Bouchard's rising star
By RACHEL BRADY
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 Print Edition, Page S2
It's been six weeks since Eugenie Bouchard's captivating run to the Australian Open semi-finals, and the rising Canadian tennis star has rarely had a dull moment since.
Since losing to eventual tournament champion Li Na in the first Grand Slam semi-final appearance by a Canadian female singles player since 1984, Bouchard has been busy at work, play and business.
She helped Canada defeat Serbia in Fed Cup play, and competed in WTA Tour events in Qatar, Dubai and Mexico. She's been enlisted for WTA promotional events and photo shoots galore, from the beaches of Acapulco to an NHL game in Los Angeles. Now, the 20-year-old has arrived in Indian Wells, Calif., where the next marquee tennis event of the season kicks off this week.
It's the next opportunity for the Montreal native to be in the spotlight. Bouchard began 2014 seeded 32nd in the WTA rankings and has jumped to No. 19, courtesy of her Melbourne performance. She is one of three Canadians already entered in the main draw in Indian Wells, along with ATP No. 11 Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., and 27th-ranked Vasek Pospisil of Vernon, B.C.
She is expected to be seeded at the Masters 1000 event, with a bye through to the second round, which begins Friday. But Bouchard's results since leaving Montreal point to the realities of life on the WTA Tour. The schedule is demanding, the travel arduous, and performing consistently is highly challenging.
The day following Canada's Fed Cup victory in front of an exuberant crowd in her hometown, Bouchard hopped on a 12-hour flight to Qatar, where she played the day after her arrival. Contending with jet lag, an eight-hour time difference and no coach along for the trip, Bouchard struggled while being bounced in the first round by No. 42 Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the U.S., 7-5, 6-1.
From there, Bouchard suffered a qualifying-round straight-sets loss in Dubai to 50th-ranked Annika Beck. Then, it was on to Acapulco, where No. 89 Caroline Garcia beat her in the quarter-finals.
"It was tough for me with some tough travel and tight turnarounds, but those are not excuses," Bouchard said by phone from Indian Wells, on a day when she would also do a photo shoot and film a video with 2014 Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka at a game between the L.A. Kings and Montreal Canadiens. "I faced some good players who played well, had some tough matches and tough experiences that showed me I have a lot of work to do and still so much to prove."
At the Mexican Open, Bouchard was asked to take part in some promotional activities alongside ATP No. 16 Grigor Dimitrov. The two rising stars went yachting, took a helicopter ride over Acapulco and rallied on a tennis platform floating on the sea, after which the two jumped into the water to cool off. She called it "one of the best experiences of my life."
Although it was a tournament promotion, the tabloids and social networks buzzed about the time spent between the two, since Dimitrov is dating women's tennis star Maria Sharapova. It signals the level of interest in the blossoming Canadian celebrity, who admits she's being noticed in public a lot more, and the demands on her time have multiplied.
"I take it in stride and it's part of the job - the key is not to let it get to your head and try to enjoy it and do as much as you can," Bouchard said. "Yeah, at the tournaments, I'm being asked to do more things, and so far, those experiences have turned out amazing.
"Of course, I have to keep telling myself that the priority is tennis, and I can do these fun activities when I have put in the hours on the court."
Fresh off her whirlwind run in Melbourne, the WTA tapped Bouchard to fly to Singapore with tennis legend Chris Evert to promote the tour's 2014 end-of-season championship tournament. In order to actually play in that event, Bouchard will have to be one of the top-eight point-getters - an ambitious goal for a player in just her second full season on Tour. (She is currently No. 8 on the Road to Singapore leaderboard.)
"I haven't specifically set that as a goal, but, obviously, I would love to make it, although it completely depends on the points, which isn't totally within my control," Bouchard said. "If I end up there, I would love that amazing week so much, but it's still a long way off, and to get there, it has to be about my performance on the court."Sabres trade Miller, Ott to Blues in blockbuster
By JOHN WAWROW
The Associated Press
Saturday, March 1, 2014 Print Edition, Page S3
BUFFALO -- Once the shock and emotions of leaving Buffalo and the Sabres began to wear off, goalie Ryan Miller began looking forward to the challenge he and Steve Ott will face in living up to the St. Louis Blues' expectations.
Sabres no more, Miller and Ott are going from the NHL's worst team to a bona fide Stanley Cup contender after being traded to the Central Division-leading Blues (39-13-6) in a five-player, two-draft-pick deal Friday night.
"It's definitely humbling and flattering that they would make that kind of move and bring us in with the intention of giving them some help to push for a Stanley Cup," Miller said. "We're excited for the opportunity there. But also, it's about the responsibility we have to that organization to show up and get up to speed and compete as hard as we can to live up to the trade."
With his voice at times cracking with emotion, Miller spoke at a news conference during the first intermission of the Sabres' game against the San Jose Sharks. The deal was made about an hour before the game, and marks the first significant move since Tim Murray took over as general manager in January.
In exchange for trading away Miller and Ott, their captain, the Sabres acquired goalie Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a 2015 first-round pick and a 2016 third-round pick.
The Central Division-leading Blues shored up their goaltending in an attempt to avoid another disappointing playoff run after being eliminated by Los Angeles in successive seasons.
Miller was expendable in Buffalo because the 33-year-old was in the final year of his contract and the Sabres were concerned he'd have little interest re-signing with a team early into its rebuilding stage.
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong made the deal with a more short-term objective in mind.
"The deal was made on the here and now. We'll worry about the future after the season," Armstrong said during a telephone conference call. "Obviously, Ryan Miller's résumé speaks for itself. It gives us a better chance for success."
Miller won the Vézina Trophy as the NHL's best goalie in 2010, the year he was the most-valuable player of the Olympic tournament in Vancouver, and is Buffalo's franchise leader with 284 victories and 540 games. This season, he's 5-22-3 with a 2.72 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. He's 284-186-57 with a 2.60 GAA and .916 save percentage overall.
Armstrong noted the trouble the Blues had against the Kings and goalie Jonathan Quick during the playoffs and believes Miller can make a difference.
Ott has credentials as a leader and provides the Blues a gritty two-way forward.
"He's an antagonistic player," Armstrong said about Ott. "He's a player that has that playoff pedigree."
Sabres coach Ted Nolan was set to start Miller on Friday night against San Jose, but the goalie and Ott did not take the ice for warm-ups and were scratched.
The Sabres acquired Ott from Dallas along with defenceman Adam Pardy in exchange for Derek Roy on July 2, 2012. Ott had 18 goals and 26 assists in 107 games for Buffalo.
Halak was in his fourth season with the Blues after spending his first four years with Montreal. He has a 24-9-4 record with a 2.23 goals-against average, a .917 save percentage and four shutouts this season.
Stewart has 15 goals and 11 assists in 58 games for the Blues this season, and 115 goals in a six seasons with Colorado and St. Louis.
The 19-year-old Carrier was the Blues' second-round pick in 2013.
Though aware he was on the trade block, Miller had difficulty coming to grips with leaving a team and a city, which he regarded as home for 12 years.
"I don't know if I'll make it through this, so let's keep it quick," Miller said, his voice already quaking. "I'm really going to miss this part of the world."Leafs in tough as competition improves at trade deadline
By JAMES MIRTLE
Thursday, March 6, 2014 Print Edition, Page S3
TORONTO -- Dave Nonis knew he was entering NHL trade deadline day stuck in the middle.
He didn't want to give up picks and prospects, believing the franchise's cupboard isn't stocked nearly enough to do so. And he didn't want to sell off his unrestricted free agents and rob his players of a chance at a second consecutive playoff berth.
So the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager did the best thing many in his position often neglect to when the frenzy hits this time of year. He did nothing.
That's not the sexy move, especially in Toronto, where a half-dozen Leafs names were thrown in the rumour mill even as management said it wasn't expecting to be particularly busy. But it was probably the right move, this season anyway.
Even if it makes the Leafs' push to make the postseason in the next 18 games that much tougher.
If you look around the Eastern Conference at what some of the competition did Wednesday, it's a bit of an intimidating portrait of what Toronto will be up against.
The Montreal Canadiens, who sit there points ahead of them, added winger Thomas Vanek and got better.
The New York Rangers landed winger Martin St. Louis and will be more dangerous. The Tampa Bay Lightning will not only have star centre Steven Stamkos healthy for the first time in four months, but they also added Ryan Callahan.
The Pittsburgh Penguins made a couple of small moves to improve their forward depth. The Detroit Red Wings, as beat up as they are, mitigated those losses by getting forward David Legwand at the buzzer.
And on and on, bubble teams added useful pieces, even as Nonis sat silent.
The optics of that alone may be a tough sell to restless fans that have watched the Leafs pull their Jekyll-and-Hyde act all season, but ultimately, that's the spot Toronto is in right now.
This is not a team that is a contender for the Stanley Cup, and it's a stretch to believe it can even get there next year. Instead, what the Leafs need is a little patience in the short term and a really good off-season to fix the significant holes in the lineup.
Some of those wounds are self-inflicted - with David Clarkson posing one enormous problem, salary cap- and lineup-wise - but others are unavoidable, as like every team, the Leafs have plenty of players hitting both unrestricted and restricted free agency this summer.
Solving those issues in a manner that actually improves this lineup is going to take some finesse - and it's there Nonis will earn his paycheque, not on a day that was filled with rental buys by more desperate GMs.
There's no question his scorecard to date is mixed - with strong calls like acquiring netminder Jonathan Bernier and Mason Raymond mixed in with miscues such as Clarkson - and the team has taken a step back from last season in several key areas.
It scores fewer goals and, despite very good goaltending, allows far more. The Leafs are consistently inconsistent, the penalty kill has tanked and the coaching staff has made some odd lineup decisions and coaxed scant few improvements out of the group when it comes to defensive play.
But Wednesday wasn't the time to make those kinds of fixes, not when the Leafs are still selling the hope that the future is brighter than today.
Even if it seems as though everyone around them got better as they hold on and hope what they have is good enough.
"That's like trying to keep up with the Joneses," Nonis said of all the activity by the Leafs' direct competition. "But if it's not going to help you, then why do it? To make a deal that's going to set you back because someone else has made a deal, that's not a prudent way to build your team.
"I think the group as it is has a chance," he later added. "I was prepared to let them play the last 19 games and see how we do."Stoughton only unbeaten rink
Two-time world champion beats Territories for third successive win at Canadian men's championship
By SCOTT EDMONDS
The Canadian Press
Monday, March 3, 2014 Print Edition, Page S4
KAMLOOPS -- Two-time world champion Jeff Stoughton needed an extra end to grind out a 7-6 win over the Northwest-Yukon Territories Sunday afternoon at the Canadian men's curling championship.
It might not have been pretty but, with a loss for John Morris and his B.C. squad, Stoughton and Manitoba claimed sole possession of first place as the only unbeaten squad at the Canadian men's curling championship with three straight wins.
"A little surprise we're the only ones," Stoughton said, starting to add they were lucky to win before checking himself.
"We hung in there and battled and made a couple of shots finally in 9, 10 and 11 and got the W," he said instead. "We know we can play a heck of a lot better than that. ... We were just missing too many draws heavy today and finally got it together late in the game. ... If we're a little off, as we've been, we're squeaking by."
Stoughton is set to play winless New Brunswick Sunday night.
Morris and his B.C. rink fell 7-4 to Quebec's Jean-Michel Ménard after Ménard jumped into an early lead with a four in the first end, thanks to a packed four-foot that Morris couldn't clear.
"Four was like a blessing from heaven," said the Quebec skip, adding that they thought they might end up with two or maybe three.
"If we can play like we played the first three games, we've got a sniff at making the playoffs," added the 2006 Brier champion, who also won silver at the world championship the same year.
Morris was disappointed in the way he played.
"Those guys were great and we were average and that was the difference," he said. "We have to step our game up a bit for sure. I can call a better game."
It was Ménard's second win of the day after beating Saskatchewan's Steve Laycock 7-5 in the morning draw. But Laycock bounced back in the afternoon, beating Northern Ontario's Jeff Currie 6-4.
There is now a four-way tie for second at 2-1 between Ménard, Morris, Laycock and Ontario's Greg Balsdon, playing in his first Brier, who took down 2006 Olympic gold medalist Brad Gushue and his Newfoundland and Labrador rink 7-6.
Balsdon scored two in the 10th end to win 7-6 and was continuing to celebrate just being able to curl for the men's title, after a morning 5-4 loss to Jamie Koe and the Territories, who sat at 1-2, along with Currie and Gushue.
"We're having fun, it's been a blast, we're playing pretty well, but the experience has been nothing like we've ever curled before," said Balsdon, a 36-year-old golf pro from Toronto, who works and curls out of the Glendale Golf and Country Club in Hamilton.
Gushue had issues with the ice Saturday but blamed only himself Sunday.
"The ice was good today, there was no reason to miss shots," he said. "It's not a hard game if you hit the broom and throw the right way. We can't seem to do either one."
Ice conditions made for a strange end to Saturday night's faceoff between Gushue and Stoughton. Both their final draws finished perhaps five metres from the house.
The villain was a warm air current that heated up one end of the sheet where they were playing. It was decided to cool the arena and shut off air circulating equipment during games to prevent a repeat.
Also in the morning draw, Eddie MacKenzie scored a pair of points in the ninth end to lead P.E.I. past winless Nova Scotia's Jamie Murphy 7-5, moving Mackenzie to 1-1. Alberta's Kevin Koe also overpowered James Grattan and New Brunswick 10-1 for his first win and sat at 1-1 heading into the evening draw.SZABADOS TO SIGN WITH MEN'S LEAGUE TEAM
The Canadian Press
Saturday, March 8, 2014 Print Edition, Page S3
Edmonton -- Fresh off her second Olympic gold medal and a practice with the NHL's Edmonton Oilers, goaltender Shannon Szabados will join the Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League next week.
The Cottonmouths announced on their website Friday the team intended to sign the Edmonton goalie. Szabados would be the first female to play in the 10-team SPHL since its formation 10 years ago, the team said.
"I am very excited to get a world-class athlete that has competed and has faced, high-pressured situations," Cottonmouths head coach Jerome Bechard said in a statement.
Szabados posted a 28-save shutout over Team USA in the women's Olympic hockey final in 2010. She made 27 saves in Canada's 3-2 overtime win against the Americans to defend the gold in Sochi last month. But the 27-year-old has spent the majority of her career in men's leagues. She played for Sherwood Park, Bonneyville and Fort Saskatchewan during her four years in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Szabados was named the AJHL's top goaltender in 2006-07, after helping Fort Saskatchewan to a league-best record of 45-11-0-4.
"Well here goes nothing," Szabados tweeted on Friday. "Heading to the @SPHL to join the @Cottonmouths for the remainder of their season. See you on the 12th guys! #snakes."
Szabados will head to Columbus on Wednesday, and will be introduced at a news conference the following day prior to a game at home against the Pensacola Ice Flyers.
The Cottonmouths are 23-22-3 and rank seventh in the league.
Szabados participated in an Oilers practice last Wednesday. The Oilers were short a goalie on NHL trade deadline day, awaiting the arrival of Viktor Fasth from Anaheim. No woman has ever played in an NHL regular-season game. Goaltender Manon Rhéaume was the first to play in an exhibition game with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992.
Canadian women's star Hayley Wickenheiser has played as a forward in men's leagues in Finland and Sweden.Real routs Schalke, Chelsea earns draw
The Associated Press
Thursday, February 27, 2014 Print Edition, Page S2
GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY -- Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema scored two goals each, leading Real Madrid over Schalke 6-1 on Wednesday in the opener of their second-round UEFA Champions League matchup.
Ronaldo's two goals gave him 11 in the Champions League this season, and 34 in 34 games overall this season. With 61 Champions League goals in his career, Ronaldo moved one ahead of Ruud Van Nistelrooy for third place, trailing only Raul Gonzalez (71) and Lionel Messi (66).
Benzema scored in the 13th and 57th minutes, while Bale had goals in the 21st and 69th minutes. Ronaldo scored in the 52nd and 89th.
Schalke's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar had the most spectacular goal on a volley in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
"Real and Bayern are the two best teams in the world," Schalke coach Jens Keller said, referring to the runaway Bundesliga leader and defending Champions League titleholder.
Second legs of the total-goals series are March 18.
In Istanbul, Fernando Torres scored a valuable away goal for Chelsea in a 1-1 draw at Galatasaray in the Champions League on Wednesday, giving the Premier League side the slight edge as it chases a spot in the quarter-finals.
Torres scored the first goal by an English team in the knockout phase in the ninth minute, after Cezar Azpilicueta cut the ball back to the striker.
But Chelsea failed to build on its strong start and the Turkish champions equalized in the second half after gaining in confidence and cutting out their defensive mistakes. Aurelien Chedjou put the ball past goalkeeper Petr Cech in the 64th after connecting with Wesley Sneijder's corner.
"I wouldn't want to say that's a great result. We all now know what a strong team they are," Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard said. "Little bit disappointed today really at halftime it wasn't more than one nil up."
The second leg of the round of 16 game is at Stamford Bridge on March 18.England hires renowned psychiatrist for World Cup
By SAMUEL PETREQUIN
The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 Print Edition, Page S5
LONDON -- In a bid to boost his team's mental strength at the 2014 World Cup, England head coach Roy Hodgson said Tuesday he has hired a psychiatrist for the lead-up to the tournament in Brazil.
Hodgson said Steve Peters is the right man to help the soccer team prepare for the trip.
"[He] is a very famous man in that area," Hodgson said. "He has a great CV of working in different sports and has been doing some work with Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers."
Peters, who has a close relationship with England captain Steven Gerrard, is the man behind British cycling's recent successes. He has helped the likes of Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton to master the mental side of their sport.
Peters's methods also seemed to work for the England rugby team, which reached the 2007 World Cup final. His list of clients also includes five-time world snooker champion Ronnie O'Sullivan and cycling's Team Sky, which produced two Tour de France champions.
His work at Liverpool seems to be helping as well with the Reds currently second in the Premier League standings.
Peters first helped Gerrard when he was struggling with a serious groin injury in 2010.
"He has helped me with my mental preparation and injuries and I've played my most consistent form for Liverpool and England since seeing Steve," Gerrard said. "I feel he can help the players if the players buy into what he is trying to do. He can't help you do a [Johan] Cruyff turn or a 40-yard pass better but he can help you learn what goes off inside your head."
With 100 days to go before the World Cup, England starts its final preparations with an exhibition match against Denmark on Wednesday at Wembley Stadium.Possible cure of HIV in babies studied
Canadian scientists are testing five children to determine whether there are still dormant traces of the virus in their bodies
By KELLY GRANT
Saturday, March 8, 2014 Print Edition, Page A6
The heartening news that a second American baby has possibly been cured of the virus that causes AIDS is drawing attention to the work of a team of Canadian researchers who may have found as many as five similar cases in this country.
The investigators have received nearly $2-million in funding to delve into whether treating HIV-infected newborns with an aggressive trio of drugs immediately after birth can knock out the virus, as apparently happened in a now-famous case in Mississippi.
However, the Canadian scientists, like all pediatric HIV-AIDS researchers looking into this question, face an ethical quandary: They cannot say for sure that the potential cure is successful unless they take HIV-positive children off the anti-retroviral medications that keep the virus at bay.
"It is possible that the only way we will know is to stop the medicine and that is not a simple decision," said Ari Bitnun, a physician in the department of infectious diseases at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and a member of the research team. "If they aren't cured and you stop their medicine, the viral load will go up and you can start the medicines again, but there may be some downsides to that."
This dilemma helps explain why the Mississippi baby's apparent recovery from HIV infection was discovered by fluke.
The stunning story, revealed at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta last March, involved a mother-to-be who was unaware she was HIV-positive and therefore did not take drugs to prevent transmission of the virus to her infant.
Doctors started the baby on high doses of three drugs - AZT, 3CT and nevirapine - about 30 hours after being born, a protocol more aggressive than the standard treatment given to prevent mother-to-child transmission in these cases.
The child was given anti-retroviral medication until the age of 18 months, when the mother stopped coming to medical appointments and halted the medication. Five months later, doctors were shocked to discover the child was virus-free, despite the break in treatment.
When the Canadian researchers heard about the Mississippi case, a light bulb went on, Dr. Bitnun said.
At least two other Canadian hospitals, the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa and Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal, had been administering the same combination of anti-retroviral medications at higher doses to HIV-infected babies very soon after birth for years.
Doctors at all three hospitals combed through their records and found five children who had undergone the early treatment and whose viral loads were suppressed to the point they could not be detected in blood tests, information the scientists used to apply for a grant last summer.
The team is running ultra-sensitive tests on the children, who now range in ages from three to the early school years, in a bid to determine if any traces of the virus are dormant and hidden in their bodies.
"The one big difference is that our children remain on treatment, whereas that [Mississippi] child was taken by mistake off treatment," Dr. Bitnun said.
The team is planning to present its initial findings at the Canadian Association for HIV Research conference in St. John's in May.
They are also embarking on a cross-country study, enrolling as many HIV-infected children as possible to compare those treated immediately after birth with those diagnosed and treated later.
A second American baby, whose case was described this week at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston, is a nine-month-old who is apparently virus-free, but remains on medication.
If researchers are touting that child's case as evidence of a possible cure, the cases in this country could fit the bill too, although the Canadian researchers caution it is too early to say.
"The word 'cure' is premature," said Fatima Kakkar, a physician in the division of infectious diseases at Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal and another member of the research group. "But by studying these kids, I think we're going to find out a lot of really useful information as to how, with some people in some situations, we can lead to really good viral control that maybe one day won't need medication."Ottawa asked to ease Prairie grain backlog
By JOSH WINGROVE
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 Print Edition, Page A4
OTTAWA -- Alberta and Saskatchewan are calling on the federal government to intervene to ease a backlog of grain in the Prairies, by brokering deals to ship more by rail and levying cash fines if railways don't live up to obligations.
The backlog stems from a combination of an unusually ample harvest last year and competing demands for capacity on Canada's railways, with recent cold weather adding to the shipping pinch. Western Canada farmers netted a bumper crop in 2013, harvesting nearly 40 per cent more grain than the five-year average, according to Alberta. But farmers have since faced long delays getting their product to port and seen product prices slump in the meantime.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz responded by saying all options are on the table, but criticized rail companies for insufficiently addressing the delays.
Saskatchewan wants Ottawa to "immediately" broker service agreements between grain and rail companies to require certain levels of shipping, while Alberta wants Ottawa to bring in fines against railways who deliver "inadequate service."
It's not just one industry at fault for the backlog, said Bill Boyd, Saskatchewan's Minister of the Economy. "I think there's blame to go around here. I don't think there's any individual group that is without blame," Mr. Boyd said in an interview Monday. Without service agreements, "there's no obligation, there's no accountability built into the system."
Some critics argue grain shippers are being pinched as energy companies move oil by rail, leaving fewer locomotives to haul grain cars. Gary Stanford, president of the Grain Growers of Canada, welcomed the provincial proposal if penalties would lead to faster grain shipment, though he isn't sure how that might work in practice. "They're private companies. To step in and make legislation, would it really help us in the short term?"
He said the oil shipments, by themselves, haven't had "much of an effect" on the grain backlog. "There's a lot more product on the railroad overall," he said. A locomotive shortage has also led to backlogs, he added.
Alberta says current penalties for rail companies are vague and often lead to lengthy arbitration.
Asked about the two provinces' proposals, Mr. Ritz responded with a statement saying he won't let farmers "be held hostage by this poor service" of rail and grain companies.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, however, Mr. Ritz signalled a reluctance to take "prescriptive" action. "At the end of the day, there's nothing stopping the grain companies and the railways from negotiating with reciprocal penalties as part of that contract. There's nothing stopping them from doing that now," he said. Both CP and CN say they're making more cars available, but a cold snap has hampered efforts because frigid weather requires that trains be kept shorter to ensure brakes function properly.
CN says it made available 3,530 empty grain cars last week, and hopes to average 4,000 per week "as soon as extreme cold temperatures abate." By April, the railway hopes to run as many as 5,500 cars per week. "CN is doing its level-best to move this 100-year grain crop to export position and world markets," spokesman Mark Hallman said.
Asked about the call for government-negotiated pacts, he said the company prefers "collaboration" with grain companies.
Canadian Pacific Railway declined to respond to the provinces' requests, and couldn't offer any specific numbers of cars in service. From September to January, the railway says it shipped 17 per cent more grain than the five-year average. CP CEO Hunter Harrison said last week that the railway is moving grain as fast as it can but often faces delays unloading the product. The Saskatchewan government said Monday grain companies "told us they could quickly move to provide service 24 hours a day if the grain reaches them."
Grain prices have slumped 20 to 30 per cent for farmers since the fall, Mr. Boyd said, adding buyers are now looking elsewhere. "We see our premium markets, like Japan, being lost as a result" of the backlog, Mr. Boyd said, adding he hopes Mr. Ritz acts quickly to broker a deal with rail and grain companies.
With reports from Carrie TaitOttawa vigil to honour slain Inuk student
Loretta Saunders was a 26-year-old Saint Mary's University student who had dreams of becoming a lawyer
By JANE TABER
Monday, March 3, 2014 Print Edition, Page A9
HALIFAX -- Loretta Saunders, the Inuk university student writing her thesis on missing and murdered aboriginal women, was killed on the same day native women delivered a petition to Parliament, signed by more than 23,000 Canadians, demanding a national inquiry into the issue.
That connection haunts Cheryl Maloney, a native leader in Nova Scotia - and it has also compelled her to act.
Ms. Maloney, the president of the Nova Scotia Native Women's Association, is organizing a vigil on Parliament Hill at noon on March 5 to honour Ms. Saunders and other missing and murdered indigenous women. Delilah Saunders-Terriak, Ms. Saunders's younger sister, has also called out for vigils to be organized across the country this month - and is receiving offers of help.
Ms. Maloney has no clue as to how many people will show up, or how the vigil on Parliament Hill will be structured. She simply believes "something big has to be done."
So far, repeated calls for a national inquiry have gone unheeded. But Ms. Maloney hopes that Ms. Saunders's story and her quest to shine a light on the issue that caught the attention of so many Nova Scotians will do the same across the country.
"She broke the stereotype of what people can accept as missing and murdered aboriginal women," said Ms. Maloney. "It's easy for people to say 'okay, they were on drugs. It's okay, they were a sex trade worker.' That's not the whole story of who is going missing and murdered."
Ms. Saunders was a 26-year-old Saint Mary's University student, studying criminology. She had dreams of becoming a lawyer and hoped to return to her Labrador community as a role model.
What struck Ms. Maloney about the support for Ms. Saunders's family as they searched for nearly two weeks was that it was strong, immediate and not along ideological lines. "People genuinely cared. People were kind. I don't think Canadians take the same position Stephen Harper has of indifference to the issue of aboriginal women going missing," she said.
There are reports that at least 800 native women have been murdered or gone missing since 1990. Since September, there have been eight aboriginal women who have been killed, according to the Native Women's Association of Canada. Ms. Saunders is one of the eight.
"This is about patterns ... if you are an indigenous woman and you are five times more likely to be murdered than I am, then there is a pattern," said NDP Halifax MP Megan Leslie. But what is different with Ms. Saunders's case, she said, is that "we are paying attention and the collective 'we' care about this."
"People have actually said her death won't be in vain," said Ms. Leslie. "What the reason is I don't know exactly. But I am thankful."
The Assembly of First Nations, which has repeatedly called for a national inquiry, noted that Ms. Saunders's death provoked an increased awareness in a larger Canadian audience.
AFN Alberta Regional Chief Cameron Alexis, who speaks on this issue for his organization, is hopeful that it can "turn the balance" politically. "There is a public outcry here and what are we doing about it?" he asked.
Ms. Saunders went missing on Feb. 13. For two weeks, her family, many of whom live in Labrador, were in Halifax searching for her. Last Wednesday, her body was found dumped in a wooded median of the Trans-Canada Highway in New Brunswick.
Two people - Blake Leggette, 25, and his girlfriend, Victoria Henneberry, 28 - who were subletting her apartment for the past month, have been charged with first-degree murder. They were arrested near Windsor, Ont., on Feb. 18.PEI, Manitoba join Ontario's pension planning group
By ADRIAN MORROW
Thursday, March 6, 2014 Print Edition, Page A8
TORONTO -- Prince Edward Island and Manitoba are signing up to help Ontario develop a new pension system, adding steam to the province's push for a major reform of retirement security.
"It's about planning for the future. If we don't plan for retirements in the future, it's going to put extra strains on our health-care system, on our social safety net," PEI Premier Robert Ghiz said in Toronto after meeting with Ontario counterpart Kathleen Wynne. "This is about allowing people to invest into the future."
The three provinces are now working together to create a proposed pension system to supplement the Canada Pension Plan, with the aim of delivering extra benefits to retirees.
An advisory panel made up of pension experts and seniors' advocates is currently helping Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa work out the specifics of the plan. Civil servants from Manitoba and PEI will now join this group.
The exact details of the plan will be revealed in the spring, but government insiders have hinted that it will be a defined contribution plan run as a non-profit organization at arm's length from the government. The aim primarily is to help middle-income earners. It is likely to be modelled after the National Employment Savings Trust in Britain.
Ontario decided to press forward with a provincial pension plan after the federal government rejected its call to expand the CPP.
Ottawa contends that, in the current uncertain economy, it would be a bad idea to force companies and employees to pay more into the national pension system. Such a measure would make the country less competitive and make it hard on businesses, critics of the pension-enhancement idea say.
Federal Minister of State (Finance) Kevin Sorenson slammed Manitoba and PEI for showing interest in Ontario's plan.
"Today's announcement means that even more Canadian businesses will be disadvantaged with higher payroll taxes that will kill jobs and deter investment. Employees simply can't afford a smaller paycheque in this fragile economy," he said in a written statement issued by his office.
He also called on Ontario to allow for private Pooled Registered Pension Plans instead. The province has previously said it does plan to allow PRPPs, but Mr. Sousa has not laid out any timeline for implementing them.
Ms. Wynne has tried to frame the pension plan as an investment rather than as a tax.
"Many middle-income earners are not saving enough to retire, and seniors who were ready to retire are finding themselves going back to work because they can't live on their current plans. Fewer than 35 per cent of Ontario workers have a workplace-based pension plan," she said.
"It doesn't matter whether you live in Summerside, PEI, or Steinbach, Manitoba, or Waterloo, Ontario, it's clear that you need to have an opportunity for a secure retirement."
The Ontario government is planning to bring forward legislation to create the pension plan this spring. Because Ms. Wynne's Liberals control only a minority of seats in the legislature, it will need the help of at least one other party to pass it into law.
The Progressive Conservatives are opposed to the pension plan. The NDP supports it, but has not yet committed to voting in favour of it.
It is not clear whether other provinces will join Ontario's push. Quebec already has its own pension plan, separate from CPP, and Alberta is sitting on the fence, waiting to see the outcome of pension talks before making any decision.
Government officials in British Columbia have indicated that province is interested in helping middle-income earners on pensions, and is watching Ontario's actions closely.Top court to rule on condom tampering
By SEAN FINE
Friday, March 7, 2014 Print Edition, Page A4
Craig Jaret Hutchinson of Nova Scotia was afraid his girlfriend of nine or 10 months intended to leave him, so he poked pin-sized holes in condoms and got her pregnant. On Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada will decide whether his deception constituted sexual assault, in a case that could alter the definition of consent.
The case pits concerns about women's autonomy and right to say no against fears that sexual assault would be trivialized if deceptions are seen to nullify consent. The Supreme Court touched on that fear in cases involving men and women who did not inform their partners they were HIV-positive, ruling that there is no true consent where one partner keeps another in the dark about "a significant risk of serious bodily harm." (If those with HIV can show they have a "low viral load" and use a condom, they do not need to inform their partner.) But the Hutchinson case does not involve such a risk, according to lawyer Luke Craggs, who is representing Mr. Hutchinson.
"Are we criminalizing deception without the risk of bodily harm?" he asked in an interview. Doing so "has the potential to criminalize anyone who lies about any part of a sexual act, so if a woman lies about being on the Pill, that's potentially sexual assault."
Chris Levy, who teaches law at the University of Calgary, says the key question is what is a relationship problem, and merely private, and what should be dealt with by the criminal law. "Where do we draw the line and how we draw it?" He gave his first-year class an exam question last year based on the case, in which a hypothetical woman goes on the Pill and cheats on her partner, who had been led to believe they were trying to start a family, and who then goes to the police. (The students were "all over the map," but some men were "agitated because they were the ones who had been tricked.")
The case has been before the courts since 2007, after a distraught Mr. Hutchinson sent texts admitting the deception to his girlfriend after she broke up with him. She had an abortion, and endured two weeks of bleeding, blood clots, severe pain and a serious infection. Mr. Hutchinson was acquitted at his first trial, but when the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal threw out that ruling and sent it back for a second trial, he was found guilty, and sentenced to 18 months in jail. The appeal court upheld that ruling by a 4-1 count, with the dissenting judge warning of women being charged for lying about being on the Pill. (Judge David Farrar, the dissenter, said the Nova Scotia government had conceded that point about women being charged for lying about the Pill.)
The government did not directly concede it in its written argument filed with the Supreme Court. Because Mr. Hutchinson's deception was not about "the motivation for the sexual act" - which could include lies about wealth or position - but was a "deception regarding the physical sexual act," finding him guilty would not lead to charges in circumstances that could trivialize sex assault, it said.
It argued that the woman, whose name is protected by a publication ban, consented only to condom-protected sex, because she did not want to become pregnant.
Hilla Kerner, a worker at the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter, said deceiving women about condom protection should be seen as a sexual assault because it is a denial of informed consent. "There is a difference between jeopardizing women's physical health and other situations."Conservative feathers ruffled over nomination ruling
By JOSH WINGROVE
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 Print Edition, Page A8
OTTAWA -- After promising wide-open nomination races for the 2015 election, the Conservatives will instead carry over the nominations of a half-dozen candidates - a decision that's already drawing criticism within the party.
Any incumbent Conservative MP who has won a nomination since the 2011 federal election will not have to seek one again before next year's election, party brass have decided.
That means the Conservatives will avoid races in ridings that have recently held nomination battles.
All of the ridings have long been considered safe seats, although one - Brandon-Souris - was the site of a messy nomination battle last year that had the party denying allegations of interference.
The decision means four Conservative MPs who won by-elections - Erin O'Toole, Joan Crockatt, Ted Falk and Larry Maguire - won't face a nomination challenge before 2015. The same will likely be true of the eventual nominees in a pair of Alberta ridings that are currently open. In one of those ridings, Macleod, a nomination vote will end Saturday, crowning a nominee that will represent the party in both a looming by-election and the next general election.
The decision was made by the Conservatives' national council, party spokesman Cory Hann said.
"Any MP who won a nomination since the 2011 election will be recognized as the nominated candidate for the 2015 election, when Canadians will have a choice between the strong, stable leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the poor judgment of Justin Trudeau," Mr. Hann said in an e-mail. The Tories have frequently framed the election as a two-way race between them and Mr. Trudeau's Liberals.
Mr. Hann had earlier said the party would have "an open and fair nomination process for all 338 electoral districts."
The decision raised the ire of Gary Duchak, president of the Macleod Conservative riding association, where a vote will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday to select a nominee to replace departed MP Ted Menzies. "We're appealing it," Mr. Duchak said of the decision.
Canada will get a new electoral map for the 2015 election, one that adds new seats in Alberta and other provinces. That means riding boundaries are changing, in some cases substantially.
In Macleod, much of the outgoing riding overlaps with the new riding of Foothills. Nomination candidates have been told the Macleod nominee will also be the Foothills nominee in 2015. But Mr. Duchak says that's unfair to Conservative voters whose homes fall in Macleod and will fall in Foothills, saying they're being short-changed of a voting opportunity.
"We feel there should be a nomination contest ... this is not Foothills, this is Macleod, and we don't get to vote if we become Foothills. The people still in Foothills don't get to vote [again], whereas the people that are presently in Macleod that are going to another riding will be allowed to vote in that riding," Mr. Duchak said.
While he believes a new vote should be held in Foothills, he said the Electoral District Association board hadn't formally taken a position yet.
Mr. Maguire, a former provincial legislator, won a nomination battle in Brandon-Souris that divided Conservatives locally after some candidates were disqualified. The party insisted the nomination was fully transparent and carried out according to party rules. This decision means another race won't be held in that riding for several years. Mr. Maguire then only narrowly won his seat, long held by the Conservative Party and its predecessors.Ice storm funding gets mayors' cheers
By ADRIAN MORROW, ANN HUI
Thursday, February 27, 2014 Print Edition, Page A4
TORONTO -- The Ontario government is riding to the rescue of cities and towns battered by last year's ice storm, promising an estimated $190-million to cover the costs of dealing with the damage.
