A radical grief
In 1985, Cliff and Wilma Derksen's daughter was abducted and left to die in the cold of a Winnipeg winter. With no idea of her killer's identity, they made a controversial choice: to forgive. Now, Jana G. Pruden writes, a suspect in the case awaits his verdict - and the couple reflects on the decision they made
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page F1

WINNIPEG -- It was late on January 17, 1985, one of the longest days of their lives. There had been people around them for hours but he came to the door the moment they were alone, as though he'd been waiting outside for the others to leave. He was dressed in black and they recognized him from news coverage, though they couldn't quite place it at the time.

He stood outside their house in the dark, in the cold.

"I'm the parent of a murdered child, too," he said. "I've come to tell you what to expect."

Cliff and Wilma Derksen had identified their daughter's body at the hospital just hours earlier.

They were in shock, reeling, but still they invited the man into the warmth of their kitchen and offered him the fresh cherry pie one of their friends had made.

Then he started to speak.

For two hours, the man recounted the things he had lost to murder. Not only his daughter but his relationships and his work, his belief in justice, his trust, the goodness of his life before. Even his daughter's memory. He showed them notebooks from the trials, lined up the bottles of pills he was taking. He told them, "It will destroy you."

As he spoke, the Derksens saw for the first time what faced them. They would come to know it as the darkness, an abyss of sadness and anger that could swallow a person and take away everything they loved, that would spread until it destroyed all that was beautiful. Alone in their bedroom after he left, they made a decision: They had lost Candace, they wouldn't lose everything else, too. They couldn't.

"We kind of looked at each other and said, 'We have to stop this,'" Cliff says. "We have to forgive."

But what does it mean to forgive the person who killed your daughter? The person who bound her hands and feet in a way so dehumanizing it is called "hogtying," then left her alone and helpless to die in the cold? How do you forgive a person you have never met? Who has never asked your forgiveness? How do you forgive a person who may not even be sorry?

It took more than 22 years for a man to be charged, and four more for him to stand trial for murder. Now, after a second trial, the violent sex offender Cliff and Wilma believe killed their daughter may go free. A verdict could come within weeks.

He has never admitted he did it.

He has never said he's sorry. And the Derksens are still discovering what it means to forgive him.

Candace Derksen vanished on Nov. 30, 1984, a Friday afternoon on the sharp edge of a Manitoba winter. She had started Grade 7 at Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute in Winnipeg that September, not the best student but well-liked and social, and her marks were getting better. She was 13 years old with clear blue eyes and golden brown hair, pale skin sprayed with freckles that came out with the summer sun. Her parents thought of her as sanguine, an old-fashioned idea of temperament but the one that fit her best; the kind of person who was invigorated by the attention of others, who loved people and attracted them with her light.

People often commented on her vivaciousness, her laugh, the brightness around her. It was too much, sometimes. Wilma noticed how men looked at her daughter and it made Wilma worry, even then. Candace was just a child.

There was a snowball fight outside the school that Friday afternoon and an older student named David Wiebe grabbed Candace and rubbed snow in her face, a childish facewash they both knew was flirting. David was her first real crush and the attention made her giddy. He liked her, too. When she called her mother from a payphone to ask for a ride, she was still laughing.

Wilma might have gone to get her, but Candace's best friend was coming for the weekend and Wilma was busy wrangling her two younger children and tidying up. She called Cliff to see if he could leave work early, but he couldn't. So when Candace called back from a payphone at a nearby convenience store, Wilma asked her to walk home or take the bus instead. It wasn't far, and Candace didn't mind.

So Candace turned toward home as a winter afternoon turned to evening, and the cold and snow blew in.

It didn't take Wilma long to realize something was wrong. Candace had called around 4 and when she wasn't home 40 minutes later, her mother had a sickening, uneasy feeling. By 7:30 that evening, after searching for her themselves for hours, Cliff and Wilma called the police.

Police at first dismissed Candace as a runaway, a teenager rebelling against her Mennonite parents and religious environment who would find her way home again after a few days. No matter how strongly the Derksens tried to tell the officers that their daughter was happy - and that even if she wasn't, she wouldn't have run away right before her best friend came to visit - the police weren't convinced. A lot of teenagers ran away. It happened every day.

Abductions didn't.

But when Candace didn't come home by Monday, and when the sightings of her proved false, police started to consider other possibilities. At first, that meant shifting their focus to David Wiebe, the boy she'd been fooling around with that day, and to Cliff, her father. Most people are hurt by those they know, and the two of them seemed like obvious suspects if something had happened to Candace. Meanwhile, the Derksens' friends, church, and community struck up their own search committee, and were scouring the city day after day in the cold, looking for Candace to bring her home.

December came, then January.

Six and a half weeks. Almost seven.

Victor Frankowski was out on the lot at Alsip Brick Tile and Lumber on Jan. 17, 1985, when he peered inside an old machinery shed looking for a saw. As his eyes adjusted to the dark, he noticed a figure on the ground, so still and pale he thought at first it was a doll.

It had turned cold the day Candace disappeared, and it was bitterly cold the day her body was found as well. As police officers headed to the scene, the temperature fell and wind whipped the snow into a whiteout.

Candace's cheeks were frostbitten red, her body covered in a thin layer of frost. Pieces of twine bound her wrists and ankles behind her back. One of her shoes was missing. She had been tied and left to freeze to death in the shed the same day she disappeared. There was nothing to indicate she had been otherwise harmed or sexually assaulted.

The officers moved around her carefully, their breath and words making clouds above her in the air, camera shutter clicking in the cold.

'People suffer in different ways' The search for Candace Derksen had been the largest in Winnipeg's history, and her death felt close and personal. Everyone in the city knew the bite of that kind of vicious cold, and it was easy to imagine how cold and scared she must have been.

In the weeks after she disappeared, her school picture had become as familiar as that of a friend, feathered hair and a black and white sweatshirt, a smile as though she was sharing in a joke or about to burst out laughing.

For many of us growing up in Winnipeg then, it was a moment of profound change. With no suspects in custody, there was a feeling of danger in the city. Parents started walking their children to and from school, and warned them with new urgency about the threat of strangers. Mike McIntyre, a true crime author and veteran reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, turned 10 years old the day Candace Derksen's body was found. He describes her disappearance as one of the first times he realized the world wasn't a safe place. At my elementary school, across the city, there were rumours about other missing girls, about a man in a silver van that prowled for children. When my uncle came to pick me up from school in a van one afternoon, other kids ran away across the playground, screaming in fear. We called her Candy as though we knew her, though none of us did. When she died, we mourned her, as though we understood instinctively that, on a different day or a different street, she might have been any one of us.

The Derksens had turned to the media early in Candace's disappearance, appealing to the public for help with the search and trying to keep the case in the public eye as police dragged their feet.

By the time Candace's body was found, Cliff and Wilma knew their daughter had become the city's child. At a press conference two days later, they invited all of Winnipeg to come to her funeral.

When a reporter asked how they felt about Candace's unknown killer, they each publicly expressed the decision they had made alone in their bedroom the night her body was found. They would try to love whoever killed her, and forgive.

"We would like to know who the person or persons are so we could share, hopefully, a love that seems to be missing in these people's lives," Cliff said. "I don't believe the person who did this had loving parents or a circle of friends who thought the world of him or he wouldn't have done a deed like this."

Wilma said their main concern had been finding Candace, not her killer. "I can't say at this point I forgive the person," she said. "But we have all done something dreadful in our lives or we have the urge to."

The reaction to their comments was unexpected and strong.

Some people were angry, as though the Derksens were saying they didn't care about their daughter or that they thought her killer shouldn't be caught or punished. Others questioned what that forgiveness meant, at a time when Cliff and Wilma weren't sure themselves.

"We said we were going to forgive and we didn't know how to talk about it, and we really didn't know what it meant ourselves," Cliff says. "Our big thing was just we were going to forgive whoever it was. We just were going to forgive. We didn't know how or where or when this was going to happen, it was sort of a north star we put out there."

Some people also found their comments suspicious, especially since the case remained unsolved. News coverage noted they didn't cry at the press conference, and that there was "not even a tremor in their voices" as they talked about their daughter's death. The Derksens weren't behaving the way people expected grieving parents to do. Free Press columnist Gordon Sinclair wrote a column about how some people saw Cliff and Wilma as "cold," and were surprised by their composure and lack of emotion in public. In a phone call in the spring of 1985, he asked them if they cried.

"I think people suffer in different ways," he quoted Wilma as saying then. "And I think we, by nature, suffer differently. I like to cry in private."

The Mennonite faith was forged by persecution, and forgiveness is a deep part of the religion and culture. Cliff and Wilma had both been raised to believe in the power of forgiveness, and Wilma says it was "in their DNA" to try to forgive. But to say they were able to forgive because of their faith is far too simple. It was also a radical choice, contrary to their instincts as people and parents, but the only way they could see to save themselves, to ensure they wouldn't lose their marriage and their family, the good memories of Candace's life.

"There was an article three or four months later saying 80 per cent of Canadians didn't agree with us and would be upset with us because forgiveness meant letting the murderer go free and condoning murder," Wilma says now, 32 years later. "That wasn't what this was about at all. It really was about escaping the aftermath of murder."

But there was so much to forgive, and it went far beyond forgiving the brutality of a stranger they did not yet know. There were the police, for not believing them when they said Candace wouldn't have run away, for implying that they were bad parents, and for focussing so long on Cliff as a suspect. For not finding her when she lay in a shed not more than 500 metres away from home. There were their own actions and choices, for the small things said and done, for not picking her up that day. There were the friends and family that disappointed them, the media that sometimes got things wrong.

The strangers who piled on more hurt with false confessions and crank phone calls. There were the years Cliff spent under suspicion, even after a polygraph declared him a truthful man.

Forgiveness was not something to be done only once. It had to be a constant choice, letting go as a way of living.

At times, there was pain so intense Wilma described it like amputating one of her arms without anesthetic, moments of anger so blinding she once imagined shooting 10 murderers in retribution. She knew then even that much bloodshed would not be enough. Her daughter was innocent, the killers she imagined were not.

"Anger is very natural. It comes out of fear, it comes out of dishonour, it's a reaction to anything that threatens us and it's addictive," she says. "To forgive and say, I'm going to let it go, give it to the higher power, whatever we call it, and then find something good in it, it's not an easy process."

Wilma threw herself into trying to help others. Within four months of Candace's body being found, she and Cliff had helped start a Manitoba chapter of Child Find to help in other missing children cases, and were fundraising for a swimming pool at Camp Arnes in Candace's name.

Wilma started speaking publicly and got involved with victims' advocacy and support groups, eventually heading Family Survivors of Homicide and Victim's Voice. In some of the groups, she says she was instructed not to use "the f-word," forgiveness being too controversial to broach in a space for victims.

The Derksens became wellknown as advocates and survivors, but as the 10-year anniversary of Candace's murder approached, they found themselves struggling. Wilma was working so much she was burntout and crashing. Cliff, still living with an undercurrent of suspicion that he had something to do with his daughter's unsolved disappearance and death, had become so consumed with rage he seemed to Wilma like a different person. He would yell and swear, throw things around, say things he didn't even know he was capable of. Afterward, he would apologize and promise to fix it, but he never would.

Cliff says the anger felt good, but he knew he had to change.

He began memorizing scripture about Jonah and the whale, and soon recognized himself in its words. He was working as a truck driver at the time, and he started to vividly imagine loading a truck full of pallets of things he had to forgive. One day, he imagined dumping it all into the Grand Canyon.

"The thing about forgiveness is you have to go to the hard places," he says. "You have to be ready to be courageous. I didn't do this overnight. I was really trying to go to all the bad places and the ugly stuff, and really address it."

It would be more than a decade later, when a suspect was finally charged, that Cliff would really be tested again.

In the fall of 1984, Mark Edward Grant was 21 years old, a mentally ill young man from an abusive home who had a history of sexual assault and violent behavior, and an attraction to vulnerable victims. He'd been hanging around the area near Candace's school that fall, dating a runaway girl not much older than Candace.

Mr. Grant was one of two sex offenders questioned early in Candace's disappearance but there was nothing solid to link him to the case and, as years passed, police focused on another violent sex offender who had been charged with murdering a teenage girl in the 1990s.

Eventually that man was ruled out, and in 2005, after serving 13 years in prison for two brutal rapes, Mr. Grant became a prime suspect again.

Police had retained evidence from the 1985 investigation, including hair from where Candace's body was found and the twine used to tie her, and the items became increasingly important as DNA science emerged and the technology continued to develop. As part of a cold case investigation called Project Angel, undercover officers in Winnipeg collected new DNA from Mr. Grant's spit on the sidewalk. That evidence - as well as DNA from Mr. Grant's relatives and blood from a pair of his pants - provided enough of a link to charge him in Candace's death.

In May, 2007, more than 22 years after Candace disappeared walking home from school, police arrested Mr. Grant on Main Street in Winnipeg and charged him with first-degree murder.

Having a suspect identified and charged was a new challenge for the Derksens, who, after two decades, had grown accustomed to life without a suspect. Their forgiveness had been, by necessity, not focused on one person, and they were comfortable that way.

They learned to forgive without him. And yet, 22 years later, there he was. A real man, who had inflicted real harm on other women and girls.

The news coverage laid out his history in spare terms after his arrest. "Mark Grant is a schizophrenic whose mind is filled with disturbing rape fantasies, lust for vulnerable teens, a hatred of women and an unwillingness to take any treatment for his perversions...," one news story began.

They referenced parole documents that called him a predator, that described his violent sexual attraction to prepubescent girls.

Watching the news on the day of his arrest, Cliff and Wilma bristled seeing his picture next to Candace's. It bothered them to see him so close to her, as though he was connected to them now.

"It felt like he was now a member of our family, like an extended uncle or some distant relative and suddenly he has been found," Cliff says. "And here's this ugly story and this guy who had done such a bad thing and he was put right beside our Candace, on the TV screen side by side. That hurt. And I thought, are we going to be seeing this now forever?" It occurred to Wilma that it had been far easier when he wasn't around.

The murder trial started on Jan. 17, 2011, exactly 26 years to the day after Candace's body was found. It was the first time the family would learn the full details of Candace's death, and hear the evidence against the man accused of killing her.

Before the trial began, they formulated their own strategies to survive it.

Cliff, who had struggled so deeply with his anger, worried that the rage he had experienced would resurface in the emotion of the court proceedings.

"I was wondering how much I had forgiven him when I didn't know who he was," he says. "And I thought that kind of forgiveness or attempt at forgiveness would be shallow or wouldn't have much depth to it because you don't know who you are forgiving."

But the rage he expected didn't appear. Instead, Cliff took a sketchbook and drew. Sometimes he sketched people in the courtroom - the jury, witnesses, lawyers. On other days, a magnified strand of hair, a pair of hands tied.

Their daughter Odia, who was nine when Candace disappeared, was now in her mid-30s. An artist, she sat crocheting circles, using red yarn for pain, black for anger, and white for neutrality, the emotion of the hearing coming out through the yarn in her hands, and later, turned into an art gallery installation called Evidence of a Trial.

Syras was three when his sister disappeared, and by the time of the trial had become a practicing psychologist. He told his family he believed that at hard and important moments in court they should take off their shoes as though in the presence of something holy, like Moses before the burning bush. In that way, they would transform the courtroom, in its ugliest moments, into something sacred.

It turned out to be a powerful subversion.

"When something really, really hurt and you are dishonoured or Candace is dishonoured, our instinct is to be angry and to fight back and to be very defensive," Wilma says. "The other alternative is to submit to the moment. Don't fight the birth pains, you know? Breathe with it.

The taking off the shoes is saying this is holy, this is bigger than us.

Let's embrace it. Let's see what it is. And let's look at the opportunities to learn, to find the goodness in it."

Wilma, who had gone to journalism school before Candace disappeared, had become a writer, the chronicler of her family's own story. She took notes, recording the events of the day along with descriptions of Cliff's drawings and Odia's choice of colours. Wilma also logged the weather, itself such a powerful part of their story, -26, -30, -23, the cold, dark days of winter.

A jury convicted Mr. Grant of second-degree murder, and he was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. After the trial, Cliff and Wilma held a public ceremony in their backyard, honouring Candace's life and talking about the effects of her death. Among those who attended were jurors from the trial.

For four months, it was settled.

Then the defence filed an appeal based on evidence of another alleged kidnapping which was excluded from the first trial and never presented to the jury, and questions about the DNA evidence. The case went to the Supreme Court, and a new trial was ordered.

'All of life is good' The air in Winnipeg on Jan. 16, 2017, was stinging cold. Not as frigid as Jan. 17, 1985, when Candace's body was found, or Jan. 17, 2011, when the first trial began, but cold enough to bring back the feel of those days and reinforce the strangeness of the timing, the sense of a cycle repeating. The kind of cold that hurts. That can kill.

They were back in Room 230, the same courtroom as the first trial, a grand space in the historic Winnipeg Law Courts with oldfashioned theatre seats and marble walls, ornate trim painted with the colours of the prairie.

The courtroom was full. There were old friends, people who had been with the Derksens since the earliest searches, and others who have come to know them through the years. There was the mother of another girl who was sexually assaulted by Mr. Grant, and a row of reporters. A class of high-school students whose parents were children themselves when Candace disappeared.

It was striking how much time had passed. David Wiebe, their daughter's first love, was now a man of almost 50. Candace's younger siblings, Odia and Syras, were 41 and 36, with children of their own. The police officers and witnesses were older, some retired, others gone. Among the missing was Candace's best friend, Heidi, who had died of cancer the previous January at 44. She had remained close to the family all her life. In their last visit before Heidi's death, Wilma gave her a message to pass along to Candace.

Sitting in court, Wilma thought about the beauty of friendship and how it lasts, the what-ifs of a life not lived.

Mr. Grant was older, too. Now 53, he walked into the courtroom with his wrists and ankles in shackles, chains clanking with every lumbering step. He was heavy and pale, mostly bald, with glasses and a greyed goatee.

He faced the judge directly from inside a high-backed prisoner's box, which was positioned in such a way that he was almost completely hidden from the view of those in the body of the courtroom. Even when they watched him being brought in and out of court, Wilma thought he seemed like a "non-entity," like nothing.

At times, unable to see him, she and Cliff almost forgot he was there at all.

They admit it's strange that the man at the heart of their story somehow doesn't play a bigger role, but yet he is nearly invisible. Through the years, they have come to know that their forgiveness must be offenderless. They have fought so hard to keep him from destroying their lives, that in some ways it is not really about him at all.

Over six weeks, the Derksens would again listen to testimony about the knots used to bind Candace's wrists and ankles, the hairs found around her body, the gathering of evidence long before DNA protocols existed.

They would hear again how Candace was in the shed for a day before she died, about how her body was completely frozen through when it was found.

There are things that still hurt deeply even after so many years.

Moments, Wilma says, that sink like lead in your stomach.

The defence maintains Mr. Grant didn't kill Candace, and that the evidence used to convict him the first time was deeply flawed. Defence experts raised serious questions around the DNA testing that was done, and the lawyers pointed at the possibility of other suspects.

Cliff and Wilma were convinced in the first trial, and then again in the second, that Mark Edward Grant murdered their daughter. But they have learned a lot about the law through the years, and they know he may not be convicted this time. In a way they almost expect he won't, and they are preparing for it.

They say they feel sorry for him, for the love he missed as a child and for the abuse he suffered then. They heard about how he was locked in a shed for two days when he was a boy, and they know how violence can repeat. They pray for him. They are afraid for others if he is released.

"I think it will be sad no matter what happens, and I worry about the vulnerable," Wilma says.

"Not about us, but the vulnerable. Nothing is going to bring Candace back, and to some degree Candace is good. She has managed to outlive this. She has created her own justice."

The effects of Candace's death have been profound and farreaching.

There is Candace House, an ongoing project to build a safe space for victims' families near the Winnipeg courthouse, and Child Find Manitoba, now known as the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, created after her disappearance. There is the swimming pool at Camp Arnes that bears Candace's name, the site of so much fun and joy.

Wilma has spoken to people around the world about trauma and forgiveness and has written eight books. Her most recent, The Way of Letting Go: One Woman's Walk Toward Forgiveness, happened to be released in the middle of the second trial.

Malcolm Gladwell devoted a chapter of his book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants, to Cliff and Wilma's response to their daughter's murder. He wrote the introduction to Wilma's new book.

There is Cliff and Odia's art, Syras's psychology practice, the way their story has affected people, in ways large and small.

They have all had the opportunity to create, to be heard, to help others. Wilma still shakes her head about it all, as though she can't believe how they have been blessed.

"All I have really done in my life is chosen to forgive, just to let go of the bad stuff and move toward good stuff," she says.

"And the rewards for that are overwhelming. Look at our children. Look at our grandchildren.

It's amazing, the beauty."

The judge will hear closing arguments in May, and then she will decide if Mark Edward Grant will be convicted a second time for the murder of Candace Derksen. Wilma wonders when they will have a decision, and what it will be like when they do.

Whether one day, they might finally feel free.

Outside court on the first day of the second trial, a reporter asked Wilma, "How do you keep a lightness about you?" Wilma giggled, as she often does, whether she is talking about things that are happy or sad.

"I want to live," she said. "If we had waited for justice 32 years ago, can you imagine where we'd be? We would just have put our whole lives on a shelf. And we have two other children, so we've had to say, you know what, this is good. All of life is good."

Cliff and Wilma Derksen were standing side by side, together, just as they were on that cold winter night so long ago. They have spent 32 years fighting to keep the darkness away. It is not easy or perfect, but every day they keep trying.

Jana G. Pruden is a feature writer at The Globe and Mail.

Associated Graphic

The search for Candace Derksen (above) was the largest in Winnipeg's history.


Wilma and Cliff Derksen never met the man who they believe killed their daughter, the man they vowed to try to love, though they have sat through both his criminal trials for the murder.


Odia, at left, was nine when her older sister Candace, right, disappeared. During Mr. Grant's appeal trial this year, Odia and Cliff, centre, each transformed the pain of their loss into artwork.


On their own
After a year of government support, Syrian refugees are still struggling to settle in Toronto and face an uncertain future
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Print Edition, Page M1

After school rush-hour at Leaside Towers in central-east Toronto is when the general rules of how many people can reasonably cram into an elevator are suspended.

Ahmad Al Rasoul, black hooded jacket straining over his belly, pulls in his shoulders, trying to take up as little room as possible.

His three sons, sporting backpacks bigger than their torsos, cluster together in one corner.

Their friends are squished in on the other side of the elevator, out of sight, but not out of range to continue the conversation they began when walking home from school. A tired-looking woman in a parka inhales, sharply sucking in her stomach, and presses her back against the wall. Two more kids enter the elevator in this final phase of human Tetris and finally, with 15 on board, the doors close.

After depositing passengers at floors 24, 30, 36 and 39, the elevator makes the last leg of its journey up to Floor 42, where Mr. Al Rasoul and his brood disembark and head to the family's twobedroom apartment. As the door opens, the aroma of fried falafel briefly pours into the hallway.

Mohammad, Hamze and Youssef kick off their shoes at the door and scamper to the bedroom they share to put down their backpacks and change into pyjamas.

"Wash your hands and your feet," their mother, Rasmia Al Mekhlef, scolds in Arabic.

Just like the elevator, these, too, are cramped quarters. They had hoped by this point they'd be on Floor 43, in a spacious threebedroom apartment. Marwa, the 13-year-old, dreams of a room of her own in a more expensive apartment, rather than having to bunk with her sister, but Ms. Al Mekhlef, who must share a room with her husband and their four sons, knows there is nothing left to save at the end of the month.

As government-assisted refugees, they received about $9,500 in startup costs and $1,600 a month for their living expenses for their first year in Canada. This Floor 42 two-bedroom apartment alone is $1,635 plus utilities. But at the start of this year, the stipend ended and they were left to fend for themselves.

Canada's unique private sponsorship system, in which a group of private citizens financially support a refugee family for a year and help them integrate, is regarded globally as a model worth imitating, but the truth is that the largest portion of refugees who come to Canada are like the Al Rasouls, supported by the federal government in their first year. From November, 2015, until the end of February, 2017, a total of 22,405 government-assisted refugees arrived in Canada, compared with 14,960 privately sponsored ones.

The start of the second year in Canada - when the proverbial cord is cut - is seen as the crucial launch point for refugees, a point many are reaching now. The thinking goes that if Ottawa or private sponsors can carry them along in their first year with financial resources, language lessons and assistance navigating schools and clinics, the newcomers will have the tools to carry forth on their own by Month 13.

But only a small portion of government-assisted refugees have functional English or French skills at the end of their first year and just a sliver are able to find jobs. The settlement workers and social workers who assist them, many of whom also take a big step back after a year, say that despite the emphasis on Month 13, it's unrealistic to expect refugees to be thriving at that point.

At the end of their first year, most do what Mr. Al Rasoul and Ms. Al Mekhlef do: cover their expenses with welfare and the federal child benefit.

Government-assisted refugees in many ways face greater challenges than the privately sponsored cohort: They generally have lower levels of education and bigger families, according to federal figures, but fewer resources and support from volunteers. They struggle more with navigating cultural differences, finding employment, maintaining a social life and finding housing. In March, 2016, Leaside Towers, a high-rise complex, became a hub for more than two dozen government-assisted refugee families. It is now the place where they navigate the struggles of their first unsupported year in Canada.

One year in, whenever their children trill on in English they've picked up in school, Mr. Al Rasoul and Ms. Al Mekhlef struggle to understand. Their grasp of English is weak and neither has found a job yet.

Ms. Al Mekhlef's 12-year-old son, Mohammad, has been asking for a cellphone for the past five months. He's too young to burden with the full picture of the family's dire financial situation (each month comes and goes without any money left to put into savings, let alone cover a cellphone plan for Mohammad), so she simply tells him she will get it for him one day. "I said, 'You have to be patient. There is no money.

But bit by bit it's going to get better,' "she explains in Arabic.

She can't yet tell him when that will be, though.

Arrival neighbourhood There are many reasons why COSTI, one of Toronto's biggest settlement agencies, chose to cluster 28 of the 525 refugee families they settled in Toronto in Leaside Towers. As far as Toronto apartments go, the units are massive: the bigger two-bedroom units are more than 1,400 square feet. Most landlords might be reluctant to rent a two-bedroom apartment to a family of eight, but Morguard, the real estate firm that owns the property, has been accommodating of the large Syrian broods who have moved into their 4,000resident twin towers. They don't require a guarantor and gave COSTI a discount on rent for the first year.

The Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood, where the towers are centred, is dense, with most things newcomer Syrian families would need close by - a mosque, schools, supermarkets and Middle Eastern shops, says Mario Calla, COSTI's executive director.

Wanda Georgis, a community social worker who has helped a dozen of the families in the two buildings since they arrived in Canada, says the residence is okay in the short term, but she hopes they move out.

"They're paying exorbitantly high rent. And once you're settled, it's really hard to move."

But the hurdles to getting out are high and numerous. With no credit history and no one to serve as a guarantor, Ms. Al Mekhlef doesn't think she'd be able to move to a cheaper place anyway.

None of the Syrian families she knows in the building have moved out.

And despite a strong local Middle Eastern community, the refugees have found tensions with their neighbours since the day they moved in, but have had to navigate them without the small army of private sponsors to advocate on their behalf.

When he returns from the quick produce run to the supermarket on Friday afternoon, Mr. Al Rasoul embraces this quiet time when five of his six children are at school. He fetches a pomegranate-coloured prayer mat from his bedroom and lays it down in the middle of the living room, which is lined with bulky upholstered furniture. He's doing one of his five daily prayers, as three-yearold Sava lies on stacked pillows a few metres away, hands folded behind her head, entranced by the Minions video she's watching on TV.

Most of Mr. Al Rasoul's prayers are done here, quietly, in the living room, though he tries to make it to the mosque on Fridays.

When the large group of Syrians first arrived at Leaside more than a year ago, they took to gathering with their small mats in the lobbies of the two buildings for group prayers, recalls Ian Kaufman, who lives in the complex.

"If you want to talk about cultural conflict, it was right off the bat," he says. The group prayers were short-lived. Someone intervened, explained that this could not be done in communal spaces, and the Syrians retreated to their apartments.

By Mr. Kaufman's count, there are 151 Syrians - 94 of them children - currently in the two towers, and their presence has given rise to conflict. The Syrians didn't understand why they couldn't use the communal spaces for what they saw as harmless group activities and also took offence to the presence of dogs in the building (which many consider haram, or forbidden). Other tenants saw the Syrians as acting entitled. A sponsor group might have been the ideal go-between to diffuse things from the start, to explain cultural norms to the Syrians and to act as their advocates when speaking to neighbours, but without one, people grew more frustrated.

Tenants complained last summer about the way the Syrian children rode their bikes unsupervised in the parking lot, or played loudly in front of the building, when there are many parks and playgrounds in the neighbourhood. Some parents have asked building management for a playground, but Mr. Kaufman, a wry, Larry David type, is pessimistic it will happen.

"If you do one thing for one group, everybody bitches," he says. He points out that Mississauga has a thriving Muslim population and lots of culturally specific resources and perhaps would have been a better spot to settle the refugees who now live in Leaside Towers. They'd probably be happier and things would be calmer in the building, he says.

Ms. Al Mekhlef likes living here, though, and said she wishes she knew her non-Syrian neighbours better. But her difficulty with English gets in the way. "I can't understand what they say very well or we'd mingle more," she says through an interpreter. "If we knew how to speak English we'd have met the whole building."

Learning the language On a recent Friday, in an English class down the hall from the ones Mr. Al Rasoul and Ms. Al Mekhlef are in, Mr. Abdel Al Mohte Al Dibel and his wife Abir Abdel Al Kader are sipping eye-poppingly strong Turkish coffee from a bottle they brought from home.

This is where all the Syrians in Leaside Towers come for English instruction, though they're divided among several classes with other newcomers based on their aptitude.

"Elle-vett-er," Ms. Al Kader says, her hazel eyes focused on the illustration of an elevator on her computer screen.

She clicks on an icon to play a recording of the correct pronunciation.

"Elle-uh-vay-turr!" the recorded voice cheerfully says.

"Elle-uh-vay-turr!" she mimics, briefly adopting a Canadian accent.

"I feel like a small kid sometimes," she says in Arabic with a sheepish smile, her fair-complexioned face framed by a charcoal hijab.

Before moving the family to Lebanon, Mr. Al Dibel split his time between Homs, Syria, where his family lived, and Tripoli, Lebanon, where he worked in construction. He's a trim man with a carefully manicured mustache and eyebrows that rest in a concerned position, softening everything he says. After bundling up and saying goodbye to their teacher, Mr. Al Dibel and Ms. Al Kader climb into their Audi station wagon, which has three coconut air fresheners dangling from the rear-view mirror.

It's the family's second car; the first, purchased through Kijiji eight months ago for $1,200, turned out to be a lemon. There was no question they'd replace it - they're still not used to the Canadian climate and driving has become a necessity.

When they return to the apartment, Husam, 18, who doesn't have class today, is sleeping in.

Though his parents had high hopes he'd be preparing for university by now, he's struggled more than his two elementary school-aged sisters to pick up the language. He curses his parents for moving into Leaside Towers, where he says the abundance of Arabs has prevented them all from learning English more quickly. The family listens to Arabic CDs in the car, they speak to their neighbours in Arabic and, even in the morning, Mr. Al Dibel plays YouTube videos by the legendary Lebanese songstress Fairouz to get his two yellow pet birds, who sit in cages mounted in the living room, to chirp along to the Arabic ballads.

Learning English can be especially tough for the governmentassisted refugees with less education than their privately sponsored counterparts. About one-third of the Syrian refugees the government brought in between November, 2015, and November, 2016, had zero years of schooling, compared with 12 per cent of those who were sponsored privately.

Sometimes Ms. Al Kader jokingly threatens her Syrian friends, "I'm going to be in a fight with you," on a hunch that if she couldn't speak to them for a few weeks or months, it would accelerate her English learning. But she knows they are the key to her survival here, the ones who get her from week to week, keep her mind in Canada when it so often strays to Lebanon.

Families divided Some mornings, when everyone else is asleep, Ms. Al Kader tiptoes into the living room, sits by the window and cries, racked with guilt that she is here but some of her family is not.

They fled from their house for Tripoli in 2012. Three years later, when the United Nations High Commission for Refugees told her they had been accepted as refugees in Canada, she learned that only she, her husband and their three youngest were listed together as a family unit. Though she and Mr. Al Dibel lived together with their five children, the two eldest, who are in their twenties and married with one child each, were not considered part of the household. She worries for their safety there - both her son and her daughter's husband were imprisoned for having invalid residency papers. Since January, she's been in touch with a group from a local church that is trying to sponsor them and she is hopeful they will be reunited soon.

During the first few months in Canada, Ms. Al Kader cooked only simple dishes. It seemed wrong, disrespectful somehow, to eat well here in Canada, to behave as if everything was normal, when she knew her children were on the other side of the world, struggling. A doctor suggested she take antidepressants.

Ms. Georgis, the social worker, said many of the Syrian refugees she works with, including some of the dozen families in Leaside Towers, have mental-health struggles, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Even after a year here, the horror they lived through feels fresh, and many are glued to the news reports and WhatsApp updates on the chaos and destruction in their hometowns.

In these cases, too, privately sponsored refugees have a leg up.

Ms. Georgis notes that those refugees have an instant social network of stable people around them, volunteers who are there to help them adjust but also to provide them with company. Government-assisted refugees, meanwhile, often cling to each other. They receive help from settlement workers and social workers to register their children in school, and take them to their first doctors' appointments, but they're just a few among many clients oversubscribed workers are juggling. After a year, the regular visits come to an end, though COSTI does a check-in with the refugees it settles halfway through their second year. Some volunteers have assumed a role similar to private sponsors where they drop by to visit the government refugees, help find them furniture, even visiting multiple times a week, but not all are as consistent or involved as the refugees wish they were. And for many, the relationship ends once the first year is over.

The refugees the government assists also tend to come from bigger families - more than 57 per cent of those who arrived between November, 2015, and July, 2016, were part of families of six or more people, versus just 7 per cent of privately sponsored refugees. This is because a larger household usually means a higher financial burden for those footing the bill for the first year, so private sponsors tend to request smaller ones.

The way Ms. Al Kader sees it, the bigger families are the luckier ones, since they receive the benefit for all their children. Their friends the Al Rasouls, for example, receive $3,400 a month for their six children, on top of their welfare payment. Still, what they receive gets used up quickly feeding eight mouths, clothing eight bodies, and covering rent, utilities, insurance and car expenses in one of Canada's most expensive cities. Most of the children's clothing was donated or comes from consignment shops. Last Eid, instead of buying her son a $5 pair of pants at Value Village, Ms. Al Mekhlef spent $9 for a pair from Wal-Mart. She can't splurge like that often.

Making ends meet There is an enormous pressure many impose on themselves to mask their trauma, anger and frustrations after they arrive. At various points, all three of the Syrian refugee families The Globe spent time with rhapsodized about how happy they were to be in Canada now, how thankful they were to Canadians and to the government for taking them in, as though reciting from a script.

They were careful not to complain too much about squeezing six people into a bedroom, the fact that the springs were broken in the sofa donated to them, or that they had no idea how to prepare the frozen egg patties the food bank had given them. The last thing they wanted was to seem ungrateful.

But it can be difficult to keep their spirits high when, more than a year out, their integration has been so difficult. Mr. Al Dibel was introduced to a man who said he could find him work in construction, but after seeing how limited his English was, the man declined. He told Mr. Al Dibel to come back once his English was at Level 2, which he believes will take at least two years to achieve. Dejected, he started looking for work at restaurants, though he feels no employer is interested in hiring someone his age.

"If my husband doesn't work, there's no hope. If we're on welfare, no one's going to give us an apartment to rent," Ms. Al Kader says in Arabic.

The networks that privately sponsored refugees have access to give them an enormous advantage when it comes to securing employment, according to preliminary results of surveys conducted by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. More than half of privately sponsored Syrian refugees who arrived in Canada (excluding Quebec) by March 1 had already found employment, compared with just 10 per cent of government-assisted ones. Many privately sponsored refugees enjoy the benefit of having their sponsors hustle on their behalf: It helps a great deal to have a dozen motivated Canadians canvassing their networks just to find you, one member of the family they're sponsoring, a job.

A few among the 28 government-assisted families who have settled in Leaside Towers have found work in the neighbourhood - some frying up halal chicken at the Popeyes, or stocking shelves at Iqbal Halal Market.

But some see a disincentive to taking a minimum-wage job: In Ontario, if you are on Ontario Works and get a job, half your earnings over $200 are deducted from your welfare cheque. As they see it, they'd be bringing home so little money that they're better off using that time to focus on improving English, or running their households, which can consume much of their day.

And this is the flip side of having no guidance from sponsors - the freedom to make choices and to learn from mistakes.

Ms. Georgis works with both government-assisted and privately sponsored refugees and is amused watching the way both handle finances. There can be a tendency toward paternalism among private sponsors, she said, who, with good intentions, scold refugees for what they see as irresponsible spending.

"Ultimately, these are human beings who have been caring for themselves," she said. "If they make a wrong decision, fine, they'll learn. We learn from our mistakes, too."

Four months after the families moved to Leaside Towers, Ms. Georgis noticed some of them were buying cars and it gave her pause. But she watched the positive effect it had on the mental health of the men, the clients who struggled most with the transition to life in Canada and loss of identity as family breadwinners.

"What the car has given these men is a sense they can do something for their family, for their kids. When their kid has to go to the doctor, they can drive their kid to the doctor and feel good about that. They can drive themselves to Niagara Falls and feel good about that," she said. "I am convinced that has been so good and healing for these families."

Emerging leaders On Friday evenings just before 6 p.m., Manal Alumoor is on her phone, pounding out a WhatsApp message in Arabic to all the other Syrian refugees in Leaside Towers, telling them to go to the library in building 95 for the evening English class organized by volunteers. If she doesn't message them, she says, they don't go.

She's emerged as one of the newcomers who leads the group, who has figured out how to navigate this new life in Canada without needing a lot of hand-holding.

Though she has little education and comes from a rural village near the Syria-Jordan border, Ms. Alumoor is a bridge to the broader community in Leaside Towers.

When Pat Wright, an organizer of many activities in apartment complex, has a message she needs to send to all the families, she asks Ms. Alumoor and another Syrian man in the building who has strong English skills to convey it.

"Leader, leader, I am leader," Ms. Alumoor says proudly with a half-smile, pointing at her chest.

She has a no-nonsense way about her, with stern, archless eyebrows and a prominent chin.

Ms. Alumoor, her husband Ahmad Alhaj Ali and their children have benefited from programming set up by Ms. Wright, other residents and Omar Khan, a volunteer who has come to know some of the families well. The benefits of Mr. Khan's efforts extend into the wider community of Leaside Towers as well, bringing much-needed understanding in rocky times.

Last year, he came to speak to the tenants' association to act as a spokesman for the newcomers, explaining the challenges they face and suggesting ways tenants could help the newcomers integrate - by helping tutor some of the children, for example.

From there, a lineup of free programming has grown: English conversation sessions, extra math help for the kids. Ms. Wright, who has come to know many of the Syrians through co-ordinating these programs, believes they have transformed the complex for the better. She's already thinking ahead to what might happen when some might move out.

"It's more alive now," she says.

"I think we would miss them."

Ms. Alumoor attends all three of the supplementary classes offered in the building each week, and credits them for her fast-improving English. She still struggles with basic greetings such as "take care," for example, which she pronounces more like "daycare."

"It will take me 100 years to learn that," she says in Arabic.

Ms. Alumoor makes small talk in her English class about how she's happy spring is arriving, but in fact the longer hours of sunshine also bring anxiety. A new season means big expenses: clothes and shoes for her five kids, among them nine-year-old triplet boys, who are always measuring what each receives compared with the others when it comes to food, toys and attention.

After they arrive home from school on a Friday afternoon and eat, they park in front of the TV to play a video game, occasionally elbowing and shoving each other, then dramatically reacting to being shoved or elbowed to elicit sympathy from their parents.

"Foreigners here have one or two kids. We didn't know why," Ms. Alumoor says in Arabic. She pauses for effect, then smiles widely, shaking her head. "Now we know why."

Her husband, Mr. Alhaj Ali, has the silver stubble of a man who doesn't need to report for work daily and smiles widely when he senses a joke in English, even if he doesn't fully understand it.

He was about to register in technical school when he met a Canadian man who promised he could find him a high-paying job in a line of work he was familiar with: tile installation. Mr. Alhaj Ali excitedly sent the man photos of some of the projects he'd completed in Syria and awaited the man's call, but it never came. By then he'd missed registration in the course and is now on the waiting list.

Some of his neighbours have taken to driving for Uber and some have been taking underthe-table payments to work at a warehouse in Vaughan, a long commute northwest of Toronto.

Mr. Alhaj Ali has prioritized his learning for now.

Normal teen concerns Seidra, the eldest child, is hopeful her parents will find work, for no other reason than she absolutely must stay in this neighbourhood, where she has carefully built a social network over the past year and a bit. The loud, belly-laughing 13-year-old looks nothing like her dark-featured parents. Her hair, covered by a leopard-print hijab, is auburn and her nose and cheeks are dotted with freckles.

She visits the mall with one set of friends to window shop. She'll meet with others to buy Mars bars at Dollarama. Her parents bought her a cellphone, but it has no data, so she mostly calls her friends to find out what happened in the five minutes since they last spoke.

While standing in the kitchen with Ms. Alumoor, who is preparing stuffed grape leaves and zucchini for supper, Seidra reminds her mother that she'll be going to Tim Hortons at 3 p.m. for her Friday standing date with her closest friends, one of them Mr. Al Rasoul and Ms. Al Mekhlef's daughter Marwa. Seidra never eats doughnuts (she's convinced they'll make her fat) but she and her friends are obsessed with the chain's French vanilla and creamy chocolate chill drinks, whose nutritional composition they are clearly unaware of.

"I tell her there is lots of sugar," Ms. Alumoor says in stilted English.

"I not go with my friends every day to the Tim Hortons," Seidra bleats, her voice dripping with adolescent disdain.

"I know, I know," Ms. Alumoor says quietly. She looks up from washing zucchini to give her daughter the sort of warm, loving smile that teenagers always receive with an eye roll.

This is a few dollars she will not fret over.

Associated Graphic

Fifteen-year-old Bilal Al Rasoul tosses his youngest sister, Sava, 3, while sitting with Marwa, 13, and Mohammad, 12, at the family's Thorncliffe Park home last month.


Unable to go to his mosque for prayer service, Ahmad Al Rasoul, left, prays at home while daughter Sava, 3, lies on cushions to watch television. Some of Mr. Rasoul's sons, middle, head home from school, while Sava, right, shows off a furry selection from her wall of toys.

Manal Alumoor, gathers her family for a late-afternoon meal at their Thorncliffe Park home last month. Ms. Alumoor eats with husband Ahmad Alhaj Ali, while their three nine-year-old sons eat in the kitchen nearby.


Rama Al Dibel, 9, grabs something from the fridge while helping her mom, Abir Abdel Al Kader, prepare a meal in their Thorncliffe Park home in March. In the top photo they sit down to share the meal.

At the top of the food chain
Charged with guiding a grocery empire and growing Canada's second-largest family fortune, Galen G. Weston sees opportunity in technology, nutrition and medical marijuana
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page B6

The son also rises. In January, shortly after his 44th birthday, Galen G. Weston took over as chief executive officer of George Weston Ltd., the public company that controls the biggest pieces of Canada's second-largest family fortune.

It was the final step in a decade-long succession plan that makes him the key decisionmaker for a collection of businesses and brands that touch millions of people every week: Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart, No Frills, Provigo, President's Choice, Fortinos, Real Canadian Superstore and more. The group owns Weston Foods, a large bakery operation; a chartered bank with $3-billion in assets; a majority stake in a $5.5-billion real estate investment trust; the Joe Fresh clothing line. Chances are, it also owns a share of your shopping bill.

Mr. Weston's ascent to the very top of the Weston food chain has been a long time coming. So, too, was the turnaround at Loblaw Cos. Ltd., where he remains chairman and CEO. When he was named executive chairman of the supermarket chain in 2006, it was suffering from the hangover of an attempt to beat back WalMart, which was expanding its food selection in Canada. Loblaw had built massive new stores and went deeper into selling home goods, seasonal merchandise and other non-food items. At the same time, it was also trying to clean up the mishmash of technology that ruled its supply chain. Some stores were habitually understocked.

It was a mess.

"The business had been following a very successful strategy for the previous 20 years. And it really stopped working," Mr. Weston said. "Prices were too high, execution was inconsistent.

I think we had overbuilt certain types of stores which weren't performing at the level we expected when we put the capital in."

Consumers noticed and so did investors. The shares plunged from about $76 in 2005 to near $26 a few years later.

The climb back was slow. One catalyst was the decision in late 2012 to put the company's billions of dollars in real estate (including more than 500 retail locations) into a new public company, Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust. That bit of financial engineering lifted Loblaw's share price instantly and raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the ultimate megadeal: the $12.4-billion takeover of Shoppers Drug Mart, announced in the summer of 2013 and completed the following year after a lengthy review by the federal competition regulator. (Ottawa's competition watchdog is now looking at the merged company's purchasing practices after complaints from some suppliers and smaller rivals.)

The dealmaking has recharged the company. Last year, Loblaw earned $1.4-billion before tax, up from $853-million in 2003, and the shares are now at $71. But as the job has grown, Mr. Weston's public visibility has shrunk. For years he had a huge profile as the advertising voice of President's Choice, appearing on your television screen beside babies in high chairs or strolling on a farm in jeans to promote organic food.

That is changing.

"Right from the beginning, I made a commitment to myself that when my children started school I would stop putting myself in front of the camera," he said. His two boys are now 6 and 7. "And so over the past few years we have been scaling down my role and challenging the marketing and brand teams to carve a new path for representing the brand in a different way."

Less noticeably, he has become a spokesman for a longer-term approach to running a business.

Last year, he wrote a chapter in Reimagining Capitalism, a booked edited by McKinsey & Co.'s Dominic Barton and two others. In it, Mr. Weston argues that familycontrolled companies can exploit numerous advantages over widely held firms, including a greater ability to manage risk and to invest with long-range trends in mind, regardless of the pressures of shareholders.

"You can't change your strategy every six months, in my view.

You have to give people time to execute against their strategies, adjust strategies, in order for it to have any hope of success," he said. Our interview was in late March at the company's headquarters in Brampton, Ont.

What's the key thing you hope somebody will walk away with, reading this chapter in the book?

I think that there's a role for family business - and there's a really important need for businesses to reframe their thinking from quarterly results to longer-term results. If large businesses - and small and medium-sized businesses - can effectively follow some of those principles, they'll build better businesses, both for themselves and for the communities those businesses operate in.

You describe the Shoppers Drug Mart deal as taking a half-decade to complete. Can you walk us through how that went down?

When I took over as chairman of Loblaw [in 2006], it was at a period where the business had reached the end of part of its journey, and it needed some transformational change to get it ready for the next part of the journey. It was a little bit early, I would say, in terms of the development of my career, but the time was right and necessary for the business itself.

We spent a lot of time trying to re-engineer the Loblaw organization, almost from the ground up.

The next thing was to say, "All right ... where do we want to be invested?" And here, this idea of thinking for the long term played a really important role. What are the things that we see in 10, 15, 20 years that are going to be important to us?

Health and nutrition has been something I've believed in for a long time, not only as an important part of where the community needed to go but also where consumers were headed. You've got millennials who are thinking differently about food than they ever have before. They think about it more as a lifestyle experience than just about getting calories into their stomachs.

Then you have baby boomers who are aging who are also thinking differently about food.

And then there was another demographic [trend]. You saw this incredible growth in the major urban centres of Canada.

How do you invest in retail to take advantage of and build on those trends? And it was clear early on that a pharmacy with a really compelling retail proposition was a core idea, something that made a lot of sense.

We developed our own concept [pharmacy]. We came very, very close to opening it. We looked at other, smaller, easier-to-bite-off drugstore chains to potentially add to the portfolio. And ultimately we decided that it would take us 30 years to do what Shoppers Drug Mart has already done.

And then all kinds of things had to happen. We had to get ourselves into a position where we had the financial capacity to do the Shoppers acquisition. We had to start to build relationships with people in Shoppers. We actually entered into discussions with them as early as 2011, and for a number of reasons the timing wasn't right for us to do a deal.

What was particular about that timing?

You mean when we actually did it? Stable leadership, stability on both sides. When we approached them the first time, they didn't have a CEO and we were in the middle of a CEO transition. Two years later they had a CEO who had stabilized the business, made it stronger. We had stabilized the Loblaw business, made it stronger.

What's been the hardest part about the merger?

I think it continues to be a challenge to get the cultural blend right.

We bought Shoppers because it was different. We didn't buy it because we wanted to make it the same. And that's always a tough thing to do - to try to preserve the magic of what makes an acquisition special but also to get the financial synergies that make the math work.

We took a very deliberate approach - it was going to be slower. The synergy aspiration was perhaps not going to be quite as ambitious. And we were going to build trust ... and convince people that we meant what we said when we said we wanted Shoppers to continue to operate as a standalone business.

And so they're still different! And yet in lots of ways, to fill the long-term strategic vision of bringing the two companies together, people have to work together. We want people from Shoppers who are really good at certain things to come to Loblaw and teach us how to do things better, and vice versa.

Then you're dealing with people, you're dealing with emotions, you're dealing with worry, and that's hard work.

What's been the biggest surprise for you?

There were a lot more positive surprises than negative surprises.

The success of President's Choice going into Shoppers wildly overdelivered our collective expectations. We didn't realize at all how meaningful that would be.

When you're trying to make a business better, really intimately understanding something that used to be on the outside and now is on the inside and seeing how they do things differently - it creates a catalyst for change that is incredibly powerful.

Give us an example.

Shoppers has clearly one of the best loyalty programs, in Shoppers Optimum, of anyone in Canada - we might say in the world.

The way they integrate loyalty programs, promotions, rewards and also customer insights to enhance the decisions that they make with products in the store is more integrated and simpler and more impactful than, up until this point, what we had been able to do at Loblaw.

What's your own process, as CEO, to learn about something that's large and outside?

How do you get a sense of what you think is right is right? I learned this from my father [W.

Galen Weston, his predecessor at the helm of the business]. You have to talk to people, and you have to listen to what they have to say. And that's clearly your immediate set of advisers - the management team, board of directors - but it's also talking to people in stores, finding out what's bothering them. What they think the opportunities are.

I do a series of "let's talk" sessions with multiple levels in the organization, just to hear what's on their minds.

Typically what I ask them is, "Tell me, when you wake up in the morning and you just do not want to get out of bed, you do not want to go to work, because you're so frustrated by something, what is that thing that frustrates you? And when you bounce out of bed and you say, I love my job and this is the thing I really want to do, I can't wait to get stuck into this when I get to the office today - what is that thing?" It's amazing what you hear. If you hear the same things enough times, then you know there's something to dig into.

You said your thesis on health care is, if anything, stronger now that it was because of things that have happened in the past two to three years.

What do you mean by that?

There's a transformation happening in health care that is driven by two things. The first is ... the ever-escalating cost of health care. It's driven by a national health-care system that is run by the provinces, [and] the stress is amplified by this aging population. And it's being met by this extraordinary digital enablement that is happening.

In the U.K., for example, 95 or 96 per cent of all prescriptions are sent from a doctor to a pharmacy digitally. In Canada, it's 3 per cent. We're still walking in with paper prescriptions.

But imagine a universe where instead of all of your health-care records being stored in pieces - the hospital has something here, your GP has something here, the local medical clinic has something here, the pharmacy has it here - imagine a world where all of that stuff can be digitized and put into one place that is the property of the patient. Imagine what that enables, if the patient is the hub and all of their healthcare providers can instantly access that information when they're thinking about treating them.

Going and getting your blood pressure taken once a year during your annual medical has value. But checking your blood pressure regularly at a Shoppers Drug Mart if you're a sufferer of hypertension - and having that reading uploaded automatically to the pharmacist and to the doctor - then you're starting to talk about leveraging the access to all of this information.

Now plug in your nutritionist, and use a digital record of your nutritional profile. We have, at Loblaw, a digital database of nutritional information for every product that we sell in the stores.

So now connect that into this personal patient record which all of the various health-care professionals have access to. And then connect that to an incentive system like Optimum or PC Plus, where if you choose to eat products that have more appropriate nutritional characteristics for your particular condition, you earn points. For hitting your 10,000 steps with your Fitbit on any given day, you earn points.

We've got 5,000 people inside Loblaw connected using their cellphone in exactly the way I described.

Wait - so these 5,000 employees, what's happening with them?

It's fascinating. I'll give you an example. We have an executive challenge and all members of the management team are signed up to the same challenge. And it's 365 days - who is going to deliver the most steps. Connected to your Fitbit. Every night you can upload your results and see how you're doing on the leaderboard.

A couple of executives - one is working on weight management, and the other is working on his blood pressure - are right off the charts in terms of where they sit on the leaderboard. And both credit knowledge, understanding and being able to directly measure how they're doing on a daily basis.

In the natural-foods departments in our stores, you see continued, relentless, skyrocketing growth. This is more than just a bunch of rich people who can afford to spend a little bit more.

It's about people making a choice because they believe and they have information and data that says it's going to lead to a healthier life.

Where does this view on health and nutrition take you strategically? Does it lead you to other acquisitions, other lines of business?

Maybe. One way of thinking about it is if you start to change the way people make decisions about the products they buy. And in a world that has been massively price-focused, with food prices being one of the principal drivers of how customers make shopping decisions, we can start to shift that a little bit so that people are buying products for a different reason.

It also opens the strategic lens to other areas of business. We acquired QHR, which is one of the largest doctors' medical records software companies out there. Why is that? Because if you have the pharmacy record, you have the nutritional record and then you have the system that connects to 20,000 medical doctors, you start to see how you can digitally connect that personal health record in a really compelling way.

Does that lead to other services and other opportunities that are more directly tied to the provision of health-care services?

Maybe. Maybe.

How does your life change now that you are in charge of not just Loblaw, but George Weston too?

I would say that this recent change, which has me taking on the incremental role at George Weston, is part of the succession plan. It's a transition. Sarah Davis has stepped into the role of president at Loblaw. She's responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the business. That allows me to focus more specifically on the medium and long-term strategic mission for Loblaw, but also creates the space for me to effectively take on the CEO of Weston job.

Can the grocery business be Amazoned?

Amazon, for any retailer, in any category, in any part of the world, has to be acknowledged as someone to watch very closely.

Right now we feel really good about where we sit. We have a terrific e-commerce platform for our apparel business. We have the leading e-commerce platform for our grocery business with click and collect. [The program allows customers to buy groceries online, then pick them up at a store.] We've recently launched the first stage of our pharmacy offer for customers. And we're going to continue to do that.

Having said that, if you look around the world and you see where the disruption to grocers in particular is really coming from, it's not coming from e-commerce yet. Where it's coming from is the notorious German discounters, Lidl and Aldi. They have been wreaking havoc in Europe for years, they have been disrupting the U.K. market for the last five or six years, to devastating effect. And both Lidl and Aldi are on aggressive growth trajectories in the United States.

So in terms of the clear and present danger, as opposed to the future danger, we certainly see the discounters as the ones that we can really, really understand the impact they're going to have.

Do you see the Germans coming into this market in the near future?

I don't have any insight to say that they will come. But from a planning perspective, our expectation is that at some stage they will come to Canada. I always say in three years, but I've been saying three years for a while.

How is the Joe Fresh business doing? You guys don't disclose very much on it.

The Joe Fresh business is doing great. Really strong.

It's been widely reported that we retrenched from our standalone investment in the U.S. So what were we doing there? We did a lot of research ... it made a lot of sense to take a controlled, staged chance on whether or not that business could be successful in another country.

We made that investment, it didn't work, and we had a predetermined threshold around how much we were going to invest.

Once we hit that threshold and we didn't see that it was going to move to the next stage, we retrenched and got on with life.

Our principal focus is on the Canadian business and it continues to perform really well. In fact, the last two years that we've been restructuring that business, post [Joe Fresh founder] Joe Mimran's departure, was probably in my experience one of the most significant positive transformations in one of our lines of business that I've seen.

At one point you had a billiondollar sales target on that business. Are you close?

So I'm never going to make a statement like that again! Look, we're really happy with the business and continue to feel it's a really important part of our customer proposition here.

The Rana Plaza disaster was four years ago. [In April, 2013, a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people. Joe Fresh products were made at the factory, and two years later the company was served with a proposed class-action suit seeking $2-billion in damages. The company is defending itself.] How did that event change how you approach that business and your thinking around that business?

You know, this was a horrific thing. And even though we did everything we were supposed to do from an inspections point of view, meeting all of the appropriate international standards at that time, there was still this monstrous tragedy that had our products directly involved.

My grandfather - family values - we really believe that business, and big business, has an important responsibility and a positive role to play in the community.

And if you're a big, big business like we are, then you have a positive role to play and you have to think about the impact that you have on the country as a whole.

And if you are sourcing products internationally, it's not an unrealistic expectation that you should also be thinking proactively about those areas of influence that you have.

My statement following Rana Plaza was far less about wanting to ... [acknowledge] a legal accountability for what happened and much more about saying, "Hey, something terrible happened in this industry, let's stand up and face into it."

When bad things happen - and they do happen, they happen in big businesses, no matter what your control systems are - part of what you have to expect of yourself and of your organization is that you'll stand up and take accountability for it in the right way.

In this case, it was drawing a spotlight on the issue and saying we have a responsibility as an industry to figure out ways to make a more positive impact.

And that's happened - not exclusively because of us, because of NGOs, because of union engagement and Bangladesh working hard in its own right to make changes.

The addition of building structural inspections across all factories in Bangladesh and a number of other countries ... is a direct outcome, a positive outcome, from a very terrible circumstance.

Can you feel confident that in that business, you won't have this issue come up again with one of your suppliers?

Well, listen. I can feel confident that we are delivering on the standards and expectations that are set by the international accord that we are participants in. But for me to say that, based on that, nothing terrible will ever happen again would be inappropriate.

Certainly we are evolving the standards and we are continuing to invest to meet those standards. We have boots on the ground, which I think is a big and important step.

How big is the potential business opportunity around medical marijuana for Loblaw and Shoppers Drug Mart?

I'm not going to comment on how big it is. But we see it as an opportunity. We are a drugstore and we see a lot of emerging research around the potential for different delivery models for cannabis to help with pain management, if you think about things like the opiate crisis across Canada and the U.S.

We do think that distribution of medical marijuana should be enabled through a pharmacy distribution model as opposed to simply through the mail.

And we do think it represents a meaningful business opportunity for us. But you're not seeing us as an organization pile into the cowboy chaos of the producers that is happening at the moment.

We're focused on working with particular producers who can effectively supply ... in the event the legislation changes and pharmacy ends up being a big part of the distribution system.

So you're only interested in the medical side [of pot], not the recreational side?

One has to be super-careful to say what we will and won't ever do. But our principal focus has and will continue to be for the moment medical.

You've got two young boys.

You've written quite passionately about this being a family business, and it's fairly rare that a business runs this long under family control. What are your thoughts about their future involvement?

I think this is important. What I aspire to is, I aspire to raise with my wife Alexandra two boys who have a strong sense of values, a sense of responsibility that comes with opportunity or privilege, and some ambition that they want to do something meaningful with that opportunity and privilege. If they grow up with those things, there will be an opportunity for them in the business, if they feel that connection.

People often ask me, what's it like growing up as a Weston?

They ask me, what about this incredible pressure you feel to be part of the business? I think I was incredibly fortunate - I love the business. I spent time in it when I was young, summer jobs and so on.

So I get up every day - mostly every day - feeling charged up about what is going on in the business and ultimately what we can do. That you have to have, to be a compelling and effective family leader.

To push somebody into it when they don't have those things is a recipe for disaster, or at least for suboptimal performance. Ask me in 20 years and we'll see where either of those boys end up.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Associated Graphic

Galen G. Weston, right, CEO of George Weston Ltd., with his father, W. Galen Weston, after the Loblaw annual general meeting in May, 2010. Left, the Loblaws supermarket in the former Maple Leaf Gardens, on the northwest corner of Carlton and Church streets in Toronto.


A Loblaws store shown in 1988. Mr. Weston says the grocery business is seeing 'relentless, skyrocketing growth' in the natural foods departments of its stores.


U.S. cutbacks undermine efforts to keep Africa's population in check
Monday, April 17, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A1

GANVIE, BENIN -- The contraception boat has arrived, and now it's time for a party. "Ladies, have you heard the news?" the singer tells the villagers as his drummers strike up a pulsing beat.

"You can take a pill every day," he croons to the women sitting beneath a sprawling tree where goats and chickens roam past. "You can be with your husband and only have children when you want."

Women leap to their feet and dance to the music. "Shame on the men who have lots of wives," the singer tells them as he prepares for a condom demonstration. "Woe to the women who have lots of children. Two is okay, three is already good."

Many of the women in this isolated village have never heard of modern contraception.

But when the music is finished and the dancing is over, a few climb aboard the brightly painted boat, venturing inside for their first glimpse of a new future.

Villages such as this one, in rural Benin, are the fragile front line of a global battle over population growth and women's bodies - a battle that has now expanded to draw in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump on conflicting sides of the issue.

The contraception boat and its crew, puttering cheerfully from village to village in a lagoon in southern Benin, is the latest innovation in an intensifying campaign by family-planning agencies to break the cycle of near-constant pregnancy that exhausts and oppresses millions of African women and stokes the rapid growth of population and migration worldwide.

But the contraception campaign has been dealt a blow by Mr. Trump. Just days after taking office, he ordered a halt to an estimated $600-million (U.S.) in annual support for family-planning and health programs overseas. Any international program in which women are informed about the abortion option will have its U.S. funding removed, in a policy known as the "global gag rule."

In recent weeks, Mr. Trump went even further. His administration announced that it will eliminate all U.S. support to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), accusing it of supporting a Chinese agency in "coercive abortion" policies, despite an earlier U.S. acknowledgment that there is no evidence of UNFPA funding for abortions in China.

The eliminated U.S. funds will have a huge impact on reproductive health programs in the developing world, since the United States has been one of the biggest donors to the UN program.

The Trump cuts, an expanded version of earlier Republican policies, have triggered a global push-back. Analysts say the Trump policy could lead to 6.5 million unintended pregnancies over the next four years. A new global fund to replace the lost U.S. money has raised about $200-million so far, including $20-million (Canadian) from Canada. Without it, women could be pushed "into the Dark Ages," according to Belgium's deputy Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo.

In addition to its contribution to the new fund, Canada launched a bigger response to the Trump cuts on March 8, International Women's Day, when Mr. Trudeau announced a $650-million three-year fund for reproductive and sexual health and rights in the developing world, including contraception and legal abortion programs.

African women are at the centre of these issues, but politicians have neglected them for decades. To understand the human pain and conflict at the heart of the population debates, The Globe and Mail travelled to the remote fishing villages of Benin. In these impoverished corners of the continent, the contraception campaign is more urgent than almost anywhere else in the world.

In a country like Benin, the impact of the campaign could be enormous. It finally offers hope to long-suffering women whose health has been badly damaged by decades of child-bearing.

But it could also help to slow the rapid rate of population growth that has helped create a global migration crisis, which in turn has fuelled the rise of nationalist politicians in Europe and the United States, along with controversial policies such as Mr. Trump's temporary halt to migrants from six Muslim-majority countries. The migration pressures from Africa's soaring population will also be felt in Canada, where immigration remains a divisive issue.

The fertility rate in sub-Saharan Africa today is alarmingly high: about 5.1 children in a woman's lifetime, more than double the global average. And the population boom is concentrated in the world's poorest and most fragile countries, the ones least able to cope. The world's highest fertility rates today are in the impoverished West African countries of Niger (7.5 children for every woman) and Mali (6.8 children).

Benin's fertility rate is not far behind those countries. "If you tell your husband that you don't want a large family, he will just go and marry another woman," says Christiane Djengue, the mother of eight children in the fishing village of Houedo-Gbadji in southern Benin.

"It's a lot of pressure. Our husbands love children and large families."

Her husband, Jacob, is happy with his big family, and even took a second wife. "You need a lot of babies because you never know how many are going to live and how many are going to die," he says. "What if we had only two babies and both died?" But the cost to his wife is enormous. She has given birth 10 times over the past 19 years, and two of her children died. "I've had too many babies," she says. "I feel sicker and weaker. I suffer illnesses, like hypertension. I get headaches and vertigo and fatigue."

What's at stake in the population battle If the family planning campaign can reduce Africa's stubbornly high birth rate, it will not only bring new freedoms to African women - it could also curb an explosive rate of population growth that threatens the future of the planet.

Population growth is helping to fuel many of the world's biggest crises, from climate change to migration and war. Many African countries can't produce enough jobs to keep pace with the birth rate, and people are left fighting over diminishing resources. The impact can be felt from the refugee camps of Nigeria and the malnourished children of Central Africa to the migrant boats of the Mediterranean and the humantrafficking routes of the Sahara and the Middle East.

Demography helps to explain why Africa is becoming increasingly crucial to the fate of the Earth. While the rest of the world has seen a sharp drop in its birth rate in recent decades, Africa's fertility rate has remained persistently high, to the surprise of experts who assumed Africa would follow the global pattern.

Africa's growth is now expected to be much more rapid than demographers had predicted. By the end of this century, the continent will be home to 4.4 billion people - a staggering fourfold increase from today, and double the number that the United Nations had been predicting a decade ago.

By the year 2100, according to UN studies, nearly half of the world's children will be African.

The continent will account for more than 80 per cent of global population growth, pushing the world's population to a new peak of 11.2 billion. For better or worse, Africa will shape the world's destiny.

As the population boom gains momentum, humanity is increasingly becoming African. By the end of the century, about 40 per cent of the world's population will be African. Five of the world's 10 most populous countries will be African countries: Nigeria, Ethiopia, Congo, Niger and Tanzania.

One country alone, Nigeria, is projected to have 752 million people by 2100 and will be contributing more births to the world than any other country.

The consequences for the planet's health and environment will be immense. Africa's economies are unlikely to keep pace with this dramatic population increase. The result could be an escalating crisis in hunger, overcrowding, ecological damage and rising migration pressures in Europe and North America and within Africa itself.

The Globe's investigation in Benin helps reveal how this extraordinary African population boom is driven by a disturbing pattern of inequality and discrimination against women. Shackled by illiteracy, poverty and cultural taboos, a quarter of married African women who want to avoid pregnancy still have no access to modern contraception. They remain subject to traditional and religious leaders who urge them to have large families, despite the risks to their health. Husbands and elders routinely pressure them into having more children than they can safely nurture.

