet pineapple off semi-sweet mochi, the Japanese glutinous rice cake. It included green tea, sesame and puffed black rice that tasted eerily of popcorn, too.

What was all-out sweet - and there wasn't much of it - was always balanced by another flavour: the steamed pudding by lemon confit, the pear sorbet by sour green apples. Even better, I didn't feel comatose after all that overindulgence. I felt pretty excellent, in fact.

Chocolate has also changed. These days, it's often dark chocolate, complex and fruity-floral with aggressive bitter notes - it's chocolate that tastes like cocoa beans, instead of sugar and vanilla. (Sales of dark chocolate, which has a higher cocoa content and less sugar than the usual stuff, have surged in the past five years. According to the U.S. National Confectioners' Association, they climbed 9 per cent in 2013 alone.)

Many savoury foods have also become less sweet. Teriyaki salmon has given way to salmon grilled with butter or olive oil and a bit of salt; food tastes more like good ingredients these days, rather than the lowest-commondenominator sauces we used to cloak them with.

With the rise of Neapolitan pizza, North Americans have discovered that tomato sauce doesn't need to be loaded with sugar to taste incredible. (The addition of sugar is forbidden with proper Neapolitan pizza sauce.)

Rapini, endives, dandelion and chicory have begun to colonize the vegetable aisle; this fall, the brilliant Toronto- and Paris-based food writer Jennifer McLagan will publish her cookbook Bitter, with recipes for the likes of radicchio pie, turnip ice cream and white asparagus with blood orange sauce.

McLagan has even begun to make her own tonic water, she said; gin and tonic is her favourite drink. She uses far less sugar than even high-quality commercial preparations. The result: you can taste the notes of citrus zest, lemongrass, star anise and cinchona bark in the gin instead of only sugar. "Bitter is so much more interesting than sweet, because it's so complex," McLagan said.

It's hard to say whether it's the beginning of a widespread movement or just a passing (if hopeful) fad.

McDonald's still believes that children can't possibly eat an apple without a packet of caramel sauce to dip it into. Krave, the chocolate cereal from Kellogg's, contains 11 grams of added sugar per dubiously tiny 3/4 cup serving (nobody eats a 3/4 cup serving of cereal); that's nearly the entire daily recommended sugar intake for young children, which one presumes is the brand's target group. Most depressingly, for me at least, the desserts arm of Momofuku, one of the world's most influential (and, to my mind, best) restaurant companies, has found enormous success by producing some of the most oversweetened desserts I've ever tried.

Still, I am hopeful. My father hasn't entirely killed off his sweet tooth, and he's still a ways off from embracing trendy bitters, such as rapini or spice. But these days, instead of adding three spoonfuls of sugar to his coffee, he stirs in a single one of honey.

He doesn't even howl about it any more.

Associated Graphic

Many Canadian restaurants are replacing sugary dessert items with treats such as this green strawberry sorbet.


'Society should be horrified'
The death of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine is prompting demands for a national inquiry into the disappearances and murders of more than 1,000 aboriginal women
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1

WINNIPEG, TORONTO -- Winnipeg's Red River has become ground zero in the ongoing fight for a national inquiry into Canada's missing and murdered aboriginal women, its muddy waters the site of a grim discovery by police divers who were actually looking for another person's body when they happened upon the remains of Tina Fontaine.

On Tuesday evening, hundreds descended upon Alexander Docks, near where the 15-year-old was found on Sunday, to begin a vigil that would take them to a monument honouring Manitoba's missing and murdered aboriginal women at the Forks - the historic intersection of the Red and Assiniboine rivers boasting some 6,000 years of aboriginal history.

As the sun reflected on the brown waters, Tina's family, friends and scores of supporters gathered in solidarity, singing healing songs and burning sage to cleanse and guide the spirit. The sound of drums matched each step taken as the marchers, led by Grand Chief Derek Nepinak and Tina's mother, weaved through the downtown core.

Tina's uncle, Oswald Turtle, said he remembers seeing his niece as a baby, "cute and innocent," all those years ago. "We're in pain right now," he said.

"This is just not right."

Ottawa has launched initiatives aimed at addressing past wrongs against aboriginals, including when it comes to the Indian Residential School system, but some native leaders have questioned whether reconciliation is possible so long as the government refuses to launch a national inquiry into Canada's more than 1,000 known missing and murdered aboriginal women. Here in Manitoba, the case is especially stark: half of the province's female murder victims between 1980 and 2012 were aboriginal, according to a recent RCMP report.

Tina was last seen in downtown Winnipeg on Aug. 8 and was reported missing the next day. Nine days later, her status went from missing to murdered.

The frustration among local leaders over Tina's death was immediate and palpable: "Society would be horrified if we found a litter of kittens or pups in the river in this condition. This is a child," Winnipeg police Sergeant John O'Donovan said when he announced the death Monday.

"Society should be horrified."

Claudette Dumont-Smith, head of the Native Women's Association of Canada, was similarly upset: "[Tina] was 15. Who deserves that at 15 years old? It's a blemish on Canada and it's a blemish on all Canadians because this issue is not being addressed." The NWAC views Tina's death as a "starting point" toward a national inquiry. "We figure that's the only way we'll begin to resolve this crisis situation," Ms. Dumont-Smith said.

Manitoba Aboriginal Affairs Minister Eric Robinson said the same, noting his first thought when he heard of Tina's death was "not another one."

Also Tuesday, the NDP reiterated its call for a national inquiry, while the Canadian Human Rights Commission said the time is nigh to study the "root causes" of the deaths and disappearances.

But Tina's case - just like that of Saskatchewan's Marlene Bird, whose face was half cut off and legs burned to the bone in June - hasn't changed Ottawa's mind. The Conservative government on Tuesday reiterated it has no plans to launch a national probe, citing instead its tough-on-crime legislation and $25-million budget commitment to "directly address the issue" of missing and murdered aboriginal women.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Ms. Fontaine at this very difficult time," federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay said in a statement that concluded: "Now is the time to take action, not to continue to study the issue."

At the vigil, Tina's mother, Tina Duck, was physically supported by fellow mourners, struggling to keep pace as her legs appeared to buckle at times. She held a single flower and bowed her head with tears that streamed beneath her sunglasses.

Doreen Merasty walked not because she knew Tina, but because she said her own sister, Emily Norma Ballantyne, has been missing for more than two decades.

"Why should our women go missing or die? Each case comes with its own story - its own family [left behind]," Ms. Merasty said, adding her sister had five daughters before she disappeared in Thompson, Man. "The government has a duty to do something ... I want to find my sister. I want to bury her if I have to."

In May, the RCMP revealed that 1,181 aboriginal women had either been killed or gone missing between 1980 and 2012. The data was unprecedented - and it appears to stop there.

"There is no intent as far as the broader police community to continue with maintaining a current, active data set," said RCMP Superintendent Tyler Bates, director of national policing and crime prevention services.

Tina's death, the precise cause of which has not yet been revealed, is also prompting scrutiny of the province's child welfare system.

The teen, who was originally from the Sagkeeng First Nation, was in the care of Manitoba Child and Family Services but had run away.

"[The child welfare system] can't provide the degree of care that we can provide within our own communities," said Grand Chief Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, who previously worked at a child and family services agency.

A Family Services spokesman said that in keeping with standard procedure the province's Office of the Children's Advocate, as well as the appropriate child and family services agency, will investigate Tina's case.

As for the police investigation, the force is appealing to the public for information as it tries to piece together the teen's last movements.

In a twist, police divers who found Tina's body wrapped in brown-grey plastic weren't even looking for the petite teen as they felt their way through water so dark it is difficult to see more than a foot deep.

Winnipeg's Constable Eric Hofley said the divers were trying to find signs of a man that an offduty officer had spotted going under the Red River near the Forks on Friday. That man turned out to be Faron Hall, the so-called "homeless hero" who got his nickname for rescuing two people from drowning in the very same waters that swallowed him. He was found six hours later up the river; police say foul play is not suspected.

The vigil Tuesday was in his honour, too.

Associated Graphic

The family of Tina Fontaine leaves a vigil on Wednesday near the Alexander Docks along the Red River in Winnipeg, from which Tina's body was recovered on Sunday.


EU fights off economic opportunity with its anti-immigration stance
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, August 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

LONDON -- Hunkered down and hidden in bushes beside a ramp leading off a highway in northern France, four young Africans watch a stream of trucks heading for the Channel Tunnel and Britain. If the vehicles slow to a crawl, the men will try to jump on board, grabbing on to the cages holding spare wheels, or they may even get into the driver's cab using threats of violence or the promise of bribes. Calais, a bleak, windswept and impoverished Channel port, has become a magnet for desperate young men from as far afield as Eritrea, Sudan, Syria and Somalia. It is the choke point, the final hurdle on a terrible journey to Britain: the promised land of jobs, free health care, benefits and a future.

Most don't make it to the imagined El Dorado, but remain stuck in a hopeless corner of France. According to the French authorities, the migrants now total more than a thousand, many living in a squalid camp, called "the jungle," waiting for their chance.

The truck drivers have taken to carrying baseball bats to fend off attacks from unwanted passengers, and the people of Calais, seeing their city transformed into a refugee camp, have had enough.

The city's mayor, Natacha Bouchart, has written to British Prime Minister David Cameron, demanding solutions, including an end to the policy of screening entry to Britain in Calais. He is unlikely to oblige; in response to the political challenge from UKIP, the nationalist, anti-immigration party, the government wants to be seen to be tough on immigration. The once-easy access to health care and benefits is being restricted and in an effort to flush out illegals, the Home Office sent a billboard across London on the side of a truck with the message: "In the U.K. illegally? Go home or face arrest."

Europe's burgeoning migration problem echoes the much larger immigration crisis facing the United States. In addition to the millions of illegal immigrants, there are some 57,000 unaccompanied minors stuck at the U.S.Mexican border, children fleeing violence in Central American states such as Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Estimates of the number of illegal immigrants in Britain range from 400,000 to 800,000, but what is clear is that the pressure on Calais is likely to increase.

With so many undocumented and illegal migrants, there is a dearth of objective evidence about the net benefit or cost to the economy of migration. There is little doubt that a city such as London could not function as a global capital and economic dynamo without armies of Polish and Baltic construction workers and decorators, French and Italian waiters, Asian and African cleaners and Filipina nannies.

What we do know is that migration is elastic; it responds to economic stimulus. Government labour-market data show a 26-per-cent rise in migrants from the new EU states of Eastern Europe in the three months to June, compared with the same period last year. The migrant population dwindled during the recession, but the recent spurt of British economic growth has reversed the trend.

A confidential police report published by the French newspaper Le Figaro revealed mounting concern about a surge in migrants entering France from Italy through the Provençal and Alpine border posts. According to the French police report, 61,592 migrants landed in Italy by sea in the first half of 2014, up from 7,913 during first six months of 2013. The deaths of hundreds of migrants in a series of shipwrecks off the Sicilian coast elicited a token gesture: The Italian Prime Minister promised the dead migrants a state funeral and Jose Manuel Barrosso, the European Commission president, promised Italy a grant of 30-million ($43.7-million) for refugee assistance.

It is less than a Band-Aid. No one, not even the EU countries most affected, is prepared to admit that the pressure of economic migration from the south to the north will become relentless over the next decade. The EU's plight is potentially worse than that of the United States for several reasons. The scale of the political unrest, war and conflict in the Middle East and Africa is increasing, uprooting settled communities. Population pressure is destroying the fragile environment of Africa's droughtprone Sahel region. And then there is the dysfunctional politics of the EU, which has never been able to agree on a population or migration policy, despite its continuing drive for expansion.

Europe does not even have a coherent foreign policy, and the noise surrounding the EU's troubles with its currency and stagnating economy obscures the crisis at its borders. The British, keen to limit Europe to a freetrade zone and prevent further political integration, have been the most cynical, encouraging the accession of new states in the hope it will prevent deeper union. The U.K. refused to sign the Schengen Agreement, which abolished border controls between member states, but even this bulwark has not saved Britain from an influx of migrants.

The big employer lobbies, such as Britain's Confederation of British Industry, protest against curbs on migration. They know the axe will fall on official immigration, the only levers available to politicians, which means more hurdles for engineering and pharmaceutical companies seeking visas for skilled workers.

While the Home Office vets student visas and mulls over skills shortages, the huddled masses of Africa and the Middle East, yearning not so much for freedom but for a roof and a job cleaning toilets, scuttle through the EU's porous borders. Sympathetic voices are few - there are no votes in being kind to immigrants.

One spoke out this week. Former Tory prime minister John Major, interviewed on the BBC, delivered an implied rebuke to the current Conservative Prime Minister, recalling his childhood living among immigrants in a poor part of London.

"They shared my house. They were my neighbours. I played with them as boys. I didn't see people who had come here just to benefit from our social system.

I saw people with guts and the drive to travel halfway across the world, in many cases to better themselves and their families.

And I think that is a very Conservative instinct," he said.

Mr. Major's principled stand is welcome, but there is a self-interested argument in favour of migration: that dynamic economies have competitive and mobile labour markets. If migrants are undercutting wages, the answer is surely to raise and enforce minimum wages, not to shut out competition. That so many are knocking at the door is a nation's badge of economic success, not a reason to man the barricades.

Spirits align for Ogopogo opera
It took nearly 20 years to stage The Lake/N-ha-a-itk at the home of its mythical monster. But for Heather Pawsey, it was meant to be
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R5

VANCOUVER -- It was patriotism - and fate - that launched Heather Pawsey's 19-year search for Ogopogo. It wasn't Lake Okanagan's mythical creature itself that she was after, but an opportunity to stage a Canadian opera about an Ogopogo sighting, in the actual spot where the real-life event had taken place. Written in the 1950s, that opera, titled The Lake, had never received a full production when Pawsey discovered it.

The first part of this Canadian opera tale begins in the early 1870s when Susan Allison and her husband, John, settled on the west side of Okanagan Lake at their Sunnyside Ranch. On a stormy fall day when John and their son had gone across the lake for supplies, Susan, concerned for their fate and scouring the water for their boat, spotted what she first thought was a tree but quickly came to believe was the lake dweller known as n-ha-aitk - a creature she had heard so much about from her aboriginal friends.

The story picks up in the 1950s, when Barbara Pentland, a pioneering modernist composer, teamed up with Governor-General's Award-winning poet Dorothy Livesay (both women were born in Winnipeg and died in British Columbia) to write an opera. Commissioned by an amateur organist from London, Ont., The Lake recounted Susan Allison's sighting of Ogopogo in 1873. But beyond a CBC Radio broadcast, it was never staged.

Jump to 1995, when Pawsey, a young soprano, entered the Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition. She wanted to sing an aria from a Canadian opera, but the Canadian opera scene being what it was, she didn't know of any. So she set off for the Canadian Music Centre B.C. Region, where for days she pulled all kinds of songs and arias off shelves - until she came across a handwritten, unpublished score. It was The Lake, and Pawsey was hooked.

"I opened it and I looked at the first page and honest to God I went, 'This is it, this is the aria.' And I knew I was going to have a really long relationship with this piece," Pawsey told The Globe and Mail.

She would win first prize with that aria the following year, but before that - in between rounds one and two of the competition - she was visiting Quails' Gate Winery in West Kelowna, B.C., with her husband. As she tells it, while her husband was geeking out over wine during a tasting in a little log cabin on the property, she found a scrapbook about the house. Flipping through it, it became apparent that she was in the spot where Allison had spotted Ogopogo.

"I realized that Sunnyside Ranch was Quails' Gate Winery now and I'm standing in Susan Allison's house and I went, 'We have to do it here,' " says Pawsey, who did not yet have a company (she has since founded Astrolabe Musik Theatre) and could not fathom how she was going to do it, but was determined to stage the opera there nonetheless.

"It was one of those weird times when you get a message from the universe, the powers, the spirits, whatever it is that you believe in that something comes to you and you don't have a choice; it just has to happen."

Nineteen years later, it is finally happening. The Lake is being performed at Quails' Gate this weekend, with Pawsey singing the role of Susan Allison. (Further evidence of this being fated: Allison and Pawsey, both of Scottish ancestry, share the same birthday - Aug. 18, the day after the show closes - and they both arrived in B.C. on their birthdays.)

It is the first fully staged production of the work. But this is not The Lake as Pentland and Livesay had written it. This is The Lake/N-ha-a-itk, with the original work as its core, but also infused with the music, traditions and legends of the Westbank First Nation, for whom n-ha-a-itk is an important figure (as opposed to the tourism-driving kitschy commercial mascot to which Ogopogo is often reduced).

In 2012, the centenary of Pentland's birth, Pawsey staged a concert version of The Lake at the black-box theatre at Vancouver's Chan Centre. Delphine Derickson, a musician and teacher and member of the Westbank First Nation, was in the audience - it was her first opera - and after the performance, ventured backstage to provide some feedback.

"Our history [is] never really told from our point of view, so it was an opportunity for me, because I'm a teacher ... to [provide] the correct information," says Derickson, who grew up hearing about sightings of n-ha-aitk from elders and her own relatives. (She declined to specify what she felt may have been inaccurate.)

Backstage at the Chan, Derickson and Pawsey began talking. Derickson confided that she had written a song about n-ha-a-itk. She sang it for Pawsey.

"And I looked at this woman and I thought she's speaking from her heart; I'm going to speak through mine," recalls Pawsey. "And I said, 'You have this thousands-of-years-old musical tradition and ... I've wanted to bring this opera home for 17 years.' She said, 'I'll do anything I can to make that happen.' And I said, 'Do you think there's any way that your rich tradition of music could ever meet with ours? Could we experiment? Could we explore? Could we find ways of connecting?' And she looked at me and she said, 'Would you teach me to sing opera?' And I said, 'Would you teach me to sing in your language?' " Derickson has become an integral part of The Lake/N-ha-a-itk, a collaboration between Astrolabe Musik Theatre, Turning Point Ensemble and the Westbank First Nation.

Pawsey arrived at Quails' Gate to prepare last Sunday night, and stood at the spot where her dream was born, watching as the supermoon rose over the lake.