"What set this event apart from others is the duration and the size of the storm," Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffrey said at the legislature Wednesday. "The effects of the storm were substantial, and our response will also be substantial."
Municipal leaders, who met with Ms. Jeffrey last month to ask for provincial dollars, cheered the decision. They had initially asked the province to pay just one-third of the cost; Ms. Jeffrey's announcement signalled Ontario will pay significantly more than that.
"What the province came through with today, in my opinion, is even better [than what we wanted]," said Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, who led the push for compensation.
Ontario officials are assessing the damage and will recommend how much money to give to each municipality. Ms. Jeffrey said the total payout is a fluid number and could go up or down.
The funds will cover things such as the cost of setting up warming centres, overtime for hydro crews and cleaning up debris. The province will not pick up the tab for planting new trees or productivity lost because of the storm.
The icy blast, which saw freezing rain sweep through Ontario last December, took down tree branches and power lines, turned roads into skating rinks and shut down parts of Toronto's transit system. Hundreds of thousands of households lost power, some for more than a week.
In the wake of the storm, 32 municipalities appealed to the province for help.
Toronto city manager Joe Pennachetti estimated Toronto's share of the funding would be about $86.5-million - exactly what the city had asked the province for. According to the city's estimates, the lion's share of the ice storm's cost involved cleaning up debris. Restoring electricity, clearing ice off streets and fixing broken pipes were also drains on the city budget.
"[It's] not just good news, this is great news. I'm delighted to hear it," Toronto deputy mayor Norm Kelly, who helped direct the city's response to the storm, said at city hall after the announcement. He said that the funding "reflects the nature of the relationship between the city and the province, which is one of partnership."
At the height of the ice storm, Premier Kathleen Wynne worked directly with Mr. Kelly, and not Mayor Rob Ford - the result of a council vote in November after the mayor's crack cocaine scandal that stripped him of many of his powers. When asked whether he thought Mr. Ford could have secured the same deal from the province, the deputy mayor replied: "I'll leave that for you to decide."
Mr. Ford, in Ottawa for a big city mayors' meeting, said in a statement: "This program will help ensure that the significant costs we are facing as a result of this storm do not trickle down to Toronto taxpayers."
With a report from Josh Wingrove in OttawaCANDIDATES
By RHéAL SéGUIN
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 Print Edition, Page A3
Dissident Quebec Liberal Fatima Houda-Pepin is making a confident run for re-election as an independent candidate in the coming provincial vote, highlighting the struggles of Quebec's Liberals with the debate over the proposed charter of secular values.
An election call is widely expected on Wednesday to set up a vote on April 7.
Ms. Houda-Pepin represents the Montreal south shore riding of La Pinière, which she has easily won under the Liberal banner in the six elections since 1994. In September, 2012, she beat her nearest rival by 10,301 votes.
But she was ousted from the Liberal caucus after refusing to follow party leader Philippe Couillard in his opposition to the secular charter bill.
In a news conference on Tuesday, Ms. Houda-Pepin, the first Muslim woman to be elected to the Quebec National Assembly, attacked Mr. Couillard, saying he has been inconsistent on the secular charter.
In a surprise move on Monday, Mr. Couillard announced that the Liberal candidate in La Pinière will be Gaétan Barrette, the outgoing president of the federation of Quebec specialist physicians and a star candidate for the Coalition Avenir Québec in the 2012 election.
Mr. Barrette was one of the former Liberal government's strongest critics on health care, and would be a likely choice to for health minister should the Liberals win the election.Obama
The U.S. President's foreign policy is measured and pragmatic - which leads to criticism that he is indecisive and inconsistent. As Joanna Slater writes, even his critics acknowledge there is no workable military response by the U.S. to the current situation
By JOANNA SLATER
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 Print Edition, Page A6
U.S. President Barack Obama conducts foreign policy in a manner that is deliberate, careful and pragmatic. He shuns grand theories and readily acknowledges the limits of American power.
Now he is facing off against an adversary who displays none of those characteristics: an authoritarian leader who has a certainty about Russia's place in the world and no qualms about using force to counter a perceived threat.
The crisis in Ukraine means that those two different world views and personalities are on a collision course. For Mr. Obama, the challenge is to rally the international community behind measures aimed at punishing Russia's Vladimir Putin for his incursion into Ukrainian territory - and to deter him from venturing any farther.
The contours of what such steps might look like became clearer on Monday. The United States is readying a slate of economic sanctions, according to a spokesperson for the State Department. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is holding an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday where it will consider bulking up its forces in countries bordering Ukraine. And there are moves under way to isolate Russia diplomatically, including possible expulsion from the Group of 8 major industrialized nations.
Mr. Obama reiterated that Russia's recent actions carry a price. "Over time this will be a costly proposition for Russia," he told reporters on Monday before a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "Now is the time for them to consider whether they can serve their interests in a way that resorts to diplomacy as opposed to force."
The coming days will determine whether the international community bands together in response to the Russian seizure of Crimea. "This is one of the largest tests we've faced in a very long time," perhaps since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, said Ivo Daalder, who served as the U.S. representative to NATO until last year and is now president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "It is a test for the United States and for Barack Obama. But it really is a test to everyone, to the fundamental nature of our order."
Mr. Obama "has made it a point of policy that the United States will do less military intervention and more diplomatic intervention," said Kevin Ryan, a retired U.S. Army brigadier-general and scholar at Harvard University who previously served as a defence attaché at the U.S. embassy in Moscow. "Here is a big test of that policy. Can that be successful?"
Unlike Mr. Putin, Mr. Obama has to contend with vocal critics within his own legislature. On Monday, Republican Senator John McCain said the situation in Ukraine was "the ultimate result of a feckless foreign policy in which nobody believes in America's strength any more."
Speaking to a pro-Israel lobby group, Mr. McCain - who unsuccessfully challenged Mr. Obama for the presidency in 2008 - said Mr. Obama had misjudged Mr. Putin. "The President of the United States believes the Cold War is over. That's fine, it's over. But Putin doesn't believe it's over," Mr. McCain said.
Yet even critics like Mr. McCain acknowledge that there is no workable military response by the U.S. to the current situation. The closest thing to a show of force could come on Tuesday, when NATO meets in response to a formal request by Poland, which invoked a rule whereby any member of the alliance can call for talks if it considers its security under threat.
Those consultations could result in the redeployment of forces into Eastern Europe "to underscore that we take NATO seriously and to remind Russia that we too have options," Mr. Daalder said.
There is also a race under way to reach agreement on a menu of measures to cause economic pain to Russia and its ruling elite. Such steps could include sanctions, the freezing of assets in bank accounts outside Russia, travel bans and trade restrictions.
On Monday, the United Nations Security Council met on Monday for the third time since Friday. Russia has veto power on the council, so the group is highly unlikely to authorize any action in response to the situation in Ukraine. But diplomats were unsparing in their criticism. "There is nothing that justifies Russian conduct," said Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador, at the meeting. "It is an act of aggression. It must stop."
The U.S. and its allies are racing to reassess their approach to Russia. "We're beginning to build a different framework for our policy," Mr. Ryan said. The idea "that we could reset or have this friendly relationship has been killed."
Judging by his track record, Mr. Obama will be above all pragmatic and realistic in what the U.S. can achieve. Although he favours diplomacy, he is no peacenik. He has made extensive use of drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan and pushed ahead with a military intervention in Libya. When he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, he used his acceptance speech to underline that the use of force is sometimes necessary.
In a crisis, he relies on his close advisers but also keeps his own counsel. His kitchen cabinet in matters of foreign policy is varied: It includes Susan Rice, the current national security adviser, and Ms. Power, the UN ambassador, both of whom are associated with a more idealistic, interventionist strain of foreign policy. But it has also included a trio of senior counsellors that Mr. Obama nicknamed "the grim Irishmen," according to a recent profile in Politico magazine, all known for their clear-eyed realism.
Mr. Obama's case-by-case approach to foreign policy predicaments - intervening to prevent bloodshed in Libya, for instance, but allowing Syria to descend into civil war - has led critics to call him indecisive and inconsistent.
For now, the President isn't deviating from the measured approach that is his hallmark. As he told an interviewer in 2011, "When you start applying blanket policies on the complexities of the current world situation, you're going to get yourself into trouble."Character at heart of Pistorius trial
Prosecution expected to portray double-amputee as gun-obsessed killer while defence paints him as tragic victim
By GEOFFREY YORK
Saturday, March 1, 2014 Print Edition, Page A15
JOHANNESBURG -- Hundreds of journalists from around the world will descend on the sleepy city of Pretoria next week for "the trial of the century," as some local media are calling it. At the heart of it will be a debate over the character of a flawed hero: Olympic sprinter and double-amputee Oscar Pistorius.
Is he a gun-obsessed killer with an erratic temper? Or a tragic victim in a terrible accident that left his girlfriend dead? With no surviving eyewitnesses, except the "Blade Runner" himself, both sides in the murder trial that begins Monday will be spending much of their time arguing over the athlete's personality, his fears and anger, his dangerous hobbies and his relationships with the women in his life.
On Valentine's Day last year, Mr. Pistorius was arrested for shooting his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, through a bathroom door with his 9mm pistol. He says he thought she was an intruder who had broken through the bathroom window of his luxury home in a gated compound. Prosecutors will maintain that he knew exactly whom he was shooting.
Mr. Pistorius is a South African sports icon who captured global fame for overcoming his childhood leg amputations and challenging able-bodied athletes in world competitions, finally winning the right to race in the Olympics itself, rather than solely the Paralympics, with the help of carbon-fibre blades.
So famous is he, and so compelling is his life story, that the trial that begins on Monday is being compared to the most famous murder prosecution of recent decades: the trial of U.S. football superstar O.J. Simpson in 1995.
For the first time in South Africa, TV networks have obtained court permission to broadcast most of the trial live, using small remote-controlled cameras. One local satellite TV network is even launching an entire channel to broadcast solely the latest Pistorius reports for the duration of the trial.
Presiding in the courtroom will be Thokozile Matilda Masipa, a highly regarded judge and the second black woman to become a judge in South Africa. She is described as a strong supporter of women's rights. She will be assisted by two assessors. South Africa abolished jury trials in 1969.
A large portion of the trial will focus on Mr. Pistorius and his well-known love of guns. Two gun-related charges were added to the original indictment, repeating the allegation from several witnesses that he had previously fired an automatic handgun in two public places - a busy Johannesburg restaurant and the open sunroof of a car on a public road.
One headline in a South African newspaper, just a week before the trial, promised to bring readers "inside Oscar's angry world." The report speculated about his "violent reaction" to perceived threats because of his amputated legs and the "insecurity" that created.
This kind of psychological guesswork could be a foreshadowing of a deluge to come. Legal reporters in South Africa have predicted that it will be an "ugly" trial, marked by what the defence will describe as a "character assassination" of the Olympic athlete. Prosecutors will insist that the evidence of previous gun violations is relevant to the murder charges, since it demonstrates a volatile temper and a readiness to pull the trigger without good cause.
Much of the trial testimony will dissect the relationship between Mr. Pistorius and his fashion-model girlfriend. According to witness lists and leaked statements before the trial, the prosecutors will suggest that Mr. Pistorius and Ms. Steenkamp were loudly arguing before the shooting, with her screams echoing through the night air of the compound, before the gunshots abruptly silenced them.
At a bail hearing last year, the defence suggested that the witnesses were too far away to hear what was happening.
In another new development, the prosecution has reportedly accepted that Mr. Pistorius was on his stumps, rather than his prosthetic legs, when he moved toward the bathroom and shot Ms. Steenkamp. This might give some support to the defence argument that he was afraid of an intruder and rushed quickly to the bathroom without taking time to don his artificial legs.
Parallel to the murder trial will be a fierce battle for public opinion, since Mr. Pistorius is still hoping to revive his lucrative career as a celebrity competitor at track events around the world.
He has been portrayed in the local media as a party animal who loved fast cars, racehorses and night life. Even after his arrest and bail hearing last year, there were reports that he was still hitting the night clubs in Johannesburg.
But the Pistorius camp is putting out a different spin. One report, quoting a source "close to him," gives a portrait of the athlete as a quiet and reflective man who "asks people to pray for Reeva's family." This week, the Pistorius publicity machine announced a new weapon in its arsenal: a Twitter feed, @OscarHardTruth, to give his side of the story throughout the trial. Its tagline: "Truth shall prevail, innocent until proven guilty."Pistorius portrayed as arrogant, angry
Witnesses testifying at his murder trial describe him as being obsessed with guns and willing to lie to save his reputation
By GEOFFREY YORK
Saturday, March 8, 2014 Print Edition, Page A16
JOHANNESBURG -- Follow The Globe and Mail's Africa correspondent Geoffrey York as he tweets from Oscar Pistorius's murder trial.
The shock of the Oscar Pistorius murder charge was always its unexplained contrast to his glossy media image. For years, he had been painted in heroic terms: courageous and quietly resolute, a man of huge fearlessness who overcame a double amputation to reach Olympian heights of athleticism.
But at his murder trial this week, an entirely different side of his personality has emerged. Witnesses have portrayed him as arrogant and angry, obsessed with guns, reckless with weapons and willing to lie to save his reputation.
Both sides of his character are on display in the Pretoria courtroom where he faces charges of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day last year. On the defendant's bench, he is humble, polite, sorrowful and grieving. Yet on the witness stand, the testimony has hinted at a nastier side.
So far, only prosecution witnesses have been heard. A different side of his character will be depicted when the defence builds its own case later. Yet the defence cross-examination this week has failed to shake the witnesses who recounted disturbing incidents of rage, hostility and a sense of being above the law.
Earlier this week, a friend of Mr. Pistorius described how the "Blade Runner" discharged a pistol in a busy restaurant, firing a bullet into the floor, not far from where a child was sitting, and then asked a friend to take the blame for the shooting so that he could avoid any "media hype."
On Friday, another shooting incident was disclosed. One of his ex-girlfriends, Samantha Taylor, testified that Mr. Pistorius fired his 9 mm pistol through a car's open sunroof because he was "irritated" at a policeman who had picked up the pistol after stopping the car for speeding.
Mr. Pistorius is charged with firearms offences for the incidents in the restaurant and the car. He has denied all charges, including the murder charge, saying he mistook Ms. Steenkamp for an intruder.
Ms. Taylor, who started dating Mr. Pistorius when she was 17 and had a relationship with him for most of 2011 and 2012, testified that Mr. Pistorius carried his pistol with him everywhere, slept with the gun at his side at night and was often ready to use it.
Ms. Taylor testified that Mr. Pistorius fired the pistol through the car's sunroof on a road near Johannesburg, a few minutes after a policeman stopped the car. She said his pistol had been visible on a car seat and the policeman picked it up and emptied its magazine, which infuriated Mr. Pistorius. "You're not allowed to touch my gun," he shouted at the policeman.
As they drove away, with Ms. Taylor in the back seat, Mr. Pistorius and his friend in the driver's seat were still angry at the policeman, and they joked about how they should shoot out a traffic light, she said. Then he fired a bullet through the sunroof, making a very loud noise, and the two friends laughed about it, she said.
In a separate incident, she said, Mr. Pistorius brandished his pistol at the window of a car that seemed to be following them home, apparently threatening the driver. And in another incident, she said, he drew the pistol and carried it around in his house when he thought he heard an intruder.
She also described a hot-tempered side of Mr. Pistorius, saying that he had often screamed angrily at her, her sister and her closest friends.
Ms. Taylor said she ended the relationship with Mr. Pistorius in November, 2012, when he "cheated" on her by dating Ms. Steenkamp. They also broke up earlier when he dated another woman, she said.
In other testimony on Friday, a security guard said Mr. Pistorius told him "everything is fine" when the guard phoned his home after the Valentine's Day shooting. The guard, Pieter Baba, said he went to the house a few minutes after the phone call and was shocked to see Mr. Pistorius carrying the fatally wounded body of Ms. Steenkamp down the stairs.Companies worry about sanctions
Canadian businesses hope they don't suffer a backlash from Moscow, while Western Europe is keen to have Russian gas flowing
By ERIC REGULY
Monday, March 3, 2014 Print Edition, Page A4
ROME -- John Kerry's warning that Russia faces economic sanctions unless Russian President Vladimir Putin withdraws his forces from Ukraine had business groups dreading an escalating political crisis that could damage their Russian activities.
Using Sunday news programs to deliver his threat, Mr. Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State who is to visit Kiev on Tuesday, called Mr. Putin's deployment of troops in the southern Ukrainian region of Crimea an "incredible act of aggression." He said Western countries are "prepared to put sanctions in place, they're prepared to isolate Russia economically."
The options he mentioned included visa bans, trade isolation, asset freezes and a boycott of the G8 summit in June in Sochi.
Canadian companies that do business in Russia were wary about delving into a political debate about Russia's behaviour in Crimea but, through their umbrella group, the Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association (CERBA), said they hoped not to get caught into the Western backlash against Mr. Putin.
"Russia is an important, high-growth market for Canadian companies," said Lou Naumovski, the CERBA chairman who is also the director of the Moscow office of Toronto's Kinross Gold, one of the biggest Canadian investors in Russia. "We would hope for a balanced and measured response from our government that factors in the interests of Canadian businesses active in Russia."
Kinross said none of its mining activities has been affected by the crisis.
"We are monitoring the situation in Russia and the Ukraine closely," the company said in a statement. "Our operations are thousands of kilometres from Ukraine in Russia's far east and have not been affected in any way."
CERBA members with presences in Russia include Bombardier, Imax, BlackBerry and SNC-Lavalin. In 2012, the amount of direct Canadian investment in Russia was $4.8-billion, up from $1.2-billion in 2010, according to Statistics Canada.
Some analysts doubt that any sanctions would damage Russia. "The threat to the Russian economy from the escalation of the crisis and threats from the West is quite minimal," Chris Weafer, senior partner at Moscow's Macro-Advisory, said in a Sunday note. "Eighty per cent of the country's exports are commodities and the bulk of the rest is defence equipment and grains and other goods not likely to be subject to restrictions."
The European Union might be wary of imposing more than symbolic sanctions because Russia is the biggest single supplier of natural gas to Western Europe - the main pipelines run through Ukraine and Belarus - and has not shied away from using gas supplies and pricing as a geopolitical tool. In the past decade, Russia has cut or restricted gas supplies to Ukraine and presumably could do the same to Western Europe.
Ukraine's solvency appears to be the bigger risk as the crisis escalates. The country is back in recession and the corporate bond yields of its biggest companies are soaring, as a sign of waning investor confidence. "The major impact [of the crisis] will potentially be felt in the Ukraine economy which is already reeling from the disruption of the past three months and facing significant short-term pressures," Mr. Weafer said.
Ukraine has been a ward of the International Monetary Fund for years though it has never been happy with progress on reforms offered by the Kiev government in exchange for the loans. The IMF has frozen loans to Ukraine twice since 2008.
The IMF is to visit Kiev this week in an attempt to negotiate a new loan package. Some economists are speculating that the conditions attached to any loans would be softened, given the country's economic state.
Ukraine is in desperate need for funds. The central bank's currency reserves are dwindling rapidly and, according to Russia's Commerzbank, the government must make about $6.5-billion (U.S.) in foreign debt payments this year and requires another $6.5-billion to cover a current account deficit.Prosecutors zero in on prior shooting
'Blade Runner' is alleged to have asked a friend to take blame for a discharged gun at a restaurant weeks before girlfriend's death
By GEOFFREY YORK
Thursday, March 6, 2014 Print Edition, Page A13
JOHANNESBURG -- Less than three days into the Oscar Pistorius murder trial, prosecutors have abruptly shifted the spotlight away from the night when he shot his girlfriend, using an entirely separate shooting to paint the Olympic hero as a reckless gun-handler who lied to save his reputation.
The new tactic is a risky one, suggesting that the prosecution has a shortage of witnesses on its main charge that Mr. Pistorius deliberately killed Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year. But it introduces an incident where the facts seem clearer and less disputable.
A witness testified on Wednesday that Mr. Pistorius fired a pistol at a crowded restaurant in Johannesburg in January, 2013, and asked a friend to take the blame, just weeks before he shot his girlfriend.
"Just say it was you," the Olympic athlete told his friend, according to the testimony by another friend, professional boxer Kevin Lerena, who said that Mr. Pistorius didn't want any "attention" or "media hype" about the restaurant incident.
Defence lawyer Barry Roux insisted that the restaurant shooting was a complete accident, caused when Mr. Pistorius was checking the pistol to ensure it was safe. He said Mr. Pistorius was angry when he realized that his friend had passed him a loaded weapon, since he hadn't heard him say that it had a bullet in the chamber.
Mr. Pistorius, the "Blade Runner" who gained worldwide fame as the first double-amputee to compete against able-bodied athletes at the Olympics, is charged with murder for shooting Ms. Steenkamp through a bathroom door at his luxury Pretoria home.
He is also charged with firearms offences in connection with two separate shooting incidents, including the gunshot at the restaurant in Johannesburg in January, 2013. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, saying he thought Ms. Steenkamp was an intruder.
The shooting incident took place when Darren Fresco, a friend of Mr. Pistorius, passed a gun to the Olympic athlete under their table at Tashas, a popular restaurant in an upscale shopping mall, Mr. Lerena testified.
Mr. Fresco warned Mr. Pistorius that there was a bullet in the gun's chamber, but moments later the gun went off, leaving a hole in the floor, Mr. Lerena said. After the shooting, he said, Mr. Pistorius apologized and asked: "Is everyone okay?" Then he asked Mr. Fresco to take the blame, the boxer testified.
Mr. Lerena said he saw blood on his toe after the shooting. He described it as "a little graze" that did not require medical attention, although he said he was shocked by the incident.
The court also heard testimony from the restaurant owners, Jason and Maria Loupis, who said Mr. Fresco took the blame for the shooting incident. He told them that the gun had fallen out of his pants.
Earlier on Wednesday, a witness revealed how he had received an "intimidating" phone call from a Pistorius supporter after his private cellphone number was disclosed in court. The witness, Charl Johnson, lives about 180 metres from the Pistorius home and has testified that he heard a woman's terrified screams, finally silenced by gunshots.
In his cross-examination on Wednesday, Mr. Roux said there were too many coincidences between Mr. Johnson's testimony and earlier testimony by his wife, including the same phrases and words. He suggested the couple had collaborated on their statements, "contaminating" their testimony.
Mr. Roux said the "gunshots" heard by Mr. Johnson were actually the sound of a cricket bat hitting the bathroom door as Mr. Pistorius battered down the door to reach Ms. Steenkamp after the shooting.THE SEARCH FOR YANUKOVYCH
By MARK MACKINNON
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 Print Edition, Page A9
With a warrant issued for his arrest over the "mass killing of civilians" and his once-unquestioned presidential power in tatters, Viktor Yanukovych appears to have embarked on a cross-country journey over the past three days to parts of Ukraine where he is most likely to find friends, according to the acting head of the police.
Sightings and speculation have followed Mr. Yanukovych, but on Monday, as his exact whereabouts remained unknown, acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakhov posted on his official Facebook page a rundown of where Mr. Yanukovych has been sighted since leaving Kiev on Friday.
Mr. Yanukovych surfaced Saturday in the eastern city of Kharkiv, just 40 kilometres from the Russian border, in the heartland of his base of support. In a videotaped interview, he bitterly likened opposition protesters to Nazis and declared he was still president and would not leave the country. That was his last public appearance.
Zurab Alasania, a journalist in Kharkiv, said he was certain Mr. Yanukovych had stayed Saturday night at an unofficial - but well-known - presidential residence in the forest outside the city. Mr. Alasania said that he had seen Mr. Yanukovych himself, and that the deposed president had been in the company of Andriy Klyuev, his chief-of-staff, and several bodyguards. Former speaker of parliament Volodymyr Rybak - who has since deserted his former boss - was also there, Mr. Alasania said.
Mr. Yanukovych had been expected to appear Saturday at a conference of pro-Russian politicians in Kharkiv, but after recording his video address, he instead headed south by helicopter to Donetsk, where he reportedly tried to board a charter flight headed to Russia. The plane was blocked, however, by border guards because it lacked the proper documentation to fly out of the country, and after spending a few hours in a state residence, Mr. Yanukovych and his entourage left by car about 10 p.m., headed for Crimea in the south of the country.
According to Mr. Avakhov, after a long night of driving, the cortege on Sunday reached the Crimean peninsula, which dangles into the Black Sea some 400 kilometres southwest of Donetsk. Instead of using a state residence in the area, the motorcade stopped at a private sanatorium, one of many that dot the popular resort area. There, Mr. Yanukoych learned that the parliament had granted presidential powers to a new speaker.
The group hastily left for a military airport in the city of Sevastopol, but learned that Mr. Avakhov and the new head of the national security service were there, according to the police account. They turned back.
Mr. Yanukovych and his entourage then went to a private residence in the coastal town of Balaclava, arriving just before midnight, according to Mr. Avakhov. There, Mr. Yanukovych asked who of his security contingent wanted to stay with him. Finding that only a few were still loyal, he scrawled a note relinquishing his guards. Mr. Avakhov then wrote that Mr. Yanukovych, Mr. Klyuyev and the remaining loyal guards then got into three cars and "left in an unknown direction."
Asked where he thought Mr. Yanukovych now was, Oleg Zakapko, a leader of the growing pro-Western protests in Kharkiv, picked up his mobile phone and called activists in Balaclava, where Mr. Yanukovych reportedly owned a sprawling seafront property and a luxury yacht. "Is the president there?" Mr. Zakapko asked. "He's left and gone to Yalta," came the reply. "I can see from here that the bandit's yacht is missing."
and Associated PressLibya readies to prosecute Gadhafi's son
By ESAM MOHAMED
Associated Press, with a report from Greg McArthur in Toronto
Friday, March 7, 2014 Print Edition, Page A9
TRIPOLI -- One of Moammar Gadhafi's sons, al-Saadi, was extradited on Thursday to Libya from Niger, where he had taken refuge as his father's regime crumbled in 2011, bringing cheers from Libyans as the government prepares to prosecute him for his alleged role in trying to suppress the uprising against his father's rule.
Mr. Gadhafi becomes the second son of the ousted and slain leader to be held in custody in Libya. His brother Seif al-Islam was captured in 2011 and has been held in a western mountain prison by a militia that is putting him on trial, refusing to hand him over to the central government for trial.
A playboy with a lavish lifestyle who once owned a penthouse condominium unit in downtown Toronto, Mr. Gadhafi headed a brigade of special forces that was involved in the crackdown against protesters and rebels during the revolution. But during his father's long reign as absolute leader, he also was courted by one of Canada's largest engineering and construction companies.
Since the collapse of the Gadhafi regime, anti-corruption authorities in Canada and Switzerland have been probing Mr. Gadhafi's close ties to SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., the Montreal-based engineering giant. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have alleged in court documents that, over a period of about 10 years, SNC funnelled an estimated $160-million in bribes to the dictator's son in an effort to secure government contracts.
In February, 2011, when Mr. Gadhafi is alleged to have overseen an attack on demonstrators in the Libyan city of Benghazi, he was also serving as the head of a joint venture between SNC and Libya's Military Engineering Corps. The joint venture was created to build civilian infrastructure and one of its first projects was constructing a $275-million prison. SNC has said that the joint venture had nothing to do with "military technology, munitions or combat."
In pre-revolution Libya, he was also notorious for his dark career in soccer, the country's most popular sport. He treated the country's soccer league as his personal fiefdom, and played for several Libyan teams and for an Italian team until he failed a drug test. At various times, he headed the country's soccer federation and its national team.
In one case, security forces opened fire on fans in a 1996 match attended by Mr. Gadhafi, killing a number of people in murky circumstances. He is also suspected in the 2005 killing of Bashir al-Riyani, a popular Libyan soccer player who was a vocal critic of the regime.
Cars honked horns in celebration in the streets of the capital, Tripoli, when his extradition was announced in the early hours of the morning. In the evening, fireworks went off as people cheered and waved flags in the street.
A Libyan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said the 40-year-old Mr. Gadhafi arrived from Niger in the early hours on Thursday at the Tripoli airport and was transferred to Tripoli's al-Hadaba prison.
Speaking to Al Arabiya television, Culture Minister al-Habib al-Ameen denied reports that Libya paid billions of dollars to Niger to hand over Mr. Gadhafi.An act of bravery and defiance on the airfield
By PAUL WALDIE
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 Print Edition, Page A11
SEVASTOPOL, UKRAINE -- As a military operation it will go down as a failure. But give one brave Ukrainian military unit high marks for trying.
On Tuesday about 300 Ukrainian soldiers stationed at the Belbek air base in Sevastopol in Crimea got fed up with Russian troops occupying their airfield for three days and decided to do something about it. They gathered together and marched up the hill to the airfield, carrying nothing but the Ukrainian flag and a soccer ball. As they drew closer, a Russian soldier fired a few shots into the air over their heads. But they kept going, signing the national anthem while they marched.
Finally a Ukrainian officer got to the Russian front line and made a request: Could we have our base back? Several hours of negotiation ensued with the Ukrainians ultimately proposing joint management of the facility. In the end they were turned down. The base would remain in Russian hands.
Defeated, the Ukrainians marched back down the hill to their barracks, but not before playing a quick game of soccer while the negotiations dragged on. The Russians stayed, guarding the military jets and setting up patrols just off the runway.
As they headed back to the barracks, the Ukrainians got a cheer from a small group of onlookers who gathered at the gates. The men had been barricaded inside their barracks since the Russian takeover three days ago, but now they were free to roam around as the Russians stuck to the airstrip up the hill.
Commander Yuli Manchur said he was afraid at first that the Russians might open fire. "We don't want to fight with them, and they don't want to fight also," he said. The unit's objective was to make sure their equipment had been properly maintained, which is why they asked to run the airstrip jointly, he said.
Once inside the gates, the soldiers hugged their wives, mingled with each other and chatted with media about their expedition. For the wives there was relief that the siege of the base and the trek up the hill ended without anyone getting hurt.
"Of course we were worried," said Katya Zenidovich, whose husband was among the soldiers.
"I can't express the feeling that I had when I saw him alive," added Yulia Filoneko, who hugged her husband Lieutenant Igor Filoneko tightly. "We only felt that there was something scary and horrible."
Ms. Filoneko issued a plea for politicians to sort out the tension between Crimea, Russia and Ukraine. "Ordinary soldiers, whether Russian or Ukrainian, they don't understand what's going on. ... Both sides have children and families. This is not a conflict between the armies, they understand each other, it's a conflict at a higher level."
Lt. Filoneko also said he had no interest in leaving the Ukrainian army to join a Crimean force, something planned by the local government, which is moving to break away from Ukraine. "I am Ukrainian," he said, adding that he has Russian and Polish roots too. "This is Ukrainian territory and now it is under Russian control. ... We are here to protect not only Ukrainians, but also the whole of Ukraine, including Crimea."Crimea has long history at centre of regional conflicts
Globe staff with a report from Agence France-Presse
Thursday, February 27, 2014 Print Edition, Page A10
Crimea, a peninsula separating the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, has been at the centre of military and commercial competition throughout history. The Romans set up naval bases there as early as the first century AD, ancient peoples from the Scythians to Byzantine Greeks used it as a base for farming and maritime commerce, and empires clashed over it as a prime Black Sea possession for centuries. Russia took possession in 1783.
In the mid-1800s, Britain and France, backing the feeble Ottoman sultan, fought the Russian empire over Crimea - and more importantly, its importance for control of the passage from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. Then, as now, Sevastopol was home to the Russian Black Sea fleet, and the European powers fought furiously to seize it. Although the Crimean War ended in an effective stalemate, its fierce and epic battles left a lasting mark on European memory, including the Battle of Balaklava that inspired Alfred Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade and, years later, Rudyard Kipling's The Last of the Light Brigade.
In the First World War, German forces took Crimea and part of Ukraine from the weakened Russian czar, and Bolshevik forces and White Russian soldiers battled in Crimea after the 1917 Russian revolution. With the establishment of the Soviet Union, Crimea was made an autonomous republic for Crimean Tatars, who had been on the peninsula since the 13th century. Again, control changed in the Second World War when Germany occupied Crimea after Sevastopol fell in 1942.
In 1954, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave the peninsula as a gift to Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine. At the time, neither he nor anyone else foresaw the Soviet Union's collapse. But collapse it did, and Crimea stayed within newly independent Ukraine in 1992 as an autonomous region. The Russian fleet, though, settled in the only deep-water port providing access to Western markets, has been an irritant between Moscow and Kiev ever since.
In 2010, after years of conflict on the issue, the Russian and Ukrainian parliaments extended by 25 years Russia's lease on the port of Sevastopol, in exchange for a 30-per-cent reduction in the price of Russian gas.Ford eyes BlackBerry software
As smartphone maker transitions to software services, automotive industry is key source of revenue
By OMAR EL AKKAD, GREG KEENAN
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 Print Edition, Page B3
BlackBerry Ltd.'s transformation from smartphone maker to software services provider is starting to take shape.
The company that once dominated the smartphone market is in the process of making some of its most popular software available on a variety of new platforms, including its messaging system on rival smartphones and its user interface technology on Ford's in-car entertainment and information consoles.
On Monday, Bloomberg reported that Ford Motor Co., which currently uses a Microsoft Windows-based system called Sync in many of its vehicles, plans to switch to an operating system designed by BlackBerry subsidiary QNX. A number of other car manufacturers already use QNX-based systems in their vehicles, and the automotive industry represents a significant revenue source for the company. QNX has been one of BlackBerry's most successful assets since the smartphone maker purchased it in 2010.
For BlackBerry, such a deal would prove a major win as the company struggles to reinvent itself from a mobile hardware maker to a service-oriented firm.
"If the Ford item is true, and imagining it's a multiyear deal, that's good news obviously, a recurring source of revenue," said Kaan Yigit, president of Toronto-based Solutions Research Group. "But it's a software deal and I don't know what it would amount to in relative [dollar] terms so it's hard to judge."
Mr. Yigit said Ford's move is illustrative of a wider trend among car companies to give up on proprietary user interfaces in their entertainment and information consoles, opting instead for more universal software designed by firms that specialize in such products.
Complaints among Ford drivers about the reliability of Sync indicate that the Ford system is among the worst, said Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports magazine.
"We've had issues of the system locking up, the screen going blank, a lot off issues," Mr. Fisher said. "The problem with it is it's not really just a radio; some of the primary functions of the vehicle are there. The climate control is built into the system. If you lose function of that, you've lost quite a bit of function."
He noted that Audi AG and BMW AG use QNX as their operating system and the magazine's survey shows those two luxury auto brands have been relatively trouble-free.
Consulting firm J.D. Power and Associates, which surveys new car owners every year for its initial quality study, found last year that problems with such electronics systems as navigation, Bluetooth connections for cellphones and other technology issues dominated the complaints among new owners of all brands.
Ford ranked near the bottom of the survey last year, with owners of Ford vehicles reporting 131 problems, compared with the industry average of 113.
A Ford spokesperson declined to comment on the BlackBerry deal, saying: "Ford works with a variety of partners and suppliers to develop and continuously improve our in-car connectivity systems for customers. We do not discuss details of our work with others or speculate on future products for competitive reasons."
A BlackBerry spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
News of the Ford deal comes as BlackBerry expands its software offerings on an entirely different front. The company will make its popular BlackBerry Messenger chat software available on Windows-based phones and on upcoming devices from one-time top rival Nokia. The move echoes a similar one that recently saw BlackBerry release BBM - once exclusive to the company's own smartphones - for smartphones running on Apple and Google software.
Even as its smartphone sales drop, BlackBerry's BBM software has done fairly well, racking up some 80 million users. Last week, the company saw its stock price increase slightly after a similar (albeit far more popular) messaging tool called WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook for a whopping $19-billion (U.S.).
But as with the Ford deal, the BBM service expansion may signal a change in BlackBerry's corporate direction, but still offers no guarantees that the change will result in a return to large-scale profitability.
"It's nice to say we will be a services company," Mr. Yigit said. "But that will be a fraction of the overall business that's eroding, the way I see it at the moment."
Close: $10.87, up 70¢
Close: $15.18 (U.S.), up 2¢Poloz holds steady as inflation fears subside
Bank of Canada leaves key rate unchanged; no movement expected for at least a year
By BARRIE MCKENNA
Thursday, March 6, 2014 Print Edition, Page B3
OTTAWA -- Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz still frets about ultra-low inflation - just not quite as much as he did a couple of months ago.