Many African women have their first children in their teenage years and continue with scarcely a pause for much of their adulthood. Many women believe they need their husband's authorization before they can take contraception. Rumours and religious edicts have persuaded them that birth control is dangerous. And many African countries contribute to the crisis by criminalizing abortion and making contraception difficult to obtain, in rural regions especially.

"Our pastor told us that we can never use family planning," says Claudine Degbo, who belongs to a Methodist church in her home village of So-Ava in southern Benin.

After her first two children, she felt that her family was too poor to afford more. But she felt obliged to obey her husband and her church. She knew nothing about contraception, and it was impossible to talk to her husband about her desire to avoid pregnancy. So she had two more children, and both died. And then her husband took two more wives, so that he could have more children. "If I was to tell you about my suffering, it would take the whole day," Ms. Degbo says.

Yet throughout her ordeals, she has never questioned the pastor's edict that contraception is banned. "Our faith forbids it," she says. "When a teacher tells you something, you should obey."

To be sure, some African countries have made progress on family planning, especially in urban areas. Countries such as Zambia and Kenya have rapidly boosted the availability and use of contraception. But a recent study by a non-profit partnership, Family Planning 2020, identified 14 countries worldwide with the slowest growth in the use of contraception - and all 14 were in Africa.

Outside of Kenya and southern Africa, less than 30 per cent of African women are using modern contraception. In many regions of West Africa and Central Africa, less than 10 per cent of women are using contraception. In Benin, for example, only about 7 per cent of married women are using contraception.

That's why the UNFPA and its local partners in Benin have begun using innovative ideas such as the "contraception boat" to provide information and supplies to remote villages where families of 10 or 12 children are still common.

The boat and the women Every day, the boat cruises slowly through a lagoon of fishing villages known as So-Ava, home to some 120,000 of the poorest people in the country. Most live in rickety huts of wooden slats and metal roofs, suspended over the water on stilts. Small canoes are their only link to the outside world. The birth rate in rural Benin is 5.4 children per woman, but in So-Ava the average is seven children.

The flat-bottomed boat, nicknamed the Barque Mobile, uses a loudspeaker and a raucous sound system to attract attention. As it motors down the canals and rivers, it pumps out a steady beat of loud rhythmic music. Men sometimes dance on the stairs of their stilt houses as the boat passes.

At each village, when the Barque Mobile docks, a few curious women step cautiously aboard.

Inside the boat, nurses work in two small clinics, giving counselling and contraception to the women. From tidy cabinets and desks, they hand out stocks of condoms and explain samples of birth-control pills, IUDs, implants and injections to those who are willing to give them a try.

At other stops on the boat's route, the campaigners organize boisterous meetings with music and speeches. "Who knows what contraception is?" a nurse asks a crowd of about 100 women (and a few men) in the stilt village of Ganvie.

"Me, me," a few women shout.

"If you have a lot of children, you'll have a shorter life, and you won't be able to take care of your children," one of the campaigners tells the crowd.

They hold up a poster with pictures of the various contraception methods. They explain the benefits of "spacing" a couple's children, with several years between births. They bring out a male musician to demonstrate the use of a condom on a carved wooden phallus, with much commotion and laughing from the audience, and they correct him on his errors.

"When your husband comes home and wants to get together with you, you tell him, 'Hey boy, that's not the way you do it.

Here's the way you do it,' "a nurse tells the women.

Then the campaigners answer questions about the contraception methods, dispelling some of the common myths. No, they tell the men, an IUD won't cause any injury to you during sex. No, they tell the women, taking the pill won't make it more difficult to have children later.

Among the crowd in Ganvie is a woman named Albertine Hoyeton. She is clutching her threeyear-old son, her youngest child.

Until she heard the loudspeaker from the approaching boat that day, she knew nothing about modern contraception. With her fisherman husband, she had five children in seven years - at great cost to her health.

"I was strong, but then I had several children," she says. "And now I'm weak and I'm often sick and I can't do many things. I don't sleep much, because I always have worries on my mind."

She often sees teenage mothers in her village. "I feel sorry for them, because their lives are miserable."

She wants her children's lives to be different. She wants them to use contraception, and she hopes that at least one of them will grow up to be a doctor.

At another stop, Simplicia Zannou climbs aboard the boat with her husband and infant son. She is about 20 years old. (Like many people in Benin, she's not sure of her exact age.) She and her husband already have three children, and they want to learn about contraception. They listen quietly as the nurse explains the various methods. They decide that they prefer the pill. Then, as a routine check, the nurse asks if she can do a pregnancy test before prescribing the pills.

A few minutes later, the test strip reveals that Ms. Zannou is pregnant. She stares at the floor in shock, mopping her brow, while her husband laughs and plays with their baby.

"Another child," she murmurs to her husband. "We should have been finished with this. I told you before that we should have gone for family planning."

Her husband, a tailor named Bourasma Kokossou, has been dominating the conversation in the nurse's office, even when the questions are directed to his wife.

"She'll just say exactly what I say," he explains. "My wife obeys me. Without my approval, she can't do anything. She can't even move."

But later, in a back room of their village home, Ms. Zannou agrees to talk without her husband's presence. Their small tworoom hut, filled with fabric and sewing machines, is built on stilts over the swampy water. Its floor is of rough wooden slats, and its walls are papered with tattered newspapers, old calendars and magazine pages.

Ms. Zannou is worried that her family cannot afford another child. She's afraid that her children's health could be affected by the burden of another newborn child. Her family is already sometimes forced to cut back to just one meal a day when the tailoring business is slow.

"How are we going to cope with this situation?" she asked her husband when they returned from the boat after the news of her pregnancy.

"Don't worry about the money, we'll get more customers," he told her.

And then they stopped talking about it. "In our community, the wife always does what the husband tells her to do," Ms. Zannou says. "The church tells us to obey our husbands."

While wives are taught to await their husband's authorization for family planning, husbands are allowed to have multiple wives.

Only the first wife is legally registered, but their right to "marry" other women is widely condoned.

In Benin, there are popular songs on local radio stations that jauntily tout the benefits of polygamy.

With these patriarchal attitudes firmly entrenched, Benin is one of the 14 African countries that have been the slowest to adopt modern contraception methods.

Its government wants to persuade 20 per cent of women to begin using contraception by 2020, compared to the current rate of 12 per cent, but the goal is unlikely to be met.

It's almost impossible to make significant improvement in education and economic development if the contraception rate is below 20 per cent, UN specialists say.

Even the spacing of children - allowing more than two years between births - can have a dramatic effect in reducing the death rate among children and mothers, while improving health and education levels. Bill and Melinda Gates, the billionaire philanthropists, argue that contraception is "one of the greatest life-saving and anti-poverty innovations in history."

In the impoverished villages of So-Ava, progress is so slow that a typical year would see only 60 or 70 women adopting contraception for the first time. But the campaigners found that they could triple this rate by using the boat to spread the message. Now, they plan to add three more boats to the circuit.

The obstacles In a country where illiteracy is common, the contraception boat has sparked wild rumours and suspicions. Some villagers claim that it must be a brothel. When doctors deny it, they are accused of taking bribes.

Other villagers are convinced that the boat's family-planning ideas are a "Mami Wata" practice - a reference to a mermaid-like water spirit in traditional religions, which local churches often portray as evil. They are afraid that the spirit will cause their death if they enter the boat.

"We tell them that it's nothing to do with Mami Wata," says a nurse, Laetitia Gnansounou, who works for OSV Jordan, a local health group that runs the Barque Mobile with the UN's help.

"There's a widespread idea that if they use contraception, they could die. In church, they're told that their mission from God is to multiply - to produce a lot of children."

To counteract the religious edicts, the family-planning advocates tell the villagers that they should have only as many children as they can afford. But even in a desperately poor village, the villagers often reject this argument.

"They think children are their wealth," says Benin's health minister, Alassane Seidou. "It's a paradox. They think, 'If we don't have money, we should at least have children.' " The problems in Benin are just a microcosm of a global crisis.

The UN has estimated that 220 million married women worldwide are unable to get access to contraception, even though they want to avoid pregnancy. It's a shocking and worrisome number.

In some parts of the world, there has been strong progress in expanding access to contraception. One initiative, Family Planning 2020, estimates that 30 million women across the world have begun using contraception since the current campaign began in 2012. Yet, this is still 19 million fewer women than the campaigners had hoped to reach by now, and they admit that their goal is unlikely to be achieved by the target date.

The future For many women in Africa, contraception is a late discovery, after a lifetime of children. Christiane Djengue, the woman who gave birth to 10 children in 19 years in a fishing village in southern Benin, suffered complications in most of her births. She remembers how she began thinking of getting an abortion after the seventh pregnancy, but a hospital nurse told her it was impossible.

"This hospital will never do it," the nurse told her.

Only after her 10th birth - when she almost died, trekking from hospital to hospital, bleeding, as she searched for a place that would give her a C-section operation - did she finally visit the Barque Mobile and get a birthcontrol injection. Nobody had told her about modern contraception before.

Today, her life is still difficult. "I can't relax, except when the children are sleeping, because one of my kids could fall into the water and drown," she says.

But she seems cheerful as she sits on a pile of fishing nets in her stilt house, breastfeeding her youngest baby, then playing with him and patting him affectionately. "It's because of this baby, my 10th, that I finally went to family planning," she says, laughing.

There is hope, too, from a younger generation of urban women, who are increasingly aware of contraception. Larissa Koukoui, a 22-year-old university student in Benin's biggest city, Cotonou, says she wants to be married by 26 and then have three children at the most. On a recent day in Cotonou, she was visiting a clinic to ask about changing her contraception method.

Like most of her university friends, she has been using condoms, because of rumours that birth-control pills could make it difficult for her to have children later. But now she is thinking about switching to the pill, if the clinic doctor will dispel the false rumours.

"This is Africa, and most of our mothers don't use these methods," Ms. Koukoui says. "Our mothers tell us, 'We didn't use it, so you shouldn't.' But our generation is better informed."

Associated Graphic

In impoverished corners of Africa, such as the remote fishing villages of Benin, the campaign to introduce contraception is more urgent than almost anywhere else in the world.


Women gather in a remote village in the Ganvie region of Benin for an information and counselling session with staff members from the contraception boat, a mobile family-planning clinic.



The mobile family-planning clinic boat, left, leaves a village wharf in Ganvie, a lagoon region in Benin where many people spend their lives on or near the water, having little contact with outside sources of information about subjects such as contraception.

While her husband rests on a hammock of fishing nets, Christiane Djengue holds her youngest son in the village of Houedo-Gbadji in Benin. 'It's because of this baby, my 10th, that I finally went to family planning,' she says. Two of her children died.

With Operation Reassurance set to unfold in Latvia, Canadian soldiers will soon be permanently garrisoned in what was once the USSR. As Mark MacKinnon writes, with tensions at a fever pitch between Russia and the West, many Latvians are viewing NATO as an unwelcome aggressor - one that could incite all-out war
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page F1

DAUGAVPILS, LATVIA -- It's dubbed Operation Reassurance, but not everyone in Latvia agrees with the moniker given to the NATO mission Canada will soon be leading in this former Soviet republic.

Unease abounds about the deployment, which is expected to begin some time in June. Never before have soldiers of the Western alliance been permanently garrisoned on the territory of the former USSR, with some Canadian troops and their families expected to spend years based in Latvia. Never before has Russian alarm been as shrill about what it calls an "aggressive" deployment so close to its border.

And the military mission will begin under stormy international skies. This week, Russian President Vladimir Putin described his country's relationship with the United States as "deplorable," following the U.S. cruise-missile strike against Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria. Canada is not in Mr. Putin's good books, either.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has firmly supported U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to hit Russia's ally, which stands accused of using deadly chemical weapons against a rebel-held village.

This, history teaches us, is how bigger wars start: with all sides saying they don't want conflict, but mobilizing their militaries and waiting for the other side to back down.

Operation Reassurance, and the Canadian contribution - 450 soldiers, backed by a Navy frigate and a half-dozen CF-18 fighter jets - is warmly welcomed by the Latvian government and a solid majority of the population in this country perched precariously between Russia and the Baltic Sea.

But as you drive east toward the Russian border, the local mood shifts. In Latvia's easternmost region of Latgale - where Russian is the dominant language, and Kremlin-controlled television is the main source of news - many see NATO, rather than Russia, as the aggressor. Rather than feeling reassured by the arrival of the Canadians, Latgale residents worry that it will only exacerbate tensions in the region.

"My feelings toward NATO are very bad.

They make enemies for themselves," says Aleksej Vasiljev, the head of a local nongovernment organization that claims to represent the Russian community in Daugavpils, the largest city in Latgale and the second-largest in the country. Sitting beneath a wall of Soviet heroes of the Second World War - including a portrait of Joseph Stalin - he says the presence of NATO troops in Latvia is a "provocation" that will spur Russia to build up its own forces in the region.

"All wars start with provocations," Mr. Vasiljev says, adding that Canadian troops need to be respectful of the local population. "I don't want my country, my Latgale, my Latvia, to become a place where people are fighting."

The Canadians will be headquartered hundreds of kilometres to the west of Latgale, at a former Red Army base near the Latvian capital of Riga that is rapidly being upgraded and expanded to accommodate the additional troops. But Alain Hausser, Canada's ambassador to the three Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, says that Canadian soldiers will likely end up doing training missions and patrols all over Latvia, including the heavily Russified Latgale: "This is a NATO mission in Europe. We're defending a NATO member. There are no no-go zones."

It's impossible to predict what kind of atmosphere the Canadians will arrive into this summer, let alone how the U.S.-Russia relationship will develop in the years ahead. Mr. Trump's election in November initially unnerved America's allies, who worried about Russia's alleged efforts to tilt the U.S. vote in Mr. Trump's direction, and about the new President's campaign-trail description of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as "obsolete."

Now, worries that Mr. Trump might be too close to Mr. Putin have been upended by the cruisemissile strike in Syria. Hours after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was given a chilly reception in Moscow this week, Mr. Trump met NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and emerged to declare that the 28-country alliance was "no longer obsolete."

Canada's own relations with Russia are also near all-time lows, with almost no bilateral ties to speak of. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland is among 13 Canadians banned from entering Russia as part of a sanctions war with Moscow. And Canada - along with the U.S. and the United Kingdom - already has troops on the ground in Ukraine, helping to train the national army for its fight against Kremlin-backed separatists that have taken over part of that country's southeast.

The Canadians headed to Latvia are tasked with ensuring that the fighting doesn't spread there, too.

(While Latvia is an open-ended deployment, Operation Unifier in Ukraine requires Parliament to renew it every two years.)

On top of Latvia's complicated ethnic and linguistic mix - and the population's polarized feelings about NATO - there's also the poorly kept secret that, if Mr. Putin did decide to launch an invasion of Latvia, the small NATO deployment wouldn't slow the Russian army down for long.

Instead, Operation Reassurance is what's referred to in NATO parlance as a "tripwire deployment," intended to make clear to Russia that attacking one or all of the tiny Baltic States is tantamount to attacking every other member of the military bloc.

But there's not much that can be done to save those tasked with being the tripwire. Most scenarios have the Russian army capturing the capitals of Latvia and Estonia within 60 hours of the start of an invasion.

"The troops die," is the blunt assessment given by Stephen Saideman, chair of Carleton University's Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, when he is asked what happens to those deployed to Operation Reassurance in the event that war does break out. "The idea is that their deaths would lead to an automatic response - politicians can't just let their troops die without a response - which then would lead to an escalation and on and on, so that [NATO] deaths serve to deter the Russians. But, yes, the troops being sent to the Baltics would die in a real war."

Russia says that talk of its invading the Baltic States is alarmist - and driven by "Russophobia." But the threat of war in the Baltics is being taken seriously enough that 19 NATO members are contributing troops to Operation Reassurance, which will also see battle groups deployed to Poland, Lithuania and Estonia.

Lithuania reintroduced conscription two years ago, after the Russian moves in Ukraine; neutral Sweden surprised many by taking the same step earlier this year. In Estonia, some 25,000 volunteers regularly spend their weekends learning how to take part in an armed insurgency should Russia attempt to invade and occupy their country.

There are similar fears in Latvia.

But in a country where 37 per cent of the population speaks Russian as a first language, and polls suggest that nearly one in five citizens share the Kremlin's suspicion of NATO, there's a sense that the threat might be internal, as well as external. "The Kremlin has already won the hearts and minds of many Russian-speakers here. It's really too bad," says Andis Kudors, a Rigabased political analyst. "There are really two worlds here inside Latvia."

Worries about Russian influence - particularly in Latgale - are such that staff in one popular Daugavpils nightclub are barred from speaking Russian, even to customers who order in the language. The club's owner, Andrejs Faibusevics, says he's glad that Canadian and other NATO soldiers are headed to Latvia to show their solidarity. But he says that Canadian troops would be well-warned to keep their guard up, and to be aware that there is a part of the population that is more loyal to Moscow than to NATO or the Latvian state.

"It would be naive to think that we don't have any spies here. We have enough mindless Soviet jihadis who will go and help [Russia] if they are called," Mr. Faibusevics says, speaking fluent English that he has also encouraged his three children to learn, along with French and German, instead of studying Russian.

"Of course we are worried," he adds. "Until Ukraine - we thought it was not possible here.

After Ukraine, it's clearly possible."

'Crimea was a part of Russia' What happened in Ukraine was that the Kremlin - furious over a pro-Western revolution in 2014 that ousted the Moscow-backed government of Viktor Yanukovych - activated an asset that it also has in Latvia and Estonia (where about 25 per cent of people are ethnic Russian): a large Russian-speaking population that absorbs Kremlin-produced news on a daily basis and that broadly admires the more muscular Russia that Mr. Putin has built.

Within hours of the change of power in Kiev, Russia sent undercover special-forces troops into the Crimean Peninsula, where they quickly seized control of strategic locations, then oversaw a snap referendum on joining Russia.

Even as Mr. Putin was signing the papers to formally annex Crimea from Ukraine, his agents were stirring up a secondary revolt in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of southeastern Ukraine, sparking a civil war that three years later sees Kremlinsupported militias in control of two "people's republics" that the separatists declare to be independent, though no one else recognizes them as such. More than 10,000 people have died in the fighting there.

And while the West saw Russia's actions in Ukraine as pure aggression - leading Canada, the United States and the European Union to target Mr. Putin's inner circle with economic sanctions - the events looked rather different to some in Latgale. Here, many cheered on what they saw as Mr. Putin's standing up for the rights of Russian-speakers abroad. Criticism of the Western sanctions against Russia - which resulted in countersanctions from Moscow that have hit Latvia's agriculture industry hard - is common.

"Crimea was a part of Russia. It is a part of Russia," says Evalds Jankovskis. An 18-year-old with mixed Russian and Latvian parentage, he recently joined an anti-EU political movement, in part over frustration that Latvia's membership in the EU meant that it had to join the sanctions against Russia.

As events in Ukraine accelerated in 2014 and 2015, someone even created a Facebook page calling for the creation of a "Latgale People's Republic" akin to the pro-Russian mini-states being formed in Donetsk and Lugansk.

A deep divide over the meaning of 'liberation' The history of Latgale has much in common with southeastern Ukraine. Like Donetsk and Lugansk, Daugavpils was almost flattened during the Second World War, then rebuilt afterward as a Soviet industrial centre that drew an influx of ethnic Russians from other parts of the USSR, dramatically changing the city's demographic mix.

The quarter-century since the fall of the Soviet Union has been marked in both Ukraine and Latvia by tensions between linguistic groups. Russian-speakers in both countries (as well as in Estonia) have spent much of the past 25 years fighting to have Russian made an official language, while their governments have resisted out of concern about Moscow's lingering influence. A quarter century after independence, 250,000 of Latvia's resident Russian-speakers - 10 per cent of the entire population - remain noncitizens of the country, denied passports because they're either unwilling or unable to pass Latvian language and history tests.

As in Ukraine, there's also a deep divide over the country's Second World War history: Most Russian-speakers see the Red Army as having liberated the country from the Nazis in 1944; most Latvian-speakers view that "liberation" as involving nothing less than the German occupation being replaced by a Russian one that lasted until independence was gained in 1991.

There are, of course, important differences between Latvia and Ukraine. Chief among them: Latvia has since become a member of both NATO and the EU. Plus, the country has an average income roughly double that of Ukraine's.

The example set in Donetsk and Lugansk also looks far less attractive after three years of grinding war that have left the rebel-held areas as no-man's lands that are part of neither Russia nor Ukraine. There are no obvious signs of separatist sentiment in Latgale today.

Still, there's enough pro-Russian sentiment here to justify Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan's public worry that Canadian troops could themselves be targeted by the sort of "hybrid warfare" tactics that Russia has used in Ukraine. Mr. Sajjan has publicly suggested that Russia could try to whip up local hostility against the troops, perhaps even to the point of inciting violence against them.

Several incidents involving NATO soldiers are already legendary among Latvia's Russianspeakers. Most infamous is a 2014 incident that saw inebriated NATO soldiers brawl with residents in the port city of Ventspils after the sailors were accused of harassing local women and urinating in public. The story was spread widely by Russian media after the mayor of Ventspils accused the NATO troops of "behaving like occupiers."

Many Latvians also resent the idea that their government will pay $100-million (U.S.) to upgrade the Soviet-era Adazi military base near Riga to accommodate the Canadians - as well as the Albanian, Slovenian, Spanish and Italian troops that will also take part in the mission - who will be based there.

Mr. Hausser, the Canadian ambassador, says the troops would need to be on guard against "provocations" that could be used by Russian media to drive a further wedge between Latvians and NATO. "I would not say that all Russian-speakers are against NATO, or against the Canadian battalion," he said in an interview. "Some are against, for sure. But the opposition will come more from outside Latvia, in the form of fake news and propaganda."

Those who get their news from pro-Kremlin sources already see the NATO mission through the same lens as does the Kremlin.

"We don't need this here," 80 year-old Regina Galasko says of the idea of NATO soldiers patrolling her town of Piedruja, which sits along Latvia's border with Belarus, a close Russian ally.

Like many in Latgale province, Ms. Galasko - who was Piedruja's mayor in the late 1980s, when both Latvia and Belarus were part of the Soviet Union - gets her news exclusively from Russian sources. That's not entirely her decision: Sitting on a sofa in her cramped bedroom, she flips through her television set to demonstrate that the only channels she receives are Russian-language services broadcast from Russia and Belarus.

Ms. Galasko says she doesn't believe everything she sees on TV.

"Everyone has their own truth," she says. Still, although she's proud of her Latvian citizenship, she wishes the country had not joined the European Union or NATO, and had instead remained closer to Russia.

Canada will be the next front in the disinformation war, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics warns. Russia has already turned some in Latvia against NATO, and Mr. Rinkevics says that the next logical step will be an effort to sink the Canadian public's support for the mission. "I do believe Canadian society will be quite a target," he said in an interview at the Foreign Ministry building in Riga, which served as the headquarters of the Latvian Communist Party in Soviet times. "We do not expect physical provocations against Canadian soldiers. We do expect fake stories like we have seen with German soldiers in Lithuania."

German troops, who are leading the Operation Reassurance battle group in Lithuania, arrived in that country in February. (The United Kingdom heads the mission in Estonia, while the U.S. has taken the lead role in Poland.)

Shortly after the Germans arrived, the speaker of Lithuania's parliament received an e-mail claiming that an underage Lithuanian girl had been raped by German-speaking men in uniforms, a story that also reached the media in both Lithuania and Germany.

A Lithuanian police investigation found the purported crime never occurred, and prosecutors are now looking into who sent the e-mail, which they say came "from a country outside the EU."

How tripping a NATO wire could lead to all-out war Last year, in a controversial BBC mockumentary, World War Three did indeed begin in Latvia, and specifically in Latgale. The hourlong Inside the War Room splices together real footage of pro-Russian fighters seizing control of Donetsk and Lugansk in 2014 with fictional clips that show Russian-speaking actors storming a government office in Daugavpils.

Sporting balaclavas and Kalashnikov rifles, the crowd tears down, and then burns, the Latvian and EU flags, before raising Latgalian and Russian banners to proclaim a "Latgalian-Russian Union." The TV show then cuts back and forth between more footage of dramatized events on the ground, and a "war room" of 10 real-life British security experts - former military, intelligence and government officials - debating how they would respond to them.

Things get dire fast, and Latvia's fictional government invokes Article 5 of NATO's collective defence treaty. As all-out war with Russia draws near, complete with talk of nuclear weapons, one member of BBC's security cabinet asks: "Are we ready to die for Daugavpils?" The show was heavily criticized in both Russia, for portraying the country as an aggressor, and Latvia, for emphasizing its internal divisions. But those involved in real-life strategic decisions say the program's premise of a small incident in the Baltic States spreading rapidly into a wider conflict wasn't too far off some of the scenarios they're looking at.

Karlis Neretnieks, a retired major-general and former head of Sweden's National Defence College, says that his country's decision to reintroduce conscription was based on its own wargame scenarios, which suggested that Sweden would be rapidly drawn into any conflict between Russia and NATO over the Baltic States.

While the presence of the NATO troops in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania successfully removes any doubt about whether the alliance will respond to an act of aggression against the Baltic States, it also raises the question of how NATO will defend its allies - and rescue its "tripwire" soldiers - if war really does break out.

Flying in NATO reinforcements from Germany and Poland, which lie to the south, would be close to suicidal, Maj.-Gen. Neretnieks says, because of Russia's formidable air force and the presence of long-range anti-aircraft batteries in Russia's Kaliningrad exclave, which is wedged between Poland and Lithuania.

That means that the safest route for NATO forces to reach Latvia and Estonia would be via Swedish airspace. "The Russians know that, and would do everything they can to prevent it," says Maj.-Gen. Neretnieks.

In the estimation of Sweden's defence ministry, the Russians would seek to quickly seize the Swedish island of Gotland - in the centre of the Baltic Sea - in order to erect anti-aircraft batteries there in the path of any effort by NATO to reinforce its tripwire troops on the ground. That analysis, combined with the realization that Sweden's tiny armed forces could do little to stop such a move by the Russians, helped prompt the return of conscription, Maj.-Gen. Neretnieks says.

"If Russia would do something regarding the Baltic States, and NATO chose to defend them, then Sweden would be drawn into the conflict. We would have no choice. The World War Two option, to stay out and be neutral, doesn't exist today."

Latvians on both sides of their country's political divide say such talk remains far-fetched.

Mr. Vasiljev, the head of the pro-Russian group in Daugavpils, says that Ukraine and Latvia are two very different situations.

"There are things we don't like about the Latvian government, but we are not going to invite the Russian army here, or go into the streets with weapons," he says. "If nobody pushes Russia, Russia will not start anything."

But Mr. Faibusevics, owner of the Daugavpils nightclub that forbids its staff to speak Russian, isn't as convinced that Russia won't try to stir up trouble in Latgale as tensions mount between Moscow and the West.

"We know that they can do this.

Whether they will, we don't know."

Mark MacKinnon is The Globe and Mail's senior international correspondent, based in London.


Associated Graphic

Latvian teenager Evalds Jankovskis, who is of mixed Russian and Latvian parentage, recently joined an anti-European Union political movement, in part over frustration that Latvia's membership in the EU meant that it had to join the sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.


The Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas, in Piedruja, which sits near Latvia's border with Belarus, a close Russian ally.


Regina Galasko (right), who was the mayor of Piedruja in the late 1980s, gets her news exclusively from Russian sources. 'Everyone,' she says, 'has their own truth.'


'My feelings toward NATO are very bad. They make enemies for themselves,' says Aleksej Vasiljev, the head of a local non-government organization that claims to represent the Russian community in Daugavpils.


A ceremony in the Roman Catholic Church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary in Piedruja, a town in which some residents wish the country had not joined the European Union or NATO, and had instead remained closer to Russia.


Can the centre hold?
Britain under Theresa May is heading out the door. Marine Le Pen wants France to follow suit. Once again, the European project hangs in the balance, Paul Waldie writes
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Print Edition, Page F1

PARIS -- After Brexit and the rise of populism across Europe, the real test of the strength of the European Union comes on Sunday when voters in France begin choosing the country's next president. And just about everyone is on edge.

These are uncertain times for France and the EU experiment.

The country is in the midst of the most hotly contested election campaign since the founding of the Fifth Republic in 1958 and all signs point to a political earthquake taking shape after the first round of voting ends Sunday night. And that will only set the stage for the next phase in the race, the ultimate showdown between the top two finishers on May 7.

Four candidates are within striking distance of each other. Their platforms couldn't be more different, stretching from the far-right call of the National Front's Marine Le Pen to stop all immigration, to the hard leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who wants to align France with Venezuela. In between, there's the centrist Emmanuel Macron and his upstart movement En Marche! and the Thatcherite reformer François Fillon of the Republicans. Traditional parties and establishment figures have been laid to waste by voters who seem eager to embrace new radical ideas and directions.

Young people in particular have flocked to the extreme right and left, seeing the election of Ms. Le Pen or Mr. Mélenchon as the only way to smash a system they believe no longer works.

All of this is taking place amid a backdrop of heightened fears over security, an issue that galvanizes the followers of Ms. Le Pen, who draw a link between terrorism and immigration. Campaign events were cancelled Friday after three police officers were shot in a terrorist attack Thursday night near the Arc de Triomphe. The attack left one officer dead and prompted more soul-searching about this country's ability to confront terrorism.

The perpetrator was killed by police and though it's unclear if he was born in France, that hasn't stopped the angst over radical Islam and the infiltration of Islamic State, who took credit for the attack. All week, police had beefed up their presence across the country, checking bags in public squares and patrolling campaign rallies, as terrorist threats mounted.

For Europe and the Western world, the stakes in this election could not be higher. Consider this: depending on who wins, France could soon be pulling out of the European Union, withdrawing from NATO, scrapping the euro and forming a new alliance with Russia. Even the most moderate outcome will see France demanding major changes to how the EU operates and testing the limits of Europe's open borders. With Britain already heading out the door, and an election coming there that could deliver Prime Minister Theresa May a mandate to drive a tough bargain, the EU can't afford instability in one of its core members.

If voters like Hugo Poidevin are any indication, the EU is in for a difficult time with France.

"I've been raised with the ideal of the European Union, which is that it leads the people together for better, for good. I grew up with that dream. But that dream is not true," said Mr. Poidevin, a 24-year-old university student from Normandy. "They forced us to believe in a Eurozone that's not true... They betrayed us, everyone. They betrayed us about changing Europe. They betrayed us about everything."

For him and millions of other young people who face a youth unemployment rate that hovers around 23 per cent, and a labour market that's so rigid, few can expect more than a short-term contract, the only choice is Mr. Mélenchon or Ms. Le Pen. "We think a change can only come with a new majority and not with the old party that has blown everything since 50 years," he said.

It's that kind of anger that has experts like political scientist Dominique Moïsi calling this the most important election in a generation. This campaign is being driven by "anger, fear and nostalgia," he said. Anger at years of chronically high unemployment, fear about immigration and nostalgia for a time when some believe the country had neither, he explained.

"The French today are at a turning point, for them and for the entire European continent," said Mr. Moïsi, a senior counselor at the Institut Montaigne, a Parisbased think tank.

That France should even be wavering in its relationship with the EU is stunning. After all, this is where the origins of the EU took shape. In 1951, France and five other European countries signed the Treaty of Paris, creating the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). That laid the foundations for the European Parliament, the Special Council of Ministers and the European Court of Justice. As the ECSC developed into what became the EU, France was an eager participant, joining the euro, hosting the European Parliament and pioneering the concept of open borders and the free movement of people between member states.

Enthusiasm for the EU soared in France during the 1980s and 1990s, when it was led by Jacques Delors, a former French cabinet minister. Mr. Delors helped shape the modern-day EU and laid the groundwork for the introduction of the euro. He also oversaw the rapid expansion of the EU in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. For countries across Eastern Europe, EU membership was seen as a path to a bright future as part of a rising power block that could serve as a counterweight to the United States and China.

Not everyone in France welcomed the push for expansion.

Former President François Mitterrand worried about accepting so many new members with weak democratic institutions and of varying economic standings. He proposed a kind of confederation, something that would give the new countries a form of membership but keep them out of the core EU arrangements like the single market and open borders. But his efforts were thwarted, largely at the behest of the U.S., which was keen to see former Soviet satellites join the EU, and NATO, as quickly as possible in order to keep them out of the Russian sphere of influence.

Real cracks in French support for the EU emerged in 2005, when the EU came up with a constitution to set out the union's legal framework. It was more like a 400-page rule book that outlined the powers of various EU institutions and the workings of the single market. The French government held a referendum on whether to ratify the constitution and President Jacques Chirac took it pretty much for granted that voters would overwhelmingly vote Yes. They didn't. In a stunning upset, the No side took 55 per cent of the vote, leaving the government searching for answers and the EU eventually scrapping the constitution after voters in the Netherlands rejected it as well.

"Europe had become a more and more remote external body and the constitution made it even more complex," said Pierre Haski, a political analyst based in Paris. "They were voting against something that had become too intrusive and too much lacking transparency."

Four years later, the EU repackaged much of the proposed constitution into the Treaty of Lisbon. Instead of putting that treaty to a referendum, the French government presented it to parliament, where it was adopted. That infuriated those who led the No side in 2005. And many of those voices are now at the forefront of the current presidential election campaign, including Mr. Mélenchon and Ms. Le Pen.

"What was the point of asking people for their opinion if you didn't take it into account?" Mr. Haski asked, by way of explaining the current frustration. "That's a wound that is very much present in today's debate."

By 2009, France also faced economic pressures from the financial crisis, leading to more disenchantment with the EU and the governing parties. Unemployment soared above 10 per cent, where it has generally remained ever since. The government's fiscal plans went astray and President Nicolas Sarkozy and his successor François Hollande largely failed in their attempts to introduce reforms that would encourage more employment.

The crisis also exposed deep and persistent problems in the French economy. The government has run an annual deficit for 43 years and the country's total debt is almost equal to the size of its entire economy, a figure that puts France among the highest debtholders in the EU.

Government spending is equal to 57 per cent of the gross domestic product, one of the highest ratios among developed countries. The comparable ratio in Britain is 38 per cent and 40 per cent in Germany. French labour market regulations are so complex that companies have shied away from hiring full-time staff, preferring shorter contracts with easier layoff provisions. As a result, 86 per cent of all hiring last year was for temporary positions, and 80 per cent of those jobs were for contracts lasting less than one month.

"You have the situation of an insider-outsider labour market," said Bruno Cavalier, chief economist at ODDO BHF, a Paris-based investment firm. "For people aged 25 to 45, it's close to full employment, and if you are inside the system and have a job, it's great. For the people close to retirement age, if they lose their job they won't find another one.

And for the young, it's very difficult to find work."

That's true for people like Chloé Lescoules, 26, who is frustrated with her career prospects. She graduated from law school in Paris last year and is hoping to break into the art market as an auctioneer. But the only job she could land was a temporary internship.

"To go through [and land a career], it's hard," she said. "It needs to change." Part of the problem, she added, is the cronyism in the art world, where jobs are handed out to friends and relatives, as well as the licensing fee for auctioneers which can reach 400,000, or $576,000 (CAD).

Some changes have been made to ease the process, including lowering the fee, she added. But it's still hard to find work, and, as a result, Ms. Lescoules became so fed up with politicians and their promises, she spoiled her ballot in the last presidential election. "I was angry against all the parties," she said. She's supporting Mr. Macron this time and hopes he can bring some real change to the system.

Ms. Lescoules also backs the EU and she wants France to remain in the union. But many others see the EU as a burden that makes France's unemployment problem even worse. They focus on EU regulations like the "posted worker" rule, which allows companies in one EU member state to assign workers to a branch operation in another EU country, so long as they pay those workers the host country's minimum wage. But with minimum wages varying across the EU, posted workers from Eastern Europe can earn far more in France. Its minimum wage is about 1,480 a month, compared to about 450 in Poland.

France is home to about 286,000 of these so called detached workers, one of the highest totals in the EU. In some parts of the country, these employees have become a source of friction, amid complaints they undercut wages and drive out job opportunities for local workers.

The EU has wrestled with the issue for years but it faces resistance from many Eastern European countries who see the measure as a key benefit for their citizens. The debate over detached workers has also morphed into general disgruntlement about workers from Eastern Europe, something that drove many in Britain to vote to leave the EU last June.

All of the four leading contenders for the French presidency have vowed to either ignore the posted worker rules or force the EU to change the measures. And some, like Ms. Le Pen, want to introduce French-only language laws in workplaces to ensure jobs go to locals first.

Many French voters have also grown fed up with the complexity of the EU, seeing it as an amorphous, opaque entity that isn't relevant to their day to day lives. That's a view shared by others in the EU, even in the Netherlands, which recently re-elected a pro-EU government in the face of a rising populist revolt similar to France's. Dutch politician Kees Verhoeven said the EU needs to be wary of the growing concerns in countries like Holland and France. "Nobody understands what [the EU] is doing," said Mr. Verhoeven, a leading figure in D66, a Dutch party that is committed to the EU. "People hate it.

They just want an effective, sober, lean and mean organization that solves the big problems."

Mr. Haski points to another dilemma, a series of ineffective EU leaders who have been incapable of coping with major challenges. He cites a string of recent figures including former British Prime Minister David Cameron, departing Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Hollande. "They could have been good managers of prosperity, but they were not the people up to the level of the challenge of today and to rethink the whole system," he said.

For him and many others, France has essentially stood still for the last 10 years while other EU countries, particularly Germany, have recovered and roared ahead.

It's that sense of stagnation that has spurred the shift toward nontraditional candidates in this presidential election. For many people, Mr. Sarkozy was a failure of the right and Mr. Hollande a disaster on the left, so why stick with the two traditional parties?

That's been the message of Mr. Macron, a 39-year-old former banker who has never run for public office and resigned from Mr. Hollande's cabinet last year to launch En Marche! The movement has amassed nearly 300,000 members and vaulted Mr. Macron into the lead among the four contenders. He's running on a platform of "neither right nor left" and promises to draw advice from all sides and implement significant labour-market reforms without jeopardizing France's social safety net. He's also committed to a strong EU, though he wants to see changes.

It's a tall order and many have questioned whether he is up to the task. And while he has been leading in the opinion polls, his support is soft and he is only marginally ahead of Ms. Le Pen.

Ms. Le Pen too is positioning herself as the anti-establishment candidate, even though her party has been around for 40 years.

She's reinvented the National Front since becoming leader in 2011, toning down its harsh language and expelling her father, party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, who had become a liability with his blatant anti-Semitism. She now talks about immigration largely in economic terms, saying new arrivals are threatening jobs and wages. However, her campaign has floundered and she has been slipping in some recent polls, raising questions about whether she will make it to the second round. But even if she doesn't, Ms. Le Pen is expected to double the party's best vote total, setting her up for major gains in parliamentary elections in June.

Mr. Mélenchon, 65, is the true radical in the race, storming the country with a firebrand pitch of communism that calls for a tax rate of 90 per cent on income over 400,000, limits on corporate dividends, withdrawing France from NATO and the EU and instead forming an alliance with Venezuela and Russia. He's captured the imagination of young people and become such a social media sensation that his YouTube channel has nine times more subscribers than Mr. Macron's and Ms. Le Pen's combined. Mr. Mélenchon has been a politician for more than 30 years, holding positions at every level of government including serving briefly as a cabinet minister in a Socialist government. He broke with the Socialists in 2008 and has led a leftist movement called La France Insoumise (Unsubmissive France). Polls put him in third, but only just behind Ms.Le Pen and Mr. Macron.

For France's traditional parties, the Republicans and Socialists, this election has become a nightmare. Mr. Fillon of the Republicans is campaigning on an agenda of reforms that would see 500,000 civil servants laid off and sweeping changes to the country's labour laws and cherished 35-hour work week. But the former prime minister has been hampered by allegations he put his wife on the public payroll even though she did no work. It's even worse for the Socialists, a party that just five years ago held the presidency and controlled the National Assembly and the Senate. Now its candidate, Benoît Hamon, is running fifth and may get less than 10 per cent of the vote on Sunday.

Most of the smart money is on Mr. Macron and Ms. Le Pen finishing first and second on Sunday, with Mr. Macron winning the runoff on May 7. There are indications his pro-EU message might be getting through. The country's economy is also showing signs of turning around and the economic performance across the Eurozone has been strengthening lately. But no one is certain and polls show any one of Mr. Macron, Ms. Le Pen, Mr. Fillon and Mr. Mélenchon could make it to the second round.

That's left people like Jeanne Mertens fretting. She's 69 years old and recently retired from her job with the Ministry of Environment. She's a long-time socialist but she's so disenchanted with the party and the overall election campaign that she might not even vote.

"It's sad," she said this week as she stood on the edge of the Place de la République, watching Mr. Hamon's last major campaign rally. Despite the warm sunshine, lively music and colourful balloons, Ms. Mertens said she was anxious about where the country was headed.

"I worry for my three grandchildren," she said. "I worry about the future."

Paul Waldie is The Globe and Mail's European correspondent.

Associated Graphic



A bittersweet, final road trip for the Nunavik Nordiks
Former NHLer Joé Juneau wanted to bring hockey to the youth of remote Nunavik. Now, his select team is being cancelled. Roy MacGregor reports on what the program meant to the community on, and off, the ice
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Print Edition, Page S1

OTTAWA -- There is something wrong with this picture.

The selfies that the coaches and players are taking show ecstasy - the triumphant 4-3 victory of the Nunavik Nordiks over the Sudbury Stars to win the midget women's hockey championship. They kiss and raise high the trophy, hug and scream at each other, skate about the rink holding out their gold medals for the few dozen fans to applaud.

Their coach, former NHL star Joé Juneau, stands on the bench of the suburban Ottawa rink, staring out with tears forming in his eyes - but not tears of happiness.

In the team dressing room, moments later, the championship team will break down into open sobbing.

Team captain Siqua Munick, usually the definition of bubbly, is so distraught she can only hide her face in her hands. The same for assistant captain Malina Berthe, who cannot even catch her breath the crying is so intense. They are not tears of happiness.

Once dressed, Berthe, whose father Matthew serves as an assistant coach for the team, will take to social media. She will post photographs of the triumphant team, the last time it will play together.

"The program meant everything to me!" the 17-year-old will type into her mobile phone.

"I'm SO ANGRY, sad and heartbroken that it had to stop ... I wanted my little brothers to experience this amazing program. I wouldn't be who I am today if it wasn't for this program. It taught me many things about hockey, perseverance, respect, how to control myself in certain situations, but most of all through this program I gained a lot of confidence. To the person who made that stupid report saying the program only focuses on winning tournaments ... I hate you. You never got to experience what I experienced!"

Their coach lets them cry for a while. He cannot speak himself.

After a long pause and several difficult swallows, he finds his voice.

"The plane is waiting," he tells them. "We will have three hours of special time together - something that is going to stay with you the rest of your lives."

'What could I do with them on the ice?' Joé Juneau was different as a hockey player - very different. He was born in Pont-Rouge, Que., and grew up unilingual, a happy kid who was never so content as when he was deep in the woods.

He was so gifted in the sport of hockey, however, and so bright in school, that he was wooed in his teenage years and soon headed off to play for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. That he would excel in sport was never in doubt: twice he was selected as an All-American. How he would do in school was the question. He failed his first two exams. But he learned English so quickly, and studied so hard, that he ended up graduating in three years rather than the usual four. We are not talking bird courses here - his degree is in aeronautical engineering; he once built an airplane with his father.

Drafted by the Boston Bruins in 1988, he told team management he wanted to be paid full salary even if he was sent to the minors - and if they didn't like it, he would go and play in Switzerland.

"Then he'll have to learn to yodel," Boston general manager Harry Sinden responded. Instead, Juneau joined the Canadian Olympic team, winning a silver medal at the 1992 Albertville Winter Games and leading the tournament in scoring.

Once he did join the NHL, he lasted 13 seasons, mostly with Boston, the Washington Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens. His 70 assists as a Bruins rookie are still an NHL record for a left winger.

His hockey career came to an end in 2004. Two years later, he and his wife, Elsa, joined two friends on a trip north into the Nunavik area of Quebec's Far North, a vast swath of tundra with 14 Inuit communities and a total population of around 13,000.

As they travelled about the small villages, Juneau could not help but note there was little to no structure for the children.

They were up all hours of the day, often playing street hockey well beyond midnight.

In the village of Kangiqsualujjuaq he met with Mark Brazeau, the vice-principal of Ulluriaq School, who suggested he come to school the following day and speak to the youngsters.

"I always carried hockey cards with me to autograph," Juneau says, "so I figured that might interest them. They mentioned on the local radio that I'd be there and when I got there it was just crazy. The vice-principal says to me, 'You should come here more often.' I asked him why. 'Because this is the first time all year that we have had all our students at school.' " Flying back to their home near Quebec City, Juneau talked over his fast-blossoming idea with Elsa. "If a former player can have that much effect on youth just by showing up at their school," he wondered, "what could I do with them on the ice?" And within months,the Nunavik Youth Hockey Development Program (NYHDP) was born. The Makivik Corp., which oversees funding to the communities through a 1975 land-claim settlement, embraced the program as a youth crime-prevention initiative. It was agreed that Juneau would run the program and be paid $100 an hour. He and Elsa and their two young daughters moved to Kuujjuaq, the largest community in Nunavik (population: 2,400), and spent two years there while the program was set up and running; they later returned to their home in SaintRaymond, Que., while Juneau continued to run the program and coached the select teams.

Everything costs more in the North, and throw in air travel for the select teams and the expenses soar. The program this year cost $2.2-million. For the 440 boys and girls (17 and under) who are involved, this works out to roughly $5,000 a player. For the 80 players chosen for the select teams, the cost of air travel, accommodation, meals and equipment takes that figure to $15,000 a child. (The majority of the players stay in their home villages playing house league, and sometimes play against other teams from other villages. The select teams attend week-long training camps before heading south to play in occasional tournaments.)

As in any minor-hockey system, there had been grumblings - parents unhappy their child wasn't selected, parents not wanting their children to miss school for tournaments, jealousy that Juneau's annual pay could sometimes top $200,000 - but there had also been high praise. In 2016, Juneau's unique program was given the YMCA Peace Medal for its success in "motivating young people to surpass themselves on the ice and in the classroom."

Then, on Feb. 10, the program funding was slashed nearly in half. There would be no more select teams travelling to southern tournaments.

The Nunavik Nordiks, still wearing their gold medals from the Ottawa tournament, made their way home from what will likely be their final tournament "down south."

When Malina Berthe landed back in Kangiqsujuaq, where she is going to school, the community held a parade for her and teammate Sarah Jaaka. The girls wore their gold medals and stood on top of the fire truck as it rolled past the cheering townsfolk, siren blasting. They were too late, however, to save anything.

'The whole thing doesn't make sense' "I saw it coming," Juneau says.

With the program in its 10th year, a decision was made last year to evaluate it and, if necessary, make some decisions on the future. Makivik hired Goss Gilroy Inc., an Ottawa management-consultant firm, to undertake a comprehensive study. The company travelled the region, interviewed more than 140 people in Nunavik, praised the value of minor hockey in the communities, but ultimately concluded: "While an indirect impact on crime prevention is possible within the Northern Youth Hockey Development Program, there is no evidence to support that it does have these results."

The study referred to police statistics that showed physical and sexual assaults had gone up in the region over the past five years.

There are, of course, no statistics available for crimes not committed by children between the ages of 5 and 17, the target group of Juneau's program.

"I knew that the evaluation was coming and the decision was not surprising to me," Juneau says.

"But the whole thing doesn't make sense. Am I a dreamer - or is this really what people feel and see?" Juneau says he personally "took it hard," but he adds that "I have to accept the decision - it's their money. But I have seen this work.

I've seen the leadership skills they develop. I know it's very expensive - we have to bring them to the camps, we have to fly to the tournaments, feed them, bus them - but it's worth it."

Danielle Demers certainly agrees. For the past decade the retired teacher has served as the program's pedagogical co-ordinator. She is particularly passionate about the select girls team, which she says has developed critical values such as commitment, discipline and self-esteem that are simply immeasurable. On the championship team that played in Ottawa, for example, three of the 15 girls have been dealing with the effects of youth suicide, either having attempted it themselves or having a sibling who killed him or herself. One of the players was even taken out of hospital rehabilitation so she could join the team where she is happiest and feels she belongs.

"It's not just about girl athletes," says Demers, who has spent a quarter-century working in the far North. "It's about life skills and bonding. It's about learning about the importance of respect and perseverance."

Demers says she and the coaches are "friendly but strict." The players have to go to bed at a certain time, eat breakfast together, show respect for the people they encounter. "They are so grateful, so respectful. They behave so well," Demers says. "Everywhere we go, we get compliments - 'Your girls are so good and polite.' "This program gives them structure. We tell them to 'Do your best at all times' and 'Never give up.' At first it might seem we are a bit hard on them, but they get used to it and they like it."

Both Demers and Juneau say the team jackets - a small expense - bring enormous value to the program. "It's a great inspiration," Demers says. "To be part of the Nunavik Nordiks, to wear that jacket, it has great impact.

Other kids see our teams wearing their jackets so proudly all over Nunavik and it inspires them.

"And our players know they have a responsibility when they wear that jacket. They represent Nunavik when they go about.

There's a sense of the way you have to behave when you wear that jacket."

Demers also argues that the program has an enormous benefit to those young Canadians who play against the Inuit teams and get to know them. After each game, the Nordiks surprise their opponents with individual gifts of a hand-made beaded necklace, a small ulu knife and an inukshuk.

They sometimes demonstrate throat singing to the amazement of girls on the other teams.

"Our Nordiks are great ambassadors for Nunavik," Demers says.

'It has helped me mentally as well as physically' John Cairney, a professor of kinesiology and physical education at the University of Toronto, happened to be listening to a local sports talk-radio station when he learned of the demise of Joé Juneau's select program. He called the producer of the show, who gave him a contact for Juneau.

At his own expense, Dr. Cairney, along with Zoe Poucher, a master's student in the faculty, travelled to this year's select training camp, which was held from March 11 to 20 in Inukjuak, Que.

What he and Ms. Poucher experienced, he says, was "truly remarkable to witness." They were able to experience the camp and the growth of the team, talk to the coaches, to Danielle Demers and some of the parents, as well. They also saw what Juneau and Demers and the other coaches are up against.

"There wasn't a single day when there weren't significant challenges," Dr. Cairney says. Some of the young women had come from difficult, abusive situations. There were youngsters dealing with addiction, youngsters on suicide watch. And yet, as the team rounded into form - Juneau is a classic "position" and "responsibility" hockey coach - the two academics saw a remarkable transformation. They also say they found "a fairly strong consensus that this program is going good."

One who certainly believes so is the captain of the Nordiks, Siqua Munick, who comes from the small community of Kuujjuaq and has played on the select team for five years, beginning at the age of 12. She aspires to be a mechanic and says the program has given her a belief in herself that she will carry on into her schooling.

"It has helped me mentally as well as physically," she says. "I've made a lot of friends from the other communities. Being on the team and playing keeps me away from peer pressure."

Dr. Cairney, who is also president-elect of the North American Society for Pediatric Exercise Medicine, also takes issue with the consultant's report and its methodology. "It is my contention," he says, "that the conclusions drawn from the review cannot be fully supported by the data collected."

Since a critical question addressed in the review was whether participation in the program prevents crime, he feels that a conclusion is difficult, if not impossible, to reach without the ability to compare statistics from before and during the program.

In Dr. Cairney's professional opinion, the program has a significant "paying it forward" element.

The players grow up and mature in the program and "graduate" to become coaches and leaders back in their small communities. The academics took particular note of the pride the players had in receiving and wearing their team jackets.

"You have to consider the symbolic value of this," Dr. Cairney says. "The jackets are a recruitment poster."

'The program is a big part of who I am' As word spread of the possibility that the program might be cancelled, support from around the country began coming in to Makivik Corp. on behalf of Juneau, who this week was awarded the prestigious Hommage Jacques Beauchamp/Journal de Montreal award for his work in the North.

Tom Renney, the president of Hockey Canada, wrote from Calgary: "There is no individual hockey award, gold medal, or Stanley Cup that comes close to achieving what the NYHDP has done and we hope will continue to do for the youth of ... all of Nunavik."

Justice Louise Otis of McGill University's faculty of law, a former judge of the Quebec Court of Appeal and past chair of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, wrote to say, "Based on my experience, I am convinced that programs such as the NYHDP positively contribute to lowering the propensity to commit crimes in vulnerable youth."

Similar letters of support came from elected politicians, the president of the Kativik School Board, school principals, coaches and parents - all to no avail.

Makivik Corp. and the Kativik Regional Government countered that the vote to alter the program was unanimous. They felt that whatever money they could put toward minor hockey would be better spent if it were spread within Nunavik's 14 communities, that sending select teams south was too expensive to ever be cost effective.

In a "fact sheet" sent to The Globe, Makivik said Juneau's program "is designed to reduce crime in the Nunavik region. Submissions are evaluated based on their ability to reduce crime. The NYHDP scored poorly on this measure."

The president of Makivik, Jobie Tukkiapik tried to explain the decision in an open letter. "We have observed many hockey enthusiasts, and political leaders - notably in the Québec National Assembly - speak in favour of the hockey program we as elected Inuit leaders made a difficult decision on," he wrote. "Our choice was years in the making, and included a 100-page professional evaluation ... we want to move to a new chapter in the development of minor hockey in Nunavik, developed by and for Inuit, and played by many more children and youth."

Joé Juneau wishes it would never get personal. Had the decision been purely financial, he would have accepted it. But it is the report that he could not abide. In his mind, it says that his 11 years of work has been wasted.

"Of course I'm hurt," he says.

"The program is a big part of who I am."

As for Malina Berthe, she still had one final thing to say in her social media cri de coeur over the death of the Nunavik Nordiks.

"If someday I become president of Makivik," she signed off, "I'll bring the select program back.

"And I'll be one of the coaches."

Associated Graphic

Nunavik Nordiks coach Joé Juneau addresses his players in the dressing room before a game last month in Ottawa.


Noemie Koneak is checked into the boards during a game last month in Ottawa. The Inuit girl's hockey team used to travel frequently, and often at great expense, for tournaments.


The jackets members of the Nordiks wear inspire pride in their northern Quebec community, and serve as a reminder of the responsibility of players to serve as positive role models.

A heart to heart with her abuser
Director Attiya Khan on confronting her former boyfriend and the enduring emotional pain of physical abuse
Friday, April 14, 2017 – Print Edition, Page L1

Attiya Khan woke up to her boyfriend Steve punching her, smashing her heart-shaped jewellery box against the wall and dragging her through the glass. As she cowered on the floor, Khan went numb: "This is how life is now," she remembers thinking. The attack ended when Steve headbutted her on their bed and then strangled her unconscious.

The gruesome daily reality of domestic violence is the focus of Khan's new documentary, A Better Man. The groundbreaking film sees Khan sitting down with Steve, the ex-boyfriend who physically abused her when she was 16 and he was turning 18, to ask him why he did it.

Meeting Khan in a coffee shop 20 years on, Steve is jarring for his ordinariness: smart eyeglasses, neat, grey V-neck, a corporate security pass clipped to his slacks.

As Khan reminds him of the worst attacks in their two-year relationship and asks him to account for the violence, he looks pained.

They travel back to their high school and the apartments where Steve routinely strangled her, a road trip that leaves her staggering and nauseous. For Khan, a counsellor who works with abused women and children, the difficult exchanges acknowledge what she survived.

For Steve, who agreed to do this with cameras in his face, there is the possibility of absolution, of leaving the abuser label behind him. As part of the film, he sees a therapist who writes out the slurs Steve used to call Khan on a large easel notepad.

"I just want you to be okay," Steve tells his ex-girlfriend. He seems to mean it.

A Better Man, which was co-directed by Lawrence Jackman, raises important questions about whether and why abusers should be involved in the rehabilitation process. Anticipation for the haunting film is high: It premieres at Toronto's Hot Docs festival on April 30 and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation wants it to be shown in high schools.

The Globe and Mail interviewed Khan via e-mail this month, as she recovered from an unrelated surgery to remove a tumour.

How did your work as an advocate for abused women affect your ability to do this face to face with Steve?

My experience working with survivors, and as a survivor myself, gave me the confidence and inspiration to make this film. I got to a breaking point in my career where I became very angry and disappointed with the violence I continued to see. I thought it was time for men who use violence against women to take responsibility for their actions. I wanted to show something that had not been seen before in previous documentaries about domestic violence.

Having worked as a counsellor also affected how I approached the conversations, which form the spine of the film.

I know how important it is to allow people time to respond and react. I am comfortable with long periods of silence. Sometimes the most incredible things are said after a long silence.

How did you get to the point where you can look your abuser straight in the eye, ask agonizing questions and listen to the replies?

I had been running into him on the street in Toronto every few years since I escaped from him.

The first time I saw him, I almost fainted as we passed each other by. I was terrified. I had to stop, sit down on the sidewalk and take deep breaths.

After these encounters, I would have terrible nightmares. I walked through the world afraid for the next time I'd see him, and I anticipated seeing him around every corner. This fear affected my body. I was constantly on alert and that made my whole body tense and sore.

Around four years after I left him, my fear turned into a desire for revenge. I wanted him to feel pain. When I bumped into him, I was very angry. He looked scared of me. I am not a vengeful person. I am glad these feelings did not last long. Revenge turned to feeling sorry for him. Our encounters on the street started to last longer: five minutes, sometimes 10.

There was one encounter in particular where I actually felt a change happen in me. I looked at him for the first time as someone other than the person who hurt me and that's when I realized he was not doing well. He looked terribly unhappy. He looked like he was suffering. I also realized that I was doing really well compared to him. It was around this time that I also started to feel safe around him.

And then, the year before we recorded our first conversation on film, I became very curious about him. Who was this man who had affected my life so deeply, so negatively, for over 20 years? At first, I felt guilty about wondering who he was and how he was doing, as if he didn't deserve it. But I could not resist my interest in finding out how the abuse he inflicted on me as teenagers had affected his life. I also started to think that he could answer some of my questions about the abuse.

What did you see when you looked at him throughout this film?

When I first met Steve, I fell in love with him immediately. He was really funny, stylish and had great taste in music. We were teenagers when we met so these things mattered to me. The violence started very early on in our relationship, so when I looked at Steve, it was generally through a lens of fear. I saw someone who could at any point hurt me. Now when I look at Steve, I see someone who is trying really hard to be accountable for what he did to me.

It's apparent Steve was in love with you in high school: he recalls your "saucer eyes" the first day you met and he cries speaking about the fact that you're not together today. Culturally, we are told that abusers do not love their victims. It's hard to process the reality that of course they do: These are complex long-term relationships. Can you tell me about this disconnect?

Many people who use violence against their partners do love them. A key moment in the film for me is when Steve explains that he used violence against me because he was afraid of losing me. He used power and control to keep me at his side.

It's important to remember that even though people's behaviours can be bad, this does not make them a wholly bad person incapable of love, caring and tenderness. What I learned from Steve in a recent conversation is that he did not want to be using violence, he just didn't know how not to.

One night after you end a shift at a bar, he stalks and attacks you. It's 2 a.m. and you have school in the morning. Can you tell me about this experience for abused women: the numbing exhaustion of having to pull yourself through work, school and daily obligations as you fear for your life at the hands of an intimate partner?

There is so much strategy involved when you live with violence. From the moment I woke up I was trying to manoeuvre in a way that would not cause Steve to explode. That said, I could not control when Steve would become abusive. At times it seemed random and at other times I knew it was coming, like if he saw me saying hello to a male friend in the hallway at school or if by accident I crinkled one of his record album sleeves. I was constantly aware of where I was looking, how I was walking, what I was wearing and where Steve was in relation to my body.

Going to school after being beaten up is brutal. I remember Steve and I putting foundation on my bruises together before school. School was very important to me, but being a good student became impossible while I was with Steve. The exhausting part is pretending with everyone that you are actually okay when you are very much not okay.

I remember coming home from work and taking my earrings out before I got home because I was afraid they would get pulled out of my ears during the violence. I would try and take off my café work uniform as I walked into the apartment because I didn't want it to get ripped or ruined.

At work, I knew there was always a possibility that he was watching me so I had to make sure not to be friendly with people I was serving at the coffee shop.

All of this made me feel not like myself. Most of the time, I thought that I deserved the violence. It is all so exhausting, mentally and physically. I couldn't be curious about people or interested in things. I lost my dreams, my passion for life.

How did this abusive relationship influence your future ones?

I learned what I did not want in a relationship, what I would not accept in a relationship. While dating in university it only took one inappropriate comment from someone I was dating and I would end the relationship. I remember being really proud when I ended a relationship if I was not being treated well.

In terms of communicating in my relationships, up until recently one of my go-to responses to conflict would be to go silent.

And I could go silent for days.

This has been very frustrating for people I've been in relationships with. I'm at a stage now where I consciously make an effort to say how I'm feeling as conflicts arise instead of holding it all in.

There are certain things you can't ask Steve about, painful things he said to break you down. Long-term, are words sometimes worse than physical blows for abused women?

Many women I have worked with have expressed how the words their partners used were more painful than the physical abuse, that the words stay with them. I think it depends on the woman.

Verbal abuse is minimized. It can be just as damaging and it should be taken very seriously.

There are things that Steve said to me that I will never forget, a lot having to do with how I look.

It's hard to shed some of those words, especially considering how much emphasis society places on women's bodies and expectations around beauty.

Sometimes he is unable to articulate why he did what he did to you. How did this make you feel?

At times, it really frustrated and angered me. It was so important to me for him to remember and to provide me with some details of what he did to me and why he did it. At other times, I was more empathetic. It became clear to me early on that he had not talked about the violence he inflicted on me with anyone before.

Off camera, did Steve discuss what happened to him in his own life before he met you that laid the path for his violence toward you?

He told me a little bit about it back when we were teenagers.

Why was that point not pushed on camera?

Our facilitator Tod Augusta-Scott did try to ask Steve about his past but Steve made it clear that he was not going to say too much.

Before we started filming, we made an agreement that we would not talk about anything he felt uncomfortable with. His past is his story to tell and I wanted to respect that.

Talking, listening and revisiting the past with Steve: What was the most important result for you?

I am starting to heal. I really did not expect this. I thought I would get some sense of relief by telling him what he did to me and how it has affected my life.

But it was much more than that.

I feel like I am finally being repaired after decades of being broken.

Would you recommend this process to other victims?

I would recommend the option if a few conditions are met. It must be safe. There should be a skilled facilitator present. The survivor must be interested in this approach. Finally, the person who committed the harm must be willing to admit that what they did was wrong and be accountable before sitting down with the person they harmed.

This is a slow and careful process and it's not for everyone. It can offer survivors an opportunity to have some of the harms inflicted on them to be repaired.

In a world where very few survivors get justice, this can be an incredibly healing process.

It also can be a good alternative to the criminal justice system especially for those of us who fear being retraumatized or victim blamed. When I was with Steve I remembered thinking that I didn't want him to go to prison, I just wanted the violence to stop.

I do think there are times when prison may be the only option in terms of keeping women safe. If this is the case, I can see this approach being beneficial in the prison system, too.

Your physically abusive relationship was an open secret among the teachers at your high school: Steve's teacher knew, your guidance counsellor knew and another teacher saw bruises. It seems completely negligent. Today, are schools any better at helping students who are being abused in their relationships?

I hope so. From what I understand there is a lot more emphasis on what healthy relationships look like. I would like more discussions about what unhealthy relationships look like. It's important to be clear about what behaviours and attitudes are harmful. I also wish the people who worked at our high school had understood that Steve and I both needed help.

It seemed like there were no adults in your life throughout this horror. A neighbour drew the curtains closed when you ran screaming down the street in Ottawa. Why do people turn away? Do they think this is "private"?

Many people still see domestic violence as a private issue. This has to change because people's lives are at stake. As a community we need to keep each other safe. Conversations are starting to happen in a public way, especially on social media. Most people don't know what to do when they witness violence and some people are scared that they will get hurt if they intervene, which is a valid response.

Whether it's a loved one or a stranger, how do we help those suffering from domestic violence escape it safely?

Let them know that you are there for them, that you are concerned for them, that you care for them. Letting them know it's not their fault and that you believe them is very important.

Instead of telling them what you think they should do, it is often a lot more helpful to just ask them what they need. You can offer your home as a place to store an emergency bag with important documents like birth certificates, health cards, bank cards, emergency money. Or perhaps you can offer them your home as a place to stay. If they have financial barriers you can provide childcare while they access resources, offer to pay for therapy or rent for a new place if you are able.

It's important that once someone decides to leave, they not tell their partner that they are leaving or where they are going.

The Assaulted Women's Helpline is a great number to find information about shelters and other resources. It is anonymous and confidential and can accommodate many different languages.

Involving the abuser or at least learning about the abuser - will this curb domestic violence?

If we want to prevent and ultimately end domestic violence, we have to talk to those who are choosing to use violence. We must figure out how to help them learn to be in healthy, caring relationships. For younger people, I think watching the film and hearing from Steve will encourage them to make different choices. Programs and services that help men curb their abuse can be a crucial support, not just for those men, but for the people they're hurting.

Can abusive men be rehabilitated?

Some men can be rehabilitated.

It is a very long careful process and once you have used violence (including verbal and emotional abuse) it is a lifelong commitment to use non-violence. A person who has been abusive must admit what they did was wrong and not blame their partner before change can happen. This can take a very long time.

People who are trying to be accountable and are committed to wanting a life without violence need a lot of support along the way. They need to learn the necessary tools to de-escalate abusive incidents. We need to hear successful stories of people who have been abusive who have changed, or have begun to change their behaviour. These stories can inspire others to want to achieve a life of non-violence, resulting in a safer society for women and children.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Associated Graphic

Toronto director Attiya Khan, right, sits with her ex-boyfriend Steve in the powerful new documentary A Better Man.

Attiya Khan hopes her documentary A Better Man will find an audience in high schools. 'I would like more discussions about what unhealthy relationships look like.'

I didn't see it when my parents forced me to go, but there was a profound comfort in church, Cathal Kelly writes
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A10

When she was a girl in rural Ireland, my mother's family went to church on Sundays as a community obligation and on sufferance. It was three miles by horse and buggy.

The neighbours, most of them farmers, had built their own house of worship. It didn't bear a saint's name. It marked the nearest village - Renanirree Church.