"Nineteen years, later I'm still pinching myself, going wow, I can't believe this is actually happening," she told The Globe the next morning. "And then to be blessed with that moon last night was like, oh whoa, this has to be a good omen from the spirits."

The Lake/N-ha-a-itk is being performed at Quails' Gate Winery Aug. 15 and 16 at 8 p.m. and Aug 17 at 2 p.m. (

Associated Graphic

Delphine Derickson, left, a Westbank First Nation member, worked with Heather Pawsey to develop the current version of The Lake/N-ha-a-itk.


MM&A engine fire linked to repair
Failure of material used in fix nine months before the tragedy may have played a role in the fire that caused the train's derailment
Monday, August 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1

OTTAWA -- About 200 kilometres before an ill-fated oil train was left idling on the main track near LacMégantic, Que., Transport Canada conducted a routine inspection and allowed it to proceed. The train carried on through Quebec, carting 72 tank cars of crude bound for the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John.

The inspector didn't report any concerns about the engine in the train's lead locomotive. But The Globe and Mail has learned that part of the federal investigation into the rail disaster has focused on a repair conducted nine months earlier that played a role in a locomotive fire that broke out later that night, setting in motion a series of events that led to the train's derailment and explosion in Lac-Mégantic.

Details of the repair work and its possible connection to the locomotive fire in Nantes, Que., emerged when The Globe spoke with more than half a dozen sources familiar with various aspects of the accident and investigation.

The revelation sheds new light on a complex series of factors that contributed to the biggest rail disaster in modern Canadian history.

At some point during the train's journey through Quebec's eastern townships and toward Lac-Mégantic, the engine in the lead locomotive began to surge, according to a source, an issue Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway engineer Tom Harding deemed serious enough to report to the company.

After he arrived in Nantes, Mr. Harding left the locomotive running and the train's air brakes on, and retired to a hotel for the night. Less than an hour later, firefighters were called to extinguish a blaze in the same locomotive that had caused him trouble. After they left, the train rolled downhill toward LacMégantic, where it jumped the tracks and unleashed a mushroom cloud of burning oil that razed the downtown core and killed 47 people.

The TSB will release its final report on the accident this Tuesday, after one of the agency's most complex and demanding rail investigations. The report is expected to attract significant attention because of the scale of the devastation in LacMégantic and the broader questions the accident has raised about the safety of moving crude oil by rail.

Several legal actions related to the accident are still before the courts, including criminal charges against the railway and three of its employees, and civil suits in the United States and Canada, constraining those with knowledge of the investigation from discussing the matter in public.

However, according to sources, a repair was performed on the locomotive's engine in October, 2012, about nine months before the crash occurred. A source said the material used in the repair lacked the necessary strength and durability and eventually failed.

The locomotive had been built decades ago, and sources indicated that a complete repair would have required the engine to be torn down, a task that would have been both expensive and work-intensive. The failure of the material contributed to a series of other problems, including a damaged piston and engine valves, that ultimately led to a buildup of oil in the engine system and the fire in Nantes, according to a source familiar with the matter.

While the locomotive was likely using more engine oil than usual in the leadup to the accident, the source said, the problem may not have attracted much attention because locomotives often consume more fuel as they age.

The TSB has already issued recommendations for stronger standards for the rail cars used to transport crude oil, new Emergency Response Assistance Plans for crude and ethanol shipments, and a requirement for railways to conduct a formal route analysis and take other precautions when moving dangerous goods.

In response, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt announced earlier this year that formal emergency plans must be put in place for crude and ethanol shipments, and a new proposal for a tougher tank-car design was recently sent to the rail industry for consultation. Transport Canada has also agreed to speed restrictions, along with added inspections and risk assessments for routes carrying a high volume of dangerous goods.

MM&A and three of its employees, including Mr. Harding, have since been charged with criminal negligence in connection with the crash. Also charged were train operations manager Jean Demaitre and railway traffic controller Richard Labrie.

However, unanswered questions remain about how MM&A was permitted to operate trains staffed by a single employee. Sources familiar with the investigation say it has examined the regulatory environment at the time of the crash, including the role Transport Canada played in allowing MM&A to shift to single-person operations.

Under Transport Canada's rules, companies are supposed to be able to demonstrate that they can run single-person operations safely. While the department did not explicitly grant MM&A permission to proceed with the practice, it did acknowledge the railway's plans to do so, a source familiar with the matter said.

That source also indicated that MM&A engineers received between 20 minutes and four hours of training before the practice began, and said that, in some cases, training occurred on the same day that the first single-operator trains began running in Quebec.


1. A Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway engineer notices surging in the lead locomotive of the crude oil train he is operating as he travels east to Nantes. Sources familiar with the investigation of the accident say he reported the problem to the company.

2. At 10:50 p.m. ET on Friday, the engineer parks the train on the main track in Nantes, Que. The engine in the lead locomotive is left running and the train's air brakes are on when he retires for the night at a local hotel.

3. Shortly before midnight on Friday, firefighters are called to deal with a blaze that has broken out on the locomotive. After extinguishing the fire, they turn off the locomotive engine and depart.

4. Shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday, with the engine shut down, the train's air brakes stop working, leaving it to rely on hand brakes that were set by the engineer before his departure. Those brakesare not adequate to hold the train in place, and it begins to roll downhill toward Lac-Megantic

5. At 1:15 Saturday morning, the unmanned, speeding train jumps the tracks as it enters downtown Lac-Megantic. Its crude oil cargo explodes, causing a massive fire that kills 47 people and destroys dozens of buildings.

Associated Graphic

The crash site at the July, 2013, accident in Lac-Mégantic.


After 10 years of touring, there's still so much to talk about
Friday, August 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page G3

Slept in Frank Sinatra's bedroom: check. Toured a 1960s glass-and-steel home so fantastic, it could have been part of the Case Study House program were it not at Kempenfelt Bay: check. Fought for Riverdale Hospital, Inn on the Park, Montreal's "Trend House," and Victoria College's Wymilwood; cried thrice and cheered once: check. Interviewed some of Toronto's greatest postwar builders, engineers and architects: check. Interviewed tomorrow's stars: check. Tried to point out things busy people don't have time to appreciate - sidewalk stamps, telephone exchange names on signs, public sculpture, hydro houses and bee condos - and got a kick when I heard that they now do: check.

Had an absolute blast this past decade: check. That's right: At the end of the month, your humble Architourist will blow 10 candles out on his cake.

While I started as a feature writer in the spring of 2003, the weekly Architourist column debuted on Sept. 3, 2004, with a look at the CNE's Food Building (then celebrating its 50th anniversary). A week later, I profiled a heritage activist in Bowmanville who painted the pillars on his 1890 home purple to draw attention to the benefits of Heritage Conservation Districts (HCDs).

And those two topics, I think, set the tone for the journey thus far, as I've tried to learn as much as possible about the postwar boom years in Ontario, and have also championed those among us who fight for our built heritage - whether from 1850 or 1950 - across Canada and the U.S. And the response I've received from all of you tells me you're as excited as I am.

Indeed, there's electricity in the air when water-cooler conversations turn to architecture. And why not? - there's so much construction in the GTA, and our resale market is so red hot, everyone's got a story. Civic pride is so strong right now - whether expressed via books, graphic art, T-shirts, ugly condo awards, or Spacing's TTC buttons - my septuagenarian and octogenarian friends say it rivals the 1960s, when Toronto emerged from its provincial shell into a truly cosmopolitan city.

Speaking of which, I'd argue we were already halfway there by the 1950s. One of the first pieces I wrote for Globe Real Estate was about the widow of painter/ muralist R. York Wilson, Lela Wilson, who, at 92 (in 2003), was still living in the home the couple had had custom-designed by architect John Layng as a painter's paradise in 1955. Seven years later, I wrote about Toronto's "only Bauhausler," Andor Weininger, a Hungarian artist and furniture designer who'd studied under the greats at the Bauhaus school in the 1920s and chose to live here from 1951 to 1958, where he produced his best work. And, as regular readers know, at various times I've dug into the modernist dirt of Don Mills, our brave "New Town" that began in 1952, and I've documented the race Peter Dickinson and John C. Parkin had to see who could throw up more modernist towers (and both even dabbled in a few residential projects) in that decade.

Clearly, Toronto began its quest to be modern in the 1950s.

But I never wanted this space to be a one-trick pony. In 2005, as a greenhorn in the world of green/ sustainable architecture, I met with Glen Hunter to tour his offgrid, straw bale home outside of Peterborough, Ont. I was dazzled by his passive and active solarpower systems, and by his wind tower, but mostly how the style of his home - penned by Paul Dowsett, then with Scott Morris, now with Sustainable.TO - was thoroughly un-Hobbit-like and totally 21st century. That started me on a quest to meet other architects in Toronto doing green things, such as Levitt-Goodman, Solares, Brown + Storey, and Terrell Wong.

I also met architects who'd hung their shingles around the same time I started writing, so I could take the pulse of Toronto today, and get a sense of our collective future; after the privilege of reviewing superkül, Agathom, Reigo & Bauer, RAW and Dubbeldam (to name but a few) I can say without hesitation that the next few decades are in very talented hands.

Perhaps best of all, personally, is that many listed here have become good friends. Breaking bread and sipping wine with an architect - and allowing the discussion to veer into non-architectural territory - is a wonderful way to understand their work.

That's why the advice I give to anyone before hiring an architect is: "Do you like them as a person?

You'd better, because you're going to be strapped into an emotional roller coaster with them for the next 18 months!"

And while I don't fancy myself an architecture critic, I've been mad enough to dust off the soapbox on a few occasions. The rant that got the largest response was penned in February, 2005, and truth be told, while from the heart, it was something I dashed off because I had to catch a flight to Cuba the next day. In an open letter, I asked why current-day builders didn't think new versions of the small, stylish 1,200 to 1,700-square- foot homes I'd been coveting in a 1965 Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation book were marketable today.

Three years later, I lambasted the condo-development community for choosing building names that brought to mind California or New York City rather than the T-Dot.

While the latter has improved, the former still needs work, since I've yet to see a development of modern single-family homes come to market.

The biggest mistake I ever made was when I called the HMS Ajax a "battleship" rather than a "Leander class light cruiser" in a column about the 50th anniversary of the Town of Ajax; the number of e-mails I received (only a few were unkind) made me realize Globe readers pay very close attention and that I'd do well to bone up on my proofreading skills.

All in all, however, I've got little to complain about. The decade I've spent writing The Architourist has been the highlight of my professional life. And with your support, I'll try to make it to 2024.

Associated Graphic

Lela Wilson's striking Wychwood Park house, above, and Frank Sinatra's house in Palm Springs, Calif., above right, are two of Dave LeBlanc's highlights from his years as the Architourist.


Liking Liberty Village
It's not perfect, but critics have been too harsh on the still-developing condo neighbourhood
Friday, August 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page G3

'What do you think of Liberty Village?" The question was simple enough, but coming from Mark Wigmore, a good friend who enjoys good conversation over good wine, it was a loaded one.

The problem was, I didn't have an answer. While I'd popped into the area from time-to-time over the past few years, these were "surgical strikes" rather than strolls-with-a-critical-eye.

I told him, however, that the area had received a lot of criticism from other architectural thinkers as density has increased; in 2008, the Star's Christopher Hume wrote that "Liberty Village illustrates everything that's wrong with planning in Toronto" and specifically aimed his hate-ray at the "strip mall" containing the Metro grocery store.

In 2013, Mr. Hume concluded that a place "that once held so much promise" was now just "an over-developed condo enclave."

Derek Flak, writing in BlogTO, stated that the area lacked "the historical identity of ... the Distillery District," and just a few months ago, Toronto Life complained about Liberty Village's dog poop problem because of a lack of green space.

So, with that in mind, I promised my pal I'd follow the same route he took - enter at the new East Liberty Street where it meets Strachan Avenue, and walk to Dufferin - and get back to him.

Entering at Strachan is currently a bit of a letdown. One corner greets visitors with a massive pile of dirt, and the other with a fenced-off, weedy field. Both looked exactly the same on a Google Map photo from May, 2013.

However, past the condo marketing sandwich boards, past the "Open House Meets Speed Dating" lawn sign, things improve with Gateway Park, where folks are stooping and scooping on the little walkways. To the north, facing the park, are three-storey townhouses; west along East Liberty and similar townhouses meet the street. While I'm no fan of the faux-historicist detailing, their scale, landscaping and siting reminds me of some areas of the much-lauded St. Lawrence Neighbourhood. On the south side, developers of the new, black-brick condo tower have likewise added townhouses to achieve similar results.

Just past the townhouses, as I crossed Pirandello Street (formerly Lower Shaw), I spied the lovely ruins of the Central Prison for Men's Roman Catholic Chapel (1877), which also enjoyed life as an army base, immigrant processing centre and, finally, as part of the enormous John Inglis and Sons complex that once dominated here. While the new Liberty Village Park around the chapel is complete, reports in 2011 stating that a Miller Tavern would occupy the building "within a year" have, sadly, proven false. However, 2011 did see the addition of Perpetual Motion by Chilean sculptor Francisco Gazitua to the west of the chapel; while I enjoy Mr. Gazitua's work - many of his pieces, including a bridge, populate the CityPlace neighbourhood - I'd rather see commissions go to local sculptors who better know the area's history.

Speaking of which, Swissborn, New York-based artist Olaf Breuning's Guardians took up residence in front of 85 East Liberty St. this past October. And while 65, 75 and 85 East Liberty St. may not win architectural awards for their innovation (the large, gridded windows are a nice touch), these striking figures - inspired by Easter Island moais - are a welcome addition.

After noting that CanAlfa's new condo at No. 150 is one of the few to incorporate red brick into its design (octogenarian architect Jerome Markson once reminded me that "Toronto is a red brick city"), I was drawn toward more red brick, this time in the form of an old boiler house at No. 165 (now a pub), and beside it, an inviting covered walkway that follows the path of old railway tracks between a former munitions factory and another building at No. 171 (both housing retail).

While I love the smaller scale of these buildings and how they contrast with their tall smokestack, the city recently approved partial demolition and re-development with added height and density (as neither is on the city's heritage inventory). Sigh.

To the north on Snooker Street sits the "strip mall" with the grocery store. While a walk past was not on my agenda since it didn't match my friend's walk, I will admit here that it doesn't bother me: It serves a purpose, it's tucked away from the high street and it's walkable for the entire community.

The old Irwin Toy building at Hanna Avenue was next. While I outlined the complex renovation by Quadrangle in a March, 2008, column, I still get a kick out of seeing this gem, and how packed the coffee shop is; here, also, is where East Liberty changes to Liberty, narrows, and a feast of heritage buildings await.

Past the Brunswick Balke Collender Co. building (1890) to Atlantic Avenue, I cheated and jogged north to take in the curved pediment and chocolatebrown brick of the Bank of Commerce Book Vaults building (1912). After Lamport Stadium, it was onto the delights of "The Castle" at No. 135 Liberty (home of E.W. Gillette in 1912) and the massive Toronto Carpet Factory complex (1899 - 1920). While there are less people and activity here on weekends, it's humming on weekdays.

So what will I tell Mr. Wigmore? Like him, I was impressed. While it's certainly no Distillery District - Toronto's version of touristy Old Montreal - enough heritage remains that it's anything but another condo enclave.

Some sections are overdeveloped, but others leave room to breathe and take in one's surroundings, and often those are beat-up, industrial and oozing heritage.

The repetitive nature of some condos doesn't offend, but rather keeps the focus on street-level activity; besides, if every new building were a sculptural oneoff, Liberty Village would be a pretty bizarre place. The green space problem is no worse than other downtown neighbourhoods, and the amount of hardscaped areas such as piazzas and widened sidewalks is increasing. Take a walk and see for yourself.

For those who'd like to know more, check out this City of Toronto 39-page planning document:

Associated Graphic

Rumours from 2011 that a tavern would occupy the old prison chapel 'within a year' have been proven false.


A covered retail walkway follows old railway tracks.

The Bank of Commerce Book Vaults is from 1912; Guardians was installed in 2013.


When celebrities die, we sometimes grieve as if we knew them. Johanna Schneller on our complicated bond to the stars of the silver screen
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R1

I was sitting with friends by a lake on Monday afternoon when another of our group, who'd been up at the house, came down with a strange look on her face. "Are you seeing this?" she asked, holding out her phone. "Robin Williams killed himself." My hands flew up to my mouth in surprise - the same way they would, I suspect, if I'd just heard that about someone I knew in (so-called) real life.

Reading the instant deluge of tweets, statements and essays about Williams, it's obvious that many people feel he was part of their lives, whether they'd met him or not. One young fan tweeted that watching Mrs. Doubtfire helped him cope with his parents' divorce. One woman wrote that Aladdin and Flubber were her babysitters at her cottage, night after night, year after year. Those tapes were as familiar to her, and as much a part of her summer routine, as her flesh-and-blood cottage friends were.

(It's worth noting, first, that Williams' biggest hits came out during the early generation of VCR/DVD viewing, when tapes and discs were piled beside television sets, and kids watched them over and over; and second, that his death occurs as those same kids are inventing how to grieve online - another place where concepts like "real life" and "real friends" are not easy to define.)

Some of the outpouring seemed genuine, some felt formulaic - but isn't that how grief is in real life? Aren't all wakes a mix of generic and personal?

Then on Tuesday, Lauren Bacall died, at age 89, after a stroke -and again, I had a reaction.

Not hands flung to face this time; rather, the shoulder slump and sigh you give when a friend's grandmother dies. Public reactions to Bacall's death were more muted, too - far fewer and less fervent; more about sharing fond memories from a long time ago.

It was like going to a great aunt's visitation: You note that few of her peers are left; you gaze at the collage of old photos that someone has set up on an easel, and marvel at how young and glamorous she was once. But you don't feel shattered, because you didn't know her that well any more; you'd lost touch with her a while back.

In an interview, George Clooney once said to me that no matter how popular a person becomes, fame lasts, at most, 80 years.

With Bacall - whose fame, at her heyday, rivalled anyone's - that seems about right. She has been famous for 70 years; in 20 more, the last of us who were young when she was working will be old, too. At that point, "fame" turns into "history."