And with that subtle shift in Mr. Poloz's worry-meter, economists reckon the odds of an interest rate cut just got a lot longer Wednesday as the central bank left its key overnight rate unchanged at 1 per cent.
In its rate statement, the central bank dialled back recent anxieties about disinflation. It acknowledged that prices are rising a bit faster than expected so far this year, but it also cautioned that "downside risks to inflation remain important."
"Excess supply in the economy and competition in the retail sector will keep inflation well below the 2 per cent target this year," the bank said in its second rate announcement of 2014.
Mr. Poloz has previously warned about worsening disinflation risks, sparking speculation about a possible rate cut to boost the economy. The bank uses monetary policy to try to keep inflation running at or near a 2-per-cent annual rate.
The bottom line is that Mr. Poloz has no pressing reasons to either cut or raise rates. Most economists expect the central bank's next move will be a rate hike, probably in mid-2015.
"This is likely to keep the bank sidelined until there is clear evidence that both the economy and inflation are accelerating," Royal Bank assistant chief economist Dawn Desjardins said.
Bank of Montreal chief economist Douglas Porter said the latest statement marks "one of the few times" Mr. Poloz hasn't fuelled talk of possible lower rates.
"The bank maintains a relatively upbeat view on the global and Canadian economy, but they continue to frame that view in extremely cautious language, driving home the point that they are not inclined to do anything with rates for quite some time," Mr. Porter said in a research note.
The Bank of Canada hasn't changed its trend-setting overnight rate since September, 2010. The bank's next rate announcement is slated for April 16, at which time it will also update its forecasts.
Also weighing on Mr. Poloz's mind is the Ukrainian crisis, which the bank said has added a jolt of "geopolitical uncertainty" to the global economic outlook.
The central bank dismissed recent warnings from Deutsche Bank and others about an overvalued housing market. "Recent data support the bank's expectations of a soft landing in the housing market" and stabilizing household debt levels, the statement said.
Over all, the bank said a number of key measures of the economy are starting to look better, including inflation, GDP growth and exports.
The central bank said inflation is now running "slightly higher than expected," although not enough to change its longer-range forecast of gradually rising price pressures. The bank doesn't expect inflation to reach 2 per cent until late next year or early 2016.
The consumer price index rose at a higher-than-expected 1.5-per-cent annual pace in January - the fastest in 19 months.
The central bank also said economic growth is "stronger than anticipated," growing at an annual rate of 2.5 per cent in the fourth quarter and faster than earlier in the year following revisions by Statistics Canada. "Exports have been a little stronger than previously thought but continue to underperform, and overall business investment has yet to pick up," it said.
The net result is that the bank's forecast of 2.5-per-cent GDP growth for the Canadian economy this year remains unchanged, although it acknowledged that the first three months are likely to be "softer." The central bank is still looking for the United States to spur Canada's economy in the months ahead - despite recent slower U.S. growth, which it blamed on winter storms and frigid temperatures.At our core, a tale of two Canadas
By DAVID PARKINSON
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 Print Edition, Page B2
When you talk about Canada's current economic challenges, there's a legitimate question that must now be asked: Which Canada do you mean?
Toronto-Dominion Bank's latest Metro Beat report on the economic state of Canada's cities - the true core unit of economic activity in any developed country - illustrates the wildly uneven nature of the national economic recovery, and the deep divisions along geographic lines. If you needed evidence of the two-speed nature of the Canadian economy, it's right there in the numbers.
The weighted average unemployment rate for cities west of the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border is more than two percentage points lower than the major cities in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba. The Western cities are creating almost twice as many jobs as the rest of the country combined, and roughly triple the pace of Central Canada. Average personal incomes in Western cities are about 15 per cent higher than in cities in the rest of Canada.
Little wonder, then, that the Western cities are expected to post economic growth, on average, of nearly 3 per cent this year - a full percentage point higher than the major urban centres in the rest of the country. Canada's growth ship is listing distinctly to the east.
Perhaps most troublesome for policy makers, both at the Bank of Canada and the federal Finance department, are the night-and-day disparities on their two most critical economic files: Inflation and the housing sector. The commonly told tale has been that the former is dangerously cold ("disinflation") and the latter dangerously hot ("housing bubble"). But while disinflation may be an issue in Ontario and Quebec (average city inflation rate of 1.4 per cent), it's non-existent across the Prairie cities (average 2.5 per cent). Housing looks stubbornly bubbly in most Western cities (year-over-year home sales up an average of 12 per cent), but cooling in Central Canada (down 3.8 per cent) and positively depressed in the key Atlantic-region cities (down 21.4 per cent). An average home in the West is more than double the price of an average home on the East Coast.
But how do you craft policy to address problems that don't exist in large swaths of the country? How can any national policy address such wide divergences adequately?
The short answer is, it can't. Policy makers are walking a delicate tightrope. Their default position - and it may be the most reasonable one - is to focus on the biggest problems affecting the most people. If policy is going to tip in one direction over another, it will be to Central Canada - which still accounts for more than half of the country's urban population. This may be why the temptation recently has been for Ottawa to put disinflation-fighting monetary policy ahead of its housing and consumer-debt worries.
In the longer run, though, perhaps Ottawa is onto something when it talks about the country's labour shortages and mismatches. In a perfect economic model, the regional discrepancies in growth, employment and earnings would lure workers from the disadvantaged to the advantaged cities, eventually bringing the overall economy better into balance. Yet despite surging populations in Western cities, Statistics Canada data show that interprovincial migration has actually been trending downward for the better part of two decades.
In short, people aren't moving to the places where the economy most needs them - and this is magnifying economic imbalances. The discrepancies scream for the need to remove interprovincial barriers to labour mobility - reform things like skills training, taxation, benefits and certification systems to promote migration where they now too often discourage it. It may be the best route to keeping these short-term imbalances from becoming a long-term economic and political headache.CMHC primes market for announcement
Speculation mounts that mortgage insurer will raise premiums, boosting the cost of a home for some
By TARA PERKINS
Thursday, February 27, 2014 Print Edition, Page B3
REAL ESTATE REPORTER
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., the Crown corporation that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has been seeking to rein in, says it will be making an announcement later this week.
The mortgage insurer, which appointed former investment banker Evan Siddall as its new chief executive officer at the start of the year, would not comment on the substance of the announcement. The Globe and Mail reported in December that there has been pressure on CMHC to raise its premiums, a move that could add to the cost of a home for some buyers. CMHC has not raised its premiums since the late 1990s, and actually lowered them between 2003 and 2005.
Mortgage insurance is mandatory in Canada for buyers whose down payment is less than 20 per cent. The insurance covers the lender, or bank, in case the homeowner defaults.
While premiums are technically paid by the lenders, the cost is passed along to borrowers. Premiums vary depending on the size of the down payment and are calculated as a percentage of the mortgage. The smaller the down payment, the higher the premium. For example, the standard premium is 1 per cent for a mortgage with a loan-to-value ratio of 80 per cent, and 2.75 per cent for a mortgage with a loan-to-value ratio of 95 per cent.
CMHC has two private-sector rivals: Genworth MI Canada Inc., and Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Co. They tend to match CMHC's prices because the Crown corporation is by far the biggest competitor. Industry sources say the private-sector players have been reluctant to raise prices on their own, for fear of losing business, but they have told the federal government that they would like to see CMHC raise its premiums.
The private-sector players argue that higher premiums are overdue because mortgage insurers have been required to bolster the amount of capital that they set aside in recent years, and flat prices coupled with higher capital requirements have put pressure on profit growth.
CMHC earned almost $1.28-billion in the first nine months of 2013.
While it's not clear whether CMHC will now be raising its premiums, such a move would fit with Mr. Flaherty's desire to keep a lid on the mortgage market, because imposing a new cost on home buyers could have a small dampening effect on the market.
Mr. Flaherty has taken numerous steps in recent years to curb the growth of consumer debt and house prices. He tightened the mortgage insurance rules in July 2012 to, among other things, cut the maximum length of insured mortgages to 25 years from 30. In this month's federal budget, he noted that "the government continues to implement measures to increase market discipline in residential lending and reduce taxpayer exposure to the housing sector."
He has cut the amount of portfolio, or bulk, insurance that CMHC can sell this year to $9-billion from $11-billion. The Crown corporation will be allowed to guarantee only up to $80-billion worth of National Housing Act mortgage-backed securities this year, down $5-billion from the previous year's limit, and up to $40-billion of Canada Mortgage Bonds, a $10-billion reduction from last year's limit.
Mr. Flaherty has also begun to charge CMHC new risk fees, equivalent to 3.25 per cent of the mortgage insurance premiums it writes and 10 basis points on portfolio insurance it writes. (A basis point is 1/100th of a percentage point.)Inefficiencies and tough market conditions catch up to Qantas
By IAIN MARLOW
Saturday, March 1, 2014 Print Edition, Page B3
SYDNEY -- ASIA-PACIFIC CORRESPONDENT
John Tate was piloting a two-engine Boeing 777 across the Pacific a few years ago when he began a cockpit-to-cockpit chat with another pilot flying a similar route for Qantas Airways Ltd., Australia's flag carrier.
They talked about their passenger and freight loads, and Mr. Tate noted the Qantas pilot was flying an aging, four-engine Boeing 747. Crunching the numbers, Mr. Tate, a 30-year industry veteran who has flown for Cathay Pacific and other airlines, estimated his rival was burning about 30 per cent more fuel - roughly two additional tonnes of it per hour.
"The inefficiencies of their fleet are huge," he says of Qantas. "It's definitely old, decrepit."
This week, Qantas's lagging performance finally caught up with it. The battered airline announced a sweeping restructuring that will lead to 5,000 job cuts and a $2-billion Australian ($1.97-billion) cost-reduction amid what chief executive Alan Joyce called "the toughest market conditions [Qantas] has ever faced."
The airline - nicknamed the Flying Kangaroo for its iconic logo - has struggled with record-high fuel costs and fierce competition from Virgin Australia, and its troubles could spread further afield.
The airline's difficulties now put Prime Minister Tony Abbott's freshly elected conservative government in a tough position. With Australia's automotive and manufacturing industries in retreat, there is growing pressure for Mr. Abbott and the opposition to agree on some sort of government assistance for Qantas. That could mean bumping the airline's foreign ownership levels beyond 49 per cent to enable a fresh injection of cash, or easing its borrowing costs.
The importance of the brand as well as the sheer size of the job losses in Australia have amplified the pressure on all sides, and the company's unions are now threatening to strike.
Qantas reported a $252-million half-year loss as it revealed the restructuring. The airline will defer or sell 50 aircraft, and send aging, fuel-guzzling jets, such as the 747 flown by Mr. Tate's transpacific acquaintance, into early retirement. But, even though Qantas says these moves will lower the average age of its fleet to eight years by the end of fiscal 2016, that metric is still nearly twice as high as the 4.2-year average at Virgin Australia.
As it continues a turnaround, Qantas has returned its terminal lease at Brisbane's airport, as well as pledged to reduce capital costs by $1-billion and slash underperforming routes such as Perth to Singapore. Executive pay is being frozen and there will be no bonuses, Mr. Joyce said, adding the company will still employ about 27,000 people.
Airline analysts seemed unimpressed, however, saying in research notes that Qantas has claimed around $4.5-billion of cost savings since 2003, and that the gains from these new cuts - drastic though they seem - will likely dissipate with inflation.Alberta rejects request to help fund Trans Mountain project
By JOSH WINGROVE
Friday, March 7, 2014 Print Edition, Page B1
OTTAWA -- The company behind a proposed pipeline expansion that would carry oil sands bitumen to British Columbia's Lower Mainland asked the Alberta government to help finance the project - a request that was rebuffed this week.
Kinder Morgan Inc. made the request last year in "high-level" talks with the province about its proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, a provincial spokesman confirmed to The Globe and Mail. Alberta Energy Minister Diana McQueen this week told Kinder Morgan the province would not be backing the project.
"We are not moving forward with any financial arrangements with Kinder Morgan," Ms. McQueen's spokesman, Mike Feenstra, said in an e-mail, confirming "ideas were shared with the Alberta Government by Kinder Morgan about project financing options" in talks last year.
Lisa Clement, a spokeswoman for Kinder Morgan, said Wednesday and Thursday the company was not able to comment on the request to the provincial government, including whether the project is viable without government funding and how much money the company sought.
Alberta has been aggressively pressing for the approval of new or expanded pipelines, including Trans Mountain, Enbridge Inc.'s Northern Gateway and TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL, and has in the past subsidized other energy sector projects - in particular, a bitumen upgrader being built outside Edmonton.
In this case, Premier Alison Redford's government - which this week tabled its budget - balked at co-financing a project at a time when the province is borrowing billions and as pipelines are under immense regulatory and public scrutiny.
The talks between the province and Kinder Morgan didn't progress far enough for Kinder Morgan to specify what kind of financial support it was seeking, he added.
Through its "Bitumen Royalty in Kind" program, or BRIK, the Alberta government has supported the Sturgeon Refinery project, a bitumen upgrader that's under construction. Costs for the project have ballooned - to $8.5-billion - leading the province to step in with a $300-million loan in December of last year.
A spokesman for TransCanada said the company has never sought any form of financing from the province for Keystone XL, though government officials have regularly travelled to Washington to lobby for the project's approval. An Enbridge spokesman said the company also had not sought financial support from Alberta.
Kinder Morgan applied in December to the National Energy Board (NEB) to expand its existing Trans Mountain line, a 1,150-kilometre route between the Edmonton area and Burnaby, B.C.
The $5.4-billion expansion would increase the pipeline's capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day. If approved, the twinned pipeline would carry both light and heavy oil, including diluted bitumen from the Alberta oil sands.
The project faces opposition from environmental groups and First Nations leaders, while the mayors of Burnaby and Vancouver both oppose the project.
Kinder Morgan (KMI)
Close: $32.29 (U.S.), up 9¢European challenges loom over Magna despite growing dividend
By GREG KEENAN
Monday, March 3, 2014 Print Edition, Page B2
AUTO INDUSTRY REPORTER
Magna International Inc. has already signalled that investors can expect a dividend increase when the company reports its fourth-quarter and 2013 financial results on Monday. The question is how much the dividend will rise and whether Magna will take other actions with its cash.
Bank of Nova Scotia analyst Mark Neville forecasts a 12.5-per-cent rise in the dividend, which would take the annual payout to $1.44 a share.
Steve Arthur, who follows the company for RBC Dominion Securities, anticipates a 10-per-cent boost in the dividend, although he acknowledges that figure may be conservative.
But the key issue for Magna is one that has hung over the company for several quarters: the status of the turnaround in its European operations amid a vehicle market that is still stagnant.
Magna, based in Aurora, Ont., is attempting to improve operations at several of its European plants and reduce its losses in the region.
But a major improvement will depend on a substantial reversal in vehicle sales and thus production in Europe, where vehicle sales in EU countries fell 2 per cent last year to 11.85 million. That was the sixth straight year of declining sales and the worst performance in EU countries since 1995.
Mr. Arthur is heartened, however, by sales gains in many EU countries during the fourth quarter. "While Europe appears to be getting better, the market is still quite depressed relative to historical levels," he wrote in a note to clients. "We expect gradual improvement next year that should represent an opportunity with suppliers leveraged to European auto production."
He said he will look to the results issued Monday and the company's conference call to provide more details on $100-million (U.S.) in European restructuring charges mentioned during third-quarter results. At that point, there had been only $54-million in charges taken, which indicated that Europe would still affect fourth-quarter results.
The consensus estimate for fourth-quarter profit per share is $1.55.
BMO Nesbitt Burns analyst Peter Sklar raised his profit estimate to $1.61 from $1.55 recently, after examining the revenue mix from fourth-quarter production in North America, which is Magna's other key market.
Vehicle assembly plants in North America are working almost flat out as the market continues its robust recovery from the depths of the 2008-09 recession.Goldcorp's Osisko bid extended out of court
By BERTRAND MAROTTE
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 Print Edition, Page B3
MONTREAL -- Osisko Mining Corp. and Goldcorp Inc. have reached an out-of-court settlement over Osisko's legal action aimed at blocking Goldcorp's hostile $2.6-billion takeover offer.
The announcement was made Monday, just before Quebec Superior Court proceedings expected to last three days were set to begin. Terms of the settlement include an extension of Goldcorp's offer to April 15 from March 10. Montreal-based Osisko has agreed to provide Goldcorp with access to due diligence data starting April 1 or earlier if Osisko signs a transaction agreement with a rival bidder.
Osisko had alleged in its suit that Vancouver-based Goldcorp misused confidential information it got last year as a result of an agreement between the two companies to pursue merger talks.
The out-of-court settlement was reached in the early-morning hours Monday after 11th-hour weekend talks between the two companies' respective legal teams.
"It's great for the [proposed] transaction because it provides us with the certainty for the timetable moving forward," Goldcorp chief executive officer Chuck Jeannes said moments after the judge signed off on the settlement.
Asked if there is the possibility of holding talks with Osisko over a friendly deal, Mr. Jeannes replied: "We've stated from the very beginning we would be happy to engage with the Osisko board to maximize shareholder value for both parties."
Osisko chief financial officer Bryan Coates said in an interview on Monday that the settlement gives Osisko more time to come up with alternatives to Goldcorp's "inadequate offer."
"What [this] does is allow all the other people we've been meeting with through a robust process of enhancing shareholder value, it gives them certainty. Now we have more time to find alternatives."
Osisko's main asset is the low-cost Canadian Malartic mine in northwest Quebec, one of the biggest precious-metal mines in Canada. Osisko shares continue to trade above Goldcorp's initial offer of $5.95 per share and one brokerage firm has raised its target on Osisko to more than $8.
Close: $30.32, up 55¢
Close: $7.50, up 45¢Petronas triples gas reserve estimates for B.C. joint venture
By BRENT JANG
Saturday, March 8, 2014 Print Edition, Page B3
VANCOUVER -- A joint venture led by Malaysia's state-owned Petronas has tripled its estimates for natural gas reserves in northeastern British Columbia as the group ramps up efforts to export energy to Asia.
The North Montney Joint Venture (NMJV), led by Petronas's Progress Energy Canada Ltd. unit, said Friday that its reserves have soared to 8.35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, up from the previous estimate of 2.68 trillion. The new figure is based on an independent evaluation of proven and probable reserves on Dec. 31, 2013.
Progress chief executive officer Michael Culbert made the announcement as Petronas confirmed that it has signed a deal to add Indian Oil Corp. Ltd. as a new partner in NMJV. Indian Oil is also joining the Petronas-led Pacific NorthWest LNG project, which is seeking to export liquefied natural gas from the West Coast.
In a best-case scenario, NMJV could have 24.7 trillion cubic feet of additional gas reserves, with roughly two-thirds of land delineated by drilling so far. Natural gas produced by NMJV would be piped to Pacific NorthWest LNG's planned export plant in northwestern British Columbia.
"In one short year, delineation drilling has established more than half of the 15 trillion cubic feet of proven and probable reserves inventory that we plan to have confirmed in order to supply the first 20 years of LNG exports from Pacific NorthWest LNG," Mr. Culbert said in a statement.
India's state-run Indian Oil has agreed to buy 1.2 million tonnes a year of LNG for at least 20 years, or 10 per cent of initial annual output. After the deal closes, Petronas will have a 77-per-cent stake in Pacific NorthWest LNG, while Indian Oil and Japan Petroleum Exploration will each hold 10 per cent and Petroleum Brunei 3 per cent. Japex and Petroleum Brunei agreed last year to sign long-term contracts to buy LNG.TRADE DEADLINE PRIMER
By JAMES MIRTLE, ERIC DUHATSCHEK, SEAN GORDON, DAVID EBNER
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 Print Edition, Page S3
Buyer or seller?
Neither, really. Management insists it is not in the rental market one way or another, but it wants to make a "hockey deal" that can add a player for next season and beyond. It's not impossible the Toronto Maple Leafs ship out one of their pending free agents, however. Toronto is in a bit of a grey area: in solid playoff position, so it's not about to tear things down, but it also doesn't want to give up futures for players who won't be with the organization long-term. The Leafs are going to be listening to every offer in the next few days, but it's possible they don't make a move at all.
Toronto's biggest hole is a long-standing one: The Leafs have to get better defensively, starting on the blueline. Adding an elite defenceman that can play in the top four (and on the right side) is priority No. 1, but the Leafs are also interested in adding up front, given they could lose four of their top-10 forwards to unrestricted free agency in the summer. Landing that kind of blueliner isn't easy but there are some intriguing options out there, albeit mainly ones that play the left side (Alexander Edler of Vancouver and Christian Ehrhoff of Buffalo come to mind).
On the block
Forwards Nikolai Kulemin, Nazem Kadri, Mason Raymond, Dave Bolland, defenceman Jake Gardiner and goalie James Reimer.
The Leafs are exceptionally tight against the salary cap once Bolland comes off of injured reserve, and will likely have to move an equal salary out to bring salary in. That complicates things considerably and is yet another reason they may have to wait for the off-season to make more moves.
Buyer or seller?
Seller. That, of course, wasn't the plan heading into the 2013-14 season, when the Edmonton Oilers, under new management, promised a turnaround after seven consecutive seasons out of the playoffs was at hand. Instead, things have gotten worse, and the Oilers stand to get another high draft choice in 2014 - after picking up three No. 1-overalls (plus the seventh pick last year) in the past four years.
Veteran stability to nurture the young talent they have on the roster. Ideally, the Oilers would want to significantly upgrade their blueline, which is near the bottom of the NHL in terms of overall quality. No one is trading established defencemen at the deadline, however, so they will target players that can evolve into that type of player in time, or draft choices they can use to develop those sorts of players.
On the block
Ales Hemsky. He has scored only one goal in 2014, and looks like he could really use a change of scenery. His talent will tease some potential suitors. The Oilers have also dangled centre Sam Gagner, thinking Mark Arcobello (who has been tearing up the AHL since his demotion) could fill the role of small centre. Ryan Smyth, closing in on the end of his career, might go for a low draft choice to a team looking for leadership. Nick Schultz, a pending unrestricted free agent, is available for teams seeking depth on defence. Ilya Bryzgalov, signed to stem their goaltending issues, could be had for anyone willing to take him on for the final month.
Nail Yakupov. The Oilers are on record as saying Yakupov, the so-far underachieving first-overall pick in 2012, is not on the move. But they can't help but listen to offers if someone thought Yakupov could get his career jump-started by a change in scenery. Edmonton has enough high-end talent up front that it has already committed to paying in the long-term (Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) that if the right offer came along - say, a young defenceman that could fill an organizational need - it would have to consider it.
Buyer or seller?
Seller with a capital S. The Calgary Flames may not be as active at the deadline as last year, but only because they don't have assets such as Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester to dump into the trade market. That said, they are still in the early stages of a rebuild in the Brian Burke era, where acquiring size and truculence will be the twin focal points of their trade-deadline strategy.
Organizational depth. Apart from defenceman Mark Giordano, the Flames have no established front-line NHL talent, although rookie Sean Monahan and the improving Mikael Backlund could evolve into those types of players.
On the block
Michael Cammalleri is the most-attractive commodity: a player on an expiring contract with a history as a reputable playoff performer (32 points in 32 postseason games). At 31, Cammalleri is not likely at the stage of his career where he wants to stick around for a rebuild. For a team looking for a depth defenceman, pending unrestricted free agent Chris Butler is also available. Lee Stempniak, a pending RFA, is also available.
Curtis Glencross. He is in the midst of a difficult injury-filled season, but when healthy, is the sort of skilled and agitating forward teams covet from March until the finish line. He received a no-move clause as part of his last contract, in which he gave the Flames a significant hometown discount.
Buyer or seller?
A little of both? It may seem odd to suggest a team contending for a home playoff seed in the Eastern Conference could be a seller, but the Montreal Canadiens remain a team in transition, and if GM Marc Bergevin can find a taker for some of his anvil-ish contracts, it's hard to imagine he won't. Bergevin is also on the lookout for the missing pieces to his team, so would be willing to buy for the right fit. However, the Habs GM is a noted trade-deadline skeptic, so it would be out of character for Montreal to be a big player.
The Habs brain trust has been striving to get bigger, but the real need is a minute-munching, physical, top-pair lefty defenceman to play with P.K. Subban. A hard-edged, righty puck-mover for the three or four hole would also be good. One (or both) would allow a reshuffle of the blueline, resulting in Alexei Emelin or Josh Gorges (or both) being dropped to the third pairing, and Douglas Murray shuffled into the press box. But with good prospects in the pipeline (Jarred Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu) and the high cost of worthwhile assets, it's hard to imagine the Habs overpaying.
On the block
It's an open secret Bergevin has been trying to move the inconsistent Rene Bourque. He's less likely to move, though, than a player such as rugged penalty-killing ace Travis Moen a Stanley Cup champion in 2007 with Anaheim, the kind of character guy contending teams love to acquire at the deadline. The Habs would surely listen to offers for captain Brian Gionta, who is now essentially a defensive specialist and has an expiring contract. It's hard to imagine Montreal would move defensive keystone Andrei Markov, but he's 35 and about to become an unrestricted free agent.
Money. The Habs have plenty of salary cap space at the deadline, and they could theoretically afford to make a move to acquire a player such as sniper Thomas Vanek. Don't bet on it. Montreal is about to call in the armoured car service to pay Subban, who is due to become an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent in the summer. The Habs also need to make a decision on centre Lars Eller, whose contract is also up. The Dane hasn't been able to generate much offence recently, but he's still young, big and has a two-way game. So while the Canadiens have the resources to make a big acquisition in the near-term, it would hurt their cap picture long-term.
Buyer or seller?
For the first time in the Mike Gillis era, the Vancouver Canucks are sellers. Gone are visions of plowing deep into springtime hockey; in their place is a dream of a rapid rebuild, somehow leveraging the likes of forward Ryan Kesler for an injection of youth to revive this rapidly fading NHL team.
Goals: The offence had been among the most potent in the league three years ago. This year, Kesler's 21 goals leads the team but just barely cracks the league's top 30. Linemate Chris Higgins is second among Canucks with 16. Vancouver is fifth-worst in average goals per game, and has the third-worst power play. The team's first line (Henrik and Daniel Sedin, and Alexandre Burrows) has not registered a goal in 2014.
On the block
Kesler, to start. Reports this past week revealed the Canucks are considering an overhaul of their roster. The team's bosses, from Gillis to head coach John Tortorella, are at the start of long-term contracts, so they have some luxury to think beyond the present. The bosses' boss, team owner Francesco Aquilini, wants results, and it's become obvious the current roster isn't delivering. Another possible name on the block is blueliner Alexander Edler. Though, as with Kesler, the asking price is high - just as it was for goalie Roberto Luongo, who Gillis eventually failed to trade in a spectacle that ended with the Canucks dispatching goalie Cory Schneider to New Jersey for a draft pick.
Roberto Luongo. Being benched for backup Eddie Lack in Sunday's Heritage Classic is the latest indignity the veteran goaltender has borne, and it once more stoked talk of his departure. The return would be little, but if the Canucks dispatch Kesler, Edler and Luongo, the incoming younger players, prospects and draft picks could be significant - alongside $15-million (U.S.) of salary cap space freed up, at the same time as the cap is set to shoot higher. The Canucks also have a compliance buyout remaining, which looks like goodbye to forward David Booth ($4-million in cap space). So, all-in, while it appeared the Canucks faced the risk of becoming the Calgary Flames in a slow slide toward the bottom of the league, Gillis and company now are poised to conduct emergency surgery. A delicate procedure with numerous complications that could, maybe, conjure new life out of an aging team.
David EbnerToronto, Montreal set to resume rivalry
Bernier, back in home province, likely to start for Leafs
By BILL BEACON
The Canadian Press
Saturday, March 1, 2014 Print Edition, Page S3
BROSSARD, QUE. -- The rivalry resumes Saturday night as the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Canadiens, but Montreal coach Michel Therrien is more interested in getting a win than in making any statements.
"Teams understand, especially at this time of year, that the two points are crucial," Therrien said Friday. "So I'm expecting an intense game like they always are when they play us." It's been a mostly one-sided affair this season, with the Leafs taking two of three meetings between the NHL's two oldest clubs.
But with the Olympics over, the resumption of the race for playoff positions puts added weight on the match-up of Atlantic Division rivals. The Canadiens (33-21-7) hold second place in the Eastern Conference, only two points ahead of Toronto (32-22-7), both with 21 games left to play.
The Canadiens came out flat in their first post-Olympic game but salvaged a point in a 2-1 overtime loss to Detroit on Wednesday. They beat the Penguins 6-5 in OT a night later in Pittsburgh.
The Leafs also struggled in their first outing after the Sochi Winter Games, losing 5-4 in OT to the Islanders in New York on Thursday night.
"For us, it was better than the first night," said Canadiens centre Daniel Brière. "It's tough sometimes to get the mindset back to competing, fighting for loose pucks, after being off two or three weeks."
The two teams skated at the same time at the Canadiens' practice facility, which has two rinks. The Leafs gave U.S. Olympians Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk a day off for some extra post-Olympic rest, while only 11 Canadiens took part in an optional skate.
They did not include Canada's gold-medalist goalie Carey Price, who has not played since tweaking a suspected groin injury on Wednesday morning.
Therrien said Price is a day-to-day case and he will be on the flight when the team leaves Sunday on a road trip to Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix and San Jose.
Peter Budaj, who let in two soft goals early in Pittsburgh, is to make a third straight start, playing a third game in four nights, with AHL call-up Dustin Tokarski backing up.
"I felt pretty good," Budaj said. "The preparation off-ice helps. Even if you're not playing, you prepare as if you will. You get your sleep and your nutrition. I've got teammates who rely on me to work hard and I don't want to let them down."
Coach Randy Carlyle wouldn't announce his goalie, but the betting is that Jonathan Bernier will start a second successive game for Toronto, if only because he'll be playing in his home province.
"I think I've shown historically that those things do come into consideration," Carlyle said. "The last time we were in Winnipeg, James Reimer played. That's his hometown.
"To say that solely is the determining factor, no. I'm not going to tell you anything about our goalies, so beat it."
Montreal remains without physical winger Brandon Prust because of an upper body problem and fourth-liner Ryan White is out with a flu. Checking winger Michaël Bournival skated in a no-contact jersey, but isn't ready to return from a concussion.
The Leafs are still awaiting the return of forward Dave Bolland from a foot injury.
"When he tells us he's ready to play, we'll put him in the lineup," Carlyle said. "We saw lots of progress, then he hit a stumbling block a few days ago.
"It's a severe injury to a vital part of his body. A tendon in his foot. When you put a skate on it, there's a lot more going on."
Bolland said the injury is coming along.
"Day to day, really - making sure the little things are corrected before I get back on the ice," he said. "Just have to make sure all the fundamentals are right.
"Being good in the corners. Transition with the puck. You don't want to be a liability out there. I want to be sure when I'm out there I'm going 100 per cent and ready to play.
Leafs-Canadiens games are always big for Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban, a Toronto native, but last season's Norris Trophy winner has been struggling. He has only six points and is minus-9 in his past 19 games.
In Pittsburgh, the rushing defenceman who played one game for Canada in Sochi was minus-2 and was benched late in the third period and in overtime after a giveaway at the Penguins blueline led to a goal.
"I always believed that in any sport, it's a game of errors," Therrien said. "The team that makes the fewest errors has a better chance to win.
"I felt P.K. wasn't on his game. It was tight. We decided to go with guys we felt were more likely to execute plays and make sure there were the fewest errors possible."
He added he is confident that Subban will regain his form of last season and that he needs to "learn to make percentage plays. When he does that, he's effective and helps the team. So he needs to concentrate."Bozak's career year quieting critics
Toronto centre overcomes injury, records nearly point a game this season on one of league's hottest lines
By JAMES MIRTLE
Saturday, March 8, 2014 Print Edition, Page S3
TORONTO -- It was midnight, and the Toronto Maple Leafs were piled in their plane, heading home after a game at Madison Square Garden in New York.
And Tyler Bozak would not stop laughing.
"He was just howling like a hyena the whole flight home," rookie Morgan Rielly said of his teammate, who had scored the overtime winner two hours earlier - and his second of the night Wednesday - against the Rangers. "He was like the happiest guy in Toronto when he got back."
Surveying the scene, which included Bozak taking part in a rowdy poker game on the plane, the 19-year-old posted a quick message to his Twitter account.
"One thing I know for sure after tonight is that @Bozie42 loves the game," Rielly tweeted. "What a player."
It's been a remarkable season for Bozak, the Leafs' top-line centre who is in the midst of a career year despite playing just 40 of 64 games due to injury.
Maligned in the past for settling in around the 50-point per season mark, despite playing with one of the NHL's most dynamic scorers in Phil Kessel, Bozak is putting up nearly a point a game in a half-season. A little more than a week from his 28th birthday, he needs only four goals and 10 points over the final 18 games to match career-highs that were set in far more games.
With the Leafs first line currently the hottest in hockey, few doubt he'll get there.
For team management, coaches and players, that's all been validation Bozak is a bona fide No. 1 centre, ending a debate that has raged in Toronto pretty much from his first game after signing as an undrafted U.S. college free agent in 2009.
"When he's healthy and playing, our team is totally different," Rielly said. "I personally think he's one of the top players in the league. He's really had a chance to prove that this year. I think all the chirps he gets about not being this or that, I think it's all stupid."
"It's been four or five years that people have been saying that stuff," Bozak said. "I've blocked it out by now. I'm surprised people still talk about it - it must get annoying to them."
Where the disagreement comes on Bozak isn't all that complicated.
On one hand, he's playing an incredible amount of hockey each night, averaging more ice time (21 minutes 13 seconds) per game than all but six forwards in the league (if you discount the two games he was injured in).
On the other, over the last three seasons, the Leafs have been outshot 1,373 to 1,168 with Bozak on the ice at even strength - which has contributed to a line with one of the NHL's top scorers on it outscoring the opposition by just eight goals over 159 games.
And all of that eight-goal difference has come in the Leafs' last 10 games, when the top line has been red hot.
Any look at Bozak is also complicated by the fact head coach Randy Carlyle now relies on him for the most difficult minutes of any player on the team, matchups that are made even harder because he takes a lot of defensive zone draws.
For many, the bottom line in the debate will just come down to production, and the critics have been answered there for the moment. The trend in past years where Kessel was more productive without Bozak on his line than with him has been dramatically reversed this season, something clearly evident when you look at Bozak's two stints out of the lineup.
In the 24 games Bozak missed, Kessel had nine goals and 10 assists, for a 65-point pace over a full season. In the 40 they played together, he had 24 goals and 27 assists, a 105-point pace.
As long as they are clicking to that extent, Carlyle doesn't plan on changing anything.
"We believe in him quite a bit, and you can tell by the commitment that the organization's made to him," the coach said, referencing a five-year, $21-million (U.S.) deal Bozak signed in the off-season. "We believe he's a pretty good hockey player."
"He really makes that line go," Rielly said. "He's a two-way guy. He's unbelievable on draws. He [is on the power play] and [kills penalties] - I mean, I don't know what more you could ask from the guy."Sens GM pretends it's opposite day at deadline
By ROY MACGREGOR
Thursday, March 6, 2014 Print Edition, Page S3
OTTAWA -- The irony, the irony.
On Tuesday night, the Ottawa Senators' playoff hopes were buried by Ales Hemsky. On Wednesday morning, the Ottawa Senators' playoff hopes were resurrected by ... Ales Hemsky.
From devil to saviour in 12 hours.
Last Tuesday in Edmonton, it was Hemsky's two goals that led to a 3-2 victory by the lowly Oilers over Ottawa and, in most minds, settled the issue as to whether the middling Senators would be buyers or sellers come the NHL trading deadline.
With most betting on "sell," Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray did a Hemsky "dickie-dickie-doo" play himself, reversing direction and catching many observers off-guard.
Expected to move long-time defensive stalwart Chris Phillips, Murray chose instead to sign Phillips to a two-year, $5-million (U.S.) contract extension with a no-trade clause.
Expected - by himself, he freely admitted Wednesday - to avoid the unrestricted free-agent "rental" player market, he instead jumped in, sending a fifth-round draft pick this year and a third-rounder next year to the Oilers in exchange for the oft-brilliant, oft-baffling Hemsky.
It was Hemsky's performance against the Sens that inspired Murray to think the 30-year-old Czech might be able to work some of his magic with Ottawa and raise the team the necessary notch or so to reach the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"We're still in it," Murray said from Calgary, where the Senators were to meet the Flames on Wednesday.