They brought in a priest named Father Murphy from a nearby parish to mind God's business. In Ireland in the fifties, one parish over may as well have been an ocean away. People did not warm to this pushy foreigner - but they dared not say anything about it.

At the time, the Catholic Church in Ireland was more of a shakedown operation/guilt factory than a place of sacred healing. You paid for your family pew. Where you sat said a great deal about your social standing.

In order to goose donations and discourage thrift, the weekly offerings were read aloud during the service - parishioners' names and what they had given.

"John Buckley, seven [shillings] and six [pence]" and so forth.

To make the sermons relatable, Father Murphy framed them around whatever was happening in the village. For example, who'd gotten pregnant out of wedlock. No names were used because, in a parish of just a few dozen families, none were required - everyone already knew what was what. But this was an opportunity to sit through an excruciating rhetorical stoning in what passed for the public square.

Some of the village men didn't embrace Father Murphy's take on community relations. They'd linger outside as mass began, watching the women pass and gossiping among themselves.

This was a non-starter. If anyone was missing at the outset, Father Murphy would rush out and harangue them into the building. If that didn't work, he would take bodily hold of objectors and throw them into the church. He was a sort of bouncer in reverse and, by the sounds of it, a terror.

A significant part of Father Murphy's influence stemmed from the local belief that he had both the ability and inclination to curse people. Not just wish you ill or rubbish your good name, but actually cast a metaphysical hex that would bring very tangible disaster to your life.

My grandfather lived in fear that he would run afoul of Father Murphy and have the evil eye turned in his direction. That his crops would fail or his cattle would die or someone in the family would get sick.

My grandfather also believed that if you built a house at a crossroads, anyone who stayed there overnight would perish.

And that his own mother had heard the banshee - another portent of death - just days before an itinerant salesman showed up unannounced at the farm, walked into the barn and dropped dead. So they say.

But the church was the focus of his dread.

Whenever my mother or her siblings misbehaved, they were reminded of this awesome and capricious power that lay in wait only three miles away, watching them. My grandfather was not one of the men who refused to take his seat on Sunday morning.

As he aged, his faith intensified. Whatever he'd been afraid of during the prime of his life consumed him as he neared the end.

In the best tradition of Irish miserabilism, this all sounds vaguely charming now. But it doesn't explain why they did it at the time. "Why would you put yourself through this?" I asked my mother recently.

"Going to church is good for you," she replied with a shrug.

"You have to get up. You have to make yourself presentable. You have to talk to your neighbours."

That makes sense, though I don't remember it sounding that reasonable when I was a kid. I do recall the obligation part.

Ours was not a household in which the art of explaining was much practised. Things happened, and you accepted them.

My mother brought that much over from County Cork.

As a child, it would not have occurred to me to resent going to church. I can't say how it goes down in other religions, but most Catholic indoctrination is a function of rote learning. You memorize and repeat the words.

Your lizard brain does all the work. That was 90 per cent of how I worshipped, and I did it happily.

As a high-school kid, that changed. I would like to say that I chafed at the authoritarianism, but really I just wanted to sleep in on Sundays. I did try the tack of moral outrage. But as a notterribly-devout devout Catholic, my mother was able to deploy a logical jiu-jitsu that no amount of teenage angst could overpower.

"But don't you think that there should be women priests?" "Yes. There certainly should."

"Then doesn't that mean we're supporting a corrupt organization?" "Yes, probably. But you're still going."

So I went.

My mother and younger brother would go on Saturday nights, when I was busy drinking with friends in a public park. I went alone the next morning.

On one awful occasion, I fell out of bed at the last moment, felt around half-blind on the floor for something to wear, pulled it on like a slug tugging on a body sock and left the house without looking down.

Our priest at St. Cecilia's, Father Manley, did a nice, quick mass - a half-hour start to finish. An uncle of mine called it "the McDonald's of Catholicism."

Father Manley was a distant, decent man who I think quite liked my family - until the day my brother came in ill and vomited in church. He didn't like us so much after that.

Though short, his mass was not short enough for me.

I'd heard somewhere that you had not technically missed the sacrament if you were present for the beginning of the blessing of gifts - where the bread and wine are turned into the metaphorical body and blood of Christ. This bought me 10 extra minutes in bed while the suckers sat through the prelims.

On that day, I schlepped out of the house - I was 15 - hungover and truly careless. I got on the bus. I got a couple of looks, but as my teenage hairstyles got weirder, I had gotten used to the looks.

My routine was to enter the church quietly, then stand in the foyer at the back rather than sit down. I would watch the proceedings through a doorway.

There were always a couple of stragglers back there. After 20 minutes of boredom, I'd walk up to receive the host, swing back up the aisle and march out of the building. If things played out right, there was a westbound bus pulling up across the street as I exited.

When I got there that day, an older lady I did not recognize was also standing in the back.

She gave me a look. And the look did not end. She openly gawped at me.

I gave her an appraising glance in return. That usually worked.

No effect.

I turned away for a couple of seconds, then turned back. Still staring.

I escalated things - raised eyebrow and slight sneer. Still staring.

Finally, I threw out my hands - "What?" She pointed at me. I looked down.


I was in the midst of a pitiable phase of wearing nothing but rock T-shirts. The one I now had on inside the house of God was a reprint of a Dead Kennedys album cover. It featured a chalk outline of a body with the screaming caption "Too Drunk To Fuck."

I am trying to imagine something more offensive I might have put on for a pleasant Sunday morning of worship.

Maybe a belt of human skulls.

Or the words "I AM HERE TO KILL" smeared across my bare chest in pig's blood. But it's hard to get there. This was pretty irredeemable. If you have any doubt, read the lyrics.

What would Father Murphy have done? Beaten me to death with a crucifix in front of a cheering mob, probably. I can't say he would've been wrong.

In the moment, the best I could think to do was misdirection. I pulled the shirt away from my body and regarded it thoughtfully, trying to pantomime mild surprise - "Oh my, how did this get on me?" The lady wasn't buying it. She bugged her eyes out and gestured toward the door with her head. I looked back, caught somewhere between petulance and humiliation.

Had I my wits about me, I might have gone to the bathroom in the basement and turned the shirt inside out. But I have not been gifted with many wits and didn't want to have gone to the trouble of having gone to church without having officially gone to church. Also, I didn't want to give her the satisfaction. That meant I'd have to make the long walk up to the front.

I stood there for another 15 minutes, angling the front of my body away from the view of passersby. I could have folded my arms across my chest, but that seemed too much like submission.

The lady continued to helpfully stare, her alarm settling into disgust. Which meant I was winning. I pictured her going home later: "How was church?" "Uneventful. Wait, there was one thing. I stood beside the Antichrist." The time eventually came to go up and receive the sacrament from Father Manley. I waited for the lady to go first, lest she try to rip the shirt off me as I entered the church proper.

St. Cecilia's was never quite full. There were perhaps 200 people there. I folded myself into line, pressed up hard against the gentleman directly in front of me. I repeatedly tripped over his heels as he sighed with increasing irritation.

Everyone was facing forward, obscuring my apostasy.

Only Father Manley could properly see me. He had the priestly habit of giving everyone a good hard look as he said, "The body of Christ," then pausing for a long beat after you responded with "Amen."

Of course - of course, of course, of course - he spotted the shirt straight off. The cup held up chest-high dropped slowly as he read it to himself a few times. His face slackened, and his eyelids fluttered. This was beginning to feel like a miscalculation.

He looked at me. I looked at him. He shook his head very slightly. I was too stubborn to feel genuine shame, but I did feel awfully stupid. He said his words, and I said mine back.

It is part of the ritual that once you have received the host, you leave with your hands clasped. I held mine in front of me and double-stepped toward the door.

On the way back into the house, I met my mother at the door. She looked at the shirt, then at me.

"Did you wear that to church?" No point in lying - "Yes."

"You must have been quite a hit."

She pretended to be disappointed, but I know she was pleased. I often suspected that the only reason my mother continued to practise was that it gave her the moral standing to resent certain parts of the church.

She still goes. I do not.

Shortly after the Great T-Shirt Debacle, I found the only excuse that trumped religious duty in my mother's calculus: a job. Neither my Saturday nights nor my Sunday mornings were free any more. It is remarkable how something that comprises such a regular part of your life can fade so quickly.

Now out of the habit, I return less than a half-dozen times a year - Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Eve and one or two furtive visits to confession. I am fairly certain now that there is no heaven or hell, but I'm not taking any chances.

As such, I lack the courage to accept what Sartre called "the divine irresponsibility of the condemned man." I've become one of those Catholics.

Intermittently, this causes me guilt. Not because I've let down my mother or the Church or God. All three have more important things to worry about.

But guilty because I've let a cornerstone of my identity slip from my grasp and replaced it with nothing. That thought most often occurs to me at this time of year, beginning the first time I pass someone on Ash Wednesday with the telltale smudge of devotion pressed onto their forehead.

Though I did not recognize it as such at the time, there was a profound comfort in church. It wasn't the message or the teachings - though those remain a bulwark of civilization. It was something even greater.

I'm sure my Catholicism - or my grandfather's or my mother's - is not entirely like any other person's. It's possible it's not even close. I've always been curious about how other people, not just Catholics, pray. What do they say? How do they feel as they do it? Is there real communion with God? Is that possible? Once you start down that mental path, the world falls away. Your trivial concerns, your problems, your faults, your secret desires - they all become insignificant as you consider the purpose, direction and meaning of human existence.

I remain convinced that we all confront that in church - any sort of church - and that it is depressingly possible to avoid it everywhere else. Perhaps even likely.

In church, this doesn't require discussion. I've never heard a sermon that changed my mind on any particular issue.

The implicit bargain of worship is that you spend some time each week sitting still and giving thought to what it's all about.

You could do that at home, but you probably won't. There isn't time - you have too many photographs to like on Facebook.

When you go out to do this, there are other people to do it with you. You may not know them but you feel fairly certain you have something basic in common. You can assume you are all like-minded about at least one thing, have come together in goodwill and want to share an idea.

When I was not yet an idiotic middle-aged man but rather an idiotic teenager with a mohawk, earrings and an air of erratic aggression, strangers still wanted to shake my hand in church.

Regardless of how I looked, they assumed we were on the same page. And though I might not have agreed at the time, I know now they were right.

That involved more than accepting that Jesus was a real person and that he rose on the third day. It was more profound than that.

I cannot assume when I walk into any home, bar, shop or other place of business that I will receive a warm welcome. One would like to think so, but one can't know. We've all experienced that small feeling of doubt before we cross certain thresholds - "Do I belong here?" But I do assume that all people of good intent will be embraced in any church, any mosque, any synagogue or any temple. Because if that were not the case, there would be no reason for those places to exist.

I also assume that's why people do it. You get up. You make yourself presentable. You talk to your neighbours. God is the reason they built the place, but community is the reason people go. That's the heart of it.

I suspect I'll end up back at church some day. More than any deep spiritual longing, it's too perfect an arc.

Because even if you leave the church and do not return, church never really leaves you.

After years of inconsistency, families of military suicides hope for answers
Monday, April 24, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A1

WINNIPEG -- Grant Palmer had a special Mother's Day planned for his wife, Anita Cenerini. He organized a weekend in Thunder Bay with all her children: three-yearold Jacob, the youngest, who lived with the couple in Winnipeg; Michelle, who was finishing her last year of high school in Marathon, Ont.; and 22-year-old Thomas, the eldest, an infantry soldier nicknamed L'il Trooper who had recently returned from the Afghanistan war.

Private Thomas Welch sounded upbeat when he talked with his mother over the phone the night before his flight to Thunder Bay from Ottawa. He said he was looking forward to spending time with his family, and had even been scheming to play a prank on his mom.

Around 3 p.m. the next day, Pte Welch's family was waiting for him to arrive at the baggage carousel when they were called to the WestJet counter and led upstairs to a small chapel. What was going on, they nervously wondered. Two military workers broke the devastating news to them: Pte. Welch had taken his own life at the Petawawa base.

His mother and sister crumpled to the floor in tears. What happened at the base? What went wrong, Ms. Cenerini angrily asked. More than a dozen years later, she is still waiting for answers. The family heard plenty of rumours, but the military never provided them with an official record of events.

It also didn't hold a board of inquiry to uncover what happened to the young soldier and whether his experiences in Afghanistan contributed to his downward spiral, even though, as a Globe and Mail investigation discovered, Pte. Welch was the first Canadian soldier to kill himself after serving in the volatile operation. He died by suicide on May 8, 2004, just three months after returning from the war zone.

"I don't know any truth about his death. I don't know what went so terribly wrong that he ended his own life," an anguished Ms. Cenerini said at her Winnipeg home. She chokes on the word truth and breaks into sobs. Her son's suicide has left a deep void in the family and the lack of answers from the Canadian Armed Forces has stunted their healing.

The case exemplifies the debilitating distress endured by families when they're left in the dark.

On Tuesday, military ombudsman Gary Walbourne will release recommendations from a collaborative review with the Forces that call for improving how the military deals with bereaved families and for enhancing the board of inquiry system.

"Having these boards of inquiry, especially when there is a death of a military member, can at the end of the day save lives. There are lessons learned. They are incredibly important," he said.

Ms. Cenerini suspects her son was struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. He was constantly angry and agitated after his return from Afghanistan and was haunted by nightmares. His relationship with his girlfriend was also floundering, and he was drinking a lot.

A military inquiry could have uncovered what factors contributed to Pte. Welch's suicide and whether there were some early key lessons for Canada on caring for soldiers after their Afghanistan tours - deployments that continued for a decade after the private's death.

Yet, the Forces confirmed last week that no board of inquiry ever took place. Only a lesser summary investigation was conducted, and its findings were never divulged to Pte. Welch's family.

The investigation report, which the military has retrieved from the government's Library and Archives Canada after The Globe made several inquiries last year, will soon be presented to the family, a military spokesperson said. Major Giselle Holland said the army will "do our utmost to answer any questions they might have."

Boards of inquiry into military suicides were not mandatory in 2004, but had been carried out in other cases. Rules were changed in August, 2008, making inquiries the standard in deaths by suicide. But practices remain inconsistent and the robustness of the internal probes varies.

More than 70 Afghanistan war veterans have killed themselves after serving in the mission, The Globe's continuing probe of military suicides has found. Many were dealing with PTSD or other mental illnesses connected to their deployments.

Several families of soldiers lost to suicide have told The Globe they felt marginalized by the inquiry process - and even targeted for blame in some cases.

Unlike a provincial coroner's inquest, military inquiries are closed to the public and media.

Pte. Welch grew up in Manitouwadge, a remote northwestern Ontario township surrounded by vast forests speckled with lakes.

A gold rush surged through the region in the 1980s, drawing miners such as his father, Daniel Welch.

With the wilderness at his doorstep, Pte. Welch developed a love for the outdoors, often hiking, camping and fishing with his younger sister, Michelle. "We were always close.

He was a protective older brother," she said.

Pte. Welch wanted to make a career out of protecting others.

He had plans to become a police officer and thought military experience would help him. He signed up for the army on Aug. 27, 2001. Fifteen days later, the world changed.

The recent high-school graduate was with his mother and baby brother when the smouldering World Trade Center towers appeared on their television screen. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the al-Qaedaorchestrated attack.

"I'm going to have to go to war, mom," his mother recalled him saying. She began crying and pleaded with him to drop out of the military. "They need me now more than ever, mom," he told her, draping his arm over her shoulder.

In August, 2003, the freshfaced soldier deployed to Kabul with the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment, part of Canada's contribution to the NATO mission formed after a U.S.-led invasion removed the Taliban government from power.

Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization had been based in Afghanistan.

Pte. Welch was a trusted rifleman with a cool head. He worked hard and rarely complained, even when performing mundane tasks, his military mates said after his death. Small in stature, he was the L'il Trooper with a big heart and subtle sense of humour. He often played with the Afghan children who trailed behind the soldiers during patrols of Kabul. He gave the kids Werther's caramels and other candies that his mom sent in a steady stream of care packages.

Back at home, though, his family noticed troubling signs.

During his two-week leave in the fall, he was sullen and withdrawn. Two soldiers from his battalion were killed during his break, but he didn't want to talk about it. He just wanted to go out, get drunk and forget.

"He was a completely different person," his sister recalled, the memory bringing her to tears.

"He didn't have any emotions.

He was very angry. He acted like he didn't care about us and he was drinking heavily."

He grew more distant in phone conversations after returning to Afghanistan. A Canadian solider attempted to kill himself during the deployment, which angered Pte. Welch, his mother said. Then, on Jan. 27, 2004, Corporal Jamie Murphy was killed and three other Canadian soldiers were wounded by a suicide bomber while on patrol. Pte. Welch was in tears on the phone the next day: "He said that should have been me, mom. That should have been me."

Pte. Welch and Cpl. Murphy were both rear gunners, he explained. Pte. Welch's platoon was supposed to be on that fateful patrol, but the schedule changed. She tried to comfort her son, but he was devastated.

She could feel him slipping away.

Pte. Welch never planned to be in the army beyond his initial three-year contract. A 2002 work evaluation notes that he wanted to go to college when his term expired on Aug. 27, 2004.

But he felt pressure to stay and was torn by the decision he had to make. In fact, paperwork recommending his military contract be extended was presented to him in Afghanistan. A memo dated Nov. 6, 2003, states: "Pte.

Welch is a very good soldier and valued member of his platoon.

He is [a] team player who goes out of his way to ensure that platoon morale is high. He has proven himself a solid and dependable soldier ... Pte. Welch is recommended for re-engagement."

Military documents that Ms. Cenerini kept show that her son refused to extend his army contract on April 7, 2004. But in the call before the Mother's Day weekend in Thunder Bay, he told her that he'd changed his mind and re-signed with the military that very day. He said he had a car to pay for and talked about wanting to get married and have kids some day.

His mother and stepfather were uneasy with his decision and didn't know what to make of his change of mind. It was the last time they heard from him.

"We replay the conversation over and over again," Mr. Palmer said.

Nearly a year after her son's suicide, Ms. Cenerini sent a note to the only e-mail address in his Yahoo account that didn't belong to a family member. She found the account on his computer, which she'd finally received back from the military.

"I don't know who you are - but I wonder if you could share with me what kind of relationship you had with Thomas," she wrote. "Thomas took his own life. If there is anything you can share with me to help me put the pieces together I would certainly be incredibly grateful. Sorry, if this news is a shock to you."

She was searching for answers because she had received scant information from the military.

Pte. Welch hanged himself inside his room at the Petawawa base, northwest of Ottawa.

In the days after his death, conflicting stories and rumours swirled about what happened the night he died. His parents heard their son had been drinking and was upset with his exgirlfriend and some friends. Another story suggested he was instead pining over an old love.

A military chaplain told them one thing, and another told them something else. When they got his computer back from the military, they found a loving letter to his ex-girlfriend, but it appeared to have been edited after he died, Ms. Cenerini said.

They even heard speculation that Pte. Welch had been killed.

"I would hear one thing and then go to another person and hear something else," Ms. Cenerini said. "It just made it unbearable."

She knew a military investigation had taken place, but was never told of its results, nor did she receive a copy of the coroner's report. No one talked to her about holding a board of inquiry.

Inquiries into military deaths by suicide were not mandatory then, but were often carried out to identify gaps and measures that could help prevent other deaths. Indeed, boards of inquiry had been held for much less serious incidents, such as the case of a missing parachute, former military ombudsman André Marin noted in a rebuke of the inquiry system in December, 2004.

For Mr. Marin, a summary investigation - the probe chosen for Pte. Welch's death - was not an adequate substitute for a board of inquiry, which has the power to gather evidence and hear from witnesses.

"In terms of optics, choosing a Summary Investigation over the more concerted effort involved in a Board of Inquiry can be seen as trivializing the importance of the event, an event that will invariably be of momentous consequence to the families of the deceased and to the military community," Mr. Marin wrote in his 2004 report.

Ms. Cenerini kept trying to get at the truth - a pursuit that eventually wore her down. On Feb. 16, 2005, she wrote to thenLieutenant-Colonel Donald Denne, the commanding officer of her son's battalion, to express concerns about her son's mental health and depressive state in Afghanistan.

It's clear from his response to her that not much effort had been made to talk with Pte.

Welch's family or friends about his mental state. The commander promised to send a copy of Ms. Cenerini's letter to the new commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment.

"I hope you know that had I known of his state of mind, I would have brought considerable influence to bear to ensure proper treatment was provided," the Lt.-Col. wrote on March 30,

2005. "I will understand if you feel this is 'too little, too late,' but I hope you will agree that if we discover even a small piece of the puzzle that helps us intervene and prevent a recurrence of this kind of tragedy in the future, it has to be beneficial."

Pieces of a puzzle that a board of inquiry could have put together, if one had been called.

Mr. Denne declined an interview request to talk about why a summary investigation was ordered instead of an inquiry.

He said the military should have all the pertinent records.

"For me to try to remember the factors that led to a decision that long ago would be conjecture at best," he wrote. "I sincerely hope that Private Welch's family, some of whom I met in Winnipeg with my RSM [regimental sergeant major] before I relinquished command of the battalion, can find closure through communication with the Department of National Defence."

An e-mail from Pte. Welch's mysterious Yahoo contact arrived in Ms. Cenerini's inbox the day after she wrote to the stranger. He said he'd been transferred to Pte. Welch's section and served with him in Afghanistan. They patrolled together almost every day and night. In quiet times, he said, Pte. Welch talked about how smart his younger brother was and shared stories about his sister. He also talked about leaving the army and going back to school.

"Thom was an ideal soldier but an even better person," he told Ms. Cenerini. "I knew right away that he would be a genuine friend in an organization where friendships were often not so sincere. I turned out to be correct."

He said Pte. Welch's suicide was a shock to everyone. He regretted not inquiring more forcefully about what had happened to his friend.

"Don't stop asking questions if you need answers," he implored Ms. Cenerini.

Nearly 13 years after her son's suicide, she hopes those answers are finally near.

Associated Graphic

Anita Cenerini holds a portrait of her son Private Thomas Welch, with Pte. Welch's stepfather, Grant Palmer, left, and brother, Jacob CeneriniPalmer, at their Winnipeg home in October, 2016. Pte. Welch died by suicide in May, 2004, three months after returning from Afghanistan.


Anita Cenerini holds her late son's beret. Ms. Cenerini suspects Private Thomas Welch was struggling with posttraumatic stress disorder. He was constantly agitated after his return from Afghanistan and was haunted by nightmares.


... In August, 2003, Private Thomas Welch deployed to Kabul with the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment, part of Canada's contribution to the NATO mission formed after a U.S.-led invasion removed the Taliban government from power.


Up-and-coming rapper Pressa is on the verge of stardom and escaping the poverty and violence of his Driftwood neighbourhood, but criminal charges and alleged gang ties hang over him
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page M1

The rapper Pressa paces across a grand stage. It is the first time he has opened for Drake. It is also his first-ever public performance.

He is 20 years old, perhaps 130 pounds - gold chains included - and works the crowd like a old pro, rattling off rhymes firmly grounded in the Toronto neighbourhood where he was born and raised.

"Sleeping in my North Face, we come from north Jane," he raps.

Spectators turn away, talk amongst themselves.

Quinton Armani Gardner is a long way from home.

This is the sold-out Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, England (capacity: 16,000). The Brits came for that other Torontonian.

Mr. Gardner soldiers on, serene. He can revel in the mere act of being here - here on this overseas stage, here rather than jail with his father and brother, here rather than riddled with bullets like his friend and collaborator Robin Banks, who narrowly survived a nightclub shooting this month.

His unlikely ascent through the ranks of the city's underground rap scene began last year with Deadmihana, a track about smoking a dead man's marijuana, released under his stage name, Pressa. The video has since topped 1.6 million YouTube views.

More tracks and more acclaim followed. But just as his career appeared destined for stardom, Toronto police named him as one of the leaders of the Young Buck Killers, a gang allegedly involved in a terrifying downtown shootout that spiralled into a case of kidnapping and sexual torture, part of it broadcast over social media. The allegation has not been tested in court and Mr. Gardner's lawyer maintains his client's innocence.

Pressa now stands at a make-or-break moment.

He just finished opening for Drake's European swing. Next up is a warm-up spot with Giggs, a chart-topping British rapper. He has charisma and a head for business.

"Pressa is on everybody's radar," said Eb Reinbergs, entertainment lawyer and founder of the Canadian Urban Music Conference. "He's one of the top two or three hottest rappers in city."

And yet, by next year he could just as easily be sitting in a jail cell as in a VIP room.

It's possible he's earned both.

'He will never be a kid again' On June 15, 1996, Mark Anthony Gardner shot a man through the heart.

Back then Mr. Gardner was known simply as "Prestige." His lengthy record of convictions for drugs and violence earned him a measure of respect in the north Toronto neighbourhood where he lived. On that June night, he went to a community dance, where he encountered a long delay in entering the hall.

He vented his anger at a 26year-old volunteer security guard named David Williams, who spent his days working for the city as a youth worker. Mr. Gardner told the security guard he was going to kill him, calmly retrieved a handgun from his car, returned to the dance and fired a single shot.

"I said I'd shoot you," he reportedly told the dying man, before fleeing the scene.

A judge called it a "deliberate execution" and sentenced Mr. Gardner to at least 15 years in prison for second-degree murder.

Quinton Armani Gardner was 36 days old when his father pulled that trigger. The murder sentence created a financial crunch in the Gardner household. During a court hearing, Quinton's mother submitted a letter saying that money was tight. She was faced with a dilemma: On one hand, she needed to leave the house to earn money. On the other, she needed to stay home to keep her sons - Quinton and his three-year-older brother Chermar - away from the criminal influences that pervaded their Driftwood neighbourhood, situated just north of the Jane/ Finch intersection.

The boys would have to learn to navigate a world where good deeds aren't always rewarded.

One school teacher, Devon Jones, could see that the Gardners were in a vulnerable position. In more than two decades teaching in the Driftwood area, Mr. Jones has witnessed countless young men turn to crime as a solution to their marginal circumstances. He likens the neighbourhood to a prison where young people become habituated to poverty and violence.

City of Toronto figures show that the Driftwood area is the least livable community in the city, based on an aggregation of scores for education, employment, mortality and other criteria. Unemployment is roughly twice the national average. Onethird of residents collect social assistance. On one track, Pressa says he comes from a "crazy block" where you need to be prepared to "die for your necklace."

Today, Mr. Jones avoids speaking directly about the Gardner's circumstances, but talks openly about one of their close friends, Kwasi (Wassi) Skene-Peters. Mr. Jones recalls one Saturday in 2005, when gunfire erupted in Driftwood leaving a young man dead on a footbridge. He watched Wassi, then a preteen, stumble across the bullet-riddled body. "I thought to myself, 'He will never be a kid again,' " Mr. Jones said. "There's no way you can see something this grotesque as a child and go on to become a normal functioning human being."

Mr. Jones encouraged Chermar and Wassi to join the Youth Association for Academics, Athletic and Character Education (YAACE), a group he co-founded after the footbridge incident to steer at-risk kids off the streets and into school. On at least one occasion, he took Chermar and Wassi to a camp outside the city to remove them, for a time, from the life that was beginning to envelop them.

But while Mr. Jones's tireless efforts put hundreds of children on a path to post-secondary education, he could not save Wassi and Chermar, who skipped school to work part-time before entering the drug trade fulltime.

By the age of 18, Chermar was manufacturing and distributing crack cocaine. By the fall of 2011, Toronto Police considered Chermar the leader of a violent gang called the Young Buck Killers, which ran drugs and guns throughout the Greater Toronto Area. The gang was subsequently linked to more than 60 arrests in an organized crime raid dubbed Project Marvel.

In court, evidence linked handguns found in the Gardner home to four separate shootings. Confidential informants told police that Chermar led the Young Buck Killers while Quinton was "second in charge" and "next in line," according to a judge's written decision.

In 2014, Chermar was convicted on 14 gun, drug and gang charges. At a hearing to determine his sentence - a hearing Mr. Jones attended, as he has done so many times for the young men he cares for like a parent - he took full responsibility for his crimes and pleaded for lenience.

"I was deceived by the generations that preceded me with the cars, the clothes, the women and the fancy jewellery that this type of lifestyle was a life to live, and it was also the shortcut around the hard work and toil," he said, before expressing hope that Quinton would avoid his example.

"I feel like I failed my little brother ... And if I don't change my life that kid is never going to change his life, and I have to change for him." He was handed a 10-year sentence.

Stories of the streets Pressa's friend Wassi, the man who was the boy who witnessed the shooting on a footbridge, suffered a worse fate. In 2015, he died, shot in a firefight with police outside a nightclub in the downtown core.

The Special Investigations Unit, the oversight body that probes all deaths involving police in Ontario, determined that Wassi had fired the first shot and that officers had acted in self defence.

For Mr. Jones, the death was a particularly sad addition to a body count he cites often: 151 homicides of school-aged children (21 and under) in Toronto since 2007.

"It hurt," Mr. Jones said. "It really hurt. That's your kid. It's your kid, man."

Shortly after the death, a music video appeared on YouTube entitled Wass Gang - a tribute to Wassi. Shot cheaply among the Driftwood social housing units, it featured Robin Banks, an emerging Toronto rapper from the Driftwood area and Pressa in his first big role. He wore a Canada Goose coat, rode a motorcycle and rapped in a high, reedy voice. They rhymed of "pulling triggers" if disrespected and "kidnapping drug dealers."

Since Wass Gang hit YouTube in 2015, Pressa has uploaded an album's worth of material. Compared to the vulnerable strain of rap Drake has introduced to the genre, Pressa is a throwback. His rhymes revolve around guns, drugs, cars, women and his incarcerated family members.

He has been compared both physically and artistically to Eazy-E, the diminutive godfather of gangsta rap.

"'Cause I'm realer than death, there ain't no realer than me," he says on Orange Jumpsuit. The lyrics suggest a deep immersion in a violent criminal lifestyle.

They seem to glorify gangsterism. But they can also be interpreted as a first move towards escaping that life through music.

On Twitter, he refers to his new career as "a way out."

"They both tell stories of the streets where they come from," said Mr. Reinbergs, the entertainment lawyer, whom Mr. Gardner has sought out for career guidance.

"Sound-wise, the attraction is how real they both are. They tell no lies. Hip-hop doesn't allow for that. Artists trying to reflect something they are not are torn down. Just look at Vanilla Ice."

Occasionally, Pressa drops the swagger and allows himself to dwell upon the loss of his friend Wassi and the sadness that accompanies the life he was born to: "I miss my bro so everything I do is for him The demons steady callin' These demons get annoying."

Deadmihana, another YouTube hit, truly thrust Pressa to the forefront of the city's underground rap scene when it was released in January, 2016. He soon earned acknowledgment from the likes of the Weeknd, Meek Mill and the 6-God himself, Drake.

But in Toronto's underground rap scene, online views rarely translate into revenue. There is an ample fan base, but few willing concert venues and even fewer willing radio stations.

"Toronto is messed up," said Emmanuel Uzaka, who runs a podcast dedicated to the Toronto rap scene called It's Too Real.

"You'll see a flyer for a concert here and there and then it always gets cancelled. There are a lot of talented people rapping in Toronto, but very few stars making a living. There is no infrastructure, no places to play."

Pressa found a way around these hurdles. From the moment a nascent fan base began forming around his unique sound, he developed a label, Blue Feathers Records, and a website to sell branded merchandise. He's cultivated a vibrant social media presence and reached out privately for business advice.

"I have found him to be a respectful young man and a very business minded young man,

impressively so," Mr. Reinbergs said. "Those are two things that separate him from lot of young artists I work with. At beginning of your career, to create your own brand, that's just remarkable."

He seemed poised to vanquish his demons. And then it all fell apart.

'A lot resting on those shoulders' At 4:44 a.m. on April 19, four young men in dark hoodies stepped out of an elevator in a downtown Toronto condo building. Police allege they were headed to a party hosted by the Young Buck Killers.

Security cameras in the elevator capture the moment they turn left down a hallway then immediately retreat in the face of gunfire. A firefight ensues.

Amazingly, no one is seriously hurt. But, according to police, the Young Buck Killers were not content to call it even.

They allegedly kidnapped two teenagers they believed were affiliated with a rival gang, the Queen's Drive Crips. The duo was beaten, coerced to play Russian roulette and forced to perform sex acts. Video clips of the brutality were broadcast by social media, community sources told The Globe. Eventually, a ransom was paid and the teens were returned to their families.

On April 24, officers in the Jane-Finch area, chased down and arrested Mr. Gardner. In a news conference, Staff Inspector Mike Earl, head of the hold-up squad, named Mr. Gardner as one of the "instigators" but not the "ringleader" of the kidnapping plot.

That characterization doesn't square with the evidence Mr. Gardner's lawyer has seen. "It is not alleged that he is an instigator," said his lawyer, Anthony Robbins, who could not share details with the case pending.

"He is alleged to be a minor part in the incident. He will, hopefully, be exonerated at trial."

Pressa declined The Globe's interview requests.

While in custody at the Toronto South Detention Centre, Mr. Gardner was involved in a fight with rival gang members, the results of which are disputed.

"Now the rumors 'round the streets that I broke my two arms," he raps on Orange Jumpsuit, "when I sent him to ER."

Many further details emerged during a bail hearing, but they remain under a publication ban.

There is one very telling detail on the public record, however.

The justice of the peace who heard the bail arguments didn't think Mr. Gardner's actions warranted further incarceration and granted bail. And weeks later, the Crown agreed to a major bail variance that allowed Mr. Gardner to travel to Europe with Drake.

"It encourages him to work," said Mr. Robbins, his defence lawyer. "It works to everyone's benefit."

His next court date is scheduled for October with a preliminary inquiry set for December.

Much hinges on the outcome.

"With a criminal conviction he wouldn't be able to cross the border," Mr. Uzaka said. "He'd be stuck here with two million YouTube views and no place to go. If he can't make it, the door closes for so many people behind him. I really feel that.

There's a lot resting on those shoulders. I just hope he gets what he deserves."

Several days ago, the neighbourhood demons came calling once again. Early on the morning of April 3, Robin Banks was shot outside a Woodbridge nightclub and rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

As Banks recovered, fans and friends looked to Pressa. His response would be telling. Would he pledge the kind of violent retribution he preached in Wass Gang, the track he'd recorded with Banks? Or would a new Pressa step forward, the one who knows his career depends on abiding the law?

"I would appreciate it if all my followers can pray for @RobinBanksTT," he tweeted. "#stoptheviolence."

Associated Graphic

Pressa, whose real name is Quinton Armani Gardner, is shown as a young boy.


A scene from Pressa's video for the song Deadmihana, which has topped 1.6 million views on YouTube.

Pressa, left, whose real name is Quinton Armani Gardner, is a young rapper currently touring with Drake.


Security footage of an altercation in April, 2016, at a downtown condo that allegedly led to a kidnapping, for which Quinton Armani Gardner is facing criminal charges.

Pressa formed his own music label and has created a website and vibrant social media presence.


Unapologetically feminine, proudly Republican and trans: Caitlyn Jenner's new memoir reveals the Olympic decathlete as an outsider finally comfortable in her own skin
Monday, April 24, 2017 – Print Edition, Page L1

Bruce Jenner is 10 years old and home alone. He walks into his mother's bedroom closet, brushing a hand over the cotton dresses. He selects one, careful to mark its exact position with a piece of paper, so no one discovers. He accessorizes with one of Mom's scarves and with shoes belonging to his sister, Pam, and dabs on some lipstick. After surveying the ensemble in a mirror, the child ventures out of the red brick apartment building in tiny Tarrytown, N.Y., making it around the block.

The adventure is both thrilling and painfully alienating: It's 1959, and Bruce has no idea what's going on.

"Even at the age of ten, my life had become a sealed box, and over time, the sides would become even higher and ultimately impossible to scale," .

Jenner writes in the new memoir The Secrets of My Life, in which she refers to herself as Caitlyn after her transition, in the spring of 2015, and Bruce beforehand.

Before transitioning publicly, Jenner's is a lonely life of concealment. Trying to "exorcise what was living inside," Jenner marries and divorces three women, trying on their clothing, too. The wives are left deeply confused, as are the children.

After their makeup starts going missing, young Kylie and Kendall enable a security camera on their computer, only to discover Dad in drag - they are "too young to understand."

In the eighties, the Olympic decathlete crisscrosses America, delivering corporate motivational speeches to stay afloat financially. On these occasions, Jenner dons a suit with a bra and pantyhose underneath.

There are strolls in little black dresses through anonymous hotel lobbies, excursions that leave Jenner self-conscious, "a thinner version of Big Bird standing out for the world to see and snicker at after I pass."

Excruciating electrolysis sessions and hormone-therapy treatments are conducted in secret throughout the mid-80s.

Later, Jenner gets more daring, changing into dresses and wigs in a car near the family home - and lurking paparazzi - in Los Angeles. With a low, masculine voice, Jenner makes sure never to speak out loud, except for one Starbucks run to order a vanilla latte.

Applying and removing makeup and false eyelashes, squeezing into undergarments - the daily rituals many women find oppressive, Jenner finds liberating and life-affirming. But Caitlyn's glamazon femininity has earned her few friends in either the transgender or feminist camps. When she gushed about nail polish in her first revelatory interview with Diane Sawyer, her critics were aghast, noting that the struggles of womankind extend beyond chipped nails. Others took issue with Jenner's wealth and her politics: She's a Republican who voted for Donald Trump.

Jenner's memoir presents a person who is deeply conscious of her critics, desperate to avoid confrontation and constantly apologizing - now to her transgender critics, but before that to her three wives and six children for being "consumed and selfabsorbed" by a lifelong gender dysphoria.

"I am trying to learn as quickly as I can," writes Jenner, who visits with the families of bullied transgender children lost to suicide. "I am very new to the community and I understand some still perceive me as an outsider. My own story, I believe, is worth telling because the pain and fear I experienced was real."

The Globe and Mail spoke with Caitlyn Jenner from Los Angeles.

What does hiding the way you did for five decades do to a person? Everybody has stuff they have to deal with in life. My identity was my stuff for my entire life. In the fifties and sixties, there wasn't even a word for it. I didn't know why I felt this way. There was no information.

This continued all the way through the eighties, when I was really struggling. I couldn't even find a therapist. It was a life of hiding and sneaking around and being embarrassed that my identity was such an issue in my life.

It's not like you take two Aspirin and get plenty of sleep and wake up the next morning and you're fine. It was extremely lonely.

After a lifetime of hiding, you are abruptly thrust into the spotlight as a mainstream transgender spokesperson.

How was that for you? The public and the press put me in a position where, all of a sudden, I represented this entire community, which is not the case. I'm a representative for my story.

Disenfranchised transgender women take issue with you as a spokesperson because of your privilege. You seem acutely aware of your critics, writing out the words "I am white. I am entitled. I have wealth" in a bold font in the book. You face a trans protest at one of your appearances and you distinctly remember the protest signs. "You are an insult to trans people," one reads. How does it feel to be an outsider all over again? It hurts. If a trans woman writes something [critical of me], I have this terrible problem where I just call 'em up. I've done this on numerous occasions. I tell them, "You don't know me. You don't know my intentions." They don't know where my heart is. Yes, I'm white - can't do anything about that. Privileged? My experience being trans is much different than theirs, I will admit to that.

But I'll never apologize for working hard all my life and making a good living. That's what this country's all about.

We're all trying to do the same thing: to make it better for our marginalized community and for the next generation. There's no sense in criticizing anybody. I call my critics and say, "I'd like to get to know you. Tell me your story."

It changes people's minds.

At the same time, you write about taking some of the "sanctimony out of the sails of the trans community." You make a point of noting that you're not hung up on pronouns.

Pronouns are extremely important, and I get that. I try to do my best to get all the pronouns right but even I've messed up. I was six months into my transition, and somebody working in production called and I said, "Hi, it's Bruce."

My daughters Kendall and Kylie have asked me, "What do we call you?" I said, "'Dad' is going to work for me. I'm your dad. I'll always be your father till the day you or I die." Sometimes "Dad" and "she," they kind of get messed up a little bit. But my daughters do a very good job. I spoke to Kendall on the phone today and she goes, "Yes, ma'am."

She's getting it.

But I don't get hung up on it. I know people are going to make mistakes.

You explain that you consider yourself a trans woman, not a woman. What is the distinction to you? My road to womanhood has certainly been different. I will never have a period. I will never bear a child. So I'm very comfortable with the words "trans woman."

It's the way my life has been.

There is clearly division among trans women, but there is also division between feminists about trans women. Some feminists argue that trans women can't just take on the label of "woman" after enjoying the perks of masculinity all their lives. What's your feeling about that? People criticize trans women because you go from what society treats as the powerful, masculine role to what society thinks is a weaker, feminine role. From this standpoint, I think women underestimate themselves and the amount of power they have. I've always been with very strong women.

Your first wife, Chrystie Scott, and your second wife, Linda Thompson, did not take the news of your cross-dressing well. Kris Jenner was less stunned by it but still not into it.

What was it like for these wives - who clearly wanted their husband Bruce Jenner back? I did open up conversations with them, but it was the last thing they wanted to hear. I can't blame them for that. I understand that it's difficult when you transition. I respected if they were not into it. I get it. We're better friends now with both Chrystie and Linda. In a lot of ways, we're fine. With Kris, it was a little closer and tougher for her. Plus, we spent 23 years together.

You say that your stepdaughter Kim Kardashian was the most sympathetic. As you're chucking Bruce's clothes, Kim carts her favourite pieces away. In a clip from Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Kris Jenner smells the suits and cries, mourning that Bruce is gone. Do you empathize with that? [Chuckles] She can be pretty dramatic at times - on the show. I understand that. It's tough. But we didn't go our separate directions because I was going to go and transition. It had been 23 years and things had changed.

We both mutually decided that it was best for both of us to go in separate directions for many reasons.

The book was leaked and tabloids have been obsessing over its final revelation - your gender reassignment surgery.

I had "it" done and that already snuck out and it's been all over the Internet. The tabloids love that, and so does the general public. The book is about honesty, about getting all this weight off my shoulders and getting rid of it. That had to be part of it, but I didn't want to make it the main part. My reasons for doing something like that are in the book, and then I'm not talking about it any more. I want to protect myself and I want to protect the community.

Why is the fixation on surgeries upsetting to transgender people? Gender-confirmation surgery is an extraordinarily personal thing.

It's not for public consumption and it's not something trans people really want to talk about. The general public thinks it's all about what's between your legs.

It has nothing to do with that. It's about what's between your ears.

The day after she has that surgery, a trans woman is no more a woman than she was the day before surgery. She is just more comfortable with herself.

People are pruriently obsessed with your surgeries but also with your sexuality. They want to know if you're gay or straight - post-transition. Where do you stand on those questions? I have no idea. I'm not looking to date - men, women, anything. I have no problem being by myself in my home. I'm set in my ways.

If I can find a really good friend down the way, I would have a friend.

How are the challenges for trans teens different today than what you were facing, completely alone, in the 1960s? My journey is a lot longer than many journeys of people today.

Today it's a different world. The big change for our community was the Internet. It opened the entire community up. Transgender people can now get a lot more information at a very young age, and that's good. It also hurts.

Online bullying is worse than getting bullied in person in high school or grade school. The real critical kids are the ones that suffer from depression combined with trans issues. It is devastating for these children, and a lot of them take their own lives. We have to do a better job of accepting the community.

You expressed disappointment after Donald Trump revoked Barack Obama's federal guidelines for public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms of their choice. You asked Trump to call you about it. Did he? Okay, this is where I'm at. I had talked to Trump during the campaign. We spoke on the phone about a lot of these issues. He seemed to be on our side. I was relatively optimistic at first.

When he rescinded the federal guidelines with Jeff Sessions and Betsy Devos, I couldn't figure out why he would do that. It was the absolute wrong thing to do. Why even go there? We've got so many more important issues to deal with in this country. Go deal with those and just leave us alone.

When I was at the inauguration, he said he wanted me to come down and play golf with him - I just don't know if he wants to get beaten by a 67-year-old trans woman. I would love to get four hours out on the golf course with him to be able to talk business.

That's how a lot of things get done. But if I went down now and played golf with him, the transgender community would just destroy me. If I do anything now, it's got to be behind closed doors.

A trans friend of yours talks about the first day she wakes up and goes to bed without thinking once about gender. Have you had that day? I am very pleased at where I'm at in my life. This woman has lived inside of me since I can remember. Maybe it's time to let her live and give her an opportunity.

Bruce pretty much did everything - there was nothing left for him to do. Let's take little Bruce and put him inside and let her live. It was very liberating to let her go.

I always want to wake up in the morning excited about the day. In the old days, when I was training, I would wake up in the morning excited for the day to start. I had weights to lift, I had workouts to do, I had competitions coming up. I lost that in my life for many years. I couldn't care about the next day. In going through this transition, that excitement for life has returned. I got the old mojo back.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Follow me on Twitter: @ZosiaBielski

Associated Graphic


Top: Caitlyn Jenner is seen at Glamour's Women of the Year Awards ceremony in Los Angeles in 2016. Jenner's new memoir, The Secrets of my Life, is an inside look into her past challenges, present struggles and future optimism as a trans woman in the spotlight.


Will the housing fix stick?
Why Ontario's measures may not be enough to dampen the Greater Toronto Area's scorching-hot real estate market
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Print Edition, Page B6

Toronto realtor Barry Cohen had four purchase offers on the go on Thursday, when the Ontario government announced it would impose a 15-per-cent tax on foreign buyers, effective the next day.

For a realtor who specializes in selling luxury homes to foreign buyers in tony Toronto neighbourhoods - with Chinese purchasers accounting for "a good majority" of his deals - the tax could have been a blow.

But as of Thursday afternoon, three of the four purchasers were keen to proceed, and he expected the fourth would come back to the table on Friday. The Re/Max realtor says he is not worried a new tax will drive away customers.

"If you look specifically at the Chinese ... the feeling is that, 'I've got to get out of Dodge,' which in this case is China," he said. "And Canada is a safe place to be. The feeling is that if it costs me 15 per cent more, so be it. It's better than losing the bulk of the investment in China."

The new tax on foreign speculators is the centrepiece of the Ontario government's 16-point package of real estate reforms unveiled Thursday, and the only measure specifically aimed at immediately cooling growth in home price increases in the Toronto region.

Other new measures - such as enabling municipalities to tax vacant residences or inducements to encourage future building by developers - will take months to put in place and possibly years to bear fruit in terms of spurring new housing supply in the market.

But with so many other market forces lining up to juice housing demand in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) - not least of which is Ontario's new status as Canada's fastest-growing economy - real estate experts are questioning whether a foreign-buyers tax, designed with many exemptions, will be enough on its own to dampen runaway price inflation.

Residential realtor Adam Brind, a partner at Core Assets Inc. in central Toronto, said a foreign-buyers tax won't make houses more affordable in many residential neighbourhoods in the city of Toronto - areas such as Leslieville, Roncesvalles or High Park. He believes foreign buyers are playing little role in spurring price increases in those areas, which means there could be little impact for frustrated buyers.

"Toronto house prices are not one problem - it's a perfect storm, and there are 12 to 20 reasons that have caused prices to go up," he said.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne described her government's new foreign-buyers tax as a "speculation" tax when she unveiled it at a news conference on Thursday, surrounded by condominium towers in Toronto's Liberty Village neighbourhood.

Ms. Wynne stressed it is not aimed at immigrants and refugees who are living and working in Toronto - who will not have to pay the tax - but at people who have little connection to Toronto and are buying properties from abroad simply as investments.

To accomplish that goal, the government will offer rebates to return the tax money to foreign purchasers if they later satisfy any of the exemption criteria.

For example, Ontario will rebate the tax if a foreign buyer becomes a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada within four years of a home purchase, if the buyer is a student who remains enrolled full-time for at least two years after the purchase or if the foreign buyer has legally worked full-time in Ontario for a year after the purchase.

Real estate broker John Pasalis, president of Realosophy Inc. in Toronto's Leslieville neighbourhood, is concerned there may be too many exemptions, creating loopholes many buyers can exploit.

He said there are relatively few foreign buyers who have "zero connection" to Toronto and will have to pay the tax. The biggest problem is the student exemption, he said, which will allow many foreign buyers to give their young adult children money to buy units in Toronto that will become investment properties after two years.

"With all these exemptions, the number of people that actually might fit the definition is going to be really small. It's not going to have a huge impact on demand," he said.

The province will begin collecting data on Monday on the citizenship of people who register new home purchases through the land-registry system, but there are no statistics available currently about the proportion of homes sold to foreign buyers in Toronto.

A survey by the Toronto Real Estate Board last fall found real estate agents in the GTA estimated about 5 per cent of their clients were foreign buyers. If only a subset of that group were required to pay the new tax, however, the market impact could be relatively minor.

Mr. Cohen, who deals with many Chinese buyers, estimated about 20 per cent of foreign purchasers he sees would not qualify for any of the exemptions and would have to pay the tax.

Most of them would likely proceed and pay it, or would shift their focus back to Vancouver if they have to pay the tax in either market, he said.

"People come to Canada, and specifically to Toronto, because it's a safe financial haven, a safe place to live and, by the way, real estate goes up every year," he said.

The limited reach of the tax is not the point, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce economist Benjamin Tal says. The point is its psychological impact.

Mr. Tal estimates a minor part of the impact of the tax will be its direct cooling of foreign demand for Toronto region housing. The rest of the impact will come from cooling the expectations of the other players - including domestic buyers and sellers - if they believe the foreign-buyers tax will soften demand going forward.

By reducing expectations of price growth, other speculators may leave the market and ordinary buyers and sellers may not be as frantic.

"If there was 100-per-cent slowing, I think 30 per cent of it would be the direct impact and 70 per cent would be people waiting and seeing until the fog clears," Mr. Tal said.

In Vancouver, the number of housing sales fell sharply in the months after a foreign-buyers tax was introduced last August, and sale prices for detached houses dipped slightly in the first quarter of 2017. Mr. Tal said the drop in sales was out of proportion to the number of foreign buyers who left the market, and was caused by other buyers moving to the sidelines to assess the impact.

"By definition, it's a temporary thing, as we're seeing in Vancouver now," he said.

B.C. government data show foreign buyers accounted for about 15 per cent of purchases in the Vancouver area last July, and just 0.9 per cent in August after the province imposed its 15-per-cent foreign-buyers tax.

But demand started to grow again and foreign buyers accounted for 4.2 per cent in both November and December.

The B.C. tax applied to a broader group of foreign buyers when it was introduced, but the provincial government said this year it would introduce some exceptions, including exempting foreign buyers who are living and working in the province.

Royal Bank of Canada economist Robert Hogue said Ontario needed to do something immediately to take heat out of the Toronto market, and the tax was a quick answer, coupled with many other longer-term measures.

The good news, he said, is the new foreign-buyers tax will apply to housing in a zone the province is calling "the Greater Golden Horseshoe" region, which is a vast crescent of land surrounding the GTA, stretching west to east from Waterloo to Peterborough and from Niagara in the south to north of Orillia.

Mr. Hogue said Vancouver did not apply its tax to as broad a region, and it pushed foreign buyers just outside the boundaries to other communities.

He is concerned, however, that pricing in Toronto may not respond to the tax the way it did in Vancouver.

Toronto appears to have a lower proportion of foreign buyers in its market as a starting point, he said, and Vancouver's real estate market had already started to cool last spring, so the foreign-buyers tax simply escalated that effect.

There has been no sign of prices cooling in Toronto, which means there's still a risk the tax could be absorbed and overrun by pent-up demand.

"At this stage, Toronto is much tighter than Vancouver was when the tax was introduced," he said. "But we would expect this would have a market-psychology cooling effect on demand, and hopefully a tempering effect on price increases.

It may not be as immediate as it was in B.C. ... I would think this might take a little longer to see in the [Toronto] market."

The good news for Ms. Wynne is that some real estate experts say there are signs in recent weeks that Toronto's market may be balancing out, which could be accelerated by a foreign-buyers tax.

If she is lucky, the foreignbuyers tax may even end up getting credited with spurring impacts that were coming anyway.

New listings of detached houses were 62 per cent higher in the first week of April compared with the same period a year ago, Mr. Pasalis said, marking the third consecutive week of significant increases in home listings in the GTA.

Dianne Usher, senior vice-president of strategic growth at Johnston & Daniel, a realty firm specializing in the luxury market, said more resale-home inventory has come onto the market in the past 10 days "than we've seen in the better part of a year, in terms of one lump sum."

She said agents are seeing fewer offers in bidding wars and even some houses that haven't received any offers on the preset bidding date.

Combined with a foreignbuyers tax, the two factors will slow the rate of growth in prices, she predicts. But she does not anticipate actual price declines, which means "affordability may still be an issue."

Royal LePage realtor Shawn Zigelstein, who is based north of Toronto in Richmond Hill, said he has also seen more inventory pop on the market in the past two weeks.

"We are seeing houses that were selling in multiple offers not selling as much over asking, or not sell on offer night at all," he said.

He said it may turn out the province didn't need a foreignbuyers tax to see the market move back toward equilibrium.

"I think the government jumped the gun a little bit," he said. "I think if they said, 'Let's wait three weeks and see what happens,' we'd be in a totally different place than we are right now."

However, it's unclear whether the surge in listings is a lasting trend or whether it was caused by widespread expectations the Ontario government would be announcing new measures in April to cool the market.

Mr. Pasalis said some of the surge in listings this month may have come from people rushing to put their houses on the market before expected new taxes took effect. The result is that listings later in the month or in May could drop if many sellers simply moved ahead their listing dates.

"We'll know in a month or a month and a half, because you may see fewer listings in May and June if they came forward and got listed ahead of schedule."

Ontario is coming relatively late to the foreign-buyers tax party.

Many other jurisdictions - including Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Vancouver - have already introduced restrictions to try to curb speculation by foreign buyers.

Economists say one clear conclusion is that foreign-buyers taxes tend to only work in the short term. Determined foreign investors often sit on the sidelines while they assess the impact, but eventually factor in the tax and come back to markets that remain broadly attractive.

Mr. Cohen said many foreign buyers have become accustomed to paying some form of foreignbuyer tax in many of the most popular alternative locations, and will still find Toronto - and the Canadian dollar - comparatively affordable.

If the foreign-buyers tax is brushed aside, however, Mr. Hogue said Ontario may have to go further, and a logical next step could be a broader speculator tax that targets anyone - including domestic buyers - who flip properties quickly. He said such a tax is harder to craft and collect, and he understands why the province started where it did.

"We do suspect that this speculation in the market goes much beyond foreign buyers - it's much more broadly based," he said.

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa made it clear he was trying to find the right balance as a starting point. In recent weeks, he has repeatedly stressed that he did not want to close the door to foreign investment in Ontario, and said he feared going too far with measures that would lead to a significant price correction.

He warned he had to weigh steps to cool house prices against potential adverse impacts for people who already own homes.

"There's unintended consequences from anything that we do," he told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday. "I don't want to be doing anything that may be harming others."

Associated Graphic

'Toronto house prices are not one problem - it's a perfect storm, and there are 12 to 20 reasons that have caused prices to go up,' residential realtor Adam Brind says.


Experts are not convinced a foreign-buyers tax will make houses more affordable in many Toronto areas such as Leslieville. The effects are being felt another way though, as some of the recent surge in listings may have come from those rushing to sell before expected taxes took effect.




She won't back down
For the past decade, Barbara Gowdy has sought a cure for her unimaginable physical pain - all while working on a new novel. On the eve of her much-anticipated return to the literary world, Mark Medley sits down with one of the most inventive Canadian writers of her generation
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page R12

Several years ago, the writer Barbara Gowdy fell into a period of profound despair. The cause of her depression, primarily, was the near-crippling back pain that has plagued Gowdy for more than a dozen years, and the significant financial strain that resulted from her long, frustrating and, to this day, continuing search for a cure.

She contemplated killing herself. "It wasn't a frightening thought," she says. "It was just, 'Okay, I'm laying my burden down.' " For about a week, "everything looked like a potential for suicide." She'd gaze out the window at the woods behind her home and imagine walking out at night, in the cold of winter, lying down and never waking up. Or she'd look up at the high-rise apartment buildings in her neighbourhood and try to pinpoint which floor she'd need to throw herself off of so that she didn't "just become a vegetable." She told her long-time partner, the poet and essayist Christopher Dewdney, that she wanted to die.

"I'd say to him, 'If you love me, you've got to let me go. I can't stand this pain.' And he'd say, 'I can't. I can't do that.' " It passed, eventually. Gowdy went on antidepressants, which, she says, allowed "the idea of the world" to be "separate from the fact of my pain." She continued to seek new therapies, and test different drugs, in an effort to improve her back. And she continued, as she has for decades, to write.

At the time, she was working on a novel about a woman able to leave her physical body behind, to experience the world through the eyes of another person. It's called Little Sister, arrives in bookstores on Tuesday and marks the return, after the longest break of her career, of one of the most inventive and important writers Canada has ever produced.

"Writing saved me," Gowdy says, then explains: "It's kind of a meditation. You're in the moment. You're in the word.

You're in the sentence. I could kind of forget my pain when I was writing."

Barbara Gowdy lives just north of the Toronto Necropolis, at the end of a dead-end street. She shares her house, which is tall, long and narrow, and which she jokes is "like living on a ladder," with a cat named Lily. (Except for a short period near the start of their relationship, Gowdy and Dewdney, who have been together for nearly 30 years, live apart.)

She bought the house in 1998 with what she calls her "White Bone money," referring to her best-known novel, published that same year, about a group of anthropomorphized African elephants seeking sanctuary.

The house has an unusual history, perfectly suited for a writer such as Gowdy, whose characters often sport unusual histories themselves: It was built by Peter Demeter, the Hungarian-Canadian real estate developer currently in jail for orchestrating the murder of his wife, a lurid slice of Toronto history chronicled in By Persons Unknown, the 1977 truecrime book co-written by George Jonas and another Barbara: Amiel Black.

"Sometimes, I blame him for my back pain," Gowdy says while making coffee in her kitchen one cold afternoon in March. "Or I blame his wife, the ghost."

Like a ghost, Gowdy's pain hovers on the periphery of all her conversations. It is greedy and constant. She cannot stand for long periods of time, so she leads me upstairs, to a tastefully furnished sitting room, where a pair of couches form an L. She lies down on one couch, a pair of pillows propped under her knees, while I sit on the other, giving the interview the air of a therapy session. She's wearing black leggings and a peach shirt a similar shade to the couch, making it appear as if she's being absorbed by the furniture. Above her hang a trio of sketches by the artist Michael Snow. They are, ironically, from his Walking Woman series.

"I wrote [Little Sister] on my back," she says, using a device called a Laidback, basically a tray with angled legs that allows her to write while lying down in bed. It was slow going, and the novel is her first since 2007. "I'm glad it took 10 years because I changed in those 10 years. Pain changes you. My take on the world, and on myself, and who I want to be in the world, and what matters to me - that all evolved. The earlier drafts of this book were written by a different person."

Little Sister is the story of Rose, a thirtysomething woman who runs a repertory movie theatre in midtown Toronto. She lives with her mother, who is suffering from dementia, has a long-term partner with whom she seems to be growing apart and is haunted by the childhood death of her sister.

Rose's life is transformed, suddenly and inexplicably, when she begins to dream she's inhabiting the body of another woman, an odd occurrence that only takes place during thunderstorms, which are happening with unusual frequency this particular summer. Fairly soon, however, Rose realizes these are not dreams.

"I'm really interested in other people's stories, and what it would be like to be you," Gowdy says. "The basic existential question: Why are you you, and I'm me? Why aren't I you? Who are you? And who am I? These have always concerned me and my work - entering other minds. ... And so I thought I'd have my character maybe do what I do."

She uses the example of a Russian matryoshka doll - a writer enters the mind of her character, and then that character enters the mind of another character, and, eventually, all the characters wind up in the mind of the reader.

"It's, in a sense, an allegory for what she does in her own work," Dewdney says. "That's what a fiction writer does. That's what imagination does. It projects you.

It gives you the ability, through your imagination, to project yourself into somebody else's place."

Whether it's a herd of elephants, as in The White Bone, or the voyeurs and necrophiles and two-headed men of her landmark collection of stories, We So Seldom Look on Love, or the quasi-pedophile of her previous novel, Helpless, Gowdy has always put the reader in somebody else's place - a place that's unexpected, strange, yet one we want to visit again. "The depth of her affection and compassion for her characters is so strong," says her friend and fellow writer Marni Jackson.

Her long-time editor, Patrick Crean, describes her as "an incredibly psychic-senstive person.

Her sensibilities are so refined on that observational level. What she sees, you and I don't see as readily as she might."

And she's seen a lot. Gowdy, who will turn 67 this year, had a résumé's worth of careers - pianist, stockbroker, editor - before publishing her first novel, Through the Green Valley, in 1988.

(It's not that she's disowned the novel, a sweeping bit of historical fiction set in 19th-century Ireland, but she's not a fan, either: "It makes me cringe.") The first appearance of the real Barbara Gowdy came a year later, with the publication of Falling Angels, a horrifically funny novel about three sisters growing up in suburban Toronto in the 1950s and 60s.

The writer Sheila Heti recalls finding Gowdy's work "on the shelves of my local high-school library, when we were reading W.O.

Mitchell in class, which I did not connect with. I think Falling Angels was the first book of hers I read and I loved it. So funny and sharp and modern and dark and so different from what I thought Canadian literature had to be. She was instantly my favourite Canadian writer and her existence gave me hope."

This kind of story is common to a certain kind of writer, of a certain generation. It's not that she hasn't done well in her career - Gowdy's books have been published around the world and she's been nominated for all of Canada's major literary awards (although, curiously, she's seldom won) - but her real legacy has been influential, rather than commercial. Her career serves as proof that it's okay to be different.

"We still struggle, in this society, with those who dare, and I think Barbara is in that category," Crean says.

Jackson agrees: "She's fearless as a writer, and we don't have that many of those. She just goes out on every limb."

Gowdy is a writer who has always, she says, had "a preoccupation with the body and the mind. Why this body? Why this mind? Why this body in this mind? I've never really come to terms with it. And I think it's probably really therapeutically obvious if I look back at my childhood."

She's always been small for her age, and she feigned reaching puberty years before it actually arrived. "I was pretending to be on my period for two years. My girlfriends would say, 'You're really irregular,' because I'd forget. I wasn't keeping notes." Photographs of her as a teen show her in padded bras, and multiple pairs of pants, in an effort to appear more "voluptuous." She cut her headshot out of her highschool yearbooks: "I couldn't stand looking at myself." She recalls, one day, overhearing her mother ask someone when her daughter would develop.

"I thought I was letting them down," she says. "My body always felt like it was betraying me. ... There always seems to be something going on with me and my body that I'm not quite happy about. You go, when you write fiction, where the heat is. And that's where my personal heat is."

Perhaps it's not surprising Gowdy has written a novel in which her protagonist can escape her physical confines and live, if only fleetingly, in the mind of another.

Yet, that transference comes with a cost. As Rose discovers more and more about the woman - her name is Harriet, she works as a book editor at a downtown Toronto publishing company and her personal life is a mess - she becomes increasingly obsessed with spending time in Harriet's mind, to the point she drives around the GTA chasing thunderstorms.

Still, it's an experience Gowdy wishes she could have.

"I think I'd enter a singer with a great voice. I was going to say Billie Holiday, but she was too tormented - you'd go mad. Maybe Adele? I'd just like to open my mouth and sing like that."

It's easy, when she's cracking jokes, to forget Gowdy is in tremendous pain, a pain that has grown worse since she finished Little Sister, and a pain that has cost her both physically and financially. "I've tried everything," she says. "I've pretty well bankrupted myself." Just that day, she met with a practitioner of something called Tong Ren therapy, "a form of bio-field energy healing."

It involved a clipping of her hair and a doll. At another point during our interview, the doorbell rings; another pillow has been delivered. "I've got, like, 10,000 pillows," she says. "My basement could be a back store [with] all the things I've bought." She's gone to Italy for "ozone injection therapy," ingested ayahuasca and, a couple of years back, went to CAMH "for three months straight, every workday, and had my brain zapped." Nothing has worked.

"It's always there. I'm never not in pain."

Writing Little Sister was a tremendous challenge. The drugs, whether antidepressants or painkillers, made her "foggy," so she'd stop taking them in order to write. "I'd have no distraction from the pain, but my brain would be sharp again," she says. "I can wean myself fairly quickly - one or two days. I'd wean off and I'd write and then the pain would get out of control. And then I'd go back on Lyrica or Oxycodone or whatever I'd been on."

"I never thought that she wouldn't finish it," Dewdney says.

"She puts her head down and she goes through to the bitter end, whatever it is."

Last fall, Gowdy's body betrayed her yet again: She discovered a lump. She underwent radiation and a breast-saving lumpectomy, and is currently in remission. During this time, she was visiting the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, accompanied by her younger sister, Mary, when Mary suffered an aneurysm. Because they were in a hospital, she was put on oxygen immediately and was in surgery within an hour.

She stayed in intensive care for more than two weeks, but survived.

"Had she been anywhere else, she would have been dead," Gowdy says. "My tumour saved her."

It's an incredible anecdote, one that brings together ideas of fate - Mary was one of five people who'd offered to accompany Gowdy to the hospital that day - and family and illness and the power of the body to hurt and, even when it's by chance, to heal.

It's a story that could have been written by Barbara Gowdy if it wasn't true.

Associated Graphic

Barbara Gowdy, whose forthcoming Little Sister is her first novel in a decade, had to write it while lying on her back because of severe health problems.


Master carver created haunting artworks
Supremely talented man infused his creations with the deep spirituality of his Kwakwaka'wakw heritage
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page S11

Encountering the art of Beau Dick is an intense and magnificent experience. In a gallery, his is the kind of work that stops even casual visitors in their fatigued, museum-legs tracks, demanding wide-eyed attention.

Masterfully carved, aesthetically stunning - his masks come alive on the wall. This is art that haunts: You can't shake it, and you don't want to.

Consider the reaction of a tiny boy to the 2015 exhibition at the Bill Reid Gallery in Vancouver, The Box of Treasures: Gifts from the Supernatural, featuring a collection of masks and regalia created for potlatches by Mr. Dick and others.

One of a group of preschoolers to visit the show, the boy - who was three or four years old - was particularly entranced by Mr. Dick's Hamatsa masks.

"He walked around the corner and he saw the Hamatsas, and they're these incredible huge birds - they're like cannibal birds - and he screams out 'this is beautiful!' " curator Kwiaahwah Jones recalls. "And he stood underneath them and spun around and he screamed to his friends 'Do you see this?!' It was such a powerful moment, because had people actually acted like that toward us from the beginning, this place would be so much richer."