This week's celebrity deaths also called to mind Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died of a drug overdose in February. The reaction to his death was something else again. Some mourned the troubled artist he clearly was; others were less kind, castigating him for stupidity and waste. But whether you felt sadness or ire or both, your feelings were no less genuine.

And why shouldn't they be? To me, celebrities are inarguably part of our "real" lives. Going to movies, watching TV, having conversations about whatever we just saw and the actors who were in it - that is some of the stuff of real life. We have real dreams with celebrities in them. We name our real pets, not to mention our children, after them. We imagine having sex with them, sometimes when we're with real people. How much more real does it get?

If you believe, as I do, that cinema is an art form, then it follows that it will engage your emotions.

Someone on a screen does or says something that moves you.

If he or she does it well or often enough, he or she becomes a star, and goes on to say more moving things. Eventually, if a star keeps gravitating toward quality material, it's not unreasonable to conflate that star with those feelings, or to feel that you and he or she share that feeling in common. Because, guess what, you do: You are both humans.

Part of the allure of celebritywatching, for me, has always been this: Most of us wonder how our lives would be different if we had more talent, more money, more access, more power, more ... something. Stars demonstrate for us what life with "more" looks like. They are examples we can point to and discuss. And in discussing their lives, we discuss our own - how marriages work or don't, how to raise kids, what breaks our hearts, who deserves a second chance, and why. Through their work and in interviews, stars share with us how other people experience being alive. They are professional empathy-elicitors.

So it's no wonder that, when a star such as Williams or Bacall dies, we feel, not that we know them exactly, but that we know enough about them to have a sense of the parameters of their characters and fates. Bacall's death - as a grande dame, after a full life - feels appropriate to the parameters we imagined. For Williams, on the other hand, suicide at 63, when he was still vital and widely beloved, when his synapses were still firing fast enough to dazzle scientists, feels outside the bounds.

We're not wannabes if we feel angry sorrow over Hoffman's overdose. We're not maudlin if, as we explain to our kids who Bacall was and why she mattered, we feel a stab of pain that all things pass, and we will, too. We're not wasting our time if we take to the Internet to help us process the weight of depression that crushed Williams. We're not even pathetic if we try to express our feelings in 140 characters or less. The feelings are real. It would be tragic not to feel them.

Associated Graphic

Robin Williams in Awakenings, 1990.


Fans took flowers to the building, left, where Lauren Bacall lived. She had been a huge star, in part because of her great, glamorous romance with Humphrey Bogart, but the reaction to her passing this week was more muted, perhaps because she was 89, seemed to have had a good long life, and was a star from another era.


Philip Seymour Hoffman's drug overdose in February elicited strong, and conflicting, emotions. Some mourn his too-soon passing; others decried the unnecessary waste of such a great talent.


The F Word gave screenwriter chance to use his own voice
Friday, August 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

The F Word, a new romantic comedy opening Friday, covers familiar romcom territory - about men and women and friendship (or more). But it does so with a contemporary quirkiness, and a Canadian perspective. The film was shot in Toronto - proudly playing itself; directed by Canadian Michael Dowse (Goon); and written by Elan Mastai, who was born and raised in Vancouver. He adapted it from the Fringe Festival play Toothpaste and Cigars, by Canadians TJ Dawe and Mike Rinaldi, which Mr. Mastai saw in Vancouver in late 2004.

It also features a superstar actor in the lead role: Daniel Radcliffe plays the heartbroken medschool dropout Wallace to Zoe Kazan's unavailable (but happy to be friends!) Chantry.

"I think Elan Mastai ... is a very funny, very clever man," Mr. Radcliffe said during an interview at the Whistler Film Festival in 2012.

Mr. Mastai, 39, is now based in Toronto. We reached him in B.C., on vacation with his family.

Where were you in your screenwriting career when you saw that play?

When I was growing up in Vancouver, it felt like more of a place that people from Hollywood came to shoot their movies, but it wasn't really a place where people wrote movies.

The idea of being a screenwriter seemed very far away. I didn't know anybody in the business, I didn't have any connections. So I was very much open to whatever job came my way. I was still in university when I got hired to write my first movie. It was a kids' movie called MVP: Most Vertical Primate. That was in late 2000. And in 2005 I'd been working relatively steadily, but it was mostly on work-for-hire jobs. So The F Word was the first project where I was going to pursue my own voice instead of writing the version that someone was asking me to write.

How did you become screenwriter-for-hire?

This friend of mine from university was working for this producer. She said, I can't get you a job but I can at least get you a phone call with him. I ended up getting hired to write a draft on this kids' movie. I wrote three drafts in five weeks and every step of the way I assumed I was going to get fired because I didn't know what I was doing. The funny thing is, I don't think this woman totally explained to this producer that I had never written a movie before.

My approach was fake it till you make it. In fact, I knew so little that I didn't really even know how to format a screenplay. I bought the published screenplay for Pulp Fiction. I modelled my first screenplay off of what Quentin [Tarantino] had done. To the point where Pulp Fiction was 134 pages so I made my screenplay 134 pages - which is way too long for a kids' movie about a skateboarding chimpanzee. In fact, the producer described it as War and Peace with chimps.

The script for The F Word was in flux for years and next thing you know Daniel Radcliffe has signed on to play the lead. What was that like for you?

As soon as I met him I knew he was right for the part. And it's very exciting because you need to get someone who can close your financing and open your movie around the world. You want people to see your movie. He's a movie star and that's fantastic, but more than that, he totally embodied the character much more thoroughly than I had any reason to hope we'd find. Because when I started writing it, Daniel was a teenager doing Harry Potter movies. The idea of him starring in this movie would have seemed ludicrous. But once we actually met him and got to know him it became impossible to imagine anybody else playing the part. And because he's super famous, that helps.

What was he like to work with?

He's incredibly gracious and thoughtful. One day we were all sitting around shooting the breeze between setups and we overheard this extra complaining to another extra that she had a splitting headache. And Daniel just goes up to her and he's like, are you okay? He mentioned that he gets headaches sometimes too and he always keeps medication in his trailer; does she need anything? And you should have seen the look on this girl's face.

The film has had its title changed for the U.S. to What If. How do you feel about that?

It wasn't ideal. I love the title The F Word. I think it captures the kind of cheeky edgy charm of the film. But when we sold it for U.S. distribution they were very candid about it, that the ratings board would have an issue with calling it The F Word. I don't think anyone thinks American civilization is going to crumble just because of a cheeky title. But most Canadian movies struggle to even get seen on Canadian screens, let alone to get distribution across the U.S. and around the world. So if a title change is the price we have to pay for that, then it's well worth it. The fact that on our side of the border we have this cheeky, more evocative title is unique. And we just take it as a banner of pride - that Canadians can handle it.

I understand there were some changes made to the script - the end in particular.

We didn't actually change the ending of the movie, but we added an epilogue where we return to the characters 18 months later. When we sold the movie to our U.S. distributor, they felt very strongly that the audiences had become so invested in the characters that they wanted to know what happened to them.

It was something we went into with open eyes, but also with a lot of care to make sure we crafted something that felt of a piece with the rest of the movie, but provided a little more closure and just that kind of burst that you want at the end so everyone walks out of the theatre on a high.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Associated Graphic

Elan Mastai, screenwriter of the romantic comedy film The F Word, at his cabin on Bowen Island, B.C., on Thursday.


The wild coast of Tofino is good for more than just surfing: Its natural bounty is turning chefs into foragers - and their menus into celebrations of sea plants
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, August 26, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

TOFINO, B.C. -- We've come to Tofino, to the end of the road on Vancouver Island's wild west coast, to embrace the beach and all that it entails.

The beach is the backdrop to everything here. The big waves that curl and crash over miles of soft sand create a playground for surfers, a bounty for beachcombers and a constant white noise, as mesmerizing as the veil of fog that often rolls in behind.

We're content to stroll the packed white sand, and simply sit and stare at the truly majestic magnitude of it all. The cellphone coverage is spotty and the WiFi even worse, which makes these beaches the perfect place to unplug, unwind and just sit back and smell the seaweed. Or taste it.

Yes, that's on the agenda, too, for these pristine coastal waters are home to 20 kelp species, the highest concentration and diversity in the world. Healthy sea vegetables are the latest hot kitchen-commodities, and Tofino chefs have a bounty of choices, from the kelp and sea lettuce waving in the shallows, to the salty sea asparagus and dune spinach sprouting on the shore.

"Its just a cool idea to go for a walk along the beach and see what you can find to eat," says chef David Sider, who heads the team at the Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn and draws inspiration for his creative cooking from the beach pantry.

Sider arrived at the inn a year ago from Langdon Hall, another famous Relais & Chateaux property, and his multicourse tasting menu includes foraged sea plants on every plate, creations as stunning as the panoramic views of Chesterman Beach from every table.

We begin with a fluffy mound of reindeer moss, crisply fried and topped with shavings of saltcured egg yolk, an ephemeral mouthful of toast and egg. Then there's a cube of raw albacore tuna, dusted in charred leek, to dip in a swirl of sweet cream and electric-green dill oil, chased by a tender pink tendril of local octopus and a smoked Outlandish mussel, perched on a sliver of new potato under a flurry of spruce oil snow.

"We have a number of different foragers who visit the back door," Sider says. "But we can pick sea lettuce, beach peas, sea arugula and dune spinach right here."

We head out to the white shell beach beyond the hotel kitchen to search, and Sider plucks a handful of edibles, including the ruffled sea lettuce he'll lightly poach and serve in a foamy chicken and truffle emulsion, and the beach pea greens that will top a plate of tender halibut cheeks.

An estimated 650,000 tonnes of wild kelp grows along the province's coast, with bull kelp being the fastest growing seaweed on earth, growing from a tiny spore to a 61-metre plant in a single summer.

At the newly opened Wolf in the Fog in downtown Tofino, chef Nicholas Nutting combines bull kelp and kombu fronds from Canadian Kelp Resources in his tasty Bamfield Seaweed Salad, a textural feast of sautéed shiitake mushrooms, crisp daikon radish, kelp ribbons and crunchy puffed wild rice, in a warm sesame soy vinaigrette.

"We receive it dry, in long dehydrated strips, then it's blanched and julienned," says sous chef Martin Dean about the crinkly kelp that stars in this creative, Asian-inspired combination.

Fishing and foraging on the rugged west coast is at the heart of the Wolf in the Fog menu: Shareable plates include thick slices of tender Humboldt squid (this rare behemoth can weigh 100 pounds) and the Spanish Picnic platter of cod, octopus and mussels with romesco sauce.

Even the casual observer will find all manner of interesting sea plants on a stroll along Tofino's expansive beaches. But if you're really curious about seaweed, the local Raincoast Education Society offers free Raincoast Walks to explore the intertidal zone at low tide, and a three-day Seaweeds of the West Coast field course.

Long Beach Lodge chef Ian Riddick finds chanterelles and other tasty treats on his regular beach and rainforest walks. Riddick says he wants his food to be part of "the adventure" guests experience, so he smokes his own salmon, makes his own "Cox Bay Salt," and pickles bull kelp tubes with ginger and rice vinegar to create a crisp relish for the restaurant and new Sand Bar beachside café.

"We get mushrooms and nettles and recently our forager brought in 25 pounds of sea asparagus," says Riddick who arrived in Tofino last year, after stints in Whistler and Okanagan resorts.

"I've always been a forager, but I can actually find something to eat 12 months of the year here. That's unusual for Canada."


The beaches of Vancouver Island's wild west coast are renowned for their big surf and changeable weather. The most famous is legendary Long Beach, in Pacific Rim National Park, a 16-kilometre swath of sand backstopped by windswept, old-growth conifers and tangled driftwood. Walk all day or climb Incinerator Rock for a fantastic view. The others are: .

Chesterman Beach: It's a 2.7km stretch of white sand. The Wickaninnish Inn is at the north end of the beach, and there are posh homes and B&Bs along the beach, with its tide pools and sandspit to Frank Island, walkable at low tide.

Cox Bay Beach: Home to resorts including Pacific Sands Beach Resort, the Long Beach Lodge and the Cox Bay Beach Resort, this 1.5-km beach is a surfer's paradise.

MacKenzie Beach: The one closest to town, there are campgrounds along a beach that's sheltered by tidal rocks, with calm waters suited to swimming and paddle-boarding.

Wickaninnish Beach: A section of Long Beach, this stretch includes the Kwisitis Visitor Centre, massive sand dunes and piles of driftwood brought in on powerful ocean waves.

Tonquin Beach: The easywalking trail that leads to this beach starts less than a kilometre from the post office in downtown Tofino. Follow the boardwalk and stairs down to the beach for white sand and spectacular sunsets.

Associated Graphic

Chesterman Beach - 2.7-kilometres of white sand - is home to the luxe Wickaninnish Inn.


Grilled octopus with romesco, from the Wickaninnish Inn.

Far left: Salmon and pig-tail purée, from the Wickaninnish Inn.

Middle: Poached halibut cheek with sweet pea purée, nasturtium and beach pea, from the Wickaninnish Inn.

Right: Seared Humboldt squid from the Wolf in the Fog.


Portfolio-building for the rookie investor
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B11

The best investment products for beginners are cheap to buy and own, easy to manage and effective in producing competitive returns.

In Part 2 of my Ultimate Investor Guide for Generation Y, we look in detail at some specific investments that deliver on all three points (read Part 1 online at Our target investor has $5,000 to start a portfolio in a tax-free savings account. TFSAs are an ideal vehicle for rookie investors for three key reasons.

Taxes are a non-issue: Money can be withdrawn tax-free at any time.

They typically have no annual account administration fees. Investment firms hate small accounts for the most part, and they have demonstrated it by charging administration fees on them; TFSAs are a notable exception.

They're versatile: You can put pretty much any type of investment in a TFSA - mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, stocks, bonds and guaranteed investment certificates.

A quick word about portfolio building: Many of the portfolios we'll look at here use a modestly aggressive mix of 25 per cent in bonds and 25 per cent in each of Canadian, U.S. and international stocks. If I were in my mid-20s, I'd probably go 15 per cent bonds and 85 per cent stocks, but Gen Y investors tend to be on the conservative side (read more on this in an earlier column at EClo).

Now, let's look at four ways to invest as a beginner - simple, medium effort and two advanced options.


Who sells them: Balanced funds are sold everywhere, but two of the best for beginners come from the online bank Tangerine Bank, formerly ING Direct, and the Calgary-based investment company Mawer.

What you're buying: Tangerine's balanced growth portfolio is built with index mutual funds tracking major stock and bond benchmarks. The fund is divided evenly into Canadian bonds, Canadian stocks, U.S. stocks and international stocks (outside North America). Mawer Balanced holds other Mawer funds in a blend of roughly 6 per cent cash, 31 per cent bonds and 63 per cent stocks from Canada and around the world (including large and small companies).

How to buy: Online through Tangerine. For Mawer funds, choose an online broker (my latest broker ranking is at and confirm that you can buy Mawer products with no commissions.

Pluses: You put money in and the fund managers maintain a diversified portfolio for you. Investing gets no simpler than this. Also, there shouldn't be any cost to buy or sell either of these funds.

Minuses: The cost of owning these funds, as measured by the management expense ratio, is more expensive than the other options here, though much cheaper than most conventional mutual funds.

Takeaway: A fair price for investments that do all the work for you.

More info: Tangerine funds for TFSA:, Mawer Balanced: .


Who sells them: All the big banks sell mutual funds that track major stock and bond indexes, but the cheapest by far are in Toronto-Dominion Bank's e-Series of index funds.

How to buy: The easiest way is to open an account with TD Direct Investing and then buy these four e-Series funds online.

Pluses: Very close to the cheapness of owning ETFs, and no cost to buy or sell.

Minuses: You have to rebalance your portfolio once or twice a year to ensure your mix of investments remains where you want it to be.

Takeaway: A very good choice requiring only medium effort.

More info: TD e-Series funds: .


What you're buying: ETFs, which in their most effective form are very low-cost funds that track major stock and bond indexes and trade like stocks.

That means you need to have an online brokerage account to use them.

How to buy: Go to your broker's online equity order screen (equities are financial-speak for stocks), add the stock symbol for your ETF and select the number of shares you want to buy. You can buy any number you want.

Pluses: The cheapest way to get the diversification benefit of investing through funds rather than picking individual stocks.

Minuses: The big one is brokerage stock-trading commissions, which can range from $9 to $29 for small accounts, depending on which firm you use. That's expensive if you add to your investments on a monthly basis.

The independent brokers Questrade and Virtual Brokers (not affiliated with a big bank or credit unions) offer no-cost ETF purchases.

You pay normal rates to sell, but these firms have very low commissions. One more minus with ETFs is an overwhelming selection, numbering close to 400 funds. The four ETFs shown here can certainly be used to build a complete portfolio, but there are many alternatives.

Takeaway: The less you pay for your investments, the higher your potential returns.

More info: Questrade on ETFs:; VB on ETFs:


Who does this: ShareOwner, an online brokerage firm catering to long-term, buy-and-hold investors.

What you're buying: The same ETF portfolio as above, but this time you're investing through ShareOwner.

How to buy: ShareOwner lets you pick the ETFs you want, and then set up a monthly contribution plan. In addition to the fees on your ETFs, ShareOwner applies a charge equal to 0.5 per cent of your account balance annually to buy your funds and manage your portfolio (a flat $40 a month is charged for accounts over $100,000). ShareOwner will divide your contributions between the funds you choose, in the proportion that you specify.

They'll even do fractional shares to ensure your money is invested where you want it.

Pluses: 47 core ETFs are offered for portfolio building, or you can use one of five model portfolios. Once you've chosen your portfolio, they do all the work for you.

Minuses: You're giving up half of a percentage point in returns to have someone keep your account running smoothly.

Takeaway: Not a bad way for a novice to build an ETF portfolio.

More info: ShareOwner's ETF program: .