In Hemsky, the Senators acquire one of the more-gifted players available this year. In 11 seasons with the Oilers, the right winger has scored 142 goals and 335 assists. He has also performed well in the rare times the Oilers reached the playoffs, including reaching the Stanley Cup final in 2006.
In recent years, Hemsky has struggled through injuries but has been relatively healthy of late. He's also a bit of a marketable commodity in the Ottawa area, having starred in junior for the cross-river Olympiques. Murray was also able to get Edmonton to cover part of Hemsky's remaining salary.
"Every game I've seen him play he's been a top player with the puck," Murray told reporters in Calgary. "His ability to skate and attack the net - that's what we want.
"He can certainly play with the top-six forwards in the league."
Hemsky drove south to Calgary to join his new team following the news of the trade and was expected to make his Senators debut on the right side of captain Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek.
Spezza haters may cringe at the thought at yet another "Look-ma-no-hands," freelancing river gambler joining the front line - but those who believe overcoached NHL hockey still has room for a little magic will hail the arrival of Hemsky, who has the ability to lift fans out of their seats.
"It's a weird feeling," Hemsky told reporters in Edmonton when leaving the only NHL team he has known, "but excited for the new challenge. Hopefully, I can play with good players and show what I can do."
Murray was also able to shed a forward Wednesday when the Buffalo Sabres plucked Cory Conacher off waivers. While Ottawa will be glad to lose the salary, the loss stings on another level, as acquiring Conacher had been Murray's big move a year ago at the deadline.
In 2013, Ottawa sent No. 3 goaltender Ben Bishop to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for the rookie of the year candidate. Conacher's star fell, and then plummeted in Ottawa, while Bishop's rose to the point where today he is considered one of the top young goaltenders in the league.
Murray's deal with Phillips surprised those who were convinced the team's longest-serving player and assistant captain would be playing for another team by day's end. At 35, Phillips was considered an attractive stay-at-home defencemen for a contender in need.
Wednesday morning, however, he was called to Murray's hotel room in Calgary and the new deal was quickly struck.
"We hammered it out," Phillips told Team 1200 radio in Ottawa. "Both sides are happy with it."
And very quickly: Wednesday against the Flames, Saturday in Winnipeg to meet the Jets, both players and management will find out just how happy the fans are with it all.Riley warns Miami fans that playoffs still long way off
By CHARLIE MCCARTHY
The Associated Press
Monday, March 3, 2014 Print Edition, Page S3
MIAMI -- Miami Heat president Pat Riley has a message for all the Miami Heat fans that are already looking ahead to the playoffs and a chance for a third straight NBA championship.
"Before everybody gets excited, we've got another 24 or 25 games," Riley said at a Heat charity function on Sunday. "We're playing very well right now, but every day you keep ratcheting up what you need to do to get ready for what you know is going to be an incredibly competitive playoff."
The Heat (42-14) will head into Monday's home game against Charlotte as winners of seven straight and 10 of 11. They still have to wait seven weeks before the playoffs. "Everybody thinks it's right around the corner. No, a lot of stuff can happen," Riley said. "We're in home-court advantage races, not only in the West but in the East. That's not an objective.
"The objective, I think according to Coach [Erik Spoelstra], is that [we] stay on track with the defence and the rebounding."
Riley touched on several other topics during a brief meeting with reporters.
On LeBron James: "The fact that he's a confident player right now, probably the most confident player in the NBA, and it's not born out of arrogance or born out of anything else other than the main thing, which is winning. He wants to win. That's all it's about."
On Dwyane Wade, who this season has been managing sore knees: "Dwyane is an 11-year veteran and he knows his way around the block. He knows what he has to do to get himself ready. Again, I go back 11 years with him, and I've seen him from the beginning to where he is today. He's a smarter, more efficient in using his energy."
Riley also sounded content to leave the in-game decision-making to Spoelstra. "Look at me, man. I am full of vitality to have some fun," Riley said while standing next to his wife, Chris, at the team's Family Festival charity event. "Six years ago, when I was coaching, I was waking up at 5 a.m. It was dark and I was depressed."TRADE PRIMER: JETS
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 Print Edition, Page S3
Buyers or sellers?
Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff isn't exactly known for his transaction fireworks, so it's difficult to see him suddenly deviating from his slow and steady build to pull off a blockbuster on NHL deadline day. Expect minor tweaking at best.
Depth on defence and the wings. A top-six forward who can play on the left side would be particularly appealing.
On the block
There has been a lot of talk the Detroit Red Wings or Philadelphia Flyers could take a run at landing defenceman Dustin Byfuglien. Veteran blueliner Mark Stuart has been rumoured to be available and has an expiring contract. Forwards Devin Setoguchi and Olli Jokinen are in the same boat, and could end up as rentals.
Expectations. As of Tuesday morning, the Jets were just two points out of a playoff spot, but have run hot and cold all season long. There are also a pile of teams (Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars, Vancouver Canucks, Phoenix Coyotes, Minnesota Wild) jostling for playoff position in the tough Western Conference. Does it make sense to spend a bit of the future to make the postseason, or will management sit tight and hope the gains made under head coach Paul Maurice will be enough to keep the team playing into the spring?
StaffLong-time Avalanche forward Hejduk announces retirement
The Associated Press
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 Print Edition, Page S5
CENTENNIAL, COLO. -- Former Colorado Avalanche forward Milan Hejduk is retiring from the NHL.
Hejduk, 38, played 14 seasons in the NHL, all with the Avalanche. The three-time Olympian and native of the Czech Republic scored 375 goals in 1,020 games and won a Stanley Cup in 2001.
He won the Maurice Richard Trophy for the league's top goal scorer in 2003.
Only two Czech-born players have registered more points in NHL history (Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias).
In a statement, Avalanche executive vice-president Joe Sakic said Hejduk's "release along with his hockey sense and vision made him one of the premier goal scorers in the NHL during his prime."
Hejduk didn't play this season after a trying 2012-13, in which he missed time with shoulder and torso injuries and scored a career-low 11 points in just 29 games.EAST GERMANY'S WITT TAKES GOLD IN CALGARY
By JOHN ALLEMANG
Thursday, February 27, 2014 Print Edition, Page A2
How did Katarina Witt calm herself before turning triple toe-loops in front of nine judges and 19,000 fans at the Saddledome? She applied makeup, turning her coquettish Carmen into a painted lady whose big eyes and bright lips played havoc with the Olympic spirit of impartiality. Not that the East German needed help in the art of seduction: Witt's undeniable athleticism, the product of a state sports system that directed her career and monitored her every move, was always subordinated to a flirtatious side that seemed so unlikely in a Communist hero whose success depended on support from the Stasi. Maybe all that posed passion wore her down: She was outskated in the long program by Canada's Elizabeth Manley and barely hung on to claim gold. A decade later, still the star, she posed for Playboy.Removal of ovaries can cut cancer risk
By KELLY GRANT
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 Print Edition, Page A4
Women who carry a gene mutation that dramatically increases their risk of breast and ovarian cancers can reduce their chance of dying by nearly 80 per cent if they have their ovaries removed, according to a new Canadian study, which also concludes that the best age at which to undergo the surgery is 35.
The study followed 5,783 women from seven countries with a mutation on their BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene - genes that, when working properly, suppress tumour growth - for nearly six years.
It found that the carriers who had preventive oophorectomies, as ovary-removal procedures are called, reduced by 80 per cent their risk of developing ovarian, fallopian or peritoneal cancer (a rare cancer in the thin layer of tissue that lines the abdomen), and reduced by 77 per cent their risk of dying from all causes - not just cancer.
Oophorectomies also reduce a carrier's risk of developing breast cancer, the study found.
"For me, it's a once-in-a-lifetime finding to see such a dramatic benefit in saving lives that will be immediate upon publication of the paper," said Steven Narod, a senior scientist at the Women's College Research Institute in Toronto and one of the co-authors of the study, published on Monday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Although the benefits of preventive oophorectomies for carriers of a BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation were already well known, Dr. Narod said he was surprised at how deeply the risk of dying plunged for women who chose the surgery.
"I've written about 300 papers. I never saw anything that reduced mortality of all causes by [more than] 70 per cent. That's just a big number."
The results only fortify the case for undergoing the procedure at the age of 35, he added.
But that recommendation is sure to spark a fraught internal debate for younger carriers of a mutation made famous by actress Angelina Jolie, who last year announced that she had a preventive double mastectomy and is reportedly planning to have her ovaries removed as well.
Carriers who test positive in their 20s or early 30s have to weigh the rewards of having biological children against the risks of ovarian or breast cancer - risks that rise with a woman's age.
The study found that if a carrier of a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation puts off an oophorectomy until she is 40, her risk of developing ovarian, fallopian or peritoneal cancer increases to 4 per cent.
It rises to 14.2 per cent if she waits until she is 50.
Even for women who do not want children or are done having them, the choice can still be wrenching, because preventive oophorectomies force women into early menopause.
But the upside to the earlier-than-expected hot flashes and risk of bone loss is the peace of mind that comes with taking an effective step to prevent ovarian cancer, a particularly insidious disease.
There is no screening test for ovarian cancer. Symptoms rarely reveal themselves until the cancer is advanced and treatments are limited.
That was such a frightening prospect for Farah Heron, now 37, that the Toronto mother of two opted to have her ovaries removed when she was 35, soon after discovering she had a BRCA1 mutation.
"I was just so utterly terrified of it that I decided to go ahead and do the oophorectomy right away instead of waiting," Ms. Heron said.
"A lot of people had recommended to me to wait until I was in my 40s, but I'm not a person to just kind of wait and see. The anxiety was killing me."
Ms. Heron, who went on to have a preventive double mastectomy as well, was finished having children when she discovered the mutation. Her mother's breast cancer diagnosis prompted the test.
The BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are highly hereditary, which means that women who test positive have often watched as breast and ovarian cancers ravaged their mothers, aunts and sisters.
The Canadian Cancer Society estimated that 2,600 Canadian women would be diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year and 1,700 would die of it. Nearly half of those diagnosed last year are expected to survive at least five years.
Only about 10 per cent of those cancers are caused by mutations on the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, said Aletta Poll, a genetic counsellor at Women's College Hospital in Toronto.
But for those women who test positive for the mutations, there is a "massive increase" in ovarian cancer risk.
"If you get it, it doesn't tend to end well. This is why, despite the fact that there can be negative consequences, most clinics encourage people to [have an oophorectomy], and a lot of people do consider it," Ms. Poll said.Hockey team activities suspended over alleged sex assault
By JAMES BRADSHAW
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 Print Edition, Page A3
A police investigation into allegations of a sexual assault involving multiple hockey players from the University of Ottawa has prompted the indefinite suspension of the entire men's team and coaching staff, and renewed concerns about "rape culture" on campuses.
The alleged assault took place when the U of O visited Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., for a pair of games on Jan. 31 and Feb 1. But the university's leadership only learned of the allegations on Feb. 24 through "a third party," the school said in a statement.
The next day, the university gave its information to the Thunder Bay police, who confirmed on Monday they are in the "initial stages" of an investigation.
The troubling accusation comes just days after the resignation of four student government officials at the U of O over a sexually graphic conversation they had about a female colleague on Facebook. And there has been considerable concern on campuses over the way some students regard sexual violence, especially after peers at two other Canadian universities were caught belting out offensive chants about non-consensual sex during orientation activities last fall.
"This is a matter that we take very seriously. This is a top priority," said U of O communications director Patrick Charette. But he referred detailed questions to police, declining to describe the nature of the incident or to say how many players were involved. University officials have launched an internal investigation, separate from police, and said they are "deeply concerned" they didn't learn of the allegations sooner. Mr. Charette also said Thunder Bay police asked the university not to speak publicly on the matter until Monday.
A statement from the Thunder Bay Police Service said it is "investigating a third-party complaint," not from the alleged victim, and "following up with involved parties" with assistance from Ottawa police. Thunder Bay police declined interview requests.
Allan Rock, the U of O's president, did not speak to media on Monday. But he called Anne-Marie Roy, president of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, who was also the target of the explicit Facebook chat that led four male student government officials to resign when it became public. Mr. Rock and Ms. Roy plan to meet this week to discuss ways to address issues underlying the two incidents.
The Association of Universities and Colleges is also planning to discuss campus responses to "rape culture."
"It's really hard to fight sexual violence when we have a culture which perpetuates it," said Ms. Roy, who feels these crimes are too often treated lightly, from rape jokes to graphic song lyrics. "Sometimes, I hear students say, 'I raped that exam,'" she said, which "plays down the impact and the gravity of what it actually means."
Still, she is pleased with the U of O's response so far, and stressed that all campuses face similar issues. At least one student told her he heard chants resembling those at Saint Mary's and the University of British Columbia during the U of O's frosh festivities. "They were being chanted on more than just two campuses in Canada, I can tell you that," she said.
The men's hockey season at U of O ended Feb. 21 with a playoff loss. Until further notice, team members can attend classes and academic activities, but are barred from sports and athletic facilities. The team's coaches are also suspended; Mr. Charette would not say when they knew of the alleged incident or whether they're being paid.
"We're going to act as quickly is possible," he said, "but this is serious and we want to make sure that we do due dilligence."B.C. teen set to face child porn charges
Police recommend 13-year-old be charged as authorities take harsher stance on distribution of sexually graphic videos
By PATRICK WHITE
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 Print Edition, Page A4
Police in northern B.C. are recommending a 13-year-old boy be charged with child pornography for allegedly posting a partly nude photo of an acquaintance on Facebook.
The B.C. teen could be the youngest Canadian to face child pornography charges since police began cracking down on young people sharing sexually graphic photos, a campaign launched informally after the deaths of Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todd, teens whose images were shared online. Crown prosecutors are expected to decide whether to lay charges this month.
Bill C-13, the proposed federal cyberbullying bill expected to pass this spring, would eliminate the need for such a severe charge in similar cases. It would give the option of lodging the lesser charge of non-consensual distribution of images, which would carry a maximum sentence of five years, compared with 10 years for distribution of child pornography.
But until it clears Parliament, police have few legal tools at their disposal.
"The only charge that fit this particular offence is distribution of child pornography," said Fort St. John RCMP spokeswoman Corporal Jodi Shelkie. "There wasn't enough to fulfill a charge of harassment." Police allege that a 13-year-old girl sent a partly nude photo of herself to a 13-year-old male friend. The boy posted the image on his Facebook page. Fort St. John RCMP have been investigating the allegations since December.
"My understanding is that all his friends could see it," said Cpl. Shelkie. "The victim is distraught. It's always a double-edged sword in these situations. The victim would like to see a resolution and make sure the photo is no longer out there. At the same time they know that, through court process, it's garnering more attention and more people could see it."
Ms. Todd's suicide in 2012 drew international attention to the issue of cyberbullying. She took her own life after months of torment that began when a topless photo of her appeared online. In Nova Scotia, prosecutors have laid child pornography charges against two teens in the Rehtaeh Parsons case, as well as against a 14-year-old boy who allegedly appeared in a sex video posted online.
In Laval, Que., 10 teenage boys were charged after a teacher noticed sexually explicit images on student cellphones.
And in Victoria, a judge convicted a 16-year-old girl last month on one count each of distributing and possessing child pornography. In that case, the accused sent naked images of another girl electronically as a form of retaliation.
"From the outset, she has never denied having received the images or sent them. But she's always strenuously denied being a child pornographer," said the accused girl's lawyer, Christopher Mackie.
He filed a constitutional challenge in September alleging that applying child pornography laws to a youth, given the circumstances, is unconstitutional.
"I think a child porn charge is very blunt instrument for dealing with this kind of thing," said Wayne MacKay, a law professor at Dalhousie University who chaired a Nova Scotia task force on cyberbullying after Ms. Parsons's death. "Police are responding to the public outcry and at the moment they don't have a lot of options. Legal sanctions are not the only response. You can have educations, prevention programs, restorative approaches - you have other ways." Dr. MacKay agreed the proposed federal law would give prosecutors more flexibility, but said new laws can't address the massive generational gap that has emerged over issues of privacy and discretion. "Older generations are more appalled by this than young people who see this all the time," Dr. MacKay said. "That's not an excuse, but it's a reality."Income splitting remains on the table
Harper says it is 'an excellent policy' while continuing to disagree with Finance Minister over what will be a key election promise
By STEVEN CHASE
Thursday, February 27, 2014 Print Edition, Page A4
OTTAWA -- Stephen Harper is publicly contradicting his Finance Minister for the second day in a row, defending a major Conservative campaign pledge to allow income splitting as "an excellent policy" even though Jim Flaherty has voiced misgivings about the fairness of the measure.
It's unusual for the Prime Minister to openly disagree with one of his most influential ministers.
But it's a sign that Mr. Harper is unwilling to let Mr. Flaherty - who this week signalled he's considering retiring from federal politics - dictate the future of a key election promise.
Sources say income splitting remains on the table, despite the Finance Minister's surprise decision to criticize the policy in mid-February.
They say, however, that it's quite possible the pledge could be trimmed to make it less generous a tax break or to modify it in other ways. That's because, as written, the promise would eat up close to half the projected budget surplus but deliver insufficient political benefits - with an impact felt by less than two million households. Such a rewrite of the promise would mean the Tories would be fulfilling the spirit of the pledge if not the letter of it.
In the House of Commons on Wednesday, Mr. Harper made it clear he hasn't forgotten his campaign pledge.
"As I said during the election campaign, we think income splitting would be an excellent policy for Canadian families," the Prime Minister told MPs, noting the government has already enacted the policy for seniors.
This follows comments he made in French Tuesday when he told the Commons income splitting "will also be a good policy for Canadian families."
An internal debate within the Conservative government has begun over the 2011 election pledge. During that campaign, the Tories promised they would allow couples with children under 18 to split up to $50,000 of their income each year for tax purposes - reducing what the household would pay Canada Revenue Agency. It was to take effect when the federal budget is balanced, now forecast for 2015.
The measure was projected to cost $2.5-billion but benefit 1.8 million households - saving these families $1,300 on average, the Tories said. Sources say with the passing of time the cost would now be closer to $2.7-billion.
According to the C.D. Howe Institute, 85 per cent of Canadian households would gain nothing from the measure.
A spokesman for Mr. Flaherty - who this week told Reuters he hasn't decided whether he will run in the 2015 election - said both Mr. Harper and the Finance Minister agree on the need to deliver more tax relief for Canadians.
"Our priority is to balance the budget and, once that's done, continue to offer tax relief to families. They have been consistent in expressing that," Chisholm Pothier, Mr. Flaherty's deputy chief of staff and director of communications, said.
The Conservatives are unlikely to dump income splitting in favour of broad-based tax relief such as an income-tax rate cut because, sources say, the government believes across-the-board breaks are quickly forgotten by voters and therefore deliver little lasting political benefit.
Should the Tories rework the income-splitting pledge to make it less generous, this would leave more money for other measures, such as reviving the short-lived home renovation tax credit or enriching the Universal Child Care Benefit for parents of young children.
The Conservatives must also decide whether to keep other 2011 election pledges linked to a balanced budget, including a promise to increase the contribution limit of tax-free savings accounts to $10,000.Provincial watchdog's powers to grow
By ADRIAN MORROW
Thursday, March 6, 2014 Print Edition, Page A7
TORONTO -- Ontario is set to vastly expand the powers of the provincial Ombudsman, allowing the independent watchdog to investigate municipalities, universities and school boards, The Globe and Mail has learned.
The move will be part of a sweeping new Accountability Act, which will put in place transparency measures across the provincial government, a source with knowledge of the proposed law said. The bill, to be unveiled Thursday by Premier Kathleen Wynne and Government House Leader John Milloy, will be tabled in the legislature later this month.
The act will create more oversight in government agencies, the source said, with a series of measures for different government departments. It is also expected to include new accountability rules for politicians, including MPPs.
Ombudsman André Marin has long argued that the province shields too many agencies from his scrutiny, giving people who have problems with them no independent office to call for help.
The bill will at least partly satisfy his demands. It will not, however, allow him oversight of the health-care sector, something he has long sought. Instead, the law is expected to create a different transparency mechanism for health. A hard-biting watchdog with a knack for drawing public attention to problems and mistakes in the province, Mr. Marin has long been a thorn in the side of the government, which may help explain why Queen's Park has often been reluctant to grant him more latitude.
But giving him the right to look into municipalities and local agencies, in particular, will represent a massive expansion of his role, allowing him into a whole new level of government. Most municipalities in Ontario do not have independent watchdogs of their own, meaning the new rules will expose them to an unprecedented level of scrutiny.
People with complaints about their local government or school board, as well as university students, will now be able to ask the Ombudsman to help resolve them. Mr. Marin will also have the power to launch investigations into systemic problems in municipalities, universities and school boards, and make recommendations on how to fix them.
The province's move comes on the heels of several major municipal controversies in recent years. London Mayor Joe Fontana is facing fraud charges. In Brampton, Mayor Susan Fennell is the subject of an audit after she and her staff spent $185,000 on airfare and hotels in the past five years. Brampton councillors, meanwhile, are also in the spotlight for using tax money to pay for symphony tickets and home security systems.
And in Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford was nearly ejected from office for using city letterhead to solicit donations to his football team from lobbyists.
Mr. Marin has accused some municipalities of secrecy for holding meetings behind closed doors. In one particularly damning report last year, he concluded that a group of London councillors had violated provincial law by holding a "back room" meeting at a restaurant a few days before a budget vote. Mr. Marin currently has some limited powers to investigate municipalities, but councils have the right to opt out of his oversight.
In Toronto, one of the few cities in the province to have accountability officers of its own, the city Ombudsman will take precedence over Mr. Marin, but will have the power to call in her provincial counterpart to help on investigations.
In recent years, Mr. Marin's probes have targeted everything from the mass arrests at the Toronto G20 summit to jail guards that beat prisoners to overbilling of customers by Hydro One.Saunders family vows all missing women will be found
By JANE TABER
Saturday, March 1, 2014 Print Edition, Page A6
HALIFAX -- Loretta Saunders's legacy will be that native women who are murdered or disappear will never be forgotten, her family vows.
In an emotional news conference Friday, after the court proceedings of the two accused of killing the 26-year-old Saint Mary's University student, the victim's family said they wanted to see the court hold people accountable.
Ms. Saunders's eldest brother, Edmund, who has said little during the two-week ordeal, spoke up: "No more of our beautiful women will go missing. We are young and we're smart. We're not the old ones that are going to sit down and be quiet any more," he said.
"We came here. We got explanations ... We got her back and it's a proven point that any and every missing aboriginal woman can be found and they will be found from now on."
For the Saunders family it has been two weeks of high emotion and tension, culminating in a Halifax courtroom Friday morning where for the first time they faced Blake Leggette, 25, one of the accused charged with first degree murder.
Five sheriffs and two Halifax police officers accompanied Mr. Leggette. Dressed in a light green sweatshirt and his head shaven, he stared straight ahead - even as a spectator, not known to the family, yelled "You gutless coward." Several people in the courtroom applauded the outburst as a security official instructed the man to be quiet.
Victoria Henneberry, 28, the co-accused and Mr. Leggette's girlfriend, did not physically appear in the courtroom. Her lawyer, Patrick MacEwen, dealt with her case. However, she was in the building. She was captured by photographers as she was led into the courthouse handcuffed and clutching a dog-eared paperback novel, As Seen on TV, about "sex, lies and reality TV" and the young woman whose life begins to "unravel in dramatic style."
Halifax police laid the murder charges Thursday. Their case was put over until March 19.
Ms. Henneberry and Mr. Leggette were subletting Ms. Saunders's 10th-floor apartment in a Halifax suburb. Police say that they had been roommates for about a month, but do not know whether Ms. Saunders had lived with them the entire time.
Not much more is known about the two accused. Lyle Howe, Mr. Leggette's lawyer, says his client hasn't said "a whole lot."
"He is just extremely concerned about what is going to happen. There is a lot of unknown at this point so there are mostly questions."
Ms. Saunders disappeared on Feb. 13. She left her boyfriend's place in the morning and went to her apartment to collect rent owed to her. For two weeks her family, many of whom live in Labrador, her friends and even strangers searched the city. Earlier this week, her body was found in the median of the Trans-Canada Highway, just west of Moncton.
Ms. Henneberry and Mr. Leggette were arrested on Feb. 18 near Windsor, Ont., initially charged with stealing Ms. Saunders's car.
Police believe Ms. Saunders was killed on Feb. 13 in her apartment. They have given few other details as they continue to piece together their homicide investigation.
At Friday's news conference, the family thanked the media for its help and for keeping the issue of violence against aboriginal women in the spotlight.Toews likely to get next Supreme Court nod
By SEAN FINE AND BILL CURRY
Saturday, March 8, 2014 Print Edition, Page A4
Vic Toews, a former Conservative justice minister, has been appointed to Manitoba's top trial court, setting up a possible candidacy for the Supreme Court of Canada, which will have a vacancy from the West within two years.
Mr. Toews, 61, who retired from the government last July, is known for tough-on-crime legislation and his criticism of activist judges. Ten years ago, in a speech called "Abuse of the Charter by the Supreme Court" at an anti-abortion conference in Winnipeg, he praised the work of the conservative U.S. scholar Robert Bork, who said judges were imposing a set of values upon the American people.
"I submit that it's no different in Canada," Mr. Toews said.
The appointment, made by Justice Minister Peter MacKay, drew mixed reactions. Law dean Lorna Turnbull of the University of Manitoba said Mr. Toews was a respected justice minister and had a distinguished career that included teaching at law at the school. But DeLloyd Guth, a legal historian at that school, said the appointment violated a convention that politicians not be named to the bench within two years of leaving government.
"The gall of this is just unspeakable," he said. As for appointment to the Supreme Court when Justice Marshall Rothstein of Manitoba reaches retirement age on Christmas Day, 2015, he said, "I certainly see that coming."
He is not the only one who does.
"Toews' name is likely to be on the list" of candidates for the Supreme Court, said Peter Russell, a political scientist who has written books about the court.
Both pointed to changes the Conservative government made to the rules for screening judges that removed the category "highly qualified" and left a screening committee to set a low bar - dividing applicants into the qualified and the unqualified.
Karen Busby, a law professor at the University of Manitoba, said nothing is illegitimate about a judicial appointment that is political "as long as it's meritorious." She said: "He's a smart man; he was very well respected as a constitutional law lawyer before he went into politics." She also said he has been deeply involved in policy development for the past two decades. "That has to count for something."
Mr. Toews went to Ottawa as a Canadian Alliance MP in 2000 and was a prominent critic of the Liberals on law-and-order files, including the gun registry, during his six years in opposition. In 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper named him his government's first justice minister. In that job, he introduced a wide range of legislation featuring new mandatory minimum sentences for serious crimes.
Some of his more controversial comments came during his three-and-a-half years as minister of public safety from January, 2010, until he left federal politics in July, 2013. In advocating for new police surveillance legislation in February, 2012, Mr. Toews told opposition MPs they "can either stand with us or with the child pornographers."Tibetan political leader seeks official Canadian visit to region
By JUSTIN GIOVANNETTI
Monday, March 3, 2014 Print Edition, Page A8
VANCOUVER -- The head of Tibet's government-in-exile has called on Canadian officials to visit the contested Chinese region, saying that a large military buildup and new security measures have made life intolerable for locals.
Lobsang Sangay, head of the exiled administration, said Chinese officials have not spoken with the Tibetan government in four years, longer than Mr. Sangay has been in his position. Decrying China's "hard-line measures," Mr. Sangay, who was in Canada last week, stressed that Western support would be instrumental while Chinese President Xi Jinping drafts a new foreign policy.
"Canada should push China on human rights more strongly and the ambassador for religious freedom should go to Tibet and look at the claims of the government," said Mr. Sangay, whose title is Sikyong, equivalent to prime minister.
Andrew Bennett, Canada's ambassador for religious freedom, has not visited Tibet. No one from his office could confirm whether he had plans to do so.
On Feb. 20, Mr. Bennett met the Dalai Lama during the Tibetan Buddhist leader's trip in the United States. Religious freedom in Tibet was one of the main points of conversation.
"Canadians are concerned about the restrictions placed by the Chinese government on the right to freedom of religion of Tibetan Buddhists, especially on their ability to worship in peace. We are also concerned by the self-immolation by some Tibetans," Mr. Bennett wrote in a statement.
According to Carole Samdup, the head of the Canada Tibet Committee, the communiqué was the first mention of Tibet since Mr. Bennett's office was created in early 2013.
"We've made a number of requests that he should visit personally and we've yet to receive any replies," she said. "This is what we thought his office was for."
The Tibetan Plateau sits in a strategically important area in the centre of Asia, between China's lush valleys, the metropolises of India and a dozen other countries. A large infrastructure program has opened up the previously remote region, allowing more troops to be stationed along the mountainous border.
"I just spoke with a woman who had returned from Lhasa," said Mr. Sangay, who has never been allowed to visit Tibet. "The area is quarantined. Locals can stay a few days for pilgrimage and then they are thrown out. There are checkpoints every 30 metres with sharpshooters on the roofs. A walk to go pick up vegetables that used to take five minutes now takes 30."
One of the impacts of the restrictions has been "resentment" by locals, leading to 126 self-immolations since 2009.
Despite calling for Mr. Bennett's visit, Mr. Sangay praised Canada's commitment to Tibet and called for it to be more widely adopted. "In Europe, you see some countries speaking out and some hesitating, a co-ordinated effort by Europe and North America would be very helpful."Montreal mayor open to idea of bars selling alcohol until 6 a.m.
By PETER RAKOBOWCHUK
The Canadian Press
Friday, March 7, 2014 Print Edition, Page A3
MONTREAL -- If a pilot project proposed by Mayor Denis Coderre is successful, Montrealers might be able to drink in bars until dawn.
Mr. Coderre says he does not see any reason watering holes should not be allowed to sell booze until 6 a.m. - a three-hour extension of current licensing laws.
"Listen, we are a metropolis," he said in an interview on Thursday. "If it's good for Berlin and Sydney, Australia, I don't see why we can't do that."
Mr. Coderre noted that drinking establishments in Berlin stay open until 6 a.m., and that some never close.
If Montreal makes the change, the new closing time would leave only a two-hour gap when bars could not serve alcohol - between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m.
The mayor said the 3 a.m. last call causes security and noise problems because too many people head out into the streets at the same time.
Mr. Coderre added that even the Montreal police chief agreed there's a big impact on the streets.
"You have some fights [and] you have even more noise," he said.
Mr. Coderre gave few details of the project, but said it would lead to extensive consultations with the public and stakeholders.
Jean-Marie De Koninck, a long-time proponent of highway safety, said staying open until 6 a.m. would allow drinkers to empty out the bars gradually, which would make streets a lot safer.
"Those responsible for drinking establishments could encourage their clients to grab a coffee or a soft drink and sober up before getting behind the wheel," Mr. De Koninck said in an interview.
Mr. De Koninck created the Operation Red Nose safety program, which provides a chauffeur service for tipsy partygoers over the winter holidays.
Mr. Coderre suggested various options could be considered, such as allowing bars to stay open until 6 a.m. on weekends only.Space suit water problem misdiagnosed
Near-fatal leak was ignored because of chemical concerns, which had been a problem for Chris Hadfield
By TU THANH HA
Thursday, February 27, 2014 Print Edition, Page A14
The water leak that nearly drowned a spacewalking astronaut last summer started a week earlier but was misdiagnosed by NASA officials who were reluctant to report serious problems, an investigation has found.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Wednesday released the findings of a panel set up to review the life-threatening incident of last July 16, when Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano had to abort a spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) because water filled the upper part of his helmet.
NASA did not terminate the outing more promptly, the report said, because ground controllers were initially more concerned the water would interact with anti-fog chemicals on the helmet visor and sting the spacewalker's eyes - a problem that happened to Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield in 2001.
The leak was, in fact, serious, and Major Parmitano, an Italian Air Force test pilot, had to find his way back to the airlock with water covering his ears, eyes and nose. Afterward, his helmet was found to have contained 1.5 litres of water.
"Given the limited volume of the helmet and the behaviour of the water, this condition was life-threatening," the 222-page investigation report says.
The report reveals that a leak in a previous spacewalk on July 9 was not dealt with properly because the spacesuit's drinking bag was wrongly blamed.
"This event was not properly investigated, which could have prevented placing a crew member at risk a week later," ISS chief engineer Chris Hansen, who chaired the five-member investigation board, told reporters during a teleconference on Wednesday.
He said the probe found the ISS program was too focused on trying to maximize the time the crew spent on orbital experiments, while ground officials were reluctant to investigate engineering problems further.
"The flight control team [had a] perception that the anomaly-reporting process was a bit resource-intensive and there was some schedule pressure. It made them reluctant to invoke it," he said. As a result, the ground team agreed with the space station crew's initial assessment that the drinking bag was to blame when leaking began on July 9.
In fact, the leak was caused by particles that plugged a fan pump separator in the suit's life-support system. The contaminants clogged holes, causing water to back up and migrate into the helmet.
Given what little was known at the time, the report praised Major Parmitano's performance. "[His] calm demeanour in the face of his helmet filling with water possibly saved his life."
On that day, Major Parmitano and U.S. Navy Commander Chris Cassidy were supposed to conduct a six-hour spacewalk to rig jumper cables for the arrival of a Russian lab module.
About 44 minutes into the spacewalk, Major Parmitano felt some wetness behind his head.
"It's hard to tell, but it feels like a lot of water," he told flight control in Houston. "Where is the water coming from? It's too much," he said a few minutes later. "It's in my eyes."
In a blog post afterward, Major Parmitano wrote that he was blinded and could get back to the airlock only by tugging on his safety tether lines.
"My ability to see - already compromised by the water - completely vanishes, making my eyes useless; but worse than that, the water covers my nose - a really awful sensation that I make worse by my vain attempts to move the water by shaking my head.
"By now, the upper part of the helmet is full of water and I can't even be sure that the next time I breathe I will fill my lungs with air and not liquid."
THE SPACE SUIT
An astronaut nearly drowned when the life support system in his space suit failed, causing his helmet to fill with water. NASA found there was a hardware failure due to clogged holes in the fan pump separator, and the blockages caused water to back up and re-enter the suit's air system, then flow into the helmet.
Water began entering the astronaut's helmet at the back of his head.
1.5 litres of water collected in the helmet's visor.
NASA first thought that a leaking in-suit drink bag was the cause of the problem. The plastic pouch mounted inside the torso of the space suit can hold 1.9 litres.
THE PRIMARY LIFE SUPPORT SUBSYSTEM (PLSS)
In the backpack worn by NASA astronauts, it contains oxygen tanks, carbon dioxide scrubbers/ filters, cooling water, radio, electrical power, ventilating fans and warning systems. Inside the PLSS, the used air from the helmet enters a charcoal cartridge to remove odors, and then the carbon dioxide scrubber cartridge. The gas flow then goes through a fan, and then to a sublimator that removes water vapor and returns it to the cooling water supply.
TRISH McALASTER / THE GLOBE AND MAIL / SOURCE: NASA, BBC, HOW STUFF WORKSDoctor no ordinary revolutionary
Olga Bogomolets, who has had two offers to join new government, is being pressured to run for president
By PAUL WALDIE
Saturday, March 8, 2014 Print Edition, Page A12
KIEV -- She has been one of the most prominent figures in the popular uprising that has shaken Ukraine and driven the country's president into exile. So when Dr. Olga Bogomolets turned down two offers to join the country's new unity government, it sent a signal that not all was well between the protest movement and the politicians now running the country.
She is no ordinary revolutionary. She comes from a long line of doctors, so renowned in Ukraine that one of the country's leading medical schools is named after her great-grandfather. She's also a popular singer, art collector and founder of a prestigious dermatology and cosmetology clinic.
When protesters took over Kiev's Independence Square last fall to demonstrate against President Viktor Yanukovych, Dr. Bogomolets rushed to their side and organized a network of makeshift medical clinics for the movement, known as Maidan. And when a group of protesters and police clashed in a deadly confrontation last month, Dr. Bogomolets stood among the corpses in the Hotel Ukraine and became the public face of the grief and horror of that day.
On Friday, sitting in her comfortable office filled with antique chairs and beautiful artwork, Dr. Bogomotets spoke at length with The Globe and Mail about her frustration with the government's response to Maidan and the pressure she is facing to run for president in May. The new government brought "in a few new faces, but our goal was not to change the faces," she said. "We are just coming back to what was before, just a different picture, a little bit of a different picture."