Ms. Jones, a close friend to Mr. Dick, told him that story - and "he smiled really big."

A master Kwakwaka'wakw carver, Mr. Dick was a supremely talented artist who infused his work with his culture and his soul.

"When he was doing these masks and these prints and these poles, he was really breathing life into them. When he looked at the finished product, it wasn't art. It was a tradition. It had a story, it had a history," his daughter Linnea Dick says. "The things he made were really alive."

To call him an artist does not even begin to tell the story of Beau Dick. A hereditary chief, he was deeply involved in the potlatch and understood the crucial importance of ritual and culture.

If you saw the way he drummed with such devotion and intensity at the ceremony for the destruction of the residential school in Alert Bay, B.C., or the passion and grace with which he led a peaceful protest - the walk for reconciliation in Vancouver in 2013 and the breaking of the coppers ceremoney - a traditional form of shaming an opponent, in Victoria and Ottawa - or the way he interacted with his family, friends or students, you understood.

"Beau was an amazing, amazing man," says Robert Joseph, a hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation. "Many considered him a shaman, a spiritualist. It was even said that he had one foot in the spirit world whenever he was practising our customs and traditions."

He was a charismatic, caring man - a magnet and a mentor; a virtuoso storyteller but also a master listener, unmistakable with his long hair and beard and signature hat.

"It was quite remarkable for people to have had the Beau Dick experience," says Lakota artist Dana Claxton, a colleague at the University of British Columbia, where Mr. Dick was artist-in-residence. "He was a character, too. He was badass and a trickster and was full of medicine."

Those who knew Mr. Dick - also known as Walas Gwa'yam (Big Whale) - say he was a healer but also cheeky and very funny. And the same word is used again and again to describe him: magic.

"A cacophony of emotions," is how his dealer, LaTiesha Fazakas, describes working with him.

"He could be extremely difficult and uncompromising, and just when you thought the ride was going to be too much, you would realize there was a bigger picture at play. That was the magic of it all. Beau made you believe in magic, destiny and the transcending value of art."

Ms. Fazakas responded in an e-mail from Greece, where she is attending the prestigious international contemporary art show Documenta 14. Mr. Dick, who has an exhibition in the show, was supposed to be there this month as well, but after suffering a heart attack and a series of strokes and other complicating health issues, he died on March 27 in Vancouver. He was 61 years old.

"I think people will eventually recognize that he really was a legend," Chief Joseph says, adding that his contributions are important not just to the Kwakwaka'wakw, "but to mankind. He was that great an artist."

Benjamin Kerry Dick was born in Alert Bay on Nov. 23, 1955, to Geraldine Dawson and Blackie Ben Dick. For the first four years of his life, he lived in Kingcome, B.C. - known as Gwa'yi in the Kwak'wala language. When he was a young boy, he and his mother moved to Vancouver. In both places, he was exposed to his culture through stories. He was smart: by the age of 13 he could recite Winston Churchill speeches by heart.

As a teenager, he returned to Alert Bay, where he learned to carve.

"He had a special knack for art," says Chief Joseph, who watched him grow up. "He would sit by his father and grandfather and other carvers and watch them whittle all day and he soon began to whittle and became the artist that he was.

"He developed his artistry from some pretty prominent other prominent Kwakwaka'wakw artists like Doug Cranmer and Tony Hunt as well as Haida artists like Bill Reid and Robert Davidson," Chief Joseph continues. "So he learned from the best and became the best."

Mr. Dick created masterworks - totem poles, masks. He was also a terrific painter.

"His creativity was unparalleled amongst the Kwakwaka'wakw people ... He is widely recognized as the greatest [Northwest coast] artist since contact," says Alan Hunt, a Kwakwaka'wakw/Tlingit carver and dancer who was mentored by Mr. Dick. "His style of teaching was gentle, unique, and demonstrative. His giving nature was reflected in his openness to share his knowledge with those committed enough to learn."

Mr. Dick used his artistic talent and his special nature not only to make and teach art, but also to protest injustice - the effects of cultural suppression, the threatened environment - and bring healing.

He curated a cultural and artistic element to the 2013 Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver, beginning with a toss of eagle down into the air. "It created this really magical experience for everyone who was there," Ms. Dick says.

Also that year, he led a walk from northern Vancouver Island to Victoria, where on the steps of the B.C. Legislature, he performed a copper-breaking ceremony. He said he was acting on a vision he'd had 20 years earlier, compelled by his daughters and the Idle No More movement.

"Our people have endured near annihilation, subject to poverty, diseases inflicted upon us, homelessness, alcoholism, drug addiction. Now they're poisoning our waters, destroying our homelands. Our old growth forests are disappearing," he said.

The following year, he led a copper-breaking ceremony on Parliament Hill - this time travelling to Ottawa from UBC in Vancouver, with stops in First Nations communities along the way.

"He regarded those trips as works of art, as well as political interventions," says Scott Watson, head of UBC's Visual Art Department and director/curator of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery.

When Prof. Watson was looking for an artist-in-residence in 2013, Ms. Claxton suggested Mr. Dick. It was supposed to be a three-month residency, but Mr. Dick proposed it be extended.

They ultimately agreed on a sixyear term - highly unusual.

"I could see the effects on the students," Prof. Watson says. "Six students went to his funeral.

And several of them helped shovel dirt into the grave. There were emotional bonds, but he taught them about his knowledge, the knowledge of his culture. Also the thing about Beau that just made him an ideal person to be at a university was his total commitment to his work."

He was extremely knowledgeable and a voracious reader.

Bookseller David Ellis, who travels often to remote First Nations communities, supplied Mr. Dick with rare Kwakwaka'wakw books.

"He cut through both worlds and worked with utter sincerity and also accuracy," Mr. Ellis says.

"But also huge enthusiasm and huge good spirit."

The real estate developer, art collector and philanthropist Michael Audain - who owns a number of Mr. Dick's works - recalls the first time he had the artist over to his home. For more than a year, Mr. Audain had been puzzling over a mysterious 19th-century Nuu-chah-nulth mask with a sort of crown of lattice. "No one could identify or explain it," Mr. Audain recalls.

"Then Beau Dick saw it. 'Oh,' he says, 'you have that mask, do you?' He says, 'That's great.

That's a fish trap mask.' And he immediately said 'You should know about the rattle that goes with it is in the Museum of Natural History in New York.' ... That's an example of his great knowledge of the art-making on the coast."

In 2012, Mr. Dick received the Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation's VIVA Award for Visual Arts. His work has been exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver's Contemporary Art Gallery and the Sydney Biennale. The 2015 show at the Bill Reid Gallery led to a huge boost in attendance at the gallery.

He is the subject of a forthcoming feature-length documentary, Meet Beau Dick: Maker of Monsters, that Ms. Fazakas calls her love letter to him. "I wanted everyone to meet him and know him," she says. "I felt from the beginning that he was Canada's greatest artist, our legend."

Mr. Dick, who did not carry a passport or have a social insurance number, was a devoted father. He had four daughters - Kerri-Lynne, Linnea, Geraldine - and Cora, who came into his life as an adult; she and Mr. Dick met in about 2011.

"When he was younger, before he had any children, he said that he had wanted four boys," Linnea Dick says. "And he always joked and said 'but I'm so happy that I had daughters because you made a gentleman out of me.' "

She says he had a special relationship with each child and was hugely supportive - particularly when she went through some very troubled times with alcohol as a teenager and was able to trace her pain back to being sexually abused as a child. "He taught me to have strength; that these things weren't things that defined me.

"He was such an advocate for change and also not holding onto the past," she adds. "'I think it's good to acknowledge the past but not to live there.' That's what he'd always say to me."

Ms. Dick, 25, says her father - who for the past two years had been in a happy, loving relationship with Bernadette Phan - remained friendly with his former partners, in particular Sherri Dick, mother to Kerri-Lynn; and Pamela Bevan, mother to Linnea and Geraldine.

"A lot of times all of them were in the same room, supporting one of my dad's ventures," Ms. Dick says.

His last venture was Documenta 14, where his installation at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens has drawn a tremendous response, according to carver and dancer Alan Hunt. "Some are awestruck by the visual beauty, some have cried, and many can physically feel the power in the room."

"The magic of him continues on and visitors feel it," writes Ms. Fazakas, also from Athens.

Mr. Dick had mixed emotions about attending, initially turning down the offer to represent Canada at the event.

"When they first asked him he was not very interested," says Prof. Watson. "The notion that it would bestow more fame on him as an artist did not interest him. That was not the draw. In the end he came to see that it would further the visibility of his message and his culture."

In addition to installing his work, he was to perform a ceremonial dance on the Acropolis with other dancers and many masks.

This was not to be. Instead his body was taken to Alert Bay for his April 2 funeral, escorted home by dancers he had trained and mentored.

"He's made such a profound impact," says Ms. Jones, who attended the funeral. "The ripple effect is going to go on for a long time. He planted a lot of magic around the world."

Beau Dick leaves his companion, Ms. Phan; his four daughters; and six grandchildren; he had a seventh on the way.

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Associated Graphic

Artist Beau Dick conducts a prayer and dance in front of the St. Michael's Residential School in Alert Bay, B.C., in 2015.


Mr. Dick looks over masks he created for Kwakwaka'wakw potlatches at the Bill Reid Gallery in Vancouver in 2015.

Boo hoo: Canadian babies cry more - but why?
Monday, April 17, 2017 – Print Edition, Page L1

Late into the night, Amy EllardGray and her wife took turns bouncing their screaming infant daughter, trying to soothe her, but to no avail.

Ever since their baby was around three weeks old, she had become increasingly difficult to pacify. By the time she was six weeks old, she cried almost every evening for hours at a time, usually from 6:30 until sometimes 12:30 a.m. She often cried inconsolably during the day, too.

Worried, exhausted and desperate for answers, the first-time parents finally took their daughter to a walk-in clinic, where a doctor suggested she had colic, a vague and little-understood diagnosis given to babies who cry frequently and uncontrollably.

"In one sense, it gave me relief because I knew that there wasn't anything I was doing wrong and it wasn't my fault; she was just one of those babies that cries a lot," says Ellard-Gray, who lives in Guelph, Ont. "But then on the other hand, I knew the problem wasn't solved."

According to a British study, released earlier this month and published in the Journal of Pediatrics, babies in Canada cry more and have a higher rate of colic than in other parts of the world.

The meta-analysis of studies involving nearly 8,700 babies found that 34 per cent of Canadian babies met the criteria for colic at three to four weeks of age.

That is, they fussed and cried for more than three hours a day, at least three days a week. By comparison, 5.5 per cent of Danish babies and 6.7 per cent of German babies the same age had colic.

The cause of colic is still very much a mystery, to the chagrin of frazzled parents such as EllardGray and her wife. A common explanation is that colic is gastrointestinal. Changes in gut bacteria, allergies or intolerances to various compounds in breast milk or infant formula are believed to cause pain and discomfort, prompting babies to wail for hours on end.

But Dr. James McKenna, a professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, is proposing an alternative explanation - one that he thinks could change the way parents and doctors deal with infants who cry for no apparent reason.

McKenna, director of the Indiana university's Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory, believes colic shares the same origins as another mysterious condition that can strike babies around the same age: sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Both colic and SIDS, he suggests, are caused by glitches in the development of infants' neural networks as they transition from involuntary to controlled breathing.

Babies presumed to have colic don't cry because they're in pain or because they need or want anything, he says. Instead, he suggests, once they initiate a cry, a type of neurodevelopmental hiccup prevents them from stopping, and their inability to control their cries causes even more distress, and thus, more crying. The result is a heartbreaking, ear-shattering feedback loop.

McKenna and his co-authors from the University of North Texas and Vanderbilt University put forth this conceptual model in a paper published last year in the journal Family Relations. Several experts, including McKenna himself, note the hypothesis is not yet tested, and thus it's not widely accepted. But it has piqued the interest of scientists such as Dr. Charles Nunn, a professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University, who believes McKenna may be on to something.

McKenna and his team's proposal "has great potential to promote further dialogue between fields [of neuroscience, child development, anthropology and evolutionary biology], and is highly relevant to understanding and improving infant health," Nunn said in an e-mail.

If he's correct, McKenna says, parents may be able to lower the risk of SIDS and reduce the duration and severity of colic by frequently touching, talking to and maintaining physical contact with their babies.

Diagnosing colic Although babies have been described as having colic for hundreds of years, a formal criteria for diagnosing colic was introduced in the 1950s by the late American pediatrician Morris Wessel. Wessel came up with a definition still widely used today, called the "Rule of Threes," where a baby is considered to have colic if he or she cries for at least three hours for more than three days a week for three consecutive weeks.

Colic starts in early infancy, and babies with colic typically cry most in the evenings. While parents often report other symptoms such as burping or flatulence, these infants tend to be otherwise healthy, says Dr. Michael Dickinson, president-elect of the Canadian Paediatric Society.

"They're drinking, peeing, pooping, growing. You can X-ray them, blood-test them, scope them. Everything comes back normal. And yet they have this unexplained crying and irritability that drives parents crazy," Dickinson says.

Dickinson understands these parents' stress and misery well, since he dealt with his own child's colic. Even though that was 20 years ago, his memories of driving a crying baby around town at 5 a.m. with no destination in mind remain fresh.

Many parents try over-thecounter products, such as gripe water or Ovol Drops, but Dickinson says he generally finds these remedies disappointing and ineffective. In most cases, colic disappears around the age of four to six months, just as mysteriously as it appeared.

"If you do nothing, usually by the time you get to six months, you're through the worst of it and out the other end," he says.

Even in babies who don't have colic, crying generally starts to increase around two weeks of age and peaks some time around the sixth to eighth week, and declines through the 12th or 13th week, says Dr. Ronald Barr, professor emeritus of pediatrics at the University of British Columbia and a former director of research at the B.C. Children's Hospital.

As such, Barr, who has studied crying patterns in typically developing infants for three decades, believes the inconsolable crying characteristic of colic is simply an extreme end of a normal spectrum.

"I would argue that all babies have it, they just have more or less of it in the same way that some babies are taller, some babies are shorter," Barr says.

"They all have these unsoothable crying bouts and they all have this increase and decrease in crying, which has traditionally in clinical circles been taken to mean colic."

Involuntary to voluntary breathing In proposing his alternative hypothesis, McKenna says he knows he's taken some "broad and new conceptual leaps," but he believes his ideas fit with the existing literature on human brain development related to breathing. As an anthropologist whose early research on primates evolved into a specialization in the sleep behaviours of human mothers and babies, McKenna was curious to learn that colic typically starts and ends within the same time frame as the risk of SIDS. He began to suspect this was no coincidence. It's during this period, he found, when babies develop the ability to speech breathe, a development unique to humans whereby infants learn how to control their breathing in preparation for speech.

Up until the age of about one month, babies' breathing is involuntary, controlled by their brain stems, which is considered the more primitive part of the brain, McKenna explains. By the time babies are seven months old, however, they have typically mastered speech breathing, and are able to control the pitch, tempo and volume of their cries. Once they do, parents are generally able to associate meanings with the sound of their babies' cries.

"They're able to say, 'Oh, the baby just wants a diaper change,' 'Oh, the baby just wants to be picked up' - but that doesn't actually happen until the baby is in control of the breath," McKenna says.

Unlike brain-stem-controlled breathing, speech breathing is controlled by the neocortex of the brain, which is responsible for executive functions. McKenna believes inconsolable crying and SIDS arise when babies make this transition from the former to the latter.

"It isn't always the case that these nerve tracts that are responsible for voluntary and involuntary breathing are really maturing synchronously and at the same rate," he says.

In cases of inconsolable crying, a glitch in the development of these nerve tracts may be frustrating though harmless. But in SIDS, McKenna believes it causes sleeping babies to fail to wake up and willfully take a breath when they experience apnea, or a pause in their breathing.

Because speech breathing is a learned skill, acquired through hearing other people breathe, McKenna thinks holding, carrying and otherwise keeping babies in close physical contact helps their neural networks develop more quickly and synchronously. Although this may not prevent or stop inconsolable crying, he says, it may, at least, reduce its severity and duration.

Multiple potential causes Dr. Barry Lester, a professor of psychiatry and human behaviour and pediatrics at Brown University, is not convinced there's a link between colic and SIDS. And unlike McKenna, who suggests a colicky cry is one of fear from not being able to stop crying, Lester believes babies with colic truly cry out in pain.

Lester, who runs a clinic devoted exclusively to colic, diagnoses the condition not only by excessive crying, but by a number of additional symptoms, such as babies pulling their knees up to their chest, arching their backs, exhibiting tight stomachs and hypertonic or constricted muscles.

While Lester says colic, in some cases, may be related to some reorganization of the central nervous system, he says he is unaware of any evidence that colic and SIDS are related. Colic, he believes, actually has multiple causes, including lactose intolerance and gastroesophageal reflux.

At his clinic, Lester has found medicine and techniques for propping up babies can help in cases of reflux. But in addition to tackling the physical symptoms of colic, Lester says the clinic focuses on the relationship between the mother and child.

"One of the things that colic does is that it drives a wedge into the mother-infant relationship and it blows it out of the water," he says, noting it also adversely affects the relationship between parents. "It can destroy families."

Lester is skeptical of the results of the British study that showed high rates of colic in Canadian babies, noting that the data relied on caregivers' diaries of babies cries, which he says is an imprecise measure. Moreover, he adds, it did not include the other symptoms of colic beyond excessive crying.

"If you're equating colic with excessive crying, then you aren't looking at colic," he says.

Even so, Lester says he has noticed differences in babies' cries in different cultures. For example, he says, he noticed, while conducting a project in Mayan villages in Guatemala, that it was rare to hear babies cry.

Mothers there carried their babies close to their chests, and whenever the babies stirred, they would breastfeed them.

In this manner, he says, "The kid doesn't get a chance to build up and cry to be hungry."

In Western society, by contrast, he says, "We teach babies to cry.

'Are you hungry? Well, let me know when you're hungry by crying.' That's what we teach them."

Whether his hypothesis is eventually proven or debunked, McKenna firmly believes babies are better off when they're held, spoken to softly and nurtured in an environment for which their biology is designed, he says - "that is where all these sensory streams are available to regulate the baby's physiology."

McKenna says he understands it can be difficult for parents when it feels as if nothing they do helps. He was devastated when his own son had colic 37 years ago. He coped by holding his child, walking with him and dancing to Saturday Night Fever.

For Ellard-Gray and her wife, their baby, who is now seven months old, eventually became happier at around four months.

Although Ellard-Gray suspected their daughter might have had some kind of digestive issue or allergy, she still doesn't know what caused all the crying.

She says what got her through those nights of screaming was a "maternal instinct to not just abandon your child when you're exhausted and they're crying," and the determination to take the ups and downs of parenting in stride.

"My life motto became 'This too shall pass,' " she says. "Dealing with colic or dealing with whatever issues your child comes up with, you just somehow get through it."

Associated Graphic


The ongoing decimation of industrial jobs is convincing many French workers and young people to overlook Marine Le Pen's xenophobia - and throw their support to the once-fringe National Front. Eric Reguly reports
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Print Edition, Page F3

AMIENS, FRANCE -- The industrial site now occupied here by Whirlpool, the American home-appliances maker, has been a remarkable survivor.

Its 17 hectares of factory buildings and loading docks on the River Somme in Amiens, in northeast France, began life in 1910 as an agricultural-equipment factory. It somehow made it through the First World War, whose bloodiest battlefields lay not far away, the Great Depression and the Second World War, later transforming itself into a maker of clothes dryers.

But there was one foe it could not outmanoeuvre: globalization.

On Jan. 24, Whirlpool announced that the factory would close in June of 2018. Its production line will be dismantled and transferred to Lodz, Poland - a massive logistical exercise that will require 900 truckloads of assembly-line equipment to make the 1,400-kilometre journey eastward.

"It was a shock to us," said François Gorlic, 50, who has worked at the factory for 23 years, essentially inheriting the job from his father, Paul, who toiled a solid three decades on the same line.

In his final months at the factory, the younger Mr. Gorlic has taken to wearing a black-and-white T-shirt that bears an equally black-and-white message: "Whirlpool, the unemployment factory."

It is a sentiment reverberating far beyond the factory where Mr. Gorlic will soon be shown the door. Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front (FN) - the hardnationalist, anti-immigrant and anti-European Union party - has turned what she calls "the Whirlpool issue" into an all-out call for Donald Trump-style economic patriotism. On March 20, during the first TV candidates' debate in the run-up to the May 7 presidential election, Ms. Le Pen cited Whirlpool as the "best example" of how multinational companies are heartlessly transferring jobs to low-cost countries, leaving French workers "high and dry."

The cri de coeur of economic nationalism - Ms. Le Pen has called for a 35-per-cent tariff on products made abroad by Whirlpool and shipped to France - is translating into an uptick in voter support for the FN as France heads into the tightest election in decades, one that could turn France and the EU on their heads.

In the first round of voting, to take place Sunday, polls show that Ms. Le Pen is set to establish herself as far more than a fringe candidate defined by her xenophobia. Running at about 22 per cent, she is likely to come out either first or second - a showing that in turn will pave the way for her to make it into the second, and final, round of voting in two weeks' time.

There is no doubt that deindustrialization has lured its victims to embrace the candidates of the extreme parties, notably Ms. Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Communist-backed euroskeptic who heads the Unsubmissive France party, and whose remarkable rise in recent weeks has put him among the top four contenders in the first round of the election.

An Ifop poll published Thursday in the French daily Libération revealed that 44 per cent of French "workers" (meaning industrial workers) intended to vote for Ms. Le Pen. Mr. Mélenchon's support among the same slice of the electorate was 17 per cent, identical to the support among such workers for the centrist En Marche candidate, Emmanuel Macron, who shares the first-round polling lead with Ms. Le Pen. Not surprisingly, François Fillon, the centre-right Republican candidate who is about tied with Mr. Mélenchon and who is calling for a Thatcherite restructuring of the French economy, has the support of only 7 per cent of workers.

Ms. Le Pen seems virtually certain to retain her lead - or something close to it - among the working class. The same poll found that 76 per cent of workers surveyed were "sure of their choice." Ms. Le Pen has also wired up the youth vote, it appears. A recent Ifop poll found that she and the FN were most popular among those in the 18-to-24 age group, with 39 per cent of that cohort, well ahead of Mr. Macron, with 21 per cent. Youth unemployment in France is approaching 25 per cent, up from 18 per cent in 2008.

In other words, if Ms. Le Pen is propelled to victory in the runoff, she can thank the workers who fear globalization and the young with no jobs or with miser.

able job prospects. Job destruction in France has served her well. "She is popular among the electorate who have lost hope and who blame the EU, the euro and globalization," said Grégory Claeys, economist at the Brussels think tank Bruegel.

In fact, however, the French economy is stronger than Ms. Le Pen's supporters might guess.

It's true that, after coming through the 2008 financial crisis largely intact, France suffered greatly during the deep recession and the eurozone crisis of 2011 and 2012, which nearly saw Greece pushed out of the eurozone, and sent the debt loads of France, Italy and other struggling EU countries soaring.

But there is no doubt that the worst is over. The French economy grew by 1.2 per cent last year, and is expected to grow by 1.4 per cent in 2017. That's weaker than the growth in Germany or Britain - a weakness due, in part, to labour-market regulations in France that work to dissuade some companies from creating full-time positions. But at least the number is going in the right direction. Unemployment, at 9.9 per cent, is falling, albeit slowly; it was 10.4 per cent in 2015.

That said, the recovery has been uneven. Youth unemployment is not going down, and deindustrialization, especially in northern France, seems relentless, hitting towns, small cities and rural areas particularly hard.

They have become breeding grounds for the extreme parties, with the FN sweeping up the most support, as Ms. Le Pen's anti-globalization war cry resonates through gutted industrial areas.

Amiens is a good example of a small city in decline, as factories close for good or get carted off, like Whirlpool, to Eastern Europe or Asia. The city, with a population of 132,000, is located 120 kilometres north of Paris and is famous for its soaring, 13th-century cathedral, Notre-Dame d'Amiens. Supported by farming and manufacturing and benefiting from its location on the trading route between the Benelux countries (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) and Paris, Amiens has enjoyed long bouts of prosperity, though it suffered greatly in the two world wars.

But what had been a postwar economic revival has gone into reverse in recent years. The city has seen a string of textile and dairy plants close. Two years ago, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. shut its Amiens tire factory, ending employment for about 1,200 workers. Shortly before the closure, tempers flared and eight workers detained two managers for 30 hours during a labour dispute. The workers were later sentenced to nine months in prison.

The Whirlpool factory in Amiens had employed 1,000 workers in the early part of the last decade. Some production was later transferred to Slovakia, and, today, only about 280 workers remain. Most are middle-aged men with no university education and no job prospects, given the echo-chamber status of the factories in and around Amiens.

"So we're 50 years old and have to learn new skills?" said Mr. Gorlic.

"It's not like we can become IT experts or something overnight.

We'd have to retrain for years."

When The Globe and Mail asked five Whirlpool workers about who would get their vote on Sunday, not one said they would go for Mr. Macron - even though he is from Amiens. "Macron never came once to this factory," said Frédéric Chantrelle, 49, who has worked at Whirlpool for 21 years. "His indifference is total."

Of the four main candidates, they said that Ms. Le Pen seemed most sympathetic to their plight, but that they had not made up their minds yet.

But many of the people who live in the rows of workers' houses near the factory told The Globe that Ms. Le Pen was definitely their candidate.

One was David Loualé, 48, who works as a gardener at a rent-controlled housing project. "Everyone here wants to vote for the FN," he said. "Too much money and work goes to immigrants here ... As for Whirlpool, I don't know if she can stop it from going away, but at least she represents change.

Economists are not surprised that the populist parties seem to be thriving, even though some of those parties, including the FN, are infused with xenophobia, want all immigration stopped and would like to bust up the EU.

In a note published this week, Fotios Raptis, senior international economist at TD Securities, said that France's economic malaise has made Ms. Le Pen's job easier.

"Historically, populist political movements have found support among those who have suffered economic misfortune or brutality from authoritarian regimes," he said. "In the case of France, it appears to be the perception of economic suffering following the Great Recession of 2009 that has fuelled the shift toward economic populism."

And France is hardly alone. Italy is seeing an even stronger populist surge. Its Five Star Movement (M5S), the main opposition party in parliament, is leading in the polls and could form the next government - an election must be held by this time next year. While it is inaccurate to compare M5S to Ms. Le Pen's openly xenophobic and anti-globalization FN, it, like the FN, has widespread support among the young and the unemployed, and could also be labelled a euroskeptic party. Beppe Grillo, M5S's founder and leader, has said the party, if elected, would hold a referendum on the euro.

Mr. Grillo has also attacked mainstream politicians and the powerful unions for stacking the system against young job seekers.

Youth unemployment in Italy was 35 per cent at last count. A recent report by London analyst

Antonio Guglielmi of Mediobanca Securities noted that nearly 50 per cent of those age 18 to 24 support M5S, even as older generations support the ruling, centre-left Democratic Party. "Italian politics is no longer sitting on the old-style right-versus-left split," he said. "The country is rather split in the young-versusold-people dichotomy."

The voter profile is broadly similar in France. While many young people are endorsing Ms. Le Pen, older voters end to be backing Mr.

Macron or Mr. Fillon, who appeals to the Christian right.

Even voters who despise Ms. Le Pen and think she is a closet racist in spite of her efforts to "detoxify" the party created in the 1970s by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, understand why those trapped in a downward economic spiral are gravitating toward the FN. "I respect the people who will vote for her," said Habib Mouffokes, an Algerian-born dermatologist from La Rochelle, in southwest France, who is a volunteer on the Macron campaign.

"For the poor, the people with no jobs, I understand why they would vote for her."

Frédéric Nahon, a medical-company business-development manager in Paris who hopes to become a candidate for Mr. Macron's party in the June National Assembly elections, also said he understands the National Front's appeal to young people enduring economic hardship. "They are disappointed by the response from the traditional right and left and say, 'Why not try the FN?' " he said. But he thinks Ms. Le Pen's solution to the youth jobs crisis - tariffs on imports, leaving the EU and the euro - is unworkable. "How do you compete if you leave the EU?" he asked.

In Amiens, the political attitude has shifted among workers who are unemployed or face losing their jobs as deindustrialization drains wealth from their city.

While they are not sure that Ms. Le Pen can implement the strategies need ed to preserve their jobs, they are certainly willing to punish the mainstream parties that, they say, stood by and did nothing as factories vanished.

"There is no work here," Mr.Loualé said. "What have we got to lose by voting for Marine?"

Eric Reguly is The Globe and Mail's European bureau chief.

Associated Graphic

Workers from Whirlpool's Amiens factory, which is soon to relocate to Poland, demonstrate outside the company's headquarters west of Paris this week, with a sign that reads 'Work! Consume! Shut up.'


Making a premier of himself
NDP Leader John Horgan has had to put a past failed leadership campaign behind him, unite a demoralized caucus and overhaul the party's platform, but now, he says, he's ready to win
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page S1

VANCOUVER -- 'What the hell are you going to do in the rest of your life?" the veteran highschool basketball coach recalls barking at John Horgan, then a disengaged, though talented, Victoria-area teen who had lost his father as a toddler and hadn't yet found a reason to work hard.

Jack Lusk, now 78, recalls the need for harsh advice. "You could see there was talent there, but he wasn't putting as much effort into what was going on."

But Mr. Lusk noted that young John Horgan was listening.

"I always considered basketball as being kind of an extension of life and part of life's lessons," Mr. Lusk says in an interview. "When he came out for the next practice and whatnot, he seemed to buy into this whole idea of working hard and making something of himself."

Mr. Horgan, 57, is now trying to make a premier of himself, leading the BC NDP into the party's fourth consecutive attempt at unseating the BC Liberals, who have governed the province since 2001. Voting day is on May 9.

To get to this point, the gregarious Mr. Horgan, acclaimed as party leader in 2014, has had to put a past failed party-leadership campaign behind him, carefully unite a demoralized caucus that now includes two former party leaders and overhaul the party's platform with the lessons learned from its devastating loss in the 2013 election campaign. Polls then predicted an NDP win, but Christy Clark led the BC Liberals to a surprise win.

At dissolution of the B.C. legislature this month, the Liberals had 47 seats, the NDP 35 and the Green Party one. There were two independents. That adds up to 85 seats, but two have been added by redistricting. To win the election, Mr. Horgan and his NDP will have to hold all their seats, and take around 10 more.

One of the NDP Leader's key challenges was rallying a dispirited caucus. Recounting the challenge, he recalls Mr. Lusk's lessons. "The team is counting on you. 'We've got a big game ahead of us. We need you to get going.' I wanted to get the best out of everybody," he says on his campaign bus last week, returning to the Lower Mainland after a day touring Kelowna, Osoyoos and Keremeos.

Mr. Horgan fondly invokes Mr. Lusk, the "stern, harsh guy" he regards as his "first real father figure" who steered him right at a challenging time in his life, introduced him to sports and ingrained the lessons he still leans on. "He was like, 'Get yourself together Horgan.' No 'mollycoddling.' That was a term he would use."

Mr. Horgan was born in Victoria, the son of Pat and Alice Horgan, who had four children - three boys and a daughter. Mr. Horgan has no memories of his father, who died when Mr. Horgan was so young. But he does have stories from his family.

"What excites me about my dad and the memory of my dad is how much they claim I am like him." Mr. Horgan's mother is also now deceased.

After playing soccer, lacrosse and basketball through his youth and adulthood, Mr. Horgan acknowledges his days of playing competitive sports are over.

"My knees are weak and my ankles are really bad, too," he says.

But the spirit of sporting competition is never far from his political persona. As he began his leader's election tour last week, he lingered at a round table in a Port Moody home to intensely chat with one participant who, as it turned out, has played top-level cricket. Mr. Horgan became interested in the sport as a university student in Australia.

During a subsequent campaign stop in Kelowna, he responded to a media question about the realistic odds of winning seats in the Liberal stronghold region with a sports analogy. "I'm a teamsports guy. If you don't play the game, you won't know the outcome," he said jauntily.

At another event, originally set on a basketball court in Delta, B.C., but shifted to a candidate's campaign office because of rain, Mr. Horgan tossed around a basketball, and twirled it on his finger, declaring, "I could take Eby on any day of the week." He seemed to be joking. Sort of.

Eby would be David Eby, the New Democrat running for reelection in Vancouver-Point Grey, and an NDP critic on such highprofile files as housing. Mr. Eby says Mr. Horgan has often reminded him of his own sporting youth. "He has a nickname for so many people in our caucus, mostly based on last names. So I am Ebes. The last time I was called Ebes was by hockey coaches when I was playing minor hockey."

Mr. Eby said his initial impression of Mr. Horgan, years ago, was of someone who played a lot of competitive sports, and was playing to win. "He brought that team mentality and competitive edge to what we were doing in politics," Mr. Eby says in an interview.

"It sounds like something common in politics, but politics is full of people who haven't played a lot of team sports."

Behind the scenes, Mr. Eby says the Horgan playbook includes pep talks and strong supportive comments, but also a willingness toward constructive criticism. Mr. Eby has appreciated it. "The desire to win can be something that's lost in discussions about policy. If you don't have the desire to win, you can talk about policy all day, but you're not going to form government."

Some have accused Mr. Horgan of anger issues. Former NDP premier Mike Harcourt, who relied on Mr. Horgan as a troubleshooter on various files and has, more recently, offered policy advice, is dismissive of the suggestion. "I don't think he's an angry man. I think he has strongly held opinions. In the beginning, a couple of times, he let [Ms. Clark] bait him and rose to the bait. He doesn't any more."

Mr. Horgan dismisses the angry label as a Liberal concoction. But he explains that he's "passionate about things."

"I wear my heart on my sleeve, to be sure and I call things out when I see them. That again is part of my upbringing. I am a big physical force and I despise bullying. I was raised to protect those who need protection and that's what I am going to do."

Mr. Lusk's blunt guidance set Mr. Horgan on a path that saw him go on to study at Trent University in Peterborough, Ont., where he met his wife, Ellie. At the suggestion of Trent faculty, he earned a master's degree in history at Sydney University in Australia, writing on British imperial history and connections between Canada and Australia.

Mr. Horgan, who also worked as a chief of staff to ex-interim premier Dan Miller, came gradually to the NDP and elected politics.

Three moments stand out on the journey.

While at Trent, a buddy of Mr. Horgan's said NDP legend Tommy Douglas was speaking on campus. "I had no idea who he was," Mr. Horgan says. "I didn't want to go." But his buddy kept egging him on, eventually saying they could go for a beer afterward. "That was the clincher, of course."

Mr. Horgan remembers a small man with a powerful voice. "His message really hooked me. That was the power of people banding together for social justice." Mr. Horgan transferred out of psychology - he was writing a paper on self-actualization using prime minister Pierre Trudeau as an example - and into history. He focused on learning about movements in Canada. "I couldn't get enough of it."

The second moment came in 1983 when British Columbia was rocked by the Solidarity move.

ment of unions, community and other groups fighting the Social Credit government's austerity program. To Mr. Horgan, then waiting on tables, the conflict was a practical application of the material he was reading about.

He walked into an NDP office and asked what he could do to help.

"They said I could make a donation. I reached into my pocket and said, 'All I have got is $10.' And that $10 disappeared in a second. And they said, 'Congratulations. Fill this form out and you're a member of the NDP.' " The third moment has sometimes come up in Mr. Horgan's stump speeches.

In 2004, Mr, Horgan was at home, yelling at the TV over news BC Ferries would have new ships built in Germany instead of British Columbia. "What are you going to do about it?" asked a 16year-old friend of one of Mr. Horgan's two sons.

At the time, Mr. Horgan was working as a consultant. But he decided to run for a seat in the legislature. "I never saw myself as a front guy. I was always more into the policy development. I liked grappling with the big issues, and finding solutions," Mr. Horgan has said of the decision.

In 2005, voters in Malahat-Juan de Fuca elected Mr. Horgan as their MLA. He has been re-elected into the subsequently created seat of Juan de Fuca. He went on to serve as education and energy critic. In 2011, he came third in a bid to lead the party. He served as opposition House leader, and New Democrats say he honed his team-building skills in that role.

"He became, as House leader, in some respects, one of the deputy leaders of the party," says Adrian Dix, then the party leader. Mr. Dix says it was a challenging job for Mr. Horgan, a long-time friend.

"You can't please everyone all the time. It's a negotiation, often about who gets a certain amount of time for debate. I think he was consistently straightforward. People understood what the strategy and the plan were all the time."

When the leadership job opened with Mr. Dix's departure after the 2013 election, Mr. Horgan initially said he would sit out the competition, declaring that a younger generation needed to take the helm of the NDP. However, party members called on him to run. Mr. Horgan was acclaimed. At the time, he quipped to The Globe and Mail, "I'm the younger generation I was looking for."

There have been, however, challenges larger than politics. In 2008, Mr. Horgan was diagnosed with bladder cancer. "When someone says you have got cancer, it is like getting hit by a big, huge baseball bat. You're kind of stunned for a while. You try and think. That must be it, then.

We're all done."

Mr. Horgan eventually recovered. "The thing that I remember most about those times was how genuinely funny he was about his treatment and experience," Mr. Dix says.

But cancer has returned more recently to Mr. Horgan's life with his eldest brother being diagnosed in January with terminal lung cancer.

Mr. Horgan says his own cancer experience prompted him to live as though every day was precious, and could be his last. "But that starts to fade. I think it's human nature. You protect yourself from thinking of the worst by not thinking about it."

However, he says his brother's diagnosis has reminded him of life's frailty and, also, a saying of his mother's: "You're a long time dead. So while you're here, make an impact. Do something."

Mr. Lusk has been intrigued to see it all play out. At one point, he was living in Mr. Horgan's riding. There were troubles with logging companies in the area so Mr. Lusk called Mr. Horgan, who turned up to take a look at what was going on.

"He came along and listened to our stories," Mr. Lusk recalls. "I was impressed with the way that he had grown up from the [kid] whose pants I had to kick in order to get him to show up."

Associated Graphic

BC NDP Leader John Horgan, centre, plays with a basketball during a visit to the campaign office of BC NDP candidate Ravi Kahlon, right, in Delta, B.C., on Monday.


BC NDP Leader John Horgan, centre, speaks to media during a visit to Delta on Monday.


NAFTA at stake amid backroom battles at White House
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page B1

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's administration is sharply divided over what demands to make in the upcoming renegotiation of the North American freetrade agreement, with some top officials favouring limited tweaks that would open markets further while others want a significant overhaul to usher in a new era of "America First" economic nationalism, sources who have taken part in highlevel trade discussions with the administration say.

On one side are economic adviser Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who favour an enhanced NAFTA that would make it easier for companies to do cross-border business. On the other are chief strategist Steve Bannon, policy guru Stephen Miller and National Trade Council director Peter Navarro, who want protectionist measures to fortify the U.S. market against foreign competition.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the administration's NAFTA point man, is somewhere in between the two poles, speaking the language of open markets privately while flirting with economic nationalism in public.

The NAFTA rift is part of the larger internecine battle between moderates and nationalists being waged in the West Wing. The rift blew into the open over the last week, with Mr. Trump publicly denigrating Mr. Bannon's importance in government and instructing him to mend fences with his rivals, particularly the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is on the side of the moderates.

Mr. Trump spent much of last year's campaign blaming NAFTA for hollowing out the U.S. manufacturing sector and promising to tear it up once in power.

During a September debate, he called the pact "the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere."

But nearly three months into the job, say sources in the Canadian, U.S. and Mexican governments, the Trump administration does not appear to know what it actually wants to get from the negotiation, with wildly opposite messages coming from different people in the President's circle.

Further complicating the uncertain landscape in Washington, Congress is mulling a border-adjustment tax that would curb imports to the United States.

And the country's convoluted method for negotiating trade deals gives senators power to add different trade priorities to the agenda, leaving everyone uncertain as to what will ultimately end up on the table.

Two other key moves - the confirmation of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and 90-day notice to Congress of the intent to open renegotiation - have still not taken place, meaning formal talks will not start until midsummer at the earliest.

It is all leaving a trilateral trade zone worth $1.1-trillion (U.S.) in limbo, exposing one of the world's most lucrative economic partnerships to the whims of a chaotic administration and a fractious Congress.

The White House declined to discuss the split. "As of now we're not ready to comment on NAFTA talks," spokeswoman Natalie Strom wrote in an e-mail. Neither Mr. Ross's nor Mr. Mnuchin's offices responded to requests for comment.

The closest the Trump administration has come to setting out specific NAFTA demands was a draft of its notification letter to Congress, which leaked two weeks ago. The missive listed a wide-ranging set of negotiating objectives: A "safeguard mechanism" that would allow the United States to slap temporary tariffs on Canadian and Mexican goods if a sudden influx of them hurts U.S. companies; the scrapping of trade panels that have consistently ruled in Canada's favour in the softwood-lumber dispute; tightening "rules of origin" requirements on goods produced in the NAFTA zone.

Much of the language, however, was vague - hinting at U.S.-content requirement for manufactured goods, for instance, but not saying it explicitly. And the 40point list of objectives is exhaustive, alternating between more targeted provisions to beef up the deal - gaining more access for U.S. agricultural exports, for example - along with tougher protectionist measures that could tear it apart.

"The letter reflects the diversity of viewpoints that exist within the administration, and I think that's going to continue," said trade lawyer Stephen Claeys, a former adviser to ex-president George W. Bush and congressional Republicans. "What they do with it now is going to depend on how the dynamics of the administration work out."

Scotty Greenwood, senior adviser at the Canadian-American Business Council, says the White House appears to be keeping its options open as it tries to simultaneously push forward with renegotiation and get congressional backing.

"It's probably purposefully vague because they're not completely sure what they are going to do. They're trying to build a bike and ride the bike at the same time," she said. "They're leaving themselves room to interpret it later."

Such fluidity leaves an opening for Canada's strategy to fight back against the protectionist tide. A parade of federal and provincial cabinet ministers, premiers and MPs have flooded Washington and state capitals across the country to lobby the administration, legislators and business. The uniform message: Blowing up NAFTA would hurt businesses on both sides of the border. Ottawa is also insisting the deal remain trilateral, arguing that replacing NAFTA with a series of bilateral pacts would be inefficient when many companies do business across all three countries.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who will be overseeing the NAFTA talks, has been meeting with Mr. Ross. And several other Trump administration officials - including Mr. Cohn, Mr. Mnuchin, Mr. Bannon, Mr. Miller and Mr. Navarro - have had discussions on trade with Canadian and Mexican representatives, insiders said. Mr. Kushner, who helped organize Mr. Trudeau's February visit to the White House, has also been involved in some discussions around trade, the sources said.

The two camps in the administration have given wildly different messages on what to expect at the negotiating table. One source said the divide is so stark, "it's like dealing with two different governments."

Mr. Ross, for his part, has sent mixed signals. Publicly, he has complained about other countries offering rebates to exporters on value-added taxes, such as the GST, and is overseeing a review of trade deficits with 16 countries, including Canada, to determine if those countries are ripping off or cheating the United States. "It's not our fate in life that we have to absorb all the net exports from everyone else," he declared on Bloomberg TV last month.

But behind closed doors, people who have dealt with him say he has been less hawkish. In some cases, he has spoken of using NAFTA to eliminate more trade barriers. Mr. Ross was also behind a push to exempt the Keystone XL pipeline from Mr. Trump's edict that new pipelines use only American steel, sources said.

While Ottawa is happy to discuss measures that could expand NAFTA (labour mobility and the digital economy are two frequently cited examples), increased protectionism, in the form of taxes or tougher rules-oforigin requirements, are nonstarters.

Mr. Ross is said to be particularly keen on the rules-of-origin revamp. These rules set limits on the amount of non-NAFTA materials and work that can go into a particular product for it to be exempted from tariffs in the NAFTA zone.

Autos, for instance, must contain 62.5 per cent NAFTA content.

Also included in the rules-of-origin provision are so-called "tracing requirements" that determine which components of manufactured goods are traced to see whether they come from within NAFTA or not.

Mr. Ross wants to look at tightening these rules to ensure more content is made within the NAFTA zone. And the Trump administration is also toying with adding an additional requirement that a percentage of content be made in the United States, sources with knowledge of its thinking said. The leaked letter hinted at this, declaring that rewriting rules of origin to "ensure ... production and jobs in the United States" would be a negotiating objective.

The theory is that tighter rules of origin and tracing will help suppliers located in the NAFTA zone, and particularly the United States. But any such move - whether raising the limits, adding more items to the tracing requirements or slapping on a "buy America" clause - would mean manufacturing companies would either have to start paying tariffs on some goods or switch to new suppliers.

Moving in parallel is the border-adjustment proposal. Such a move would slap an extra tax on U.S. companies that import goods while offering a rebate to firms that export. The levy threatens to make the products of all non-U.S. countries, including Canada, less attractive to the world's largest market. After failing to pass health-care legislation last month, legislators may turn their attention to tax reform, including the border-tax idea, when they return from break in the last week of April. But with a heavily divided GOP caucus, it is unclear what exactly will happen.

Ontario Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid contends that his province's international supply chains - particularly in the auto sector and other manufacturing businesses - are so interconnected that adding extra burdens will hurt companies on both sides of the border.

"Any costs that are imposed on trade, on moving goods and people across our border, have the potential to make our collective economies less competitive globally," he said. "We hope that, out of a sense of enlightened self-interest, the decision makers in the U.S. take that into account."

Adding to the complication is the United States' complicated negotiating system. Under the Trade Promotion Authority, Congress has given the President the right to negotiate with other countries - but the final agreement must be submitted for approval. This means that legislators can demand their own interests be put on the negotiators' agenda in exchange for backing the deal in Congress.

Representative Kevin Brady, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means committee, told The Globe and Mail that the administration had promised to give Congress a major role in setting the agenda.

"The Trump administration is clearly committed to following the new trade rules, which is an unprecedented amount of consultation before negotiations begin," he said following a closed-door meeting with Mr. Ross and several officials from the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

The Senate finance committee, which must confirm Mr. Lighthizer, used a hearing last month to press him to commit to a long string of specific trade policies: Ending Canada's system of supply management for milk, eggs and poultry; getting Ottawa to stop counterfeit goods flowing through the country en route to the United States and pushing Canada to raise its $20 (Canadian) limit on the amount of cross-border goods Canadians can buy online without paying duty.

The tight time frame for talks only makes it harder to get through so many items: A deal would likely have to be done in time to be ratified before Mexico's June, 2018, election, lest an anti-NAFTA administration win power.

Whether the fragmented Congress - and the internecine battles within the administration - work in Canada's favour or against it are anyone's guess.

At a forum sponsored by the Canadian American Business Council in Washington last month, Representative John Delaney confidently predicted Speaker Paul Ryan would never be able to marshal enough support for a border tax.

"Let's face it: It's never going to happen. Why would you take the No. 1 economy in the world and bet it on a theory?" the Maryland congressman said. "It doesn't have the votes."

But Liberal MP Wayne Easter, who led an all-party delegation of MPs and senators to Washington last month to lobby members of Congress to back away from a border tax and protectionist NAFTA measures, cautioned that such sweeping predictions are a mug's game - particularly after last month's chaotic unravelling of the health-care bill.

"You've got so many different factions: the Blue Dog Democrats, the Freedom Caucus, the Tuesday Group, the Tea Party," said Mr. Easter, co-chairman of the Canada-United States InterParliamentary Group. "It's really uncertain which way this goes.

It's too close to call."

Associated Graphic

The border-adjustment proposal to tax Canadian imports into the United States - at crossings such as the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit - would damage the appeal of Canadian products.


The all-star
Jeff Lemire's comic books are beloved by both fanboys and the literary crowd. This week he published his first graphic novel in five years, Roughneck, the harrowing tale of a former NHL enforcer. Mark Medley faces off with one of Canada's best storytellers - in any medium
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Print Edition, Page R13

The Toronto Maple Leafs are going to the playoffs, and Jeff Lemire is ecstatic. All right, the team is technically still one agonizing point away from clinching a spot, but Lemire, sitting in his east-end Toronto studio on a rainy Thursday morning, is giddy with possibility. He's been talking about comics for the better part of an hour - specifically his justreleased graphic novel, Roughneck, about a ruined former NHLer - but it's only when the conversation turns to his favourite team that the soft-spoken, 41year-old cartoonist breaks into a silly grin, his voice quivering with the fervour of a diehard fan.

"It's been incredible," says Lemire, who has tickets to the final home game. "It's the thing I've been waiting for since '93."

He's played the sport his entire life - not well, mind you, but "I'm not the worst guy." He's an allpurpose forward on the famed Flying Burritos of the GTHLA - the Good Times Hockey League of the Arts, a Toronto beer league lousy with writers, musicians and artists, in which Lemire has been playing since he was a line cook working the night shift at a local Tex-Mex joint (thus the team name) and not one of the biggest names in contemporary comics.

"Hockey is my only escape from comics," he says. "All I do, all day, is comics, every day. It's the one time I shut that part of my brain off and do something else."

It's not hard to believe. His studio, which is part gallery and part comic-book store, is evidence of the breadth and depth of his work, which ranges from contemplative coming-of-age stories to complicated space operas: shelves crammed with books and collectibles; the walls overtaken by original art, not only by Lemire but artists he's collaborated with and friends in the industry; drawers crammed full of plasticwrapped comics; multiple desks, depending on whether he's drawing or writing. "I love bouncing between things," he says. "It's kind of gotten addictive. I always want more stuff all the time."

It's reached a point where one wonders how he meets all his deadlines. Lemire writes several monthly titles, including Thanos, Moon Knight and Old Man Logan for Marvel Comics, and recently collaborated with the singer Gord Downie on Secret Path, a graphic novel based on Downie's record of the same name, about the death of residential-school student Chanie Wenjack, a book that has sold close to 100,000 copies since being released last October and that has introduced his work to a whole new audience. His work has reached The New York Times bestseller list, and a number of his books are being developed for film and television.

This week, Lemire published his first standalone graphic novel in five years, Roughneck, about a down-and-out hockey enforcer living in small-town Northern Ontario. It explores many themes readers familiar with Lemire's sizable body of work will recognize: history, family, alienation and, of course, hockey. With Roughneck - along with another new monthly series, Royal City, which debuted in March and tells the story of a fractured family dealing with the death of one of its members - Lemire has returned to his creative roots, stepping away from the capes and cowls of his superhero work and other genre fare and toward the "grounded" storytelling of his breakthrough book, Essex County. Both are intelligent, deeply mature works, and show why Lemire is a writer whose work appeals to both "traditional comic-book fanboys" and "the literary crowd."

"They're two different audiences, and I've been lucky that I can straddle both worlds, and be successful in both," he says.

Lemire was able to quit his day (night) job and devote himself to comics, full-time, in 2008. Like any other creative industry, cartooning is precarious employment at the best of times, but Lemire has managed to make a good living doing it. While he works with the big players, Marvel and DC, for cartoonists of Lemire's stature, it's much more lucrative to concentrate on "creator-owned" titles for the likes of Image Comics, which publishes Royal City and Descender, his sci-fi epic following the adventures of a young android named TIM-21 in a universe where his kind have been outlawed. Lemire gets a page rate when working for Marvel and DC, a standard fee depending on the length of the book and royalties once a book passes a certain number of units sold; on the other hand, Image handles printing, distribution and marketing costs, and once they've earned back those costs - roughly 4,000 to 5,000 copies - all profit goes to the creators. (The rule of thumb is a buck a book.) The first issue of Royal City sold 30,000copies; Descender, which he produces with artist Dustin Nguyen, has sold hundreds of thousands of copies in various forms.

"Not everyone can sell a creatorowned book," Lemire says.

"Image publishes dozens of books every month, but there's only a handful of us that are actually selling really well. I'm lucky - my name sells books."

It wasn't always this way. While Lemire self-published his first book, Lost Dogs, in the fall of 2005, he didn't achieve prominence until publishing Essex County, a trilogy of interwoven graphic novellas that rank among the best books - comics or otherwise - to come out of Canada this century.

(It hit the mainstream when it was selected for CBC's Canada Reads in 2011, although it was the first book voted off, a choice bit of irony considering the public broadcaster is currently adapting the book for TV.) The stories - about a lonely comic-book obsessed boy and his uncle; a pair of former hockey players, both brothers and rivals; a middleaged country nurse bringing comfort to the residents of her farming community - were rooted in Lemire's own childhood, in Woodslee, Ont., in the countryside east of Windsor.

"I had a fairly lonely childhood," he says. "I was a kid who loved art and comics and movies, and was surrounded by factory workers and farmers who had nothing in common with my interests. I had sisters, but I had really no one to share that with." I ask if he's still lonely, working by himself in the small studio where he spends hour upon hour each day. "It's very solitary, but there's a difference between being alone and being lonely. I prefer to be alone, to be honest with you. Or else I wouldn't do what I do."

Loneliness and alienation is a subject that has followed Lemire throughout his career, whether in The Nobody, his 2009 interpretation of H.G. Wells's The Invisible Man, or Sweet Tooth, his dystopian series about a half-human, halfdeer boy, or The Underwater Welder, from 2012, about a haunted father-to-be working on the ocean floor, the movie rights to which were recently snapped up by a group which includes the actor Ryan Gosling.

"I feel most comfortable telling the stories of outsiders, or outcasts," Lemire says.

Derek Ouelette, the protagonist of Roughneck, is both an outsider and an outcast. Despite a violent, alcoholic father and a tragedy that left Derek and his sister alone in the world, he became a professional hockey player, only to have his career cut short after an angerfuelled incident on the ice. He returns to the fictional Pimitamon, his hometown, where he gets a job at the local rink and drinks himself into oblivion most nights. The book follows Derek as he reunites with his sister, a troubled young woman on the run from her violent boyfriend.

Lemire actually began Roughneck many years ago - it was first announced in late 2013 - around the time that several former NHL players - Wade Belak, Rick Rypien and Derek Boogaard - died young, either by accidental overdose or their own hand. The life of the hockey enforcer interested Lemire; it's a job whose sole description is to protect your teammates. But what happens when their career is over and there's no one around to protect them?

"That became really fascinating to me," he says. "These guys who lived this life of violence - that's how they made their living, [was] to fight. And then, suddenly, the game doesn't want them any more, or they get too broken down or old to play any more.

And they're still the same people - they've never known anything but travelling with the team, and fighting and being violent, and often there's substance abuse that goes along with it. And they're left with all this baggage and nowhere to put it. There's nowhere to put that violence. Suddenly they're not on the road any more, they're stuck wherever they land. It's tragic, but it's also fascinating, psychologically. It's a very specific thing to hockey, to that sport and to those guys."

Around this time, Lemire travelled to Northern Ontario for the first time, visiting the communities of Moose Factory and Moosonee near the shores of James Bay.

"I became aware of how little I knew about Canada as soon as I got there, and how little I knew about First Nations and Indigenous culture and history," he admits. Soon after his trip he introduced Equinox, a teenage Cree girl whose superpowers transform with the seasons, into DC's Justice League, which he was writing at the time. It was also when he began Roughneck, which explores the cycle of violence and addiction facing many remote communities. (Derek and his sis...

ter are part Cree.) Then, when Lemire was about two-thirds of the way through Roughneck, he was approached by Gord Downie and his brother Mike, who were fans of Essex County and offered him the opportunity to illustrate Secret Path.

Having now completed three projects that touch on Indigenous culture, to varying degrees, Lemire knows that questions of appropriation, and whether these stories are his to tell, are unavoidable. It's a conversation that has grown even more heated in recent months thanks to the Joseph Boyden controversy.

(Advance copies of Roughneck thanked Boyden, whom Lemire has travelled with in Northern Ontario; tellingly, his name is absent from the final version.)

"There's a big difference in the way that Joseph presented himself," Lemire says. "I've never claimed to be anything other than what I am, and I've never claimed to be a spokesperson for Indigenous rights, or anything like that.

I'm just a white guy. If anything, these projects were a way for me to learn more about something I'm very ignorant about. That's what art is. For any artist, you're trying to learn something. For me, this was a big part of Canada and a big part of our history that I didn't know enough about, and I still don't know enough about. By going up there and doing these books I know more than I did, and maybe if I can share what I learned with people who otherwise wouldn't read about this stuff, then it's worth doing."

In addition to the numerous monthly titles he's currently committed to, Lemire is writing the screenplay for the adaptation of his series Plutona, about a group of children who discover the body of a dead superhero in the woods, and has been sitting in the writers' room of the Essex County adaptation. He has another monthly series, Family Tree, about a girl who's turning into a tree, coming out later this year, too. Hearing this, I remind Lemire that earlier he told me he vowed to himself, during one particularly busy stretch of work last year, to be more selective when it comes to projects. "I know. I can't stop."

For that, his fans thank him.

Associated Graphic

Jeff Lemire, seen in his Toronto studio, says he loves 'bouncing between things,' as evidenced by all the projects he's working on at the moment.


EU on edge as Le Pen rallies her support
Far-right leader could be one of two candidates emerging victorious in the first round of the presidential election. While the European Union might survive Brexit, the loss of France as well would be a huge blow
Thursday, April 20, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A1

PARIS -- Marine Le Pen and the party she leads, France's xenophobic and fiercely anti-EU National Front (FN), have never been so close to power. In three days, she stands to become one of two candidates to emerge victorious in the first round of the presidential election.

Her first- or second-place showing on Sunday would send shock waves through France and the capitals of the European Union, where the name Le Pen is viewed with a mix of fascination and fear. The polls say she will lose in the second round, on May 7, but the polls could be wrong, as they were with Brexit and the U.S. election.

France is the EU's third-biggest economy. While the EU might survive Brexit, it could not survive the exodus of both Britain and France. Ms. Le Pen's cry for French "independence" would also see her ditch the euro and reprint the franc.

Ms. Le Pen has been on a roll in recent months and knows how to fire up an audience.

With her deep, resonant voice - booming at times - commanding stage presence, bright red jacket and appeals to French patriotism, she kept some 6,000 followers in a state of near rapture for almost an hour and a half Monday night.

Her supporters had trekked to the Zénith arena in Paris's 19th arrondissement, a bold act in itself because the area is full ofimmigrants and the FN doesn't want to see any of them traipsing onto French soil.

"France for the French," Ms. Le Pen shouted from the Zénith stage. "I will protect you. My first act as president will be to reinstate France's borders."

The Zénith itself was ringed with hundreds of police officers in their anti-riot equipment.

Not far away, maybe a hundred anti-FN protesters shouted "Fascists!" in the general direction of the Zénith, but they were never a threat to the lovefest inside the arena.

Ms. Le Pen, 48 and a savvy populist, pressed all the right buttons as her followers waved French flags, stomped their feet in unison and broke into La Marseillaise, the rousing national anthem that seemed particularly appropriate for the revolution Ms. Le Pen promises to unleash if she is elected president. The song was written in 1792 as a call to arms - to mobilize the French against tyranny and foreign invasion.

At the time, it was the Austrians who were the enemy; today, as far as the FN is concerned, it is the EU, the euro, foreigners, radical Islam, the EU's passport-free travel area (known as the Schengen area), big government, free trade and globalization.

Ms. Le Pen accused two of her leading, pro-EU rivals, Emmanuel Macron and François Fillon, of advocating what she called "savage globalization." Wild cheers.

"Behind mass immigration, there is terrorism." More wild cheers.

The burkini "is not a religious garment but an Islamist provocation." Cheers, followed by the crowd chanting, "On est chez nous" - This is our home.

The crowd lapped it up. Jérome Ardu, a 30-year-old Paris firefighter, said, "I like her idea for immigration. All immigrants should be stopped. There is not enough work for the French." Daniel Colle, 81, a retired dentist who lives in suburban Paris, said he agrees with Ms. Le Pen that the EU is a flawed project that can't possibly unite 27 countries. "It's difficult to put developing countries and rich countries together," he said. "Brexit has opened the door for France to leave the EU."

When asked if Ms. Le Pen will win the election, Mr. Colle, a supporter of the FN since her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, formed his openly racist party in 1972, said there is no doubt she will be one of the two winners on Sunday in the first round. But her success, he said, is not guaranteed in the second. "It all depends on who she goes up against."

Indeed, the race for the Élysée Palace has not been this tight in decades. With at least four of the 11 candidates polling high and close to one another, the race is too close to call, and all of France and the politicians and bureaucrats in Paris, Brussels, Berlin and Rome who operate the pro-EU and pro-euro machinery are on edge.

What is certain is that Ms. Le Pen is a contender. She is polling at 22 per cent to 23 per cent, only a point or so behind Mr. Macron, the front-running centrist candidate and leader of the fledgling En Marche! party. When her supporters call her "Madame Présidente," many of them, perhaps most, genuinely think she will triumph, that her moment has arrived. "Fight for victory, until the very last minute," she said at the Zénith. "If every patriot can this week convince just one abstentionist, just one undecided voter, we are sure to win!"

When Mr. Le Pen, now 88, nailed almost 17 per cent of the vote in the first round of the 2002 presidential election, France was shocked that his far-right, ultranationalist, anti-Semitic views could attract such a strong following. A million or more people took to the streets after the first round to urge the supporters of centre-right, centre-left and fringe parties to vote against Mr. Le Pen. "Vote for the crook, not the fascist," one slogan said. It worked, and Jacques Chirac, the conservative candidate, won by a landslide.

Mr. Le Pen's daughter is attracting far more support than he ever did. How did that happen?

"Marine Le Pen has become a player," said Charles Kehoe, 58, a Paris entrepreneur who distributes children's goods and supports Mr. Macron. "She has done a very good job of giving the National Front an acceptable face, even though I think nothing fundamental has changed in the party. Terrorism, high youth unemployment and the economy have all played into her lap."

Ms. Le Pen was born just outside of Paris and survived a 1976 bombing of her family's apartment that was apparently meant to kill the whole family. She trained as a lawyer, joined the FN in the late 1990s and ousted her father from the party in 2011, after which she launched a campaign to "detoxify" the FN's image and broaden its appeal to voters beyond the extreme right.

Out went the blatantly racist and anti-Semitic overtones - her father once referred to the Nazi gas chambers as a mere "detail" of history - and in came policies designed to convince the French the FN could actually govern.

Economic policies were developed - her father's policies had focused largely on immigration and how to stop it. The twicedivorced working mother of three also painted herself as a feminist, speaking out for women's rights and protection from sexual assault. Later, the Le Pen name was removed from her campaign logos. She is simply Marine.

Judging by her popularity ratings, the detoxification effort has worked fairly well - even though millions of voters think many of the old prejudices are only barely hidden and that her feminist stance is not genuine. "I believe she is still an extremist," said Habib Mouffokes, 60, an Algerian-born dermatologist from La Rochelle who was attending a huge Macron rally in Paris on the same day Ms. Le Pen spoke at the Zénith. "She is still an extremist.

She is against foreigners, against Muslims. Is she a fascist? I don't know, but some say she is."

Certainly, the fear of more terrorist attacks has won support for her anti-immigrant stance, along with her plan to hire more police officers and build more prisons.

Shootings, suicide bombings and vehicle-ramming incidents killed more than 200 people in France in 2015 and 2016.

The poor performance of the French economy has also helped her cause. While France emerged from the 2008 crisis largely intact - no big banks collapsed - it suffered greatly in the euro zone crisis in 2012. Growth since then has been meagre and wholly incapable of restoring employment to precrisis levels. Unemployment is almost 10 per cent, youth unemployment is 25 per cent and in some deindustrialized parts of the country, such as the northeast, long-term unemployment is a fact of life.

Historically, populist movements have thrived in regions of economic distress or among demographic groups that are enduring hardship. This appears to be the case among France's youth, especially in the deindustrialized northeast. According to a recent Ifop poll, 39 per cent of 18-to-24year-olds support the FN. Mr. Macron's centrists attract only 21 per cent of the youth vote and Mr. Fillon's conservatives pull in just 9 per cent. Ensuring that young people come out in force is crucial for Ms. Le Pen's electoral success.

She advocates an economic model economists think is unworkable - even if it resonates with many voters, especially the young, the demographic group with the bleakest job prospects.

Like U.S. President Donald Trump, she advocates a patriotic agenda - France first. She would impose an extra tax on foreign employees, introduce measures to help small businesses, hold a referendum on EU and euro membership, fix the legal retirement age at 60, increase social spending and use the Bank of France, not the private debt markets, to finance deficits. "But she doesn't say how she will finance all of this," said Grégory Claeys, an economist at Bruegel, a think tank in Brussels.

With only three days left before the first round, the election is still very much a four-horse race.

While Mr. Macron and Ms. Le Pen are in the lead, Mr. Fillon, the conservative candidate who is polling strongly with the Christian right, has climbed a bit to 19 per cent or 20 per cent, even though he is under investigation for allegedly using public money to employ his wife in a so-called fake-job scandal. The firebrand Communist-backed candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who wants to slap a 90-per-cent tax rate on the wealthy and hold a referendum on the EU unless the EU treaties are rewritten in France's favour, is only about a point behind Mr. Fillon.

In other words, only three or four points separate the four front-runners, well within the margin of error.

Still, Ms. Le Pen seems likely to be one of the two winners on Sunday, sending her to the second round in May, possibly against Mr. Macron, whose centrist stance is earning him support from the centre-left and the centre-right - the voters who have no appetite for the radical positions represented by Ms. Le Pen and Mr. Mélenchon. The polls say Mr. Macron would win if he were up against Ms. Le Pen in the second round.

But if Ms. Le Pen were to go up against Mr. Fillon or Mr. Mélenchon, she could emerge victorious. Suppose her opponent is Mr. Fillon. Mr. Claeys says many left-wing voters would find it hard to vote for Mr. Fillon, "so they won't vote." Voter abstention, which is expected to be high, could rob Mr. Fillon of the votes he needs to overcome Ms. Le Pen.

Even supporters of Mr. Macron admit his leader status is not secure. "The people who vote for Le Pen or Mélenchon are angry at the system," said Dominique Soulat, 66, a musician and composer from Provence, in the south of France. "I myself am not angry, but lots of French are."

While it's still a long shot, Ms. Le Pen as Madame Présidente is not a fantasy, as it was for her father. The great European project would be shattered if she were to win that title.

Associated Graphic

French presidential candidate and National Front Leader Marine Le Pen arrives on stage for a meeting in Marseille, France, on Wednesday.


Hamilton's residents have fervently debated the need (or lack thereof) for a light-rail transit line to be built through the city, and with so much riding on the plan, Oliver Moore reports what the billion-dollar development would mean for Steeltown
Tuesday, April 18, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A8

HAMILTON -- Patrick Guilbault picked the spot to open a café specifically because a light-rail line was being proposed to run right by. A few kilometres east, Tina Pellegrini is planning to pre-empt the LRT by closing her collectibles business.