Follow me on Twitter:@rcarrick

Associated Graphic

he best investment products for beginners are cheap, easy to manage and ffective in producing competitive returns. CHAD ANDERSON/GETTY IMAGES

Grainy, glorious and timeless
A movie projectionist celebrates the hypnotic imperfections of film, textures and rhythms that are impossible to portray through the sterile binary code of digital. A film gets scarcer at cinemas, its beauty becomes more apparent
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, August 14, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L9

The last new movie I saw projected on 35mm film was Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby. In a packed cinema that had not yet made the switch to digital projection, the screening played out like a Mystery Science Theater styled roast. Zach Galifianakis and other comedians lined the front row, watching this travesty of a film unfurl, while they skewered it mercilessly over a loudspeaker.

A hyper-digitized spectacle, flaunting high-tech tricks and blinged-out production values, the movie was never intended for 35mm, and the comics seemed to know it. They made short work of its many pretensions, but they poked particular fun at the failure of its 3-D effects - made even more ridiculous by being flattened into two dimensions for this analog format, the print often visibly nicked, or peppered with motes of dust.

Here was film itself, undermining Luhrmann's monument to digital slickness. Film, that soonto-be outmoded format, had stripped away the pretense of the digital, disclosing the shoddy falsity behind Gatsby's baubles, the gawkish Jay Gatz beneath Hollywood's glitzy surface.

Watching that screening, it was as though film, in the final moments of its commercial validity, was exacting a kind of revenge: After being hunted and hounded for decades by digital, film had turned and bared its teeth, at last.

Too late, alas: I doubt I'll ever see another new movie in wide release on 35mm again, although as recently as three years ago the format was still the industry standard. Today, all new "films," though they may be shot on 35mm, now premiere in the format known as DCP ("digital cinema package"), while older films, too, mainly circulate in new digital restorations. Like it or not, digital is the new normal. Watching a film, on film, is now an out-of-the-ordinary experience.

But on those rare occasions when audiences actually do see a film print, as I learned watching Gatsby, they now tend to notice those things that digital can't duplicate, the qualities distinguishing film as a medium.

There's the hypnotic imperfection of film, for example, like the shimmer of its photographic grain. Or there's the way a strip of film obscures or moderates light, producing the kind of deep blacks and nuanced whites that are impossible with digital. Aesthetic qualities like these come to the fore, now that film's an oddity. As film gets ever scarcer, its beauty becomes more apparent.

I confess that my own appreciation of film likely results less from its endangered status than from my own professional training. As a some-time projectionist, my hands-on interaction with film taught me to treasure its textures and rhythms in ways I couldn't otherwise have expected. My filmviewing experience is inextricable from the whir of the projector, the dark of the booth, the flickering lamp; my consciousness is attuned to the framing of the image, the length of the reel, the cutting and splicing of footage and leader.

So, for me, film's allure is rooted in the tactile. The most beautiful films I can remember seeing weren't on the screen, but in my hands. Inspecting a 70mm print of 2001: A Space Odyssey - a film gauge where each frame is the size of the screen on your phone - I watched its austere symmetry and trippy psychedelia spool past me in crystalline clarity. Examining work by avantgarde filmmakers, I'd see prints that bore little relation to what ended up on screen - flicker films, say, that alternated frames of colour in mathematical, Mondrian-like patterns, or handpainted films, whose projection revealed only glimpses of their artists' sprawling, film-length canvases.

But film's physicality is precious in another way, too.

Sifting through boxes of family photos on a recent nostalgic afternoon with my mother, we came across a yellowed old packet from Woolco. Inside was a single roll of 8mm film - a home movie that no one, evidently, had ever watched. Unspooling the film and holding it up to the light, I saw dozens of tiny pictures of mom in her youth, beaming with smiles, followed by shots filled with aunts and uncles, grandparents and greatgrandparents. The warm, amber light suffusing each frame isn't just due to the seventies predilection for earth tones on everything. That look also comes from the film's Ektachrome stock, which registered light in a tempered and welcoming way that helped colour the memories of several generations.

Kodak stopped making Ektachrome recently. Our home-movie projectors long ago shuddered their way into obsolescence.

Some of my family has been gone longer than I can remember. But this film is still here, and it speaks to me, out of the past.

The flicker-film pioneer Peter Kubelka delights in predicting how, when our civilization lies in ruins, its hard drives and data will stymie future historians - the equipment required to decode a DCP will be useless, defunct. A film strip, on the other hand, will always be an object that speaks for itself: Here are images of life, printed in sequence. If a film is nothing else - whether it's Luhrmann's poor Gatsby, or my mother's home movies - it is history, recorded in light. And that, in the end, will be film's lasting beauty.


Although film has disappeared from most multiplexes, some cinemas across Canada continue to foster appreciation for celluloid.

TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto Equipped for 16mm, 35mm and - most spectacularly - 70mm film projection, the Toronto International Film Festival headquarters also boasts soundproofed and calibrated theatres. TIFF dedicates its wide range of year-round programming to screening film whenever possible.

The Cinematheque, Vancouver Originally founded as the Pacific Cinémathèque, Vancouver's hub for film exhibition recently completed a Kickstarter campaign to help it install new digital projection equipment. But film prints continue to anchor its schedule.

La Cinémathèque québécoise, Montreal With its mandate to preserve and archive film history - with an emphasis on Quebec and animated film - Montreal's Cinémathèque can pride itself on being just as much a museum for cinema as it is a screening space.

Winnipeg Cinematheque The exhibition arm of the Winnipeg Film Group, this cozy venue often spotlights film work from local, Canadian and aboriginal artists, as well as classics from Hollywood and world cinema on 35mm.

Cinecycle, Toronto This coach house/bicycle repair shop/screening space, located in a Toronto back alley, is an idiosyncratic permanent fixture in the city's film culture.

The future looks bleak for MLSE and all its teams
Leiweke brought two things that cannot be pulled from the air by a new CEO, regardless of how competent his successor may be: connections and a single-minded drive to put his personal stamp on every part of a business
Friday, August 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

After a couple of days of pointedly time-sensitive denials, the news that Tim Leiweke is leaving as president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment within the next 10 months is more than a management shuffle. It's a decapitation.

The body he leaves behind will continue twitching for a while.

Maybe a season or two. But, eventually, it's going to die.

Mr. Leiweke was more than a manager. MLSE has had a whole bunch of those.

He was a visionary, an 18-houra-day dynamo, a man who could work himself near tears thinking about the possibilities (and often did).

He brought in or elevated a series of fellow travellers who now control all aspects of the corporation. In every case, in every conversation, every one of them was keen to tell you who lit the fire underneath them: Tim.

"He is the most incredible person I've ever met," an MLSE exec once told me, with a religious sense of awe.

For the past year, MLSE has been run as a function of one man's outsized personality. It can't just go back to being an insurance company that happens to own a hockey team.

Troublingly, they also can't find another guy who exists at Mr. Leiweke's level, because such a person does not exist. He wasn't just the best-connected sports executive in the country. He may have been the most hooked-in entertainment operator in the world.

Take the most famous Leiweke recruit - Drake.

In recent years, the hip-hop star had reached out on several occasions to MLSE, wanting to get involved with the Raptors. He didn't really care how. This wasn't a business opportunity.

This was a fan with leverage.

No one at MLSE ever returned his calls. Think about that. Seriously. If you're a fan of any one of MLSE's teams, have a long think about what you're going back to.

Eventually, Drake gave up. Shortly after taking the job in Toronto, Mr. Leiweke was back in L.A. having a friendly chat with Scooter Braun, the man who manages Justin Bieber's musical career. Mr. Braun mentioned Drake's interest. Mr. Leiweke made the call.

Drake had no suggestions as to his role. Mr. Leiweke dreamed up the global brand ambassador title. It was all done in days. The effect on the club's continental reputation has been seismic.

Draw a straight line from Drake to the "We The North" campaign to Kyle Lowry deciding he preferred the Raptors to the Lakers or the Knicks. Draw a line between all those moves and relevance.

Two years ago, that was impossible. Two years from now, without Mr. Leiweke, it's impossible again.

Mr. Leiweke brought two things that cannot be pulled from the air by a new CEO, regardless of how competent - connections and a single-minded drive to put his personal stamp on every part of a business.

The thing that should give the next man or woman in charge pause is how deeply every important player in this organization is beholden to the last guy.

Without Mr. Leiweke, Masai Ujiri is not the general manager of the Raptors.

Without Mr. Leiweke, Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley don't both make risky leaps to Major League Soccer. It was Mr. Bradley's agent, Ron Waxman, who reached out in the first place to Toronto FC. He's the one who sold the idea to his player. Why?

"I really liked what Tim was doing there," Mr. Waxman said.

Not the team. Not the GM. "Tim."

It was Mr. Leiweke who strongarmed MLS into allowing the move to happen. Because he knows everyone at the league.

He knows everyone at every league.

Without Mr. Leiweke, Brendan Shanahan does not become the president of the Maple Leafs.

Again, it was Mr. Leiweke who smoothed the idea of poaching one of the NHL's comers by going to another one of his old pals, Gary Bettman.

Notably, Mr. Leiweke did not bring a single employee with him from AEG. He won over most of the existing staff. The ones who didn't want to be won over, he replaced. The joint is not full of his loyalists. It's got nothing but.

In replacing him, MLSE has three problems: the past, the present and the future.

The past suggests that this corporation is not a friendly place to spend your peak professional years. In announcing his departure a year after his arrival, Mr. Leiweke hasn't helped much on that score.

The present is built on a foundation entirely of his creation.

Every one of his hires has plenty of other options.

Mr. Ujiri, for one, has been frustrated at the corporation's initial reluctance to build his team a new $30-million training facility (a key recruiting tool). It's only happening now because Mr. Leiweke went to war for him at the board level.

What's keeping Mr. Ujiri here now, aside from a paycheque? Who is his rabbi in management?

The same could be said of Mr. Shanahan. Or Mr. Bradley. Or a bunch of other behind-thescenes people who've been instrumental in this Great Leap Forward.

However, the real issue is the future.

Just a few days ago, we were talking I wrote abote Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant, and the possibility that he might choose Toronto in two years' time. That was always a reach.

Without Mr. Leiweke, it's hopeless. He held that plan together.

He knew all the players involved.

You can't hire another person who can do that. There isn't one.

Before Mr. Leiweke, MLSE worked like a bank. It had money. It offered money to people it wanted, and hoped they'd come.

Few did. That mentality is useless when all three of your teams operate in a salary-cap environment.

These days, every ascendant organization rides on one of two things - its history or its personality. No Toronto team has a recent history it wants to talk about.

So all they have to sell the stars of the future and build these clubs into winners is their personality. And it just quit.

Associated Graphic

Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, takes a call outside Toronto's Air Canada Centre on Wednesday. Mr. Leiweke is set to leave the sports empire no later than June, 30, 2015.


Toronto steels itself for Lions defence
The Argonauts host the B.C. squad at Rogers Centre on Sunday, just five nights after beating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers there
The Canadian Press
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S5

TORONTO -- On a short week, Curtis Steele replaces brawn with brain power.

The Toronto Argonauts host the B.C. Lions at Rogers Centre on Sunday, just five nights after beating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers there 38-21. With so little time between games, the speedy running back's preparation becomes more mental as he tries to maximize the time he's off his feet.

"You don't want to overwork your body," Steele said. "We just want to rest and take more from the mental aspect and be in the film room studying."

The quick turnaround gave Toronto's coaching staff just one practice to install the B.C. game plan. Players had a walk-through Thursday, practised Friday and will have another walk-through Saturday.

Steele, 27, is certainly deserving of a little down time. The six-foot, 190-pound former Memphis star scored two touchdowns against Winnipeg, rushing for 92 yards on 10 carries and adding two catches for 27 yards while also playing special teams.

Toronto (3-4) earned its second-straight win by running for 174 yards against Winnipeg, which was playing its second game in five nights.

"It's tough," Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray said. "You've got to get your body rested and relaxed and mentally, you've just got to move on to the next game.

"They [Lions] have had a little extra time to prepare for us but that's part [of] playing in the CFL. You're going to have some short weeks and you've just got to adjust to it accordingly."

Ray was 26-of-33 passing for 297 yards and three TDs versus Winnipeg, heady stats considering Toronto's offence is minus veteran receivers Andre Durie (clavicle), Chad Owens (foot), Jason Barnes (knee), John Chiles (hamstring) and rookie slotback Anthony Coombs (shoulder). But Ray spread the wealth as 10 different Argos had catches.

However, Toronto's injury woes continue as receiver Maurice Mann (hamstring) and running back Steve Slaton (stinger) aren't expected to play against B.C.

Ray said the combination of injuries and a short week makes life particularly hard on the Argos coaches.

"It puts a lot of stress on the coaches, trying to get a game plan in such a short time and get everything installed," he said. "For us players, we've got to mentally be in it and make sure we're learning that game plan for the next game."

Injuries have been just one challenge this year for Toronto.

After 18 years practising at the University of Toronto campus in Mississauga, the Argos moved to York University this year. But they've now relocated to Rogers Centre for the next couple of weeks before moving into a fulltime facility at Downsview Park.

And then there's the franchise's uncertain future, given its stadium lease expires after the 2017 season and no new home field has yet been secured.

The Argos aren't exactly packing them in at Rogers Centre, averaging under 17,400 fans in a stadium capable of holding more than 50,000 for football. It's hardly an ideal home-field advantage, but Toronto head coach Scott Milanovich isn't complaining.

"I'm honestly thankful for the job I've got," he said. "It hasn't been the easiest season, but I've said it a number of times: Every team, if not most teams, go through something similar to this.

"If you have character in your locker room it can build backbone and strengthen your resolve. But you've got to win, which is why it was so critical for us to win [Tuesday night against Winnipeg]."

B.C. (4-3) will certainly present challenges for Toronto.

Lions quarterback Kevin Glenn threw for 407 yards and a TD while running in for another in last weekend's 36-29 home win over Hamilton to secure offensive player of the week honours. Shawn Gore (five catches, 117 yards) and Emmanuel Arceneaux (four catches, 103 yards, one TD) were favoured targets.

Running back Andrew Harris ran six times for 29 yards and a TD and added two catches for 30 yards before being forced out with an ankle injury. Harris is the CFL leader in rushing (410 yards) and yards from scrimmage (781) and wants to play Sunday, but Lions head coach Mike Benevides says he'll make the final decision.

"He's politicking hard," Benevides said. "It's a tough deal because, as a running back, you want to be sure you have no question marks.

"He really wants to but I'm going to have to make that decision for him."

Glenn made his seventhstraight start last weekend against Hamilton, despite incumbent Travis Lulay's return to the lineup. Lulay spent the first six weeks of the season on the injured list recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Glenn again took the majority of starting snaps this week.

"I've always had a lot of respect for Kevin," Milanovich said.

"He's an underrated quarterback and I think he's settled in with their schemes and receivers.

"Their weapons, offensively, are very good."

Milanovich is also impressed with a Lions defence anchored by former Argo defensive tackle Khalif Mitchell and stalwart linebackers Solomon Elimimian (league-best 54 tackles) and Adam Bighill (30 tackles). The unit is allowing 292 offensive yards per game, second only to Edmonton (259 yards per game).

"As long as I've been around the league, B.C. has had a very good defence," Milanovich said.

"That's no different now."

If Milanovich had an issue with Tuesday night's win, it was Toronto being flagged 17 times for 122 penalty yards. That came after the Argos had just four penalties in their 31-5 road win over Montreal on Aug. 1.

"There were so many good things going on two weeks ago," Milanovich said. "To take a step back [versus Winnipeg] was upsetting.

"I've got to find a way to get those guys to understand we can't have those penalties and be an elite team."

Punter/kicker Noel Prefontaine, who spent all but two seasons of his 16-year CFL career with Toronto, will sign a one-day contract with the club Sunday and retire as an Argo. He played with two Grey Cup-winning teams (2004, '12) and was named a league all-star punter a teamrecord six times.

Associated Graphic

With a tight turnaround between games, the Argos' Curtis Steele, left, focuses on the 'mental aspect' of preparation.


A fantastical journey into the past
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R8

NEW YORK -- It began with a man in a kilt. In 1988, Diana Gabaldon, a research professor at Arizona State University, decided it was time to try writing a novel. Then she stumbled on an old episode of the BBC series Dr. Who, in which the time-travelling titular character finds a young Scotsman from the 1740s. The image stuck.

"So that's where I began," Gabaldon says, "knowing nothing about Scotland or the 18th century, having no plot, no characters, nothing beyond the notion of a man in a kilt."

Three years later, Outlander was published. Today, the book Gabaldon wrote "for practice" is a sprawling eight-book series (and counting) that's sold 25 million copies and is available in 34 languages. Now, the series opens a new chapter as the Starz original program Outlander, with Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald Moore as executive producer.

Initially set just after the Second World War, Outlander tells the story of Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), an Englishwoman who is inexplicably hurled back in time to 1743 while vacationing in the Scottish Highlands with her husband, Frank (Tobias Menzies).

She's quickly taken in by a Highland clan that includes the dashing Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and must adjust to life in the 18th century.

Like Orange Is the New Black's Piper Chapman, Claire is a kind of "Trojan horse" - a proxy character for the audience. Claire may be a generation or two removed from viewers today, but she's a progressive woman considering her time period and her middleclass British standing. In one of Outlander's first scenes, we see Claire working as a nurse during the Second World War; when another nurse tells her of the war's end and thrusts a bottle of Champagne into her hand, she takes a long, deep swig from the bottle.

Balfe, a former Victoria's Secret model, is Irish, and she worked to make Claire sound like a modern woman. "I wanted [her accent] to be a little bit less formal because I think Claire has to be the everywoman," Balfe says. "She sort of represents the audience ."

Her English accent also marks her as an outsider immediately upon arrival in the past - a past torn apart by vicious combat between Highland clansmen and members of the British army. In the 1740s, Menzies portrays one of Frank's redcoat ancestors, "Black Jack" Randall, just one example of the ways in which Outlander is interested in the history we inherit and the reasons we call a place "home." Balfe was the last of the three leads to be cast, and she suspects the hurried process was deliberately disorienting. "I kind of found out I got cast and was in Scotland three days later. I think they did it on purpose."

If Outlander were a Venn diagram, it would fit snugly in the overlap between fantasy and history. But the show leans heavily on its historical aspect, placing emphasis on the turbulence of life in 18th-century Scotland. The show's sets, costumes and weaponry are as period appropriate as Moore could make them. He even had a special tartan made just for the show - not in the stereotypical reds and yellows that we often associate with Scottish plaid, but a dusty grey more common in the 1700s.