Her first experiences with the new leadership did not go well. Just after Mr. Yanukovych fled to Russia last month, opposition party leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk began forming a new government and his officials offered Dr. Bogomolets the position of minister of health. She said she would only accept if she could bring in her own team, conduct a thorough audit of the operations and adopt European Union standards of transparency to stamp out rampant corruption.
"The next day in [private] the politicians told each other that I refused," she said. She also discovered that most of the senior positions in the department had already been filled with political allies, meaning she would have had no real control. A few days later when Mr. Yatsenyuk was about to climb on a giant stage at the square to announce his cabinet to the crowds, he turned to Dr. Bogomolets and offered her the post of vice-prime minister of humanitarian affairs. She declined, knowing that once again all of the department positions had been filled and she would have been merely a token.
"For me it was just a signal not to join," she said. Like many in Maidan, she is concerned that the Yanukovych team has simply been replaced by another team and that not enough has been done to go after those who killed the protesters and beat up students. "We have two sides of the coin, and we have had one side and then they just turned it to the different side," she said.
Government officials have not commented on the offers to Dr. Bogomolets.
Many people are encouraging her to run for president, including some wealthy business people who have pledged financial support. She hasn't decided if she'll run, mainly because she's wary of accepting money that could compromise her. She said she's also uncomfortable with the dirty politics in Ukraine. "I'm saying if I will [run] I will not play by your rules."
She has already been the subject of one dirty trick. This week someone leaked a telephone conversation between the Estonian Foreign Minister and EU Foreign Affairs chief Catherine Ashton, which suggested that the doctor had said both protesters and police used snipers during last month's clash. The revelation caused an uproar and called the protest movement into question.
Dr. Bogomolets insisted that she did not indicate that protesters used snipers. She simply relayed to the Estonian minister what she saw that day - protesters shot in the head and heart. "What I saw were people who were killed by snipers and only on [protesters'] side."
While she won't commit to running for president, she said that she is ready to serve her country. "I understand that we have to do something because if we [don't] all these people who died, they just died for nothing," she said. "I'm ready to serve the people. It doesn't matter how. When God gives you opportunities you have to give your heart."Tensions mount on the streets of Simferopol
By PAUL WALDIE
Thursday, March 6, 2014 Print Edition, Page A13
SIMFEROPOL, UKRAINE -- As Crimea moves toward independence from Ukraine and closer to Russia, the mood on the streets of the capital is beginning to turn ugly.
On Wednesday, United Nations special envoy Robert Serry was stopped in Simferopol by about a dozen gunmen, who ordered him to leave the country. Mr. Serry, a former Dutch ambassador to Ukraine, refused at first but later agreed to head to the airport, cutting short his trip that was supposed to be a UN fact-finding mission.
There were more signs of the growing unease on the streets of Simferopol on Wednesday. At two pro-Russian demonstrations, some people who voiced opposition to Russia or Crimea's independence from Ukraine were shouted down and pushed. Dissenters were labelled "provocateurs" or "liars."
Anna Kramarenko and her husband, Yuiri, were yelled at and shoved by a small crowd in the city's Lenin Square after questioning the Russian military presence and saying Crimea should not separate from Ukraine. They were encircled while carrying their two-year-old son and made a quick exit to an underground walkway. But even after they stopped briefly to talk to The Globe and Mail, two women called them liars. "Life in Crimea was fine, why do we need the Russians?" Mr. Kramarenko said. "They said the USA started wars there and there. So why did Russia start this war here?"
Across town at a military complex, dozens of pro-Russian activists stood outside the main door, some carrying police shields emblazoned with the colours of the Crimean flag. Earlier, about 30 women gathered in front holding signs calling for peace with Ukraine. Witnesses say when the pro-Russian activists arrived they forced the women across the road and pushed some of them. By midday, the women had cleared off and the pro-Russian activists lined the front of the building.
"Today was a case of provocateurs," said a pro-Russian demonstrator who did not give his name. "They said we hurt them. But we don't hurt anybody ... The women came to show for the television cameras. "
There was genuine support for Russia and President Vladimir Putin. Many, such as Igor Smilayavsky, view the recent uprising in Kiev with uncertainty, worried instability and violence will come to Crimea. To him the protest movement, known as Maidan, was led by nationalists and extremists such as Right Sector, a loose collection of right-wing groups that has been a small but militant part of the Maidan uprising.
"I hope that we will defend Crimea from the people in Maidan. They were fascists," he said. He would also like to see Crimea join Russia and praised Mr. Putin. "I like him," he said.
Farther west in the city of Yevpatoriya, where a military base has been partially taken over by Russian soldiers, Eugene Kriwenko said he was thankful for Maidan. "The Russian troops should leave," he said. "What are the Russian troops doing here? This is Ukraine. I am Ukrainian." But he acknowledged few of his neighbours share his views.
Inside the base, soldiers have refused to leave and join a separate Crimean army in the face of heavily armed Russian troops on their doorstep. "I was born here, I live here and it's my homeland," said Lieutenant-Colonel Sergej Matsjuk, deputy commander of the base. He added that the 300 Ukrainian soldiers were given the option of leaving but all stayed, and they are refusing to give up control of the base to the Russians.
That means the continuation of a strange standoff. About 40 Russian soldiers are guarding the entrance and the base armoury, where about 3,000 weapons are kept. But Lt.-Col. Matsjuk has blocked the entrance to the armoury with a truck, and is refusing to hand over the keys. "I know where they are," he said with a smile when asked if he kept the keys on him. For now, the Russians are content with guarding the weapons depot and mingling with the Ukrainians, who give them water and access to the bathrooms. "History has shown that there is a way to resolve any situation," Lt.-Col. Matsjuk said. Asked what that might be this time, he shrugged and replied: "I don't know."Ethnic targeting concern for Tatars
Indigenous population voices worry over referendum proposed by newly elected Prime Minister of Crimea
By PAUL WALDIE
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 Print Edition, Page A11
SIMFEROPOL, UKRAINE -- Until a few days ago, not many people outside Crimea had heard of Sergei Aksyonov. Even many of his fellow Crimeans didn't pay much attention to him.
But the 41-year-old businessman and pro-Russian activist has become a pivotal player in the geopolitical drama unfolding in Crimea with his fiery language and declarations that the peninsula is no longer part of Ukraine.
Mr. Aksyonov was elected prime minister of Crimea last Thursday by the autonomous territory's parliament - after gunmen surrounded the parliament building and stood in the chamber while MPs voted. He was not a random choice. Mr. Aksyonov heads the fledgling Russian Unity Party in Crimea and despite holding just three seats in the 100-seat parliament, his election was assured with the Russian military on the doorstep.
Since then he has moved quickly to pull Crimea toward Russia. He has welcomed Russian troops, called for financial support from President Vladimir Putin and set a date for a referendum on Crimea's independence. He has also labelled the newly formed interim government in Kiev "mad" and suggested that ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia and is wanted by Ukrainian police, remains the country's rightful leader.
On Tuesday he went further, declaring that he is now fully in charge of Crimea and demanding that all Ukrainian soldiers in the territory join a newly formed Crimean army, or face prosecution. He also insisted that Crimea is functioning normally, with government workers getting paid and social benefit cheques arriving, although he declined to say where it has so far gotten the money. "We don't trust the Kiev government and we asked for help from the Russian Federation," he told reporters.
Just what Mr. Aksyonov is trying to create remains unclear. He said everything will be clear after the referendum, slated for March 30. But the outcome is likely to raise even more questions. Will Crimea become an independent country, a ward of Russia or something else inside Ukraine?
It's hard to imagine Crimea existing on its own without substantial support from Russia or Ukraine. The territory's economy relies mainly on agriculture, tourism and a few large manufacturing plants, none of which have been doing very well lately. Because of its rundown, Soviet-era infrastructure, Crimea is almost entirely dependent on mainland Ukraine for water, electricity and food. There are signs of decay and neglect almost everywhere, with abandoned buildings and shabby housing scattered across many towns.
And then there are the Tatars.
Although they are the indigenous population, the Tatars make up just 15 per cent of the territory's two million inhabitants. That's largely due to mass deportations by the Soviets after the Second World War, punishment for allegedly helping the Nazis. Roughly 300,000 returned to Crimea after Ukraine gained independence in the early 1990s.
Many are now living in fear of Russia's recent move in Crimea and they are convinced the referendum will be rigged to get whatever result Mr. Aksyonov wants. The community already feels marginalized and further domination by the Russia-speaking majority has sent many fleeing to Istanbul, Kiev or elsewhere in Ukraine.
"We believe this is catastrophic for our people," said Abduraman Egiz, who is an elected member of the Crimean Tatar Council, which represents the community.
Tatars, he added, already feel under pressure. The Russian language dominates here - on street signs, in conversations and at school. Ukrainian is barely spoken at all, let alone Crimean Tatar, and age-old Soviet attitudes have been slow to change, meaning most Tatars are shut out of government jobs.
If Mr. Aksyonov persists, Mr. Egiz said he worries about violence. Already Tatars in Crimea are guarding their shops and homes for fear of attack. Ethnic violence "becomes very messy and you cannot control it, as history shows," he said.
Mr. Aksyonov went to lengths Tuesday to reassure Tatars that they will be part of the new government in Crimea and their culture protected. Mr. Egiz was not convinced. "The only choice for us is Ukraine."Canada makes strong commitment to Ukraine
By KATHRYN BLAZE CARLSON
Saturday, March 1, 2014 Print Edition, Page A5
OTTAWA -- Ottawa is making no apologies for taking sides in the political transition unfolding in Ukraine, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper backing the country's territorial integrity and reaching out to allies as Western nations expressed growing alarm over Russia's actions in Crimea.
Friday was an active day for Canada on the international stage: Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird met on the ground with Kiev's new leadership the same day the country's new interior minister accused Russia of "armed invasion" in its southern Crimea region. And Mr. Harper spoke about the developments in Ukraine with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is considered a main link between Western leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Prime Minister also spoke earlier this week with British Prime Minister David Cameron.
At a press conference in Kiev on Friday, Mr. Baird laid bare Canada's commitment to Ukraine, even as ousted president Viktor Yanukovych emerged in Russia to assert his political status and challenge the legality of the planned May election. Mr. Baird said Canada would offer economic, technical and political support, noting Ottawa is ready to work with the International Monetary Fund and suggesting it will again deploy election observers. And when asked whether he fears siding with the new government could hamper Ottawa's diplomatic relationship with Moscow, Mr. Baird said, "Canada is not the world's referee."
"We stand on the side of the Ukrainian people," he said after meetings that included the interim President and the newly appointed interim Prime Minister. "We stand for peace, prosperity, security and freedom. We expect the Russian Federation to honour the commitments it made in the Budapest Declaration [committing to Ukraine's territorial sovereignty], and we certainly don't apologize for standing with the Ukrainian people in their struggle for freedom." Some veteran Canadian diplomats question Canada's partisan approach . Christopher Westdal, who was Canada's ambassador to Ukraine from 1996 to 1998 and to Russia from 2003 to 2006, said Ottawa has lost credibility with Moscow and has no role to play now as an intermediary on this issue. "I think there are limits, and I think there's a price to pay in terms of any influence with Russia," he said. "Our credibility is lopsided."
Ottawa says it has been collaborating with its allies, and its position that Mr. Yanukovych is no longer the former Soviet state's leader is hardly unique among Western nations. But while others, including Ms. Merkel and U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, have made clear there is no inherent contradiction between Ukraine's long-standing ties to Russia and a closer association with Europe, Mr. Baird spoke of "a path which leads to Ukraine's European integration." And although Mr. Harper did not mention Moscow when speaking publicly on the issue on Friday, he left no doubt where Ottawa stands.
"Given developments that we see that are worrying, to us, I think it is important as Canadians that we emphasize our very strong support - we emphasize this with all countries in the region - our very strong support for the territorial integrity and respect for the territorial integrity of Ukraine," he said in Brampton, Ont.
Mr. Westdal said the government's firm stand on Ukraine can be viewed through a domestic lens: Canada is home to 1.3 million Ukrainian-Canadians, and a federal election is around the corner in 2015. "We've got a diaspora-driven foreign policy," he said. "It might work at the polls, but it doesn't do much good in the world."
With a report from Adrian Morrow in TorontoMASS KILLING OF PALESTINIANS AT PRAYER IN HEBRON
By PATRICK MARTIN
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 Print Edition, Page A2
It wasn't unusual for Israeli physician Baruch Goldstein to pray at the Tomb of Abraham in the West Bank town of Hebron, and it was normal for a settler like him to carry his submachine gun. So Israeli guards didn't bat an eye when Goldstein strode past them. Muslims that day were marking the holy month of Ramadan in their mosque next to the tomb, while Israelis in the adjacent room celebrated the feast of Purim, which recalls Jews escaping a death sentence in ancient Persia. Goldstein was on a Purim mission of his own. A disciple of the anti-Arab rabbi Meir Kahane, he opened fire on the Muslims kneeling before him, killing 29 and wounding dozens before being beaten to death by survivors. Forty days later, Hamas retaliated with its first suicide bombing, killing eight Israelis in Afula. The peace process has never recovered.Tuesday, March 04, 2014
A Feb. 25 Moment in Time feature regarding the 1994 killing of Palestinians at prayer in Hebron should have made it clear that, after those killings, Hamas carried out its first suicide bombing in Israel. The words "in Israel" were not in the original feature.DR. KELLOGG SERVES UP THE FIRST CORN FLAKES
By ANDREW RYAN
Friday, March 7, 2014 Print Edition, Page A2
Though Corn Flakes were sugar-free and tasteless in their earliest incarnation, the cereal eventually became a breakfast staple around the world. Their creator, John Harvey Kellogg, was a Seventh-day Adventist who invented the foodstuff to fill out the diets of patients at his "healthy living" sanitarium in Battle Creek, Mich. His more enterprising brother Will added sugar to the recipe shortly after. The commercialization of corn flakes created a rift between them, and John sued Will to prevent him selling the product. John lost, Will formed his own company and marketed Kellogg's Corn Flakes to the hilt. For the rest of his days, John distanced himself from his invention and devoted his time to the sanitarium, which remained open until a year before his death in 1943 at age 91. Will died eight years later, also 91 but considerably wealthier.The key to curbing Putin's ambitions? Oil prices
By BRIAN MILNER
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 Print Edition, Page B2
If the West is serious about curbing Vladimir Putin's plans to turn Crimea into a permanent Russian theme park, the answer lies not in dubious sanctions or asset freezes but in the global price of Russia's crucial major export - oil.
Mr. Putin has always been a lousy economic steward, more focused on advancing his goals of restoring Russia's superpower status, consolidating control over key sectors of the economy and rewarding friendly oligarchs, than actually broadening growth and incomes.
Soaring oil prices and insatiable European demand for Russian natural gas provided the financial underpinning for his ambitions. But oil and gas could also be his undoing, because he is nearly as dependent as Venezuela on high world energy prices to keep his grandiose plans from being undone by a plunging economy.
Reducing Moscow's take from oil revenues would ratchet up pressure on the Kremlin, without entailing the huge risks of sanctions, which would likely only make matters worse. This could be accomplished if Washington were to tap its huge strategic petroleum reserve and persuade Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing allies to go along with the increased output long enough to put a severe crimp in Russian state finances.
"The U.S. does have alternatives [to sanctions] that could impose grave costs on Russia," says prominent U.S. oil economist Philip Verleger. Simply put, the plan would require President Barack Obama to reach a deal with Congress to release a fixed amount of oil daily for a lengthy period - not for the usual reasons of a national shortage or emergency, but to dramatically reduce the world price.
Mr. Verleger calculates that if Washington were to put 500,000 barrels a day on the market for up to two years, it would slash world crude prices by $10 to $12 (U.S.) a barrel without putting a significant dent in its own reserves. The tactic would have the added benefit of reducing consumer costs in the U.S., Canada and Europe. As natural gas export prices tend to be linked to oil, these would fall too.
Russia, which ranks third among global oil producers and is easily the world's leading exporter of natural gas, would take a direct revenue hit of about 15 per cent - or about $370-billion.
The lost revenue would cut Russian gross domestic product by as much as 4 per cent. "It's not a huge hit, but it would nick them," says Mr. Verleger, who has long argued that the U.S. strategic reserve is far larger than it needs to be at a time when U.S. domestic production is expanding rapidly.
Russia needs oil to be about $117 a barrel to balance its budget. But even after a jittery market drove commodity prices higher in response to the military incursion in Crimea, Brent crude peaked at about $112. It fell back to $109 after Mr. Putin insisted he has no desire for armed conflict or any permanent designs on the region.
When oil declines, the usual response from Saudi Arabia is to cut output, which, in turn, would drive prices back up. But the prospect of Russian pain might be enough to persuade the Saudis to keep the taps wide open. One reason is that the kingdom supports the Syrian insurgency, while the Kremlin is propping up the regime of Bashar Hafez al-Assad. Given that, the Saudis are unlikely to thumb their noses at any moves that deprive Mr. Putin of a significant chunk of his hard income.
This sure sounds like a better plan than the current huffing and puffing. The European Union talks about taking "targeted measures," but most member states are never going to sign on to any penalties that could endanger access to vital Russian energy exports or billions of dollars worth of investments across a broad swath of the Russian economy. The United States is in much the same boat.
But which European government is going to reject an alternative that would mean lower energy costs and a less ferocious Russian bear?Canada's weak capital investment is a bad omen for growth
By DAVID PARKINSON
Thursday, February 27, 2014 Print Edition, Page B2
If we were counting (as some key policy makers have been) on Canadian businesses to fuel the economy by boosting their capital investment, we can stop counting. They have little appetite in their 2014 budgets to step up their spending; indeed, they now seem to be waiting for the economy to make the first move.
Statistics Canada's annual survey of capital-investment intentions, released Wednesday, indicated that public and private organizations plan to increase spending on construction, machinery and equipment by a thin 1.4 per cent in 2014 - even less than last year's meagre 1.5 per cent, and the slowest growth since the recession.
Certainly some of the blame lies with government austerity, as finance ministers across the country wrestle their budgets toward balance: Public investment is expected to rise 1.9 per cent this year, down from last year's 6.6-per-cent growth. But the survey shows that Canadian private-sector companies plan to increase capital spending by a modest 1.3 per cent this year, after a puny 0.2-per-cent increase last year.
It's a bad omen for economic growth. The Bank of Canada has said, repeatedly, that it expects rebounds in business investment and exports to be catalysts in Canada's healthier economic trajectory. Exports have shown signs of coming around (up a solid 0.9 per cent in December, including a 1.2-per-cent gain to the U.S.), and the combination of a weaker Canadian dollar and an accelerating U.S. recovery should help on that front this year. But business investment looks stuck in neutral. And governments are stepping out of the game before companies are ready to step back in.
Given that Canadian companies are sitting, collectively, on an estimated $600-billion in cash, the obvious question is, what's holding them back?
Certainly the decline in the Canadian dollar has taken away a major motivation that helped spur investment earlier in the economic recovery. The high dollar made it significantly less expensive for Canadian companies to import machinery and equipment to upgrade their operations, and it would appear that many took advantage: Private-sector capital spending rose by an average of 10 per cent annually from 2010 through 2012, pushing it above pre-recession levels and well ahead of the pace of U.S. business investment.
But with that currency advantage evaporating last year and into this year, businesses are now looking at the more fundamental question of whether they will soon need new production capacity any time soon. A lot of that spending earlier this decade was predicated on the notion that an economy operating at full capacity was just around the corner; those hopes have been dashed so often that businesses have justifiably lost their faith.
Four years ago (in 2010), the Bank of Canada was talking about the Canadian economy returning to full capacity in the second half of 2011. We're still waiting. The central bank has pushed back the time frame repeatedly, as the recovery has stumbled and excess capacity has persisted. The bank's latest outlook, in last month's monetary policy report, now doesn't see the output gap closing until early 2016. It's been like chasing a rainbow.
For Canadian companies, the rainbow chasing is over. Now they look determined to wait for the economy to catch up to their capacity - for the Bank of Canada's output gap to show serious signs of closing - before they ramp up investment in their buildings and equipment.
That will require a serious increase in demand - perhaps, as Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz has suggested, an acceleration in exports that will strain businesses' capacity and prompt them to invest in expansion. But it looks like Canada's companies are going to want to see the proof before they pull out their wallets again.The next Netflix will suffer thanks to Comcast deal
By DAVE MORRIS
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 Print Edition, Page B2
Netflix Inc. may appear to be the big loser now that it has agreed to pay a rumoured six-figure annual fee to ensure faster video streaming of its service to customers of Comcast Corp., the U.S. cable giant. But don't judge so fast. The real losers may be companies that don't exist yet.
The Netflix-Comcast deal looks likely to be a harbinger of a two-tier internet, where telcos collect big bucks for allowing premium data speeds to flow between established properties, while small startups who can't afford to pay are forced into a much more crowded data pipeline.
While Comcast's demand for cash seems like a brazen money grab, the deal actually enhances the appeal of Netflix's service. And such payments have been part of the net's smooth functioning for years. ISPs like Comcast and big internet content providers like Facebook Inc. were generally pretty happy to work out smallish deals allowing, say, Facebook's data to flow more directly - and by extension, quickly - to Comcast's customers. You may have noticed that a site like Google.ca loads more quickly than, say, the website of Malaysian radio station Radio 988 FM. (okay, maybe you haven't.) The Internet, contrary to popular belief, is not run by any central authority. Picture the internet as a continent like North America. Each country (server) has its own rules about who can enter and exit their land, and some countries are friendlier to their neighbours than others. But there's no single authority that governs all the countries and negotiates the rules of passage through their individual borders. If Comcast decided it didn't want to pass data from Netflix's servers (i.e. movies) to Comcast's customers, it could cut Netflix off entirely, or make crossing the border full of bureaucratic hassles that would slow the process down. With prime-time Netflix content speeds on Comcast reportedly down as much as 27 per cent from October to January, they seem to have chosen the latter option.
Just like many countrys' visa agreements, Google has "peering" agreements with ISPs such as Comcast, or Bell and Rogers, speeding up the time it takes for data to go from Google's servers, to Canadian ISPs, to your Internet device. But the rise of bandwidth-hungry streaming video has swelled the size of the deals to the point where smaller players may not be able to compete - especially if they're competing with the ISPs themselves. Until recently, peering agreements were generally settled among network engineers with little fanfare, but that was before cord-cutting threatened to smash cable companies' monopolies on broadcasting video content.
The problems with companies like Comcast extracting extravagant rents from firms such as Netflix and Facebook are obvious. Not only does Comcast get paid twice - once by the content provider and once by its customers - it can instigate a bidding war for bandwidth among huge companies, and choke off speeds for the rest, including entrepreneurial ventures. From a company like Nest (recently acquired by Google) selling internet-enabled thermostats to Apple's Find My iPhone app that uses the internet to locate a lost or stolen device, there are plenty of useful products that depend on the Internet. And while Internet providers ought to be compensated for the cost of running and upgrading their part of the network, a two-tier internet could restrict innovation at a time when the race toward digital innovations has never been more important, or competitive.
The Federal Communications Commission in the U.S. has been steadily working toward establishing rules to protect what chairman Tom Wheeler and others call the Open Internet. Canada should consider following suit - not to protect the profit margins of firms like Netflix, but to make sure the next Netflix has a chance to flourish.Signs of improving economy take rate cut off table
Central bank announcement likely to show worries of disinflation have eased after better-than-expected growth in fourth quarter
By BARRIE MCKENNA
Monday, March 3, 2014 Print Edition, Page B2
OTTAWA -- Three years, five months and counting.
That's how long the Bank of Canada has kept its key interest rate fixed at a rock-bottom 1 per cent.
And the rate isn't likely to change Wednesday when central bank Governor Stephen Poloz makes his second monetary policy announcement of 2014.
But with evidence that inflation is perking up a bit, the odds that Mr. Poloz's next move is a rate increase, rather than a cut, are overwhelming.
Combined with a cheaper Canadian dollar and better-than-expected fourth-quarter growth, the building blocks of an improving economy are starting to fall into place for Mr. Poloz, making a rate cut increasingly unwarranted.
In a series of interviews at the recent G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers in Sydney, Australia, Mr. Poloz called the slide in the Canadian dollar a "welcome development" because it means the U.S. dollar is getting stronger alongside the U.S. economy. He also said he's feeling "a little more comfortable" about disinflation risks.
There was a hint of higher inflation in January. The consumer price index rose at a higher-than-expected 1.5-per-cent annual pace in January - the fastest pace in 19 months.
"The uptick in inflation has taken rate cuts off the table for now," Bank of Montreal chief economist Douglas Porter said.
Economists said the bank will likely make minor adjustments to Wednesday's statement, reflecting how the environment has changed since January, when Mr. Poloz warned of growing "downside risks" on inflation.
"That's debatable now, especially with oil prices pushing above $100 a barrel and the Canadian dollar relatively soft," Mr. Porter pointed out. "I'm not sure that statement still works."
Toronto-Dominion Bank said it's looking for Mr. Poloz to "convey a sense of continued - versus increased - caution" because of the risks still hanging over the economy.
Officially, the bank has a neutral rate bias, implying that its next move could be up or down.
But an imminent rate hike is just as unlikely as a rate cut. Most economists don't expect a rate increase until next year.
The bottom line for Mr. Poloz is that the economy, while improving, remains relatively weak, growing at a pace that is only gradually absorbing excess capacity in the labour market, factories and elsewhere.
The economy contracted in December, dragged down by the effects of the massive ice storm that hit Central Canada during the Christmas holidays. The fourth quarter as a whole was better than private-sector economists and the central bank expected, growing at a 2.9-per-cent annual clip.
But some of the main growth drivers in the fourth quarter could be tough to sustain, including a temporary buildup of business inventories and debt-fuelled consumer spending.
Just as importantly, inflation remains below the Bank of Canada's 2-per-cent target, suggesting underlying economic weakness.
"With inflation still uncomfortably low and economic growth still overly dependent on debt-fuelled housing activity, there is little prospect of any chance in that policy rate in the near-term," Paul Ashworth, chief North American economist at Capital Economics, said in a research note.
The economic outlook isn't likely to change until Canadian exports take off with the recovering U.S. and global economies. Until that happens, the central bank Governor is likely to stay on the interest-rate sidelines.
So far there is little evidence of an export surge. Canada continues to run a significant trade deficit.
Mr. Ashworth said the Canadian economy remains highly dependent on housing investments. If that wanes, it's unclear what will drive growth in the months ahead, he said.Enbridge's Line 9 plan gains approval
By JEFFREY JONES
Friday, March 7, 2014 Print Edition, Page B1
CALGARY -- Enbridge Inc. has won approval to reverse the flow of oil in its Line 9 pipeline between Southern Ontario and Quebec, a contentious project aimed at giving Quebec refiners access to more affordable Western Canadian and North Dakota oil.
The National Energy Board, the country's main energy regulator, said the $110-million project can go ahead provided Enbridge meets 30 conditions it laid out related to safety, public consultation and other issues. The NEB denied the company's request to start operations when it believes it is ready, saying the conditions must be met and the pipeline inspected first.
The project is among several aimed at diversifying markets for Canadian crude oil, which has suffered deep price discounts due to oversupply in its traditional areas of use. Suncor Energy Inc.'s Montreal refinery and Valero Energy Corp.'s plant near Quebec City will be beneficiaries of the pipeline reversal. In recent years, those facilities have run a combination of costly imported oil and increasing volumes of North American supplies that arrive via train.
Line 9 is not the only initiative to get Alberta crude to Eastern Canada. Earlier this week, TransCanada Corp. started the regulatory process for its Energy East pipeline, a $12-billion proposal to move much larger volumes to Quebec and Atlantic Canada by later this decade.
But the approval process for Line 9 highlights the difficult hurdles that such projects must now clear. Although the pipeline has existed since the 1970s, the Enbridge proposal went through a lengthy regulatory process that included a rancorous 10-day public hearing that wrapped up in October. The board shut down the final oral portion of the hearing in Toronto, saying it feared for participants' safety when protesters became disruptive.
In its decision for Line 9, the board said the approval enables Enbridge to react to market forces and provide benefits for Canadians while ensuring it operates in an environmentally sensitive manner. "In approving Enbridge's application, the board has imposed conditions that will enhance current and ongoing pipeline integrity, safety and environmental protection measures to which Line 9 is already subject," it said.
Enbridge said it is reviewing the conditions to determine how much work it will need to put in. Still, it welcomed the NEB ruling. chief executive officer Al Monaco said the company will continue its consultation efforts with communities affected by the project and actions at bolstering safety. "The approval of this project is not the end of the process for us," he said in a statement.
Line 9 extends to Montreal from Sarnia, Ont. With the approval, capacity will rise to 300,000 barrels a day from 240,000. A section between Sarnia and Westover, Ont., near Hamilton, had already received clearance for reversal.
Several environmental groups oppose the reversal, saying it presents major risks of oil spills near populated regions. Following the approval, a coalition called Rising Tide Toronto said it is launching a petition asking people to conduct civil disobedience to disrupt the project.
The company has argued that it had instituted an exhaustive program of inspections and digs to make sure the line could handle the volumes.
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver lauded the decision, which essentially returns the pipeline to its original use when it was built during the energy-crisis era nearly four decades ago.
"This will protect high-quality, skilled jobs in Quebec and create market opportunities for Western Canada's oil producers. Furthermore, by replacing higher-cost foreign crude with Canadian crude, the reversal will strengthen Quebec's refining and petrochemical industries," Mr. Oliver said.
Close: $48.54, down 25¢Harper looks to reassure miners
Prime Minister says he is still receptive to open-pit mine proposals in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region
By KIM MACKRAEL, RACHELLE YOUNGLAI
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 Print Edition, Page B3
TORONTO -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper sought to reassure the mining industry that his government was on its side after spurning the development of a high-profile gold and copper project in British Columbia.
In a surprise visit to a mining conference in Toronto, Mr. Harper defended his Conservative government's rejection of Taseko Mines Ltd.'s New Prosperity project in the region of Cariboo-Chilcotin but said that did not mean the door was closed forever.
"The environmental assessment was extremely negative," Mr. Harper told the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference.
But, he said, "We don't like to see communities and regions deprived of what are obviously ... significant opportunities for people in the region."
"They are always in a position to examine the environmental assessment and to propose a new project based on their attempts to address some of the issues."
It was the second time New Prosperity was rejected and Taseko has vowed not to give up on developing the open-pit mine, which has deeply divided the region.
Mr. Harper's attendance at the mining conference was the first time a sitting prime minister has participated, speaking to the event's growing popularity and influence as the world's largest mining gathering.
The four-day conference is expected to draw nearly 30,000 delegates from more than 125 countries, including China, the United States and Mexico.
Mr. Harper also announced the renewal of a tax credit to help mineral exploration. The tax incentive comes at a particularly painful time for the mining industry, which has lost billions of dollars in value and had to shelve projects because of the downturn in commodity prices.
The Conservative government has put an increased focus in recent years on efforts to improve the reputation of Canadian mining companies abroad, but continues to face criticism for not taking a tougher stand on companies facing allegations of human rights and environmental abuses. Ottawa has also moved to tie international development efforts more closely to the mining sector, with a series of pilot projects involving Canadian mining companies and non-governmental organizations and the creation of a new mining policy institute.
During a 45-minute question-and-answer session with the incoming president of PDAC, Rodney Thomas, Mr. Harper said he believes Canadian mining companies have a "pretty good" brand internationally. "It's not to say the story is perfect, but there's very few places where the Canadian story isn't the best story," he said.
Earlier on Monday, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told the mining conference that Ottawa would bring in federal legislation to compel mandatory reporting if the provinces and territories don't set up their own systems by April of next year.
The move was first announced last year but has been met with some resistance at the provincial level. The aim is to track significant payments that mining, oil and gas companies make to governments in Canada and internationally to make it easier for people to hold their governments to account for how the money is spent.
But even as he announced the effort to strengthen reporting mechanisms, which was widely applauded by non-governmental groups, Mr. Oliver was careful to assure the industry that the planned system would be as unobtrusive as possible, and advocacy groups noted that the announcement stayed away from creating a central database and requiring reports from junior mining companies.Bank of Canada puts forth a dark and stormy forecast
By DAVID PARKINSON
Thursday, March 6, 2014 Print Edition, Page B2
Wednesday's Bank of Canada policy statement reads like a document from the desk of Eeyore. In short, the recent sunny data are just a brief break in the rain clouds - don't get seduced into putting away your umbrella.
The central bank made it clear that its outlook for Canadian economic growth and inflation hasn't been swayed one iota by the recent upturn in the country's disturbingly low inflation (up 1.5 per cent year-over-year in January, the third straight increase and more than double the pace of three months earlier) and gross domestic product (up at a 2.9-per-cent annualized rate in the fourth quarter, the fastest pace in more than two years).
The statement noted these "slightly" better-than-expected results, then quickly dismissed them as essentially insignificant. Indeed, the bank's tone has become even less certain and definitive than it was in its previous statement in January.
On economic growth, the bank hasn't been budged from its forecast of GDP rising about 2.5 per cent this year - and it cautioned that the first quarter is "likely to be softer." While the January statement indicated that the bank expected the economy to return to full capacity in two years, this new statement makes no mention of this timetable.
On inflation, the central bank is being even vaguer about inflation's return to its 2-per-cent target than it was in its January statement - and, depending on your read, perhaps even more pessimistic. Back then, the bank said it expected to return to target "in about two years." Now, it's saying that inflation is likely to remain "well below the 2-per-cent target this year" - without elaborating on when it expects to reach the target.
The statement leaves a couple of clear impressions. First, the Bank of Canada wants to play down any market expectations fuelled by the recent economic data. It clearly doesn't want anyone thinking those numbers have made earlier rate hikes more probable - the kind of thinking that could put upward pressure on lending rates and the Canadian dollar and create undesired headwinds for a still-fragile recovery.
Second, the absence of specific references to the bank's two-year time frame to return to full capacity and the 2-per-cent inflation target is no accident: It implies that the Bank of Canada has grown less certain about that outlook. Perhaps the better-than-expected data have contributed to this new waffling, but the language in the statement suggests the bank may be more concerned about risks to the downside than the upside.
As the statement noted, global financial markets, particularly emerging markets, have become more volatile. The tensions in Ukraine have created a new geopolitical risk to global stability. Toss in the fact that we have seen some disappointingly sluggish (though probably winter-weather-impaired) economic data recently from the United States - which the Bank of Canada is still counting on to lead the economic charge among developed economies this year - and you have a pretty good case to explain the central bank's new reticence.
Still, any way you slice it, this was not the more upbeat statement that Canada's recent economic numbers might have justified. It seems the Bank of Canada wants us looking at the dark clouds, not the silver linings.And the bands played on for the Parry Sound hospital
The donors Joe and Fatima Bamford
By PAUL WALDIE
Saturday, March 8, 2014 Print Edition, Page B2
The gift: Raising $71,000 and climbing
The cause: West Parry Sound Health Centre
The reason: To help pay for new equipment
When Joe Bamford got out of the music management business, after stints with several groups in the 1980s, including Glass Tiger, he decided to try something different.
He started Haljoe Coaches in the early 1990s, a company that specializes in providing custom-made buses for touring musicians, and his client list now includes Blue Rodeo, Matthew Good and the Tragically Hip. About three years ago, he parlayed the business into a fundraising vehicle, called Get Off the Bus, for the West Parry Sound Health Centre in Parry Sound, Ont., close to where Mr. Bamford and his wife Fatima live for part of the year.
He managed to persuade several of his bus clients to do charity concerts for the hospital, bringing big names such as Willie Nelson and Jann Arden to town. So far, 21 Get Off the Bus concerts have raised about $71,000 for the hospital, most of which has gone to buy new equipment. He has also organized concerts for other charities and he has managed to get some musicians to donate instruments for fundraising auctions.
Mr. Bamford, 67, said it was a series of accidents and tragedies that brought home the importance of the hospital. He lost his son-in-law to cancer and broke his legs in a car accident. "I was kind of in the mood to do something," he said from his office in Florida, where the couple are also based. "I just thought this was something I could do."
His goal is to raise $100,000 for the Parry Sound hospital and then hold a summer music festival that would raise even more money.
"People always ask me why do I do this?" he said. "And I say, 'Because it makes me happy.'"
The donors Ken and Maureen Lepin
By PAUL WALDIE
Saturday, March 1, 2014 Print Edition, Page B2
The gift: $2.5-million
The cause: Thompson Rivers University
The reason: To fund research programs, lab equipment and awards for students
Thompson Rivers University was holding its annual fundraising gala in Kamloops, B.C., recently when 75-year-old Ken Lepin stood up to make an announcement.