She'll sell her house if the project goes through.

These are the two solitudes of Hamilton, a city in the midst of renewal and bitterly divided about its future, as local politicians decide whether to accept an almost $1-billion offer from the province to build one of the biggest surface transit projects in the country.

Supporters see the LRT as the best city-building opportunity to come along in decades, one that will help revitalize the long-struggling downtown. Opponents call it a disaster-in-the-making, arguing it'll wreck traffic on one of the key roads through the core and suck up scarce tax revenue to run it.

The fight, which comes as Ottawa and Ontario are promising to spend billions on transit, illustrates that the challenges of building new transportation infrastructure go beyond financing, especially in cities that have spent decades emphasizing the primacy of car travel. In a similar municipal battle, Brampton, to the west of Toronto, turned down hundreds of millions in provincial funding for an LRT in 2015 because a majority of councillors didn't want it to run on the main downtown road.

The debate has turned nasty in Hamilton. Opponents of the LRT proposal have been painted as anti-downtown Luddites. A public deputant at a recent meeting equated "LRT fever" with the SARS and AIDS epidemics. At another meeting, a councillor suggested that the mayor, not having young children, doesn't appreciate the importance of spending time with family.

After dozens of votes related to the project, a key council decision is scheduled for Wednesday. In what is expected to be a marathon meeting, municipal politicians have to decide whether to submit a revised environmental project report (EPR) to the province.

With the meeting looming, a Forum Research poll commissioned by nine Hamilton councillors showed 48 per cent of residents were opposed to the project and 40 per cent were in favour, with the remainder undecided. Support was highest among those of ages 18 to 44, and opposition strongest among those 55 and older.

Although killing the project is not officially on the table Wednesday, a vote that would normally be a routine procedural moment in the life of the project has taken on outsized importance. Voting not to submit the EPR would effectively put the project into limbo, a precarious place to be as the next provincial election approaches.

"I think that this is kind of the crucible moment for the forces of old Hamilton versus the forces of new Hamilton," said Keanin Loomis, president of the local chamber of commerce.

"How demoralizing [stopping] would be for all the progress and change we've seen in the last 10 years."

A selective boom

Hamilton was hit hard by the decline of its steel industry but has been bouncing back in recent years. Its population has risen 6.4 per cent since 2006, according to Statistics Canada.

In 2015, millennials surpassed baby boomers to become the biggest demographic group in the city, making up 28 per cent of the population. Some of these are people drawn by the relatively cheap real estate, while others grew up in Hamilton and stayed in a city that has evolved from its blue-collar past.

The number of children is also strong. Those born after 2001 number about 15 per cent of the population.

Alongside these changes, real estate values have surged in Hamilton, which was dubbed the hottest market in Canada late last year. Figures from the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington show reliable year-over-year average price increases in every part of the city over the past decade.

"It's one of those communities that was a sleeper for a very long time, but over the last three years has exploded," Re/Max broker Conrad Zurini said.

The average freehold sold last year for about $450,000, he said, up almost 90 per cent over the past decade. Housing prices jumped 27.8 per cent in March compared with the previous year.

But the progress has been uneven, with the central areas lagging. Kerry Jari, the head of the downtown business improvement area, said development incentives have helped, but the biggest thing the area needs now is more people.

Mr. Zurini agreed one of the key issues facing the downtown is that its population isn't growing.

"There's some fragility in the market, unless we start to see more density coming in and the city allowing for that," he warned.

Anyone walking through the downtown will see immediately what they mean. Although there are encouraging signs of growth in the core - including a McMaster University health-sciences facility, condo development and some well-regarded restaurants - the area still faces major challenges.

There is a vast amount of surface parking available and cars roar along the one-way arterial roads. Empty storefronts have proliferated and hip new offerings are still outnumbered by down-market businesses. There is a strong presence of payday-loan outlets. Signs warn of a video-surveillance net cast across the central area.

It doesn't help that downtown Hamilton has a sketchy reputation in the rest of the city, where some residents refer to the core with a mixture of fear and loathing. "It's so violent ... a Twilight Zone down there," one resident said. LRT supporters say the project will make the downtown a more attractive place to do business and will draw people in, giving the area a new life.

This view is bolstered by analysis by the Canadian Urban Institute, which shows that an earlier version of this project would almost triple development in the area over the next 15 years and generate about $82-million in new taxes and other revenue over that period. The same analysis concluded that buildings within a block of the line would go up 4 per cent in value, while those farther out but within a five-minute walk of a station would go up 2 per cent.

Detractors argue, though, the LRT route isn't long enough to bring substantial improvements and that displacing street parking will hurt the downtown.

"It comes down to people who don't see it, who don't believe it, who haven't come downtown in a long time and have written it off," said Ryan McGreal, of the pro-LRT activist group Raise the Hammer.

Where it goes

The buses that run through the city wear the logo of HSR, which stands for Hamilton Street Railway. The name is a holdover from the days of streetcars, which ended in the early 1950s, but would become accurate again if the LRT plan goes through.

As currently proposed, the LRT - which is pitched as the first leg of a five-line network - is a smaller version of an earlier plan. The route was cut down this year, and the promise of bus service from the waterfront to the airport was added.

It's not possible now to trace the entire LRT route, which will require a new bridge over Highway 403. But walking the portion that exists today is an 11-kilometre trip through Hamilton's history, from suburbia through the old city and out again.

Beginning around the McMaster Children's Hospital, the LRT would start its route on a fivelane road flanked by single-storey or low-rise chain outlets. For blocks, one of the only signs of urbanity is a cluster of bike-share bicycles locked up near a gas station. By the time the highway has been crossed, the road is a oneway pipeline for cars heading west through the city.

"King Street is a highway. We couldn't have the door open in the morning because we wouldn't be able to hear ourselves talk," said Mr. Guilbault, co-founder of the Ark + Anchor Espresso Bar, which opened 16 months ago.

"If nothing else, the LRT seems like it'll make the downtown seem more like a downtown," he added. "The hope would be it starts a refurbishment through the whole city."

The road narrows as it heads through the core, which feels a bit like Toronto's Yonge Street of a generation ago. But the downtown proper is small, and soon King Street is back up to four lanes. This is the inner suburbs: a wide roadway, big gas stations and people riding their bicycles on the sidewalk. On a recent weekday afternoon, in a modern take on the tumbleweed, stormy winds were pushing a rolled-up foam mattress around a parking lot.

The LRT's trip would finish at Queenston traffic circle, where an auto dealer has mammoth lots and a Tim Hortons does a good trade.

A better plan?

Few argue outright that Hamilton shouldn't get more transit, particularly when funded by another level of government. But opponents have a list of ways they want to change this particular project.

There are those who argue that there need to be parking lots at the LRT's ends. Others want some of the money set aside for beefing up GO train service. Some argue that LRT is obsolete technology or that autonomous vehicles are set to change transportation. And many believe the province's money - although earmarked for capital expenditure - would be better spent on improved bus service.

"I think they should just add some more bus and leave our city alone," said Ms. Pellegrini, the owner of the Coin & Stamp Hut, which has been in the area since the mid-1980s. She's convinced the LRT plan will be "a disaster" that will go vastly over budget. "If this goes through, I'm selling my house and I'm gone."

Amid the litany of complaints about the LRT, little seems to get people more upset than the prospect of private vehicles being slowed down or motorists losing some parking. And the part of the route that narrows to two lanes through the core raises the most concerns.

"Main and King were the regional roads that connected the highways," Councillor Terry Whitehead said. "The urbanites do not want a highway going through the downtown ... but that's the way we evolved."

Mr. Whitehead is often painted as an LRT opponent but says he is officially open-minded. He argues that a route along Main Street, which is consistently at least four lanes, makes more sense.

The regional transit agency Metrolinx notes Hamilton's own planning process identified King as more suitable for transit and Main as a through street. The streetscape helps explain that decision. Main, with its multiple lanes and institutional architecture, has few commercial outlets compared with King. It is inhospitable to pedestrians and few are seen.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger called it "a little late in the game" to be fiddling with the plan and its route. He says the current LRT proposal will create jobs and help drive economic opportunity.

And he argues that it's not a bad thing if traffic slows somewhat.

"There has been traffic changes and there should be traffic changes in the core," the mayor said. "Public transit is a way to make it more people-oriented."

Associated Graphic

A Hamilton bus goes down King Street - the proposed route for the LRT tracks that would span two middle lanes of the busy street.


Patrick Guilbault, co-founder of a coffee bar on King Street West, supports the LRT.

A closed storefront downtown displays pictures of Hamilton's past.

The city is divided on the LRT. Polls show 48 per cent against, 40 per cent support it, the rest undecided.

Send in the clowns
For its first Canadian Juggalo Weekend, Insane Clown Posse is more about entertainment than activism
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page R5

CALGARY -- Detroit hip-hop duo Insane Clown Posse represent starkly different things to different people.

To an army of detractors, ICP is the worst group alive - walking shorthand for white trash - and their fans, known as "Juggalos," the world's most obnoxious devotees, representing the worst assumptions the world holds of the American underclass.

To Juggalos, ICP is, of course, the best group alive. To leftist writers such as myself who have seized upon the anti-rich, anti-authoritarian, acutely class-conscious nature of ICP's lyrics and ideas, they are the misunderstood leaders of an unfairly maligned subculture, as well as an act whose stagecraft, resilience and ingratiating weirdness have been underrated or overlooked by a culture quick to mock but slow to understand or appreciate. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, meanwhile, has decided that ICP is also the sinister inspiration for a violent criminal gang. And I'm guessing they're probably not crazy about their music either.

Later this year, ICP will be marching on Washington to protest the FBI legally designating ICP fans a gang, and for its first Canadian Juggalo Weekend this past weekend in Calgary, the duo brought along a pair of fellow unlikely free-speech icons: 2 Live Crew, whose 1989 record Nasty As They Wanna Be was the first American album to be deemed legally obscene, and Ice-T, whose 1992 song Cop Killer ignited a firestorm of controversy and condemnation.

The Canadian event was the first north-of-the-border mashup of two eagerly anticipated events in the Juggalo social calendar: the Gathering of the Juggalos, a notorious festival of ICP-centric culture that has been attracting big crowds and even bigger media attention since 2000, and the Juggalo Day/Juggalo Weekend, which ICP's Violent J (Joseph Bruce) and Shaggy 2 Dope (Joseph William Utsler) concocted more recently as yet another excuse to pay tribute to their devoted fan base. (For a pair of high-school dropouts regularly denigrated as the worst of the worst, these "clowntrepreneurs" sure have a lot of business initiative.)

But ICP did not come to Calgary's Marquee Beer Market - a giant, soulless bar and performance venue surrounded by currency exchanges and pawnshops - in their capacity as free-speech activists. No, the venerable duo came to Calgary in their oft-forgotten role as entertainers.

Life for ICP and its fans is perpetually full of drama, but this is a particularly fascinating and complicated moment for the group.

While Donald Trump's presidency has politicized much of the North American population, particularly young people, the members of ICP have gone out of their way to depict themselves as either apolitical or solely interested in protecting the civil rights of their fans. The group professes to be too oblivious and uninformed to know anything about politics, let alone take a political stand beyond "Stop letting law enforcement profile and target our fans based on their appearance," but that position is inherently political whether ICP acknowledges it or not. It also aligns ICP with other groups that are being targeted by law enforcement not on the basis of what they've done but rather on what they look like.

In that respect, Trump remained the elephant in the room this past weekend - his presence haunted the proceedings but was seldom, if ever, acknowledged.

Hell, Ice-T didn't even perform Cop Killer - and for an audience predisposed to hate law enforcement, particularly at this moment, that would seem to be an automatic hit. Instead, the Canadian Juggalo Weekend was almost perversely apolitical.

It is possible that ICP is reluctant to take too public a stand because, as I discovered when I covered the previous Gathering of the Juggalos and the Republican National Convention in the same week (they were held mere hours away from each other in Ohio), Juggalos tend to fit the profile of the people who swept Trump into office: widely mocked yet full of defiant pride, working class or poorer, angry at elites and disenfranchised with the status quo.

ICP's lyrics are only slightly less class-conscious than Billy Bragg's, but because the group plays down the political nature of its work, it's easy to overlook and misunderstand the nature of a fiercely moralistic worldview they've been expressing and refining for decades. For Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, however, ideology will forever come second behind showmanship.

ICP's concept of spectacle owes a large debt to P.T. Barnum. Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope greet crowds with the ubiquitous Juggalo greeting/exclamation "Whoop, whoop," sport the face paint of wicked clowns and, as a fixture of their explosive stage shows, spray fans with an offbrand American soda called Faygo in a glorious benediction as sticky as it is unexpectedly spiritual.

For two surreal days and nights, Calgary's Marquee Beer Market became an adorably small-scale version of the "Dark Carnival" central to the duo's surprisingly elaborate mythology, complete with freak shows, professional face painting, gothic burlesque, circus food, suspiciously cheap massages and wrestling matches.

It's appropriate that Canadian Juggalo Weekend is named after the duo's fans rather than ICP itself. The weekend was about Juggalos as much as it was about ICP. More specifically, it's about a certain type of music fan: the Canadian Juggalo. While the core elements of ICP's aesthetic (sex, horror, vaudeville, Faygo) were the same as in the United States, it's safe to assume that this is the only Juggalo event where a spontaneous sing-along of O Canada broke out.

Canadian Juggalo Weekend further revealed an unlikely truth: Despite their reputations as gang members and cretins, Juggalos are nice. And Canadian Juggalos are even nicer (or at least their accents make them seem nicer - or perhaps more polite). There was a lot of Canadian pride at the event, but the crowd was at least Canadian enough to feel abashed and self-conscious about that pride.

Pandering to the audience, as both Juggalos and Canadians, is an essential component of every ICP event. Openers Onyx elevated this shamelessness to a new level by telling the crowd that 2Pac would be a Juggalo if he were still alive, an assertion as bold as it is almost assuredly false. Later, Ice-T jokingly said he was too afraid to stage dive into the fearsome crowd - although at this point he shouldn't stage dive anywhere lest he break a hip. The trip down memory lane continued with the next act, 2 Live Crew, whose members aren't that much older than Onyx but are so poorly preserved that they could pass for their fathers. Like ICP and Ice-T, 2 Live Crew once represented the apex of shock, but that was a lifetime ago. These days, they are elder statesmen of musical transgression.

These vulgar ambassadors of American culture were followed by the most Canadian element of the weekend: Swollen Members, the Canadian hip-hop group who had not performed on a stage together for two years but chose to reunite for what they considered a special occasion. The group's Madchild also did a surprise solo set and brought up the march on Washington to a fairly tepid response.

It'll be tough for many American Juggalos to make it to the march - poverty and geography will keep them away. It will be even harder for Canadians to make the trek. Despite the presence of three improbable freespeech activists on the bill, there was little to no talk of politics onstage. This was a weekend devoted to fun, and these days, nothing spoils fun quite like discussing the waking nightmare that is U.S. politics.

ICP has always alternated between escapism and macabre, indirect social commentary. Its shows are a place for fans to escape their often grim existences and lose themselves in music and excitement.

Accordingly, on Canadian Juggalo Weekend, the scale was tipped unmistakably toward escapism. Juggalos don't need to be reminded that the world can be a scary and unfair place, and it also might have seemed incongruous for Ice-T, 2 Live Crew and ICP to talk U.S. politics outside the United States. After all, the Dixie Chicks became pariahs to much of their fan base for having the unmitigated gall to suggest, in a show outside the United States, that George W. Bush may not be the best leader ever. Why risk that kind of a hit to popularity unless it's absolutely necessary?

For Canadian Juggalos, the weekend was the fulfilment of a fantasy: their favourite group journeying north of the border solely to put on one of their trademark outsized extravaganzas just for them.

It was at once a continuation and a new beginning. The event represented the culmination of decades of loyalty but also presented the possibility that this could be the start of a series of Canadian Juggalo Weekends.

ICP's two sets - the first night devoted to a performance of 1995's Riddle Box, one of the duo's earliest, crudest and most beloved albums, and a "greatest hits" set the second night - were profoundly visceral experiences, explosions of light and sound and colour and body heat and sticky substances flying in every direction. Accordingly, many in attendance placed their cellphones in plastic bags before the show to ensure that Faygo didn't destroy their essential technology.

To the crowd, it did not matter that by almost any definition ICP doesn't really have any hits - though in the gold rush days of the 1990s, the duo scored a gold album for Riddle Box and a pair of platinum albums for The Great Milenko and The Amazing Jeckel Brothers with next to no radio spins or MTV love. No matter how silly or ridiculous or goofy or macabre, these songs mattered to the crowd, but what mattered more was the grand gestalt, the overall experience, which is overwhelming and exhausting in the best way.

On Friday afternoon, it seemed as if the first annual Canadian Juggalo Weekend might also be the last, but the energy and excitement built until the duo's vow to return next year felt as if it was a promise they'd be able to keep (especially if Canada legalizes marijuana).

The duo's popularity in Canada will continue to spread the way it did in its native land: through word of mouth, as a form of working-class mythology, as kids who've found not just a group but a whole weird, welcoming world tell their friends about a show that's always much more than a show - it's an experience that transcends borders and countries and political divisions and, in a time of fear and uncertainty, unites Juggalos of all colours and ethnicities and age groups under one big banner of "Mad Clown Love."

Nathan Rabin is the author of You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me: Phish, Insane Clown Posse, and My Misadventures with Two of Music's Most Maligned Tribes (Scribner).

Associated Graphic

Hip-hop act Insane Clown Posse performs during Canadian Juggalo Weekend in Calgary on April 7.


Juggalos watch a wrestling match at Calgary's Marquee Beer Market. The venue became a small-scale version of the 'Dark Carnival' central to Insane Clown Posse's surprisingly elaborate mythology.

He once made headlines for high-tech bank heists and the theft of an imperial jewel from an Austrian palace. Now, Gerald Blanchard is accused of stealing gaming consoles from a Best Buyoutside Toronto
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A10

Before the Cairo scam, the escapes from police custody and that time he said he parachuted onto the roof of an Austrian castle to steal a famous diamond, Gerald Blanchard was a shoplifter.

When he was just a 19-yearold trouble maker, he made the news for a series of capers that included robbing a Nebraska department store. He misdirected the staff with a phone call, fooling them into looking for a bogus suspect while he bundled up expensive jackets elsewhere in the store. He then tried to escape with a security guard clinging to his getaway car.

A quarter of a century later, the Vancouver resident once hailed as Canada's craftiest robber is back in the news.

He was arrested in March in another shoplifting incident, on similar allegations that he and an accomplice went to a chain retailer - this time in Burlington, west of Toronto - called the store employees to distract them, then stole four gaming consoles.

The circumstances were a bit less flamboyant than his previous time in the spotlight.

Wired magazine had once hailed him as a criminal savant.

The Globe and Mail called him a jet-set thief. He directed a ring whose deeds left writers grasping for references to heist movies, such as Ocean's 11 or The Italian Job.

His most famous feat was the theft of one of the Sisi's stars, a jewel once belonging to 19thcentury Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Also known as the Koechert Diamond Pearl, the pendant mysteriously disappeared from the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna in June, 1998.

He had managed to unscrew the glass display case without activating its sensors and replaced the jewel with a gift-shop replica. The switch wasn't noticed for weeks.

But it was shoplifting that led to the first headlines about him in 1992. It was shoplifting allegations that marred his bid for parole in 2009. And now, he is due back in court after that shoplifting incident in Burlington.

Halton Regional Police Service handled the most recent case, and investigators were stunned when they learned the identity of their suspect.

"The OIC [officer in charge] was taken aback when he found how much Gerald Blanchard had been involved in," Halton police Detective-Sergeant Ron Hansen said in an interview.

Reached by e-mail, Mr. Blanchard agreed twice to speak to The Globe but did not call back.

Now 46 and using the name Rick White, he has built a new life in Vancouver as a drone operator, aerial videographer and advocate for owners of servals, an African cat species.

He flies to China and the Philippines. Works on movie sets.

Brings his pet felines to fashion shoots, luxury car shows and beauty-pageant galas.

But his past is even more intriguing.

In a 2015 statement of claim in a dispute with Home Depot, he said he went by several aliases and described himself as being "considered by law-enforcement as one of the most sophisticated criminal masterminds in Canadian history."

He was born in Winnipeg and raised in Alberta, where his father owned an oil-drilling company. After his parents split, he moved to Nebraska with his mother, Carol.

At 18, while living in Omaha, he was arrested in neighbouring Iowa for possession of an incendiary device. He was sentenced to "shock probation," where first-time offenders are only jailed briefly - to give them a taste of life behind bars.

Apparently, not shocked enough. He was arrested the following year, on Boxing Day, 1991, for stealing from Radio Shack outlets and for shoplifting expensive jackets, according to the Omaha World-Herald, citing police reports.

In the following months, the paper reported, he escaped twice after arrests, once crawling through the ceiling at a police station and stealing a badge, service gun and other equipment on his way out. Another time, he slipped his cuffed hands under his legs and drove away in a squad car.

He had an ability to spot security weaknesses. He loved technical gear. Detectives discovered he had devised a makeshift video surveillance system at his mother's home.

He did not care for drugs or alcohol; his actions were driven by "thrill-seeking and impulsivity," he later said during his parole process.

After a stint in an Iowa penitentiary, he was deported to Canada in 1997.

Within a few years, he was settled in Vancouver and was ostensibly buying and selling real estate. He claimed to own properties in Canada and Mexico and had accounts with two Canadian banks and banks in France, Britain, Poland, Jamaica and Turks and Caicos.

In May, 2004, someone robbed a new branch of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Winnipeg, siphoning half a million dollars from its ATMs the weekend before its official opening.

It was Mr. Blanchard. Court evidence showed that he had concealed a pinhole camera in a thermostat to spy on workers setting up the ATMs. He had also figured out how to unscrew and disable the ATM's highsecurity Mas Hamilton locks.

But he made a mistake. An employee at the Wal-Mart next door noticed a suspicious van outside the bank. It was rented in Mr. Blanchard's name.

"It [provided] a starting point which, had we not obtained it, would have resulted in the file still being unsolved today," Larry Levasseur, one of the Winnipeg detectives who later caught Mr. Blanchard, said in an e-mail interview.

The rental van led them to Mr. Blanchard, who was placed on wiretap.

Police were listening in when a British-based kingpin described in court as "The Boss" instructed Mr. Blanchard and his crew to fly to Cairo and use stolen payment card data to defraud local banks of tens of thousands of dollars. The Winnipeg detectives alerted their London counterparts, who found that The Boss had other cells and diverted the proceeds to Kurdish separatists, Mr. Levasseur said.

The wiretap was also running in December, 2006, when Mr. Blanchard got a call from The Boss while he was in the midst of crawling through the ceiling into the ATM room of a Scotiabank branch in Chilliwack, B.C.

It was, Mr. Levasseur said, "one of the motivating factors for us to move in and arrest Blanchard in January, 2007."

As they took him and seven others into custody, they found that his Vancouver apartment was an Ali Baba's cave for technophiles, filled with cellphones, walkie-talkies, cameras, electronic gear, costumes - even machines to counterfeit credit cards.

There were forged IDs for Mr. Blanchard with made-up birth dates and bogus names, such as Ron Aikins, Chris Hoffman, Daniel Hall and Evan Howland. Each card had a different picture of Mr. Blanchard.

Police determined that he had been involved in a string of bank robberies in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver, in addition to running several credit-card frauds.

In a court filing, he said he co-operated with police so his accomplices could get more lenient sentences, underlining that he had not committed a violent crime and was "known internationally for orchestrating never-seen-before high-tech crimes."

He led police to his grandmother's basement in Winnipeg, where he had hidden the Koechert Diamond Pearl.

He told Wired magazine that he had parachuted at night onto the roof of the Schonbrunn Palace, entering through a window he had unlocked while visiting during the day.

Police remain skeptical about his skydiving claims. "It makes for a great story, but there is no evidence to support this. Something simpler would be more plausible," Mr. Levasseur said.

Nine months after his arrest, Mr. Blanchard pleaded guilty to 16 charges and was sentenced to six years.

In June, 2009, he was granted day parole and moved to a Vancouver halfway house.

Within a year, police alleged he had been spotted acting suspiciously outside a retail outlet with two associates in the back seat of a vehicle.

While there were no charges, "it is obvious to police ... that you controlled and directed other people in an organized shoplifting of a large retail store," the parole board said in a July, 2010, decision that revoked his day parole.

The decision also noted that staff at the halfway house found a cellphone hidden under his mattress, three other prepaid phones and a SpoofCard, which can camouflage a caller's voice and phone number.

In a counternarrative that he outlined in the suit against Home Depot, Mr. Blanchard says he noticed a man acting suspiciously on two occasions at different Vancouver-area stores in January, 2010. He says he reported his suspicions to store employees but later learned that the man, Charles Pioneson, was a security officer for Home Depot.

In his statement of claim, filed in 2015, Mr. Blanchard alleged that Mr. Pioneson later harassed him and falsely told police that Mr. Blanchard threatened to kill him.

At the time, Mr. Blanchard worked for a local cable contractor and went by the name Rick White.

It was also as Rick White that he began lobbying for serval cat owners, giving an interview to the Vancouver Province in 2013.

A year ago, back as Gerald Blanchard, he spoke at a lawenforcement conference in Winnipeg in a presentation titled "Insight Into the Mind, Motivations and Tactics of a Master Thief." Participants said Mr. Blanchard was a smart, charismatic speaker, taking questions for 45 minutes from an audience of 300 robbery investigators.

According to Halton police, earlier this year, on Jan. 14, two men followed a customer into a Best Buy outlet in Burlington, where one of the pair called the store and claimed that the customer was involved in a possible fraud, distracting the staff while the duo stole gaming consoles. Afterward, the two also broke into the customer's car and stole about $3,100 worth of merchandise, the police said.

Det.-Sgt. Hansen said investigators identified Mr. Blanchard as a suspect because a car at the scene was rented in Rick White's name.

Charged with theft and mischief, Mr. Blanchard has a court date in Milton, Ont., on April 26.

Coincidentally, on that same day, the Science Channel in the United States will debut a show called Outlaw Tech, highlighting true stories of "cutting-edge cops and criminals." To be featured in the May 31 episode: Gerald Blanchard and the Viennese heist.

With reports from Michael Pereira in Winnipeg and Rick Cash in Toronto.

Associated Graphic

Mr. Blanchard is seen with his serval cat, a species of African feline for which he advocates.


A series of driver's licences used by Gerald Blanchard were found by police in his Vancouver apartment in 2007.

Mr. Blanchard's Vancouver apartment - found by police - was a technophile's dream, filled with cellphones, walkie-talkies, cameras, electronic gear and even machines to counterfeit credit cards.

Mr. Blanchard's serval cat is photographed on a pile of money on his Facebook.


Gerald Daniel Blanchard is a skilled thief who made a career out of pulling off highly publicized and technologically advanced thefts.

The antique Koechert Diamond Pearl, which was made for Empress Elisabeth of Austria in the 19th century, mysteriously disappeared from the Schonbrun Palace in Vienna in June, 1998 - a theft attributed to Mr. Blanchard.


A few good eggs
They've been a fixture on party smorgasbords for centuries, but as Julie Van Rosendaal learns, the devilled egg, always ready for reinvention, is this year's go-to bar snack PAGE 6
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page L1

Some say a devilled egg is an egg's highest version of itself; a stylish concoction so commonplace in kitchens of a certain generation that serving platters were designed specifically to ensure their stability.

Devilled eggs were at one time an entertaining staple, the everyman's hors d'oeuvre. But unlike shimmying salads, pigs in blankets and pinwheel sandwiches, devilled eggs have remained timeless - not only because they're simple and affordable, but because they're unquestionably delicious.

While you may associate them with middle America, devilled eggs as we know them originated in 16th-century England, where hard boiling eggs was common and when recipes for farced (stuffed) eggs began to emerge. Early instructions called for the yolks to be mashed with melted butter, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper, and often fried leeks or parsley. Eastern European versions often contained anchovies or herring, caviar or sour cream, depending on the region, but Fannie Merritt Farmer's The 1896 Boston Cooking-School Cook Book was the first to suggest using mayonnaise in the filling, a method that quickly became de rigueur, along with mustard and the requisite smattering of paprika. "Devilled" as a culinary term first appeared in the 18th century in reference to foods seasoned with fiery horseradish, mustard or cayenne - anything that gave them a spicy or zesty kick. (Alternative names like "stuffed eggs" and "salad eggs" quickly surfaced to avoid any satanic references.)

While the classic devilled egg - halved boiled eggs, yolks mashed and moistened with mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper and spooned back into the whites, then sprinkled with fresh herbs or paprika - is delicious as is, chefs and potluck-goers are realizing the potential to be creative with the filling. Using the basic formula as a blank slate, devilled eggs have become an It item on restaurant menus across Canada, bringing a strong sense of nostalgia to the table while providing chefs the opportunity to define their cooking style within a two-bite egg white half.

Just about anything that goes well with eggs, from smoked salmon to crumbled bacon to kimchi, works in a devilled egg - try mashing half a ripe avocado with your yolks in place of mayo (and add some lime and chopped cilantro), or spicing them up with hot wasabi or sriracha. The filling doesn't need to be smooth - stir in some salty, briny crumbled feta, chopped olives or blue cheese, pickled jalapeños or cooked and crumbled bacon. Chef Ryan O'Flynn at the Guild in Calgary smokes his filling before piping it into the whites; chef Éric Gonzalez at the new L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Montreal makes an over-the-top upright version stuffed with crab and caviar.

The smattering of paprika on top is classic garnish, but is added more for colour than flavour; instead, try thin strips of crunchy, peppery radish, julienned pickled beets or crispy fried capers (crisp them up in a small skillet in a skiff of oil), or do them in the style of Jeannette Pépin (Jaques's mother), and cook the stuffed eggs cut side down in a pan with hot butter or oil until golden and crisp.

Before you start in on your first dozen, here are a few tips for homemade devilled egg success: Cover eggs with cool water and bring them to a boil together - this will prevent a grey ring around the yolks.

You'll have an easier time peeling older eggs than fresh ones. And if you like the look of piped-in filling but don't own any piping bags, spoon the mixture into a zip-lock bag, seal, snip off one corner and squeeze the filling into your egg white halves.

Devilled Eggs with Mushrooms and Chorizo

These devilled eggs have been a popular starter and bar snack ever since they were introduced on the menu at Briggs Kitchen and Bar in Calgary when it opened in 2013.

12 large eggs

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups white mushrooms, roughly chopped

1 medium shallot, finely chopped Salt, to taste

2 tablespoons unsalted butter


¾ cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper, to taste Thinly sliced cured chorizo

To cook the eggs, place them in a single layer in a large pot, cover them with cold water and bring to a boil. Cook for 9 minutes from the time the water comes to a boil then refresh under cold water until the eggs are completely chilled. Peel under cool running water.

Set a large skillet over high heat, add the oil and sauté the mushrooms and shallots for a minute, seasoning with salt. Add the butter and cook for another minute. Set aside to cool.

Cut the eggs in half horizontally and trim each round end to make them sit nicely.

Scoop out the egg yolks and place them in a food processor with the mushrooms.

Blend until smooth. Add the mayonnaise and Dijon and blend again until smooth.

Check and adjust seasoning and transfer to a piping bag.

Warm thin slices of chorizo in a hot pan until glistening. Lay halved eggs on a plate and pipe the filling into the middle.

Finish each off with a thin slice of chorizo.

Makes 24.

Carolynne's Devilled Eggs

This classic devilled egg recipe comes from Carolynne Griffith, who grew up on a mixed farm and now works in agriculture; having been on the board of the Egg Farmers of Ontario for 16 years and the chair for 10, she knows how to handle an egg.

12 eggs

½ cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon dry mustard or

1 teaspoon honey mustard

½ teaspoon celery seed

¼ teaspoon salt or seasoning salt

Pinch pepper

Chopped fresh dill, cilantro or other fresh herbs (optional)

To hard cook the eggs, place them in a saucepan, cover them with water and bring to a boil; remove the pan from the heat and let them sit for 20-30 minutes. Drain and let sit or run under cool water until they're cool enough to handle, then peel and cut them in half lengthwise.

Transfer the yolks to a medium bowl and mash with a fork. Add mayonnaise until you have a spreadable consistency. Mix in the remaining ingredients, keeping some of the fresh herbs aside to sprinkle on top, and spoon the mixture into the whites. Sprinkle with fresh herbs.

Makes 24.

Smoky Devilled Eggs

Chef Ryan O'Flynn shared this recipe for the devilled eggs on the menu at The Guild in Calgary - the crushed salt and vinegar chip garnish is brilliant.

If you don't have a home smoker, smoke them on the grill using a smoker box - or place soaked wood chips in a disposable foil pan, tightly covered with foil with several holes poked in the top to allow smoke to escape.

They're also delicious unsmoked.

6 large eggs, hard boiled

¼ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoon mustard

3 shakes Tabasco Salt and pepper, to taste Smoked paprika, for garnish Chopped chives, for garnish Salt and vinegar potato chips, crushed, for garnish

1 bag wood chips

Cut the hard-boiled eggs in half lengthwise and separate the yolks from the whites. Put the yolks into a medium bowl and mash with the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, Tabasco, salt and pepper.

Place the mix into a domestic smoker for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Transfer to a piping bag and pipe into the egg whites. Sprinkle with smoked paprika, chopped chives and crumbled salt and vinegar potato chips.

Makes 12.

Oeufs Mimosa L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon

These over-the-top oeufs mimosa (devilled eggs) stuffed with crab and caviar are part of the tasting menu experience at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Montreal.

Chef Éric Gonzalez shared the recipe, if you're inclined to try it at home.

4 large eggs


3 tablespoons king crab

2 tablespoons cauliflower purée (recipe follows) Tartar sauce, to taste (recipe follows)

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon Espelette pepper, to taste Tabasco, to taste


1½ cups cauliflower, cut into florets

2 cups chicken stock

¼ teaspoon curry powder Salt, to taste

¼ cup cornstarch

1 egg yolk

⅓ cup whipping (35%) cream


4 cooked egg yolks (from the hard-boiled eggs)

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon whipping (35%) cream

1 teaspoon sherry Tabasco, to taste Salt and pepper, to taste


3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon sherry Tabasco, to taste Water, as needed


2 teaspoons caviar, divided Chives and chive blossoms, for garnish (optional) Cook the eggs by covering them with cold water, bring to a simmer and cook for 12 minutes. Cool, peel and slice off the top third, crosswise. Carefully remove the yolks and set aside. Cut a thin slice off the round bottom of the eggs so that they sit upright on a plate.

Place the egg yolk and cream in a small bowl, whisk to combine and whisk in a small ladle of hot broth. Whisk the mixture back into the saucepan, and continue whisking just until it starts to boil; immediately remove from the heat. Set aside to cool completely, and adjust the thickness with more cream if necessary.

For the cauliflower purée, bring the cauliflower and chicken stock to a simmer; add the curry powder and salt and cook for 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is very tender. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.

Purée until smooth, and press through a cheesecloth-lined sieve.

In a medium saucepan, simmer the reserved cauliflower liquid over medium heat until it's reduced to 2 cups. In a small dish, whisk the cornstarch into 1/4 cup cold water. Whisk a small ladleful of the cauliflower stock into the cornstarch mixture, then return it to the saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 3 minutes, whisking until thickened.

To make the mimosa (egg yolk filling), blend the cooked egg yolk, mayonnaise, cream, sherry, Tabasco, salt and pepper until smooth, adjusting the seasonings as needed.

For the tartar sauce, whisk together the mayonnaise, sherry, Tabasco, and enough water to make a consistency similar to loose mayonnaise.

In a small bowl, stir together the crab, cauliflower purée and enough tartar sauce to generously moisten the mixture, along with the tarragon, espelette pepper and Tabasco. To assemble, spoon a pool of the cauliflower sauce onto four small serving plates, spoon the crab mixture into the empty egg whites, top with some caviar (a generous 1/4 teaspoon each, leaving the rest for garnish), and pipe in the mimosa mixture. Set filled eggs in the pools of sauce, garnish with the remaining caviar and some snippets of fresh chives and chive flowers.

Makes 4.

Associated Graphic


After a record rainfall, followed by a record snowfall, Amberly McAteer escaped the Canadian gloom the way many Vancouverites do - to the islands of Maui and Kauai. What she finds is a vacation unlike anything she expected
Tuesday, April 18, 2017 – Print Edition, Page L1

When the microphone plunges into the Pacific, somewhere in the channel between Maui and Lanai, the whole boatload of us gasp in unison. About 30 tourists, smartphones in hand, had been busy scanning the water's surface for another quick glimpse of a tail or a burst of a spout from one of the thousands of Alaska humpback whales in these waters. Like us, these giants decided to escape the cold, travelling a long way south to make Hawaii their temporary home.

"I'm going to stop talking for a second and let the whales take over," says Mark, the marine biologist on board. With the flip of the mic, whale song fills the air, blasting from the ship's speakers: It's a horrormovie theme song and also the most hauntingly romantic thing I've ever heard.

Mark tells me that the serenade sounds like a quartet of male humpbacks that were likely right under our boat - and the clearest he's heard in years. No one really knows why humpbacks make these songs - it's not for mating or any other practical reason. There is simply no scientific explanation, which makes it all the more beautiful.

(I tell Mark: If I could sing like that, I wouldn't need a reason, either.)

"That was so unexpected," my mom says finally, as we approach the dock.

That, as it turns out, would be the undercurrent of our Hawaiian adventure. I have been to enough tropical destinations - Cuba, Belize, the Caymans, St. Lucia twice - that I foolishly think I know what to expect with Hawaii. Pina coladas, turquoise water, sun, sand.


But the unexpected is found by simply looking a little deeper, such as whales singing beneath our boat, just out of sight: Scratch the surface of Hawaii and you'll find islands with distinct, dramatic offerings.

Hawaii was never an option when I lived in Toronto - Caribbean islands were a short three-hour jaunt away. But when I moved to Vancouver last fall, and the city began to drown in a record two-month rainfall, followed by record snowfall, followed by the longest drought of sunlight since the 1950s, Hawaii was all anyone on the West Coast could talk about.

Of course, any island near the equator with palm trees and tropical breezes offering an escape from my existence of cruel, cold Canadian dog walking has to be nice. But Hawaii has a reputation for being overly touristy, with little local flair and extraordinary price-tags for even simple things.

"Maui is the most special," my neighbour says over dinner. "It's the only place we go." My colleague feels exactly the opposite: "Kauai is the only place we've been going for a decade or more.

They can't build higher than the tallest palm tree."

And so, I convince my boyfriend to meet my parents and me in Maui - and then miraculously arrange another lengthy stay in Kauai, for just the two of us.

In Maui, the island lives up to its reputation for ungodly prices: I can't stop making jokes with cashiers: Is that 10 or 14 karat?

Will it tuck me in at night? A $10 pineapple, $45 bargain breakfast buffets, $34 sunscreen. All mediocre, none of them gold.

But what the island charges for simply being there, it makes up for in droves with surprise finds - such as on the the road to Hana, the fabled stomach-testing drive - 620 hairpin turns, 54 one-way bridges.

At the last minute, we find an offer we can't turn down: a helicopter ride to Hana, and a guided drive back. For the price of around a dozen bottles of sunscreen, we scoop it up (because, as someone who white-knuckled a stranger's ginger chews, I can attest you don't need to do that drive twice).

The helicopter ride is - as predicted - stunning. We soar over turquoise waters, black-sand beaches, waterfalls that are literally out of a movie (Jurassic Park).

But I lose my breath on the drive back when we pull over for a bathroom break. Did I mention the 620 turns?

Sure, it was just a tree - but it was a work of art. Touching it, looking up, way up - about 200 feet up - I am mesmerized by the vivid orange and blue and purple and green watercolour strokes on its smooth bark, like it had been sanded down and painted by some random rogue Monet-inspired tourist.

But this isn't a fluke sighting: There's a forest of these masterpieces - and several forests of them along our drive. The Eucalyptus deglupta sheds its bark at different times, our driver Gary (who would make a killer Jeopardy contestant) tells me. Each time it does, the fresh spot reveals a bright green patch - then turns every shade of the rainbow as it matures.

I hate flowers, and I kill houseplants. I don't go to church. But these trees awaken an eco-admiration and, in that moment, a belief that there is a higher power, and she is a hell of an artist.

Leave it to Hawaii to reveal the most beautiful thing I've ever seen on an impromptu bathroom stop.

Even the boring drives are remarkable. In the backseat of an Uber is where we find modern Hawaiian culture: The drivers, all 12 of them we had in a week, have called Hawaii home for years.

These aren't the type of Americans I'm used to encountering on travels: Hawaiian expats speak sloooowly, all have ponytails, all tell incredible stories - some of impromptu performances with Willie Nelson at the local beach bar, some of closeup encounters with manatee and sea turtle, some simply wax poetic about the pull of the moon for the drive.

In Kauai, the surprises don't quit.

It is, as I was told, incredibly lush. It rains a lot here - although luckily not during our visit - and everywhere is green. Maui, though spectacular, still feels like the United States on a beautiful beach; Kauai is somewhere else entirely.

You would not expect to find a canyon here, let alone something nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, 3,600-feet deep and formed five million years ago by the volcano that created this island.

But this is Hawaii and, by now, we should be used to it.

Within an hour of landing on Kauai, we had driven through thousand-year-old forests and gawked at soaring mountain skyscapes. We check into our Poipu hotel, on the island's southern tip, and go on a pre-dinner walk along the golden beach.

A few metres ahead of us is a grey, unmoving blob. It's a 300pound endangered monk seal.

Because of course it is.

She's soaking in the last minutes of her snooze before sundown, before she'll roll into the ocean to begin her night shift, hunting for meals until sunrise.

For our feasts, the meals are spectacular - as expected, in high-end hotels (go to Red Salt in Poipu, and you'll never look at seafood the same). But true to the theme, the best meal is one we don't plan for: at a restaurant in a strip mall, between a pet store and a real estate office. I can still taste the miso butterfish at J02 - the strangest, most nondescript restaurant name ever.

On our last day, I meet a Minnesota native on the beach who visited this island with her two young kids a decade ago. "So you're back, after 10 years? How lovely," I say.

"No, we just didn't go home, really. We had to live here," she says, and then, after noticing my jaw on the sand, adds: "I know that sounds crazy, on the surface."

And it does - on the surface. But the real Hawaiian gems lie just beneath, and digging a little deeper, I totally get it.


WHERE TO STAY: In Maui, The Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas are more like a city unto itself with several pools, a kid zone, restaurants and grocery store, all steps from the ocean.

Save on the price of touristy food by making your meals with kitchens in every unit (but do splurge on dinner at the resort's swanky Pulehu restaurant at least once).

Rooms start at $409 (all prices U.S.); In Kauai, the Ko'a Kea is located at the island's southern tip of Poipu, the sunniest, driest area on the island - this is where you want to be.

The quiet, mainly-adult boutique hotel is sleek without being pretentious. The oceanfront room will not disappoint and the hotel's Red Salt restaurant is worth a visit - or five. Bonus: It's steps away from some of the best snorkelling in the area; you're bound to come face to face with a sea turtle and sunbathe with a seal. Rooms start at $375;


The Pacific Whale Foundation in Lahaina offers whale watching (between December and May) at a great price - with a marine biologist on board.

The organization is a nonprofit dedicated to the conservation of whales - so it's worth the price of admission.

$39, The Hana Sky Trek, from Temptation Tours, is a sixhour excursion offering a helicopter tour of Maui from the air, a picnic lunch on a black sand beach and a thankfully one-way guided trip in a limo van to - or from - Hana. It's spectacular, in every sense.

$342, In Kauai, rent a car - we didn't regret our Jeep 4x4.

Driving around the entire island can be done in two-ish hours, but there is plenty to see. Set out early on a sunny day to see the Waimea Canyon on the island's west side and don't stop driving until the end of the road at the Kalalau Lookout to take in the view of the Napali coast. On another day, cruise to the quaint oceanside towns of Princeville and Hanalei on the island's (rainier, but still stunning) north side.

Associated Graphic

The helicopter ride on the way to Hana in Maui is spectacular, revealing waterfalls, lava cliffs and untouched forest.


The lush canyon on Kauai island, nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, is 3,600 feet deep and five million years old.


Left, a 300-pound monk seal soaks in the last drops of sun on the beach in Kauai. Right, a whale briefly surfaces off the coast of Maui.


Liberté, égalité, nervosité
Thursday, April 20, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A8

This has been one of the wildest and most unpredictable presidential campaigns in French history, and it's about to get even more interesting on Sunday when voters head to the polls for the first round of voting. There are 11 candidates, and if no one gets more than 50 per cent of the ballots, the top two will face off on May 7. European correspondent Paul Waldie takes a look at the main contenders, the big issues and how it works

Marine Le Pen, National Front

Who is she?

Ms. Le Pen, 48, is a lawyer and member of the European Parliament. A long-time party worker, she took over as leader of the National Front in 2011, replacing her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. The two have had a bitter split and Mr. Le Pen has been effectively expelled.

Has she run before?

Yes. Ms. Le Pen received 17.9 per cent of the vote in 2012, finishing third in the first round. The best showing by Mr. Le Pen was in 2002, when he advanced to the second round and lost to Jacques Chirac.

What does she want to do?

Ms. Le Pen has toned down the sharp edges of the National Front and modified its position on several issues, notably abortion, capital punishment and environmental protection.

Her campaign literature doesn't even mention the National Front. She's offering a France-first platform that includes pulling the country out of the euro zone and holding a referendum on France's membership in the European Union.

She's also promising to suspend immigration, hire 15,000 new police officers, impose a tax on companies that hire foreign workers and end the automatic right to citizenship through marriage. And she's calling for the retirement age to be lowered from 62 to 60.

Any problems?

Many French voters still view the National Front as racist.

The party's call to scrap the euro is not popular. And Ms. Le Pen, usually a fierce debater, underwhelmed viewers during two TV debates.

Can she win?

Unlikely. Most polls have her finishing on top in the first round but losing in the second.

Emmanuel Macron, En Marche!

Who is he?

Mr. Macron, 39, is a former treasury official and banker who served as an adviser to Mr. Hollande and later as his economy minister. He's also an accomplished pianist.

Has he run before?

He has never held elected office. He resigned from Mr. Hollande's cabinet in 2016 after two years amid a series of disagreements and formed En Marche!

What does he want to do?

Mr. Macron is pro-Europe. He's running as "neither right nor left" and promises to draw cabinet ministers from all sides.

He vows to cut the size of the public service, reduce spending and streamline the country's labour regulations. He supports immigration, backs the EU's open borders and has praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy.

He also wants to strengthen France's role within the EU and would take a hard line on talks with Britain over Brexit.

Any problems?

He's had trouble getting people to take him seriously and has been viewed by some observers as vacuous. He caused controversy by claiming that France's colonization of Algeria was a "crime against humanity." And the tabloids have had a field day with his marriage to his high-school drama teacher, who is 24 years his senior.

Can he win?

He is the favourite. Most polls have him finishing second to Ms. Le Pen in the first round, then beating her handily in the second.

Francois Fillon, Republican Party

Who is he?

Mr. Fillon, 63, is a long-time politician who started his career in the late 1970s and served as prime minister from 2007 to 2012 under then-president Nicolas Sarkozy. He : won the Republican Party's presidential primary last November, stunning the party establishment by defeating Mr. Sarkozy and former prime minister Alain Juppe.

Has he run before?

This is his first run for president, but he has been elected at every other level of government.

What does he want to do?

Mr. Fillon has been described as a French version of Margaret Thatcher because of his ambitious plans to overhaul the government. He wants to cut 500,000 public-service jobs (the country has almost six million civil servants), end the 35-hour workweek, raise the retirement age from 62 to 65 and slash public spending. He's lukewarm on the EU, wants to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin and vows to strengthen France's border controls, labelling Ms. Merkel's refugee policy a mistake. He's also a devout Catholic who opposed same-sex marriage and has promised to reverse adoption rights for gay people.

Any problems?

Oh yes. His campaign has been hampered by a scandal involving his wife, Penelope, who Mr. Fillon put on the public payroll as an assistant, even though she allegedly did no work. The police are investigating, and Mr. Fillon could face fraud charges. He has admitted making mistakes but insists the police probe is politically motivated.

Can he win?

He was the favourite a few months ago, but "Penelope-gate" left him sinking to third or fourth place in some polls. Few expect him to make it to the second round.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, La France Insoumise

Who is he?

Mr. Mélenchon, 65, was born in Tangier, Morocco, and came to France at the age of 11 with his parents. He joined the Socialist Party in the 1970s and won elections at several levels, including the senate in 1986, when he became the youngest senator in French history at 35. He served as the minister for professional education from 2000 to 2002 but quit the Socialists in 2008 and founded the Left Party. He was elected to the European Parliament in 2009.

Has he run before?

Yes. In 2012 Mr. Mélenchon won 11.1 per cent of the vote and finished fourth in the first round.

What does he want to do?

Mr. Mélenchon has a far-left agenda and is running under the banner "La France Insoumise" (Unsubmissive France), which is backed by the Communist Party. He wants to impose a 90-per-cent tax on any income above 400,000 ($566,000 Canadian); renegotiate France's membership in the EU; cancel the Canada-EU trade deal; withdraw France from NATO; and develop closer ties with countries such as Russia, Venezuela and Bolivia. He has also vowed to increase public spending significantly, boost the minimum wage by 16 per cent, reduce the 35-hour workweek and lower the retirement age to 60. He would open the doors to asylum seekers and transform government by rewriting the constitution to include more participation by citizens and more referendums.

Any problems?

His policies are radical, to say the least, and he's become a target of the right and left. This is also looking like a rerun of 2012, when Mr. Mélenchon scored high in the polls but did worse than expected on voting day.

Can he win? Things are different this time. Mr. Mélenchon has been rising steadily in the polls thanks to the collapse of the Socialist Party, the troubles of Mr. Fillon and concerns about Mr. Macron and Ms. Le Pen. He also did remarkably well in the TV debates and has a popular YouTube channel. However, most polls still put him in third or fourth place.

Who else is running and do they have a chance?

Benoît Hamon

The Socialist Party candidate is the only other mainstream contender, and his campaign has fallen flat, brought down largely because of the unpopularity of Mr. Hollande. Five years ago the Socialists controlled the presidency, parliament and most of the regional government, but they now face a virtual collapse.

Philippe Poutou

The auto worker and union leader is running for the New Anticapitalist Party. He got 1 per cent of the vote in 2012 and became something of a star during the TV debate this month when he took on Ms. Le Pen and Mr. Fillon over their scandals. But he faces a tough time distinguishing his message from that of Mr. Mélenchon.

The others include hard-left candidate Nathalie Arthaud, anti-EU campaigner François Asselineau, far-right candidate Jacques Cheminade, conservative Nicolas Dupont-Aignan and independent Jean Lassalle.

What's at stake

This election won't just affect France, it will reverberate across Europe and around the world. No matter who wins, France will have a new president who will want to reshape the country's relationship with the European Union. And there's a chance the country could leave the EU altogether. That would be the end of the EU, since France is the union's third-largest economy and a seat of the European Parliament. France's role in NATO is also in doubt, along with its ties to Russia and participation in regional conflicts such as Syria and Iraq.

First some basics

French voters have been directly electing their president since 1962, when changes were made to the constitution to create the two-round system, which is also used in parliamentary and local elections. Before then, the president was elected indirectly by an electoral college. Another constitutional change in 2000 cut the president's term to five years from seven and later changes mandated that he or she can only serve two consecutive terms. François Hollande, who was elected in 2012, decided not to run for re-election, mainly because of terrible approval ratings.

Polls close at 7 p.m. (local time) on Sunday and the results will come a few hours later.

Associated Graphic

From left to right in alphabetical order, the 11 eligible candidates running in France's coming presidential election: Nathalie Arthaud of the Lutte Ouvrière party; François Asselineau of the Popular Republican Union; Jacques Cheminade of the Solidarity and Progress party; Nicolas Dupont-Aignan of Debout la France; François Fillon of the Republican Party; Benoît Hamon of the Socialist Party; independent candidate Jean Lassalle; Marine Le Pen of the National Front; Emmanuel Macron of En Marche!; Jean-Luc Mélenchon of La France Insoumise; and Philippe Poutou of the New Anticapitalist Party.


Perfect game
Two books take different approaches to why and how baseball matters to people
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page R14

Fail Better: Why Baseball Matters By Mark Kingwell Biblioasis, 278 pages, $22.95

Baseball Life Advice: Loving the Game That Saved Me By Stacey May Fowles McClelland & Stewart, 304 pages, $24.95

Why do writers love baseball?

For whatever reason, they always have - Mark Twain and Stephen Crane were early boosters of the "game of base" in the decades after it evolved from cricket, Mark Kingwell informs us in his discursive, erudite new book, Fail Better: Why Baseball Matters. Since then, many of America's greatest authors - Whitman, Fitzgerald, Updike, DeLillo - have turned to the game for material.

Kingwell is dauntingly wellread and often at his best as a curator of other people's thoughts - his friend Lauren Oliver, a writer herself, is quoted as calling baseball "the art film of sports: no plot, anticlimactic, beauty in slow-motion and repetition, and the sounds of wood cracking and leather hitting leather" - but he is a gifted noticer, too. In his quest to understand what makes the game so compelling, he points out the "basic stillness of baseball, the constant renewal of tension out of pause, of action exploding from an apparent standstill" and equates this, inimitably, to the Japanese aesthetic concept of ma, meaning "the quality of negative space," like the pause between two notes in a piece of music.

This is pretty high-level stuff - about par for the course from the University of Toronto philosophy professor. That's not to say the book is pretentious or dull - Kingwell is a lively writer and cites The Simpsons as often as Immanuel Kant. But any tome this pointy-headed will struggle to explain the game as it's experienced by most people. In a common enough fallacy, Kingwell tends to mistake his writer's sensibility for something more universal, trying to explain the appeal of baseball when all he can hope to do is explain the appeal of baseball to writers.

Without really meaning to, he has produced a fascinating answer to that puzzle. Baseball, he notes, is a game that leaves spectators time to think, to mull, analyze and daydream - as writers love to do (and most people, frankly, prefer not to). It is, for the most part, a gentle and even sedentary game, two traits in which writers exceed the general population (this is a craft that involves a lot of sitting down to type, when it doesn't involve lying down to read). And it's a sport that consists mainly of atomized individual performances requiring intense concentration, rather than group co-operation and all-out physical exertion - an obvious draw for the seriousminded loners who largely make up the writing caste.

Because it attracts writers, baseball also attracts its share of sagesounding bunk and Kingwell is not entirely immune to the tendency. When he writes that baseball, a lovely and diverting pastime, "is the Sabbath, the soul-saving time out of time, the space of sacred observance," he's holding the religious analogy together with hyperbole and Big League Chew.

Still, the book's earnest ambition is its greatest strength. Readers willing to follow Kingwell's occasionally winding trains of thought are rewarded with neat, unexpected insights such as his conclusion, after a survey of baseball's disputed foundation myths, that the game is served by such confusion, the better to establish the near-mystical sanctity of its conventions. "It is as well that the rules of the game should be shrouded in misty disputes," he writes. "The game, after all, must be larger than the humans who contest and adjudicate its actions."

Any book that contains this much wit and wisdom is hard to begrudge - it can be read in a day, with time out to catch a few innings of an afternoon Blue Jays game. But amid all the professor's élan, there seems to be a gap in understanding - an element of wishful thinking, really - that is hard to overlook: Kingwell's apparent belief that baseball isn't fundamentally about winning and losing.

In a late chapter titled Beauty, he even suggests that among baseball's values is the pursuit of "elegance as an end in itself." A reader is tempted, in donnish style, to write in the margins, "Precisely not." No baseball play, no matter how spectacular, is made as an end in itself. Even a fielder as elegant as the Chicago Cubs' Javier Baez, whom Kingwell cites as evidence of baseball's aesthetic purism, is trying to win. That's what makes his famous slap tags so dazzling: They get the guy out. If Baez were twirling around an empty infield, bringing his glove down on phantom base runners, the gesture would look as if it were some third-rate interpretive dance routine. The tag is beautiful because it's effective.

That's not to say failure in baseball is unedifying or that it nullifies the value of the attempt - only that winning and losing are the poles that give the game its charge, compelling the players to do what they do. Winning and losing are the forces that set ballplayers apart from ballerinas, who only want to put on a show.

Most fans realize this implicitly.

Much as we may love baseball for its own sake, our affection is usually channelled through a particular team and our desire to see it succeed. To be a sports fan is to be some combination of reality-TV addict, boy-band fangirl and wartime patriot. Quavering aesthete and chin-stroking philosopher may sometimes be mixed in there, but they are rarely the larger part of a fan's identity.

If Kingwell is the exception that proves the rule, Stacey May Fowles exemplifies the rule. In her writing on baseball over the years, now collected as Baseball Life Advice: Loving the Game That Saved Me, she has revealed herself to be a true Blue Jays addict, arranging summer outings with her baseball-agnostic husband around access to cable TV, checking the score on her cellphone during dinner with the in-laws and falling to pieces during playoff runs.

It would be obnoxious if it weren't in fact rather brave - a strict regimen of baseball is the only source of relief she's found for post-traumatic stress brought on by "life events that started with a sexual assault I endured as a teen," she writes. Years into her fandom, its significance redoubles when she struggles to conceive and baseball again comes to the rescue, helping to soothe "the silence and loneliness" of that period. Her willingness to lean into this obsession - and write about its healing power - gives the book its most affecting material.

Like so many baseball writers, Fowles is at her strongest when she's at her most personal and granular. There are some wonderfully vivid scenes, such as when she retreats to the bathroom during the near-riot that erupted at Rogers Centre in the operatic seventh inning of Game 5 of the 2015 American League Division Series, only to find "angry people smoking," a detail that comes closer to capturing the vast emotional strain of that moment than any highlight reel.

In a more disturbing vein, she describes encounters with drunk misogynists in and around the ballpark that have a real edge of menace. The persistent sexism she faces as a female fan - from condescending assumptions about her level of expertise to pink-themed ballpark promotions and serious verbal abuse - provides a dark counterpoint to her overwhelmingly joyful experience of the game.

Fowles is sharp and passionate on the subject of baseball's toxic culture of machismo, decrying the game's tradition of payback violence and casual homophobia.

It's disappointing, then, that she doesn't probe deeper into the enduring appeal of this mindless jock code, even when conceding she fell in love with superstar third baseman Josh Donaldson the moment he vividly instructed an opposing bench to fellate him (beyond the comic understatement of acknowledging it as a "perhaps personally incongruous reason to be drawn to a player").

The truth is, probing isn't what the book sets out to do. At its best, it's a catalogue of feeling, from enthusiasm and anger to anxiety and heartache - which is to say it's a book about love. If that emotional intensity is the beating heart of her writing, it also leaves her vulnerable to the occasional fortune-cookie clunker, as when she writes about beloved players being traded away that "true love always wants the best for those who come into our lives - even if that ultimately means saying goodbye."

Bromides such as this - and the whole escapist, emotionally adolescent tenor of sports fandom that they represent - helped Fowles during a harrowing time in her life and continue to help her manage the mental illness she courageously discusses here.

But what about the mentally healthy majority? Why do we allow the trite "lessons," ginnedup narratives and one-sided lover's pangs offered by professional sports to consume so much of our time? Consider that ubiquitous stadium figure recently described by the Financial Times columnist and soccer journalist Simon Kuper, "men who would never tell their wives that they love them [but] sit in the stands singing of their love for a club." Not everyone nestles into the fantasy world of pro baseball for therapeutic, or particularly attractive, reasons.

Fowles has written a highly personal book, a book about recovery, so it's no surprise she fails to grapple with the fundamental absurdity of diehard sports fandom. As a woman who has had to fight for her place in baseball culture, and a survivor of assault and mental illness, she has every right to embrace the game with her characteristic blend of political zeal and over-the-top emotion. As for the rest of us - neither serene connoisseurs nor in acute emotional need - we might do well to look in the mirror before walking out the door with our faces painted blue and ask ourselves not why baseball matters, but if it matters at all.

Eric Andrew-Gee is a Globe and Mail reporter and diehard Toronto Blue Jays fan.

Associated Graphic

Much as people may love baseball for its own sake, fans' affection is usually channelled through a particular team and our desire to see it succeed.


When architecture meets collective values
The Bank of Canada's three-year, $460-million renovation has made its offices more collegial, but also more fortress-like
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page R2

OTTAWA -- On a winter day, Ottawa looked as if it had all the colour sucked out of it. As I visited the headquarters of the Bank of Canada recently, the building's reflective glass mirrored shades of greige in the cityscape's slush, asphalt and limestone.

Then I stepped inside the bank's atrium, a 12-storey-tall space lined with shimmering glass, steel and nubbly green copper and populated by mounds of plantings and tall fig trees. It looked and felt as though it was a different world.

Bank staffers lounged in the tropical comfort, reading on hotorange chairs or sitting with laptops at oak bar tops.

Yet I only got to see this (after lengthy negotiations) as a journalist. This space, designed by eminent architect Arthur Erickson with Marani Rounthwaite & Dick in the 1970s, was once open to the public. No longer: The bank's three-year, $460-million renovation, being completed this spring, has made its offices safer, more collegial and more commodious. And more fortress-like.

All the magic of the atrium is now locked away from the street. Within, the very competent and corporate renovation, led by the Toronto office of Perkins + Will, has taken one of the most interesting public buildings in the country's capital and turned it into an impenetrable box.

A lot of work needed to be done to the 836,000-square-foot complex, which consisted of a 1938 building on Wellington Street flanked by Erickson's 12storey 1979 towers. The project earthquake-proofed the building, replaced its 40-year-old mechanical systems, improved accessibility and energy efficiency, created new conference space and relocated the bank's museum.

According to the bank's COO, Filipe Dinis, it has also made the bank function better. "The building did not serve the way we work today," he said. "It was not serving to bring people together.

Now we have created new spaces for collaboration."

The office floors, originally wide open, have been completely remade to strip away 30 years of "piecemeal" additions and renovations; most floors are now largely filled with low cubicles, with the concrete waffle slabs exposed and new lighting and climate-control systems slipped into them. Raised floors accommodate data, electrical and radiant heating. All this does not match the quirkiness of the bank's 1970s offices, when custom office furniture was arranged around the building's "tree" columns. But it works, breaking down the physical evidence of the bank's internal hierarchies. Breakout spaces by each floor's elevator encourage people to mix with their colleagues. It looks like the seventies, and yet this is the contemporary wisdom of tech companies. Space makes people collaborate. The views, to Parliament Hill and to the atrium, are largely shared.

"Our job was to change the culture," said Andrew Frontini, design director at Perkins + Will's Toronto office. "We were trying to integrate a 21st-century workplace into the existing towers and keep Erickson's architecture - bring it back to its base and make it really evident and readable."

But the project's approach to Erickson's building was deeply controversial. When it launched in 2013, there was an uproar from preservation advocates.

Phyllis Lambert of the Canadian Centre for Architecture wrote that the plans would "desecrate" the building: "The proposed changes are like adding something to a work by Michael Snow, Picasso, or Michelangelo," she wrote. In particular, the atrium as a public space was "the soul of the building" and should be preserved. But, as a Crown corporation, the bank was free to alter its architectural legacy.

Its architecture was already a conversation between eras: the conservative Canada of the 1930s and the ambitious, globally minded state of the 1970s. The 1938 building is a taut granite box in the style now called "stripped classical." It begins with the neo-classicism that banks have long used to express their conservatism and solidity; the front façade has rectangular columns, but they are very shallow, almost two-dimensional.

Glance and it's a temple; look more closely and it is a tentatively modern building. The stone urns on either side symbolize the storage of wealth. It was designed by former Royal Bank architect Sumner Davenport with Toronto's Marani, Lawson & Morris, a firm (later Marani Rounthwaite & Dick) whose work "could be described as conservative," one of their peers wrote, "based on sound traditional principles."

That was decidedly not the case for Erickson. Arguably Canada's greatest architect of the 20th century, he gave local currency to a series of modernist ideas: brutalism, the "megastructure" of Simon Fraser University, and in the 1980s postmodernism's playful use of historic ornament.

The 1970s bank building belongs to his late modernist period, when he also designed Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall. Like other architects, he was flirting with reflective glass and inscrutable sculptural forms.

His building wraps around the 1938 building with two towers and an atrium - an enclosed space that turns the older building into a sculptural object in a garden.

Erickson loved landscape and did much with his buildings to link architecture and the natural world, as he did with the Law Courts at Vancouver's Robson Square, designed with Cornelia Hahn Oberlander. At the Bank of Canada, working with Ronald Dick, he intended for the garden to bridge Sparks Street and continue into the lobby of the new government building next door; in the end, the more restrained version was inside the bank alone, a multilevel landscape with three mounds of earth surrounded by a "lake." A Douglas fir trellis links two of the mounds, a metaphorical bridge across the landscape. This is the zone, about 12,000 square feet and filled with tropical plants, that was long open to the public.

Bank governor Louis Rasminsky "likes to run a closed shop when it counts," The Globe and Mail reported in 1971, "but feels it is the bank's duty to share the upstairs area with the public who made it possible."

So what happened? The bank decided, it says on the advice of security consultants, to close it off. "It's in terms of what we've seen on the international front - the unfortunate situations we've seen from a security perspective," Dinis said. "There is a perimeter that usually is established around a central bank."

What he is reluctant to say explicitly is that the bank fears a bomb. When members of the public can enter the atrium, they're right below windows of the older building, where senior executives have their offices.

Is such a threat plausible? Is it likely? And if so, why not simply make people in the atrium pass through a security checkpoint?

That would head off the more likely lone-gunman assaults, such as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau's 2014 attack on Parliament Hill or the March 22 attack on Westminster in London, while keeping the space publicly accessible.

Well, look around: The atrium is now being used by the bank.

New centres at each end of the building serve employee-orientation and learning purposes. In between, the atrium is a very beautiful space for ideation and collaboration. "The idea is, irrespective of where you are in the building, that is part of your workspace," Dinis said. "And that includes these spaces."

Outside, the space at the eastern end of the building has been dramatically altered. Erickson designed a flat plaza paved with slate and raised by three steps - echoing the foundation of Greek temples. The Perkins + Will team "viewed it as an unfinished, non-committal landscape response," Frontini said. "Erickson had many ambitions - and I think at one point it was just left to be executed. I don't think it had the same impact as the building." Therefore, "it was fair game for a 21st-century design element that integrates landscape and architecture."