Outlander's foray into a bloody, patriarchal past - not to mention its source material - has drawn comparisons to HBO's juggernaut fantasy series Game of Thrones. (The author of the books that inspired that series, George R. R. Martin, is a close friend of Gabaldon's.) "They have a different aesthetic and visual style than we do," Moore notes of Game of Thrones. "It's a little more glossy. I wanted [Outlander] to be a little grittier, a little more realitybased, primarily because I believe that if you're going to take the audience on a fantastical journey - if you're going to ask them to buy into something crazy, like a spaceship or aliens or time travel - the more grounded and more real it looks, the more apt the audience is to go along with the characters and invest themselves in the drama."

Of course, like Game of Thrones, Outlander has a built-in audience in the books' fans. At a screening of the premiere episode in New York in July, the spectators, whooped and hollered like kids at a Kanye show. When Moore came onstage in a grey-and-brown kilt to introduce the show, he was treated to a standing ovation.

The reaction was appropriate, considering that the genesis of the Outlander series is the simple fact that the author thought a man looked foxy in a kilt. A crossbreed of fantasy, historical fiction, romance and adventure, Outlander is plainly a female-centric action series - Claire is not only the show's lead but also its narrator.

But, despite the fact that Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe look like they belong on the cover of a Nora Roberts novel, Moore and Gabaldon insist Outlander is not a romance. Gabaldon refused to use the series' official poster - a dreamy shot of Claire and Jamie against a mountainous backdrop - for the book's tie-in cover, explaining, "I spent 20 years forcing people to take my books out of the romance section. If you say, 'It's a romance,' people shut down and say, 'Oh, I don't read that kind of book.' "

"When I was doing Battlestar," Moore says of the sci-fi drama that ran from 2004 to 2009, "we faced the opposite problem. It was called Battlestar Galactica, on the SyFy channel. It was sort of like, all right, are there any women who will look at this thing, ever?" Still, he's not worried about a lack of male viewers. Nor, apparently, should he be - 45 per cent of viewers who watched the U.S. premiere on Aug. 9 were men.

At the New York screening, the predominantly female and middle-aged crowd was full of nervous chatter before the episode began. ("I have goosebumps," one woman whispered.) In one early scene, before Claire travels back in time, she and Frank visit a ruined Scottish castle. In a secluded, dungeon-like room, she hops on a table and gestures for Frank to come over. As Frank performed oral sex on a fully clothed Claire, the audience went berserk. It was the biggest cheer of the night.

Associated Graphic

Outlander, which features Tobias Menzies and Caitriona Balfe, blends fantasy, fiction, romance and adventure.

An accounting mess is only the latest problem for Penn West Petroleum. A botched merger, sagging production and large debts have exacted a heavy toll on shareholders
Friday, August 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

CALGARY -- The big block letters on Penn West Petroleum Ltd.'s 2010 annual report said it all: Full Bore Ahead.

The Calgary energy company, bogged down by debt following its biggest deal, the $3.6-billion takeover of Canetic Resources Trust, had devised an aggressive growth plan to spend heavily on new drilling techniques to tap its huge land position in Western Canada in hopes of sending production and cash flow soaring.

In the end, though, Penn West could not drill itself to success. Production and cash flow lagged expectations. That led to a host of management changes and asset sales in an effort to refocus the company. But now it faces a new problem: the discovery of accounting irregularities in the hundreds of millions of dollars, making it the target of numerous investor lawsuits and clouding its future.

It's been a rough ride for shareholders. Since early 2011, shares of Penn West have plunged more than 70 per cent.

"They just kind of drilled and drilled and they didn't really have the production to show for it," said Laura Lau, a senior vicepresident and portfolio manager at Toronto's Brompton Funds.

Some of Penn West's problems can be traced to the poor integration of Canetic, according to analysts and former company staff. The companies had grown through acquisitions during the income-trust era, but the disparate collection of businesses had different corporate cultures and failed to work together in a cohesive strategy. It led to inefficient drilling and unrealistic assumptions about production growth.

Penn West's production has fallen every year since 2008. That squeezed the company's cash flow and left it with a large debt burden.

"That was a tremendous hole to start digging ourselves out of," a former company insider said. Penn West posted a loss of $838million last year, and its longterm debt stood at $2.29-billion at the end of the first quarter of this year.

The Canetic deal, under former chief executive Bill Andrew, was designed to nearly double Penn West's production to 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. The most it achieved was an average of 189,426 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2008.

Penn West's output fell despite a drilling frenzy of hundreds of new wells each year that used horizontal drilling and specialized extraction techniques using water and carbon dioxide.

It revealed Penn West's operational weaknesses. For several years before early 2013, it took Penn West an average of 120 days to drill and complete a well compared with an average 40 days among its peers, said Jeremy McCrea, analyst at AltaCorp Capital Inc. Besides taking longer to start yielding cash for the oil and gas, it pushes up drilling costs. In Penn West's case, they could be as much as twice the industry average.

"The story here over the last five years has been the poor capital efficiency. Operating costs got out of control, they had a difficult time disposing of assets to help pay off debt. The overall efficiencies of the company were just abysmal," Mr. McCrea said.

A spokesman for Penn West declined to comment for this story.

Penn West did take steps to address its problems. Under new CEO David Roberts, it set a new course to streamline the company, conserve cash and sell assets. But the emergence of the accounting scandal, revealed July 29, was a new blow to shareholders. The irregularities made Penn West's operating costs appear smaller than they actually were.

"In general, Penn West didn't have a great culture. There had been a lot of turmoil. I knew there were a lot of issues on the engineering side, but I didn't realize it actually flowed to the financial side," Ms. Lau said.

Penn West's current management and directors blamed its accounting problems on former staff. The company said it found $381-million worth of questionable accounting entries in 2013 and 2012, and is reviewing financial statements as far back as 2010. It has forced the company to seek breathing room from its lenders. Penn West on Thursday said it "obtained waivers from the holders of its senior unsecured notes ... of certain defaults" tied to delaying its second-quarter results and restating previous filings. It obtained waivers from its bankers earlier this month.

Penn West's accounting problem is the second alleged scandal tied to money.

An investor, in early 2013, alleged in court documents the company manipulated the price of stock options in favour of six former board members between 1993 and 2010. The court filings accuse Penn West of backdating options, which are often used as compensation for directors and executives. Because the backdating allegation includes 2010, and the financial review stretches back to the same year, it is possible the company was manipulating options at the same time as it was using questionable accounting practices that year.

Meanwhile, Penn West continues to auction assets in an effort to pull itself out of financial trouble. But, again, history is hurting this process. Penn West at times in the past decade bought assets in order to push its numbers closer to the targets it had set. Those properties, including some acquired through the Canetic takeover, often came with heavy decommissioning liabilities.

The liabilities, which are the highest in the Canadian oil patch for a company its size, means companies now considering buying Penn West's assets must account for those risks, Mr. McCrea said. Penn West "hasn't been getting top dollar" for the assets because of the decommissioning liabilities, he said.

Over recent quarters, Penn West has brought down costs and sped up the time it takes to get wells producing oil and gas.

"If they could have continued the momentum, things would have improved," Mr. McCrea said.

"But now they've got the accounting scandal that's going to plague the company for a long time," he said. "When you're selling assets that have all these decommissioning liabilities attached to them, you're not getting good prices. But you have to sell them because you're breaching your bank covenants. This is where things unravel very quickly. Who knows where the bottom of the share price could be?"

Penn West Petroleum (PWT)

Close: $8.07, down 2¢

Associated Graphic

The acquisition of Canetic, under former Penn West CEO Bill Andrew, right, was supposed to double the company's production but fell well short of expectations.


Darlings remain darling only as long as they're coming up, and for all that's being made of Bouchard's rise, it's less remarkable than her fall from grace in the eyes of the media
Tuesday, August 26, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


After losing in her first senior Grand Slam appearance to a former Wimbledon finalist, Françoise Abanda seemed mildly amused. Alone among the four Canadians who lost here on the first day, she was entirely unbothered.

"Now I know what the level is," Abanda shrugged. "I know what I have to do."

By next year, the 17-year-old Quebecker will be our great hope and the likely darling of Canadian tennis.

That's the thing about darlings they remain so only as long as they're coming up.

The key to Abanda's current appeal is two-fold - she has potential, and we know nothing about her. We're free to fill in the blank space that is the public perception of her character. She's unspoiled in our minds by the encumbrance of real, observed emotions. Rule one of women's tennis: There are no world-weary ingénues.

That's where the current It Girl, 20-year-old Eugenie Bouchard, is headed, and quickly.

A year ago, Bouchard was Françoise Abanda - someone you'd heard of, but knew nothing about. Since then, she's climbed the mountain, enjoyed the view for 48 hours, and is temporarily picking up speed as she heads down the other side.

Bouchard arrives in New York having won only one match since the Wimbledon semi-final July 3. She'll face world No. 117 Olga Govortsova on Tuesday afternoon.

According to her coach, Nick Saviano, Bouchard is fully healthy for the first time since Wimbledon. It's not an excuse, he said. Well, it is. But it's a good one.

Ahead of what might be the first match she's ever had to win, rather than hoped to, Bouchard wasn't speaking to media.

"She's got to really, really, really bear down. She's got to really, really focus," Saviano said, by way of apology. That's a lot of reallys.

A few minutes later, she went through a desultory practice session. She spent much of it berating herself for misses. Bouchard's body language is rarely celebratory. This was occasionally funereal. You could feel the pressure coming off her like heat.

For all that's being made of Bouchard's sudden rise, it's less remarkable than her quickening fall.

She was getting very close to the sun as she arrived in London. Amongst many other new foreign fans, the Daily Mail greeted her with a fawning profile and lavish photo spread.

Two weeks later, she had fully arrived. After three consecutive Grand Slam semis, Bouchard was moving out of the safe space reserved for emerging talents from tennis backwaters and into the fraught territory of big names and fresh targets.

Typically, the Daily Mail was the first to turn on her. They published a lacerating front-page splash on the morning of the final. In the curiously sourced hit piece about Bouchard's falling out with fellow pro and former friend Laura Robson, Bouchard was portrayed as grasping and shallow. Hours later, she imploded on the court.

She arrived home and began coming apart. With the dam of positivity now broken, people were happy to jump on her with both feet. Though it had been a lengthy legal process, her father's failed attempt to write off money invested in her training as a tax deduction was suddenly big news.

When she broke down at the Rogers Cup, people pored over video of her time out pleading with Saviano - "I want to leave the court" - like the Zapruder film. He walked back into the stands at one point and muttered, "She's not listening." This small, ultimately meaningless exchange wasn't greeted with sympathy. This is where the tide began to turn against Bouchard in her home country.

Saviano now finds himself in the uncomfortable position of having to defend Bouchard the person, rather than Bouchard the player.

"She's very professional," he said Monday, apparently frustrated by the question. "She's very courteous and gracious to everybody out here. She's very down to earth, and she's very charming to people."

The bind here is that, as soon as you start saying things like that, you validate anyone suggesting the opposite might be true.

Also, try to imagine someone saying this about a rising male star. Say, the brooding Grigor Dimitrov: "He's very charming to people." It'd play like a laugh line. But this is the sort of thing we want to hear about female players.

Real or imagined, the character flaws of male players lend them the romanticism of the outsider. They're allowed to be self-centred and brutal. Before his late-career turn toward the light, that was the entirety of Andre Agassi's appeal. There are good guys and bad guys, and sports needs both varieties of cliché. Emphasis on "guys."

Women are instead cast in Disney roles. They're expected to be innocently cheeky and demure and friendly with everyone. As they are coming up, they are presumed to have one flat character aspect - niceness. If they arrive at the top and can't manage to maintain that illusion under sudden scrutiny - and honestly, who can? - they're flayed.

Every single female star has fallen victim to this double standard at some point in her career. The only way women can immunize themselves from the "character" trap is by having none.

The only way to get through it is by winning. We'll celebrate any sort of winner. If you can't win - reluctant pin-up Anna Kournikova leaps to mind - you're harried until you give in and leave the game.

There's still plenty of room for quirky, grating, half-talented men. There's none for a middling female player with an abrasive personality.

This isn't to say Bouchard is that. Every one of us has fallen out with someone. Every one of us has bad days and temper tantrums. They just don't write about them in the papers.

She's now trapped in that special hell reserved for women who do well in sports - attracting just enough attention to spoil the image we imposed on her.

There's only one way out. Keep winning.

Follow me on Twitter:@cathalkelly

Associated Graphic

After Eugenie Bouchard returned home from Wimbledon, the dam of positivity was broken and people were happy to jump on her with both feet.


Biopic comes apart at the seams
Friday, August 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R2

Yves Saint Laurent Directed by Jalil Lespert Written by Jalil Lespert, Jacques Fieschi, Jérémie Guez and Marie-Pierre Huster Starring Pierre Niney, Guillaume Gallienne and Charlotte Le Bon Classification: 14A; 106 minutes

Not counting documentaries, the number of really good movies made about the fashion world can be counted on one, maybe two hands. There's Stanley Donen's exquisite Funny Face, contemporary classic The Devil Wears Prada, Robert Altman's satiric Prêt-à-Porter (memorable for its climactic nude runway parade).

Of these, only one that I can think of, 2009's Coco Before Chanel, is a biopic, a genre that's hard enough to pull off when the subject is Nelson Mandela or Lawrence of Arabia, much less an atelier-bound artist whose genius is expressed over a sketchpad. But Coco did a reasonably good job of illuminating the early life of the woman who became immortal for her little black dresses.

Unfortunately, Jalil Lespert's new French-language mini-epic about the greatest clothing designer of the postwar era, Yves Saint Laurent, won't be expanding the fashion-film A-list. Despite being sumptuously shot and competently assembled, it provides no real insight into the tortured mind of its subject or the creative process in general. It is as shallow, alas, as a petulant supermodel, as memorable in the long run as last season's second-tier collections.

C'est dommage, because the movie, which is out in limited release on Friday, starts out strongly and contains some wonderful moments. Its greatest asset is the performance of lead actor Pierre Niney, the 25-year-old Comédie-Française trouper (he is currently the youngest member of the venerable French theatre company), in the title role. A dead ringer for the late designer, Niney manages to avoid parody, conveying a fully realized artist both confident in his abilities and crippled by his anxieties.

Indeed, Niney's depiction of the famously neurotic couturier is almost too real; his anxiety radiates off the screen. Lespert, who co-wrote the script with Jacques Fieschi, Jérémie Guez and Marie-Pierre Huster, subtly and convincingly suggests that the cause of Saint Laurent's lifelong unease might have been rooted in the turmoil of his birthplace, colonial Algeria. A mama's boy, Saint Laurent is living and working in Paris while the anti-French insurgency rages in his homeland, where his family lives. While they're far removed from the fighting and will eventually flee to France, their safety is a source of constant worry for the budding designer, who is eventually hired by the House of Dior. The pressures on him only mount when, at 21, he is appointed head couturier at the prestigious fashion house after Christian Dior, Saint Laurent's mentor, dies of a heart attack in 1957. The appointment is a turning point both professionally and personally, the source of Saint Laurent's ascension and a cause of major stress.

So far, so good, narratively speaking. In the first half of the movie, Lespert displays a light and sophisticated touch that illustrates more than trumpets. The Algerian scenes effectively convey the dreamy, privileged world that nurtured the coddled young Saint Laurent (an especially nice shot that is just seconds long, sees him smiling shyly at an Algerian worker in his garden, suggesting homosexual feelings he doesn't yet know he has). The early years in Paris are equally well handled: His inherent design talent is suggested in a single set piece (in the presence of Dior, young Saint Laurent rips apart a piece of white fabric to adorn a simple black gown, giving it instant panache), while the great loves of his life - a platonic attachment to model Victoire Doutreleau (played by Canadian actress Charlotte Le Bon, also in this year's The Hundred-Foot Journey) and his lifelong relationship with Pierre Bergé (Guillaume Gallienne) - are charmingly established.

After this, though, things hit the skids, both historically and cinematically. Doutreleau, a dynamic presence in both Saint Laurent's life and the film, is summarily dismissed after a perceived betrayal.

And Bergé, who meets so cutely with YSL in the movie and went on in real life to manage both his life and his fashion empire, is reduced to the role of scold, scourge and martyr, the straight man to YSL's increasingly debauched clown. Of course, Bergé could very well have been all of these things; the now 83-year-old has publicly endorsed this film, one of two YSL biopics this year.

Lespert, though, doesn't do him or his reputation any favours by saddling the character, ably performed by Gallienne, with little to do beyond bailing Saint Laurent out of jail (YSL even throws a vase at him in one of many soap-operatic episodes) and a pretentious voice-over that grinds the movie to a halt whenever it's used.

(Sample narration: "The Mondrian collection was pure genius." Yeah, we know. "Death must be like this - lack of inspiration." Okay.)

That voice-over is just one example of the laziness that the movie succumbs to. In the clichéd fashion of substandard movie biographies, great personages (Carmel Snow, a bitchy Karl Lagerfeld, muses Loulou de la Falaise and Betty Catroux) parade across the screen to little real effect, moviedom's version of name-dropping. (In one uninspired bit of dialogue, Bergé tells a minion at a fashion show: "Don't put Elizabeth Arden near Helena Rubinstein. Enemies.")

Worse, the impetus behind the creations that made Saint Laurent not just a great designer but a social visionary (the androgynous tuxedo that blurred gender roles, the pantsuits that coincided with the feminist movement) is never explained or even touched on. (While creating those famous Mondrian-inspired dresses, Niney is shown sketching bands of bright colour, then consulting a book on Piet Mondrian. But what made him think of the artist in the first place? It isn't addressed.)

The air of climax that Lespert ultimately lends to the film's final fashion show - YSL's legendary Russian collection, portrayed in the movie as his creative apex and a vindication of Bergé's saintlike support of him - fails to stir or resonate, despite its beauty.

Altman's nude parade revealed more.