Mr. Lepin said that he and his wife, Maureen, had decided to donate $2.25-million to the university. The couple had already given $250,000 over the years, bringing their total donation to $2.5-million. "I was going to do this when I died; I'm just bringing it forward," Mr. Lepin explained from his home in Kamloops.
The family has had a long association with TRU, dating back 40 years when Mr. Lepin taught a weekly accounting class at the university, then called Cariboo College. "I wasn't a very good teacher, but it paid $8 an hour," he said. Ms. Lepin graduated from the university and two of the couple's daughters have attended TRU.
Mr. Lepin, who grew up near Penticton, B.C., wanted to become a plumber, but his mother insisted he learn a profession, so he signed on with an accounting firm and eventually became an accountant.
As Mr. Lepin's business interests grew, in the sand and gravel trade and property development, he became one of the city's largest philanthropists. Along with gifts to TRU, he has made donations to the local hospital, art gallery, wildlife park and the Salvation Army.
But TRU holds a special place for him, particularly the trades programs where he established "prizes of excellence" for graduates. His new gift will expand the prizes across other faculties and fund research programs and new equipment.
The university "has been a part of my life," he said. "I just think the work they are doing is wonderful."
New role, as coach of top U.S. team, takes advantage of former Raptor's many skills
By RACHEL BRADY
Monday, March 3, 2014 Print Edition, Page S3
TORONTO -- One might wonder why retired NBA player Jerome (Junkyard Dog) Williams would jump at the opportunity to work as a modestly paid high-school basketball coach.
The veteran of nine NBA seasons returned to Air Canada Centre Sunday, where he was a fan favourite as a Toronto Raptor from 2001 to 2003. He is now the first-year head coach of Findlay Prep, one of the best high-school basketball teams in the United States, one that routinely attracts top Canadian players and helps them land scholarships to U.S. colleges. He was in town for the inaugural JYD Classic, an exhibition game he initiated between his Las Vegas high-school team and one of Toronto's finest, Bill Crothers Secondary.
The game, which finished 55-51 for Findlay - closer than anyone imagined - combined many of Williams's passions: developing talent, building a team just as an NBA general manager might and rebuffing allegations that top athletes don't earn their grades. He's also passionate about helping to grow basketball in Canada, and the JYD Classic is an event he plans to run every year.
Some 1,000 fans showed up for a 10 a.m. meeting on NBA hardwood between two squads jam-packed with teenaged talent. Both schools are very non-traditional: Both centred on helping elite athletes pursue their sport beyond the high-school level. Both teams barnstorm around North America, playing ambitious schedules full of the finest competition.
Findlay Prep often appears on ESPN and has had five players drafted to the NBA in seven years, including first-rounders Anthony Bennett and Tristan Thompson, both Canadian. This year's team has a 30-4 record and boasts three more stars it landed from the Toronto area: Dillon Brooks, O'Shae Brissett and Justin Jackson.
"I'm proud to be playing a part in helping Canadian basketball players thrive, it's a responsibility I take very seriously," Williams said. "From Cory Joseph to Tristan Thompson to Myck Kabongo to Anthony Bennett, those Canadians paved the way for the basketball success we've had at Findlay Prep. We haven't forgotten that we won on the backs of those Canadians, and we wouldn't be where we are without them, so we want to come back to show our thanks and respect and keep building Canadian basketball."
Findlay Prep's 12 basketball players are their school's only high-school students, a setup that often draws criticism. The teammates live together in a private residence and their studies are affiliated with Henderson International School, an elementary school. While some question the validity of their education, Williams stresses they are "fully academic" and his players don't fail to qualify to play in college.
"We take pride in our education, I stand behind that," said Williams, in a postgame gathering with media members, where he looks remarkably comfortable behind a microphone. "We've achieved the highest GPA in team history - 3.3. And, no, that doesn't include gym."
While on opposite sides of the border, the teams hear similar criticisms. Many often charge that such an emphasis on sports in a high-school setting tips the scales of academics and athletics in a dangerous direction.
Crothers head coach Charles Hantoumakos said his players were neither happy just to be in the game nor delighted by the four-point outcome against a powerhouse U.S. team. They were genuinely crushed that they didn't beat Findlay Prep. Hantoumakos believes in the not-so-distant future, the trend could turn - top Canadian high-school talent can stay north of the border and play for schools such as Crothers rather than feel the only way to get noticed is to move to a U.S. prep school.
"I do feel that way, I wouldn't have started this program if I didn't," Hantoumakos said. "When JYD reached out, we jumped at the opportunity to have them visit. Playing top teams like Findlay Prep is imperative for our program. A lot of people were in the ears of my guys, saying Findlay Prep would kill us, but my guys aren't intimidated. Showcases like this, organized by JYD, show what Canadian teams can do, too."
Ever the NBA professional, Williams patrols the sideline wearing a dark suit and polished black dress shoes. He's 40 now, but the 6-foot-9 once-unyielding rebounder is still trim and youthful, and he stands eye-to-eye with the towering, chiselled teenage phenoms under his tutelage. He maintains the gregarious manner that endeared him to fans wherever he played, from Detroit to Toronto, Chicago to New York.
"It's not like it's a triple-figure job," laughed Williams, who was a volunteer assistant coach at Findlay Prep for five years before being offered the head coach's gig, which reportedly pays $60,000. "I do it for the love of it."
Williams, who had his first ties to Henderson International School because his own children attended there, has started teaching a "Global Citizenship" class centred on the business of the NBA, teaching his players about the business of the league and the marketing of pro athletes.
"JYD has been a great mentor to me," said Jackson, Findlay's 17-year-old Mississauga player, who is being pursued by the likes of schools such as Florida, Arizona, Illinois and UNLV. "At Findlay Prep, we're showing that Canadian players have heart, and we're not soft."
Williams has his players mirroring things the NBA Cares program does - reading to school kids and doing various charity work. He blushes when asked if he aims to work in the NBA some day, if he's using this time to build skills to run a pro franchise.
"Wherever the Lord puts me," Williams said. "Right now, I just want to give these kids a foundation."THE GOALIE MARKET
The difference / A goaltender trade late in the season may be rare, but if the last one eight years ago in Edmonton is any indication, good things could be predicted for the St. Louis Blues, Eric Duhatschek writes
By ERIC DUHATSCHEK
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 Print Edition, Page S1
The Ryan Miller era got off to a strong in St. Louis this past Sunday, thanks to four unanswered goals in the third period for a 4-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.
It was a nice welcome-to-town moment for Miller, who was acquired this past week from the Buffalo Sabres and who has three 2014 U.S. Olympic teammates - David Backes, T.J. Oshie and Kevin Shattenkirk - to help smooth the transition.
Goalie trades at or just before the NHL trading deadline are not all that common, but the Miller deal calls to mind one from eight years ago, when the Edmonton Oilers landed Dwayne Roloson from the Minnesota Wild for a first-round pick.
Roloson solidified the Oilers goaltending situation and, the next thing you knew, they were playing in the Stanley Cup final against the Carolina Hurricanes.
The 2006 playoffs make for an interesting comparison because it was also the last time the NHL stopped play for an Olympics in Europe - a far-different experience than Vancouver in 2010 or Salt Lake City in 2002, which featured minimal travel and didn't nearly put the same physical demands on players as the trip to and from Sochi, Russia.
The resulting playoffs in 2006 were topsy-turvy - all four top seeds in the Western Conference lost in the opening round - and that history lesson is going to provide courage for any NHL teams that slip into the playoffs at the 11th hour, especially those whose players weren't burned out at the Olympics.
Miller is in a special category. He went to Sochi but played sparingly behind starter Jonathan Quick, so there was some rest for the rigours of a full NHL schedule.
Miller looks as if he can be a difference-maker on a St. Louis team that will protect him far better than the Sabres did this season. It takes a certain amount of discipline to be a good, good-team goalie (after a couple of years of playing for the erratic Sabres) but Miller seems to have the right mindset to adjust: He was the MVP of the 2010 Vancouver Games (even though the Americans lost the gold-medal game to Canada), and seems like the perfect fit with a Blues team that will make his life easier.
Miller's departure could have a domino effect on the goalie market leading into the playoffs. Two of St. Louis's Central Division rivals - the Wild and Nashville Predators - appear on different courses, thanks to long-term health problems for their starters.
Minnesota hasn't seen Josh Harding since before Christmas, as he adjusts to new medication for his multiple sclerosis, and it doesn't appear as if a return is in the cards.
The Predators expect Pekka Rinne (hip) to return Tuesday, in his first game since this past October.
Minnesota appears to be a logical landing place for Jaroslav Halak (sent to the Sabres by the Blues), if only as insurance for Darcy Kuemper, who has become the de facto starter there because of Niklas Backstrom's groin problems.
But Halak isn't the only goalie on the market.
A couple of reputedly quirky netminders on teams that have no playoff chances - Tim Thomas of the Florida Panthers and Ilya Bryzgalov of the Oilers - could be on the move.
The Carolina Hurricanes' post-Olympic free fall means someone - perhaps Cam Ward and/or Anton Khudobin - might be up for grabs as well.
It is hard to imagine the New Jersey Devils ever moving Martin Brodeur, even if Cory Schneider has become the No. 1 there, but nothing is impossible.
As a short-term fix on a good defensive team, Brodeur could be a valuable addition.
For some teams lacking in postseason experience, Brodeur's playoff pedigree and stature in the game might count for as much as his ability to stop the puck.
For any team looking beyond this season, the Anaheim Ducks' surplus in net means Viktor Fasth, under contract for one more year at $2.9-million (U.S.), could be an option. Anaheim has two of the best young goalie prospects in the NHL - Frederik Andersen and John Gibson - in the pipeline, which might make Fasth expendable.
And the guy doing the teaching down in Anaheim these days is none other than Roloson, who has a glut of talent to work with.Women's tournaments have potential to put Canada on world stage
By KELSEY PATTERSON
The Canadian Press
Saturday, March 1, 2014 Print Edition, Page S2
MONTREAL -- Canada may be on the cusp of becoming a soccer nation. In the next two years, Canada will host 84 international soccer matches over two major FIFA women's tournaments: the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, and the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup.
Combined, the two tournaments will be played in seven cities across the country, and are expected to draw nearly two million soccer fans. The goal is to continue expanding the sport in Canada.
"The world needs to see good women's football," said Tatjana Haenni, FIFA's head of women's competitions. "We hope that we can reach so many countries worldwide to further develop football, not only in the world but also in Canada."
Haenni, alongside other FIFA and Canadian Soccer Association officials, was in Montreal on Friday to unveil the official U-20 tournament ball and ticket prices. On Saturday, Montreal will also host a live televised official draw to determine Canada's group stage opponents.
This summer, four Canadian cities - Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, and Moncton - will welcome some of the best women's under-20-year-olds from 16 different nations.
A few of the other notable teams joining Canada on the pitch for the U-20 Women's World Cup will be England, France, Germany, Brazil and the United States.
Since the inaugural tournament in 2002, also hosted by Canada, the U-20 tournament has been held every two years. The Americans are the defending champions, having beaten the Germans 1-0 in the final game of the 2012 tournament in Tokyo, Japan.
This year, the 20-day tournament begins on Aug. 5 and wraps Aug. 24 at Montreal's Olympic Stadium. Montreal will host a total of 10 matches over six days, including a quarter-final, one of the semi-finals, as well as the match for third place.
"Montreal is a city that responds well to events, as traditionally it always has," said Victor Montagliani, president of the Canadian Soccer Association. "It's been a fantastic supporter of the game and our Canadian teams."
In addition to hosting international FIFA qualifiers, the CONCACAF Champions League and the FIFA U-17 World Cup, Montreal co-hosted the men's 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, drawing in crowds of roughly 40,000 fans on average per game.
And although Peter Montopoli of the Canadian Soccer Association knows it will be difficult to replicate those attendance figures for the upcoming women's U-20 tournament, he expects the competition to draw total attendance of 320,000 fans across all venues.
Figures show the entire sport - including the women's game - is growing in Canada. In the past 20 years, the number of registered women's soccer players in the country has tripled.
Montagliani points to Christine Sinclair, current captain of the Canadian women's national team, as the emblem of soccer's rise from obscurity and continuing growth in Canada.
In 2002, when she was only 19, Sinclair distinguished herself in the inaugural U-20 competition, which Canada lost to the U.S. in the final in front of a still-standing tournament record of 47,700 fans in Edmonton. Sinclair scored a tournament-high 10 goals, and was named most valuable player. Today, she is an Olympic medalist, and Canada's all-time leading goal scorer.
The U-20 World Cup will give also give Canadian soccer fans a taste of what's to come. Next summer, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver will host the FIFA Women's World Cup, the first senior FIFA tournament held in Canada.Public gets crack at more Leafs tickets
Season-ticket holders can opt out of some preseason games next season
By DAVID SHOALTS
Saturday, March 8, 2014 Print Edition, Page S2
TORONTO -- Tim Leiweke is making good on his promise to free up a few more Toronto Maple Leafs tickets for regular fans.
As part of the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. chief executive officer's commitment to get the general public into more NHL games and respond to the desires of the company's season-ticket holders, MLSE notified its hockey subscribers Friday they will have the option of declining two preseason Leafs games at the Air Canada Centre next season.
The season-ticket holders who take the option will be able to apply a credit for the two games to their regular-season package, which will cut the cost of one of the most-expensive tickets in the NHL. Those preseason tickets will then be placed on sale to the public at a discount from regular-season prices.
This season's price range for regular-season Leafs games (before any discounts for subscribers) is roughly $133.75 to $533.75.
(The team introduced tiered pricing this season, which means the prices are not the same for every game. For example, a Montreal Canadiens game on a Saturday is more expensive than the Nashville Predators on a Monday.)
MLSE officials declined to say if subscribers could pick the games they do not want, or if two games would be designated.
MLSE is also offering relief to the season-ticket holders for its NBA team. The Toronto Raptors are cutting the number of preseason games they will play at the ACC this fall from four to two. Those games will be played in other Canadian cities.
MLSE officials said they are not yet in position to name the cities that will play host to the Raptors games.
Since he became president and CEO of MLSE last June, Leiweke said he wanted to find ways to get ordinary fans into more Leafs games. Not only are the prices for tickets and luxury boxes prohibitive for many NHL fans but almost all of the 19,000-plus seats are held by season-ticket holders, most of them corporations.
For many years, season-ticket holders were vocal in their dislike of the company's practice of forcing subscribers to buy a 45-game package of 41 regular-season games and four preseason games. They especially did not like having to pay full price for the preseason games, which feature a lot of minor-league and rookie players.
"For the Leafs season-ticket holder, it's all really good news I think," said Dave Hopkinson, MLSE chief commercial officer, who oversees the sales and marketing departments. "Some of them don't want all the preseason games, and we get that."
Hopkinson said he isn't sure how many ticket holders will take advantage of the offer. For now, he is planning on an acceptance rate of about 50 per cent, which would make about 10,000 tickets available for two Leafs preseason games.
If the public does not snap up the tickets in large numbers, MLSE is prepared for the dip in revenue.
"The revenue really is secondary here," Hopkinson said. "This is the latest initiative to change our relationship with our season-ticket holders."
MLSE will introduce one other change for next season: The company will increase the price categories for seats to 17 from 12.
Some tickets will rise in price, depending on their location, while others will stay the same. For example, in the highest level of the upper bowl, the first row in the purple section will now cost more than the last row.Szabados lends helping glove
By CHRIS PURDY
The Canadian Press
Thursday, March 6, 2014 Print Edition, Page S2
EDMONTON -- Shannon Szabados has gone from winning gold at the Sochi Winter Olympics to helping out the Edmonton Oilers.
The women's Team Canada goalie filled in at practice for the NHL team Wednesday, while the Oilers waited for Viktor Fasth to arrive after a trade with the Anaheim Ducks.
Szabados, 27, said she got the invite Tuesday night, after fans on Twitter tried to persuade the team to put her on the roster as the backup for its game against the Ottawa Senators.
"She might be the best goalie to play for us all season," one tweet under the hashtag #SzabadosForBackup said.
"Make history!" another said.
Szabados told reporters she was thrilled by the social media campaign, which trended nationally within an hour.
And although a goalie with the University of Alberta men's team was chosen instead, Szabados said she was just as happy when the Oilers invited her onto their home ice for practice.
"The guys were good about it," she said. "They were chirping me, and I was giving it right back to them."
Oilers captain Andrew Ference insisted Szabados change in the team's locker room, she said.
"She's pretty good," right winger Jordan Eberle said. "Once you figure that out, you try and score and put in as many as you can.
"It's great that she could step in and help us out."
Szabados, who lives in Edmonton, became the first woman to play in the WHL and also helped the Canadian women's team win gold in Vancouver in 2010.
Her parents and husband were on hand at the Oilers' practice to cheer her on.
"It was pretty cool," said her father, Gary Szabados, adding he doubts he'll ever get to see his sports-star daughter mind the net in an NHL game.
"Women's hockey has come a long way, but there's still a lot of old-school thinking out there that the women can't do it."
No woman has ever played in an NHL regular-season game. Manon Rhéaume became the first to play in an exhibition game with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992.
Shannon Szabados agreed she may never have the experience.
"If I was the last resort, then maybe," she said with a smile.
She admits she's hit the glass ceiling as far as women's hockey goes. And that's okay.
"As a hockey player, you just want to play the highest level possible and playing in Sochi, winning a gold medal, was fun. And taking part in an NHL practice was pretty cool."
Oilers officials were too busy with Wednesday's trade deadline to talk with her after practice, she said, so she's not sure if she'll be invited back.
"If they ever need me again, I'll be here."Bautista homers in first at-bat of spring
The Associated Press
Thursday, February 27, 2014 Print Edition, Page S1
CLEARWATER, FLA. -- Jose Bautista hit a long home run off Roberto Hernandez three batters into the game, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 Wednesday, in a rain-shortened spring-training opener for both teams.
Bautista's home run landed outside of the ballpark at Bright House Field. The game was called in the middle of the seventh inning.
"It felt pretty good, I can't deny that," the Jays outfielder said. "More importantly, I felt like I was seeing the ball great. I haven't been playing for a while, so that's a positive."
Bautista missed the last six weeks of the 2013 season with a hip injury, the second year in a row in which he ended the season on the disabled list. He hit 28 homers in 2013, after reaching 27 the year before.
He was 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored Wednesday.
Ryan Howard and Marlon Byrd each had run-scoring singles off former Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ in the bottom of the first.
Hernandez, making his Phillies debut, allowed two runs on four hits in two innings. He is the front runner for the fifth starter's job after signing a one-year, $4.5-million (U.S.) contract as a free agent.
"When I face him, I try to throw change-ups and sinkers down," Hernandez said of the home run to Bautista. "But today, I got down in the count and had to throw it down the middle. I missed up."
Happ struggled in his only inning against his former team. Although he ended up striking out the side, he gave up four hits and a walk in facing eight batters. Happ finished second in the National League rookie of the year voting in 2009, when he went 12-4 with a 2.93 earned-run avaerage. Happ was 5-7 with a 4.56 ERA in 18 starts with the Blue Jays last season.
Cliff Lee will make his first start of the spring Thursday, when the Phillies take on the Blue Jays in Dunedin. Toronto is starting knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey.TRADE PRIMER: SENS
By ROY MACGREGOR
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 Print Edition, Page S3
Buyer or seller?
Depends on the time of day. So precarious and unknowable is the team's final standing this year, the Ottawa Senators were considered sellers, and out of the playoff picture, following last Thursday's 6-1 pounding by the Detroit Red Wings, and then became instant buyers following last Sunday's 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. A win or loss Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers could tip the scales either way.
If buying, Ottawa has needed someone who can play with centre Jason Spezza for far too long. Winger Matt Moulson of the fire-sale Buffalo Sabres - now run by Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray's nephew, Tim Murray - has long been admired. Recent disappointment in young Jared Cowen might have the Sens keen on a strong, stay-at-home defenceman. If a seller, the Senators could be chasing a first-round draft pick, as they gave their 2014 selection up in the summer deal that brought Bobby Ryan from the Anaheim Ducks.
On the block
Significant trade possibilities include long-time defence stalwart Chris Phillips, 35, and due to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Phillips has always been a player who ups his game in the playoffs and barely has a $3-million (U.S.) salary cap hit. No. 1 goaltender Craig Anderson will enter the last year of his contract next season, and back-up Robin Lehner is considered NHL-ready. There should be great interest in both.
Spezza. Hard to imagine the team's captain and most-gifted centre might be considered tradable, but Spezza has his share of detractors in Ottawa who believe his back troubles have reduced his long-term value. An equal number would argue he has had no one to play with since he once centred Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley on the NHL's most-feared line. Spezza is 30, and has one year remaining ($7-million cap hit) on his contract. Dealing him would be high, high risk for Murray, but the GM is no stranger to daring.FOOTBALL / HIGGINS TO COACH MONTREAL ALOUETTES
By SEAN GORDON
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 Print Edition, Page S3
The last time the Montreal Alouettes hired a head coach, a fancy ballroom was booked and the chosen one was unveiled amid the usual pomp.
Contrast that with this time out: A press release is to be followed by a conference call Tuesday - one that isn't scheduled to include the general manager responsible for last year's process. But then, the 21st head coach in the history of the Als, Tom Higgins, doesn't require as much of an introduction as last year's flop, Dan Hawkins.
Hawkins, a U.S. college coach with no pro experience, was turfed after five games in charge. Higgins is a long-time coach and football executive who returns to the sideline after a stint as the CFL's head of officiating. He has been a head coach and a GM in the CFL, winning the 2003 Grey Cup with the Edmonton Eskimos. He succeeds GM Jim Popp, who stepped in as interim head coach when Hawkins was fired.
"I wanted to continue with the formula, which has brought us the success we've enjoyed these past 17 years; having a full-time head coach and a full-time general manager to fill each of these positions," Als' owner Robert Wetenhall said in the release.
Interestingly, the release issued by the team makes no mention of Popp; it's believed he wasn't involved in the Higgins hiring.
Thus, the Higgins hiring - and the way it was done - will inevitably raise questions about Popp's future with the club.Olympian focus on women's sport
By LORI EWING
The Canadian Press
Friday, March 7, 2014 Print Edition, Page S3
Cindy Klassen met a young Palestinian woman this week whose knees were a wreck. She'd been playing soccer on concrete, because the actual pitches in the West Bank are reserved for men.
Canada's most decorated speed skater is in Israel and Jordan with Canadian Lutheran World Relief. The highlight was opening a women's sports centre in Bethlehem.
"Women in the West Bank don't get that many opportunities in sports. It's really looked down upon for women to be playing sports," Klassen said in a phone interview from Amman. "But progress has been made and more and more women have become involved so now they do have some teams. But they really don't have any place to play."
The new Dar al-Kalima Sports Hall has room for soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis and gymnastics.
The 34-year-old Klassen is a six-time Olympic medalist with one gold, two silver, and three bronze. She's tied with fellow speed skater Clara Hughes as Canada's most decorated Olympians.Marois to call April 7 election
PQ government aims to ride momentum of secular charter to victory, while Liberals name surprise candidates
By RHÉAL SÉGUIN
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 Print Edition, Page A3
QUEBEC CITY -- Parti Québécois Premier Pauline Marois is preparing to call an election on Wednesday for an April 7 vote, convinced the popularity of the secular values charter has given her the edge she needs to win a majority government.
On Wednesday, Ms. Marois will hold a cabinet meeting, and shortly afterward she is expected to call on Lieutenant-Governor Pierre Duchesne to dissolve the National Assembly and launch her campaign. PQ strategists met in Montreal on Monday.
Early last week, pressure from ministers, caucus members and advisers eager to start the fight persuaded Ms. Marois to call an election earlier, rather than wait an extra week as she had originally planned. According to sources, Ms. Marois had nothing to gain from the additional week and believed it was best to take immediate advantage of the momentum gained from recent public opinion polls. One showed the PQ at 40 per cent, and another showed a majority of Quebeckers support Ms. Marois's proposal to adopt a secular charter that calls for a ban on the wearing of overt religious symbols, including hijabs, kippas, turbans and large crosses, in the public sector.
The election call comes only 18 months after the PQ won a minority government in September, 2012.
In the past few weeks, the PQ has unveiled several job-creation initiatives. It has also courted the business community with a number of actions, including exploration of the Anticosti Island oil reserves; financing of a controversial cement plant in the Gaspe region; arriving at a deal with Alcoa Inc. to allocate preferential hydro rates to aluminum smelters; and a budgetary measure aimed at protecting Quebec businesses from foreign takeovers. Ms. Marois appealed to female voters with the announcement of several prominent female candidates.
And on Monday, in what may be a sign the PQ will attempt to boost support for its sovereignty option, Ms. Marois released a government report that concluded federal government intrusions into the provincial realm of health care led to disrupted services and costly overlaps and duplications, and that Ottawa had failed to pay Quebec its adequate share of health-care funds.
"The gap between what it [Quebec] received and what it should have received given its demographics is $830-million for the 2002-2013 period," the report concluded.
Health care is certain to emerge as a key issue in the campaign, with the Liberals also planning to make gains on this front.
Quebec Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard shocked observers by announcing Gaétan Barrette - the former head of Quebec's federation of specialist physicians and a Coalition Avenir Québec candidate in 2012 - will be running as a Liberal in the Montreal south shore riding of La Pinière, held by former Liberal MNA Fatima Houda-Pepin, who left the caucus over a dispute over the party's position on the secular charter.
As a CAQ candidate, Mr. Barrette called the Liberals "incompetent" and accused former health minister Yves Bolduc of being too passive. On Monday, both sides buried the hatchet.
"We now have the best health team ever," Mr. Couillard boasted at a news conference. Mr. Bolduc, who in 2012 had accused Mr. Barrette of being a "radical," said it was time to move on. "You know what kind of relations Dr. Barrette and I had in the past. All of that is forgotten. Welcome to the Liberal Party, Gaétan," Mr. Bolduc said.
In another surprise move, Mr. Couillard recruited Hélène David to run in the safe Liberal riding of Outremont. She is the sister of Françoise David, co-leader of the left-wing pro-sovereignty party Quebec Solidaire.
CAQ Leader François Legault was visibly upset over Mr. Barrette's decision to run as a Liberal, accusing him of being an opportunist. Mr. Legault recently lost anti-corruption crusader Jacques Duchesneau, who resigned his seat, and Dr. Barrette's move is another major blow to the CAQ Leader who has failed to attract prominent candidates for the upcoming election.Ottawa mulls softening marijuana laws
By JOSH WINGROVE
Thursday, March 6, 2014 Print Edition, Page A4
OTTAWA -- The Conservative government is looking at softening Canada's marijuana laws by allowing police to write tickets for small-scale possession cases instead of laying charges.
The government was urged to do so by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police last year, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper saying at the time he would consider it. But Justice Minister Peter MacKay's statement Wednesday signalled the issue is still on the government's radar - at a time when the opposition parties are pushing decriminalization or full legalization. Washington and Colorado have legalized recreational marijuana use.
"Criminal Code offences would still be available to police, but we would look at options that would give police the ability, much like the treatment of open liquor, that would allow the police to ticket those type of offences. We have not arrived on the exact mechanism in which that could be done," Mr. MacKay said on Parliament Hill on Wednesday, adding: "We're examining it. It's not decriminalization. It's not legalization."
One critic said the move, if implemented, could be more onerous for recreational marijuana users, as police who turn a blind eye to it now would instead start writing tickets. Mr. MacKay did not say when any changes could take effect. Enforcement of laws against marijuana possession is wildly inconsistent across the country, according to Statistics Canada data.
The opposition NDP and Liberals both support loosening marijuana laws, and welcomed the government's trial balloon - in part, because the Conservatives have regularly attacked Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau over his support for legalizing marijuana.
"We've seen the feigned outrage in attacking and misrepresenting Mr. Trudeau's position. For them now to look at loosening the rules, it absolutely is hypocritical," Liberal justice critic Sean Casey said.
The Liberal Leader supports legalization, with marijuana sold freely and taxed, but the party hasn't decided "how we get there, how long it takes [or] how many steps," are required, Mr. Casey said.
The Official Opposition NDP supports decriminalization, such that the sale of marijuana isn't fully legalized but consumers aren't criminally prosecuted.
"What I find is lots of smoke and mirrors, I mean a lot of talk and not really anything concrete," NDP justice critic Françoise Boivin said Wednesday. "All I see right now from this - from this government - is much more harder sentences for people with even small amounts [of marijuana]."
The Liberal government considered a similar move a decade ago, pursuing decriminalization and the option for tickets. It never succeeded. "This is a proposal that gets floated around every once in a while," said Alan Young, an associate professor at York University's Osgoode Hall Law School who studies drug law and has long pushed for looser laws. The changes under consideration are better than the status quo, he said, but aren't that significant and could amount to a crackdown.
"The police turn a blind eye to marijuana quite often because they really don't believe it's a serious crime. However, if it's simply a ticket, there's a greater incentive ... you're just going to find police forces end up ticketing more than they charge [now]," he said.
The Conservatives have opposed legalization or decriminalization. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, currently led by Vancouver Police Chief Constable Jim Chu, called for the change last August.
The Conservatives have also overhauled medical marijuana laws, with new rules kicking in next month making it illegal for medical marijuana users to grow the product for themselves. Those laws have run into resistance, including from Chief Chu's department, which released a statement Wednesday saying it will only enforce the new laws "where warranted," and is unlikely to crack down on medical marijuana dispensaries.Minority female candidates support PQ charter
By RHÉAL SÉGUIN AND LES PERREAUX
Saturday, March 8, 2014 Print Edition, Page A4
MONTREAL and QUEBEC -- The Parti Québécois unveiled a slate of minority female candidates that it hopes will send a strong message to voters that leaders in the Arab community and other ethnic groups are willing to support its controversial secular charter proposal.
PQ Leader Pauline Marois was beaming Friday as she presented three candidates of Maghreb descent who gave their unequivocal support to the charter. The charter of Quebec values bill tabled last November has sparked a divisive debate, especially over the proposal to ban public servants from wearing overt religious symbols, such as the hijab, kippa or crucifix.
"It's a significant message that we wanted to send," Ms. Marois told reporters, referring to the charter's support among minority groups. "Listening to the statements of each of these women, I was moved.
"They [the candidates] were impressive. They chose Quebec. And they chose to support the secularism, the neutrality of the state because they want more integration for all those who choose to live in Quebec ... It's a considerable and significant show of support."
However, the three candidates Ms. Marois introduced Friday are running in Liberal strongholds in Montreal where a PQ win would require a major swing in voter support.
The candidates are strong opponents of religious fundamentalism and the obligation of Muslim women to wear a veil, which they contend represents female submission.
Yasmina Chouakri came to Canada from Algeria in 1994, concerned over the mounting violence and religious fundamentalism in her native country. Named Quebec Arab Women of the year in 2008, Ms. Chouakri heads the University of Quebec at Montreal research chair on immigration, ethnicity and citizenship. "The charter confirms the secularism of Quebec society," she said.
Leila Mahiout, originally from Algeria, was also a prominent figure in Quebec's Arab community as vice-president of the Festival du monde arabe in Montreal. The computer engineer said she has always embraced sovereignty and defended the need for a secular state that protects the equality between men and women.
Another long-time sovereigntist, Evelyne Abitbol, was Bloc Québécois founding leader Lucien Bouchard's press secretary in the early 1990s. Ms. Abitbol, whose background is Jewish, was born in Casablanca, Morocco, and came to Quebec at a young age in 1964.
"It is the debate over the secular charter that convinced me to run," Ms. Abitbol said. "Whereby elsewhere in the world people face violence in their fight for a secular state, we cannot afford to step backward in Quebec."
Earlier in the day, Ms. Marois confirmed Djemila Benhabib as the PQ candidate in the City of Laval riding of Mille-Îles. An intellectual with strong pro-charter convictions, Ms. Benhabib, also of Algerian descent, is considered by the party to have a good chance of winning a seat for the PQ.
In a bid to mark Saturday's International Women's Day, Ms. Marois confirmed on Friday the candidacy of several prominent female candidates. They included Diane Lamarre, outgoing president of the College of Quebec Pharmacists, Gyslaine Desrosiers, former president of the Quebec College of Nurses, and Martine Desjardins, the former president of the Quebec Federation of University Students who was a leading figure in the spring 2012 fight against the former Liberal government's tuition fee hikes.
So far, the PQ has had more success in attracting female candidates than the other two main parties. Approximately 40 per cent of PQ candidates named so far are women compared with about one-quarter for the Liberals and the CAQ.
Only the fourth party, Québec Solidaire can claim anything resembling parity with 38 of the 80 candidates chosen so far being women.University of Ottawa strikes task force on 'rape culture'
By JAMES BRADSHAW, KATHRYN BLAZE CARLSON
Friday, March 7, 2014 Print Edition, Page A3
TORONTO and OTTAWA -- As the University of Ottawa wrestles with its response to a week of sexually charged scandals, its leaders promised a new task force to help the school "face up" to issues of violence within the campus culture.
The university's president, Allan Rock, announced a task force on respect and equality in his first public comments since his school revealed on Monday that police are investigating an alleged sexual assault involving some players from its men's hockey team. At a Thursday news conference with Michaëlle Jean, the U of O's chancellor and a former Governor General, he pledged to "take fearless inventory of our practices and our assumptions."
The university is still staggering from another revelation, days earlier, of a sexually graphic online chat several student leaders had about a colleague. In her comments Thursday, Ms. Jean said such incidents are "brutal reminders" of a "continuum of violence" in Canadian society, and that men should take a more active role in combatting attitudes that can lead to rape.
"I believe that men in particular are in a powerful position to challenge the words - to challenge the attitudes and the behaviours that are conducive to rape - in the locker room, in the board room. Everywhere," she said
The alleged assault involving U of O hockey players dates back to a trip the team took to Thunder Bay, Ont., to play two games against Lakehead University on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Police are still investigating a third-party accusation, with co-operation from the alleged victim, and the university has launched its own review.
University leaders learned of the alleged incident on Feb. 24, and want to know why they weren't told sooner, Mr. Rock said. The men's hockey program has been suspended indefinitely, a decision justified partly by "interviews done by the coach, after the alleged event," he said, though he declined to reveal when coaches learned of the alleged incident.
Mr. Rock also rebutted criticism that he waited several days to speak publicly, saying "we've not been asleep at the switch." The school was cautious not to interfere with the Thunder Bay Police Service investigation, he said, and police asked the university to delay its public announcement.
The task force will include faculty, staff, students and outside experts. It will look at what kinds of extra "training and sensitization" the school could offer around sexual violence and harassment, draft clear guidelines for conduct, and decide on appropriate sanctions for future misbehaviour.
Last fall, the University of British Columbia and Saint Mary's University struck their own task forces on preventing sexual violence amidst controversies over students caught chanting about non-consensual sex during orientation week. "In a way, they've started a conversation, and it's a conversation that we now want to join," Mr. Rock said.
Other schools say they are already working to combat sexualized violence. Ottawa's Carleton University created public-service announcements for a sexual assault awareness campaign. Dalhousie University in Halifax takes presentations into classrooms and residences, and has plans for a white-ribbon campaign next month, led by men, to encourage speaking out against sexual violence.Google Street View hunting for polar bears
By GLORIA GALLOWAY
Thursday, February 27, 2014 Print Edition, Page A3
OTTAWA -- Google is taking the world on a polar-bear hunt in Northern Canada.
Last October, the popular search engine brought its Street View technology to Churchill, Man., at the same time the bears were waiting for the winter ice to set in along the shores of Hudson Bay.
For several years, Street View has provided panoramic, ground-level photography that allows users to drive virtually through the streets of cities and towns around the globe. On Thursday, when Google's Maps program uploads the footage from the fall shooting, arm-chair travellers will be able to move in the same way across the Arctic tundra, taking in the 360-degree image of sea ice, lichen-covered plains and, of course, the bears.
There have been Street Views completed of the Arctic communities of Iqaluit and Cambridge Bay, said Karin Tuxen-Bettman, a geo-data specialist at Google. But "this is the first time that we have gone out specifically to look for wildlife."
The trekker camera can now be placed on bikes, boats, backpacks and dog sleds, said Ms. Tuxen-Bettman. In the Canadian sub-Arctic, it was affixed to tundra buggies supplied by an adventure company in Churchill. When they headed out of town on the appointed day, there were concerns that the bears would not be there. But "we saw a ton of them," said Ms. Tuxen-Bettman.