The renovation creates a ramp, making the area accessible to all, then peels up the plaza surface to form three pyramids. One of these provides the entrance to the museum, now relocated outside the security perimeter. All the pyramids have windows that illuminate the underground museum space, and all three are topped with seating and plantings. The museum, as yet incomplete, will be accessible and generously supplied with backof-house space; it connects to conference rooms carved out of the bank's basements.

Frontini cites an Erickson project as a precedent for the pyramids: the architect's Canadian pavilion at Expo 70 in Osaka.

But those structures were covered in mirror glass, like the Bank of Canada towers. Their "ambiguity of form and changeability of image," Erickson wrote, "suggest ongoingness and infinity."

The new pyramids look awfully finite. They are clad mostly in black granite. Their forms don't echo the 1970s so much as the 2000s: The notion of peeling up the ground to form a building has appeared several times in the work of New York's Diller Scofidio + Renfro and is something of a contemporary cliché.

A friend of mine calls this gambit "the Pringle."

Is it wrong to put Pringles on a plinth? The existing public space was not so remarkable or distinctive that it demanded total preservation. But these new additions are expressions of their own period. In the thirties, government built a temple you could visit. In the seventies, a green atrium open to all. Today it constructs fortifications and builds Pringles to push public space underground.

Architecture always expresses our collective values - never more so than here. Back in 1971, Erickson told The Globe: "The Bank of Canada is a working part of society, not a fortress where you need a pass to get in." As I walked away from the bank down Sparks Street, I looked through the windows at the lush space within. In the translucent glass, my reflection looked thin and grey.

Follow me on Twitter: @alexbozikovic

Associated Graphic

The decision to close off the Bank of Canada atrium was made on the advice of security consultants: 'It's in terms of what we've seen on the international front,' the bank's COO says.


MLSE's marketing team helps build the buzz
With the Raptors and Leafs in the playoffs simultaneously for the first time in 15 years, Shannon Hosford's team is working overtime
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 – Print Edition, Page S5

TORONTO -- For the first time since 2002, the Toronto Raptors and Maple Leafs are in the playoffs at the same time. Their shared home is swathed in a carefully balanced mix of splashy decor for both teams, while the square outside juggles massive viewing parties for whichever club is playing at the moment.

Some walls, doors and elevators at Air Canada Centre are plastered in the trendy red-and-black buffalo plaid of the Raptors' postseason campaign, with hollering images of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Others are decked in iconic blue with the digits 001 to signify the culmination of the first 100 years of Maple Leafs hockey and an exciting start to the next.

Staging duelling playoff runs is a sports marketer's dream. At the wheel is Shannon Hosford, who oversees the seasoned marketing department at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which has handled everything from playoff T-shirts to rally towels, TV commercials to logo re-brands, Drake nights to the Leafs' Centennial season, and the wildly popular "We The North" and "Stand Witness" campaigns.

Hosford has climbed the ranks in her 17 years at MLSE and is now the senior vice-president of marketing and fan experience.

Few in the industry manage a portfolio this big - a team of 150 employees who juggle nearly everything fan-facing for the Raptors, Leafs and Toronto FC. She works in tandem with team presidents Brendan Shanahan, Masai Ujiri and Bill Manning on how the teams should be branded and portrayed, and what fans should experience at the games.

"Interestingly, all three want their teams presented similarly; never with one star player singled out but always about the team, and that's why we always have a couple of players or a bunch in ads," Hosford said. "Everything you see is their vision of what the presidents want the fans to see about their teams, and it's my job to bring it to life.

"In the past, we didn't have that same level of collaboration with the teams, but that all changed in recent years. We are constantly trying to move the needle with our marketing, to be best in class and the organization that everyone is trying to emulate."

Hosford's department came into the spotlight in 2014 when a plucky Raptors team made its first run to the playoffs since 2008, and it worked with ad agency Sid Lee to launch the We The North campaign, based on the idea of being an outsider, the NBA's only team outside the United States. It gave the team and its fans an identity and war cry, and made Toronto a pillar of cool. It resonated with the players, became the stuff of banners and hashtags and was imitated by others in the sports world. It made Hosford one of five finalists for Strategy's 2014 Marketer of the Year award.

"Many of the things Shannon and her team do are so distinct - things they do in Jurassic Park, the way they put out playoff T-shirts in special patterns in the arena, and the Toronto Huskies uniforms along with a Huskies court," Ujiri said. "No one else is doing that. We don't copy anybody, we never look at anybody.

She and her department are always willing to take risks."

One of Hosford's key employees on the We The North campaign - David Freeman - was whisked away to work for the Cleveland Browns. To replace him, Hosford was able to land one of Sid Lee's best, Dustin Rideout.

Unique Raptors handout playoff T-shirts are back again this year, with different graffiti-style artwork for each game. Last year, the shirts featured everything from furious snowballs to angry beavers and were arranged in the stadium in complex patterns like a Canadian flag or YYZ, the code for Toronto's Pearson Airport. At last Saturday's Game 1 between the Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks, fans got red or black shirts featuring a fist clenching a handful of net twine. They were placed throughout the stadium seats in a plaid pattern.

Some fans appreciated the quirky originality, while others puzzled over the shirts. Opinions on social media ranged from "mad wack" to "looks like someone snatched a handful of DeMarre Carroll's hair" to "ugliest shirts in the league."

For the Leafs' first postseason home game Monday against the Capitals, fans were given 001 rally towels, a nod to Stand Witness.

The campaign had kicked off with a TV commercial from Sid Lee to open the season, in which an elderly Leafs fan remembers the Leafs over the decades, from Stanley Cups to heartbreaks, even the low years that made fans want to chuck a television through a window. The edgy spot ended with images of the team's current youngsters and the 100 flipped to 001, foreshadowing an intriguing start to the next century.

Even with top overall pick Auston Matthews in the mix, most assumed this was a rebuilding season. Who knew the campaign would come to fit the squad so well - a rookie-heavy squad which would make the playoffs?

"It's tough to create an ad or a campaign that the players can say, 'Yes, this is who we aspire to be,' and that also resonates with the fans," Shanahan said. "Shannon talked to me about how the Leafs were being built and how we see ourselves - from the perspectives of me, the players, Lou Lamoriello and Mike Babcock, and then we took ideas to Sid Lee. The concept of Stand Witness was a great one."

Shanahan has worked closely with Hosford on many initiatives.

There was the re-branding of the iconic Leafs logo, for which they locked down Air Canada Centre one night early in the design phase so Shanahan could watch two players skate around on the ice with the new insignia on. He watched from all vantage points in the arena and then questioned the players about how it felt on their chest as they skated; he then gave that feedback to Hosford.

The re-branded Raptors logo leaked early two years ago, preventing MLSE from launching it the way it wanted to. The Leafs launch went much more according to plan, debuting with the team's newest players.

Shanahan was involved in choosing a new anthem singer - 15-year-old Martina Luis-Ortiz.

They brought in new in-game hosts and tapped Anton Wright, the long-time head of Raptors game operations, to come up with fresh ideas for the fan experience at Leafs games.

"Brendan challenged us to challenge the status quo. In the past, there was a belief that, 'Oh, Leafs fans won't like us to mix up the music, or they might not get into games like Raptors fans do, or they won't sing along,' " Hosford said. "We decided to challenge those old beliefs, and we found Leafs fans really embraced the changes and the atmosphere has really improved."

They made special efforts to celebrate the Leafs' centennial season, from an eye-popping opening night to inducting four former greats to Legends Row.

"In Toronto, you are promoting a team to a very knowledgeable and savvy fan-base, and that can be tricky," said Susan Cohig, the NHL's senior vice-president of integrated marketing. "Being bold and willing to make statements can be risky, especially when you don't know how a season will turn out, but that's something I've always admired about MLSE.

Shannon is able to take the learnings from one league and apply them across others. As marketers, we share best practices around the league, and the Leafs are consistently in the top tier of ideas we draw from."

Hosford's staff has generated several unique ideas, including riffing on St. Patrick's Day by wearing throwback jerseys of the team's predecessor franchise, the St. Pats.

Think back to Toronto's wintry 2016 NBA all-star weekend and the luxurious 40,000-square-foot heated tent that MLSE built near the CN Tower, complete with stylish winter decor, dining and concerts by Gwen Stefani, Usher and Flo Rida. It was a hot ticket for VIPs and some 15,000 NBA fans, and it left lasting impressions across the league.

"They really brought their We The North campaign to life with that experiential destination," said Kelly Flatow, the NBA's senior vice-president of events.

"They booked world-class talent, and they were able to integrate basketball with Canada's rich landscape. They brought such tremendous creativity."

Not every idea has worked out as serendipitously as We The North or Stand Witness. When Toronto FC signed English striker Jermain Defoe in 2014, MLSE and Sid Lee delivered clever ads that screamed, "It's a bloody big deal," with Brits spitting out their drinks at news of the Tottenham star heading to Toronto. Instead of becoming the city's next great sports hero, Defoe spent an unspectacular, injury-plagued season with TFC, which instead prompted punchlines such as "It's a bloody big bust."

There have been other misfires.

In the 2007 NBA playoffs, MLSE put a red playoff shirt on every fan's seat, only to discover that the visiting New Jersey Nets would wear red that night.

MLSE has won several Clio Sports awards in recent years for excellence in sports marketing. It hasn't hurt to have teams that have surprised, delighted and won.

"We all feel fortunate to work in Toronto with such a passionate fan base," Shanahan said. "When you have a fan base that is passionate about your team's history, present and future, it makes your job easier, but Shannon never takes that for granted.

She's always looking for ways to reach new fans."

Associated Graphic

Few in the industry manage a portfolio as big as Shannon Hosford. The 17-year MLSE veteran works with a team of 150 employees who juggle nearly everything fan-facing for the Toronto Raptors, Maple Leafs and Toronto FC.


Edmonton star won six Grey Cups
Hall of Famer went on to a second career in Georgia where he coached, refereed and taught autistic students for more than 20 years
Thursday, April 20, 2017 – Print Edition, Page S8

The story is true, right down to the lawn chair and punch line.

It was the summer of 1973 and the Edmonton Eskimos were holding their training camp at the Holy Redeemer Christian College. Back in those days, Canadian Football League training camps ran especially long, each team having to endure four preseason games. Players were allowed to play their way into shape.

For his charges, Edmonton head coach Ray Jauch devised a mile-long (1.6-kilometre) opening-day obstacle course. At Mr.

Jauch's command, the players took off, scampering down the field - except for one guy who sat in a lawn chair and watched his teammates.

"Aren't you running?" the lone dissenter was asked. To which defensive back Larry Highbaugh smartly replied: "Last time I looked, I don't have to cover [a receiver] for a mile."

The coach thought it over then said, "Okay, you can sit." And Mr. Highbaugh did, because he could, because when it came to football, he could do virtually anything he wanted. He could run like a startled forest animal with the ball or without it. He could catch passes on offence or intercept them on defence. He could return kickoffs and punts and he did so with confidence and style.

"Larry Highbaugh was Deion Sanders and Henry [Gizmo] Williams before there was Deion Sanders and Henry [Gizmo] Williams," said long-time Eskimos equipment manager Dwayne Mandrusiak, who witnessed Mr. Highbaugh's training camp sit-in.

"He was flamboyant and he was so athletically gifted."

Mr. Highbaugh died on March 21 in Snellville, Ga. He had been diagnosed with a heart condition and was due to receive a transplant. But when doctors discovered he was also suffering from prostate cancer, he was taken off the transplant waiting list and informed there was nothing more that could be done. He was 67.

While family, friends and fans lamented his loss, they marvelled at his disposition and what he accomplished in a storied career. His name can be found in the CFL record book, in the Eskimos' record book and on the league's championship trophy. He won the Grey Cup six times, including the historic five in a row from 1978-1982.

Just how good was Mr. Highbaugh? His numbers shouted brilliance: four selections to the West Division all-star team; 66 interceptions, with an average of eight a season from 1978-1981; a kickoff-return average of more than 30 yards for seven seasons.

In three of them, he averaged more than 40 yards a return. He had a 118-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, a 116-yard punt return for a touchdown and he ran plays as a receiver where his top-end speed created openings for the Eskimos' already superb pass catchers, Waddell Smith, Brian Kelly, Tom Scott.

And let's not forget, Mr. Highbaugh averaged 6.8 yards for every carry as a running back with the 1972 BC Lions, who unwisely chose to let him sprint to Edmonton, where his skills and temperament were a splendid fit.

"He was a real character, very funny, and a good teammate," former Eskimos linebacker Dale Potter said. "He rarely made mistakes."

If he did, he knew how to fix them. Former Montreal Alouette Joe Barnes quarterbacked against him for several seasons and in two Grey Cups (1978 and 1979) Mr. Barnes recalled plays that had Mr. Highbaugh down and seemingly out of it.

"We called a quarterback counter. We faked a run to the left then I came back the other way," Mr. Barnes explained. "We had good blocking in front and we walled off [linebacker] Dan Kepley. I juked Highbaugh and he fell down. I had a big lead on him and he got up and caught me from behind. I caught hell from the guys when we watched [the game film days later]. They said, 'He fell down and he still caught you from behind?' "[Montreal head coach] Joe Scannella once called a quick out [pass play] on Highbaugh's side of the field," Mr. Barnes added.

"Highbaugh read it, sat on it then he intercepted the pass and ran off with it. Did I catch him from behind? No, I didn't."

Larry Eugene Highbaugh was born on Jan. 14, 1950, in Indianapolis to James Marshall and Ida Mae Highbaugh. He came from a large family that loved sports. But none of his nine siblings proved to be as athletically gifted as Larry Eugene, whose speed was legendary. He was a three-sport sensation for Washington High School. In 1967, he set records at the city and sectional track and field championships in the 100- and 220-yard sprints. In basketball, he was a 5-foot-8 centre who scored 29 second-half points in a playoff game, which was almost as impressive as being selected to the first Indiana state all-star football game. That earned him a dual football-track scholarship at Indiana University.

On the track, he was the first Indiana sophomore to win the so-hailed Jesse Owens's slam - the 100- and 220-yard sprints, the sprint relay and long jump - at a Big 10 Conference meet. He was a defensive back with the football team that played running back O.J. Simpson and the University of Southern California Trojans in the 1968 Rose Bowl, which USC won 14-3.

Near the end of the 1969 season, he was one of 10 AfricanAmerican football players who walked out on Indiana amid allegations the coaching staff was starting players based on race rather than performance. He earned a tryout with the NFL's Dallas Cowboys in 1970, but failed to impress.

In 1971, he headed northwest to Vancouver to play for the BC Lions en route to a Hall of Fame career with the Eskimos.

"I had heard about him before I got to Edmonton [in 1978]," said Warren Moon, the standout quarterback from the University of Washington. "He was one of the more electrifying guys in the league and he was one of the veterans on the team who took me under his wing. Some of the guys were looking at me because I had a big contract and I was a rookie.

Dan Kepley was always razzing me, but Larry always supported me. He called me 'The Franchise.' He called me that until the time he left the game."

Mr. Highbaugh was even liked by rival players. Calgary Stampeders receiver Tom Forzani spent his first few years in the CFL lined up across from the grinning cornerback in the No. 13 jersey. Both men respected one another too much to talk trash.

"He was a really good athlete and a good guy, too," said Mr. Forzani, who did recall one act of disobedience by Mr. Highbaugh.

"I was watching a game on TV between Edmonton and B.C.

[after Mr. Highbaugh's release from the Lions]. He intercepted a pass and threw the ball at the B.C. coach [Eagle Keys]. That was something."

So was Mr. Highbaugh's presence in the community. He and his family lived in Sherwood Park, outside Edmonton, and stayed there year round. One of his off-season ventures was refereeing kids' basketball games; another was playing one-on-six volleyball exhibitions against high-school girls' teams. With some rule adjustments (spiking was not allowed), Mr. Highbaugh didn't just offer up a show; he usually won.

On the business front, he oversaw a shop called Larry Highbaugh's Sole City, a sportinggoods store where he sold Eskimos souvenirs. When the team didn't get its agreed-upon percentage, it sued its star defender for $64,000. It also asked Mr.

Highbaugh, then 34, to retire after what was said to be a subpar 1983 season. Eskimos' defensive co-ordinator Herb Paterra had said, "Highbaugh got too old.

He couldn't play."

Released by the Eskimos, Mr. Highbaugh opened too many Sole City outlets and eventually had to shut them all down. There were issues, too, on the home front. The Globe and Mail reported on April 28, 1984, that "his wife and children nearly left him, his friends say, when a former babysitter tried to extort money from him, claiming that he had kept her as a mistress. ... He won the right in court to have her stop harassing him."

Mr. Highbaugh and his family left Edmonton and he found work at South Gwinnett High School in Snellville, where he coached and refereed sports and taught autistic students for more than 20 years. Those who knew him say his hunger for life was infectious.

"He once asked me, 'You ever just stop and order a milkshake?' " Mr. Potter recalled. "I said no, because you're always busy.

You practice then you head home to the family and your wife. You have things to do at the house. But that day I did stop to order a milkshake and I enjoyed the moment. I listened to what Larry was saying."

Mr. Highbaugh was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2004 and named to the Edmonton Eskimo Wall of Honour in 1996.

He leaves his wife, Manuela (née Dent); five children, Monica, Angela, Tara, Alisa and Bria; seven siblings, Michael, Sandra, Kathy, Linda, Mark, Angela and Judy; 11 grandchildren, including grandson Tre Roberson, a defensive back with the Minnesota Vikings; and eight great-grandchildren. His brothers Gary and James predeceased him.

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Associated Graphic

Edmonton Eskimos player Larry Highbaugh is seen in 1983. Mr. Highbaugh's numbers shouted brilliance: four selections to the West Division all-star team; 66 interceptions, with an average of eight a season from 1978 to 1981 and a kickoff-return average of more than 30 yards for seven seasons.

Clark highlights hopes for LNG
BC Liberal Leader blasts rival NDP for platform that she says will kill fledgling industry in resource-dependent areas
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A6

PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. -- BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark hopped on a water taxi as she wrapped up a tour of two NDPheld ridings in British Columbia's northwest. On its way to Prince Rupert's island airport, the taxi navigated a busy working harbour, including a ship loaded with wood pellets bound for European markets.

This is one of B.C.'s many resource-dependent towns. As British Columbia's political parties sprint toward a May 9 election, these places aren't traditional Liberal territory. But nor can the NDP take them for granted, lessons underscored for both parties by the last provincial election in 2013.

The New Democrats "are opposed to LNG, they are opposed to the resource sector that keeps so many of us employed across the province," Ms. Clark proclaimed during a campaign stop at Cowpuccino's Coffee House in Prince Rupert, a riding currently comfortably held by the NDP.

Ms. Clark was speaking to a small crowd of supporters who cheered as she blasted her New Democrat rivals for a platform that she said would kill the fledgling - but still not realized - liquefied natural gas industry that is offering this community an economic boost.

The BC Liberal Party owned the jobs issue in 2013 by featuring Ms.

Clark in a hard hat and talking relentlessly about "getting to yes" on resource development projects. The promise of LNG was at the centre of her platform then, and she filled a vacuum created by the rival New Democrats who did not offer a clear jobs plan in the alternative.

In this campaign, Ms. Clark can point to the prospect that LNG may come. But she is doubling down on LNG, highlighting the opportunity that has provided hope for an economic rebound in communities where traditional jobs in forestry and fishing have all but evaporated.

Although resource issues can influence voters across the province, natural resource industries dominate the economy in the north, the interior and much of Vancouver Island. That makes up 32 of 87 seats in this election, and these are battlegrounds that neither the NDP nor the Liberals will ignore.

During the 2013 campaign, a contest the NDP was widely expected to win, a mid-campaign flip-flop proved disastrous for the party after then-leader Adrian Dix declared the party's opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, an effort to shore up the votes of environmentalists. In the final weeks of the campaign, the Liberal's internal pollsters watched with glee as the support of male voters 55 and older soared and women voters - previously an elusive target for Ms. Clark - came aboard.

This time, NDP Leader John Horgan has made sure he gets his own hard-hat-wearing photo opportunities during the campaign.

The NDP has promised tens of thousands of jobs would be created under its policy platform, with publicly funded energy and transportation projects, and policies designed to boost jobs in forestry and agriculture. That includes a pledge to curb the export of raw logs - a serious irritant for the communities that have watched their sawmills shuttered while logs are shipped overseas for processing.

But in wooing blue-collar workers, the NDP is still hobbled by opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline project and it has promised to review the province's most expensive public-works project in history, the Site C dam, which is already under construction.

So Prince Rupert - in the riding of North Coast, which the New Democrats won handily in 2013 - was still a suitable backdrop for Ms. Clark to promote her liquefied natural gas ambitions that have at least delivered jobs in the early development stages, notwithstanding the fact that none of the proposed plants around the port of Prince Rupert have reached the point of a final investment decision. (BG International Ltd. announced in March that it has abandoned development of its proposed LNG project located on Ridley Island in the port of Prince Rupert. A final investment decision on the proposed Petronas project on nearby Lelu Island has been put on hold.)

Over in the riding of Skeena - one of B.C.'s resource-oriented campaign battlegrounds - the town of Kitimat has seen a shortlived boom as LNG proponents prepared the groundwork for facilities that may yet be built.

Elizabeth MacDonald has lived in Kitimat for 37 years and raised her six children in this town.

"All my adult life, I voted NDP," she said in an interview. She has been an advocate for social programs and the NDP seemed like the party most likely to deliver, she said.

But in this election, she is out campaigning for the Liberal candidate Ellis Ross, the former chief councillor of the Haisla First Nation.

Ms. MacDonald says the promise of LNG - even though nothing more than preliminary site clearing has begun - has made a significant difference in the region.

In particular, she said Indigenous communities are being empowered and uplifted. That, she believes, is the key to addressing the chronic needs for social programs that she spent so long working for - hours of efforts putting food in classrooms and assisting single parents. A large part of her business now is teaching Indigenous students about environmental monitoring so they can be a part of industry while at the same time protecting the land and waters.

"Yes, people need to be supported," she said. "But we need to balance that with training opportunities. ... I've never met anyone who wanted to live on welfare."

New Democrat Jennifer Rice, the incumbent in the North Coast riding, acknowledges that voters in Prince Rupert are divided over the prospects of LNG, but she said the Liberals are misleading when Ms. Clark asserts the NDP would shut it down.

"It's simply wrong," she said.

The NDP says LNG has to meet certain conditions - just as Ms. Clark set conditions for her approval of the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline.

But Ms. Rice noted that while the Liberal leader talks about LNG jobs that might happen, forestry and fishing jobs - the bedrock of the economy here - have been disappearing under the Liberal government.

"Drive along Highway 16 and pass the shuttered mills - it's heart-breaking," she said. "We won't ignore fishing and forestry."

Ms. Clark also campaigned in Kitimat, where she posed with workers at a job site under a banner that read, "We want LNG."

Again, she told voters there that the NDP would "snatch away" their prospects for LNG.

These communities are looking for a message of hope after a steady econonomic decline.

The B.C. economy has shifted over the past decade or more, and it is urban centres that have benefited most. Last year, the average number of employed people in urban communities in B.C.'s southwest climbed, but in almost every other region in the province, the average number declined.

Rising mineral and natural-gas prices early in 2017 have helped restore some balance, but the Liberals have had to readjust their jobs plan to reflect that the strongest prospects for growth are in the high-tech sector, not in natural resources.

Forestry remains under a cloud of uncertainty. In addition to the prospect of punitive tariffs on B.C.'s softwood exports to the United States that industry expects to learn shortly, there is a shrinking supply of fibre for the province's interior mills.

Already, the forestry sector has shrunk since the BC Liberals came to office in 2001, when there were 91,000 workers. In 2016, that number declined to 60,000.

When the riding of Fraser-Nicola switched to the Liberals in the 2013, defeated NDP MLA Harry Lali blamed the loss on the fact that the New Democrats weren't offering enough hope to blue-collar workers.

Mr. Lali singled out the NDP's mid-campaign policy surprise when then-leader Mr. Dix came out against the construction of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project - a bid to shore up support with environmentalists. The Liberals pounced on the flip-flop with a devastating attack ad, and Mr. Lali watched as his supporters turned their backs on the NDP.

But the continued slide of the forestry sector has exposed a crack in the Liberal jobs plan. Mr. Lali, who hopes on May 9 to take back the riding he held for three terms, said people in the area are angry that the Liberals did not fight to protect their jobs.

"When I was MLA and they tried to shut the mill down, I said 'No.' " Under the NDP government of the 1990s, the log supply was tied to the local mill, a regulation that was scrapped under the Liberals. Now, unemployed mill workers are watching logs from their community shipped to mills in other ridings.

Harbinder Hara worked at the Tolko mill in Merritt for 32 years.

He is hoping the NDP will win this time out, because he hasn't seen the Liberal government helping protect forestry jobs. The mill shut down in December and he now finds himself a "60-plusyears-young man" without job prospects.

"I've been a tradesperson my whole life. I lived my whole life in Merritt, I raised four kids here, and now I am out of work. Who is going to hire me? I'm a really healthy, active guy but there are no jobs in my region."

Earlier this month, Mr. Hara travelled to Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, where workers are also facing shuttered mills.

"We saw a ship loading the raw logs. I was burning. My lord," he said, "how can the government live with that? I would give my vote to the party who is saving the mills for the workers."

Associated Graphic

BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark waves during a campaign stop in Kitimat, B.C., on April 13. Rural and remote areas in the province are struggling with job losses in fishing and forestry.


Everybody's working on the weekend (and why that's a bad thing)
Friday, April 14, 2017 – Print Edition, Page L3

The erosion of the weekend was something Katrina Onstad had experienced for years. She is a writer, after all: an award-winning journalist and Giller-nominated author of the novel Everybody Has Everything.

She knows the pressure of deadlines, which can have you working into the wee hours and through the weekend. (And, of course, the imagination has no understanding of boundaries.)

But it wasn't until she was working a 9-to-5 job at the CBC a few years ago that she and her family realized they needed to make some changes. "I thought I would have my weekends off but I really didn't," the mother of two says. She was exhausted.

On a Sunday night, her son, now 13, would sometimes complain: "Are you kidding? That's a weekend?" He had a very romantic idea of what a weekend could be, Onstad explains, which often left her and her husband feeling that they had failed to realize its potential.

And so, a writing project was born. Her new book, The Weekend Effect, explores the importance of reclaiming those two days. Onstad spoke to The Globe and Mail from her home in Toronto.

It's odd to think that working too much was once something people complained about. Now we brag about how long and hard we work.

We have been living with the unsteady global economy for a couple of decades now. Salaries for most people, except for the top 1 per cent, have not increased. And so I think there's a performance element that's required. One's identity does start to become melded with the work.

Many think of the weekend as a religious construct: The day of rest. But you write that organized labour had a lot to do with formalizing the weekend.

In the 19th century, unions rose up to incite for a shorter work week and the weekend; to make it a legal protection. To think about how we live now and how our weekends are so compromised for many reasons, it's a bit of a betrayal of that history.

We can blame the smartphone, no?

There is no longer that physical line between work and leisure.

Our office is in our pockets and our purses, and we're perpetually on call, which leaves us in this heightened state all the time. And that's not necessarily because of the rules of the workplace. We're doing it to ourselves.

It doesn't seem too long ago that we thought e-mail was delightful. Remember Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail?

It seems like yesterday. But we're beginning to understand that this is not sustainable. It is not healthy. There's research about separation anxiety from smartphones. There was a study where they put people in a room and left the smartphones outside. They could hear them ringing but couldn't get to them. Their hearts would start beating faster and they would sweat.

Workplaces that are better designed than our homes encourage the culture of overwork.

There's a shift from the eastern seaboard finance world to a laid-back Silicon Valley model.

Those workplaces are the most "enchanted" - the phrase that's been used, which means a place that casts a spell over workers; where work and play bleed into one another. Instead of calling it an office, you call it a campus.

Silicon Valley offices have amazing restaurants and interior design. It has a real effect on workers because you begin to feel that work is play. It's fun.

These changes and little perks make work really appealing and that's good. I'm not trying to condemn these things but what they do is dull our awareness of time and of our identity outside of work.

But some might argue that as work has changed, so, too, should our structure of time off. If working remotely, you can put in hours on your dock at the lake. You could work early in the morning and take the afternoon off. There's more fluidity between work and leisure. Is it crucial that two days in sequence - the weekend - be sacrosanct?

Yes, absolutely. There's a great loss if we don't protect that space. If we don't have it, I think we lose our social connections. The main reason why people don't volunteer is that they don't have time. The main reason why people don't socialize is that they don't have time.

If we want to be happy and fulfilled and better the world in which we live, we need time to do it. And you can't farm it out digitally.

There's lots of value in social media connections. But face to face - that's where empathy comes in; where understanding comes in; conversation; human contact.

As part of your effort to save your weekend, you and your husband told your son that you were going to drop competitive hockey. And he was disappointed.

We have to be kind of ferocious because there are so many forces at play for leisure or time off. And some of those forces are beyond our control. They're the way work or workplaces are structured or what kind of support we have socially through our governments.

But some of those choices are personal and we need to step back and say: "Do we really need to do this?" .

Did your son get over it?

Oh, he moved out. Ha! Just kidding! He is a really chill kid. He took it in stride. And he's extremely happy when we declare an off day and leave the city. He seems to have survived.

We frame many things as work - even maintaining a good marriage or relationship. You write that when you found yourself with some spare time with your husband, you thought about how you could use that time to make your relationship better.

We're conditioned to be utilitarian. There's always been a fear of idleness. It's a very North American New World idea. You need to be making something, improving something. You need to be doing, doing, doing. Just "being" is a lot harder. And "being" also requires that time.

But you quote a couples' therapist who makes sex sound like work; something you just have to do. I don't think many people will like that idea.

I know. But you just have to say, "What's my big goal here?

Do I want this relationship?" It's part of what we need to be doing. That same therapist was saying that for people who are tired and not in the mood once they're in the moment, it's actually pretty good.

You don't really regret it later.

It's like going for a swim; being the first person to jump in.

You're glad you did it.

Another problem is that we define things like shopping as leisure.

If shopping is your hobby then you'll be working a lot so you have the money to shop.

And you found a place that still prohibits shopping on Sunday.

Bergen County, which is right across the bridge from Manhattan. It has more malls per square foot than anywhere else in the States. It's a place that's completely contradictory - it's a great celebration of consumption and then on Sunday, stores are totally closed. It is one of the last places in the U.S. to follow the Puritan Blue Laws. People who live there talk about a really palpable shift in the quality of their lives on the weekend.

The idea that work is a "passive religion" is so interesting. It replaces the existential angst for meaning in our lives.

Confronting the bigger questions of existence and meaning require some silence and empty space, but if we fill even our leisure time with work, and stuff every minute with work, or meaningless activities - checking our Twitter feeds - then when do we get to examine ourselves and our lives?

After writing this book, are you feeling better about your weekends?

I definitely feel that my awareness has been increased. Now, if I'm doing things on the weekend I try to be hyper aware of whether it has value for me.

You look for beauty.

Or take that walk.

That's huge. Being exposed to beauty sparks many creative epiphanies in the beholder, if not in that moment, then later.

Physically being around by beauty makes us feel better.

Nature, especially. I looked at this burgeoning new therapy called ecotherapy.

In England, they have started to integrate this in mentalhealth-care plans. They discovered that people with mental illness enjoy incredible benefits from gardening and being outside. So many of us live in cities now. We can become very divorced from the outside world.

The overarching theme of the book is our relationship to time and what we do with the time we have.

Some of the cult of overwork is about wanting a sense of control, I guess. Which we don't have.

Whenever I become obsessive about my work, I recalibrate. My work is part of who I am, a big part of who I am. I don't mean to diminish it in any way. But it's not me.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Associated Graphic

Having weekly time off - completely off, as in don't-even-think-aboutthe-job off - ought to be sacrosanct, says Katrina Onstad, whose latest book explores the importance of weekends.


The 'Wild West' in condo presales
Units bought in backroom deals can be flipped and reflipped, and the transfer tax doesn't apply
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Print Edition, Page S4

Vancouver's presale condo market is in need of regulation and transparency, say realtors whose clients are being routinely shut out of the frenzied market.

The presale market is the "Wild West" of the industry, realtor Steve Saretsky says, who posted a blog recently, titled "Vancouver Pre Sale Condo Ponzi Scheme."

Mr. Saretsky, who often speaks out against his own industry, says it's common that offshore investors get first dibs on presale purchases. Those purchases are assigned, or flipped, to local buyers at a premium. He says in recent months, as the condo market has hit a fever pitch, so too has the flipping.

Speculative buying is driving prices up, shutting out owneroccupiers and adding to an already unaffordable market. Mr. Saretsky says that the presale market, once considered an unknown entity, is now viewed as a low-risk money-maker. Full financing isn't required until completion, which is several years away. During that interim, buyers can flip the property and assign it to other buyers. If they are foreign, they dodge the 15-percent transfer tax, which isn't due until completion. He sees buildings completed long ago that remain half empty. Many of the units appear on Craigslist or the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) once the building completes, a sign that buyers have already maximized the gains to be had.

"Obviously they presold them offshore," Mr. Saretsky says.

"They bought them three years ago, made a lot of money and they don't have any intention of living in them.

"If you call one of the developers, they say, 'we are only selling to friends and family and we are open to the public next week.' But what is friends and family? What is the definition? It's basically offshore. And everybody in the industry knows it, and nobody likes to talk about it."

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa recently made headlines when he called such speculators "property scalpers."

In B.C., however, the practice rages on unabated.

Realtor Shali Tark, creator of, says investors are snapping up the most desirable condos, such as those around transit corridors. The frenzy for those units is on, she says.

"Those units are usually gone right away," Ms. Tark says.

Investors either rent them out or leave them empty. It's like placing your chips on an especially low-risk bet, which is what Vancouver's hot property market has become, especially with a nearzero vacancy rate and high rents.

Ms. Tark started her website, which lists available presale units, because she was having trouble finding units for her clients.

When big projects come onto the market, many of the units are usually spoken for, snapped up by offshore buyers or those who have an inside connection to the developer, she says. Marketers of big developments will say a project is sold out, but in fact hold back several units that will be released later, at a higher price.

Ms. Tark compares it to purchasing concert tickets. Buyers who line up all night for a presale think they'll have their pick of the units, but are surprised to find that they're getting leftovers.

They're also often surprised at the prices, which fluctuate greatly from what's advertised.

"I get people that are wanting certain units in projects and I'm straight up with them that it's just not going to happen unless you know the developer personally type of thing," she says. "That's the reality and it's not fair. When they say they are starting at $399,000, a really good price, that's just used to market [the project]. They are rarely selling them for that.

"So local buyers themselves don't get that advantage that they need to get into the market."

The practice of selling off units en masse ensures the success of a development, she says.

"They try to do the bulk sales.

They want units to be sold and earmarked, or get that interest, get the deposits and money and be able to claim they sold so many units. It gives them a bit more presence. It says, 'this is the hot project.' "Realtor Keith Roy says he doesn't have an issue with developers selling to offshore buyers.

Like any homeowner, the developer has the right to sell to whomever they want, Mr. Roy says.

Developers are a private business with a bottom line. Should a homeowner be told that they can't sell to the highest bidder?

"Yes, stuff is being sold primarily overseas because it is the path of least resistance for the seller," he says. "The demand is unlimited ... I don't think that not selling a 60-storey high-rise luxury apartment is going to solve the affordability issue in Vancouver."

Mr. Roy argues that luxury housing to foreign buyers creates construction jobs and a larger tax base. However, he also sees a need for transparency when it comes to the assigning of presales, which is an unregulated practice without available data.

Presales are usually not listed on the MLS, like resales. And if a presale unit has been sold repeatedly before it completes, those transactions are invisible to the public.

Some developers forbid assignments because they don't want competition against their own project. Others charge a fee once the building has sold out, generally a small percentage of the sale.

Mr. Roy wants assignment sales to be registered with the land-titles office, like any other sale.

"Knowledge is power," Mr. Roy says. "And the consumer would be better served if we had that data. Developers and marketers would also be better served if they had that data. The consumers are the ones who benefit most if we start registering assignments."

If the consumer could see the number of times a presale has been assigned or flipped, and the price for each transaction, that would show speculation activity.

That activity would shed light on where the speculation is and what type of housing it attracts. It would also give a marketer an idea of current values. As is, there isn't even a resource for the consumer to find presale asking prices.

Bob Rennie, the householdname marketer of presales, has also been pushing for data on Vancouver's mystery market.

"The condo market is on fire, but the problem with the Greater Vancouver market is that nobody knows the amount of presales going through and the price levels they are selling at," Mr. Rennie says.

The Urban Development Institute looked at the possibility of using the MLS to list presales, but decided against it, partly because it is an expensive service and would add to the price, president Anne McMullin says.

"You could argue that there is a minor gap on that final sale price," Ms. McMullin says. "If there is a lag between sales, like 16 to 18 months to sell, there may be different prices and we won't know what those different prices are until closing, just like if you sold your house.

"I think that's legitimate. But I don't know how we would track that."

With the market as ridiculously hot as it is, somebody needs to start tracking it, realtor Ian Watt says. He's seeing "stupid money" thrown at condos, mostly from locals who believe in the power of the market. He worries that overleveraged buyers will get burned, especially if the offshore presale buyer pulls out. For wealthy investors, it wouldn't be too painful to walk away from a 5- or 10- or 15-per-cent down payment, which would create oversupply.

"It's 100-per-cent hype," he says.

"So many Canadians are buying because they believe it's never going to go down."

Ms. Tark also wants a system overhaul.

"In the last three years, all this speculation has added more fuel to the market. I think it definitely needs to be addressed in more of a think-tank manner rather than the government rolling out taxes and then rolling them back.

"Even though local representatives try to implement certain provisions, I don't think they are understanding the big picture.

"Developers aren't doing anything illegal by making their projects known to the international markets, but there needs to be some sort of cost in place for anybody buying offshore, to give the local people more advantage.

Also, they need to pay into the infrastructure if they are not going to live here.

"You look at a master-planned community and they have amenities and schools. How is that going to be supported?" Mr. Saretsky believes in the need for a speculation tax.

"We were talking about the condo market in my office and how totally out of control it is - basically multiple offers are happening anywhere and everywhere.

With presale condos, there's got to be a speculation tax or something.

"My issue is when developers are pushing for density like it's the solution and then they offload that supply offshore. The product getting built in Vancouver, the stuff on the Eastside and presale stuff, is going for $1,200 a square foot. That's not helping anybody. I understand it's a business - they have to make money.

But everything being built in my opinion is luxury in Vancouver, so I don't think it's making anything affordable."

Associated Graphic

Condo buildings under construction are seen in Vancouver in February. Speculative buying is driving prices up, shutting out owner-occupiers and adding to an already red-hot Vancouver market.


Journalist often clashed with politicians
In his long career, he was an award-winning reporter, author and educator and helped develop the framework for polling in Canada
Tuesday, April 18, 2017 – Print Edition, Page S8

This may sound familiar: A politician makes outrageous statements that are barely tethered to reality. The attending press corps dutifully reports the falsehoods as facts, even as the reporters privately rail against the straitjacket of journalistic conventions which render them little more than glorified stenographers. And when the press finally start to hold the politician to account, he lashes out at the socalled "biased media."

In the fall of 1965, Anthony Westell, The Globe and Mail's Ottawa bureau chief, was struggling with how to cover some of the campaign-trail exaggerations of Tory leader John Diefenbaker and still appear objective. So he began to append, in brackets, information in his reports that contradicted some of Mr. Diefenbaker's assertions.

After all, as Mr. Westell explained in an unusual feature published three weeks before the Nov. 8 election, "what is fairness in reporting a politician who puts aside his truly remarkable memory for detail when he climbs on the platform and pours forth a private version of the facts?" (After Lester B. Pearson's Liberals were re-elected, Mr. Diefenbaker swore he would never again speak to The Globe. Some years later, speaking in the House of Commons, Hansard records that he inveighed against the "selfappointed prophets of radio, television, and the press," singling out "Mr. Weasel - Westell, I beg your pardon, that was a slip of the tongue.") The article helped establish Mr. Westell as a so-called "new journalist," according to his 2002 memoir, The Inside Story: A Life in Journalism. But he was ambivalent about the development. "Was this really my role as a reporter?" he wondered modestly in the book. Still, some were mightily impressed: Broadcaster Eric Malling said Mr. Westell had "invented investigative journalism in Canada" during the campaign.

In a career that spanned more than 60 years, Mr. Westell's achievements were many and varied. He won three National Newspaper Awards (one each for editorial writing and spot political news coverage with The Globe, and one for a Toronto Star series about changes to processes on Parliament Hill), edited the Literary Review of Canada, wrote three books on politics, served as director of the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University, helped develop the framework for modern political polling in Canada and advocated for causes as varied as free trade and dying with dignity.

Mr. Westell died of metastatic prostate cancer on April 1 at the age of 91.

George Anthony (Tony) Westell was born on Jan. 27, 1926, in the history-soaked southwestern British city of Exeter, the second of three children of Wes, an insurance salesman, and his wife Diana Blanche Westell (née Smedley).

"She was from a proud family in genteel decline, with traces of eccentricity, a weakness for gambling, and a tendency to emigrate.

He was from a middle class family not long risen from the slums," Mr. Westell wrote in The Inside Story. His mother passed away when he was six years old, and his unsentimental reaction prompted Mr. Westell to wonder for the rest of his life: "Was I already an unfeeling and introspective child when my mother died, or did her death make me so?" Leaving school at the age of 15, he landed a job in early 1942 as an apprentice reporter with the afternoon paper, the Express & Echo, which had been sapped of manpower by the war. He covered entertainment, funerals, the courts and other local news before signing on in December, 1943, one month shy of his 18th birthday, for a three-year stint in the Royal Navy, which took him to Bora Bora, New Guinea and Australia. Witnessing the sharp divisions between the officers and his working class shipmates made him, "resentful of the sort of class distinction between bosses and workers that I might have accepted as natural in civilian life," and he began to see himself as a social democrat.

Mr. Westell returned to the paper before moving on to the Evening World of Bristol, where his new neighbour on the reporters' table, Jeannie Collings, caught his eye. Theirs "was not a romantic declaration of love but a private union of good companions who shared, in addition to the normal passion, a passion for journalism," he wrote.

They married in January, 1950, in a tiny St. Pancras Town Hall ceremony that cost them "about $2.00 in those days." Their two children were raised largely by Ms. Westell, to whom Mr. Westell dedicated his memoir: "For Jeannie, who made my career possible at the cost of her own."

Following a succession of Fleet Street jobs, Mr. Westell was refused a promotion to New York correspondent of the Evening Standard because the paper's owner, the Canadian-born pressbaron Lord Beaverbrook (née Max Aitken), decreed: "Small head, big feet. Won't do." He landed a reporting job with The Globe (because of his experience, his salary was $1 more than the union rate of $110 a week) just as its new owner, the Montreal millionaire Howard Webster, was expanding it from a provincial to a national paper, and the family moved to Toronto in November, 1956.

After a couple of years, Mr. Westell joined The Globe's editorial board, later moving to Ottawa to lead that bureau. "A few weeks after I took over as bureau chief, a scandal struck the Liberal government, and other scandals followed one after the other for a couple of years. There were Mafia men and ministerial assistants, call girls and Cabinet ministers, spies and speculation about every sort of skullduggery. Much of it was more sensational than serious, but it made wonderful headlines."

He agitated for change in the Parliamentary press gallery, pressing for the annual dinner to admit women and escorting the Conservative MP Flora MacDonald to the event.

While Mr. Westell's reporting often upset politicians, it was also favourably cited more than once in the House of Commons. (On one occasion, MP Robert Andras read almost the entirety of a long A1 story by Mr. Westell into the record.)

He chronicled the country's fractious flag debate and accompanied prime minister Lester B.

Pearson on cross-country train trips and Mr. Diefenbaker on the 1965 campaign trail. He wrote movingly of both leaders' exits from public life, of the country's embrace of official bilingualism, and of Trudeaumania.

In 1969, Mr. Westell moved to the Star as a national-affairs columnist. Frustrated with the superficial drumbeat of daily news, he took a two-year leave of absence as a journalism professor at Carleton University, where he could think deeply about the political system and the news industry. In 1975, he and Alan Frizzell, another member of the faculty, organized a telephone survey of Liberal delegates to a conference.

The venture became known as the Carleton Journalism Poll, which served as CBC's pollster in the 1979 and 1980 elections. Later, though, he rued the way polls prompted journalists to emphasize the horse race over serious discussions of policy.

Over the subsequent decades, he toggled between column-writing at the Star and teaching at Carleton, where he became associate dean in 1985 and director of the School of Journalism and Communication in 1988. He spent 1980 as a senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, writing about Canada-U.S. relations, and served as a visiting associate at the Americas Society in New York in 1983.

In the final decade of his life, Mr. Westell was an enthusiastic writer of newspaper op-eds and lettersto-the-editor. He was a particularly vocal advocate of the right to die with dignity and he cheered when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the ban on physician-assisted death in 2015.

"He thought the timing would work very well for him," said his daughter-in-law Kimberley Noble, a journalism professor with the University of Guelph-Humber, who noted that he was ill with prostate cancer. (Mr. Westell also leaves his wife, Jeannie; his journalist son, Dan; daughter, Tracy; and granddaughters Lucy and Annabel.)

It was not to be: During an interview with physicians earlier this year, Mr. Westell discovered the new assisted-death law was more restrictive than he might have hoped. "It became quite clear that this desire for a civilized death in his own time ran up against the doctors' need to establish that they're ending suffering," Ms. Noble said.

"He was a very dignified, stoic, British gentleman, and he and his wife, Jeannie, were young people during the war, and they saw a great deal of genuine suffering: death and disfigurement, and terrible family loss." With that personal history, Ms. Noble said, her father-in-law could not bring himself to admit he was truly suffering.

"They also kept asking, 'What do you want? What do you really want?' And I think the answer they want to hear is, 'I want to die, I want to die.' And Tony said, 'What I want is to be at home with my wife, in our beautiful apartment, with a gin and vermouth in my hand, watching the news.' " .

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Associated Graphic

In a career that spanned more than 60 years, Anthony Westell won three National Newspaper Awards, edited the Literary Review of Canada, wrote three books on politics and served as director of the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University.

Over his long career, Harry McWatters has put British Columbia on the international wine map. Now, at 71, it's time to open another winery
Special to The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, April 12, 2017 – Print Edition, Page L1

As a twentysomething, Harry McWatters's preferred way to spend a summer night was driving his 1965 Beaumont hot rod from Vancouver to British Columbia's Okanagan Valley. He had a few cool cars back then, but the Beaumont was a favourite, with a custom burnt-amber paint job and jet-black upholstery.

He'd cruise up and down the valley, showing off his wheels at car shows in Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton, a different show each weekend. "And on Saturday nights, there was always a dance and a party," says McWatters, who is now 71. "I was a real car nut until I became a wine nut."

Then, he says, "my passion changed."

This fall, McWatters will mark his 50th vintage in the Canadian wine industry. His career has tracked the growth of British Columbia's wine industry, which has exploded from a handful of wineries in the late 1960s to at least 350 today. McWatters was instrumental in the national adoption of the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA), an organization that regulates and markets Canadian wines. He brought the term Meritage (used to describe red Bordeaux-style blends) to Canada, and helped create the British Columbia Wine Institute, which promotes B.C. wines around the world. Along the way, he's created some of the province's most highly regarded wines - something he continues to do.

"Harry McWatters has been the face and the heart of the British Columbia wine industry for 50 years," wine expert Tony Aspler says. "His contribution to the Canadian wine scene is as large as his physical presence. He's Canada's Robert Mondavi."

McWatters's current job is president of Encore Vineyards, which will celebrate a new opening this summer. The brand-new Time Winery will be located in downtown Penticton, in the vintage PenMar Theatre building. Time Winery will have production facilities as well as a tasting room, patio, shop, theatre and lounge. McWatters hopes the city's first urban winery can give visitors who may not be leaving town a chance to visit a real winery - not just a wine shop - and learn more about how good wine is made.

"We're a full-fledged working winery. The only thing we don't have there is a vineyard," McWatters says. "We'll be running a very extensive wine-education program, and we're encouraging other wineries to participate, too."

McWatters was born in Toronto to parents that held relaxed views about children and alcohol. Even at a very young age, he'd have his own little glass on the table. "We lived in a predominantly Italian neighbourhood, and I drank wine on a frequent basis," he recalls. "Every Sunday, we'd have wine with dinner. My parents were very liberal about it, but I'm talking about two ounces, at most, at dinner. I brought my kids up the same way."

When he was 10, his family moved to Vancouver. They spent summers visiting the Okanagan Valley, which for a kid was much more about fun than wine. But as McWatters got older, he started to enjoy the drink that had always been there, and to want to learn more about how and why people made it. In 1968, he began a job as a sales manager with Casabella Wines in Vancouver, where he learned about the process of wine making and met many of the restaurateurs and retailers he calls friends today.

In 1977, he moved to the Okanagan Valley with his then-wife and young children. Three years later, he took a leap of wine-loving faith and founded Sumac Ridge Estate Winery in Summerland. "We mortgaged our house.

We put everything on the line," he recalls. "It was a struggle; there's no question. But it was also really exciting. We'd work really late and go home, and then get up and go back first thing in the morning."

Today, the wine industry in B.C. employs 12,000 people, and has an annual economic impact of $2.8-billion, but 40 years ago it was minuscule. One of McWatters's big breaks came in 1983, when the Queen visited the province, and wines from Sumac Ridge were selected for the official functions. "People would come in to the winery and ask for the wine the Queen had," McWatters recalls with a laugh.

"They'd buy a case of it. If it was good enough for the Queen, they'd say, it was good enough for them."

Sumac Ridge wines were (and still are) highly acclaimed, but his years there were not always easy. Perhaps no challenge was more stressful than the passage of the North American free-trade agreement in 1988.

"Free trade took away any preferential market," McWatters says.

Plus, he adds, it's much easier for Americans to produce "commodity wines," or inexpensive wines made in large quantities.

"Our cost of land is high. Our cost of labour is high," he says.

"And we're at a greater risk here because of our weather."

Rather than compete on quantity, he decided to compete in quality. "Our wines don't have to taste like Bordeaux or Burgundy, but they have to be comparable," he says.

"There has to be something in them that stylistically relates to the great wines of the world."

At the time, most Canadian wineries grew hybrid grapes, known for their ability to survive tough winters more than for producing good wine. McWatters and others replanted with vinifera grapes, which aren't as hardy, but are used to make the world's best wines. "Vinifera was the way to go," he says, pointing out that members of the B.C. wine industry won more than 1,200 international awards in the past year alone.

Vancouver wine critic Anthony Gismondi says McWatters's success didn't come just from planting the right grapes, but recognizing exactly where they should be planted.

"I believe he has never really been recognized for his greatest achievement, namely planting 115 acres of mostly Bordeaux varieties on the Black Sage Bench, in East Oliver, back in 1992," Gismondi says. "Those vines have spawned a multibillion-dollar industry that hasn't really looked back ever since."

In 1995, McWatters bought what is now See Ya Later Ranch, a winery located south of Okanagan Falls. Five years later, he sold that and Sumac Ridge to Vincor Canada, the country's largest wine company, and became Vincor's vice-president. In 2006, when Vincor was sold to Constellation Brands, a massive alcohol conglomerate based in the United States, McWatters stayed on as president of the Sumac Ridge Estate Wine Group and vice-president of Vincor.

In 2008, he announced his retirement, but that didn't last very long. He had already started tinkering with two new wines - a Meritage red blend and a chardonnay - for a brand-new label.

"I still love a good Meritage," he says.

"I appreciate single varieties for what they are, but we can make a better red wine by blending. The end result is greater than the sum of its parts."

At the time, he didn't intend to release new bottles under his own name - "So often it's about stroking an ego," he says - but by then, McWatters was working with his now-adult children.

His son, Darren McWatters, is Encore Vineyard's production manager, and his daughter, Christa-Lee McWatters Bond, is director of sales and marketing. They all had a talk.

"'It's our name, too,' " he recalls them telling him. " 'And we think it will be worth more when you're not here - not that we're rushing you off the planet or anything.' " He took their advice, and the McWatters Collection was born, followed quickly by the other labels.

Certainly, McWatters, who turns 72 in May, has earned his many accolades: Two months ago, he received the Spirited Industry Professional Award, a lifetimeachievement recognition, at the Vancouver Wine Festival; last month, the 2014 McWatters Collection Chardonnay won gold at the prestigious Chardonnay du Monde wine competition in France. But he says being called a legend "just makes me feel old."

"I get a lot of different names. I get called the father of the new wine industry. The grandfather.

The godfather," he says.

"I think it's just the fact that I've been here longer than pretty much anybody else in the wine business."

Longer than the Beaumont hot rod, too, which he sold years ago to finance one of his first B.C. properties.

In a way, McWatters's life has come full circle. Time Estate Winery is only three kilometres from where he first worked when he moved to the Okanagan Valley.

The building itself already holds happy memories: The PenMar Theatre, which was built in 1956, was once one of his favourite places to hang out.

"I went on a date there in 1957, on a Saturday afternoon in summer with a girl," he recalls with a laugh. "I took her to a matinee and it cost me 25 cents for admission with a soft drink and a popcorn.

"Wines were a lot cheaper back then, too."

Associated Graphic

Harry McWatters of Encore Vineyards is a legend in British Columbia's wine industry.


Time Estate Winery, Harry McWatters's newest enterprise, is to be built in downtown Penticton, B.C., in the old PenMar Theatre building, once one of McWatters's favourite places.


Overdose crisis: One year on
Victims remembered as officials work to find solutions 12 months after a public emergency was declared
Friday, April 14, 2017 – Print Edition, Page S1

VANCOUVER -- Lorna Bird pages through the notices of friends gone too soon: dozens of crinkled papers, poor-quality photocopies, torn edges. Such notices used to go up on the office wall, but a surge in deaths and a shortage of space has restricted more recent notices to a plain red folder, labelled in black ink: "In memory of."

Ms. Bird, the president of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), pauses on a photo of a man in his late 50s, smiling, with short salt-and-pepper hair and a trim goatee. "Tex" is written neatly under his photo, "November 3, 2016," to the side.

"They called him Tex because he was from Texas," Ms. Bird said.

"He died right outside my door."

Tex was among 922 people to die of an illicit drug overdose in B.C. last year, the province's worst year on record for such deaths. The figure is nearly five times the average of years since 2000 - but the scope of B.C.'s overdose crisis is measured not just in fatalities.

April 14 marks one year since B.C. declared a public-health emergency. Since that day, 919 people have died and roughly 25,000 overdoses have been reversed - by physicians in hospitals, by peers in back alleys.

Social-housing providers have become front-line responders, attending to thousands of overdoses in Metro Vancouver alone.

Hard-hit communities, such as Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, have lost friends faster than they can be counted.

Overdoses For every person who died of an overdose last year, B.C. recorded at least 27 overdoses that were reversed. This estimate is based on overdoses reported at emergency departments, overdose prevention sites and major social-housing providers, and it is likely a gross underestimate due to the number of overdoses that are treated within the community and never recorded.

While the figure is staggering, health officials say it speaks to the efficacy of initiatives implemented so far: Under a provincial harm-reduction program, nearly 30,000 naloxone kits - used to reverse opioid overdoses - were distributed free-of-charge to drug users in the past year. Overdose prevention sites, which the B.C. government opened in December, sidestepping federal rules that guide official supervised injection sites, have reversed more than 2,000 overdoses since December.

"People say to me, 'You want us to spend millions of dollars and it doesn't seem like anything you've done has done any good,' " said Patricia Daly, chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH).

"We think it would have been worse if we hadn't done these things.'" VCH, which logged 98 overdose deaths in December and January, could have seen up to 20 more deaths had it not been for such interventions, according to preliminary analysis from epidemiologists with the health authority.

Indoor deaths

About 90 per cent of all illicit drug overdose deaths in B.C. are happening indoors, in private residences, shelters and singleroom occupancy hotels. PHS Community Services Society, which operates 19 buildings, intervened in 2,026 overdoses last year - around 500 more than Insite, Vancouver's public supervised injection site. Atira Women's Resource Society intervened in about 625 over the same period; RainCity Housing, 120.

Andy Bond, senior director of housing for PHS, said the appropriate response to the evolution of opioid-based drugs is to "get resources into community hands via training, supports and funding." PHS runs four of the B.C.sanctioned overdose prevention sites, including one at a residential building in Victoria, and hopes to expand further.

Meanwhile, Atira has converted a suite in each of around 18 of its buildings into "shared using rooms," CEO Janice Abbott said.

Looking forward

At an update on the overdose crisis this week, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson spoke of the "incredible frustration and anger" he felt over the rising death toll. It's estimated that 110 people have died of drug overdoses in Vancouver this year - already more than half of last year's total of 215.

"Despite many people's best efforts on the ground, it's not slowing down," Mr. Robertson said.

But while solutions have been put forth, roadblocks remain. For example: Heroin-assisted treatment, championed by some addictions physicians, has in recent months garnered the support of all levels of government.

Mr. Robertson has asked that $8-million of the federal government's $10-million allocation for B.C.'s overdose response go to scaling up supervised injectable opioid-assisted treatment (siOAT) such as prescription heroin. The B.C. Centre on Substance Use is drafting guidelines on what models might look like.

However, Provincial Health Officer Perry Kendall noted that siOAT - an intensive, last-resort treatment - is not universally accepted even among addictions physicians. And it is costly: Each patient on the program at Vancouver's Crosstown Clinic costs about $25,000 a year. The onetime infusion of $10-million, Dr. Kendall said, is better spent on training, building treatment networks or on one-time healthrelated capital expenditures such as supervised consumption sites.

At the same meeting, both Dr. Kendall and Dr. Daly called - as they have before - for the government to consider decriminalization.

"I work with the public-safety component of this on the drug task force appointed by Premier Christy Clark and they would acknowledge that we are unlikely to arrest our way out of this," Dr. Kendall said.

"And although I think there is a lot of opportunity for treatment, I think we are unlikely to treat our way out of this. So I think it is time to have a discussion to look at alternate regimes that might offer Canada better options than we currently have."

On Thursday, the Mayors' Task Force on the Opioid Crisis, which convenes mayors of 13 Canadian cities, issued its first set of recommendations, which included a new pan Canadian standard for collecting, reporting and accessing data on opioid overdoses and deaths. At present, only two of the task-force cities - Vancouver and Surrey - have access to monthly overdose data.


Memorial walls erected to remember the dead are covered in names within hours. Most recently, one sprang up on Vancouver's East Hastings Street, near an overdose prevention site and street market frequented by those who use drugs. Another sits along a stretch known as the "Surrey Strip. And there is the one in the VANDU office.

There, John Puff surveys the death notices, scanning for familiar faces. In Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, full names can be elusive, which complicates the grieving process. Many don't know how to identify the friends they have known for years, or where to find out what happened to them.

"Around here you don't get a lot of names: 'This is John,' or 'This is Sue,' " Mr. Puff says. "It's mostly faces. You put up their pictures and I know them all."

Advocates have called for the BC Coroners Service to release the names of those who have died of overdoses - something it has occasionally, though seemingly arbitrarily, done. The service says it is reviewing its practice to ensure it is in compliance with the Coroners Act and will no longer be releasing names of the dead until that review is complete.

Ms. Bird, VANDU's president, is thinking about creating profiles for members: a page with a photo, vital statistics, a few lines.

"There are so many people that you'll go, 'Oh, I know that person but I don't remember their name,' " she said. "It would be nice if they could turn around and look at something and say, 'Oh yeah, this is who that was, and where they came from.' It's sad when you've known someone for so long and you can't even say where they were from, what their name was, or when their birthday was."


George Constant "He was freakin' cool. When it was raining I'd say, 'George, let's go drink at your place.' I'd drink by his window. I remember he had a cheque in his house that he couldn't find: 'Randy, I hid a cheque and I can't find it. I've been looking everywhere.' He couldn't find it the whole time I knew him."- Randy McIvor

Lori "She was on the steering committee for the B.C. Association for People on Methadone. She was a serious person when it came to the issues, but otherwise she laughed a lot. The thing is, she knew the rules, to not use by yourself. Yet she still did. We were shocked [by her death]."- Lorna Bird

Matthew Herney "I was with him the night before he died. We were sitting, drinking, talking. Rhonda and I were warning him not to use drugs, because of everything that's going on. That was the last time I saw him. I went home, and my friend phoned me and said he went upstairs and ODed. I said, 'That's not Matthew.' He was my friend, and it hurts." - Linda Swanson

Tex "They called him Tex because he was from Texas. He worked construction and sold things at the market. He was laughing all the time. He loved his partner, Bella. They were supposed to get married this year. They were together for 27 years." - Lorna Bird

Associated Graphic

John Puff sits in front of a memorial at the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users facility in Downtown Eastside on Tuesday.


Archbishop spurred same-sex debate
He took a controversial stand against a gay cleric who was later defrocked, but the two men reconciled two decades later
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, April 17, 2017 – Print Edition, Page S8

Most Reverend Terence Finlay, Anglican archbishop of Toronto and Metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario, some years back stopped to talk to a sex worker on a downtown street.

After a moment's conversation, she said, "Love the colour of your shirt" - gesturing to the archbishop's purple episcopal shirtfront.

"Where can I get one like that?" The archbishop promptly gave directions to the nearby Anglican Book Centre and said, "Tell them Terry sent you."

Prior to his election in 1989 as Toronto's 10th bishop - which surprised him - the diocese had a reputation, even by Anglican standards, as conservative, uptight and strait-laced. But at his installation, helium balloons were set loose in the cathedral, and that same year, when Anglicans assembled in Toronto's 50,000-seat SkyDome - now known as the Rogers Centre - to mark the 150th anniversary of the diocese, there were church-goers waving placards reading "Yay Terry!"

The members of Canadian Anglicanism's largest diocese had acquired a bishop who loved to party, loved to dance - he and his wife were great at rock 'n' roll - loved movies, who faced life with exuberance and joy, and would greet his daughters at Toronto's Union Station when they returned home from university by playing the trumpet.

"He couldn't play the trumpet," his daughter Rebecca Finlay said.

Rev. Cheryl Palmer, one of several diocesan priests he mentored throughout his career, said: "Terry broke the mould of the stuffy, formal bishop. He gave the same face [of the church to the public] as he did to the rest of us: that the church was an approachable place to be. He was present in the city, and therefore people who had nothing to do with church knew who Terry Finlay was."

Archbishop Finlay, who retired from the church's senior Ontario position in 2004 but remained pivotally active in national and global Anglicanism, died of cancer in Toronto on March 20. He was 79.

His funeral, held in Toronto's Cathedral Church of St. James on March 25, was attended by nearly 1,000 people. Among the honorary pallbearers were Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and former governor-general Adrienne Clarkson, as well as Hugh Segal and John Fraser, present and past masters, respectively, of Massey College, where Archbishop Finlay was a senior fellow and deeply engaged in college life.

Terence Edward Finlay was born in London, Ont., on May 19, 1937, the elder son of Rev. Terence John Finlay and the former Sarah Isabelle McBryan. At London's University of Western Ontario, where he graduated with both bachelor of arts and bachelor of theology degrees, he met his wife-to-be and lifelong soulmate, Alice-Jean (A.J.) Cracknell.

He was ordained as a priest in 1962, the same year he and A.J. married, and subsequently completed a second BA and master's degree at Cambridge University.

Prior to coming to Toronto in 1982 as rector of the city's large and influential parish of St. Clement Eglinton - known jocularly as St. Clement's of All Stockbrokers for its wealthy North Toronto congregants - he had served as incumbent in churches across Southwestern Ontario.

He had an outstanding reputation as a pastoral leader - a counsellor, listener and someone who was ever-available to his priests, his church's laity and the public.

"His sheer likability was a great gift," said Vancouver's retired Anglican bishop, Michael Ingham, who was principal secretary to the national archbishop, or primate, of the Anglican Church of Canada when Archbishop Finlay was elected to the episcopacy.

After he became bishop of Toronto he was elected Metropolitan (and hence archbishop) of Ontario.

He advocated for the homeless with Ontario's governments, campaigned against child poverty and vocally ensured his diocese honoured its financial commitments to Canada's Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

His successor, and for many years his executive assistant, Archbishop Colin Johnson, said he was elected bishop "because people saw in him both humility and a capacity to lead. We had come from a bishop [who was] very dominating. They were looking for a different style, someone who loved God and loved people."

And that's what they got. Therefore, it was perhaps ironic that Archbishop Finlay should have become ensnared in Anglicanism's greatest contemporary fracture - over homosexuality.

In 1991, Rev. James Ferry, a suburban Toronto priest, faced being outed after members of his congregation discovered not only his homosexuality but that he was in a committed relationship with a man. He was told that if he didn't resign as parish priest, the bishop would be told about his relationship. Canada's Anglican Church at the time acknowledged that its priests could be gay but insisted that they be celibate.

Rev. Ferry went to see his bishop. What exactly was said is a little unclear, but in essence, Archbishop Finlay ordered Rev.

Ferry to end the relationship. Rev. Ferry refused. Archbishop Finlay consequently "inhibited" (barred) him from performing priestly duties, and a bishop's court later found Rev. Ferry guilty of disobeying a superior, and in 1992, he was defrocked.

"The thing rolled out night after night on the CBC, making the whole church look like a medieval star chamber," Bishop Ingham observed.

Protesters shouted insults at Archbishop Finlay when he celebrated the Eucharist. There were vicious telephone calls to his home. "The degree of vitriol and hate [from both sides] could almost be paralyzing," Archbishop Johnson recalled.

As the primate's principal secretary, Bishop Ingham saw some of the letters Archbishop Finlay received during the affair. He said: "There really were cruel and awful things said about Terry."

What has remained in the realm of debate is why a natural mediator and believer in consultative and consensual governance would have taken the position that he did.

Many within the church's leadership have said he acted on bad legal advice and realized almost immediately that he had made a mistake.

But some of those closest to Archbishop Finlay have noted that he saw himself as bound by the position the church's House of Bishops had taken - homosexuality, while acknowledged, must be accompanied by celibacy because the only sexual relationship permitted at the time by the church was between a man and a woman - and that Canadian Anglicanism would have shattered irrevocably if action against Rev. Ferry had not been taken. It also has been noted that Archbishop Finlay, by taking action, brought the issue out of the shadows - out of the closet, as it were - so it could be openly debated.

"In the end it was good - one of the things that sparked the whole change in the church's attitude toward homosexuality," Bishop Ingham said.

"But for Terry, it was a crucible of fire."