Danny Sinopoli is Style editor of The Globe and Mail

Associated Graphic

Canadian actress Charlotte Le Bon portrays model Victoire Doutreleau in Yves Saint Laurent, a biopic about the French fashion designer.

Snapping kid pics is the new faux pas
Friday, August 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L4

On a recent tour of my local daycare centre, a smiling, pigtailed child-care worker showed a group of parents around the sand pit, the water-play station, the arts-and-crafts centre and the organic vegetable plot. Moving on to the nursery school's health and safety measures, she mentioned the fire exits and the staff's firstaid training, and then added: "And of course, we also have a 'no photo' policy."

"A what?" was the general response from the assembled parents. The child-care worker explained cheerily that staff members were forbidden from photographing or making videos of any of the children, and parents were expected to refrain from doing so at the annual holiday pageant and end-of-year open days. "We don't actually ask you to hand in your smartphones at the door, like some places," she said, smile firmly in place. "We trust that parents can resist the urge to take pictures all by themselves."

Resist the urge to take pictures of my kid onstage in the most adorable reindeer costume ever? Not likely, I thought.

Though apparently I'll have to. From a social-etiquette standpoint, taking or displaying pictures of other people's kids - even inadvertently - is rapidly becoming the new smoking. In an era when most adults give away our personal information and images like they're penny candy, many people (parents and public officials alike) are drawing the line at small children.

A recent U.S. news report found that most OB/GYNs were taking down their "baby walls" - those happy collages of babies they'd delivered, with photos donated by grateful parents - because of privacy concerns. And "no photo" policies are on the rise wherever children gather and play - most daycare and primary schools now have some version of them, whether it's formal or informal.

Similar regulations are popping up in playgroups, day camps and even kiddie activities. At a local play centre I took the boys to recently, there was a sign that read: "We ask that you refrain wherever possible from taking photos of children who are not your own."

I suppose it's the logical conclusion of a shift that's been happening in my social circle for a while now. Even in private settings, like kids' birthday parties, I am now conscious of who's in the frame, since some of my friends choose not to share images of their children on social media - a practice I happily engage in.

I sort of get why some people are protective of their kids' images on Facebook, etc. - they are just more private, and it's nobody's business why. What I don't understand is the risk that comes with letting other parents take pictures of your kids in the nativity play.

Or allowing the doctor who delivered your children to display their images on her wall - especially if you were the ones who sent her the photos in the first place.

A lot has been written about what we lose when we give away our privacy, but on the flip side, what do we lose when we stop trusting doctors, nursery school teachers and other parents in our community? What exactly are we trying to protect our kids from?

According to Jesse Brown, a Toronto-based media and digital culture journalist and father of two, "no photo" policies may not be the hysterical next step in political-correctness-gone-wild, but rather an imperfect response to a highly complex problem: How do we keep our kids safe in a digital future we cannot possibly understand?

"Perhaps these policies aren't entirely rational - I don't know anyone who's had a Facebook image of their kid end up in a pedophile ring - but it is reasonable to fear the unknown, especially where our children are concerned," he told me in a phone interview. "Essentially we are engaged in a grand experiment: We are giving up our privacy, and we don't know what that will mean in the future. Just because we haven't suffered any serious consequences from it so far doesn't mean we never will. The information is out there.

There's a natural hesitation to put your kids out there into the unknown."

One potential reason, says Brown, is the risk of a video or photo going viral. Even if 17-million people share videos of your cute kids, it's still an invasion of their privacy - without their consent. "The kids on 'Charlie bit me' or 'David after dentist' are always going to be those kids. They'll have people joking about those [YouTube] videos for the rest of their lives," he points out. "And they didn't choose that."

And then there's the much more worrisome issue of how technology is evolving and what's going to happen to all these bits of ourselves we're leaving behind, imprinted on the digital universe. Developers are currently at work on improving facial recognition software for widespread use.

"What if an algorithm could look at a picture, then scan through every file on the Internet and find out everything about you?" says Brown. "Would you feel differently about posting a picture of your kid then?" Of course, keeping our children entirely out of the digital world isn't a realistic option for most people. As Mark Zuckerberg and the Google guys well know, most people want to share - me included. Having said that, I'm willing to play by the rules and respect all photo bans. I can even see where they might potentially protect my child from unknown risk. (Though perhaps not more than putting him in a helmet and padded suit every time he leaves the house, it must be said.)

Like most parents, Brown and his wife are trying to find a middle ground. "We tend to send cute videos to the grandparents and use Facebook as more of a seasonal greeting card for our wider circle," he said. But he adds that most attempts to shield their kids from the digital privacy-invasion will likely be futile once they can share online themselves. "At some point we're going to lose control of it completely," he says, "so why not control their privacy while we can?"

Associated Graphic

'No photo' policies are becoming the norm at daycares, camps and even school pageants as parents seek more privacy for their children.


A preview of the ever-static Premier League
From Chelsea to Tottenham, Arsenal to Burnley, here are predictions for how the Premiership is going to go
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3


The lovely thing about writing a Premier League preview is that nothing changes from year to year. Manchester City and Chelsea are good. Arsenal and Liverpool are pretend good. Tottenham is not good, but keeps luring you into thinking they might be good, which is an annual crime of the heart.

Everyone else is somewhere between pleasingly mediocre, with odd flashes of excellence (Everton), and so completely out of their depth they would be just as well off bringing baseball bats onto the field, and beating their opponents the old-fashioned way (Burnley).

There you go. Finished.

Oh, there's more space? Okay, fine. But you may have already guessed most of this. Chelsea will win the league This is, in part, a function of transfer market cunning. They did their business early, cutting bait with the man who would later ruin Brazilian soccer, David Luiz, for a mind-boggling $90-million (U.S.). They hoovered up top players in all their weak spots - forward (Diego Costa), central mid (Cesc Fabregas) and fullback (Filipe Luis). No Premiership team has so much quality and depth.

But mostly they will win because this would be the most annoying possible result for everyone else.

How annoying? Manager Jose Mourinho will spend the entire season moaning about how his squad has absolutely no chance at a title, then have the gall to seem surprised when it happens.

If he plans on recycling the equine analogy he used last year - ("This title race is between two horses and a little horse that needs milk and needs to learn how to jump ... Maybe next season we can race.") - I encourage him to do it while actually sitting on a horse. Then I'd like him to charge out onto the field and chop someone's head off.

Speaking of cutting off heads ...

Yes, that's right. Roy Keane is back in the league, as an assistant at Aston Villa. That was a smart hire, if you meant for all the players to barricade themselves inside their lockers after every loss. Keane's entire purpose as a coach is to stand there, arms folded, giving lesser men a withering look that says, "You're no Roy Keane."

Who's the anti-Roy Keane?

That would be Arsenal's Arsène Wenger. His life-affirming belief in players who have no business playing at a club the size of Arsenal continues to encourage all the world's mediocrities. This ethos has been given human form in the person of Olivier Giroud - great hair, terrible striker and, as per the usual for Wenger, distressingly French. In keeping with history, Arsenal will be a lot of fun to watch (in particular, new addition Alexis Sanchez looks like a fantasy league monster). They'll probably be leading the table at Christmas. Then there will be the familiar folding up under pressure, capped by Wenger sitting there on the touchline, his body posture getting tighter and tighter until he spends all of May in the fetal position.

But what if Yaya Touré decides he wants to be good again?

That could have bearing on the results. Touré may be the best box-to-box player in the world. Last year, he was better than he's ever been. And then the strange business of a possibly delivered birthday cake that Touré claimed he'd never received. He's spent the summer trying to use that flimsy pretext to get gone from Manchester City. Yet here he is, still at Manchester City. One presumes the competitive fire that burns inside him is not exactly raging at the moment.

Does that mean Manchester City is doomed?

No. But, more likely, yes. And only if by "doomed," you mean "finishing in second place."

When will Liverpool begin missing Luis Suarez?

They made $135-million selling the human mandible to Barcelona. That money's already gone, spent on a series of players who, were they stood one on top of one another, would not reach Suarez's knee. If you believe time is circular - as we at The Globe believe as a matter of editorial policy - Liverpool was already beginning to miss Suarez last year.

Will Alan Pardew attack anyone on the field this year?

Sadly, no. Newcastle have some exciting new additions. This would be a poor time for managerial headbutts. Also, that's more Keane's sort of thing now. Pardew's better off saving the aggro for when he's fired, around January.

Will an English team win the Champions League?

Ha ha, yes, I ... Oh, you're serious? No.

There's no chance of that. Chelsea is the only likely contender, and Mourinho will have them focused on the league ... through the judicious use of rousing horse metaphors. However, an English team will win the FA Cup. I can guarantee you that much. (Having said that, I've ensured that Swansea will win the FA Cup.)

Will Manchester United disappoint?

Yes. And by that, I mean they will win a bunch of games.

Whether or not you really cared, watching the smuggest club in all of Christendom light up like a barge fire at the beginning of last season and then spend 10 months sinking was a lot of fun. It put a great many things into perspective. Like supporting Tottenham. Those days are over now, thanks to new manager Louis van Gaal and his killjoy insistence on playing soccer that makes sense. I'm not sure van Gaal is quite as smart as advertised, but he is pretty smart. Just ask him.

So how good is United?

Still not that good. Maybe fourth- or fifthplace good. That three-man defence looks distressingly thin.

Plus, Phil Jones is in it. That would keep me up at night if I cared. So I'll sleep just fine. Van Gaal keeps telling people that he has a lot of money to spend on new players, but refuses to spend it. Either he's extremely thrifty or he's a thief. I suppose it could be also be that no one he wants - like Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels - is interested. That's a very slight possibility.

And Tottenham? Don't ask.

Follow me on Twitter:@CathalKelly

Associated Graphic

Man City's Yaya Touré may be the best box-to-box player in the world, and last year, he was better than he's ever been.


Unlikely star shakes up politics in Brazil
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1

RIO DE JANEIRO -- As a film plot, Marina Silva's life story strains the bounds of credulity (yet a biopic is in the works). As the background for a candidate with a real shot at being Brazil's new president, her story is both fantastical and a source of some anxiety: With a life this full of drama, just what kind of president can she be?

Ms. Silva grew up in the Amazon forest as one of 11 children in a family of rubber tappers. Near death from hepatitis and malaria as a teenager, she made her way to the city and was rescued by Catholic clerics who helped her learn to read, then introduced her to liberation theology. She became a teacher who fought for the forest alongside legendary environmental activist Chico Mendes, and then a wildly popular local politician - and at 36, the youngest person elected to the senate.

She nearly died again from heavy-metal poisoning, became an evangelical Christian and was made a federal cabinet minister - then quit over laws that she said sold out the forest, choosing the Amazon over power.

And now, according to polls, Marina Silva is neck-and-neck in the presidential race, the unlikeliest of candidates drawing legions of supporters in a perilous political time.

Ms. Silva, 56, ran for president as a "third way" candidate in 2010, using the campaign to draw attention to the environment and other issues important to her. Back then, she had no real chance of winning - but she nevertheless startled the political establishment when she pulled 20 per cent of votes. She intended to run again this October, but her new Sustainability Network failed to qualify as a party. Ms. Silva alleged foul play, but electoral courts did not agree.

Then she startled everyone by offering herself as a vice-presidential candidate to Eduardo Campos, a telegenic young politician from a political family, running for the Brazilian Socialist Party. Together they were a strong pair, but still hovering just below 10 per cent in the polls.

Mr. Campos was killed in a plane crash while campaigning near Sao Paulo a week ago - and all eyes turned to Ms. Silva, who is expected formally to confirm Wednesday that she will run in his place. The party has already indicated she will be its candidate.

In the first poll since Mr. Campos's death, Ms. Silva finishes second to President Dilma Rousseff, edging out Aecio Neves, a conservative senator from the south who until now held second place - and Ms. Silva slips past Ms. Rousseff in a runoff, although by just a few points, smaller than the margin of error. Nevertheless, the strength of her showing in the poll has buoyed her supporters.

"These polls were done at the emotional moment of the tragedy," noted Alfredo Sirkis, a federal member of Congress who wrote a book called The Marina Effect: Behind the Campaign that Changed the Election, about 2010. Ms. Silva's ability to win a runoff against Ms. Rousseff, whose party has been in power for 12 years and overseen a period of considerable positive change, is debatable, he said: "But it's not impossible for Marina to win the election. She will embody the idea of change, that there's a different way of doing politics."

Ms. Silva draws supporters from three corners: from the 25 per cent of Brazilians who are, like her, evangelical Christians and social conservatives; from middle-class Brazilians frustrated with poor public services and concerned about the environment and climate change; and especially from young people disillusioned by the traditional political establishment, including millions who took to the streets in unprecedented demonstrations against corruption and government waste last year.

Ms. Silva is certainly the most admired candidate on a personal level, but many people question whether someone of her personal integrity can survive in the deal-cutting backrooms where Brazilian politics get done.

She famously resigned her post as environment minister under president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in 2008 when her bid to stop deforestation in the Amazon brought her into conflict with the agro-business leaders - particularly soy farmers - who are deep-pocketed supporters of the main political parties.

"It would be difficult for Marina to govern," acknowledged Mr. Sirkis - but all of Brazil's political parties are going to have to negotiate a new landscape, given the amplified demands of civil society and a stalled economy, he said. "So Marina is not the only one with a big challenge."

One of Ms. Silva's key backers, Maria Alice Setubal, says people who doubt her ability to govern are ignoring her long track record in municipal and state politics, her rapid rise in the senate and even the alliances she made when she joined Mr. Campos.

"If anyone knows politics, it's her," said Ms. Setubal, a philanthropist and heir to a banking fortune who is one of several high-profile members of the Brazilian elite to endorse Ms. Silva after being won over to her sustainability agenda. "She is able to co-ordinate and engage politically like few people can, because she knows how to listen, how to negotiate."

Her popularity with young Brazilians could be a gamechanger, says Marilia de Camargo Cesar, the author of a biography of Ms. Silva called Marina: A Life for a Cause. "Marina connects with them because she is worried about this generation, about the planet, the environment. They see that Marina speaks from the heart when she says she wants to do politics in a different way, to listen to those who have no voice."

Ms. Silva will face strong criticism for her religious beliefs - the evangelicals are anathema to many in the Brazilian elite. Her faith is her guiding principle at this point, say those who know her well.

Seventy per cent of Brazilians share her opposition to abortion, Mr. Sirkis noted, while she has said she favours referendums on contentious social issues.

Ms. Silva will face other challenges in this campaign: Her new party lacks the national infrastructure of her two competitors and has much less funding and allotted time for television advertising.

"She's not a messiah - Brazilians still have this childish wish for someone who will come and save things," said Ms. Cesar. "But she's a person of integrity and ethics and we need that desperately."

Associated Graphic

Marina Silva, centre, attends the wake for late presidential candidate Eduardo Campos Sunday.


Air Transat near-disaster aids understanding of PTSD
The Canadian Press
Friday, August 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L5

TORONTO -- Thirteen years ago next week marks what could have been a grim anniversary: Air Transat Flight 236, bound for Lisbon from Toronto, crash-landed on an island in the Azores off Portugal after running out of fuel over the Atlantic. While all 306 passengers and crew survived the dead-stick landing, those on board had spent a harrowing 30 minutes as the crippled plane glided over the ocean, not knowing whether they would live or die.

Their hair's-breadth escape on Aug. 24, 2001, not only turned potential tragedy into celebration, it also provided researchers with a unique opportunity to study the effects of trauma and the role that memory plays in dealing with such an ordeal.

In a study published online Wednesday in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, researchers had 15 passengers who'd been on the flight relay their memories of the event, as well as those related to the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S. that occurred soon after.

Something else about the study was also likely unprecedented: Margaret McKinnon, one of the researchers, was a passenger on that flight, travelling with her husband to Lisbon for a honeymoon.

McKinnon, now a psychologist in the mood disorders program at St. Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton, said she remembers the flight crew's announcement that the plane was going to have to ditch in the ocean and that passengers should don life jackets. Shortly after, the oxygen masks above the seats dropped down as the cabin began depressurizing.

"There were countdowns until that would happen," she said of the excruciating half-hour as occupants inside the darkened plane waited for their expected crash into the water. Then somebody - she isn't sure if it was a passenger or crew member - yelled that land had been sighted, "and they sounded quite surprised."

Pilot Captain Robert Piché was able to glide the plane into a hard landing on an island airstrip. "The passengers all cheered," she said, then everyone evacuated the aircraft using emergency chutes and ran as the plane's blown-out wheels caught fire. "I think for me during those 30 minutes, I sort of imagined that this was likely to be the end. I know not everyone felt that way, but I did," said McKinnon, then a 26-year-old graduate student at the University of Toronto. "So it sort of gave you time to prepare for that."

The 15 passengers who took part in the study each had their own set of memories from the event, said senior study author Brian Levine, a senior scientist at Baycrest Health Science's Rotman Research Institute in Toronto.

Tapping into their recall of events as they unfolded moment to moment, the researchers were able to probe both the quality and accuracy of passengers' memories along with those of two other events - Sept. 11, 2001, and a neutral event from the same time period - and relate their findings to the presence or absence of posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Compared with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the neutral event, the amount of information recalled around Flight TS236 "was very rich," Levine said.

"For example, when we asked these same people to recall 9/11, they produced between 100 and 150 details; when they recalled the Air Transat event, they produced anywhere from 250 to 350."

Researchers were not surprised by this finding because emotionally charged events typically produce greater recall. What was not expected was a finding that passengers who subsequently developed PTSD and those who didn't showed no difference in the amount of detail they remembered or its accuracy.

"We thought people with PTSD might have more vivid recall because they have more intrusions, they're thinking about it more, ruminating about it more," he said. "But that was not the case." However, those affected by PTSD relayed more "external" details - comments that were not specific to the event, but might involve thoughts or perceptions, such as, "Wow, I never thought we were going to make it," or, "I've never flown Air Transat again."

This pattern was observed across all events tested, suggesting it is not just memories of the trauma itself that are related to PTSD, but rather how a person processes memory for events in general.

"What our findings show is that it is not what happened but to whom it happened that may determine subsequent onset of PTSD," said Levine, adding that an inability to shut out external details is related to mental control over memory recall.