To ensure minimal damage to the delicate Arctic ecosystem, the buggies were restricted to a series of old military trails. So sometimes the bears are visible only in the distance, she said.
"With some of the [polar-bear] images it's kind of like a scavenger hunt, which we think is going to be kind of fun for classrooms," Ms. Tuxen-Bettman said. "But some of them are closer than others so you can say 'there's a polar bear right there.'"
The project was the idea of a group called Polar Bears International which was created to preserve the bears through research, conservation and programs to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
The aim was part inspiration and part conservation. With the images taken in the fall, and those that will be taken in future years, Polar Bears International and other environmental groups will be able to monitor changes in the sea ice and the bear population over time.
Krista Wright, the head of Polar Bears International, said polar bears ignite the human spirit. In that way, she said, they are like the elephant or the tiger of this continent.
"Two-thirds of the world's polar bears live in Canada," Ms. Wright said. "This is our iconic species of North America and, most importantly, they tell a story of a much bigger picture and that is of a changing climate. You have an ecosystem that is not just changing, it's disappearing."
Meanwhile, Google is lending its technology to Parks Canada and has already filmed virtual tours of 76 national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas with more work planned this year.Manitoba looks to protect whales from shipping traffic
By CHINTA PUXLEY
The Canadian Press
Monday, March 3, 2014 Print Edition, Page A8
WINNIPEG -- Manitoba is promising increased protection for one of the largest populations of beluga whales in the world as shipping traffic is poised to increase through their summer home in western Hudson Bay.
NDP Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh says the beluga population is healthy right now and the province wants it to stay that way. As shipping traffic increases in the North, Mr. Mackintosh said Manitoba wants to minimize the impact on the iconic sea mammals.
"We are looking at a strategy that's preventative in nature, particularly given in the years ahead we can anticipate more shipping traffic in Hudson Bay and more industrial uses of that water body," Mr. Mackintosh said in an interview. "It's important to achieve a healthy coexistence."
The southwestern coast of Hudson Bay is home to one of the largest concentrations of belugas in the world when sea ice recedes in the summer. About 60,000 belugas migrate to three Manitoba estuaries to feed, give birth and nurse their young. The shallow estuaries also provide protection from killer whales, which can't fit down the rivers.
Many say the belugas need protection against what could become a bigger threat as the Arctic region becomes increasingly industrialized and the shipping season lengthens due to disappearing sea ice.
Omnitrax Canada, which operates the port of Churchill on Hudson Bay, has said it could eventually ship year-round with the right ice-breakers. The company also has plans to haul millions of litres of crude oil across its remote rail line to the port and ship out through Hudson Bay.
Mr. Mackintosh said the province is looking at limiting shipping traffic through the estuaries, where it has jurisdiction, and calling on the federal government to increase protection for whales in federal waters.
"We'll be looking at what guidelines can be put in place in terms of traffic, both industrial and tourism traffic, and make sure we can get the right balance."
The province is forming a working group of environmentalists, hydro and industrial companies, Mr. Mackintosh said. The group will draft a management plan which will be put out for public comment, he said.
That's welcome news to those who have spent years studying the white whales. Chris Debicki, Nunavut projects director for the Pew Charitable Trusts Oceans North Canada, said belugas are habitual creatures that return year after year to the same estuaries. One oil spill or dam on an estuary upstream could have devastating consequences to the whales, he said.
"It's really essential that before we see any major increases in shipping or changes in the nature of shipping that strategies to ensure their long-term protection are in place," Mr. Debicki said.
"We're not saying development is necessarily incompatible with a thriving beluga population, but what we are saying is that a thriving beluga population has to be taken into account when making those development decisions."Government considers selling ads on Job Bank site
By BILL CURRY
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 Print Edition, Page A3
OTTAWA -- The Conservative government is considering a new money-making plan that would allow it to sell private-sector advertising on the government's Job Bank website.
The Globe and Mail has learned that federal officials are examining ways to raise millions from the website, which currently posts more than a million jobs per year. Canadians visiting the site could ultimately find themselves looking at ads from private-sector companies that would be targeted at them based on their location and the search terms they enter.
The possibility of ads running on a Government of Canada website is raising questions and concern over the type of ads that would be allowed and the criteria public servants would use to decide which companies or organizations would be approved to place ads.
Employment and Social Development Canada - the department responsible for the Job Bank site - paid $93,318 last year to U.S. firm Forrester Consulting for advice on two highly unusual options.
The consulting firm's September, 2013, report provides detailed analysis of two scenarios: selling the Job Bank website to the private sector for as much as $200-million or raising revenue from the site by selling ads and/or charging user fees.
As part of the Conservative government's push to balance the books, all federal departments are under pressure to cut costs and find assets that could be sold or privatized. This month's budget included $11.8-million over two years to "enhance" the Jobbank.gc.ca site by launching a job-matching service. However, internal documents reveal the government is looking at much bigger changes.
A federal government source says both full privatization and user fees have been rejected internally, but Ottawa has not ruled out selling ad space.
The consultant's report - obtained via Access to Information for The Globe and Mail by Ottawa researcher Ken Rubin - estimates selling online ads could bring in about $2.6-million a year. A further $2.9-million a year could be raised by offering a "Corporate Customer Solution" similar to LinkedIn that would allow users to make more targeted searches for a fee.
The report further estimates that $19-million a year could be raised by charging employers a fee to post jobs, but warns this could cut the number of jobs on the site by more than half. An example in the report gives an idea of what the site would look like under the "digital ad revenues" scenario.Native women worried about fallout of lodging human-rights complaints
By GLORIA GALLOWAY
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 Print Edition, Page A3
OTTAWA -- The threat of retribution prevents many native women from lodging human-rights complaints against the powerful members of their communities, Canada's Human Rights Commissioner says.
David Langtry says his office held roundtable discussions across the country in 2013 with almost 100 women, some from reserves and some from off-reserve communities.
"What we learned," wrote Mr. Langtry in his annual report released Tuesday, "is that for many of them, particularly in remote communities, the Canadian Human Rights Act is meaningless. They are unlikely to seek its protections, they say, for a number of reasons, including fear of retaliation."
Members of First Nations have filed hundreds of complaints since the federal Conservative government moved in 2008 to change the law to allow the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) to look at issues such as reserve housing and federal funding for reserve services.
But lawyers working in the area of aboriginal justice said the Canadian human-rights regime can be somewhat ineffective on reserves where chiefs and council members don't view themselves as being accountable to outside legal regimes.
Some aboriginal women told the human-rights commission they fear that the mere act of lodging a complaint against the police or powerful members of their communities will leave them without access to important health and social services or could lead to intimidation and acts of violence.
"Truth be told, some leaders are offenders of violence against women," one of the native women told the commission. "It's so entrenched, many women live in fear. That is our sad reality, and it's tough."
The report comes as native groups across the country are demanding a national inquiry into violence against native women - a call that Mr. Langtry has joined and which he reiterated in his report. David Gollob, the director of communications for the CHRC who helped write the report, said in an interview that several aboriginal women told the commission they had to leave their community after filing a complaint.
The CHRC is calling for all parties - the First Nations organizations, the community leaders and the government of Canada - to take action to ensure that aboriginal victims of discrimination can have their human-rights cases heard, he said. "What would have been the point of extending human-rights protections to residents of First Nations communities," Mr. Gollob asked, "... if they are not able to use it?Beaverbrook art groups settle feud
By JAMES ADAMS
Saturday, March 1, 2014 Print Edition, Page A3
The 10-year, often bitter and highly expensive dispute between the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation has come to a sudden and, it appears, happy conclusion, with a deal announced on Friday evening in Fredericton.
The arrangement was completed over coffee and muffins earlier in the day after what gallery chair Allison McCain called "a few months of negotiation." Each side will relinquish claims of ownership to sizable portions of the 78 artworks that were in dispute.
The foundation now has title to 43 works, the gallery 35. However, the foundation has agreed to a five-year loan of its share to the gallery, with the possibility of renewal. And, in perhaps the deal's most surprising twist, Max Aitken, 36 - who has been chair of the foundation since June, 2012, and is the great-grandson of the art gallery's Canadian-born founder, Lord Beaverbrook (1879-1964) - has agreed to join the board of the gallery his grandfather opened in 1959. Restoring the gallery's funding from the foundation "wasn't discussed" as part of the settlement, Mr. McCain said.
The relatively amicable resolution, although long in coming, is in sharp contrast to the resolution of an earlier dispute between the Beaverbrook U.K. Foundation, headed by Mr. Aitken's father, the 3rd Baron Beaverbrook, and the Beaverbrook gallery. That dispute concerned whether the gallery had title to 133 works valued at more than $100-million or they were loans "recallable on demand" to the foundation as heir and manager of the first Lord Beaverbrook's estate. An arbitration decision in March, 2007, awarded the gallery 85 works. However, the foundation appealed and the dispute continued for nearly three years before an out-of-court settlement largely upheld the arbitration.'Without a doubt, I am seriously worried' about the world
The spiritual leader to the world's Ismaili Muslims discusses Quebec's Charter of Values, religious tensions in the Middle East, Tunisia's new model of hope, the global fight against poverty - and the value of public parks
By JOHN STACKHOUSE
Saturday, March 1, 2014 Print Edition, Page A10
The Aga Khan, spiritual leader to the world's 15 million Ismaili Muslims and an honorary Canadian, visited Canada this week to speak to a rare joint session of Parliament, and inspect the new Ismaili centre in Toronto, due to open this summer. He also sat down with The Globe and Mail's Editor-in-Chief John Stackhouse for an hour on Friday.
Here is an excerpt of the conversation.
You've been promoting the creation of parks around the world, from Cairo to Kabul to Delhi, and now Toronto. Why do parks matter to you?
When a public space is in a historic area or even in an ordinary area, the population from all backgrounds comes together. People from all ages, from different backgrounds, come together. It's a space of immense social gathering. That's part of civil society. It's getting people to talk to other people informally in these environments.
You've said pluralism is a process, not a product. In terms of Canada's process, what concerns are raised by Quebec's Charter of Values?
Frankly, I haven't read it, but if you're asking me about the generic issue, I'd say there are two issues - one is the purpose of carrying religious identification. Is it a purpose that has an objective to proselytize, or is it personal conviction - and a sense of identification with one's faith - that cannot be interpreted as proselytization? In the case of the Sikhs, for instance, they have a religious duty - and it has been accepted by many governments. Why is that an exception? Because it is seen as a requirement of their faith.
Is it different for facial coverings, because many see those as a barrier to communication?
That is more complicated because the history is probably more tribal. So depending on which part of the world the community comes from, they will wear different headdresses. There's no common rule. It's something that has to be looked at very carefully, to find a common denominator that is acceptable
Like Canada, you've devoted much of your energy to Afghanistan, and invested there in things like hotels. Do you hope for stability any time soon?
I think it's going to be a little bit of a kaleidoscope, a mixed picture where various provinces will move ahead and others will find themselves with less forward movement. The conditionality of all that is the protection of civil society. I'm not convinced that is in place.
What does Afghanistan need most?
A fully trained police, police from the provinces, trained and perhaps led by training officers for a period, not necessarily Afghan training officers, for a transitional period.
The Taliban, among others, want to move backward in terms of rights, especially toward women. Is that a condition of peace?
Some people refer to it as Islamification. I can't think of one single country where that has succeeded. The reason is the diversity within Islam, the different types of attitudes towards inheritance, towards zakaat. The attempt to bring a Muslim country that has a multiple of interpretations of Islam around one single interpretation of Islam has never worked. They may try to force it. That's a different issue. I've never seen it work where it wasn't followed by some form of dictatorial government.
Is the Ummah, the worldwide community of Muslims, more divided today than 30 years ago?
Yes and no. Demographically, no. In terms of the changing environment, very definitely yes.
Demography, access to opportunity, access to education, access to the financial system, ownership of land - all these issues come into play. What we are seeing today is a surge by many of these communities to reposition themselves. The dominant force is not there. When that disappears, everyone looks to reposition themselves.
That's a polite way of saying there could be chaos.
Isn't that what's there?
Is that sorting itself out, or is it in the middle of what you call "extensive repositioning"?
Extensive repositioning, and I don't think the forces at play are anywhere near their state of intentions.
What can be done?
There are so many countries trying to redesign their constitutions. If you're addressing your constitution, one of the things you can do is rewrite the equality of opportunity, you can protect rights. Many countries I've worked in have done that. Tunisia is the most recent example. But India changed its constitution some years ago to protect its minorities. That's entirely legitimate. The reason being that any weak minority in a given country is a liability.
For Syria, is there reasonable hope its people can resolve this?
I don't see anything to lead me to believe there is an outcome [that is positive].
It would seem [Bashar] al-Assad has to go.
Does he believe that?
That's another matter.
That's one of the things being discussed. But how realistic is it? There's no point, in a situation like that, discussing non-negotiable issues.
Do you see that as non-negotiable?
It's not my view [that matters]. It's what is President Assad's view. And what is the Russian view and what is the Iranian view. So I don't see an outcome for the moment.
What is negotiable in Syria?
There was a concept that islands of peace could be developed, and that those islands of peace could be built around minorities, and would receive international guarantees, but that didn't happen.
Was that hopeful or fanciful?
I don't think the United Nations saw that as a real opportunity because the whole situation is so fractured. There's something like 1,400 independent groups functioning in that state. So for the moment, it's war.
One of the players in Syria is Iran. Is the new regime in Tehran trustworthy?
I think civil society has had a much bigger impact than people think. When you have theocratic forces facing civil society, there has to be accommodation of some kind, and I think that's what has happened. It may have been partially sustained by economic pressure but I don't believe the economic pressure alone caused this to happen. That process is still fragile.
Why? There are established forces in the country that have been there a long time. I think there is an intent to accommodate, which would be rational really.
In Egypt, should the Muslim Brotherhood be recognized as part of a pluralistic process?
The basic issue is what is the nature of governance that you want. In the Muslim world, that is particularly complex because faith and world are not separated. Where we have political parties that are faith-based, they are part of the real world. They are not only theocratic parties. They actually act in civil society, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is an example. In Tunisia, they decided it was a civil outcome they were all going to support.
You have a heightened sense of concern about the world.
Without a doubt, I am seriously worried. I think we are seeing new problems that originally looked to be local problems but now are becoming regional problems and regional problems that are becoming global problems. One of them is frustration with governments that have stayed in power too long and underperformed. Another, the Shia-Sunni divide is a serious one. It's not one country called Ireland. It's nine countries. I think we have a situation where new megapowers are coming up on the world screen. I'm thinking of China, and, from my point of view, predictability is a problem.
You seem more hopeful about human development and the fight against poverty.
In individual situations, very definitely yes. There are a number of countries where wealth is being created. But it's an uneven picture. Some countries have made bad judgments on education, bad judgments on resources.
So we should be more
hopeful about economics
I see more rational foundations. If you go back to the '60s, how often could you have a rational debate about development? Everything was forced into ideology, into dogma. That's not there any more.WHERE RUSSIA IS CLOSE TO THE HEART
Trying to spread the revolution to Ukraine's second-largest city is a tough sell. Mark MacKinnon reports from Kharkiv's Freedom Square, where the country's largest Lenin statue is becoming a flashpoint for protesters on both sides
By MARK MACKINNON
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 Print Edition, Page A9
KHARKIV, UKRAINE -- Ukraine's political crisis has many dividing lines. And on a Monday night here in the country's second-largest city, those lines all blurred into an argument about a man who died more than 90 years ago.
For thousands of pro-European protesters - who are trying to spread Ukraine's revolution to this Russified part of the country - having a giant statue of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin on the city's central Freedom Square is an absurdity that must immediately be ended. Dozens of Lenin monuments have been pulled down around the country since protesters first took to the streets against the government of Viktor Yanukovych three months ago.
But for many others in Kharkiv, the Lenin statue represents stability, as well as the country's historic links to Russia. The 8.5-metre-tall monument - the largest built in Ukraine - has come to stand for everything they believe is threatened by the uprising that has seen pro-Western forces take over the government in Kiev.
Ukraine's capital, Kiev, is now fully in the hands of pro-European forces, and the west of the country has always had more in common with neighbouring Poland and Hungary than with faraway Moscow. But here in Kharkiv - a city that Lenin initially made the capital of Soviet Ukraine - and other border areas, Russia is still close to the heart.
Those two sides of Ukraine, and of Kharkiv, now stand at opposite ends of the city's vast Freedom Square, each erecting fences and gathering makeshift weapons for a fight, as the struggle for Ukraine moves beyond the capital to more reluctant regions.
"Lennon, not Lenin," read one sign that hung on the barricades outside Kharkiv's regional administration building, which sits at the eastern edge of Freedom Square and has been occupied by pro-European protesters since Saturday.
"Lenin is a symbol of totalitarianism, a symbol of the past, a symbol of what keeps us from going forward," explained Oleg Zakapko, a key organizer of "Kharkiv Maidan," an attempt to replicate the Kiev uprising here in this city just 40 kilometres from the Russian border.
"Twenty years ago [when the USSR collapsed] we didn't take down these monuments to totalitarianism because they were important to a lot of these old people who believed in Lenin. For the past 20 years, a lot of young people have grown up with these symbols that mean nothing to them. The new generation is ready to move Ukraine toward another future, another fate."
The 37-year-old Mr. Zakapko, a small-business owner before he became a full-time revolutionary, was among a crowd of several thousand that rushed to Freedom Square on Saturday - the day after Mr. Yanukovych fled Kiev - planning to yank Lenin from his plinth. But then the backlash began.
First, an all-call went out to Kharkiv's taxi drivers, who sped to Freedom Square to defend the monument, injuring several pro-European protesters as they crashed into the crowds. The next morning, a rival crowd of several thousand - including veterans in Soviet Army uniforms - marched to the square and set up their own perimeter of fencing around the statue. "Kharkiv is not Kiev," one sign warned.
"This monument to Lenin is a symbol of our city... we will leave it here and we will defend it," Kharkiv's pro-Russian Governor, Mikhail Dobkin, said in a speech delivered Sunday to a cheering crowd in Freedom Square.
Impressions of Lenin are deeply intertwined with how Ukraine's history is told. To many Ukrainians, particularly in the centre and west of the country, Soviet rule was a time of horrors, marked by official repression of Ukrainian language and culture, as well as a state-orchestrated famine that caused the death of millions.
The black-and-red banner of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army - a guerrilla group led by Stepan Bandera that fought against Soviet rule in the 1940s and 50s - has been adopted by the ultranationalist Right Sector movement that was the militant backbone as protesters battled police on the streets of Kiev.
The sight of that flag is too much to bear for many in the Russian-speaking east and south of the country. Here, Soviet times are remembered well, and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army is condemned as "fascists" who temporarily co-operated with the Nazis in hopes of establishing an independent Ukrainian state.
Many of those defending the Lenin statue wore orange-and-black St. George's ribbons, commemorating those who fought and died in the Second World War.
"Everybody [in Kharkiv] has a grandmother or grandfather who died in the war. They think Bandera was a supporter of Hitler, and against the Soviet Union," said local journalist Zurab Alasania, who supports the pro-European protesters, but thinks they made a tactical error in trying to pull down Lenin.
He said the argument over the Lenin statue has revived the political hopes of Mr. Dobkin and Kharkiv Mayor Gennady Kernes, two long-time Yanukovych allies. Both men left Kharkiv for Russia over the weekend - sparking rumours they had gone into exile - only to return to address the crowd that had gathered to defend the monument.
Now, after his speech at the foot of Lenin, there's talk that Mr. Dobkin may emerge as a successor to Mr. Yanukovych as the chief pro-Russian politician in Ukraine.
"They got some hope out of this," Mr. Alasania said. "This is not about Lenin... This is about this [statue] is ours, leave it alone."For the Tories, a foreign policy challenge like no other
By KATHRYN BLAZE CARLSON, KIM MACKRAEL
Monday, March 3, 2014 Print Edition, Page A1
OTTAWA and TORONTO -- With Russian President Vladimir Putin armed with political approval to invade Ukraine, Prime Minister Stephen Harper moved to formulate Canada's response to the fluid situation.
He spent much of Saturday in briefings with senior officials, and working in his Centre Block office on Parliament Hill.
Then came a call with U.S. President Barack Obama, in which the two leaders discussed the grave situation developing in Ukraine. And by 5 p.m. Saturday, the Prime Minister was in a third-floor meeting room with a key group of cabinet ministers to discuss the unfolding crisis.
The showdown with Russia over Ukraine is one of the most serious foreign-policy challenges for the Conservatives in their eight-year tenure. It is a diplomatic confrontation, not with a failing state, but with a nuclear-armed great power - and a fellow member of the G8. And with Canada's Ukrainian community one of the largest in the world, the domestic political stakes are also high.
International Development Minister Christian Paradis was among those at the emergency session, as was Mr. Baird, albeit remotely via telephone from Toronto, where he was meeting with the Portuguese President and Foreign Minister to discuss a range of bilateral and multilateral issues. Mr. Paradis' deputy, Paul Rochon, had to cancel a speech in Toronto at the last minute because of the meeting.
When Mr. Harper emerged, he issued a statement saying he was recalling the Canadian ambassador in Moscow and had suspended Canada's preparations for the coming G8 summit planned for Sochi, the Russian city that just played host to the Olympic Games. Around that same time, he spoke with NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, who told The Globe that Mr. Harper said Mr. Putin had "crossed the Rubicon" - a military reference often used to suggest someone has passed the point of no return.
Mr. Mulcair described his conversation with Mr. Harper as "open" and "detailed," and said he felt Mr. Harper's use of the military reference was spot on. When asked about the remark, a spokesman for the Prime Minister, Jason MacDonald, said he wouldn't comment on the substance of a private conversation.
By Sunday, news emerged that the government had also summoned Russia's ambassador to Canada for rebuke, and Mr. Baird held a 2 p.m. press conference in Toronto where he declined to comment on next steps but said Ottawa would consider sanctions against Russia and didn't rule out the possibility of expelling Russia from the G8.
Some time before 3 p.m. EST on Sunday, Mr. Harper spoke to Paul Grod, the head of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, who is in Ukraine, to discuss the situation on the ground.
Mr. Grod, who has met with Mr. Harper several times since the crisis erupted last fall, said the Prime Minister's Office reached out to him to set up the call. He said he briefed Mr. Harper about his conversations earlier in the day with members of the post-revolutionary government, who expressed concern over what they described as a Ukrainian military that's in "bad shape."
"My message was that Russia is clearly the aggressor, and I don't think there's any question in the Prime Minister's mind," Mr. Grod said in an interview from Kiev. "In terms of next steps, I don't think the Prime Minister was prepared to provide any comments for public consumption."
By Sunday evening, the G7 nations issued a collective statement condemning Russia for actions that "contravene the principles and values on which the G-7 and G-8 operate." The statement said the group has halted preparations for the June summit "until the environment comes back to where the G8 is able to have meaningful discussion."
A government official said Sunday that Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Daniel Jean and Associate Deputy Minister Peter Boehm had on Saturday dressed down Russia's ambassador to Canada, Georgiy Mamedov. The official said Mr. Mamedov conveyed Russia's widely known belief that it has a right to protect its national interests and invade Ukraine, but said the ministers told him there's no excuse.
Robert Collette, a former Canadian diplomat who once served as chief of protocol, said the combination of summoning Russia's ambassador and recalling the Canadian ambassador from Moscow sends a "very strong message" to the Russians. He said the Canadian diplomat could remain here for a day, a week, six months or longer, and would most likely hold discussions in the meantime with Mr. Baird and possibly Mr. Harper.
Mr. Collette noted that expelling Mr. Mamedov - a move Mr. Baird said he hasn't ruled out - would be an extreme measure. "It's not something our government does lightly," he said.
With a report from Steven Chase in OttawaAnother deadly puzzle piece revealed
Olympic runner's neighbour, a radiologist, tells court he went to check if help was needed after hearing shots and a woman's screams
By GEOFFREY YORK
Friday, March 7, 2014 Print Edition, Page A9
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA -- More than a year later, Oscar Pistorius is still anguished by the memory of how his girlfriend died in his arms, at the bottom of his stairs, from the calamitous brain injuries that his 9 mm pistol inflicted upon her.
As he heard the harrowing details again on Thursday from a doctor's testimony at his murder trial, the famed "Blade Runner" slumped lower on his wooden courtroom bench, crying, bending himself into a childlike crouch and covering his head in his hands to block his ears. The trauma still seemed too much for him.
His emotional devastation is unquestioned. His sister, Aimee, consoled him with a long hug afterward, their heads bowed in apparent prayer. But prosecutors still maintain that the Olympic hero deliberately shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year. And their latest witness has provided another piece of the puzzle that might yet convict him of murder.
Mr. Pistorius, who made history as the first double-amputee to run against able-bodied athletes at the Olympics, is emerging in a complex and contradictory portrait at his murder trial. He is clearly religious and sorrowful, yet the testimony also paints him as a reckless gun-handler who told his friends to lie about a shooting incident at a busy restaurant to avoid any embarrassing blame.
The latest witness, radiologist Johan Stipp, is a close neighbour of Mr. Pistorius in a luxury gated housing estate in Pretoria. In his home just 70 metres from the Pistorius house, around 3 a.m., Dr. Stipp was awoken by a volley of what sounded like gunshots, followed by a woman's terrified screams and then a second volley of identical-sounding gunshots, he testified.
After hearing the second series of gunshots - and telling his wife to watch out for the possible danger of stray bullets - Dr. Stipp said he went over to his neighbour's house to see if he could help. He found Mr. Pistorius kneeling beside the prone body of his girlfriend, covering her groin injury with one hand and holding two fingers in her mouth with his other hand to try to open her airway.
He was distraught, pleading to God to let her live and promising to dedicate his life to God if she survived. "I shot her," he told Dr. Stipp, according to the doctor's testimony. "I thought she was a burglar, and I shot her."
This is a version that he still maintains today: that he shot Ms. Steenkamp accidentally through a locked toilet door, mistaking her for an intruder. But several neighbours this week, including Dr. Stipp, have provided strong testimony that seems to contradict his story.
As Dr. Stipp tried to assist the dying woman, he could tell that her injuries were mortal: He could not find a pulse, there were no breathing movements and her cornea was drying out and turning milky. But his concern was also for Mr. Pistorius, who was so distressed that Dr. Stipp worried about a possible suicide. He asked the housing-estate manager, also at the scene, if he knew where the gun was, because he was afraid Mr. Pistorius "was going to hurt himself."
Dr. Stipp is the third witness to remember hearing a woman's screams before a final volley of gunshots. Defence lawyer Barry Roux has argued that the "woman" was actually Mr. Pistorius screaming for help in a high-pitched voice, and that the final "shots" were actually the sound of him battering down the bathroom door with a cricket bat to rescue her, after she was killed by the initial volley. When the Olympic hero is anxious, his scream is "just like a woman," Mr. Roux told the witness, citing an unnamed "expert."
The defence has also insisted that Ms. Steenkamp could not have screamed after the first series of gunshots because she suffered devastating brain damage, so the screams must have been someone else - presumably Mr. Pistorius.
The prosecution, revealing key details of its case on Thursday for the first time, argued instead that Ms. Steenkamp was killed by the final volley of gunfire, after the screams. It has not yet explained the earlier sounds, which Dr. Stipp described as sounding like gunshots.
Dr. Stipp testified that he recognized the sound of gunshots because he was a military veteran who had experience with guns, including 9 mm pistols, similar to the pistol that Mr. Pistorius used.
He also testified that he thought he heard a man's voice, sometimes "intermingled" with the woman's voice - suggesting that the high-pitched voice was not that of Mr. Pistorius.Occupied Crimean town stands divided
By TIM SULLIVAN
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 Print Edition, Page A5
NOVO-OZERNE, UKRAINE -- For years, the little Crimean town was closed off from the rest of the world, a secretive community, at the edge of a key Soviet naval base, sealed by roadblocks and armed guards.
Today, to get to Novo-Ozerne, you just follow a pitted two-lane road far into the Crimean countryside, past collective farms abandoned decades ago and villages where it's hard to see any life, even at midday.
There's not much in town any more, just the occasional ship that has sailed up the Black Sea inlet to this isolated spot, a handful of crumbling navy buildings, and an armoury ringed by barbed wire.
But the Russians want it.
And the little forgotten town is now sharply divided, torn between those who welcomed the arrival here over the weekend of dozens of Russian soldiers wearing unmarked uniforms, and those who back the Ukrainians who are refusing to surrender their weapons.
"We know who they are and we see [what they are doing] as terrorism," said Sergei Reshetnik, a local businessman furious over the Russians' arrival. "We just want to live quietly."
The standoff in Novo-Ozerne between Russian and Ukrainian soldiers is a scene playing out across Crimea, days after Moscow effectively seized political power across the strategic Black Sea peninsula, establishing a pro-Russian regional government backed up by hundreds - perhaps thousands - of soldiers.
In Novo-Ozerne, the standoff had turned into an impasse by Monday afternoon. After the initial confrontation, the Russians had moved most of their forces away from the base and into an abandoned building, leaving about a dozen heavily armed soldiers in hurriedly built trenches outside the armoury.
The commanders have talked a few times, trying to avoid the chance of accidental bloodshed, and things often looked fairly normal, with soldiers, their wives and girlfriends passing easily in and out of the main Ukrainian base.
Outside the armoury, members of pro-Russian self-defence groups, which have often worked closely with the Russian military, set up a perimeter to search vehicles leaving the compound.
They were thrilled at the Russians' arrival.
To them, what happened in Kiev was a coup staged by anti-Russian fascists who they fear will punish the ethnic Russians who dominate this part of Ukraine. So, they said, they were making sure no weapons made it out of the armoury.
"We don't want to become another Yugoslavia here," said Alexei Maslyukov, a local resident who organized the checkpoint, barely 15 metres from where masked Russians watched with automatic weapons.
In many ways, what happened in this town is unusual. Crimea was a crown jewel of the czarist and Soviet empires, and ethnic Russians moved here in droves over the years. After the fall of the Soviet Union and Ukraine's independence, many Crimeans continued to see themselves as more Russian than Ukrainian.
By all appearances, most Crimeans have welcomed the Russian military, and given only scattered support to the Ukrainian soldiers.
But this town, which outwardly is just another vision of post-Soviet decay, with its identical concrete-block apartments and empty storefronts, is diverse. There are Russians and Tatars, the Turkic people who once dominated Crimea. There are Azeris, Gypsies and Jews. Few of these people have any loyalty to Moscow.
The village, which once numbered more than 12,000, now has fewer than half that many people. The Soviets took most of their ships and equipment with them at independence, leaving the naval installations little more than piles of concrete and decades-old weaponry.
"Whatever they didn't want, that's what they left here," said Mr. Reshetnik, the local businessman.
Dozens of local residents turned out early Monday to demonstrate their support for the Ukrainians, with many shouting angrily at Russian soldiers to leave the base's main gate. And, in fact, the Russians did soon withdraw.
That fact made the base's acting commander smile.
"Talking to them, I know that they are ready to come here and stand as defence between us and the Russians," said Vadim Filipenko.New president of war-torn nation touts Canada as partner in peace
By GEOFFREY YORK
Thursday, February 27, 2014 Print Edition, Page A1
IN BANGUI -- Flanked by an army officer and four African peacekeeping troops, Catherine Samba-Panza emerges regally from a backroom into a plush chamber filled with overstuffed red-velvet gilt chairs and sofas.
The new president of Central African Republic, the third female president in Africa today, has one of the world's most impossible jobs: trying to rebuild a shattered country where the state has collapsed and political chaos has spiralled into daily sectarian killing.
But she has a plan. As she met the media in her grandiose office Wednesday, she outlined a blueprint for security and reconciliation in the ravaged nation, using a growing force of foreign peacekeepers, while capitalizing on the advantages of being a woman - and touting Canada as a potential partner.
She exuded confidence and calm, until the end of the briefing, when she sharply reprimanded a French television crew for daring to ignore her recent speech at a military ceremony.
Instead of her speech, she complains, the TV channel showed a gruesome lynching by soldiers at the same ceremony.
Even as she spoke to journalists in the presidential office, the killings were continuing. Several more civilians were killed by armed men in Bangui, where dwindling Muslim neighbourhoods are under siege, and militias roam freely.
"I think the presence of a woman at the head of the state in today's context is fundamental," said Mrs. Samba-Panza, a former mayor and human rights activist who was chosen as interim president just five weeks ago after a rebel-backed leader was ousted.
"In our community, even if we have difficulties, we do have some basic values, and among them is a respect for women," she added. "I think we've arrived at a moment when I can teach reconciliation and respect. People express their anger at the political struggles, and they want another kind of leadership, and this leadership could be represented by a woman."
One of her heroes is another pioneer: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female head of state in Africa, who has ruled Liberia since 2006 after the end of a devastating civil war. "She's a woman who came to power in almost the same situation as me," Mrs. Samba-Panza said. "She became the head of the country at a moment of great difficulty in a post-conflict period with many security problems."
So far, African and European nations are the only ones to provide peacekeepers for Central African Republic, and most of the African troops are badly under-trained and under-equipped. Countries such as Canada could provide much more - not just in humanitarian aid, of which Canada has already donated millions to the country - but also in human rights and military aid for the peacekeepers, she said.
"I think Canada has a lot of experience in the sphere of minorities and their integration into society," said Mrs. Samba-Panza, who recalls how she benefited from support from a Canadian community group herself. "I think Canada and its organizations and people can bring a lot to building peace here."
Mrs. Samba-Panza, 58, was born in Chad to a Cameroonian father and Central African mother. This has made her a target for nationalist fervour in her homeland, where many are resentful of the foreign troops. One newspaper in Bangui blasted her in a front-page headline. "Samba-Panza: the president who thinks in Chadian, speaks in Cameroonian and acts in Central African."
In a deeply divided country, where the army and police have fallen apart, she will find it difficult to develop a power base. She is required to resign next year when elections are scheduled.
But as long as she holds office, she pledges to try to heal the divisions. "People have to learn to live together after the fracture," she said.Reporter's hope for release from Egyptian jail dashed
By GLORIA GALLOWAY
Thursday, March 6, 2014 Print Edition, Page A4
OTTAWA -- Mohamed Fahmy asked an Egyptian judge if the judge would let him out of prison if Canada offered a guarantee he would remain in the country long enough to stand trial on terrorism charges. But any hope that the Canadian journalist had for release, even on a temporary basis, have been dashed.
The second hearing for Mr. Fahmy and other employees of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera television network ended on Wednesday, with a third court date scheduled for March 24 and Mr. Fahmy still behind bars.
The case has garnered worldwide attention and is seen as a test of the new Egyptian regime's tolerance for press freedom. News organizations, governments and international petitions have called for the journalists' release.
But the pressure from external sources has had no apparent impact on the Egyptian determination to prosecute Mr. Fahmy and the others on charges of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood of deposed president Mohammed Morsi.
Mr. Fahmy's brother, Sharif Fahmy, said in a telephone interview Wednesday with The Globe and Mail: "I think Egypt is trying to prove to the world that no government and no country is allowed to interfere in Egypt's court system."
Mr. Fahmy, Al Jazeera's English-language bureau chief in Cairo, and two of his colleagues - Australian reporter Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed - were arrested in late December. They are among 20 Al Jazeera employees who have been charged, eight of whom are in custody.
Mr. Fahmy's parents, Fadel and Wafaa, have travelled from their home in Montreal to be with their son as he goes through the Egyptian court system. They and Mr. Fahmy's brothers were permitted to attend Wednesday's hearing. "He was very frustrated today, extremely stressed," said Sharif Fahmy.
Sharif Fahmy said his brother's lawyer was optimistic as recently as Saturday that the court would agree to the release on assurance from Canadian consular staff that he would not leave the country before his trial. The Foreign Affairs Department said Wednesday it could not say if any such guarantees have been extended to Mr. Fahmy, citing privacy rules.
The lawyer "said that his whole office is working on Mohamed's case and that we stand strong, and that all the documents provided prove his innocence, and that, no matter what, he was going to be released," said Sharif Fahmy. "But today, in court, it didn't seem so."
The prosecution produced a witness who accused Mr. Fahmy of being a member of the Brotherhood and of providing information to Al Jazeera's Arabic network, which is banned in Egypt. "I don't know who was this witness or where they got this guy," said Sharif Fahmy, adding that the accusation is "ridiculous and everyone in the courtroom said so."
The federal Conservative government in this country has offered no explanation for its refusal to join world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama and representatives of the United Nations, in calling for the release of the journalists.