In any event, Archbishop Finlay left no doubt about his personal convictions.

After his retirement in 2004, he was appointed by the Canadian primate to a committee of the world Anglican Communion seeking ways of bringing the increasingly divided branches of North American and African and Asian Anglicanism together on homosexuality.

Then, in 2006, he officiated at the United Church marriage of his lesbian goddaughter and her partner and, as a result, was temporarily suspended from priestly duties by Archbishop Johnson.

His goddaughter was a pallbearer at his funeral.

And, in 2012, he held a special service of reconciliation with Rev.

Ferry, who had been incrementally readmitted to the priesthood as the church's thinking on homosexuality evolved. At Archbishop Finlay's request, Rev. Ferry was a communion minister at his funeral.

"In Terry was someone with the capacity to absorb someone else's pain and to feel it, and reflect on it in a way that allowed him to change his own life and priorities.

A lot of people in senior leadership would have just stonewalled," Bishop Ingham said.

In 2019, the church is expected to finalize approval of same-sex marriage.

After his retirement, Archbishop Finlay served as the primate's envoy to the residential schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission and travelled the country with the TRC, listening for days on end to the stories of Indigenous peoples who had been emotionally, physically and sexually abused in the schools.

In 2014, he was named to the Primate's Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice, formed to identify ways for the Anglican Church of Canada to put into practice its 2010 repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery, the mid-15th century edict promulgated by European monarchies with the help of the papacy to legitimize the colonization of lands outside of Europe.

He leaves his wife, Alice-Jean; daughters, Sara-Jane and Rebecca; and five grandchildren.

The Canadian primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, said in his funeral homily that he and Archbishop Finlay planned many of the details of Archbishop Finlay's funeral over the telephone in the final weeks of his life.

Archbishop Hiltz recalled him saying at one point, "I want everything in place so I can just lie there and enjoy it all."

To submit an I Remember: Send us a memory of someone we have recently profiled on the Obituaries page. Please include I Remember in the subject field.

Associated Graphic

Archbishop Terence Finlay, Anglican archbishop of Toronto and Metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario, is shown with the Queen in June, 1997, following a service at the Cathedral of St. James in Toronto.


Archbishop Finlay

Researcher was 'a giant of HIV science'
He established Canada's first AIDS lab and, with his team, identified an effective treatment in the drug 3TC
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Print Edition, Page S12

On April 6, at the annual Mark Wainberg Lecture, the namesake researcher quipped, as he did every year, that it wouldn't be a "prememorial" event forever.

"At some point," he quoted friends as saying, "you might not be around any more and then it will really be a memorial lecture."

The audience members gathered at the Canadian Conference on HIV/AIDS Research in Montreal laughed, and none more heartily than the self-deprecating Dr. Wainberg. Then, reflecting on his advancing age, he turned serious and added: "All I can really hope is we'll have a cure for HIV - or some other way of ending the AIDS epidemic - before I'm banished from the planet."

Five days later, the worldrenowned HIV-AIDS researcher and activist drowned after suffering an asthma attack while swimming near his condominium in Bal Harbour, Fla. He was 71.

A molecular biologist, Dr. Wainberg began his research career studying HTLV-1, the first virus shown to cause cancer (adult T-cell lymphoma). The co-discoverer of that virus was Dr. Robert Gallo, who went on to become the co-discoverer of HIV.

Dr. Wainberg, who worked in Dr. Gallo's lab in 1980, shifted his focus to what was initially described as "gay cancer." He established the first AIDS research laboratory in Canada and set to work looking for treatments. In 1989, Dr. Wainberg and his team identified that the drug 3TC (Lamivudine) was effective in slowing the replication of the virus in the body. It became one of the first effective treatments for people infected with HIV, and a cornerstone of what came to be known as antiretroviral therapy.

ART was a game-changer, transforming HIV-AIDS from a deadly infection into a chronic illness for many. But the drugs were expensive and most of the infected lived in the developing world.

That grim reality turned many scientists into activists, Dr. Wainberg chief among them.

That was perhaps not a complete surprise. After all, in 1976, he ran for political office under the banner of the Union Nationale in a historic election that saw the separatist Parti Québécois elected.

One of his few other forays into partisan politics came in 2013, when Dr. Wainberg angrily denounced PQ plans for a "Charter of Values" that would, among other things, ban public employees from wearing religious symbols including head coverings. (An Orthodox Jew, he wore a kippa.)

Dr. Wainberg served as president of the International AIDS Society from 1998 to 2000. He lobbied furiously to get the International AIDS Conference to Durban, South Africa, whose government at the time largely denied that AIDS was a problem.

Dr. Wainberg's plan - to shame then-president Thabo Mbeki into action - worked. He spoke forcefully not only in public, but behind the scenes.

Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, recalls that Dr. Wainberg "told Mbeki to his face that it was shameful that he wasn't offering life-saving HIV drugs to his people."

"He was forceful and unrelenting. If any spoke truth to power, it was Mark," Dr. Montaner said.

The Durban conference is seen as a watershed in turning back the tide of one of the worst pandemics in human history. Prior to the conference, ART was virtually unavailable in the developing world; today, 18.2 million people worldwide take antiretrovirals, almost half of the 36.7 million who are infected with HIV-AIDS.

"When I look back on my career, I always feel that the most important contribution of my life was political and not scientific," Dr. Wainberg said when the AIDS Conference returned to Durban in 2016.

In fact, over time, the two roles morphed into one. "AIDS is going to be the world's leading cause of death, so it behooves us all to be AIDS activists," he said in an interview with McGill News, the university's alumni publication, in 2000.

But, in recent years, he had dedicated himself to the lab again, convinced that advances in genomics could help defeat AIDS.

His work identifying mutations in the HIV genome led him to believe that replication of the virus could be blocked and patients cured of HIV.

Mark Wainberg was born in Montreal on April 21, 1945, to Abraham, who worked for a glassware company, and Fay (née Hafner) Wainberg, who worked in the insurance industry. He attended Outremont High and then McGill University, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in 1966. He then completed a PhD in molecular biology at Columbia University in New York in 1972, and did postdoctoral research at Hadassah Medical School of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Dr. Wainberg was hired at McGill in 1974 and remained affiliated with the university for his entire career. He was the long-time head of the McGill AIDS Centre and the head of AIDS Research at the Jewish General Hospital's Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research.When news of his death spread, tributes poured in from around the world.

"Mark Wainberg was a giant of HIV science. His work contributed to saving millions of lives," said Michel Sibidé, executive director of UNAIDS.

Dr. Roderick McInnis, acting president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and director of the Lady Davis Institute, said: "The 35 million people living with HIV-AIDS are indebted to Mark because, without him, many of them would not be alive today." He described Dr. Wainberg as a "politician-scientist," someone who combined scientific excellence with a social conscience."

Linda-Gail Bekker, president of the International AIDS Society, was even more succinct: "Mark was a true mensch and a great scientist, and an even better friend."

Dr. Wainberg was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2015. In its citation, the CMHF said he "revolutionized our understanding of HIV/AIDS at a medical, epidemiological and clinical level." He garnered many other honours over the years. Dr.

Wainberg was an officer of the Order of Canada, an officer of the Ordre National du Québec, and a chevalier in the Légion d'Honneur of France. He was awarded the Killam Prize in Health Sciences, one of the country's top scientific prizes. He was also a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Dr. Wainberg's son Zev, who is an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, said his father was a "complicated, humble, brilliant man." In addition to his professional accomplishments, he was a deeply religious man.

While raised in a secular Jewish family, he embraced Judaism during the time he spent studying in Israel.

Dr. Wainberg was also an inveterate traveller - with three million Aeroplan points, no less - who visited 120 countries. He also loved good Scotch and fine wine - and swimming.

"One of my dad's joys was going into the ocean, which he did every day," the younger Dr. Wainberg said at the funeral. He was with his father when he suffered a malaise, and managed to pull him from the water and perform CPR.

"I tried to save him, I tried and I could not. I knew HaShem was taking him away," he said, weeping.

Rabbi Yechezkel Freundlich of Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem, the synagogue Dr. Wainberg attended every day he was home, said: "Words escape us to describe the great footprint Mark left on the world."

He noted that the funeral drew an unprecedented cross-section of people, including diplomats, gay-rights activists, scientists, students and neighbours. Judah Aspler, president of the TBDJ synagogue and lifelong family friend, said that while Dr. Wainberg's accomplishments are many and highly visible, he made many more invisible contributions in his community.

"He was always generous and gracious," Mr. Aspler said. For example, if an elderly congregant missed weekly services, he would drop by their home to check up on them. Last year, after a 16year-old girl was stabbed to death during a gay-pride parade in Jerusalem, Dr. Wainberg donated a Torah to an Ethiopian synagogue in her memory. Mr. Aspler also quipped that the gregarious Dr. Wainberg "was always excited to give a speech when invited - or not invited - to do so."

Dr. Wainberg was predeceased by his parents. He leaves his wife of 48 years, the former Susan Hubschman; two sons, Zev of Los Angeles, and Jonathan of London; and a brother, Lawrence. Dr. Wainberg also had three grandchildren, Jake, Eliana and Julia.

Family members said that of all the titles he accumulated over the years, the one that made him most proud was "Zaidy Mark."

To submit an I Remember: Send us a memory of someone we have recently profiled on the Obituaries page. Please include I Remember in the subject field.

Associated Graphic

Molecular biologist Mark Wainberg works in his research lab in Montreal in 1995. A renowned researcher of HIV-AIDS, he lobbied to get the International AIDS Conference to Durban, South Africa, when its government largely denied the condition was a problem.


TV writer was known for his sly humour
He worked on a range of shows, including Less Than Kind, Continuum and X Company
Wednesday, April 12, 2017 – Print Edition, Page S8

He was a Toronto-based television writer, one of the best of them. But the most superb of Denis McGrath's scripts was one he never put to paper.

The story involved a bulky, bighearted bachelor with a roaring laugh, collegial spirit and robustly expressed viewpoints.

He was vivacious and had many friends, but without a companion he was never completely happy. That all changed in his 40s when he met a woman - a writer, as it happened - and fell with her into a deep relationship.

A few years later, he took her to New York, not divulging the purpose of the trip.

After checking into an extravagant hotel room overlooking Central Park, the couple took a drive north, arriving to a suburban house where the man had lived as a child. Lowering to one knee on the front lawn, the man, who never imagined he would get married, pulled out a ring and spoke at length about how he wanted their stories to come together forever.

She said yes to his proposal.

The year was 2013. The man was Mr. McGrath; the story, a love story.

His marriage to Kim Coghill lasted a month shy of four years, until Mr. McGrath, 48, died on March 23, of pancreatic cancer. A native of New York but raised in Etobicoke, Ont., he was an accomplished screenwriter and a tireless advocate for Canadianmade television. A smart, quick and prolific writer, he was known for his sly humour and populist touch.

Mr. McGrath was a diehard rooter for the Toronto Blue Jays and a season-ticket holder to the team's games. During the 2016 season, Mr. McGrath was not only able to throw out a ceremonial first pitch at Rogers Centre, he also played cards against star Jose Bautista at a team event. He lost money on that occasion, a shortfall that was more than offset when he won a windfall 50-50 draw at the ballpark.

Though he was a long-time bachelor before marrying, he was never a loner. He convened poker games with his pals and enjoyed the writing-room camaraderie of such television series as the Winnipeg-based family comedy Less Than Kind, the Showcase sci-fi show Continuum and the CBC spy-thriller X Company.

"When he was working with a great group, where everyone got along, Denis couldn't be happier," said Trish McGrath, one of two sisters. "He'd found his tribe, and that's where he really thrived."

Mr. McGrath could often be found in one of the side booths at The Paddock Tavern, where bartenders indulged his guilty passion for girly cocktails. "It's writer nirvana," he told Blog TO in 2009. "Perfect for people watching."

Mr. McGrath held many opinions, but never kept them to himself for long. And although he could be cantankerous, it was accepted that he complained about the right things. In his capacity as councillor with the Writers Guild of Canada, Mr. McGrath helped negotiate contracts with producers.

"He was very good at calling out shenanigans when producers were saying things that didn't hold water," his friend and fellow screenwriter Alex Epstein told The Globe and Mail. "He spoke truth to power, and power didn't like that."

From 2005 to 2010, his passionate views on Canadian TV could be found on his popular industry blog Dead Things on Sticks, described by Globe television critic John Doyle as "thoughtful, learned and provocative."

For the 2007 miniseries Across the River to Motor City, Mr. McGrath won a Canadian Screenwriting Award and was nominated for two Geminis. In 2015, he was awarded the WGC's highest honour, the Writers Block Award.

But despite his busy career in television, Mr. McGrath's proudest moments were perhaps connected to Top Gun! The Musical, a parody of the 1986 Tom Cruise fighter-pilot blockbuster. With its book and lyrics written by Mr.

McGrath, the backstage spoof was a hit at the 2002 Toronto Fringe Festival, and lived well beyond its premiere in various remounts.

The play made an appearance in 2004 at the inaugural New York Musical Theatre Festival. For the occasion, members of Mr. McGrath's family from Boston and New York came to see the larky but witty satire. "It was a charmed production," said his sister Trish, who was among those who convened to a restaurant afterward to celebrate. "It was a joyous, exuberant evening that brought us all together, and as happy as he was about the musical, he was more proud to give that special experience to the family."

Born Sept. 21, 1968, the son of Bronx natives Denis McGrath (a management executive) and charity organizer Anita McGrath (née Towey) cultivated his creative flair during a two-year period in the mid-1970s while the family lived in Orlando, home of SeaWorld, Universal Studios and Walt Disney World. "It was an incredible, idea-rich environment," his sister said. "It had a lifelong effect on his imagination."

As a boy, he frequently won public-speaking contests, but he found achieving things with other people more satisfying. That sense of fellowship stayed with him all his life.

In 1977, the family settled in Etobicoke, a Toronto suburb.

After graduating from Martingrove Collegiate Institute (where he struck up lifelong friendships with a creative crowd that included actor and screenwriter Mark Ellis), Mr. McGrath enrolled in the radio and television arts program at Ryerson Polytechnic University (where he would later return in a teaching position).

"He knew what funny was," recalled Tyler Stewart, a castmate with Mr. McGrath in the student sketch troupe Riot! and future drummer with the Grammy-nominated Barenaked Ladies.

"He knew how to get it on the page as a writer, and he knew how to get it off the page as a performer."

Upon graduation, he worked in television production. After helping to start up Space: The Imagination Station, Mr. McGrath completed a TV writing program at Norman Jewison's Canadian Film Centre.

If his skill as a screenwriter would earn him a living, it eventually helped him in his personal life as well. In 2003, his future wife was perusing an online dating site when she came across Mr. McGrath's photo - "I thought he was the cutest boy I'd ever seen" - and his stylishly written profile. "It was funny and smart and engaging," Ms. Coghill told The Globe.

The two enjoyed a dinner together, but Mr. McGrath cancelled a second date at the last minute.

Five years later, in 2008, with both of them working in television, Mr. McGrath and Ms. Coghill crossed paths again. The former incessantly flirted with the latter (who wasn't entirely sure the guy even remembered their first date) but didn't make any full-on advances.

Finally, in 2010, Ms. Coghill called him on the phone, telling him she had "boy problems" that she needed his help with.

What Mr. McGrath didn't know was that he was the boy problem.

"I decided it was time to find out how he felt about me," Ms. Coghill said. Standing outside in the freezing rain in his shorts, Mr. McGrath spoke for two hours with his future wife. Soon afterward, they began dating, which led to their 2013 marriage.

In his Blog TO profile, Mr. McGrath had spoken about missed opportunities: He had passed on a possibility of writing for the hit American series The Wonder Years and later had failed to follow up on an opportunity to work with the prolific American director Jeremy Kagan, whose credits include The West Wing.

"I decided, if I ever got another break like that, I wasn't going to let it pass by," Mr. McGrath said then. "I look back, and I think the missed opportunities had purpose. I had to get past my fear."

His second chance with Ms. Coghill was a break that worked out smashingly for all concerned.

Friends and family unanimously agree that Mr. McGrath was a sunnier man once he found a partner. His wife was just as pleased.

"Denis was everything I first saw in that online dating profile so many years ago," Ms. Coghill said. "He was smart and funny and loving and unfailingly kind and supportive to me and many other people."

Did she ever ask him why he had cancelled that second date years earlier? "He told me it was an emergency, something to do with a washing machine," Ms. Coghill recalled. "And I held it over his head at every opportunity."

One imagines Mr. McGrath wouldn't have had it any other way. After all, it made for a good story.

Denis McGrath leaves his wife; parents, Denis and Anita, and sisters Anne and Trish.

To submit an I Remember: Send us a memory of someone we have recently profiled on the Obituaries page. Please include I Remember in the subject field.

Associated Graphic

Screenwriter Denis McGrath's creative flair was cultivated as a child, while his family lived in Orlando near Walt Disney World.


Just remember, it could always be worse
An unsuccessful plan reminds one traveller that challenges are the price backpackers pay to get lost in little slices of paradise
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page T3

Dispatch is a series of first-person stories from the road.

It could be worse. I looked wearily across the crowd to my new Dutch friend, Lisanne. It was 9:30 in the morning, I was sweating from every pore on my body, roasting in the Southeast Asian sun, my skin slick with sweat and pushed up against strangers on all sides of me. We were in the thick of it - surrounded by locals and a handful of equally overwhelmed backpackers, all of us scrapping for the cheapest ticket aboard the slow ferry. We were leaving the small paradise island of Siquijor in the Philippines. After four blissful days exploring waterfalls and deserted beaches, it was time to move on. I was headed to the neighbouring island Bohol; Lisanne would continue to Cebu City. And so there we stood for hours, all to save 500 pesos on our tickets - the equivalent of about $13. "It could be worse, at least its not raining!"

Lisanne said, with a sympathetic smile on her face. I forced a limp smile in return, "Yep, it could be worse."

I have learned from years of backpacking that when things get bad - and they often do - and you wonder what the hell you were thinking taking the longer, harder, infinitely less comfortable route, just to save $10, that it could always be worse. This way of life has made me more resilient than I ever imagined I could be. Backpackers happily lug 15 kilos of our lives on our backs, often through sweltering hot climates, on the cheapest mode of transport available. These challenges are the flip side of the freedom we associate with travel. They are the price we pay to get lost in those picture-perfect slices of paradise for months on end. It's not what makes you want to quit your job and buy a plane ticket, but it is what makes it possible.

Our boat journey from Siquijor to Bohol was one of these quintessential challenges. There were two ways for us to get off the island. We were told the cheapest one was a slow boat that left three times a week at 7 p.m. The ticket office opened at 9 a.m. Tickets sold out quickly, so we needed to get to the office early. The other option was a fast ferry that left midday and cost almost twice the price.

So, we set our alarms for 5:45 a.m. to be at Larena Port by 6:30 - 21/2 hours before the office opened.

Bleary-eyed and delirious, we hopped on the back of Lisanne's scooter and headed out into the cool morning air. When we arrived at the port there were only 15 people in line. We had come much earlier than necessary, but it looked like we would get the coveted slow-ferry tickets.

At 8 Lisanne got back on her bike and headed into town to grab us ice coffees and sweet bread for breakfast. While she was gone, I noticed that the line had slowly started to grow.

When she returned 15 minutes later we were handed a little scrap of paper and told to write our names and destinations and then were assigned a number in line. No. 47 and No. 48 ... were we really that far back? I guess at least we'll get a ticket, I thought.

By 8:45, we were beginning to feel more confident. "We'll be back at JJ's with an ice coffee in hand by 10:30," we said, pleased with the success of our early start. Right before the office opened at 9, someone handed the pile of little paper scraps back out. And by handed out, I mean dropped it on the ground, in the centre of the now densely-packed crowd. Before I knew what had happened, every hopeful ferry-goer was frantically trying to seize their ticket.

The scene was a mosh pit of people, yelling in all tongues, shoving each other, trying to jump the rail into the front of the line. In a flash, Lisanne was right in the centre of the chaos.

Without hesitation, she was on all fours desperately searching for No. 47 and 48.

Slowly, the pile began to dwindle, and the victorious began to push their way into the line.

Somehow the 15 people ahead of us had doubled in size in the mad dash. Well, at least we were still close to the front ... When the ticket office opened at 9, it was eerily still.

Then, suddenly, everyone charged forward to the front yet again, filling every available open area. I grabbed Lisanne's paper, and shouted that I would get the tickets. Suddenly, I was sucked forward into the crowd, pressed between strangers, 20 people or more from the front of the line. Behind me was a 13year-old Filipino girl who had been sent to buy tickets for her family. I grabbed her hand, and together we tried to move up.

How did I get here? Why was I doing this, I wondered? And more important, would I ever get the goddamn tickets?

I stood there, watching as someone would leave with their coveted tickets clenched protectively in their fist, and three more people would hurl themselves over the railing trying to cut in. Lisanne used her height to block people from cutting in, posting up near the railing that separated the front of the line from the rest of the crowd.

Much to the delight of the locals, she began to lose her cool and started pulling people off the railing who pushed past her. She grabbed the back of a man's shirt as he was about to get a leg over the railing and pulled him down. "Get in line, buddy; we've been here since 6 a.m." Cheers and laughs erupted from the surrounding crowd. No one tried to pass the six-foot blonde after that.

Another hour-and-a-half crawled by while I stood, gripping the young girl's hand, edging us forward an inch or so every few minutes. A thick layer of sweat now coated my body.

The occasional breeze was the only relief from the climbing heat and beating sun. In more than 90 minutes I had managed to move forward all of two feet.

I couldn't help but see the comedy in my current state "It could be worse," I said, looking over the sea of people to Lisanne.

"What if we couldn't get a ticket after all this?" At 10:30, we heard the announcement we had feared most: "Tourist class is sold out."

Four hours of standing in 30degree heat and we had nothing to show for it.

I looked to Lisanne, her weary face mirroring my own disappointment and exhaustion.

The appeal of tourist class was that it had beds.

Now we would have to stand in line (for God knows how much longer) just to get seats on the eight-plus-hour overnight boat ride. The decision was clear. "Let's go get a ticket for the fast ferry," I said decidedly, "this isn't worth it."

Relief washed over me as Lisanne grabbed my hand and pulled me the last couple feet through the crowd. The space in line I left behind was filled in a flash, and my young companion now held the hand of another nearby stranger. She gave me one last smile and wave as we turned to walk away. Backpackers farther back in line looked at us expectantly as we gave them the shrug of defeat. The looks of hope on their faces dropped when they realized if we didn't come away with tickets, there's no way they would, either.

Our stride quickened as we crossed the street towards the bike. There was a noticeable spring of relief in our step; we were out of the worst of it now.

As we drove away from the port, I tilted my head back and let the welcome wind wash over me. The crowd disappeared behind us as we set out for the port in Siquijor Town, and with it the chaos of this morning began to fade away.

When we arrived at the port we walked straight up to the counter, happily shelled out the extra 500 pesos and easily secured seats on the fast ferry.

"Well," I said, as we walked leisurely back to the bike, tickets in hand, "it could have been worse!" We would make it to our respective destinations by sunset, but more important, a swim in the ocean and a muchneeded ice coffee were calling our names.

Send in your story from the road to

Associated Graphic

After a hard-fought battle to get ferry tickets, Jennie Sasman and her friend opted to take an alternate boat and made it to their destinations by sunset.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The gathering of the PR foot-shooters
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page F2

Why they taped this meeting is beyond me, and why, having clearly decided they wanted this footage of themselves at their very lowest to be revealed to the world, they sent it to me - working, as I do, in print - I'll never know, but all of this does seem to be very much in character; they botched their own humiliation roll-out.

Last Wednesday, I received a video recording of what appears to be a meeting of a support group for public-relations foot-shooters.

On the hour-long tape, a portion of which I have transcribed, there are three men in a room, seated in a circle around a woman they variously address as "Sheila," "Stephanie," "Dawn" and "Valued Customer." The woman appears to be a counsellor of some kind - in that she's able to complete full sentences without doing irreparable damage to her reputation, and the reputations of everyone associated with her and the brand of soft drink in her hand.

"So, is there anything you want to talk about this week, Pepsi?" asks the woman on the tape who, when I contacted her, said, "We have a policy of confidentiality. I can't talk about our members. Although, for the record, my name's Karen."

"Look, I just wanted to harness the power of protest to sell a soft drink," sighs a dishevelled-looking man slumped in a stackable chair.

"We worked hard to ensure the ad was devoid of anything that might be mistaken for meaning of any kind! It's not easy to construct something as recognizable as protest without suggesting that any of the sign-holding people presented in that tableau might be feeling remotely oppositional about anything - except maybe thirst!"

"So, let's look back, Pepsi. Have you tried to identify where, exactly, the delivery of your un-message went wrong?" Karen asks, gently.

"I don't know! We had a whole team of uninspired engineers working in beige corduroy lab coats (we started with grey, but there was concern that would be too edgy), in a controlled, messagefree environment, for months. They listened exclusively to Coldplay. Did we not go far enough? I knew we should have gone with Mumford and Sons!"

"In retrospect, do you really think it was a good idea to try to tap into public feelings of anger and resistance with an ad featuring a lot of pretty extras from Happy Casting, holding signs that say 'Join the conversation'?" "Do you think we should have gone with 'Words, They Are A Thing'? I liked that one."

"Pepsi ..." Pepsi sighs. It sounds like a can being opened. He smiles. "Look, I made non-controversial controversial. I'm going to go down in public-relations history as the brand who found America's blandness tipping-point. That's 'America' as in 'American cheese,' Stephanie. People said it couldn't be done.

"I restaged the iconic photograph of Ieshia Evans, who, last summer, stood still, strong, calm and beautiful before the police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, during an anti-police-brutality protest.

But instead of a black woman who was a nurse and mother, I used a white reality-TV star! The girl in our spot is so intrigued by all the attractive people engaged in an act of mass non-confrontational moseying outside her fashion shoot that she takes off her blond wig, thrusts it into the hands of another woman - and we told casting, 'Can you get us a young Butterfly McQueen type?' - and deigns to walk with the cute commoners. Although they can't be that common, because one of them is carrying a cello. As one does.

"People got so mad! The actual Ieshia was arrested, whereas our heroine hands a can of pop to a hot cop and the crowd goes wild. The subtext is she scores a threesome with Riot Cop Ken and Cello Guy. I diluted that powerful Ieshia Evans image so much, I gave it extreme potency. It's like the homeopathy of hucksterism. If homeopathy worked - and the goal was to make everyone hate you!"

"Okay," Karen interrupts. "Everyone's looking a little down, so why don't we take a moment to talk about some of the things in our lives we're grateful for right now. Why don't you start us off, Pepsi?" "Well, mostly I'm grateful for these two guys," says Pepsi, gesturing to his fellow members of the group.

"Ahh, thanks," United Airlines cuts in. "Fun airtravel fact: Ability to express gratitude for the very existence of United is just one of many factors we take into account when deciding who gets to be the lucky winner of our Not Getting Violently Thrown Off An Airplane prize."

"Love that competition," Pepsi says. "It turns out that if everyone is staring in shock and horror at a video of an elderly gentleman being dragged down the centre aisle of a plane he paid to be on, they just don't have the time to be upset about cola advertising."

He moves to high-five United, who bursts into tears.

"Okay, United, we seem to have touched on something," Karen says, "and that's what we aim to do here at Press Release Us. Is this something you want to talk about?" "Well, Dawn, I just get these urges sometimes. I don't understand them and I try to resist them, but whenever I do something boneheaded, I'm compelled to spend at least a day or so defending my actions in the most self-destructive way possible."

"Go on ..." Karen says encouragingly.

"Well, let's say that someone live-tweets one of my check-in agents demanding that some young girls change out of, or wear dresses over, their leggings, or they won't be allowed to board their flight. Next thing you know, I'm on Twitter vehemently championing this action and policy, while implying that everyone flying on my airline should hide their legs, lest they arouse the wrath of my despotic, limb-hating (why do you think we provide less and less legroom?) employees.

"Before you can say 'regrettable situation,' I'm up and feeding this negative story about my brand like it's my own beloved child, I'm knitting that story little bad-publicity baby-booties! It's a disaster of my own making. All I had to do was calmly state that this dress code applies only to people travelling on free or discounted employee passes because they ostensibly represent the airline, and the public anger would have been reduced to a dull roar. What the hell is wrong with me?" "Man, even Hitler wouldn't have handled that as poorly as you did," Sean Spicer says.

Everyone stares.

"Did you just compare me unfavourably to Hitler?" says United, rising angrily from his lofty tower of six stackable chairs.

"Allow me to clarify ..." Mr. Spicer says.

"No!" shouts everyone in the room.

"Sean," Karen says, "what is the first rule of being Sean Spicer?" "Never ever clarify anything?" "No, that's the second rule of being Sean Spicer.

The first rule of being Sean Spicer or anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time, representing anything that isn't literally the Third Reich, is Don't compare Hitler to anyone favourably."

"What I meant to say," Mr. Spicer says, "is that Hitler, unlike Bashar al-Assad, didn't 'Sink to the level,' those were my words ..." "Yeah, we know," United says. "At least you didn't, in the context of genocide, use the word 're-accommodated'..." "No, United!" says Karen, standing up, allowing United to steal her chair. "Don't give him ideas."

"Of using the gas on his own people ..." Mr. Spicer finishes, for the time being.

"You know," Karen says, "we don't have a rule about not saying Hitler didn't gas anyone, or implying that German Jews weren't German. We just took not saying those things as a given. We're going to amend those rules, Sean, now that you're with us, and I'm not sure where you were going with that ... "Oh, wait a second, I am: You were wandering, intentionally or in one of the apologia-induced dazes for which you've become famous, deep into the various provinces of Holocaust denial, during Passover, no less, and on behalf of an administration that's flirted with white supremacists and played coy with the KKK."

"As I clarified," Mr. Spicer says, "I said Hitler only used gas in the 'Holocaust centres' he 'brought them into'..." "Oh, just re-accommodate me now," Karen says.

"Six million people were murdered and you just made it sound like they were invited to a place with a membership-rewards program."

Mr. Spicer rises and lights himself on fire.

"Alright, someone put him out, before the clarification spreads," Karen says, "and I'll see you all back here next week."

The latest Chez Panisse personality to break out, Samin Nosrat prefers ideas to recipes. Her first cookbook - Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat - offers both
Special to The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 – Print Edition, Page L1

BERKELEY, CALIF. -- Samin Nosrat has cooked for the likes of Hillary Clinton ("I burned the beef sauce"), dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov ("He danced in appreciation after the meal") and actor Jake Gyllenhaal. These command performances apart, the 37-year-old chef has remained relatively below the radar to this point in her career. She's worked at two wellknown restaurants, to be sure - the Berkeley, Calif., landmark Chez Panisse and Florence's Ristorante Zibibbo - but as part of the team, one of many cooks toiling away.

She's moving from backstage to the limelight this month, with the release of her first book, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking. It's had prepublication nods from Bon Appétit ("a cookbook you'll actually cook from") and the U.S.

National Public Radio (the "next Julia Child"). A frequent contributor to The New York Times food section, Nosrat has also just been asked to front a big-budget television show - if you don't know her or her work already, chances are you soon will.

Her book, 17 long years in the conceiving and writing, is a curious thing: part memoir of her salad (making) days at Chez Panisse, part a passionate food geek's articulation of a unified theory of cooking, part a practical, unpretentious guide to becoming a better cook. It contains excellent step-by-step guides to buttermilk panna cotta, grilled artichokes, almond cardamom cake and a labour-intensive, herby Persian frittata, but its chief aim is to liberate insecure home cooks from a slavish reliance on recipes.

"I want you to be able to see what's fresh in the market and to develop the confidence to make something good of it," she says in her book-filled Berkeley apartment. "Or, if you haven't shopped, to look at what you have in the fridge and to throw something together." She says old-fashioned recipes are included because "the publisher insisted" - more than a how-to guide, she wanted to give home cooks transferrable "tools."

As a girl, Nosrat didn't look headed toward a culinary career.

The U.S.-born daughter of Iranians who left just before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, she grew up in San Diego. "I was the overachieving kid of immigrants. I decided I was going to be both a lawyer and a doctor," she says.

Then, a high-school English teacher turned the would-be double professional on to reading and writing and, on his recommendation, she went to study literature at the University of California, Berkeley. "Then, I was going to be a poet - that was my big moneymaking scheme."

Ironically, it was another aspiring poet who inadvertently diverted her from this path, a "rosy-cheeked, sparkly eyed" fellow undergrad who mentioned his desire to eat at Chez Panisse, the Northern California restaurant, founded in 1971, that is credited with leading the California Cuisine movement - in a nutshell, organic and foraged ingredients combined artfully.

"Restaurants weren't this thing in San Diego, with its fish-taco shops and pizzerias," Nosrat says.

"Still, I liked fancy things, bouge things, and if everyone else was going there, I wanted to try it."

The pair saved for four months, carting their coins to the bank the night before, getting out two crisp $100 (U.S.) bills and two $20s, and the meal did not disappoint.

"Dessert was chocolate soufflé.

When the server brought it to me, she showed me how to poke a hole in the top ... then pour in the accompanying raspberry sauce.

She watched me take my first bite, and I ecstatically told her it tasted like a warm, chocolate cloud," she says.

Afterward, Nosrat wrote a note of appreciation to Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters and took it to the restaurant, with her résumé, to ask for a job. "The woman who'd watched me enjoy the soufflé was the woman I met with. She read the letter - the résumé had nothing relevant - and gave me a job on the spot."

Nosrat fell in love at first sight, as she writes: "The sheer beauty of the kitchen, filled with baskets of ripe figs and lined with gleaming copper walls, mesmerized me." Twenty years old when she started there, she moved gradually from early-morning lettucecleaning and pasta-prep up through the ranks, learning lessons she tries to distill for her readers.

The kitchen she describes is not the one from many other chef memoirs, a space with cursing, drug-addicted pirates swaggering around. "It was started by a woman, and for every thing, there was a method, a way of putting the tie on the garbage bags, of putting the garbage in the can," she says.

"There was no yelling, no screaming, everyone moved with grace and efficiency."

Then she raises her eyebrows, waggles her head and bursts out laughing. "There was aggression, of course, but it was deeply passive aggression."

The other restaurant where she trained, Zibibbo, was also run by a woman, the legendary Benedetta Vitali. "She's somehow thrived in what is a macho scene. There was certainly this politics to her being ... the boss."

Nosrat has also faced - or decided to face - political challenges of her own. A U.S. citizen by birth, in late January she joined a large, impromptu protest at San Francisco airport after the Trump administration tried to limit citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries entering the United States and was interviewed by the Associated Press; her words published around the world.

"I am the child of refugees," she said. "If they were not allowed to come here, I do not know what my life would look like." In the interview, she adds, "I have always been searched at the border. In a way, what's happening now makes that discrimination more evident."

The recipes in her book feature some of the Iranian recipes her mother cooked when she was young, as well as working the two other culinary veins she knows best, Italian and Californian cuisine. Her still-extant love of literature outs itself in sly references to Wallace Stevens and a slippedin quote from Seamus Heaney in which the Irish poet calls butter "coagulated sunlight."

San Francisco-based illustrator Wendy MacNaughton provides pictures that communicate what even many well-chosen words fail to get across - how, for instance, to dice an onion efficiently. As important, the illos add notes of play to the rigour on evidence throughout: Next to the bottles of vinegar and lemon juice, she's drawn in the acid section is a little, unobtrusive vial labelled LSD.

Although the Berkeley chef's book is very free-to-be-you-andme in its approach, there are certain liberties even she can't countenance. "Throw out your iodized salt," she writes. "It was developed in a time where people didn't get much iodine from the rest of their diets, but they do now. It tastes metallic. Toss it! Grate parmesan fresh. Use good olive oil."

This is one of many Chez Panisse lessons: Once, when Waters asked her chefs to take part in a tomato-sauce-making contest, she could taste that many had used the rancid olive oil they had at home in making their sauces.

"The consciousness around olive oil wasn't there then, even among our cooks," Nosrat says.

Now, she's passing such simple, but essential, teachings on.

Nosrat is a practised instructor - she taught Michael Pollan, one of the world's leading food writers, how to cook - and her book expertly reduces the art and craft to a mastery of the four elements named in the title. "Salt, fat, acid and heat are the four cardinal directions of cooking," she writes, "and this book shows how to use them to find your way in any kitchen." (The food-and-traveloriented television show will feature one of the titular subjects per hour-long episode.)

In general, Nosrat is an advocate for tasting and adjusting, tasting and adjusting, a method she teaches in classes by slowly combining the elements of a Caesar salad, and, after learning and tasting what the different elements add, getting students to call out what they think it needs. "Of course, at the end of those classes, although we've learned how to do it in this intuitive way, they all want the recipe, something to hold on to.

"At first, I would say you don't need the recipe, you've learned how to combine the elements, but then I gave up. In the kitchen, in life, people, sometimes they just want the recipe."

Associated Graphic

Illustrations add whimsy and instructional detail to the new cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.


'I want you to be able to see what's fresh in the market and to develop the confidence to make something good of it,' Chez Panisse personality and author Samin Nosrat says.


Into the wild
The Lost City of Z is a tale of obsession, madness, fear and chaos - a perfect metaphor for the modern film industry, it turns out. Barry Hertz spoke with writer-director James Gray about surviving the deadly jungle that is Hollywood
Friday, April 21, 2017 – Print Edition, Page R1

Filming The Lost City of Z involved no shortage of horrors. A beetle burrowed into star Charlie Hunnam's ear when he was sleeping. The hotel room of co-star Robert Pattinson was regularly flooded with massive spiders. Young actor Tom Holland inadvertently swam alongside a black caiman. A snake bit the neck of a crew member.

But for writer-director James Gray, shooting in the jungles of Santa Marta, Colombia, was a sunny stroll through the woods compared with the nearly decade-long process of getting the film into theatres.

First, in 2008, Brad Pitt's production company hired Gray to adapt David Grann's non-fiction book before it was even published, with Pitt eyeing the starring role of Percy Fawcett, the early 1900s British explorer who was obsessed with finding an ancient Amazonian city. Then Benedict Cumberbatch hopped aboard after Pitt became unavailable. After Cumberbatch dropped out, too, Hunnam was drafted.

The casting delays became so pronounced that Gray made an entirely different movie, The Immigrant, between signing on for Z back in 2008 and shooting in 2015.

All the while, in the background, the film industry roiled with seismic shifts - the advent of Netflix and its streaming competitors, the rise of uber-franchise films, the cratering of adult-oriented dramas, the fleeing of talent to prestige cable television. By the time Gray's cameras started rolling in Colombia, you couldn't help but ask the question: Who was going to watch The Lost City of Z - a mid-budget, mid-star drama with absolutely no franchise potential at all? (One-hundredyear-old spoiler alert: Fawcett doesn't make it back home.)

Finally opening in theatres this Friday, the film enters a decidedly different reality than the one in which it was conceived - a fact that unnerves its director far more than an encounter with sixinch-wide insects. "The time right now is both excellent and terrifying for filmmakers," the director says over the phone from Los Angeles. On the one hand, as he points out, Z has avoided the fate of so many recent middleground, adult-oriented dramas: it actually got made (eventually) and will screen into honest-togoodness theatres across North America instead of falling into the direct-to-streaming void, a scenario that's increasingly akin to hitting the lottery in Hollywood.

Z's good fortune is largely thanks to Amazon Studios.

Unlike its competitor Netflix, the upstart film wing of Jeff Bezos's retail empire respects the theatrical distribution window, giving its films lengthy runs on the big screen before they become available to stream on the device of your choice.

Netflix, meanwhile, insists that theatres play its films the same day they become available to stream - a strategy that's earned few takers, as theatre owners believe such a move cannibalizes box-office sales. (In the United States, Amazon partnered with Bleecker Street to distribute Z to theatres; in Canada, it's Elevation Pictures).

"First, Amazon and Bleecker have been fantastic to me - they really care about the film, and have supported so many other interesting directors. It's sort of like United Artists in the 1970s," says Gray, noting the company's embrace of filmmakers Jim Jarmusch (Paterson), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea) and Asghar Farhadi (The Salesman).

"But what is scary is the potential of losing the theatrical experience, which is in some peril. The large picture, the sound that surrounds you, the dark of it all - there is simply no match for that womb-like experience."

"Womb-like experience" is also the perfect way to describe what it's like to watch a Gray film. The 48-year-old's work trades on rich production design, sumptuous lighting, delicately engineered sound, and close-up shots so intimate they feel like a personal violation.

Even though every one of his films before Z was confined to borders of tiny New York enclaves (more specifically, Queens), Gray's work is operatic in its ambition and scope, each frame an immersive experience designed for the biggest screen possible. Even his lone misfire, 2007's cops-and-robbers melodrama We Own the Night, is compulsively rewatchable thanks to Gray's sharp eye for set design and larger-than-life visuals.

A film about a doomed adventure in the lush jungles of the Amazon, then, seems perfectly attuned to Gray's sense of aesthetic grandeur - even if the director wasn't always so sure.

"I read Grann's book and I had no idea what [Pitt's company] saw in my other work that would lead to them to think I could do this. I had never been outside Queens," Gray says, in a typical moment of self-deprecation. "The first thing I felt was, this is impossible. But the second thing was, I have to try it."

Gray dived into Grann's material and found himself becoming obsessed with Percy Fawcett's story as the production delays piled on - and in doing so, found the thematic link that Z held to the rest of his filmography.

"Fawcett had been the son of a man with high social standing who lost not one but two family fortunes to drink and gambling.

Well, I thought that was interesting because the seeds of obsession always have their roots in some sort of psychological lack, or sense of inferiority. The need to prove oneself is a powerful motive," says the director, whose films, from 1994's Little Odessa to 2013's The Immigrant, pivot around the theme of escaping one's background. "It became personal for me, because I've always felt that inadequacy in me. That was my way in."

But Gray would have to find his way into Z with fewer resources than he might have been afforded even a decade ago. "Making a film like Z in late 2015, I cannot compete with David Lean or Francis Ford Coppola," he says. "I mean, forget my lack of talent, that's another issue, but even on the machinery level of filming on a movie like this. I can't shoot for a year.

I can't match the operatic amazingness of, say, getting the Philippines air force to fly a helicopter sequence for me. I can't match them for that, but I can bring something else to the table, which is an evolved political sense." '

The story of Fawcett may be of a white man searching for the exotic "other," but Gray was intent to balance that inherent colonialism with a scathing critique of the socioeconomic order that fuelled it, as well as a nuanced look at the struggles faced by the explorer's homebound wife, Nina (Sienna Miller). "I was very scared that I would make a film that would essentially be about the magic white guy who can save the Indians, so I ensured we went the opposite direction," Gray says.

"This story is about Percy's transcendence and Nina's tragedy ... If I'm trying to make an inclusive movie, her story needs to be told as well."

Which is how Gray eventually, finally, found himself splitting his time between shooting in the relative comfort of Northern Ireland and in the sweltering danger zone that is Colombia, fending off floods and 100-Fahrenheit heat and all manner of creatures that wanted to kill him, lugging around 35mm film to capture the impossibly verdant environment. (The director originally wanted to shoot in Brazil, near the same area Fawcett had explored. But today, the area is all clear-cut soybean fields.) "When you have no Internet, no phone, no hot water, you start to feel the walls close in on you," he says. "With the sameness of the day, a certain madness sets in."

Gray is grateful for the opportunity, though - for any opportunity. He is a working artist in the most obvious definition of the term, earning a living in an industry that seems to value him less and less. He doesn't own a home, he has trouble paying his bills, and he has no desire, so far, to work on a Marvel movie. The Lost City of Z will play on the big screen, but it's anyone's guess as to where Gray's next effort, the sci-fi film Ad Astra, will end up. The jungles of the Amazon may be cruel, but the landscape of the film industry is far more challenging to tame.

The Lost City of Z opens April 21 across Canada

Associated Graphic

Charlie Hunnam stars as early 1900s British explorer Percy Fawcett in The Lost City of Z, which is based on a non-fiction book by David Grann.


Director James Gray says he can't compete with the likes of David Lean or Francis Ford Coppola, 'but I can bring something else to the table, which is an evolved political sense.'


A building speaks to the black experience
African American culture, in all its upheavals and expressions, is captured with eloquence in a new museum in Washington
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Print Edition, Page R3

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On a sweltering spring morning, the façades of America's National Mall shimmer in the sun. Their faces, mostly pale marble, stand sedately alongside one of the world's most august ceremonial spaces.

At one end, in front of the white dome of the Capitol, protesters are shouting for President Donald Trump to release his tax returns.

At the other end is a new addition, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, designed by a team of architects led by David Adjaye. Its façades of bronzed aluminum rise up in a jagged zigzag, each side catching the light differently.

These are screens that can be stolid or shimmering, dark or light, depending on how you look at them.

You could say the same about America: Enslaved people were once bought and sold in the heart of Washington, where the museum was opened in the fall by then-president Barack Obama.

The architecture of the museum eloquently expresses that variousness. The building is designed to contain a set of historical narratives full of both despair and joy, inseparable from the larger culture and yet different.

"To look at the building and see how it stands out - that's the experience of being a minority in a majority culture," Adjaye says.

"There is this powerful American idea, that all men are created equal, but of course that hasn't always been observed.

"Just by becoming visible" - and being different - "the building takes on all of these issues."

This is a lot of symbolism for concrete and aluminum to carry, but this museum succeeds on those terms - thanks largely to Adjaye, who was to speak Friday in Toronto as part of the Art Gallery of Ontario's Creative Minds series.

At 400,000 square feet, it is a massive and complex facility that captures a three-part narrative of history, community and cultural expression. Accordingly, the museum was designed by a large team: Adjaye Associates with Philip Freelon, Davis Brody Bond, SmithGroupJJR and 28 other consultants.

Yet for all that, it is also an icon, a self-conscious symbol of what this place is and what it can be.

Adjaye, the Ghanaian-British architect who has recently risen into the elite of his profession, doesn't shy away from architecture's power to articulate a narrative. Here, he's done so convincingly, with a museum whose sequence begins with claustrophobic underground galleries that depict the experience of slavery and rise toward daylight and the expressions of black culture that have changed the world.

Along the way, the museum reveals a rich quilt of the black experience in America, beginning with the abduction of West Africans and proceeding upward through emancipation, the Great Migration and the civil rights movement, and cultural expressions that produce the P-Funk Mothership, Art Blakey's drumsticks and J Dilla's drum machine.

It's dense with revelations, especially if you don't - as even most Americans don't - understand the variety and richness of early black cultures in America.

Adjaye argues that "the AfricanAmerican community is part of the West African diaspora" and says the interplay between the U.S. civil rights struggle and African independence movements provided a personal link for him.

(His father was a Ghanaian diplomat in the decades after that country achieved independence.)

The architecture has something to say about that link. The form of the building is a crown, what Adjaye chooses to call a "corona."

It's derived from a sculpture by Olowe of Ise, a Yoruban craftsman of the early 20th century; Adjaye's scheme turns into an object on a plinth, then renders it in bronze.

Along the way, "I wanted to alter the form so it makes that journey from African to AfricanAmerican," he says. "The building plays that game: It learns an American technology, casting, and transforms into a screen."

The reference is to architectural ironwork, a trade practised by black craftsmen in the U.S. South.

Adjaye cites the work of Philip Simmons, a self-taught tradesman in Charleston, S.C., as a specific inspiration for the pattern on the façade, which was abstracted and varied using digital design. Seven different types of panels line the façade. An original piece of Simmons's work has pride of place within the museum.

At the same time, the building sits at the end of the Mall, right where a procession of museums gives way to a precinct of memorials. Adjaye argues that the building serves as a "knuckle," bridging the two realms of contemplation and veneration. To bridge the gap, the angles of the corona precisely match those of the adjacent Washington Monument.

You'll have to look hard to notice this, but when you see it, something clicks: The building is clearly Modernist in its form, evoking Marcel Breuer, but that doesn't mean a rejection of history. In Adjaye's hands (as with most of the greats of the past century), architecture that strives to invent a new language also draws upon the language of the past.

Accordingly, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) building provides a "porch," facing south, evoking the characteristic hospitality of the American South. This is the sort of reference that in other designers' hands could descend into kitsch. Adjaye avoids that trap.

A porch, of course, is an informal place, and the Mall is a highly formal space. It was defined by Pierre L'Enfant's 1791 plan for Washington and then the BeauxArts McMillan Plan of the early 20th century, which brought the Mall into its current pristine condition. The Capitol at one end and the prominent Lincoln Memorial at the other speak a Classical language. While the museums on the Mall are more diverse, the NMAAHC - dark, shimmering and spiky - introduces its own dialect.

Through years of negotiations with government (the federal government paid half of the museum's $540-million cost), the architects were careful to present it as contextual and polite.

"The regulatory environment in Washington is incredibly complex," says Freelon, whose firm was the architects of record and who was involved with the museum from its early planning stages. "We made a real effort to make the form of the museum fit what was expected," and the fact that more than half of the museum is underground testifies to this. "But the building, I think, continues to assert its own presence."

It does. The building is not perfect - inexpensive materials and some undercooked details on the interior reduce its emotional impact - but the central ideas of the design remain powerful: the descent into the earth, the pause in a gorgeous "Contemplation Court" just below ground, where a fountain descends from the ceiling, then the ascent toward the present, with windows framing wary views over Washington's monuments.

In an important sense, the museum speaks to the city around it, what Adjaye refers to as "outer Washington" - or, to put it in other terms, black Washington. More than half the city's residents are African-American, and the city is heavily segregated. After winning the museum commission, Adjaye's firm designed two library branches - both moody, well-crafted and complex works of public architecture - in D.C.'s predominantly black Southeast.

"My remit was to understand the community, to understand how users interact with institutional space," Adjaye explains.

And what did he learn? "The sense of black Washington was that they never received anything of beauty," he says. People were resigned to the perception "that they had a somehow mundane experience and were supposed to make do with very ordinary things, quite apart from the ceremonial core of the city."

That's already changed. When I visited the museum, it was Easter Sunday. There were many more people of colour there than at any of the other Smithsonian museums I'd seen, and as I sat down to lunch at the museum's excellent restaurant, families were gathering to feast on gumbo or Louisiana-style catfish. It was easy to forget the political tensions of the moment - or the centuries of strife and oppression that were recounted downstairs.

People were celebrating. They felt at home.

"That, I think, is the importance of building architecture that talks about diversity," Adjaye says.

"Simply through presence, simply having a place that reflects oneself - that creates a quiet confidence." And that is a crowning achievement.

David Adjaye was to speak Friday at Massey Hall in Toronto as part of Creative Minds; the program will be broadcast on CBC Radio 2 at a later date.

Follow me on Twitter: @alexbozikovic

Associated Graphic

Contemplation Court in the National Museum of African American History and Culture - designed by a team of architects led by David Adjaye - uses a fountain to evoke a sense of movement from past to present.


David Adjaye

A Special arrangement
Maya and Derrick Yue have rejigged their Vancouver Special into separate homes for multiple generations
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page S6

A forward-thinking family has figured out a way to glean maximum value from their solidly built, but not so special, Vancouver Special.

Maya and Derrick Yue - and Maya's parents, Eriko and Aki Taguchi - converted the 1966 split-level house where Maya grew up into what looks and feels like a side-by-side duplex - even though it is technically a single-family house with basement suite. Maya and Derrick, who both work in the tech industry and used to rent an apartment in Richmond, B.C., now live upstairs and her parents live in the lower unit.

"We had to have several conversations around, 'are you sure you want this?' " Maya says, seated in the living room with views of the mountains. "Eventually, we got there, but it was a joint decision. I knew that they were going through certain emotions about downsizing and getting old."

The house sits on a 45-by-105 foot lot, on a hilltop street lined with Vancouver Specials, a couple of blocks away from Grandview Highway. The 2,800-squarefoot space now has an extra half-floor, three bedrooms and two bathrooms in the upper unit, and two bedrooms and two bathrooms in the lower. Both units get the mountain views.

Vancouver Specials, built from the 1960s to 1980s, were a highly functional design because they always operated like an up-down duplex, with stairs in the foyer that go up to one level and down to another. But with the help of an architect, the family transformed each level into something unique - the lower level, where Maya's parents live, has a living area with a 12-foothigh ceiling and a huge gourmet kitchen. The upper level, where Maya and Derrick live, also has a modern openconcept design, with a floating staircase and Japanese inspired wood-screen feature over the dining area. There are built-in cabinets along the walls of the clean, contemporary space, which has vaulted ceilings throughout.

In a city in which it is difficult for a couple earning a decent income to afford a single-family house, the arrangement allows Maya and Derrick to stay central and live in a beautiful home. For Maya's parents, it allows them to help their daughter, and age in place in style, without having to relocate. Eriko is 65 and Aki is 71, and they are fit and able - Aki still works as a landscaper - but down the road, Maya will be able to care for her parents. In the meantime, when the young couple starts a family of their own, Maya's parents will be able to help with child rearing. They see the cycle playing out for next-generation family members, too.

It's also an example of sustainable living because the house wasn't bulldozed and rebuilt.

Clever updates to the Vancouver Special - at one time reviled because of its cookie-cutter ubiquity - have earned the house style its own heritage tour. The Yue-Taguchi house at 3112 E. 15th Ave. is one of five Vancouver Specials on the Vancouver Special House Tour next Saturday, April 22, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets for the self-guided tour are available at the Vancouver Heritage Foundation.

To make it work, however, there was a year of major upheaval, when Maya's parents had to move into a basement rental.

The rental had low ceilings, small windows, and a noisy twoyear-old living upstairs, so it was tough on them.

Maya has a brother, but it made more sense for her to live with their parents since she will be the caregiver one day. It also made more sense for her parents to live in the lower level, only a few steps below grade. It will be easy enough to install a small ramp at the rear when they are older.

"I think part of it is cultural, too," Derrick says. "As Maya's parents were getting older - and certainly I feel about my parents this way, too - we feel an obligation to take care of them, as a repayment of taking care of us as kids. We want to return the favour.

"Maya's parents recognized they were going to give us the house eventually, but it made sense for us to live together now and enjoy it together while everyone is still alive and very capable of being independent."

Maya's parents gifted the house to their daughter and husband, and in exchange, the younger couple obtained financing to pay for the near-$700,000 renovation. It's a hefty price tag, and several friends asked them why they didn't just tear the house down and rebuild. However, the family did not want a cookie-cutter house like so many new houses in the city.

They wanted an architectdesigned home with special features that honoured the original house. Maya's parents were also keen on an original design and had a lot of input.

"For us, you could never buy a house custom built like this at that price," Maya says. "I like the Vancouver Special lines and architecture, so I wanted to preserve some of that. And my dad, who graduated in Japan with an architectural background and immigrated here and became a landscaper, he has strong opinions about design.

"We knew we were never going to be able to buy a home in East Van, custom-built this way, for the mortgage we have. And also, [my parents] won't have as much income in the coming years, so it made sense for all of us."

The house is also testament to the fact that, with some ingenuity and creativity, a single-family house can be transformed into a spacious two-unit home without having to go the conventional route of big space upstairs, dark basement suite down. Singlefamily zoning doesn't allow for two front doors on the front of the house, so the two families share the front entrance. If someone wants to rent out one of the units, it's a simple matter of locking off the lower unit. The lower unit has an entrance at the back of the house.

Architect Allison Holden-Pope made the design work by removing one of the upstairs bedrooms and giving the lower living area the 12-foot ceiling height. The removal of an attached carport gave them extra floor space. She added a half-floor to the upstairs, which is now a spacious bedroom with large bathroom and office nook.

"We were still capped by [floor space ratio] limits, but we did play with it cleverly when we removed the bedroom and raised the ceiling to 12 feet," Ms.

Holden-Pope says. "That meant the basement didn't count as two stories, because 12 feet is the limit for the city. And we got to add that bedroom elsewhere on the house."

The lower unit is also open concept, with an area for Maya's mother to hang her kimonos, and a naturally lit bamboo worktable to do her calligraphy.

The design allowed a customized approach to living within the space.

"The classic development right now is giving the crappiest part of your house to the renters, the smallest suite possible, and that is your mortgage helper, which is the opposite of what we believe in," says Ms. Holden-Pope, of One SEED Architecture. "The big puzzle to figure out was a way to let both families live together in a democratic manner."

Ms. Holden-Pope says a solid part of her business is helping intergenerational living arrangements.

"We're seeing this more and more in all our project types right now; that it's so expensive to buy land in Vancouver, the baby-boomer generation is trying to help their kids out by finding a way they can either subdivide their lots, or build laneway houses to help house them on-site.

"We've seen this [arrangement] as well, allowing the older generation to age in place, and the younger generation acquire a property which was obviously more affordable than purchasing one. They had to deal with construction costs, but without land costs, they had the full budget to gut the home."

Derrick says he has friends who are considering buying a house together and dividing it.

But most expect to inherit from family instead of collaborating on housing.

"I think we are a bit ahead compared to the rest of our friends," Maya says. "But I'm a planner. I say, 'do it now before something does happen and then you can't do it.' "

Associated Graphic

This renovated Vancouver Special is used by two families, with mother and father downstairs and daughter and husband upstairs. It will be appear on the Vancouver Special House Tour on April 22.


Oh, the good old hockey party ...
Police in five Canadian cities are braced, but so far this postseason the streets have been quiet - must have something to do with losing
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A13

CALGARY, MONTREAL -- Jessica Alford sits on a bar stool sporting a Calgary Flames jersey signed by Lanny McDonald.

The retired co-captain, best known for his red mustache and once holder of the team's regular-season scoring record, won the Flames first - and therefore most recent - Stanley Cup in 1989.

The Flames and four other Canadian teams are back in the hunt for the Cup. Ms. Alford is in the National, a bar on Calgary's 17th Avenue, a strip known as the Red Mile in NHL playoff season.

She is drinking vodka sodas at the bar. National is at capacity (according to the bouncer). If the Flames excel this spring, the Red Mile will explode.

Every city has its own party hot spots police across the country must manage. The Red Mile became a sensation in 2004 when the Flames gave fans something to cheer about in the playoffs. But so far this year, not so much.

"The Red Mile is lame tonight," says the 30-year-old Ms. Alford after the Flames lost their playoff opener 3-2 to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday evening. "Tonight is not the Red Mile."

The Red Mile is one part myth, one part potential for a serious party. Calgary Police Service (CPS), along with its counterparts in Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto, need plans to deal with hockey fans excited that their teams made the playoffs. Police forces must navigate the line between letting fans have a good time and preventing chaos. The CPS had it easy Thursday night; fans gathered on the sidewalks to light cigarettes, not firecrackers. It was an away game and chilly enough that officers wore black tuques.

The fact that the Flames are the underdogs in the opening series also helps keep things subdued.

"I think playing Anaheim sucks for us," said Laura Bobyn, who is 24 and at the National. "We kind of all know it."

Indeed, the energy on the Red Mile is only as strong as the Flames. The Red Mile has yet to match its 2004 peak because the team has yet to match the same level of success. The Red Mile ballooned 13 years ago as the Flames stretched the unexpected playoff run to the final, only to lose in Game 7 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Up to 100,000 people partied on 17th Avenue, depending on the source of the head count. CPS leaned on the Edmonton Police Service and RCMP for additional officers to keep the Red Mile under control.

"I don't think it will ever be the same as it was then," Ms. Alford said.

The Flames last made the playoffs in 2015. The Red Mile was subdued then, too.

But slow starts and low expectations mean nothing to police.

Law-enforcement officials in Edmonton and Calgary are refraining from providing the details of their playoff strategies, but tactics range from targeting petty problems to preparing for riots.

The CPS is particularly experienced when it comes to keeping parties under control, largely thanks to the city's annual Stampede blowout.

"We've been here before," CPS Staff Sergeant Claire Smart said in an interview. "We have a flexible plan."

The approach, while focused on safety and enforcing the rules, comes with financial concerns.

"We're in tight economic times," she said. "Our planning team is really focusing on using as much on-duty coverage as possible."

The Edmonton Oilers are in the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Riots, injuries and arrests in Alberta's capital were part of that playoff run. Edmonton fans congregate on Whyte Avenue, the city's equivalent to Calgary's 17th Avene. The Oilers new arena, Rogers Place, is close to downtown pubs and restaurants but not Whyte Avenue, creating potential for two hot spots.

Scott Pattison, a spokesman for the Edmonton Police Service (EPS), said the force will crack down on legal violations, large and small.

"We certainly will condone celebration but we're not going to condone lawlessness," he said this week. "That goes from everything from jaywalking, et cetera."

Mr. Pattison, a Red Wings fans, added: "We want to make sure that people stick to the sidewalk." In 2006, some fans took an inch of leeway and turned it into a mile, he said. Not this time.

"The ones that are there to cause trouble will be identified and if they are breaking the law, they will be dealt with."

The Oilers surprised the league by making it to the Stanley Cup final in 2006, but lost to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 in Game 7.

EPS assigned hundreds of officers to police crowds that evening, with some cops decked out in riot gear. That night, fans accepted the loss peacefully. The EPS has not yet brought on extra staff to manage this year's crowds, Mr. Pattison said.

The Oilers lost Game 1 of this year's playoffs in overtime Wednesday, giving police an easy start to the 2017 chase. The Oilers have not won the Cup since 1990.

Making the playoffs comes with a price. In 2006, it cost roughly $1.4-million to keep Whyte Avenue under control every playoff game, according to Edmonton police estimates at the time. In Calgary, the CPS spent $999,529.74 in 2004 on overtime and covering the cost of the additional officers while policing the Red Mile, according to the Calgary Herald, citing the then-police chief. The CPS figure excludes costs such as regular salaries and fuel.

The Red Mile moniker emerged in 2004, when fans packed Calgary's main drag. Pubs line the street and it connects to the Saddledome's entrance infrastructure on the east end, making it easy for a concentrated party pack to emerge. Boozy mobs filled the street with all the accoutrements of celebrations: fans carrying others on their shoulders; cheers; shouts; a oneman band; flags; firecrackers; and arrests. People were stabbed; a female police officer was assaulted.

Women flashing the crowd became one of the Red Mile's most infamous features. Indeed, an academic journal - Sport In Society - in 2012 published a paper on the 2004 practice. A debate over feminism wiggled its way into the party.

In Montreal, downtown bars and clubs around the Bell Centre, an area that has seen considerable residential and commercial development in the past two or three years, are reliably packed on game nights.

The Canadiens' Fan Jam, a few blocks to the south of the rink, plays host to live bands, a beer garden, and is a rallying point for Habs Nation before games.

There's even a Ferris wheel.

Habs fans are legendarily boisterous, and occasionally their collective passion descends into something darker - the colourful history of hockey-related violence in the city reached its zenith in the 1955 Richard Riots, after Maurice (Rocket) Richard was suspended from a playoff game for whacking an opponent with his stick.

More recently, Montrealers tend to riot only after wins: civic unrest and destruction as celebration.

The mob usually gathers on Rue Ste. Catherine, the city's main shopping artery; it happened in 1993, when the Habs defeated the Los Angeles Kings for their 24th Stanley Cup, the last time a Canadian team won the championship.

When Montreal eliminated arch-rival Boston in the 2008 playoffs, there was widespread looting and riot police waded in with tear gas and truncheons. In 2010, several police cars were torched after the Habs dispatched the heavily favoured Pittsburgh Penguins. Four years later, fans once again smashed storefronts when the Habs beat Boston again.

Toronto Maple Leafs fans gather outside the Air Canada Centre.

The Leafs lost Game 1 in overtime Thursday night and last hoisted the Cup in 1967.

The Ottawa Senators, as with all the other Canadian teams, lost its first game of the 2017 playoffs.

The Stanley Cup last called Ottawa home in 1927. Sens fans are not known for their rowdiness.

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, officers will be chilling out. Their hometown team missed the playoffs - a sure way to avoid repeating the playoff riots of 2011. That year, police used tear gas, pepper spray, flash bombs, dogs and batons to try to control the crowd after the Canucks lost Game 7 in the Stanley Cup final to the Boston Bruins. Rioters were involved in everything from fires to stabbings.

Winnipeg streets will also be quiet as the Jets failed to make it to the postseason.

Associated Graphic

Flames fans celebrate a goal at a restaurant on Calgary's Red Mile on Thursday. Anaheim Ducks later put a damper on things.


Edmonton Oilers fans were in their blue-and-orange best before the game against San Jose Sharks on Wednesday.


Baselworld, the pinnacle of the industry's annual calendar, is where thousands of watch fans gather to talk shop, drink champagne and ogle the world's most expensive timepieces. Jeremy Freed reports on the covetable styles and curious moments on display
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page L4

The Baselworld International Watch and Jewelry Show will strain just about any metaphor you attempt to pin on it. Taking over the Swiss town of Basel every March, it has the labyrinthine, hermetic feel of a casino, but no one is gambling. It's a luxury mall lined with gilded pavilions of the world's fanciest brands, but no one is shopping. It's a trade show, sure, but calling it that seems diminutive - it's not like any other trade show you've ever seen.

The 12 halls of the Congress Centre Basel, arrayed around a central pavilion designed by Herzog & de Meuron, are divided into hundreds of exhibitor booths, though "booths" doesn't do them justice. These are architectural creations of three and four storeys with water features, spiral staircases, bars, restaurants, lounges, conference rooms and offices, the size and lavishness of which vary according to each brand's style and budget.

For the 2017 edition - Baselworld's 100th outing - which ran from March 23 to 30, Breitling, one of the largest Swiss watchmakers, built its booth around a 10-metre-long aquarium where 400 milky white jellyfish swam in hypnotic circles. The tank, a representative told me, was custom built in Japan, and the jellyfish flown in from Malaysia along with a marine biologist chaperone. I asked her if there's a connection between Breitling, which is famous for aviation watches, and these creatures of the deep. She shrugged. Fair enough.

At an event dedicated to the promotion of a product that is practically obsolete, you quickly learn that asking why is rarely a fruitful line of questioning - spectacle exists here for its own sake. The real-world value of a mechanical watch has been dubious since the advent of cheaper, more reliable quartz timepieces in the 1970s, a quandary that has become more persistent in the smartphone era. But like diamonds, Birkin bags or Damian Hirst sculptures, neither practicality nor necessity have much to do with demand. You want one because you want one, and like the watches themselves, the displays and lavish parties of Baselworld exist as achievements of art, engineering and largesse, simply because they can.

The fair is open to the public, but access to the booths of toptier brands is highly restricted.

While the masses must content themselves with gazing at the watches in brightly lit display windows, journalists, retailers and select high-rolling VIPs are invited inside by pre-arranged appointment to fondle the wares while wearing black silk gloves.