"The big question here is why - when you've got this plane full of people, at least in our sample - half got PTSD and half didn't?

"To me, that's the most important finding of the study," he said, noting the findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting altered memory processing may be a vulnerability factor for PTSD.

Dr. Ruth Lanius, a professor of psychiatry at Western University in London, Ont., who specializes in PTSD, said the study shows that memories of a traumatic nature are more vivid than other memories, consistent with other research findings.

"A lot of people who have had traumatic memories experience them in the form of flashbacks, they're experienced in a timeless form," said Lanius, who was not involved in the study.

Lanius said in order to help a person heal from a traumatic event, the nature of their memories needs to be changed. "We don't want people to be haunted by the memories; we want people to experience them as normal memory of the past that you recall but not relive."

McKinnon, who was not one of the study subjects, said she developed post-traumatic symptoms as a result of her experiences aboard the Air Transat flight.

"I had nightmares. I was very vigilant, I startled easily - you know, typical symptoms of PTSD," said McKinnon, who was able to address them through treatment, a step she advises others to pursue. The research project may also have helped her, as well as some of her fellow passengers. "The study was a unique opportunity to turn this into something positive."

Associated Graphic

A study on the memories of passengers on Air Transat Flight 236, seen here after making a crash landing on Aug. 24, 2001, found that those with PTSD did not recall the event any clearer than those who did not suffer from the disorder. HUMBERTA AUGUSTO/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Liberals cultivate growing power of Mandarin vote
Tuesday, August 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1

By either grand design or ferocious grassroots organization, Toronto's suburbs are shaping up to be a Mandarin-speaking powerhouse for the federal Liberal Party.

Four ridings around the Greater Toronto Area have ChineseCanadian candidates, and in sharp contrast to the Conservatives' top-down ethnic strategy of wooing voters through messaging that appeals to a specific minority, the Mandarin community is fielding its own candidates. In Don Valley North's nomination contest, scientist Geng Tan upset presumed frontrunner Rana Sarkar, a veteran party member and friend of Gerald Butts, Leader Justin Trudeau's top adviser. Mr. Geng accomplished this by appealing almost solely to a monolithic base of Mandarin-speakers in Mandarin only.

On one hand, this trend represents the essence of the multicultural experiment. Arnold Chan, elected in ScarboroughAgincourt last month, is the GTA's first Liberal Chinese MP. On the other hand, pursuing a single group for support, as Mr. Geng appears to have done, may alienate other minorities. It strikes critics as anti-pluralistic.

A pivotal figure in this wider political development is Michael Chan, an influential Ontario cabinet minister and fundraiser who stepped outside his daily sphere during June's provincial election to bolster his community's voice in the federal party. Mr. Chan's involvement, along with the number of Chinese-Canadian candidates, indicates the growing demographic power of the Mandarin vote, whose participation has long been seen as dormant.

The Conservatives and New Democrats have vowed to conduct open nominations as well - meaning the party leadership does not protect its preferred candidates - clearing the way for other ethnic groups to launch similar campaigns.

In the case of Mr. Geng's campaign, his website was mostly in Mandarin and was changed to English only after a conversation with The Globe and Mail last week. His membership list, which The Globe reviewed, was composed exclusively of Chinese names.

While his rivals also complained about the uniformity of his list, Mr. Geng said his campaign embraced a wide group of ethnicities. He pointed to the endorsement of former MPP David Caplan, who is Jewish. A chemist who works at Ontario Power Generation, Mr. Geng said he deals with every constituency in the riding and is simply bringing a new group into the political fold. "My message is, 'Don't try to isolate yourselves, but come out and participate,' " he said.

Others feel this is a detrimental version of identity politics. "What they have done is un-Canadian," said Yiannis Stamatakos, a Sarkar supporter who said he has worked on 50 nomination campaigns. While it's not uncommon for a political party to nominate say, a Jew, Sikh or Arab in a riding where that group has big numbers, he added, usually those minorities round up a list whose membership consists of twothirds or three-quarters of his or her own background, not 100 per cent.

For Michael Chan, the political push comes on top of his day job as provincial Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade. When asked how he had time to do both, he said he takes on a more passive role in advising candidates. "People knock on my door and seek my views and experience," he said. "Other than share my opinions, I don't go out and find members or anything like that."

But as he also told The Globe, he was busy in provincial and federal contests. "This year has been fascinating in terms of elections," he said, listing off the federal ridings he's been involved with: Richmond Hill, Markham-Unionville, Scarborough-Agincourt, Don Valley North.

Conflicting narratives, however, have emerged about Mr. Chan's role in the contest for Don Valley North. Mr. Chan, or his office, lobbied for the cancellation of the nomination date that would eventually allow Mr. Geng to collect more members and voters, insiders say.

A new contest was called for July 26. Cancellation is a very rare event, according to several party officials, one reserved for a natural disaster or fire code issues. In this case, no reason was given.

Mr. Chan said he didn't remember making any calls. Senior party members, however, say he did put in a request, complaining that the original date imperiled efforts in the Scarborough-Agincourt byelection, where his former chief of staff, Arnold Chan, was running. The campaigners needed to focus on one contest at a time.

Until then, the front-runner was Mr. Sarkar, a Torontonian who was CEO of the Canada-India Business Council. He and his wife, author Reva Seth, were both speakers at the party's convention in February. Mr. Sarkar, who as party nominee in the Scarborough-Rouge River riding lost in the 2011 election, started his campaign in January, 2014, whereas Mr. Geng began three months later. On May 27, the day the membership meeting was officially cancelled, the Sarkar campaign said it had 1,300 signatures, while Geng had around 150. On July 8, a new nomination meeting was set for nearly three weeks later.

On voting day, July 26, Sarkar backers said the Geng voters showed up in buses, almost all of them past the age of 60 and nonEnglish speakers, a characterization which Mr. Geng says isn't true: His voters were young and old, he contends.

According to Sarkar supporters, Geng voters wore name tags that were in Mandarin and English, the latter making it easier for organizers to identify the members if they didn't speak English.

The result stunned many. Mr. Geng won by a 3:1 ratio.

"About 95 per cent of the riding executive supported Rana," said Allan Miranda, who was a member of the executive. "The result was just a shock. Geng just sewed it up."

Bryon Wilfert, a former Liberal MP for Richmond Hill, said the real problem is the nomination process, in which the best and brightest with the biggest ideas are not always set up to succeed. "It's how many memberships can I buy or sell," he said, adding that he had no knowledge of the Don Valley contest. "It's which boy scout sold the most cookies. Is that the best way to run this?"

With a report from Adam Radwanski

Associated Graphic

Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau campaigns with Arnold Chan in the Scarborough-Agincourt by-election on May 21. Mr. Chan won the contest, becoming the GTA's first Liberal Chinese MP.


Fifty shades of grey: Murakami colourless, indeed
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R15

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage By Haruki Murakami Knopf, 400 pages, $25.95

When Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage was released in Japan on April 12, 2013, bookstores opened at midnight to round-the-block lineups and the novel sold a million copies in its first week. It stands to move impressive numbers upon its release in North America, having already topped bestseller lists in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. One might sooner expect such consumerist mania to surround the latest iteration of the iPhone than a new title from an author in contention for the Nobel Prize. But there's always been something industrial about Haruki Murakami - author of 24 books, translator of nearly 50 others - and his work.

Murakami's fans, the most ardent of whom call themselves "Harukists," consume his books as devotedly as he produces them. His fiction is characterized by deadpan prose and somnambulistic protagonists, usually youngish shut-ins dazed by the real world - even before portals to other dimensions rupture it. At its best (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle), Murakami's writing feels incantatory, his plotting mesmeric. At his worst, his books can feel like being told an especially dull dream. And Colorless Tsukuru might be his dullest book to date.

Throughout high school, Tsukuru Tazaki shared a particularly close relationship with four friends - "like five fingers of a glove" - from which he is expelled abruptly, without explanation, after moving from Nagoya to Tokyo for college. Now 36, spurred by a romantic partner who senses past trauma, he sets off to uncover the reason for his expulsion. The ensuing story flits between interviews with the estranged friends and related memories. Haruki Murakami is a master of complex narrative structures, and initially past and present meld into a sort of reverie - down the rabbit hole we go, it seems, with no telling what weird adventures await.

Except there are no real adventures to speak of. Each ex-friend obediently provides the requisite information to allow the story to limp along to the next encounter. The eventual answer feels anticlimactic - or, sure, colourless, since not only does Tsukuru lack in emotional dynamism, his quest is equally devoid of tension, and the information is presented and dispatched without much fanfare. As such, the novel feels less a compelling mystery than a tedious crusade in research and reconnaissance. It's also hampered by some truly awful writing.

As it exists in English translation, Murakami's is a sort of flat, anti-style modelled on the Raymonds Chandler and Carver; his books operate in base units of the familiar, from rote phrases to contemporary signifiers like pop songs and brand names, which are then destabilized with the supernatural or the strange. The result is also readability: maxims such as "he had no idea what deep darkness lay hidden in his heart," require no extra work from readers because the familiarity affords intrinsic meaning, and our minds can zip along to more important things - viz., the plot.

But in Colorless Tsukuru, the writing isn't just familiar, it's often embarrassing, and there's not much plot to compensate.

Murakami's aphorisms range from the obvious ("No matter how honestly you open up to someone, there are still things you cannot reveal") through the banal ("Making love was a joining, a connection between one person and another") to the baffling ("His heart was as hard as a stone wall. This was the very essence of jealousy"). Never mind the clichés: Tsukuru is "sleepwalking through life," while death is "an abyss" and "a void."

The novel struggles in particular with sexuality: that "a healthy young man" longs for a girlfriend, we are helpfully informed, is "an entirely natural desire"; women's breasts are often "full" (of?); pubic hair appears "as wet as a rain forest" and sex itself is rendered bewilderingly: "His penis found its way inside of her with no resistance, as if swallowed up into an airless vacuum." While there are obvious cultural differences to consider, I doubt that sex in any language feels like making love to a Dirt Devil.

One might suggest that the fault here is of the translator, but Philip Gabriel was hand-picked by Murakami and the two worked in concert on the English version of the text. And the novel is not completely devoid of compelling moments or original thought: a vignette about a mysterious piano virtuoso provides a welcome diversion, and there are some interesting ideas about how people commune in dreamspace - perhaps the territory where Haruki Murakami is most comfortable.

This not to say that his writing has previously only succeeded when it escapes the confines of realism. The naturalist stories of after the quake are among his best work, while many readers were confounded, even frustrated, by the paranormal dalliances of Kafka on the Shore. But since we never really understand what is so compelling about Tsukuru's relationships, either past or present, it is impossible to engage with his journey.

Yet Colorless Tsukuru insists upon an alleged arc, opening with its main character disconsolate and suicidal and concluding with a life-affirming revelation: "In the deepest recesses of his soul, Tsukuru Tazaki understood [...] what lies at the root of true harmony;" yet this epiphany feels equally the stuff of Hallmark cards and crystal-ball psychoanalytics: his "cold core" is "exactly what he needed to acknowledge, and what he needed to confront." But he can't go it alone; "to melt that frozen soil [he] needed someone else's warmth." (Sigh.)

As with whatever new Apple product, one wonders if readers will pluck Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage blindly from the shelf and consume it within a fog of commodity fetishism, never really touched by what they're reading but still trudging dutifully along to the end. Certainly the going refrain about Haruki Murakami's work is that it is "dreamlike," so perhaps both slavish Harukists and casual fans alike will be satisfied by the novel's listless drift. His brand, after all, has been approved by tens of millions and might one day garner literature's biggest prize - how could such a cultural behemoth falter, and how could so many people be wrong?

Pasha Malla is the author of The Withdrawal Method and People Park.

Associated Graphic

At their worst, Murakami's narratives read like especially dull dreams.

From Winnipeg rec room to Television City in Hollywood
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R10

VANCOUVER -- Actor Michael D. Cohen's career epiphany occurred at the age of four in his Winnipeg basement - a rec room that had fake palm trees built into the wall - while watching The Carol Burnett Show with his family.

"I just looked at that TV set and I went: That's it, that's what my life is going to be about," says Cohen, who then adops a classic 1970s television announcer's voice: "'From Television City in Hollywood ...' And I'm like, that's where I'm going to live. I'm going to live in Television City in Hollywood."

Cohen is speaking from his apartment just a few blocks from the CBS studio complex known as Television City in Hollywood, and with a view that includes, yes, palm trees.

The occasion for our discussion is his starring role in the Canadian film It Was You Charlie. Cohen plays Abner, a depressed, down-on-his-luck doorman working the graveyard shift. Once an acclaimed sculptor and art teacher, Abner has given up his college position, and is falling apart - the result of a traumatic car accident, a disagreement with his brother, and the loss of the woman he loves. Part unrequited-love story/ part psychological thriller, the low-budget (about $350,000) film is dark and dramatic, but has a strong comedic element.

For Cohen (who lived in Winnipeg, Vancouver and Toronto before moving to L.A.) it has the potential to be a breakout role as he grabs hold of this opportunity to strut his thespian stuff.

He has been a busy working actor for years, with such guest TV roles as "taxidermist" (The Mindy Project), "ticket taker" (2 Broke Girls) and "odd neighbour" (Modern Family). He also gets a lot of voice work, including a starring role in the animated series Grossology. He has a supporting role in the feature Whiplash, which will have its Canadian premiere at TIFF. With It Was You Charlie (which takes its name from an On the Waterfront quote), he is upping his game with his first lead in a feature.

"It was a bit of a leap of faith," says director/screenwriter Emmanuel Shirinian, making his feature directorial debut with Charlie, about choosing Cohen for the role. "But I also knew that Michael is one of those actors who does so much with so little.

... I really needed an actor who could go to some really difficult places for me - emotionally, physically - and Michael was always up for the challenge."

Shirinian was a resident at the Canadian Film Centre Directors' Lab when he first came across Cohen. He cast him in two shorts, including Song of Slomon, which had its U.S. premiere at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. "I was immediately kind of attracted to his stature," Shirnian says. "He was a little guy, but he chewed up a lot of scenery on screen; he was a very big presence on screen for a little guy."

Cohen is five feet tall. He is also very funny, thoughtful about his craft, and meticulous in his prep work - the walls of the place he stayed in Toronto while shooting Charlie were covered with an enormous chart plotting Abner's emotional state up against the shooting schedule.

With all that going for him, though, he has still worried about the potential impact of his height on his career. "When I first came to L.A., I was a little concerned about it, and people were saying: 'You know what? This is going to be a huge advantage for you. This isn't a negative.' And I think there was a time when that had not been tested out and I was a little dubious and thinking: 'Am I always going to be [cast as] the elf?' But I don't see myself that way, so I guess other people don't.

I think they see all the different possibilities of what I can offer," says Cohen (who believes he has played an elf twice in commercials).

This leads to a discussion about actors being pigeonholed based on their appearance. Cohen, who is also an acting coach, figures 75 to 90 per cent of roles that actors are cast in are based on looks to a degree. "That's part of our product," he says. "It shapes who we are. It's part of the storytelling apparatus, our physicality."

But he believes things are changing for character actors (a euphemism, he says - a leading man is the good-looking guy who gets the girl; a character actor is the guy who doesn't). He points to Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire and Paul Giamatti in Sideways - guys who, appearancewise, may not have been considered typical leading men.

"Let's face it: We like looking at pretty people up on screen, but I think for only certain types of movies. We want a variety, we want a buffet of things to choose from. If we only had the Brad and Angies up there all the time ... I think we'd get bored and we'd wonder: Where am I in all of this?

Where is the everyday person?" Cohen is also keenly aware of the comedic opportunities his stature presents. He still idolizes Burnett, and he went to see her speak last November with her old co-star Tim Conway. During the Q&A session, Cohen asked for advice on what to tell acting students about what makes comedy work. He recalls Conway saying: "Well, looking at you and then looking at the man behind you ..."

Behind Cohen was a giant of a man ("he was, like, 11 of me"). Cohen turned around, gave the stranger a hug, then, sensing that the guy was game, wrapped his legs around him, crawled up onto his shoulders, flipped around and, fireman-style, slowly slid down his back to the ground. The audience was in hysterics. So was Burnett, who offered a dry, "Well, I guess that answers your question."

Cohen knows Burnett's daughter, and approached her after the show. "I made your mom laugh," he told her. "I can die now."

It Was You Charlie opened Aug. 15 at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto.

Associated Graphic

Anna Hopkins with Michael D. Cohen, who plays Abner, a depressed, down-on-his-luck doorman, in the Canadian feature It Was You Charlie.

I've become a mother to my mother
She is now 90, and though she has all her faculties, her reward for living this long is a nursing home
Monday, August 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L6

She is sitting on the bed when I get there, lost in her thoughts. They are thoughts that take her back to a happier time, a time when she meant something; when she had a purpose; when she was somebody; when she mattered.

She goes over her childhood spent in a small house on Cape Breton Island during the Depression, the third of 14 children. Of summers spent blueberry-picking and swimming in the ocean with her brothers and sisters. Her father was away most of her childhood, coming back just long enough to leave her mother with another mouth to feed on the way.

She remembers working in a lobster factory as a young girl. She made her way there every morning before the sun was up, and spent her day with her small hands in saltwater cold from the ocean, breaking up the lobster pieces, cutting her fingers and feeling the sting. She remembers the pride she felt handing her pay packet to her mother.

She remembers her journey to Toronto at 16 to do war work with her sisters. In particular, she thinks of the kind lady on the train who offered her a sandwich because she was so obviously frightened and overwhelmed by all she was taking in. She smiles when she remembers the relief of finding her older sisters waiting for her on the platform. These are stories that I have heard occasionally over the years, but as her world has became smaller, they have become part of her daily conversations.

My presence takes her away from those memories and back to the present. When she notices I am there, she lights up; to see me is to see freedom, if only for a moment. I gather her shoes from the floor, sit on the bed with her, lift her now-tiny legs and put the shoes on one at a time. My husband tells me how he enjoys this interaction: It reminds him of a mother and child, only in reverse.