Mr. Fahmy, who came to Canada with his family about 20 years ago, is a citizen of both Canada and Egypt. His family has been told by Canadian consular officials in Egypt that his dual citizenship has tied their hands in terms of demanding his release.Senators owner meets Baird, Kiev envoy
By KATHRYN BLAZE CARLSON
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 Print Edition, Page A10
OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk met with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Kiev's ambassador to Canada regarding the crisis in Ukraine, making the rounds on what he describes as "some of the darkest days in the country's history."
Mr. Melnyk, a Ukrainian-Canadian who has been recognized by the former Soviet state for his charitable work there, met for about 20 minutes with Mr. Baird on Tuesday in the minister's office on Parliament Hill.
"Mr. Melnyk is a member of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress' Advisory Council and has been involved with charitable work in Ukraine for more than a decade," his spokesman Ken Villazor, said in an e-mail Tuesday evening. "He was visiting Parliament Hill and took the opportunity to meet briefly with Minister Baird to share his personal views on the developing crisis."
According to the Senators website, Mr. Melnyk received special honours from Ukraine's then-president Viktor Yushchenko for his charitable work with Help Us Help The Children, a humanitarian organization that benefits orphaned children in the country.
Mr. Baird's office confirmed Tuesday's meeting but wouldn't provide details about the private conversation, other than to say the pair discussed the situation in Ukraine and Canada's response to it.
Mr. Melnyk, a businessman who founded a major publicly traded pharmaceutical company, afterward attended Question Period in the House of Commons before next heading to the Ukrainian embassy.
Mr. Melnyk met with Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko to "offer his support," Mr. Villazor said. He also signed the official book of condolences for those who perished in the popular uprising that ousted president Viktor Yanukovych.
"Mr. Melnyk is deeply concerned for the people of Ukraine and describes the situation as some of the darkest days in the country's history," Mr. Villazor said.
Mr. Prystaiko, who met with Mr. Baird after Mr. Melnyk for about 30 minutes, could not immediately be reached after his discussion with the Senators owner. But when asked about the meeting beforehand, Mr. Prystaiko noted Mr. Melnyk's Ukranian heritage and said he knows him "personally."
"We'd like to talk about many things," Mr. Prystaiko told reporters. "He's been quite famous for what he's doing in Ukraine, helping charities. I wouldn't be surprised if he comes with more ideas like that."Teams search for jet bound for Beijing
By PAUL KORING
Saturday, March 8, 2014 Print Edition, Page A3
WASHINGTON -- A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 bound for Beijing from Kuala Lumpur was missing and presumed lost early Saturday, the airline reported hours after contact with the big jet carrying 239 passengers and crew.
"Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities who have activated their search-and-rescue teams to locate the aircraft," the airline said in a statement.
The last contact with Flight MH 370 was roughly two hours into a six-hour flight shortly before the twin-engined airliner was to begin crossing the South China Sea in the middle of the night local time.
China's CCTV said 160 Chinese nationals on the flight. The airline said passengers from 13 countries were on board the flight.
Several commercial flight-tracking programs show the aircraft track ending abruptly over Vietnam shortly before the jet would head out over the South China Sea. However, those tracking sites rely on positions transmitted by aircraft. No confirmed last location was reported by air traffic control agencies.
"We deeply regret that we have lost all contacts with flight MH370," said Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, chief executive officer of Malaysian Airline System. "Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew."
More than 1,100 Boeing 777s are in use. The aircraft has an outstanding safety record; only two have been lost. An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 crashed into the seawall at the end of a San Francisco runway last summer. All but three passengers survived. In 2008, a British Airlines Boeing 777 landed short of a runway at Heathrow, with no fatalaties.
With a report from BloombergA Canadian impresario finds his niche
Michael Donovan, chief executive, DHX Media
By SIMON HOUPT
Saturday, March 8, 2014 Print Edition, Page B3
Something is wrong.
Michael Donovan has been sitting here for a couple of minutes now, at a secluded table in the hip Portuguese restaurant Chiado, the air tight around him. He's making small talk, but there's something obligatory about the exchange. He's not giving away more than is absolutely necessary. To wit: How long has he been in town? "Three days." (Pause.) Does he often come to this restaurant when visiting Toronto? "No." Oh. So... um... it's not one of his favourites? "No. I just eat in my room and work, work, work." He smiles thinly, like an experienced traveller submitting to the whims of a customs official, wondering when the encounter will end.
Mind you, that may be his default mode. As CEO of the Halifax-based children's television powerhouse DHX Media Inc., whose shows include Yo, Gabba Gabba!, Caillou and a forthcoming 3-D reboot of the classic Inspector Gadget series, Mr. Donovan spends about 50 per cent of his time on the road. "My home is really the Air Canada lounge," he says. His voice is gravelly, so the quip sounds like a growl.
It's been like that for decades, ever since he and his older brother Paul, two of eight siblings, spent the late 1970s and early 1980s trying to crank out B-movies under the name Salter Street Films. In the beginning, Michael Donovan saw the business as a brief diversion, after years of law school and doing poverty law for Dalhousie Legal Aid. But he caught the bug. "At that time, Canadian films were expected to be very tedious," he notes. "There was a legacy of social agenda. Not necessarily entertainment. And so it was much more exciting to flout that."
Paul wrote and directed, Michael produced and travelled around the world selling the pictures, such as South Pacific 1942. (If you haven't heard of it, you're not alone.) "You'd make them for around $250,000, and by selling it country by country - $15,000 here, there - you'd make maybe $500,000. Which, actually, between the investors and this and that, rarely paid the bills. So you'd go to the next one, hoping that was the one that would work. That was the world of the independent."
Until it wasn't. By Mr. Donovan's telling, that world imploded by the mid-1980s with the advent of home video. Yes, the new delivery technology brought a flood of new money into the system. But it also meant "the difference between A- and B-(movies) became too sharp - and very noticeable to audiences."
After mulling a move to Hollywood, the Donovans resolved to stay in Halifax, and eventually pivoted to producing TV shows, including Codco and This Hour Has 22 Minutes. "I just knew there was so much talent, particularly out of Newfoundland, that nobody was aware of, and there was an opportunity. It was very satisfying, I must admit, to create political satire." There were other successes, such as the 1991 CBC-TV movie Life With Billy, which won three Gemini Awards. A kinship between the Donovans and the documentary filmmaker Michael Moore led to the TV series The Awful Truth for Bravo, and the Oscar-winning doc Bowling For Columbine.
And there was an acclaimed film adaptation of Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire's Rwanda genocide book Shake Hands With The Devil, which received 12 Genie nominations, including one for Michael Donovan's screenplay.
But those days of hands-on film and TV production are over now. As CEO, he pronounces himself dedicated exclusively to creating shareholder value. "That's the job that I have, and I work on it as assiduously as I can," he says. "If I actually go and engage in the creation of the products, that would distract me from the core job, so I can't do it. Do I miss it? Yes, at some level. But this is what I'm doing."
After Salter Street was sold in 2001 to Alliance Atlantis (and then shut down in 2003), Mr. Donovan founded the Halifax Film Company, merging it in 2006 with Decode Entertainment to form DHX. In 2012, DHX became what Mr. Donovan says is the world's largest independent provider of children's TV programming with its purchase of Cookie Jar Entertainment; it now has more than 9,600 half-hour shows in its library.
That puts the company in an enviable position, as parents around the world will pay a premium for name-brand TV content their children can watch in a safe online environment.
"We sell more children's animation to Netflix than any other company in the world, including the studios," says Mr. Donovan. But there are plenty of other avenues for DHX's content, almost all of which is sold on a non-exclusive basis: If another buyer comes along in the same territory, DHX just sells the rights to the same programming.
"We're finding all sorts of new customers, and all sorts of new ways to work around the previous restrictions that existed," he says, now forking his way through a vegetable risotto. "Also, a lot of our programming is preschool - and the one making the decision is the mother. She is going to order on iTunes the show that she experienced."
To non-parents, Franklin or Teletubbies may not seem like big brands. But they have audiences around the world. Before the development of online platforms, to get noticed, the shows "would have to get on a broadcast network. And if it was an old show, why would they do that? It used to be the '80-20 rule,' which is: 20 per cent sold, 80 per cent didn't. With the Internet, and infinite shelf space, our experience is the reverse: 80 sells, 80 finds an audience, 80 finds a way. And so very old shows are coming back to life."
Still, DHX believes there's plenty of juice left in the traditional television business. Last November, it struck a $170-million deal to buy Family Channel and three other kids TV services that Bell was forced to divest after its $3-billion purchase of Astral Media. Having those channels helps DHX get traction for its own new shows.
"Having been in the producing business, one of the worst things about it, is you might spend three years developing something, and a commissioning editor will - with a wave, a toss of the hand - say no, in 10 seconds. And that's it. And the reasons are not necessarily not liking the particular show or thinking it won't work, it's just not their agenda at that particular time. And the worst thing of that is that, when it was initiated, it was the agenda. It just takes time," he says. "Also, it really helps, when you're selling abroad, to have clear placement in your own country."
As the plates are cleared away, Mr. Donovan is starting to loosen up. He's thumping the table, talking up the domestic animation industry and its roots in the National Film Board of Canada. He's sharing the occasional political opinion. And then he reveals why he seemed so tense at the start of the lunch: He had only learned a few hours earlier that he would need to talk about his personal life. When he was told, he says, "I almost fell off my chair. 'I cannot talk about myself. I never do!' Terrifying!" He smiles, warmly now. "But I made a choice to proceed. And my terror now seems ridiculous."
The lunch winds down - we're now nibbling a collection of cheeses - and I ask permission to snap a couple of photos of him for reference. In the first, he is wearing his glasses, thick black numbers that make him look, when the lenses shade dark in the sunlight, a little menacing, almost De Niro-like. In the second, he looks like the actor Colm Feore. But Mr. Donovan looks at this second one, and seems suddenly winded.
"When I looked at that picture, I saw my grandfather - my mother's father," he says. "Slightly terrifying. I've never seen that before. Because I don't look at myself very often."
Then he shares a lighter personal story. As a producer on Bowling For Columbine, Mr. Donovan attended the Academy Awards ceremony on March 23, 2003. "We were at a hotel in Santa Monica, my wife and I, my children were there. My son was five, my daughter was three. And they'd come back from the beach, we were dressed in black. And my son, being very observant, said: 'Why are you dressed like that in the middle of the afternoon?' And I realized - 'Oh, we forgot to tell you, we're going to a party.' 'Well, what kind of party, in the middle of the afternoon?' 'A different kind of party.' 'Well, what happens at this different kind of party?' 'Well, I'll tell you. If you make the best movie in the world, they give you a gold statue.' 'Oh! Okay.'
"So we come back about midnight or so - nine hours later. And he's asleep, but we wake him up, because you have to tiptoe through a confined space. He comes back from the bathroom, and I had the statue, and we say: 'Look! We made the best movie in the world. We have a statue!' He looks at me and he says: 'We watched it on TV. Everybody was getting those.'"
CEO, DHX Media Ltd.
Co-founder, Halifax Film Group, 2004 (merged with Decode Entertainment in 2006 to form DHX)
Co-founder, chairman and CEO of Salter Street Films (sold to Alliance Atlantis 2001)
DHX Media television shows include Inspector Gadget, Arthur, Caillou, Franny's Feet, George of the Jungle, Yo Gabba Gabba!
Born: March 17, 1953 in Antigonish, N.S.
Wife: Jacqueline Donovan. (Married "probably 18 years this year ... My wife and I don't really pay much attention to it, actually. She's not that precious about it.")
Four children: three daughters, one son.
Education: Dalhousie University, BA (1974), LL.B (1977), LL.D (Hon) (2004)
TV and film credits include: Shake Hands With the Devil (2007), producer, writer; Bowling For Columbine (2002), producer; This Hour Has 22 Minutes, executive producer; Codco, executive producer; Life With Billy (1993), executive producer
On March 23, 2003, Mr. Donovan accepted an Academy Award as a producer on the documentary Bowling For Columbine. The film's director, Michael Moore, used the occasion to excoriate the Bush administration's decision to attack Iraq a few days earlier. The experience, "was very satisfying, because there was a standing ovation. At the same time, from the bleachers - boos. People were booing. As a person being in the business of trying to create a discussion, I had in front of me just that discussion, between the boos and the standing ovation. Very satisfying."Off Target
A bungled launch and the tough turnaround ahead
By MARINA STRAUSS
Saturday, March 1, 2014 Print Edition, Page B4
Rarely has a retailer raised consumer expectations so high and dashed them so quickly.
Target Corp. arrived in Canada a year ago amid buzz and anticipation that the U.S. discount chain, nicknamed Tar-zhay by some of its fashion-savvy fans, would wow shoppers with chic bargains.
Instead, Target stubbed its toe badly, unable to do the basics of replenishing its store shelves while taking criticism for charging noticeably higher prices than at its U.S. stores.
"It's a bit of the curse of high expectations," said Neil Stern, senior partner at retail consultancy McMillanDoolittle in Chicago. "There was so much buildup and drama around Target coming, and it would change the retail landscape. The disappointment was palpable."
The extent of the damage became clear this week when Target unveiled its grim 2013 results, which included a $941-million (U.S.) operating loss in Canada. It had originally forecast a profit here as early as the fourth quarter of 2013.
In 2014, it anticipates a Canadian loss of $314-million (before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization). The company says it is fixing its inventory snags, which are leading to empty shelves, and the situation already is improving.
Now comes the hard part: changing consumers' perception that Target Canada is Target Lite - or worse, that it's a buffed-up version of Zellers.
"Our goal was to bring the true U.S. Target experience to Canada, which included bringing the brands and products our guests [customers], who have cross-border shopped, know and love - and we have," Tony Fisher, president of Target Canada, said in an e-mail this week.
It's not enough for many shoppers, who say they find lower prices in U.S. stores than Canadian stores on identical items - or can't find the same products at all. The letdown has prompted some to continue to zip down to Targets south of the border, or just ditch the retailer altogether.
"They just don't have the variety of products here as in the States," said Sherri Redshaw of Stouffville, Ont., who has been shopping at Target for decades. She will head to Target during a business trip to Indianapolis next month to buy Hershey's cinnamon baking chips and the chain's "up & up" migraine medicine for her husband, among other products - merchandise she can't find at Target in Canada. "I never leave Target in the States without $300 of purchases."
Heather Arlen of Guelph, Ont., is in Florida right now, stocking up at Target on toys for her grandchildren and more than $50 worth of M&M's. The retailer south of the border carries seven varieties of the candy, for example, including coconut and peanut butter, while in Canada it has only two, plain and peanut, she said.
"Good grief, I can buy plain M&M's at the corner store. Why go to Target [in Canada]?"
Fashionistas also see a product gap. Sonia Basu, a graduate student in Kitchener, Ont., said she finds a wider selection of clothing styles at Target across the border, especially now that she's pregnant and looking for maternity and plus sizes. Target in Canada carries plus sizes, although they are not in a separate section but scattered throughout the apparel racks, and run to XXL rather than XXXL in the U.S., Target spokeswoman Lisa Gibson said.
Mr. Fisher said the perception that Target Canada is missing products is partly because of the troubled but improving supply chain, which has led to noticeable gaps on store shelves. "We remain fully committed to improving in-stocks and delivering a more consistent experience for our guests," he said.
As well, Target counts on its suppliers to recommend products that Canadian consumers prefer, Ms. Gibson said. "We will adjust our merchandising mix based on feedback we get."
Food and drug regulations mean that some U.S. products would have to be reformulated for Canada, which has stopped Target - and other retailers here - from carrying some items, she said. For instance, last year it could not bring its Archer Farms Sweet & Spicy Thai-Style Chile Reduced-Fat Kettle Chip here because the seasoning blend contained stevia, which could not be used to sweeten snack foods in Canada at the time. (Ottawa gave the green light to stevia in snack foods in January.)
Still, Target carries more than 90 per cent of the same in-house and designer apparel and home decor lines in its Canadian stores as it stocks in its U.S. outlets, including Nate Berkus homewares and Mossimo fashions, Ms. Gibson said.
But the retailer is at a disadvantage: Its Canadian stores are on average 18-per-cent smaller than those in the United States, forcing the retailer here to carry fewer offerings. Target bought the store leases from ailing Zellers in 2011 in a $1.8-billion deal; it hand-picked more than 120 of the best ones for Target, Mr. Fisher has said.
The Zellers deal allowed Target to do its Canadian expansion quickly - maybe too quickly. The retailer might have been better off with a slower approach.
Alex Arifuzzaman, a partner at InterStratics Consultants, a retail real estate advisory firm, characterizes Target's sites as ranging from "very good" to "average." He said Target is scheduled to open an "excellent" store soon in west-end Toronto that is being built to its specifications at about 140,000 square feet, close to the average size of its U.S. outlets.
The locations it picked up from Zellers "weren't ideal," he said. "But they were able to ramp up much faster" than they otherwise would have been if the company had bought store leases one by one. It poured about $10-million into renovating each store.
"I don't think the locations are the issue - it's what's in the box, I think, that is the issue in terms of Target's performance to date."
Target's first stores rolled out prematurely without the proper merchandise, he said. "You only have one chance to make a first impression and they failed to meet their U.S. experience in terms of both price and selection. ... Other retailers such as Canadian Tire do huge store launch events with deep discounts. Target did not. They had a high hurdle, no question. They did not clear it."
A survey done in late 2013 by brand consultancy Level5 found that only 24 per cent of consumers considered Target better than other general merchandise retailers such as Wal-Mart Canada Corp. and Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd., a stark drop from the 57 per cent just six months earlier. It left Target on par with troubled department store Sears Canada Inc., Level5 chief executive officer David Kincaid said.
Target has also suffered because consumers psychologically connect Target with Zellers - especially because the stores have a similar colour scheme. Zellers had emulated Target in its choice of red-and-white decor and some of its merchandise and store presentations, Mr. Kincaid said. "Consumers' emotional memories don't just shut off because you change the name of the store."
The firm's research last spring found that prices of a basket of household and food items were just 3 per cent cheaper in Target's U.S. stores compared with a comparable Target in Canada; when adjusted for foreign exchange rates, the U.S. prices were a mere 0.4 per cent cheaper.
Somehow, that hasn't improved the perception among customers that Canadian prices are out of line. Mr. Fisher has repeatedly said that prices here are comparable to those at low-cost Canadian rivals, and higher than those in the U.S. because of higher transportation, labour and other costs here.
In some categories, there are big price discrepancies. Research firm Gfk has found Target charged 31 per cent more on digital cameras and 11 per cent more on a home-theatre-in-a-box stereo at its Canadian stores.
Software engineer Nikolai Grigoriev said he headed to his nearby Target in Brossard, Que., last fall looking for a vacuum cleaner. He ended up buying something cheaper at Sears. If I am to go to a few local stores to find something inexpensive for my home, Target won't be among my destinations," he said.
Even so, Target wants to woo back shoppers such as Mr. Grigoriev. It has started to offer more deals, especially for everyday household and food items that tend to bring customers to stores more often.
"Selectively we're going to go out and be more aggressive," chief executive officer Gregg Steinhafel told analysts on Wednesday.
Most industry experts are betting Target will eventually get it right in Canada. Mr. Stern, the retail consultant, said other chains have stumbled and picked themselves back up. When consumers complained that Domino Pizza's product tasted like cardboard, Mr. Stern said, the company responded with a new recipe and marketing that essentially said: We know the pizza was terrible, here's the new stuff.
"At some point Target is going to have to do a Canada 2.0 and say, 'We're listening, we heard you, here are the things we've done to make those changes for you.'"
Gerald Storch, a former Target vice-chairman and former CEO of Toys "R" Us, said Target often has trouble entering new markets, even in the U.S. "At first , the consumer sees that beautiful store and assumes it's more expensive than it actually is. It just takes time. They need to improve their price perception and their in-stock position.
"It's a very large, well capitalized company. They should be able to fix it. ... Obviously they didn't expect to lose almost a billion dollars in one year. That's a major disappointment."
CANADA VS. U.S.: PRICE COMPARISON
Product.................Avg. diff. in price.......% of models where price
.............................(Canada vs. U.S.).......was lower in U.S.
JOHN SOPIINSKI / THE GLOBE AND MAIL
SOURCE: GFKOntario's query pushed Chrysler away
Auto maker balked after joint letter from federal, provincial governments asked for specifics on investment commitment
By ADRIAN MORROW, GREG KEENAN, STEVEN CHASE
Thursday, March 6, 2014 Print Edition, Page B1
TORONTO and TORONTO and OTTAWA -- Chrysler Group LLC walked away from talks with the federal and Ontario governments after they asked how much of its proposed $3.6-billion investment would be spent in Ontario - a request that was likely to draw out negotiations and delay the company's effort to bring a new minivan to market.
The federal government and the province sent Chrysler a joint letter and term sheets that offered to put up money as a percentage of the investment the company would be spending in Ontario, a source with knowledge of the talks said.
But those terms didn't appear to sit well with Chrysler chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne.
Lengthy and complex negotiations about how much money would be spent at the company's two Ontario plants would delay the revamp of the company's minivan assembly plant in Windsor, Ont., at a time when Mr. Marchionne is becoming impatient to get a new minivan on the road to replace one of the oldest, but most important vehicles in the Chrysler lineup.
Chrysler abruptly announced this week it was withdrawing its request for government financial assistance, and said it will retool the Windsor plant with its own money.
Calculating the specific amount of money allocated to Ontario would be difficult for Chrysler, in part because engineers would be crossing the Detroit-Windsor border daily between the minivan plant and Chrysler's head office in Auburn Hills, Mich., a source familiar with the situation said.
A senior federal government source said it considers Mr. Marchionne's walking away from the table to be his answer to Ontario and Ottawa's pointed queries. "What did we think of Chrysler not responding? I would take his pulling out as the response," the source said.
But the governments were only willing to spend taxpayers' money on the Ontario portion of Chrysler's investment, and had to know how much that would be before they could determine how much public money they would contribute.
In the end, Chrysler did not end up telling the governments how much it would spend in Ontario.
A federal government source said Ottawa found Chrysler dragging its feet on divulging how much of the $3.6-billion investment would be on Canadian soil. "It didn't sound like Chrysler was very forthcoming," the source said.
The talks had not yet progressed into other areas of negotiation, such as guarantees on how many jobs would be kept in the province for how long, the source said.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Unifor union leader Jerry Dias expressed fears about the long-term future of Chrysler's two plants and more than 8,000 jobs in the province in the wake of the auto maker's announcement.
"There are question marks about the future," Ms. Wynne told reporters Wednesday.
Chrysler said it halted negotiations in part because the proposal had become a "political football." That may have been a reference to comments by Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, who accused the company of demanding a "ransom" from taxpayers.
Mr. Marchionne stepped up his criticism on Wednesday at the Geneva auto show.
"I'm not here to try to satisfy people's egos or political ambitions," he told reporters. He refused to comment on whether the company still plans to spend $3.6-billion on developing and building new vehicles for the two Ontario plants.
The news release announcing the withdrawal of the funding request said Chrysler will build the next generation of its minivan in Windsor and later this year refresh the large sedans it assembles in Brampton. But it did not outline the amount of the investment.
"How much money we commit is not up for public scrutiny and I don't want politicians screwing around with our capital expenditure," Mr. Marchionne said.
Mr. Dias said confirmation that the next minivan will be built in Windsor does not make him confident about the plant's long-term future.
"I'm not feeling good about either Chrysler plant," he said. He is seeking a meeting with Mr. Marchionne to get clarification.
Chrysler's news release warned that negotiations with Unifor in 2016 will be critical to ensuring the competitiveness of the company's operations in Canada.
With files from ReutersFriday, March 07, 2014
A Report on Business headline on Thursday said, "Ontario's query pushed Chrysler away," but Chrysler Group LLC's withdrawal of a request for government financial assistance followed a question posed by both the federal and the Ontario governments.Mining convention sees brighter prospects ahead
By RACHELLE YOUNGLAI
Monday, March 3, 2014 Print Edition, Page B1
Thousands of junior mining companies are prospecting for cash so they can keep up the hunt for new deposits amid the downturn in commodity prices.
The miners will be doing their best to attract investors at the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto this week.
A swarm of 25,000-plus miners, financiers and lawyers from more than 125 countries are expected to attend the four-day conference, the world's largest mining gathering, which started on Sunday.
Funding for miners was scarce last year and the junior firms, which are responsible for the majority of new discoveries, are down to skeleton crews and desperate for investment.
"I have never been through anything like 2013. There were times when there was almost no hope," said Richard Spencer, who has more than 20 years of experience exploring for minerals and is the chief executive of Toronto-based uranium miner U3O8 Corp.
"You just knew that it wasn't really feasible to raise enough cash to do anything significant on the projects."
The market capitalization of the Canadian mining sector dropped to $269-billion in 2013 from $389-billion in the previous year.
On the TSX Venture exchange, where most junior miners get their start, 36 were delisted. Stocks that used to trade above $1 have been reduced to pennies.
The worst part was the dwindling amount of cash on miners' balance sheets.
The cash position of the top 100 miners on the exchange dropped to $1.2-billion as of the end of June from $1.9-billion in the previous year, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.
"Without access to funds they can't get off to the races to do too much," said Ross Gallinger, executive director of PDAC. "Access to capital is the biggest thing on their minds," he said.
The industry sees encouraging signs that it will regain favour with investors.
The price of gold is up 10 per cent this year to $1,330 (U.S.) an ounce after losing nearly 30 per cent in 2013. The prospects for uranium have also improved since Japan said it wants to restart nuclear reactors that were shuttered after a 2011 tsunami caused a nuclear disaster in the country.
In addition, a ban on raw mineral exports in Indonesia has underpinned nickel prices. Many commodity experts believe prices for other base metals, such as zinc, will rebound. And a handful of miners have successfully tapped public and private sources of capital this winter.
"That's what's exciting about this year. The level of interest is completely different," said Mr. Spencer, whose company is exploring for uranium in South America and recently raised some funds. Mr. Spencer must continue to look for new investment as the $1-million in the bank will run out in about five months.
Some mining executives say last year was worse than the 2008 financial crisis when the global financial system unravelled.
But lessons were learned and the junior miners, like the major producers, have had to prove their worth to investors.
"If you just say, 'I am going to explore something, somewhere,' it's not going to work. In 2010, 2011, you could have done that," said David Grondin, chief executive of Montreal-based TomaGold Corp., which is developing gold properties in Quebec.
Unlike bigger mining companies that produce and sell metals, the explorers do not pull in revenue regularly. So the cuts they have had to make have had a wider impact on their operations.
For example, the world's biggest gold miner, Barrick Gold Corp., cut jobs but still produced 7 million ounces of gold. In contrast, Sudbury-based Northern Superior Resources Inc. laid off 12 of its 17 full-time jobs and has had to curtail its work.
"It's frustrating to have to slow down on a few fronts when we feel like we are very close to significant discoveries," said Northern Superior chief executive Tom Morris. His company, which is prospecting for gold on properties in Quebec and Ontario, is operating off the $5-million it raised during the commodity boom in 2010.RBC faces growth challenge
After yet another $2-billion quarter, Canada's No. 1 bank searches for a new path to even higher profits
By TIM KILADZE
Thursday, February 27, 2014 Print Edition, Page B1
Royal Bank of Canada's latest quarterly results prove the lender can consistently make over $2-billion. Now the country's most profitable bank must demonstrate it can earn even more.
RBC's results marked the third straight quarter in which the bottom line topped $2-billion, giving management enough confidence to hike the bank's dividend again. Yet investors were unmoved, sending the shares slightly lower, while the incoming chief executive officer stressed to shareholders that RBC knows it can't afford to take it easy.
"History has shown that there can be a danger when leaders get complacent and take success for granted," said Dave McKay, head of personal and commercial banking, who will step into the CEO's role in August. "RBC does not, and it will not, belong to that group.
"We know we hold a privileged position, and we'll work hard to keep it."
The growth needed to stay on top of the industry won't be easy to come by.
Personal lending in Canada is cooling and the profits from loans are thin because of intense competition and low interest rates, so each bank is developing its own expansion strategy.
RBC is keen on expanding in wealth management, yet finding the right acquisition is a tough task.
The bank looked at "a tremendous number of opportunities" in the past year, CEO Gordon Nixon said, but most asset managers that are up for sale are expensive because sellers are demanding "extremely high valuations."
Those that are affordable and fit into RBC's strategy often don't have the best performance, Mr. Nixon added.
The bank isn't too worried in the near term. Aside from some one-time charges related to the restructuring of its Caribbean arm, which amounted to $100-million, RBC's core profits ticked higher in each of its biggest divisions. Earnings were 2 per cent higher than in the same quarter a year earlier. After stripping out one-time items, RBC made $2.18-billion.
RBC's total personal and commercial banking earnings dropped 3 per cent to $1.07-billion because of the Caribbean issues, but Canadian banking continued to deliver growth, with earnings rising 4 per cent over the year prior. Mr. Nixon acknowledged that personal lending is cooling, but said the bank still expects mid-single-digit growth in the near future.
Capital markets' profit climbed 9 per cent higher in the first quarter, boosted by lower loan-loss provisions and strong trading revenue, while wealth management earnings climbed 3 per cent to $235-million.
Investor and treasury services, which provide back office support for other companies, were a bright spot for the bank, with net income soaring to $106-million, up 34 per cent over 2013. Some gains came through tight cost control, while others stemmed from growing client deposits.
"Though expectations are always high for this bank, we see both the quality and quantity of earnings as supportive of our [positive] investment thesis," analyst Rob Sedran at CIBC World Markets wrote in a note to clients.
Despite RBC's recent success, demonstrated by its stellar 18 per cent return on equity in the quarter, the bank had some hiccups - particularly in the Caribbean where the regional economy is weak. The bank recently announced plans to sell its Jamaican operations.
"The decision to restructure our Caribbean business was a difficult one but one that will allow us to focus our effort on those markets that allow us to be a leading financial institution," Mr. Nixon said.
Aside from wealth management, RBC has been vocal about its plans to boost its capital markets arm. However, executives have pledged that this unit will not account for more than 25 per cent of the bank's bottom line, and the focus is on adding relatively safe earnings by growing plain vanilla investment banking and corporate lending, particularly in the U.S.
RBC raised its dividend by 6 per cent to 71 cents per share.
Royal Bank (RY)
Close: $72.09, down 61¢As profits soar, banks set sights on deals
By TIM KILADZE
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 Print Edition, Page B1
Another round of stellar quarterly profits has provided Canadian banks with the ammunition they need to hunt for a new round of acquisitions.
Three of the country's biggest six banks achieved record profits this quarter while five reported capital levels well in excess of regulatory requirements.
Many observers have worried in recent years that Canadian lenders will suffer as the country's mortgage market cools, but the concerns are fading after yet another strong earnings season. Now there is speculation about what the banks will buy next.
During the fiscal first quarter, the domestic banking arms of all the lenders again churned out solid profits, while wealth management - and in some cases, capital markets - more than stepped up to offset the slowdown in consumer lending.
Four of the banks posted common equity capital ratios north of 9 per cent, meaning their common equity amounts to at least 9 per cent of their risk-weighted assets.
In Canada, the banks must meet an 8-per-cent minimum, so they have room to spare if they spend on acquisitions.
On Tuesday, Bank of Nova Scotia became the last of the Big Six banks to report first-quarter earnings, and its results mirrored the sector's encouraging trends. The lender's strong earnings from Canadian banking coupled with its hot wealth management arm propelled it to a $1.7-billion profit.
On a conference call with analysts, chief executive officer Brian Porter was asked about what the bank would do with all its capital. He said it is looking at buying opportunities.
"If we see anything that's [in line with our] strategy, we'll take a good hard look at it," Mr. Porter said, later adding that "the phone continues to ring, and there will be opportunities within our footprint."
His comments do not guarantee that Scotiabank will ink a deal. Although the bank has stressed its interest in expanding in the wealth management area, Royal Bank of Canada made it clear last week that assets in that market are extremely expensive at the moment.
RBC CEO Gordon Nixon said the bank looked at "a tremendous number of opportunities in the wealth management space in the last year or so," but management was deterred by the high valuations."While there are assets available, it's very difficult to make them work," he said.
But geographic preferences can alter the equation. Bank of Montreal recently struck a $1.3-billion deal for London-based F&C Asset Management, and Scotiabank has signalled it would like to expand in South America.
Although Scotiabank reported encouraging results from Canadian banking and wealth management, its international banking division experienced another soft round of earnings, with profits sliding for the second successive quarter to $401-million. Loan activity is growing in Asia and South America, but the bank is making less per loan. Rising expenses are also taking a toll on the division, and Scotiabank has pledged to take action on the problem.
Scotiabank's international arm has been a growing concern because of recent bumps in earnings. The current emerging-markets crisis only adds to the worries, because people are pulling money from developing countries and redeploying it in developed markets.
Management has long argued that its South American operations are relatively immune from most emerging-markets problems because countries such as Peru and Colombia have strong growth. "Not all emerging markets are created equally," Mr. Porter said. "Our operations in emerging markets are an important long-term growth story for Scotiabank," he added.
Scotiabank's earnings amounted to $1.32 a share, up 6 per cent from the previous year. The bank raised its dividend by 2 cents, bringing it to 64 cents quarterly, while also announcing it will eliminate the 2-per-cent discount offered to shareholders who participate in its dividend-reinvestment plan.
Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS)
Close: $63.12, up 9¢Stocks draw heat from cold weather
By TIM SHUFELT
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 Print Edition, Page B1
U.S. equity markets have returned to near-record levels, as investors bet that a recent series of weak economic data has a temporary cause: the cold winter.
The rally has all but erased the fear and instability that descended on stock markets last month and nearly eliminated January's losses. The Standard & Poor's 500 index reassumed its lofty perch, ending the day at 1,847.61, less than one point shy of its record close, while the Nasdaq composite closed at its highest point in nearly 14 years.
Investors seem to be less concerned about slowing monetary stimulus and increasingly confident about the U.S. economy, despite the absence of supporting economic evidence.
"There does seem to be a disconnect between equity markets and what's been fairly broad-based disappointment on the economic front so far in 2014," said Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Nesbitt Burns. "I believe that markets are looking beyond the economic data, believing that the majority of weakness is weather-related."
One of the most hotly disputed economic unknowns right now is the extent to which a brutal winter is to be blamed for a string of weak U.S. data.
Jobs growth missed expectations, retail sales and industrial production have been weak and the U.S. housing recovery has stumbled. Housing starts plummeted by 16 per cent in January from the previous month, but the declines were sharpest in the Midwest and the South, those areas also most affected by unusual winter weather.
"I think it's fair to say that most of the weakness is bad weather," said Eric Lascelles, chief economist at RBC Global Asset Management. "That explains why markets aren't dropping."
Exactly why markets are rising, however, is less clear. The extraordinary gains made by the U.S. market since the recession provoked concerns that stocks have overshot their fair values. Many market observers have said that a correction was overdue.
The turning point seemed to arrive in mid-January, when disappointing Chinese manufacturing results sparked a selloff. Also in January, the U.S. Federal Reserve Board began to pare back its bond-buying program, fuelling the emerging market meltdown.
"Investors feared that a significant slowdown in China could turn the simmering emerging markets crisis into a full-blown contagion," Ed Yardeni at Yardeni Research said in a note.
From a Jan. 15 peak, the S&P 500 fell 5.8 per cent by early February.
Although no major advancement has been made to neutralize potential emerging market shocks, the panic has subsided, at least for the time being.
Over the past three weeks, the S&P 500 rose by 6.1 per cent. .
While investors may be either taking comfort in the absence of negatives, or willfully ignoring bad news, there are a number of possible contributors to the recent rally.
First, the new chair of the Fed, Janet Yellen, succeeded in quelling market concerns over tapering; the central bank has been reducing stimulus in $10-billion monthly increments.
"The Fed is still buying securities hand over fist," Mr. Porter noted. "And of course policy is still ultra-easy in Japan and Europe."
That stimulus is supporting a global economy that continues to grow, while the U.S. outlook is supported by less fiscal restraint in Washington.
"The private sector seems to have regained its vigour, helped in part by the return of confidence and the end of household deleveraging," Krishen Rangasamy, senior economist at National Bank, said in a note.
Whatever the cause, the streak will reignite concerns that U.S. stocks are overvalued.
"As you climb the wall of worry, the slightest scare causes a big reaction. We saw that in January. There are going to be more scares," said Stephen Takacsy, chief investment officer at Lester Asset Management.
"You don't know if a bubble is a bubble until it pops."