And that is our current relationship; I have become a caregiver, a protector, an advocate and a mother to my mother. She is 90 and her reward for living this long is a nursing home. The decision wasn't made lightly. My brother and I put it off as long as we could, met with her doctors and toured many facilities before making our choice. It was with heavy hearts that we agreed this was the only option. I lost many nights of sleep and I saw in his weariness that he did too. So I can tell myself we had no choice, she is safe, she is cared for, she is with people who know how to manage her on a day-to-day basis, but that doesn't ease the guilt I feel for what her life has become.

I take her out shopping or to a restaurant twice a week, and people will comment, "Isn't that nice you take her out." I don't want to be applauded or congratulated for spending time with the women who raised me, and I never want my children to be thanked for spending time with me.

When we eat in restaurants, the wait staff defer to me to order. I cut her food, put butter on her vegetables and make sure she has milk for her tea. I think of the dinner table when I was growing up and the time she spent trying to satisfy the hunger of seven growing children. There was never enough food or room at the table. When she goes into a store, the sales people ask me what size she wears and what colours she likes. When she is at the doctor's office, the questions are directed to and answered by me. When she is walking, I guide the walker and watch every step much as I did when my children were young and needed watching. She is grateful for the help, but also resentful that she needs it.

My mother was not a tender nor affectionate woman, and in many ways she found it hard to show love, which is why our interactions are such a surprise to me now. She holds my hand; I don't remember holding her hand as a child. She tells me she loves me, words I yearned for growing up. She reaches for a hug when I leave - something I never felt.

I hear from other people how lucky I am that she has lived to 90 and that she still has her faculties. I listen to them and I do understand their point, I don't envy those who have to deal with Alzheimer's or severe dementia, but I also think the hardest part of this journey is that my mother does have her mind.

She knows what and whom she has lost; her husband; her brothers and, most cruelly of all, her son. When my brother died last year, he was a 64-year-old grandfather. His death returned him in her mind to a little blond-headed boy who loved flowers, which is where he will remain until she dies.

She calls the home she lives in, a nice facility with wonderful people, "the jail." When we are out, she'll say, "return me to my cell." She also knows she has children and grandchildren that don't bother making an effort to see her.

I wonder if for her not knowing would be easier. I know it would be for me. But this journey isn't about me. It is about her and her losses. The loss of freedom, loss of independence and loss of privacy are the hardest she has had to bear.

When I return her to her safe little room, she says "Thank you, thank you for taking me out, I enjoyed it so much." I kiss her on the top of her head, I take her shoes off and place them back under the bed and quietly close her door. As I am walking down the hall, I think that is one tough little lady I leave behind.

Catherine McGravey lives in Toronto.


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How to turn a wasteland into lush greens
Thursday, August 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

LONDON, ONT. -- When the ice and snow finally melted at the London Hunt and Country Club after the longest and coldest winter the area had suffered in decades, golf course superintendent Jayson Griffiths stood before a wasteland.

To look around today at the site of this week's Canadian Pacific Women's Open, there's no trace of the nightmare Griffiths and his grounds crew faced just five months before hosting the world's best female golfers. The unrelenting Ontario winter put this course and hundreds of others under dense ice and heavy snow for about three months with no relief, suffocating the grasses and killing off three of their four acres of greens. With time ticking ahead of the August arrival of the LPGA Tour, London Hunt's crew had to breathe life into the barren, desert-like greens and bring them back to their vibrant, carpet-like championship form.

Griffiths, like many golfcourse superintendents in Southern Ontario, began to suspect a particularly brutal and problematic winter was ahead when October was cold with little sunshine and leaves were staying on the trees far longer than usual. Then snow walloped London, Ont., in late November. Then, while other parts of Ontario suffered a catastrophic late December ice storm, London got heavy rain and snow, which melted but froze when temperatures plummeted dramatically as the calendar turned. Thick ice covered the golf course and didn't leave until late March.

"On the greens, it was carnage: No sign of life, absolutely devastating. Ask any superintendent in the northeast, and they'll tell you it was the most devastating winter we've seen in generations," said 42-year-old Griffiths, who has been working on golf courses since he was 15. "The grass on our greens was a species called Poa annua, which is found on older golf courses, and it doesn't like extreme temperatures or ice cover. Anything over 30 days of ice is a ticking clock."

Moving that much ice and snow from the massive greens in the dead of winter would have been nearly impossible, not to mention it would have further exposed the grass to the extreme cold.

"So you bide your time and keep taking plugs of grass to check the health," said Griffiths.

"We knew as the clock kept ticking, the situation was really bad."

What they saw in spring was a far cry from the immaculate 7,200-yard championship course that has hosted numerous major tournaments since it was designed in 1959, including Canadian Opens for men and women. There was some damage to the fairways, but that was the least of their problems. Two-thirds of the greens suffered severely - many of those with more than 90 per cent brown dead space. Only two greens had less than 10 per cent damage.

They held a town hall to discuss with the club's members - play on the greens would have to be suspended, which would mean temporary greens tacked onto fairways and late openings to the golf season. Griffiths kept a detailed blog, filled with photos, to keep club membership and the LPGA's organizers updated as they dove into their recovery plan.

Griffiths said resodding would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars - sod was nearly impossible to find, anyway, with so many North American golf courses recovering from catastrophic winterkill. So they opted to reseed with bent grass, a hardier species in times of extreme weather. Seeding would cost just a few thousand dollars but required a highly detailed plan.

They chose to seed in late April, but there were challenges to overcome. The spring was colder than usual, it was windy and there was still frost underground from the long winter, which meant the course irrigation system wasn't ready yet. So they seeded strategically, pressed the seeds underground with rollers, and covered all the greens with perforated plastic blankets spanning about 10,000 feet each to simulate the warmer temperatures Mother Nature wasn't yet providing. They crossed their fingers for just enough rain until they could get their sprinklers going.

"We kept peeking under the covers - Day 5, nothing growing, Day 7, Day 11, still nothing, and you start doubting, because we only had one kick at the can to make it happen," said Griffiths, consulting his groundskeeper's notebook. "On Day 12, finally, we saw tiny rows of perfect green shoots, thank goodness. It finally germinated."

Then the endless hours of feeding and caring for the tender new grass began - the watering, feeding and rolling. They withheld play on the greens until the seedlings got stronger. Some of the old Poa annua returned to the beds as well, so they tended to two species. It was June 27 before all 18 greens were open for play at London Hunt.

"I came to play a practice round in the spring, and I just got to hit, like, two greens then, so knowing the condition that it was in then, and now, I can see how much work they had to put into it," said Canadian LPGA golfer Rebecca-Lee Bentham.

"They did an amazing job."

This week, the London course has a chorus of early-morning lawn mowers moving steadily across vibrant greens, where contenders such as Lydia Ko, Stacey Lewis and Inbee Park will contend.

"From Day 1, when we came out and saw the winterkill damage, it was bleak, but Jayson assured us not to worry and he put our mind and the LPGA's mind at ease," said Brent McLaughlin, director of the Canadian Pacific Women's Open.

"Slowly, every visit we made, the condition was getting better and better. Now, I think this course is the best-conditioned golf course the LPGA will see all year."

The Canadian Golf Superintendents Association awarded Griffiths with a plaque earlier this week to recognize the recovery work.

"Failure wasn't an option," said Griffiths. "It wasn't just us; there were so many success stories of crews who recovered their golf courses after that terrible winter.

We just happened to be the one hosting the [Canadian Pacific] Women's Open. It just took a good team, a good plan and a lot of patience and persistence."

Associated Graphic

Two-thirds of the greens at London Hunt suffered severely after the winter.


Discover New Zealand's sweet spots
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page T9

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND -- K iwis love their sweets, and the global trend that's seen the rise of artisanal doughnuts, cupcakes and other classics has reached New Zealand's shores, too. Next time you're in Auckland, go beyond downtown and visit these three bakery-cafés for a cuppa or flat white (that's onethird espresso, two-thirds steamed milk, with a touch of froth) and a tasty snack or meal.


161A Hillsborough Rd., Hillsborough; The vibe: Owner Karla Goodwin trained at London's Primrose Bakery before returning home to start a business inspired by British boutique bakeries, local flavours and her own vintage style.

Her tiny shop offers a rotating selection of sweet and savoury goods such as scones, biscuits (that's Kiwi for cookies), slices and cupcakes; don't miss the jars full of classic New Zealand lollies (candies), or a chance to sit at the wooden tables and chairs and flip through some of Goodwin's pretty cookbook collection.

The must-tries: Goodwin's coconut ice - a Kiwi sweet staple with a British pedigree made from condensed milk, sugar and coconut - comes stylishly studded with flecks of dried raspberries or passionfruit. Or try the traditional N.Z.-style doughnuts: long, sweet, bread-like dough filled with whipped cream and topped with raspberry jam.

The souvenir: Bluebells Cakery, Goodwin's first book, is packed with recipes for gorgeous-looking homemade treats, plus DIY instructions for icing beautiful cakes in photoshoot-worthy ombre, rosette or ripple patterns.

The calorie-burner: Earn your dessert with a tramp along the Hillsborough Bay Circuit, a 21/2-hour loop that passes just down the street from Bluebells; sights include a reserve of native forest, a cemetery with a view and, at low tide, the rocky, algaecovered harbour's edge.


1A Summer St., Ponsonby (also 385 New North Rd., Kingsland); The vibe: A chalkboard pillar lists the "pecking order" - that's the wait list for tables - at this cheerful, raw-vegan café that opened in mid-2013, the second location for the city's premier raw-foods business. High ceilings, exposed brick, wooden tables and rafters and plenty of bright light make for a space that feels comfortable and airy even when crowded.

The must-tries: Breakfast or lunch, come for a full meal; start with a smoothie or juice and then enjoy a bowl of Little Bird's popular granola, say, or the pad Thai they became famous for (and which quickly sells out). On the sweet side, browse the dessert case for the daily selection of delicious, often nutty cheesecakes, cookies, tarts and cakes, all made without animal products, soy, gluten or cane sugar - think passionfruit-topped cheesecake, ginger slice or chocolatemint fudge.

The souvenir: Browse the corner shelves of packaged goods for snacks for the rest of your trip, such as a bag of house-made raw, organic coconut macaroons in flavours such as passionfruit and macadamia and cacao and raspberry, or raw chocolate bars from Hine Cacao blended with N.Z. superfoods such as manuka honey and kumara, a type of sweet potato. (And yes, word has it they're working on a cookbook, too.)

The calorie-burner: Besides the long wait for tables, Little Bird's location in trendy Ponsonby is notoriously bad for parking. Plan to take your time and check out the shops along Ponsonby Road: browse local lifestyle and food magazines at Mag Nation; visit Devonport Chocolates for giftable N.Z.-city-themed bars with hokey pokey; or drop by Rocket Kitchen to stock up on iconic Kiwi sweets such as chocolate fish, fishshaped strawberry marshmallows coated in milk chocolate.


43D Eversleigh Rd., Belmont (also 12 Melrose St., Newmarket); The vibe: Packed communal tables and bustling staff highlight the popularity of this suburban café, renowned for its gorgeous tarts, pastries, cakes and other delicacies, set in perfect rows behind glass on a white tile counter. When owner Kim Evans started the business in 2007, it was open only on Fridays - now, both locations see lineups seven days a week, and she's taken over space in adjoining shops to meet demand.

The must-tries: Little and Friday is known for its delectable cream- and chocolate-filled doughnuts, but for a modern take on an Australasian classic, try the cone-shaped lamington: Traditionally squares of sponge cake coated in chocolate icing then coconut, this version replaces the sponge cake with a rich, brownie-like inside, making it the ultimate chocoholic's treat.

The souvenir: Little and Friday Celebrations, Evans's second cookbook, devotes each chapter to a get-together theme, among them weddings, Easter, Mother's Day and a "chocolate 21st" buffet - deep, dark and rich baked goods for the country's traditional coming-of-age birthday.

The calorie-burner: The flat fourkilometre Belmont Bay Walk around this North Shore neighbourhood and its coast and wetlands includes the new Bayswater Bridge, a transportation link for cyclists and pedestrians whose materials include recycled totara, a native tree. Hard-core hikers can carb up at the café before heading out on the 23-kilometre North Shore Coastal Walk, which was the first fully marked-up section of Te Araroa, New Zealand's 3,000-kilometre continuous tipto-tail trail.

The writer travelled with assistance from Tourism New Zealand. It did not review or approve this article.


Order with confidence with this guide to local sweet vocabulary.


This small, sweet-tart fruit can be eaten raw or cooked. Native to South America but widely cultivated in New Zealand, it's found in desserts, jams, chutneys, chocolates and ice cream.


Apparently once as slang for ice cream sold by street vendors in turn-of-the-20th-century New York and London, hokey pokey is Kiwi for honeycomb toffee, pieces of which are mixed into vanilla ice cream.


Small and oval-shaped, the "tree tomato" is tart and flavourful. Enjoy the flesh raw or stewed in savoury or sweet dishes.


This meringue dessert is typically topped with whipped cream and fruit.

Associated Graphic

Little Bird Unbakery's delicious treats are made without animal products, soy, gluten or cane sugar.

Bluebells Cakery and Little and Friday are renowned for their gorgeous pastries and cakes.


It's a budding industry that boosters hope can become as big as canola. But hot prices and health nuts won't be enough to fuel a hemp boom
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

MEOTA, SASK. -- Jim Rogers admits it: He's not sure how this experiment of his will work out.

Mr. Rogers is a lifelong farmer - a wheat-and-canola kind of guy. But he is dabbling in something new. He sowed hemp in some fields this year, hoping to cash in on a growing slice of Canada's agriculture industry. Mr. Rogers did the math before he put seeds in the ground and figures his hemp crops could be worth much more than traditional crops. At today's strong prices, experts say farmers can earn twice as much growing hemp as they can growing canola.

"It seems like it is going to pay," says Mr. Rogers, looking at the 80 hectares of hemp he is growing on the edge of Jackfish Lake, about 170 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon. "I would've never done it if we didn't pencil it out really good."

And, he adds, "it is kind of fun growing something different."

Mr. Rogers is part of a budding industry, one boosters hope will take off in the same way canola did. Advocates say hemp has a glowing future in the food industry.

Hemp oil can be used in products such as salad toppings and hummus. The kernels can be split and sold as hemp hearts. Hemp can used in everything from nutrition bars to coffee, flour, ice cream and pet food. Proponents trumpet its nutritional value. Unsaturated fat known as the "good fat" - makes up 39 per cent of a hemp seed's composition; saturated fat represents 5 per cent; protein accounts for 33 per cent; carbohydrates 12 per cent. It's high in dietary fibre and free of gluten. There is also a market for the plant's stalks, for such uses as clothing and rope, but it is not as developed in North America as it is in Europe.

But hemp needs more than hot prices and health-food nuts to sweep the Prairies.

It needs risk-takers like Mr. Rogers, one of the first farmers to grow the crop in this corner of northwest Saskatchewan.

It also needs plant varieties with more favourable production and health characteristics, and the government to ease regulations that restrain the industry.

Hemp and marijuana are cousins, but hemp has only trace amounts of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that gives weed smokers their high. Health Canada regulates hemp's production.

Farmers planted between 34,000 and 36,000 hectares of hemp in Canada this year, according to estimates from the Hemp Trade Alliance, up from 26,700 hectares last year and 12,000 hectares four years ago. (A hectare is about twice the size of an NFL field). By way of comparison, grain producers had seeded nearly nine million hectares of canola by June 10 this year, according to a report from Statistics Canada released June 27.

Hemp processors are on a tear too. Manitoba's Hemp Oil Canada provides seeds to farmers, contracts their production before it is planted, and processes the seeds into products like oil, hemp hearts, and powder that can be used in other foods. Hemp Oil's founder, Shaun Crew, expects his company to process about 20 million pounds of hemp seed this year, compared with 12 million in 2013 and seven million in 2012.

Hemp Oil, which is building a $13million processing facility, controls between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of the hemp market, Mr. Crew said.

Because processing facilities are the big buyers, they heavily influence what farmers get paid.

"We kind of price ourselves being very sensitive to what the selling price is on canola, because often we're displacing canola acres when we are growing hemp," Mr. Crew said. "It has to be a better deal for the farmers."

Hemp fields produce about half as much grain as canola fields, experts say. But what it lacks in yield, it makes up in price. Farmers can net between $620 and $1,240 per hectare of hemp, compared with $495 a hectare growing canola, Mr. Crew said.

The crop's profitability comes with a catch.

"It is more work [for farmers].

Twice the profit, but twice the work," said Kevin Friesen, operations manager at Saskatoon's Hemp Genetics International Inc.

Hemp plants have an aroma similar to marijuana - Mr. Rogers says it's more like crushed tomato leaves. They're extremely tall, making them difficult to harvest.

It is tough to see Mr. Rogers after he walks a few feet into some parts of his field. The stalks can grow well beyond two metres.

They are thick and tough, making them hard on machinery. Stubble can be left a metre high. This is a problem: farmers can burn the stubble, bale it with hopes of selling it, or work it into the soil.

Working it into the soil is tricky, because it takes about a year to break down and can cause problems seeding the following spring.

Mr. Rogers is going to try to work the stubble in.

This is where plant varieties come in. Companies are trying to breed plants that produce a higher yield, do not grow as tall, and come with other farmer-friendly characteristics. Hemp is resistant to frost, pests stay away and further genetic modifications through breeding will make it even more attractive. Hemp Genetics has introduced three varieties of hemp, with another about to debut, Mr. Friesen said.

Farmers are expected to seed 40,470 hectares of hemp by 2015 and 101,170 hectares by 2018. Consumer demand, driven by the processing facilities, must grow first. It is rare for farmers to grow hemp without first having contracts in place from processing facilities.

Regulations also make farmers reluctant. Mr. Rogers said he has a binder five centimetres thick full of government documents necessary to grow hemp. Hemp advocates want the government to back off, arguing the plant has very low levels of THC and breeding could further reduce this amount.

Mr. Rogers complains about the paperwork, is nervous about harvest, but smiles when he looks at his hemp crop.

"I'm a risk-taker, "he said. "Give me a call in December and see if I'm still happy with hemp."

Associated Graphic

Jim Rogers is growing 80 hectares of hemp in northern Saskatchewan.


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