The nicer booths tend to feel like high-end hotels, except there are no children anywhere and the food and drinks are both free-flowing and complimentary.

Arriving at the Rolex booth, I'm ushered in by a phalanx of smiling, uniformed women with the statuesque teutonic bearing of Helmut Newton uberfraus. I'm offered a beverage, which appears moments later borne by a white jacketed waiter on a thick, Rolexbranded coaster.

Despite the lavish parties (Depeche Mode plays at one for Hublot, while Breitling's bash features exotic dancers and a Gipsy Kings cover band), celebrity appearances (Patrick Dempsey at Tag Heuer, Swizz Beatz at Zenith) and endlessly proffered boxes of branded Swiss chocolate, one comes to Baselworld primarily to look at watches. Each of the brands here has a new achievement to crow about. Hermès flaunted its "L'Heure Impatiente," a 12-hour countdown timer in rose gold created to mark the anticipation of special occasions, while Bulgari displayed its Octo Finissimo Automatique, which at just 5.15mm is the thinnest mechanical timepiece ever made. Archival pieces were everywhere, too, among them Seiko's Prospex Diver SLA017, a faithful recreation of its first dive watch, and Longines' Heritage 1945, a beautiful example of 1940s austerity.

Tudor, which is known for Rolexlike quality at a more accessible price point, released several fetching versions of its Heritage Black Bay, a rugged midcentury diver, to much buzz.

While most of the talk at the fair was devoted to new mechanical movements and high-tech scratch-resistant alloys, the tide of 21st-century technology crept in from the edges, with smart watches on prominent display at TAG Heuer, Movado and Montblanc, among many others.

While they can do fun things like run Google Maps and track your steps, watches that have screens instead of dials are controversial among the faithful here. Publicity spin aside, one gets the sense that, like uninvited in-laws, these interlopers are tolerated, but grudgingly so.

The show runs for a week, but pretty much everything important happens during the first three days. After that, the thousands of journalists and jewellers begin to board their planes back to Tokyo and Johannesburg, and a few days later, thousands of watches are packed away in their velvet-lined cases for the return trip to Geneva, Fleurier and La Chaux-de-Fonds. The jellyfish, too, will be slurped into another tank for their flight home to Malaysia, oblivious to their role, metaphorical or otherwise, in the spectacle.

Meanwhile in New York...

First, I'm told, absolutely no pictures. There will be a photo op later in the evening, but pointing a phone at Daniel Craig at any time is strictly forbidden. Second, do not mention Bond. "He's very private," says a representative for Omega, where Craig has been a brand ambassador since taking on the role of the world's favourite secret agent in 2006. Whether or not Craig will star in Bond 25, due out late next year, has been the subject of much speculation, and he will clearly not be breaking his silence this evening.

The Beekman Hotel's underground event space is dominated by exposed brick walls and industrial lighting, as masculine and refined as the $14,000 dive watch I've been invited here to see. Pale upholstered sectionals are arrayed about the room facing low glass tables artfully decorated with seashells and bits of coral cast in candlelight. Servers circulate with trays of baked potato bites topped with osetra caviar and lobster salad canapes. In addition to a handful of journalists who cover watches, Omega has flown in its most important customers for a first glimpse at the brand's newest launch, and the opportunity to meet (but not speak of) James Bond.

"Seamaster is one of the most iconic names in the watch industry and we are here to celebrate that tonight," says Omega CEO Raynald Aeschlimann from the small stage at one end of the room.

Launched in 1957, the Seamaster's er's combination of tough construction and suit-friendly endly aesthetics has made it one of the world's mostt popular watches. Tonight's reveal, the Seamaster eamaster Planet Ocean 600m Co-Axial Master aster Chronometer GMT (or Big Blue for short) is its latest iteration. The combination of a chunky blue and blazeorange ceramic case, water resistance stance to 600 metres and 18-karat white te gold hands maintains the model's balance of luxury and resilience, while an upgraded movement adds just enough newness to tickle customers' buying bones.

Perhaps it's a bit flashy for a spy, but a lot of other people will surely love it.

"You all look very glamorous tonight," Craig says, making his entrance through the crowd and taking a seat on the stage. He looks exactly how you'd want him to: compact and muscular in a trim blue tweed suit, with a brush of silver stubble covering his chin. He talks for a few minutes with Aeschlimann about his collection of Omegas, and answers softball questions about watches from the audience. Craig is relaxed, charming, flirtatious. A woman in a sequined dress in the front row laughs at everything he says. Or maybe that was me - who can remember? A photo op follows, in which Craig shakes hands and poses for a few frames with each of us, working through the entire crowd with startling efficiency. We then adjourn to dinner where Craig sits, flanked by watch executives, in front of a display of Seamasters, each a picture of rugged refinement.

Jeremy Freed travelled to New York as a guest of Omega and to Baselworld as a guest of Rolex. The companies did not review or approve this article prior to publication.

Associated Graphic

WATCH THIS d Press, celebrities and watch aficionados gather in Switzerlandd to get the goods on the year's most novelel and notable designs from brands including (from left) Montblanc, Hermès, Rolex, Seiko, Tudor and Movado.

BOND CERTIFIED The latest Omega Seamaster model (left) was launched in New York's Beekman Hotel with brand ambassador Daniel Craig in attendance.

Oh, the good old hockey party ...
Police in five Canadian cities are braced, but so far the streets have been quiet this playoff; it must have something to do with losing. Carrie Tait and Sean Gordon report from Calgary and Montreal
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page S1

Jessica Alford sits on a bar stool sporting a Calgary Flames jersey signed by Lanny McDonald.

The retired co-captain, best known for his red mustache and once holder of the team's regular-season scoring record, won the Flames first - and therefore most recent - Stanley Cup in 1989.

The Flames and four other Canadian teams are back in the hunt for the Cup. Ms. Alford is in the National, a bar on Calgary's 17th Avenue, a strip known as the Red Mile in NHL playoff season.

She is drinking vodka sodas at the bar. National is at capacity (according to the bouncer). If the Flames excel this spring, the Red Mile will explode.

Every city has its own party hot spots police across the country must manage. The Red Mile became a sensation in 2004 when the Flames gave fans something to cheer about in the playoffs. But so far this year, not so much.

"The Red Mile is lame tonight," says the 30-year-old Ms. Alford after the Flames lost their playoff opener 3-2 to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday evening. "Tonight is not the Red Mile."

The Red Mile is one part myth, one part potential for a serious party. Calgary Police Service (CPS), along with its counterparts in Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto, need plans to deal with hockey fans excited that their teams made the playoffs. Police forces must navigate the line between letting fans have a good time and preventing chaos. The CPS had it easy Thursday night; fans gathered on the sidewalks to light cigarettes, not firecrackers. It was an away game and chilly enough that officers wore black tuques.

The fact that the Flames are the underdogs in the opening series also helps keep things subdued.

"I think playing Anaheim sucks for us," said Laura Bobyn, who is 24 and at the National. "We kind of all know it."

Indeed, the energy on the Red Mile is only as strong as the Flames. The Red Mile has yet to match its 2004 peak because the team has yet to match the same level of success. The Red Mile ballooned 13 years ago as the Flames stretched the unexpected playoff run to the final, only to lose in Game 7 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Up to 100,000 people partied on 17th Avenue, depending on the source of the head count. CPS leaned on the Edmonton Police Service and RCMP for additional officers to keep the Red Mile under control.

"I don't think it will ever be the same as it was then," Ms. Alford said.

The Flames last made the playoffs in 2015. The Red Mile was subdued then, too.

But slow starts and low expectations mean nothing to police.

Law-enforcement officials in Edmonton and Calgary are refraining from providing the details of their playoff strategies, but tactics range from targeting petty problems to preparing for riots.

The CPS is particularly experienced when it comes to keeping parties under control, largely thanks to the city's annual Stampede blowout.

"We've been here before," CPS Staff Sergeant Claire Smart said in an interview. "We have a flexible plan."

The approach, while focused on safety and enforcing the rules, comes with financial concerns.

"We're in tight economic times," she said. "Our planning team is really focusing on using as much on-duty coverage as possible."

The Edmonton Oilers are in the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Riots, injuries and arrests in Alberta's capital were part of that playoff run. Edmonton fans congregate on Whyte Avenue, the city's equivalent to Calgary's 17th Avene. The Oilers new arena, Rogers Place, is close to downtown pubs and restaurants but not Whyte Avenue, creating potential for two hot spots.

Scott Pattison, a spokesman for the Edmonton Police Service (EPS), said the force will crack down on legal violations, large and small.

"We certainly will condone celebration but we're not going to condone lawlessness," he said this week. "That goes from everything from jaywalking, et cetera."

Mr. Pattison, a Red Wings fans, added: "We want to make sure that people stick to the sidewalk." In 2006, some fans took an inch of leeway and turned it into a mile, he said. Not this time. "The ones that are there to cause trouble will be identified and if they are breaking the law, they will be dealt with."

The Oilers surprised the league by making it to the Stanley Cup final in 2006, but lost to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 in Game 7. EPS assigned hundreds of officers to police crowds that evening, with some cops decked out in riot gear.

That night, fans accepted the loss peacefully. The EPS has not yet brought on extra staff to manage this year's crowds, Mr. Pattison said.

The Oilers lost Game 1 of this year's playoffs in overtime Wednesday, giving police an easy start to the 2017 chase. The Oilers have not won the Cup since 1990.

Making the playoffs comes with a price. In 2006, it cost roughly $1.4-million to keep Whyte Avenue under control every playoff game, according to Edmonton police estimates at the time.

In Calgary, the CPS spent $999,529.74 in 2004 on overtime and covering the cost of the additional officers while policing the Red Mile, according to the Calgary Herald, citing the thenpolice chief. The CPS figure excludes costs such as regular salaries and fuel.

The Red Mile moniker emerged in 2004, when fans packed Calgary's main drag.

Pubs line the street and it connects to the Saddledome's entrance infrastructure on the east end, making it easy for a concentrated party pack to emerge. Boozy mobs filled the street with all the accoutrements of celebrations: fans carrying others on their shoulders; cheers; shouts; a one-man band; flags; firecrackers; and arrests. People were stabbed; a female police officer was assaulted.

Women flashing the crowd became one of the Red Mile's most infamous features. Indeed, an academic journal - Sport In Society - in 2012 published a paper on the 2004 practice. A debate over feminism wiggled its way into the party.

In Montreal, downtown bars and clubs around the Bell Centre, an area that has seen considerable residential and commercial development in the past two or three years, are reliably packed on game nights.

The Canadiens' Fan Jam, a few blocks to the south of the rink, plays host to live bands, a beer garden, and is a rallying point for Habs Nation before games.

There's even a Ferris wheel.

Habs fans are legendarily boisterous, and occasionally their collective passion descends into something darker - the colourful history of hockey-related violence in the city reached its zenith in the 1955 Richard Riots, after Maurice (Rocket) Richard was suspended from a playoff game for whacking an opponent with his stick.

More recently, Montrealers tend to riot only after wins: civic unrest and destruction as celebration. The mob usually gathers on Rue Ste. Catherine, the city's main shopping artery; it happened in 1993, when the Habs defeated the Los Angeles Kings for their 24th Stanley Cup, the last time a Canadian team won the championship.

When Montreal eliminated arch-rival Boston in the 2008 playoffs, there was widespread looting and riot police waded in with tear gas and truncheons. In 2010, several police cars were torched after the Habs dispatched the heavily favoured Pittsburgh Penguins. Four years later, fans once again smashed storefronts when the Habs beat Boston again.

Toronto Maple Leafs fans gather outside the Air Canada Centre. The Leafs lost Game 1 in overtime Thursday night and last hoisted the Cup in 1967.

The Ottawa Senators, as with all the other Canadian teams, lost its first game of the 2017 playoffs. The Stanley Cup last called Ottawa home in 1927.

Sens fans are not known for their rowdiness.

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, officers will be chilling out. Their hometown team missed the playoffs - a sure way to avoid repeating the playoff riots of 2011. That year, police used tear gas, pepper spray, flash bombs, dogs and batons to try to control the crowd after the Canucks lost Game 7 in the Stanley Cup final to the Boston Bruins. Rioters were involved in everything from fires to stabbings.

Winnipeg streets will also be quiet as the Jets failed to make it to the postseason.

Associated Graphic

Flames fans celebrate at a restaurant on Calgary's Red Mile on Thursday. The Anaheim Ducks later put a damper on things.


Risk of retaliation looms over Trump's N. Korea options
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A4

BEIJING -- The diplomacy of aerial bombardment seems simple enough. Fire a few dozen missiles at an air base, or drop an enormous bomb on a cave complex.

Then, watch your opponents cower at your fearsome display of power.

So why not try the same with North Korea?

For decades, the United States has crafted detailed operations plans that specify targets and timelines for armed assault on a country whose pursuit of nucleartipped long-range missiles has terrified generals and presidents alike.

Since U.S. President Donald Trump's arrival to power, the White House has expended fresh energy on mulling a military option in North Korea. The President has delivered a clear message that he is willing to use force against adversaries through his strikes against Syria and Afghanistan.

Mr. Trump's administration has inferred a similar threat against North Korea, dispatching an aircraft carrier group toward the Korean peninsula that Mr. Trump called an "armada" supplemented by nuclear-equipped submarines. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said "all of the options are on the table" in confronting Pyongyang's nuclear program.

On Friday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi further warned that "conflict could break out at any moment."

Since the end of the Korean War, no U.S. president has authorized an attack on North Korea, even when Pyongyang killed U.S. soldiers, captured a spy ship, shot down an airplane and sank a South Korean warship.

Now, however, North Korea is nearing completion of a program to develop a miniaturized nuclear bomb that can be fitted on an intercontinental ballistic missile and threaten the United States.

Satellite imagery suggests Pyongyang is preparing for another nuclear test, its sixth, and one Washington wants to keep from taking place.

But the options that exist for military strikes illuminate the difficulty of seeking a solution with bombs, particularly if Mr. Trump wants to avoid sparking a dangerous conflagration.

Any pre-emptive U.S. strike would likely seek to disrupt North Korean nuclear capabilities, so "testing facilities in the north of the country would be the targets.

That seems obvious," said Robert Kelly, an expert on security in Northeast Asia at Pusan National University in Busan, South Korea.

"Probably ports, too," he said, in hopes of targeting a North Korean submarine that could be used to launch ballistic missiles.

"Ports are also important for proliferation concerns. The real trick would likely be road-mobile launchers. If North Korea really has them, as it is has also threatened over the years, then allied air power would have to hunt them all over the country, conceivably."

U.S. forces could target Yongbyon, where North Korea has a nuclear-reactor complex and reprocessing plant used to manufacture plutonium for weapons.

They could also launch attacks on North Korean uranium-mining facilities.

Such a strike by the United States would almost certainly involve conventional weapons - not nuclear arms - and involve "co-ordinated precision air strikes coupled with special-forces action intent on disabling key launch facilities and command and controls nodes," said John Blaxland, acting head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, at Australian National University.

But the very act of designing a target list also quickly exposes the problems in engineering a military end to Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

North Korea's terrain is roughly 70-per-cent forest and mountain, complicating aerial surveillance, and fear of U.S. air strikes has led to decades-long tunnelling efforts, Prof. Kelly said.

"They likely have a lot of stuff underground and would move more there once the bombs start falling. So an air campaign would likely take a while," he said. And "once it starts, they would also likely use human shields."

Experts on North Korea doubt the United States has sufficient information to know exactly when a nuclear test would begin, raising doubts about its ability to strike pre-emptively to prevent such a test. There are questions, too, whether it's wise to fire at anything that contains nuclear material, given the potential for radioactive fallout to spread to nearby South Korea and China.

That's if North Korea's mostprized assets, its small arsenal of existing nuclear bombs - perhaps two dozen at most - can even be found, which is by no means certain. "We don't know where their nuclear weapons are," said Joel Wit, a senior fellow at the U.S.Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

So even in a direct attack on North Korea's atomic-weapons capability, "your chances of success, whatever that means, are not that great," said Mr. Wit, whose background includes advising the U.S. government on resolving North Korea's weapons program and devising nuclear non-proliferation policy. "You might set the program back somewhat, but I think the majority of North Korea's key facilities, and certainly their nuclear weapons, would remain untouched."

It would be very easy for a limited strike to expand to something much larger, and "then you're into full-scale war when you do that," Mr. Wit said. "So it's a losing proposition, unless you are willing to accept the possibility of a second Korean war."

That's in part because North Korea has a potent ability to return fire.

Pyongyang wields enough artillery and rocket might that "the northern portion of Seoul could be saturated with fire," Austin, Tex.-based geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor found in a January evaluation of North Korea's reprisal options. Using rocket launchers alone, a single co-ordinated "volley could deliver more than 350 metric tons of explosives across the South Korean capital, roughly the same amount of ordnance dropped by 11 B-52 bombers."

Seoul is home to 10.2 million people, and its city limits are less than 60 kilometres from the border with North Korea. Although it is a city built to defend against attack - subway stations are equipped with gas masks and thousands of underground shelters can accommodate at least twice the local population - the loss of life would almost certainly be horrific.

In addition, Stratfor estimates that North Korea possesses more than 1,000 ballistic missiles, enough to rain down 1,000 metric tons of high explosives on South Korea, Japan and U.S. military installations.

"There is no way any pre-emptive attack could prevent such retaliation. The North could use aircraft, ships, missiles, artillery or ground forces to strike at Seoul and even further south, killing and destroying more than whatever a limited pre-emptive strike could achieve," said Dennis Blasko, a former military intelligence officer who was posted to Beijing and has served in the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.

For that reason, some Korean observers believe the only real way to use weapons against Pyongyang is a full-scale assault.

"If the military option is to be considered seriously, it has to be not in a limited sense, but to make sure that North Korea is completely decapitated in terms of the command structure, where it will not be able to retaliate," said Jung Hoon Lee, an expert in North Korean nuclear history who is director of the Institute of Modern Korean Studies at Yonsei University in Seoul. "That's not a small show of force, no. But who thinks that a small show of force would actually lead to the denuclearization of North Korea?" Such an option has, among other weaknesses, the disadvantage of requiring a military buildup large enough that it's unlikely to go undetected - and risks triggering pre-emptive action from North Korea.

For the United States, meanwhile, the reasons against military involvement go beyond casualties. Washington's standing in the region could suffer irreparable damage.

"The risks are way too great," said Richard Bush, director of the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, and a former member of the National Intelligence Council in the United States.

Attack and "we lose the co-operation of China. We lose the confidence of our ally South Korea.

We justify North Korea's vision of the U.S. and of itself. Many in Japan, parts of which retain the nuclear allergy, would be unhappy."

Mr. Blasko calls the whole idea "irrational."

"The risk from a pre-emptive attack so far outweighs the possible gain that I don't see how any U.S. military commander could recommend one of any sort," he said.

China, too, has repeatedly warned against military options.

On Friday, Mr. Wang, the Chinese Foreign Minister, added: "If a war occurs, the result is a situation in which everybody loses and there can be no winner."

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


An April 15 news story on North Korea incorrectly said the United States had dispatched an aircraft carrier group that Donald Trump had described as an "armada" supplemented by nuclearequipped submarines. In fact, the submarines are nuclear-propelled.

A heart to heart with her abuser
The documentary A Better Man is an unprecedented look at the main cause of domestic violence: the assailant
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, April 14, 2017 – Print Edition, Page L1

Picture the person whom you are most afraid of in the world. Think for a moment about how that fear feels on the surface of your skin. Consider where that fears goes in your body, from the back of your throat, to the pit of your stomach, or to a hollow ache behind your collarbone.

Now consider reaching out your hand toward that person and asking for help.

That would require a kind of vulnerability that defies our basic survival instincts, and most of us would recoil at just the thought. But in an attempt to escape the lasting effect of violent abuse, Attiya Khan confronted the man who hurt her, and asked that he be a part of her healing process - in public.

He said yes, and the result is A Better Man, the first documentary that asks an abuser's side of the story. The stakes are incredibly high, and not just for these two - every six days, a woman in Canada dies of intimate partner violence. Directed by Khan and codirector Larry Jackman (How Does It Feel), and produced by Sarah Polley (Stories We Tell), it's an unprecedented film that suggests that the abuser is not the enemy, but his silence could be.

As a teen in Ottawa in the mid-1990s, Khan was abused physically, emotionally, and verbally by her ex-boyfriend Steve every day for two years. "Steve had a thousand ways to say how deserving I was of being hit, spit on, made fun of because I was brown," Khan says in the film. One night while being strangled by Steve, Khan kicked up her heels and quite literally ran for her life and into the truck of a stranger who heard her yelling for help. Vulnerable and terrorized, she never reported Steve's abuse.

As an adult, Khan began to run into Steve on the streets of Toronto, and each encounter caused a small tailspin of anxiety.

During one episode, on a summer day in 2012, time slowed to a thump Khan could feel in her ears.

Standing in the sun two decades after their relationships ended, the two spoke for a few stilted moments before Khan asked a question: Could she interview him for a documentary about their relationship? A few days later - despite the enormous risk of publicly outing himself as a violent abuser - Steve agreed. He wishes, Steve told her, that he could have been a better man.

That said, A Better Man is not Steve's redemption story. The documentary is a bold intervention into the systematic ways that women are taught to remain silent about domestic violence while abusers are written off as irredeemably evil.

Here's how that silence manifests. Seventy per cent of domestic abuse assaults are never reported to police, according to a 2014 report from Statistics Canada.

Those that do make it into the criminal-justice system suffer from continuing prejudice that sees women (who make up 85 per cent of victims) who know their abusers as less deserving victims than those assaulted by strangers. A 2015 report showed that cases of what Statscan terms "intimate partner violence" are less likely to receive a guilty verdict than those where the assailant and victim aren't dating or married. Offenders convicted of spousal violence are also less likely to be sentenced to prison; those who do go to jail receive shorter sentences than non-partners when they were sent to custody.

Put simply, if and when abusers get convicted of their crimes, their punishment is likely to be less severe if they are married or related to their victim. The idea that a woman who knows her abuser is somehow to blame - that domestic violence is shameful, and private - abandons both victims and perpetrators.

Khan believes that understanding why Steve repeatedly used violence and examining how his memories differ from hers is crucial to getting to the root of abusive behaviour. "It's important to me that people don't see Steve as a monster. I don't think it helps," Khan says. "If we want to keep women and children safe, we need to figure out ways to help men change their attitude and behaviour towards women."

The film humanizes Steve in a way that can feel too generous at certain moments, but it is precisely this uncomfortable intimacy that makes the film radical in its approach, and hopeful in its belief that things can change for the better if we listen to both sides of violence.

There are other documentaries that have addressed domestic abuse with unflinching cameras and to startling effect. In 2012, the National Film Board released Status Quo? The Unfinished Business of Feminism in Canada. There, director Karen Cho revisits the 1967 Royal Commission on the Status of Women and follows up on some of its 167 recommendations.

Status Quo? showed that the rights of Canadian women are unequally distributed across the population, highlighting issues such as the dire lack of access to safe abortion in New Brunswick and the roughly 1,200 Indigenous women who have gone missing or been murdered. The sad finding was that not much has changed in the five decades since the group was established.

Produced for HBO in 2014, Cynthia Hill's Private Violence examined North American discomfort with discussing intimate partner violence and how that silence creates a dangerous complicity with abusers. Both documentaries were revealing - and important, forcing the viewer to reckon with the dire emotional and economic straits in which abused women so often find themselves.

But both also focused on a seemingly unbreakable cycle, and neither addressed the question of why some men choose to commit violence, multiple times, on someone they purport to care about.

A Better Man looks at the other side of the story. Khan's confrontation with Steve - her "but why?" - could change how we talk about intimate partner violence, in part because of how simply and frankly she asks the question.

In the fall of 2014, Khan and her team began an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for production. The fundraiser effort's launch coincided with the news that former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi was facing numerous abuse allegations from female coworkers and romantic partners.

"Rape culture" now had a smirking face as its poster-child for those who, until now, had been able to brush it off as an overblown feminist complaint. In one month alone, and with only a short interview trailer of Khan and Steve talking, supporters donated $110,765 to the fundraising campaign. (The initial goal had been $75,000).

From that initial conversation to the final day of production, three years and a lot of therapy passed. The crew filmed in Toronto and Ottawa, and returned to the student apartments where the abuse happened. There were some fears that after the attention garnered by the Indiegogo campaign Steve might want to back out of the project, but Khan explains that keeping him out of the spotlight was a necessary part of the process.

"We didn't want to pressure Steve into speaking with media before he had a chance to undertake the kind of reflection you see us do together in the film," Khan says. Twenty years after her relationship ended, Khan was surrounded by women - including Polley, cinematographer Iris Ng, producer Christine Kleckner, producer Justine Pimlott and executive producer Anita Lee - and in a place to pose some of the questions that remain unsafe for others to ask. Aware of the dangers of triggering raw memories, she enlisted the help of Tod AugustaScott, a therapist from Halifax who works with men who have used violence, to facilitate their conversations.

Even though her documentary focuses on Steve's motivations, Khan wants to be clear that this is her story. "I am not advocating for women to go back and meet with their abusive exes. What I am doing is talking with the man who abused me with the hope that we can all learn from the conversations he and I are having," Khan says.

A Better Man is a film made by women that opens up a space for its male subject to be vulnerable - to wonder aloud the "why?" of intimate violence. It is collaborative feminism, reparative therapy, and a crucial cultural intervention all in one.

Associated Graphic

In her new documentary A Better Man, Toronto director Attiya Khan sits down 20 years later with an ex-boyfriend who assaulted her. Khan is trying to protect women and children by figuring out ways to help men change their attitude and behaviour.

Stirring the pot legislation
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Print Edition, Page F2

It seems there is no task in Canada as thankless as legalizing marijuana. Last week, the Liberals announced their plans to fulfill their campaign promise and do just that - by July 1, 2018, at the latest - and a chorus of complaints went round the country.

People opposed to legalization of any kind, publicpolicy-failure aficionados, were of course displeased.

Those convinced that anything short of the government passing Bill 420 on the left-hand side, printed on small white papers, mandating that their local MP spark up a doobie for them when they get home from work is an infringement of their fundamental rights were also put out. No one seems happy.

I'm as guilty as the next person. I am bothered by the stipulation that, under the rules as they are currently taking shape, only four marijuana plants will be allowed to be grown per household.

Why per household, I want to know. Why not per resident adult? Surely this four-plant limit will discriminate against couples? At ease, gay people: I may have found the real threat to traditional marriage.

It's not always easy being in a committed relationship. Far too many married Canadians have to share their home with someone who just cannot load the dishwasher properly, and soon they'll have to share their pot-growing potential, too.

I would amend that limit, Liberals. Many parts of Canada already have a housing crisis - you go ahead with this plan, you watch how quickly boomers finally start throwing their adult children out of the house.

My mother, enjoying a little medicinal weed midchemo this week, is concerned about this as well. "It is such a pretty plant," she said, adding, "Oh! Your father's just come in from the garden."

She was laughing harder than I have heard her laugh in a while.

"What?" I said.

"He did a ballet twirl, he's had a nibble of the edibles."

She also called me this week to say, "I had the best dream. I dreamed we had a really small elephant, just wandering around the house." This is how I know I was born into this family. "And the most wonderful part of the dream was," she said, "that you and the children were here visiting when the elephant spoke its first full sentence."

Clearly things are pretty trippy over there. This is new.

Sale of edibles is not currently legal in Canada, and my mum's not up to baking these days. I didn't inquire about the provenance. I can only assume my mother stays in touch with some of my old highschool friends. Edibles are something the government is moving more slowly on, a rare case of the government encouraging smoking. There is a legitimate concern that edibles will be consumed by children, especially if they're made as appetizinglooking as, say, dishwasher tablets, which the kids can't get enough of these days.

I'd argue that most homes are brimming with things that are potentially dangerous to children, from sharp knives to prescription pills, and we encourage, warn, educate and take legal action but also trust parents to put these things where their children can't get them. We should keep doing that.

Dear government: My mum is entitled to whatever comfort she can find and she's a one-woman temperance movement of smoking, so please keep that in mind and move this thing along. Also, she likes wine gums, if that helps, but there is no reason for drugs to look like gummy bears. I think we can work this out.

Some people complained that the Liberals' decision to set the age at which one can legally buy weed at 18 - because that is, after all, the age of majority (individual provinces will be allowed to raise that age) - is irresponsible. There seems to be a general misunderstanding about legalization; the government is not advising 18-year-olds, or anyone else in Canada, to smoke weed. They are just recognizing that a fair, but hardly alarming, number of us do, and are moving the country in the direction of not pissing in the wind.

In a 2015 Forum Research poll, close to 20 per cent of those surveyed said they had smoked marijuana in the past year. When asked about their future weed-smoking ambitions, 30 per cent of Canadians said they'd be likely to light up within a given year provided weed were legal.

Will that relatively small increase actually occur, and if so, will it specifically occur among the young, for whom, understandably, the most concern is expressed?

Given what teenagers tell me about the current abundant supply available to them - I know when I was growing up, scoring a 26er was a coup; weed was in Derek's locker - I suspect not. In fact, data from a 2015 Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment study showed that, after that state's 2012 move to legalization, 21 per cent of Colorado's teenagers had smoked weed in the past 30 days, a slight drop from the 25 per cent who had gotten stoned in the past month in 2009, prior to legalization.

Similarly, a federal study showed that in 2014, the year commercial marijuana was made available in Colorado and Washington State (29 states have a legalization program of some sort), the rates of use remained virtually unchanged.

It turns out not everybody must get stoned, and those who want to are mostly already doing it. Concerns about the "normalization" that will supposedly occur if we stop sending people to jail for getting buzzed, eating all the chips and enjoying that 5-percent fresh comedy on Netflix more than it deserves overlook the fact that many teenagers aren't all that interested in being normal.

Think of this more as "staidification." The government will do to marijuana what your dad did to lolcats.

There are some pretty good reasons not to smoke weed, or a lot of weed, especially if you're young; but reasonable, unalarming, informed education about this is the best recourse. Good to keep the police and the pontificating out of it.

Naturally, Shoppers Drug Mart, London Drugs Ltd. (a large chain in Western Canada) and the LCBO here in Ontario are all over this pot-ential moneymaker. They'd all like to be the Derek's Locker of Canada, but I'm with the C.D. Howe Institute on this one.

In a letter released on Thursday, addressed to Bill Blair, the MP the Liberals have put in the unenviable position of overseeing legalization, C.D. Howe research fellow Anindya Sen, who is also an economics professor at the University of Waterloo, urged the government to allow independent, licensed and regulated retailers to sell marijuana.

Leaving the retail side of weed in the hands of these boutique-type outlets, rather than huge companies and government outlets, Prof. Sen argues, would largely avoid potential conflicts - a situation in which a province might attempt to bolster weed sales to pay its bills.

I just think it'd be a shame to leave the dispensaries for medical marijuana that have sprung up around Toronto out of the full-legalization shift.

Specialized outlets with detailed product knowledge would, no doubt, like most bar owners and restaurateurs, guard their licences very closely. As one-trick ponies they'd have the most to lose, and if the product is legal and recognized as recreational, there should be no ignominy or judgment in being passionate about it.

The Shoppers-Drug-Mart-will-save-us option bothers me in the same way that the fact that Loblaws will soon be allowed to sell beer in Ontario but that Domingo - who owns Fairway, my local corner store, a man who's there every day running a tight ship, and knows the names and ages of most of the children in the neighbourhood - won't have that option. I bet Domingo wouldn't just refuse to sell you a six-pack, you hypothetical 15-year-old boozehound. He'd tell your mom.

There's an implicit mistrust of small business at play here that's unfair to both owners and consumers, in that it threatens to homogenize our retail landscape. Also, my journalistic research shows, the customer service at these mom-and-pop pot shops puts most other stores in the country to shame, so let's allow the dope depanneurs, I say.

Although I realize that, like the rest of Canada, I'm playing fantasy football with our blossoming pot laws.

Getting your hands on a 2017 Parks Canada Discovery Pass is free and easy. Now, what to do with it?
Special to The Globe and Mai
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Print Edition, Page T1

More than six million online orders have already been placed for the 2017 Parks Canada Discovery Pass, which costs nothing (as opposed to the usual $136.40), thanks to Canada 150 celebrations. (If you don't have yours, you can also pick one up at CIBC branches, Mountain Equipment Co-op stores, Parks Canada offices and dozens of other locations across the country.)

The no-charge access to 148 national parks, marine conservation areas and historic sites comes in the midst of a fiveyear, $3-billion spending spree on Parks Canada services and facilities. At the same time, third-party organizations and businesses are unveiling everything from guided crevasse tours and expedition cruises to luxurious cabins and interactive art installations.

So if you're wondering what to do with that little green piece of plastic, read on. (More information can be found at unless otherwise noted.)


The bison are back: The reintroduction of 16 plains bison to the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies made headlines in February, and in May, the first calves are slated to be born to the herd. Starting from the Lake Minnewanka trailhead, the best way for experienced hikers and horseback riders to check out the fenced paddock in the remote Panther Valley is to trek or trot about 25 kilometres north along the Cascade River, and then follow the Panther River northeast for about 15 km.

For detailed route and camping information, call the Banff Visitor Centre at 403-762-1550;

Banff Commonwealth Walkway: To (belatedly) celebrate the 90th birthday of the Queen in conjunction with Canada 150, the Office of the LieutenantGovernor of Alberta plans to unveil a 10-km walking trail in and around the Banff townsite in September. Lined with bilingual bronze plaques denoting various points of interest, the walkway is slated to connect downtown Banff with the Cave and Basin National Historic Site and the Fairmont Banff Springs resort.

Banff Gondola: A $27-million renovation of the gondola station atop 2,281-metre Sulphur Mountain has yielded three new dining options, an ecologythemed interactive exhibit, a 40seat multimedia cinema and a larger rooftop observation deck;

Elk + Avenue Hotel: The former Banff International Hotel on the town's main drag has been transformed into a boutique lodge with 162 renovated guest rooms, a Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna;

Bus boost: Free shuttle services from the Lake Louise Overflow parking area to Upper Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are being expanded. From May 19 to Sept. 10 and from Sept. 11 to Oct. 9, respectively, the two routes will run seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Shuttle services from the Banff townsite to Lake Minnewanka are also being extended from the May long weekend to mid-September.


The new Mdaabii Miikna Trail offers a day-trip alternative to the Coastal Hiking Trail, which follows the wild north shore of Lake Superior and comprises 60 kilometres of the record-setting Trans Canada Trail.


From Sept. 7 to 23, Parks Canada is partnering with tour operator Adventure Canada to offer the first-ever interpretive voyage to Nunavut's Wilmot and Crampton Bay, the final resting place of HMS Erebus, part of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition of 1845. A second cruise, "Greenland and Wild Labrador," will visit locations such as Torngat Mountains National Park and L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site from Sept. 23 to Oct. 7;


Five years after an earthquake stopped or slowed the 26 springs and seeps on Hotspring Island, a new warm-water experience is slated to open this summer.

Steaming water will collect in two new pools, with an updated bathhouse allowing visitors to wash before entering.


As of June 22, Canada's first national historic site, in Annapolis Royal, N.S., is celebrating its centennial with new interpretive exhibits in the Officers' Quarters museum.

And, starting June 2, it will host live musical entertainment on the first Friday of each summer month.


This series of contemporary-art projects, assembled by a team of Canadian curators, artists and students from 16 universities, will debut in 20 national parks and historic sites on June 10 and run for 15 days. Michael Belmore's Coalescence, for instance, will feature a sculpture spanning four sites in Manitoba and Saskatchewan: the Forks in Winnipeg, the Prince of Wales Fort in Churchill, and Riding Mountain and Grasslands national parks;


The Nels Knickers: This interactive exhibit along the Meadows in the Sky Parkway overlooking town celebrates Mount Revelstoke's ski-jumping history by letting visitors step into a pair of supportive metal pants and skis similar to those worn by multiple world-record holder Nels Nelsen as they lean out from the top of a long-decommissioned ski jump.

Beaver Lodge Kids Bike Park: Steps from the ski jump, young visitors can learn fun facts about local flora and fauna as they weave through whimsical obstacles.


Along with $4.2-million in various park upgrades, a new "Biologist for a Day" program will let visitors help protect and conserve endangered piping plovers, softshell clams and estuarine fish alongside the park's resourceconservation team.


Glacier Adventure: For the first time, visitors with no ice-climbing or mountaineering experience will be able to explore the crevasses and ice caves of the jaw-dropping Athabasca Glacier with a Rockaboo Mountain Adventures guide;

Stanley Thompson Cabin: Six years after fire destroyed it in 2011, the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge has rebuilt this luxurious four-bedroom chalet. It features a soaring stone fireplace, three decks and an open-concept kitchen and living room backing onto the first fairway of the 18hole golf course designed by the cabin's namesake; jasper.


Trekkers can check out the refurbished Kwisitis Visitor Centre at the tail end of one of Destination Canada's newest "Signature Experiences": A seven-day guided hike along the 76-kilometre West Coast Trail with Ecosummer Expeditions;


From April 22 in Banff to late September in Bruce Peninsula National Park, these 24 familyfriendly events let participants team up with scientists to find and to catalogue as much wildlife as possible.


Don't know your grommets from your guy lines? Parks Canada is expanding its "Learn to Camp" program to 19 parks and historic sites across the country. It features workshops on campingrelated skills such as pitching tents and cooking outdoors. Registration starts May 1; learntocamp.


Cocoon tree bed, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, N.S.: An orb-shaped tent suspended in the trees at Ingonish Beach; $70 a night.

Goutte d'Ô, Fundy National Park, N.B.: A tear-shaped hut for a couple or small family.

There's a sofa bed on the main level and a hammock loft above; $70 a night from Aug. 1 to Oct. 10.

Double tent, Riding Mountain National Park, Man.: A tent for two, equipped with a bed, small table and chairs, is ensconced in a larger exterior tent that houses lounge chairs and a dining table; $55 a night.

Micro-Cube, Forillon National Park, Que., and Riding Mountain: These 107-square-foot shelters with panoramic windows house double beds and feature patios with chairs; $90 a night.

oTENTiks: Since opening its first tent-cabin hybrid in Jasper in 2012, Parks Canada has rolled out more than 250 oTENTiks across the country, with new sites including Alberta's Elk Island National Park, Saskatchewan's Grasslands National Park and the Lachine Canal National Historic Site in Montreal.

Associated Graphic

Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, Alta., is one of many breathtaking places included in the 2017 Parks Canada Discovery Pass. The passes are available for free in celebration of the country's sesquicentennial.


Since opening its first tent-cabin hybrid in Jasper in 2012, Parks Canada has rolled out more than 250 oTENTiks across the country.


The reintroduction of 16 plains bison to Banff made headlines in February, and in May, the first calves are slated to be born to the herd.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017


A Saturday Travel photograph of a Canadian lake incorrectly labelled it as Moraine Lake. In fact, it is Lake O'Hara.

How to solve a problem like Louis Riel
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page R1

At the end of Harry Somers and Mavor Moore's iconic Canadian opera, Louis Riel, Sir John A. Macdonald utters his prophetic curse: "He shall die though every dog in Quebec bark in his favour."

And of course Riel did die, and those dogs did bark - basically for a century. There's little question that, in the history of French-English relations in this country, a relatively straight line can be drawn from the execution of Riel in 1885 to the Quebec referendum of 1995 - a line of mistrust and hostility between the two "founding" peoples.

The problem with Louis Riel, the history, and Louis Riel, the opera, has become increasingly clear in these past few years of truth and reconciliation: There were not two founding peoples in Canada; there was one founding group of nations and two colonizing countries - and the silencing and suppression of those founding nations for the benefit of the colonizers is a story we are just now learning to tell and hear. And it's not an easy story to tell or hear.

So, if you're the Canadian Opera Company, in this Canada 150 year, and want to revive the ambitious Canadian opera Louis Riel 50 years after its creation, what do you do about the limitations built into the conception of the piece and into its score and libretto? What do you do about the fact that Riel's Indigenous heritage and that of the Métis nation he led are fitfully and inaccurately portrayed in the work? To say the least.

Well, one thing you do is hire director Peter Hinton to lead the production. Hinton, formerly of the Shaw Festival and the National Arts Centre (NAC), is a director noted for his sympathies with Indigenous cultures and performing traditions. Hinton made it a point to include several Indigenous productions in the seven seasons he programmed at the NAC. His work helped the NAC announce just last month its plans to create a department of Indigenous theatre for the 2019 season.

But even for Hinton, Louis Riel was a challenge. "I approached the piece when I first heard about it with a certain degree of apprehension," he told me frankly in a quiet space at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, away from the hurly-burly of daily rehearsals. "What's so difficult in approaching this opera - I deal with this every day - is that there is an amazing insight in it, a great scene, then there's this huge blind spot, then there's this huge colonial bias and then there's this amazing scene. You can't throw a generalized blanket over it and say it's all racist or it's all brilliant.

It's a bit of both constantly."

Librettist Moore and composer Somers were commissioned by the Floyd S. Chalmers Foundation in the more innocent mid-1960s to write an opera for Canada's centennial and they chose the Riel story as their focus. It was an unusually ambitious project for a country just finding its artistic voice.

But its limitations were our limitations at the time. The Riel story was seen then as primarily a battle between French and English interests in Canadian history, between a nation-building Macdonald and a regional leader standing up for his people's rights. The opera often focuses on the personal battle between the two men (although they never meet) and casts the cultural battle between white and Indigenous Canada into the distant shade or ignores it entirely. Métis culture, sensibility, language and song are a flicker in the background of the work.

That's the nature of the piece, part of its reality - it's an artifact, as Hinton says, of the era in which it was created and in which it is imprisoned.

Hinton's attempts to engage this piece and open it up to a more modern sensibility, he says, were inspired somewhat by the thinking of the Resistance 150 movement, a group of Indigenous artists who chose to approach the Canada 150 celebratory project by highlighting Canada's 15,000-year Indigenous history in stark contrast. Their mantra: "Remember, resist and redraw."

Some of the redrawings that Hinton enmeshed into Louis Riel were simpler to achieve than others. Michif, the Métis language, is featured in this production, but not in the original. A celebration scene set in Fort Garry is being used to demonstrate the rituals associated with the Métis buffalo hunt rather than being played as a drunken debauch. Indigenous artists have been cast in some roles.

In his most creative adaptation, Hinton has divided the traditional opera chorus in two. There is a mainly white chorus, who represent, at varying times, members of Parliament, the racist crowds stirred up by Ontario Orangemen and the spectators at Riel's trial.

This chorus speaks and sings but is confined on stage to an immense jury-box-like set, so it is heard but does not interact with the principals on stage. The second chorus, which Hinton calls the Land Assembly, comprises Indigenous performers (there are more than 60 cast members in all). It is on stage, interacts and responds to the action of the opera - but is mute. It's an intriguing attempt to engage the limitations of the piece right before our eyes and ears.

This dual nature of Louis Riel - its limitations, as well as the possibility of its increasingly accurate presentation of Indigenous reality - has made this production a complex intellectual, political and emotional puzzle for all its artists, but especially those in the Indigenous community. Some members of the community have chosen not to be involved with the production. It's a decision Cole Alvis, a Métis actor and former Indigenous arts administrator, completely understands - though Alvis made the opposite decision, choosing to play the Activist in the production, a new non-singing role that Hinton created for the show.

Alvis's thinking about the opera focuses not just on Indigenous involvement in the production, which admittedly may be inconsistent, but what it means for a major cultural institution such as the COC to commit itself to Indigenous performance art. "Perhaps this piece can't be built on the most solid Indigenous foundation. So we shift our goals to the long game. We look for cracks in the foundation, for small victories now that can lead to Indigenousled projects in the future."

As a committed Indigenous artist choosing to participate in this production, Alvis is constantly reassessing the decision-making process and has a personal point of reference for a guide. "I'm willing to co-operate and participate and collaborate with people who I see are also willing to take action and make change and move forward. I will have patience if I can see we're having a conversation and a willingness to find somewhere new to go together."

But before we create a future, we must deal with the past. Hinton notes that he has reconfigured the production, in a way, as a constant trial scene. "The set is like an immense courtroom," he said, "so we can dramatize Riel's trial. But it's also where Thomas Scott, the Orangeman, is put on trial by the Métis Council. But Confederation is on trial in this, and, in an interesting way, the opera itself is on trial. It's not a trial whether it's a good opera or a bad opera, but whether it's a true opera. What does it say to us today?

A trial is not a foregone conclusion of guilt or innocence but a process in which we investigate, in which we find what holds up and what doesn't. In essence, that's what this production is all about."

The dogs of Riel are still barking in Canadian history, but they are new dogs with a new message for us. A message not necessarily of hurt and alarm but of warning and, ultimately, hope. When we hear what we previously refused to acknowledge - however much we may initially resist - understanding becomes a possibility.

And from understanding everything follows.

Associated Graphic

The Canadian Opera Company cast rehearses for the production of Louis Riel. 'Confederation is on trial in this, and, in an interesting way, the opera itself is on trial,' director Peter Hinton says.


Vying for Vancouver: How CN is winning rail business from CP
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page B1

Turmoil and fierce competition at the Vancouver port are reshaping the businesses of Canada's two major railways.

Canadian National Railway Co. has outbid Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. on container-handling contracts for two big Asian shipping lines, Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) and Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp. And, amid port congestion and delays that left ships waiting, CP has stopped handling the freight of some shipping companies on the south shore of Canada's busiest port, ending a long-standing practice in which the two railways split the rail switching duties between them.

Steve Hansen, a Raymond James stock analyst, calls it a "great divergence" of the rail rivals, although one that will narrow in the coming quarters.

Keith Creel, chief executive officer of Calgary-based CP, attributed the lost Vancouver bids to "pricing discipline" and said on a conference call in January that markets should expect CP's international container revenue to be "slightly" lower in the first quarter of this year.

"Yang Ming is gone, so that's a headwind, but we will offset about $40-million of that $60million loss with initiatives," Mr. Creel said.

"So we are still going to see some growth. It's just going to be muted by the Yang Ming loss and the lack of the ... OOCL win," he said.

"But on the domestic side, which is where our network really thrives, the strength of our network is, as we continue to grow and outpace the industry, you will see more of that growth on the wholesale side as well as working with our domestic partners cross-border in that Montreal, Toronto to Chicago lane."

CN is winning market share from CP because its superior network can link shipping customers at three coasts with more U.S. destinations, said Christian Wetherbee, a transportation stock analyst with Citigroup Global Markets.

Vancouver is one of North America's most important freight gateways to Asian markets, home to major exporters as well as buyers of Canadian grain and other food.

"Currently, 50 per cent of the inbound containers CN moves from Canadian ports are destined for the U.S., which is up from [about] 30 per cent a few years ago," said Mr. Wetherbee, adding that the port of Prince Rupert, B.C., at which CN is the only railway, will increase its capacity more than 50 per cent by the summer.

Vancouver, meanwhile, is also adding capacity in the next few months.

"The company has been successful at both taking market share and opening up new markets," said Mr. Wetherbee, who recently raised his profit and share-price targets for CN.

The number of containers CP has hauled in its international business fell 20 per cent in the first week of January, and has declined in 11 of the 12 weeks up to March 25, compared with the same period a year earlier, according to company data.

Another key measure of a railway's performance are revenue ton miles - how much the railway collects to pull one ton one mile. CP's revenue ton miles are flat in the three months ended April 1, compared with the yearearlier period, buoyed by strong shipments of potash, metals and U.S. grain. CN's revenue ton miles, meanwhile, rose by 15 per cent in the same period, according to company data.

CP has posted a string of record profits since new management took over in 2012, even as the carrier lost major container customers, including Mitsui OSK Lines and APL Ltd.

(CP this month stopped separately reporting revenue and carloads for containers from international markets, and now combines them with domesticcargo boxloads.)

Analysts have been reducing their expectations for CP's profit and raising CN's when the companies report first-quarter results this month. CP's net profit will be 2.4 per cent lower than the yearearlier quarter, while CN's will rise by 8 per cent, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts.

CP's share price has risen 5 per cent over the past 12 months; CN's stock is up by 20 per cent, outperforming the S&P/TSX composite index's 15-per-cent rise.

"CN's [freight] volume growth again surprised to the upside and outperformed the [other North American railways] by a very wide margin," Walter Spracklin, a Royal Bank of Canada analyst, said in a research note.

In the name of efficiency, Canada's two major railways have geographically split the business of moving freight cars in and out of Vancouver's port. CN served the grain elevators, coal terminals and other customers on the north shore of Burrard Inlet and Vancouver Harbour, while CP worked the south shore, assembling or switching trains for handover away from the port.

The so-called co-production agreement means the railways served each other's customers.

But poor winter weather, unreliable train schedules and a spike in freight related to a late grain harvest and construction at a nearby terminal led to congestion and complaints about poor service on the south shore that left ships waiting.

As of Jan. 1, CN replaced CP and began serving its own customers at the two major container terminals on the south shore, Global Container Terminals Inc. and DP World.

"CN then said to hell with it, we're going to perform all of our work at the south shore, and we're still going to do [CP's] work at the north shore, because CP doesn't have access there," said one rail-industry source who The Globe is not identifying to protect them from retribution.

"There were a number of factors that just accumulated and resulted in a great dependency on switches and the fluidity of the gateway. So that's why ... CN had to step in and start managing switching for their own trains," said Bonnie Gee, vice-president of the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia, which represents about 16 container shipping companies.

"Ships were delayed because they couldn't get into the berth because the berth was congested and so it just was not a very good situation. The container lines run on a very tight schedule and strict berth windows, as well.

Once they miss a berth window, there's a delay subsequently at other ports of call," Ms. Gee said in an interview.

"I think [CP] didn't have enough resources to apply to the switch," Ms. Gee said. "There were some changes in [CP] management and that caused some issues as well. There would be a commitment one day and the next day someone else would be

in charge. There was just a lack of continuity in terms of what was being committed and what was being delivered."

Five sources in Vancouver's rail, marine and container industry confirmed Ms. Gee's account.

"In short, customers were not getting timely service and commuters were arriving at their destinations late," said Martin Cej, a CP spokesman. "By amending the co-production agreement to no longer provide switching services for CN, CP was able to decrease the overall volume of traffic on its line to the south shore of Vancouver and increase capacity for its own customers."

Mr. Creel said he spent "quite a bit of time" in Vancouver over the winter to find solutions to the congestion. "I am happy to say I was out there again last week and things have dramatically improved," he said in January.

"Since January, it's gotten a lot better," said Rob Jones, sales director at West Coast Reduction Ltd., a CP customer that ships animal and vegetable oil through the south shore of the port.

CP did not respond to a question about train scheduling. The Port of Vancouver declined interview requests. A CN spokesman declined to comment, and pointed to a recent conference call on which marketing chief JJ Ruest said CN is, "putting new service in place for the container business offloaded at [Vancouver's south shore] solving the congestion issues."

"All of our major contracts are renewed," Mr. Ruest said.

Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) Thursday close: $199.95 Canadian National (CNR) Thursday close: $97.25

Associated Graphic

A CN train trundles through North Vancouver. The railway has taken over a significant share of freight hauling at the Port of Vancouver, where there had been complaints about poor service.


The hard sell sets in
Sellers' rising expectations are creating big paydays - or none at all
Friday, April 21, 2017 – Print Edition, Page G2

The buyers' malaise that permeated Toronto's real estate market last week appears to be deepening. Sellers in some cases are vociferously demanding more cash if bids don't match their expectations.

The shifting dynamics are creating tension in a market where properties in some pockets sell for insane amounts while others don't sell at all.

One reader wrote of his experience in trying to sell his detached house in the city last week.

"We did all the usual things and only had eight people through by appointment and didn't receive a single offer," the seller wrote, expressing relief that the problem seems to be a change in market mood - not an unappealing property.

Some agents think buyers may have taken a pause before a rush of new listings follows the Easter and Passover holidays. But there's also uncertainty surrounding measures that governments may take in an attempt to cool the market. With so much conjecture swirling about the possibility of imposing taxes are on speculators or foreign buyers or investors, it's not surprising that some house hunters may want to see how things shake out.

Following this week's meeting between Mayor John Tory, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa, Mr. Sousa said the province will be introducing comprehensive measures to cool the market in the budget.

In Toronto, real estate agent Anita Merlo of Bosley Real Estate Ltd. says some houses are not selling on the day scheduled for offers because "the sellers did not get the number they wanted."

In other words, they want to hit a certain target for the sale price instead of accepting what the market is offering.

She knows of one listing of which the owner received six offers and sent all of the bidders' agents back to ask their clients to come up with a higher amount. In some cases, it's the seller's real estate agent who is aggressively pushing for "more money, more money" when they see the offer, she says.

Ms. Merlo fears some of the frenzied activity comes from sellers dictating the amount they want to receive. Inexperienced agents just end up as order takers.

Buyers and their agents, in turn, are frustrated by being sent back two or three times to "improve" their offers. She recently sold a house in the Wychwood area with the caveat to the buyers' agents that they would have only one shot. She figures she got a higher sale price and also streamlined the process for everyone by not going in for additional rounds of bidding.

In areas outside of Toronto, prices are still escalating rapidly and there are few signs of waning buyer enthusiasm.

"We have not seen that in Mississauga and Oakville," says real estate agent Matthew Regan of Royal LePage Real Estate Services, who describes the market as "chaos" for buyers.

He recently sold a fourbedroom house with a deliberately low asking price of $899,000.

Nevertheless, he was shocked when the house sold for $1.3-million with 27 offers. And that's not an unusual deal: Mr. Regan describes the house as "generic" in an average neighbourhood with average schools.

"What are we left with? There were 26 other buyers who could afford $1-million or more who couldn't buy a house. There aren't 26 other houses," he says pointing to the very tight supply of inventory.

He also wonders if lending practices are strict enough, given how rich the market has become.

"Is $1-million really that easy to get your hands on?" Mr. Regan says he worries for area residents making average salaries - a school teacher, say - who can no longer afford to buy.

"It's almost a bit scary when you see the money that gets thrown around for these houses."

He hears the talk of the Greater Toronto Area and surrounding cities as rising in international stature, but the people who live and work in this country aren't seeing their incomes rise at anywhere near the same clip as real estate prices. Many people also have high costs for food, daycare and taxes, he points out.

"The average person can't live in the GTA. It's mind-boggling."

Still, he's not sure the policy changes being floated would be successful in cooling the market to the right degree.

"I'm a bit nervous when a government gets involved or tries to change a free market. I think it can be a slippery slope."

Mr. Regan says he doesn't see a lot of foreign buyers in south Mississauga and nearby areas. He doesn't think a tax on overseas buyers would be terribly effective because he doesn't believe that segment is driving the market.

The notion of a vacant-home tax is interesting but likely would be tough to uphold, in his opinion.

As for tightening up the flow of cash, a change in lending practices could hurt areas outside the hottest markets, Mr. Regan adds.

"Why should the rest of the country suffer for Vancouver and Toronto's markets?" But if some buyers are hesitant, others see that pause as the opportunity they have been waiting for.

Last week, a semi-detached house at 1257 Dundas St. W. received three offers and sold for $1,060,500. The sellers are Jamie Webster and Dave Colangelo, who met when they played on the same soccer team at five years old. In 2009, the long-time friends decided that teaming up was the best way to get on the property ladder. They paid $399,000 for the red-brick Victorian - wedged between two storefronts - on a stretch of Dundas that was still very "up-and-coming" at the time.

"Already, young people had to be creative in what to buy," Mr. Webster says of their decision to purchase eight years ago. "If you partner up, there's an opportunity to get in."

The two friends figure that getting into the market at a young age proved to be a good investment for them when some of their cohort weren't even thinking about real estate yet. When they bought the house wedged between two storefronts just east of Dovercourt Road, that stretch of Dundas was home to a handful of sports bars and some old shops catering mainly to the local Portuguese community.

But the two already knew some pioneering bar owners who were migrating to the area. Mr. Webster paid much of his way through OCAD by bartending and making some money as a DJ. They made the plan work by renting out the third bedroom and even the basement at times. They were flexible about couch-surfing friends and significant others.

"All of us are just art-school kids," Mr. Webster says.

The house had some nasty broadloom, but ripping it up revealed the hardwood underneath.

Mr. Webster and Mr. Colangelo did some painting and landscaping and upgraded all of the major systems. Now Dundas West has exploded with bars and restaurants and the area's properties are in high demand.

The two had talked to real estate agent Nicholas Bohr of Re/ Max Hallmark Realty Ltd. about selling some time ago, but he advised them to hang on a while longer.

This year, they decided it was definitely time to sell when they made long-term commitments: Mr. Colangelo is teaching film studies in Portland, Ore., and he married last year. Mr. Webster is a creative director in Toronto who recently became engaged.

When it came time to sell, he used the common strategy of setting the asking price of $799,900 below the expected sale price and held off offers for one week. With the sale completed, Mr. Colangelo has already purchased another investment property in Toronto.

He and his wife plan to buy a house in Portland as well since he's on the tenure track at the university where he teaches.

Mr. Webster says he and his fiancée will rent for a while and possibly buy another house in a year or so.

"Nothing has to be forever," Mr. Bohr says of the decision to invest. "It can be a stepping stone."

Associated Graphic

The house at 1257 Dundas St. W., listed with an asking price of $799,900, sold for $1,060,500.


From high and mighty to down and dirty, the 2017 New York auto show is a study in contradictions, with a clear winner
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, April 20, 2017 – Print Edition, Page D1

NEW YORK -- Car companies are rushing to give drivers more of what they want - and it's not electric or eco-friendly. The 2017 New York International Auto Show is a throwback to the horsepower wars of the 1960s.

Big American metal dominates the stands. The 840-horsepower Dodge Demon - a barely street-legal drag racer that runs the quarter mile in 9.6 seconds - is stealing the spotlight from a gaggle of high-powered new SUVs and concepts. Populism rules the automotive world. As U.S. President Donald Trump gets ready to cut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget for emissions and fuel economy testing, perhaps auto makers smell opportunity.

There is only one new all-electric vehicle and it won't be coming to Canada.

Honda launched plug-in hybrid and allelectric versions of its Clarity sedan, but only the plug-in model will be offered here. It will travel roughly 68 kilometres on battery-power alone, before the 1.5-litre gasoline engine kicks in to extend the car's range.

It's a step toward Honda's goal of having two-thirds of sales come from electrified vehicles by 2030. If it's going to succeed, the company will need to offer more desirable eco-cars than the Clarity; it's an awkward-looking thing.

Other eco-ish cars? Jaguar is offering a new entry-level F-Type coupe and convertible with a four-cylinder engine.

Genesis is showing a lovely hydrogenpowered SUV concept, the GV80. But by the time it gets to production, it will likely have a more conventional powertrain. And there's a police car, a pursuit-rated Ford Fusion Hybrid. Slim pickings then, but New York is an SUV market. According to Andy Goss, global sales director at Jaguar Land Rover, New York City is the No. 1 market in the world for Range Rover.

Expect more low-emissions vehicles to debut at this week's Shanghai auto show.

Horsepower wars It's difficult to get excited about sensible hybrids when, across the show floor, there's a Dodge called the Demon doing a wheelie. It promises performance to rival any million-dollar supercar and one-ups the 707-horsepower Dodge Hellcat.

During the 1960s, the Detroit Three duked it out, vying for muscle-car supremacy with increasingly larger, more powerful engines and extreme lightweight special editions. Gas was cheap then too. The 1963 Ford Galaxy, for example, was available with a 7.0-litre V-8 rated at more than 400 horsepower. Major amendments to the U.S. Clear Air Act in 1970, as well as the creation of the EPA that year and the oil crisis, helped put an end to the horsepower war.

Dodge was planning the Demon well before Trump got elected of course, but the timing of this new muscle car and the undoing of the EPA feels symbolic.

The Demon's supercharged 6.2litre Hemi V-8 makes 840 horsepower and 770 lb-ft of torque using race fuel, enough to lift the front wheels off the ground during launch. (On pump gas, it makes 808 horsepower and 717 lb-ft.). The Demon comes with only one seat, although a passenger seat and rear bench can be added for $1 each.

The Demon was built to live its life a quarter-mile at a time, like Dom Toretto. It covers that distance in 9.65 seconds, making it too fast to run at an NHRA drag race without a roll-cage.

Dodge quotes a 0-60 mph time of 2.3 seconds. The Demon debuted just days before the latest Fast and Furious, the eighth, hit theatres. Pricing hasn't been announced yet, but we know Dodge will only bring 300 Challenger SRT Demons to Canada of the 3,000 being built.

Nobody from Dodge would provide fuel-economy figures, or even an estimate, but we can assume it's not good. A laughable "eco mode" limits power to 500 horses.

Jeep unveiled the world's most politically incorrect SUV: the 707-horsepower Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. What Jeep has done here is taken the Hemi V-8 from the Dodge Challenger Hellcat and stuffed it into a big SUV.

Mercedes has also picked up on the demand for high-performance SUVs, showing the AMG GLC 63 in standard and Coupe form. They're powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V-8, producing 467 or 510 horsepower in "S" trim. They may be lacking a few hundred horsepower compared to the Jeep, but the 0-100 km/h time is close, at 3.8 seconds.

Bigger and better The average price of gas in the United States is lower now than it was in 2007, according to data from GasBuddy. It's a big part of the reason demand for hybrids remains low while auto makers launch big SUVs and Demons.

Case in point: Lincoln's allnew 2018 Navigator is a land yacht. It's gunning for Cadillac's Escalade. The Lincoln features three rows of seats and a 450horsepower 3.5-litre V-6, which is the same motor you'll find in the Ford Raptor pickup. It may not have the huge gull-wing door of the Navigator Concept from last year, but it looks good.

Lincoln is losing the American luxury battle to Cadillac and needs a win here.

Range Rover launched the new $62,000 mid-range Velar SUV, but it was a Jaguar that took home the trophies. The F-Pace won the 2017 World Car of the Year and the World Car Design of the Year awards. The F-Pace is the main reason Jaguar sales are up more than 200 per cent in Canada compared with this time last year.

Concepts Concept cars are a window to the future. So, what's coming?

More SUVs. Three brands have SUV concepts making global debuts in New York.

The Infiniti QX80 Monograph concept is another giant truck.

This one previews the nextgeneration of the brand's flagship SUV. Based on the Nissan Patrol/Armada, the Monograph concepts shows how the Infiniti model could further distinguish itself from its mainstream cousin. Interesting details abound, including wing-like front lights that extend along the side of the car and 24-inch rims, which extend over the tires to make them look like 26s.

The Genesis GV80 concept will likely go into production soon because Hyundai's new luxury brand won't survive with its sedan-only lineup.

Last but not least, Toyota is surprising everyone with the little FT-4X SUV concept. Designed at Toyota's studio in California, the company says its targeting young buyers who go on "casualcore" outings: brief, unplanned trips. This concept is packed with features for what Toyota apparently thinks is a forgetful generation: removable doorhandles that are also water bottles, an interior light that doubles as a flashlight and an armrest that unfolds into a sleeping bag. It looks about the size of Toyota's subcompact C-HR, which would make it a tad redundant in the lineup, but we hope Toyota greenlights the FT-4X for production anyway, with or without the sleeping bag.

This New York show is a study in extremes: from the geekyclean Honda Clarity to the down-and-dirty Dodge Demon, it's providing a look at opposite ends of the automotive spectrum. It's clear, however, which side is winning.

Combined, electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles made up less than two per cent - roughly 6,300 vehicles - of the 2016 retail car market in Canada, according to Robert Karwel, senior manager at J.D. Power. Diesel vehicles, by comparison, account for 3.2 per cent of the market.

With relatively cheap gas, low interest rates and an uncertain future for U.S. vehicle emissions testing, big, brash, powerful vehicles are what people are buying.

Associated Graphic

The New York auto show was dominated by bigger and more powerful vehicles, such as, from left, the Dodge Viper, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon and the 2018 Lincoln Navigator.


A Jeep Grand Cherokee goes down an incline course at the New York International Auto Show last week. SUVs dominated the media previews at the auto show.


After the brain drain of the nineties, the animation industry is taking a shine to Montreal - and major studios are paying careful attention, Robert Everett-Green writes
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page R1

Animator Ted Ty worked for 22 years at DreamWorks and Walt Disney Animation, with inhouse software that he says was to most other studio programs as the Starship Enterprise is to the Wright brothers' first plane. Coming from projects such as Kung Fu Panda and Penguins of Madagascar, Ty was curious to know what kind of creative challenge a small studio based in Montreal could offer to induce him to leave the starship and become animation director for a relatively low-budget animated feature film.

What he got, and a big reason he took the job, was "tons of trust and control over animation style and casting decisions" - something not easily found at a blockbuster-oriented company 10 times the size of l'Atelier Animation. But Ty also saw his move back to his hometown as a way to get in on the most happening new scene in feature-length animation.

"It's a really exciting time in Montreal," he said in an interview. "Projects are popping up and the talent pool is bound to grow."

Studios are popping up, too. A year ago, the British animation and visual-effects company Cinesite launched a major new facility in Montreal, with the declared goal of making nine animated features over the next five years.

Cinesite, which also bought Vancouver animator Nitrogen Studios in March, initially predicted it would have a Montreal staff of 500 by 2020, but now expects to reach that number by the end of this year.

In September, ON Entertainment - Paris-based producer of The Little Prince and the forthcoming untitled Playmobil movie - announced that it too was opening a Montreal studio for animated feature films. The company plans to make one feature-length animation every two years, and to have 300 animators working in Montreal by 2019.

"You're going to see a tremendous explosion of activity in Montreal over the next five or 10 years," said Warren Franklin, executive producer for Comic Animations, one of Cinesite's production partners.

"It's kind of reversing the talent drain of the 1990s," Franklin said, referring to a time when Canadian animators such as Ty left the country for jobs in the United States.

Montreal has been a centre for animation since the early 1940s, when Norman McLaren set up Studio A at the National Film Board. The digital revolution and a favourable tax regime have brought a wave of new activity to the city, which now has about 40 companies employing about 3,000 specialists in animation, visual effects and digital-production services. Montreal now ranks fourth in the world as a centre for such activities.

Most of the city's animation and effects studios work as subcontractors, producing one or a few components of a larger production. The recent shift toward a single studio realizing an entire animated film is new for Montreal, and is driven by further technological and social changes that have cleared the way for projects much smaller than Finding Dory.

Cinesite has allied with animated-film company 3QU to make four features in Montreal, starting with Charming, a comedy featuring the voices of Demi Lovato, Avril Lavigne and John Cleese.

Cinesite is also planning four titles with Comic Animations, beginning with Klaus (written and co-directed by Sergio Pablos, who developed the story for Despicable Me) as well as a feature project with actor Jeremy Renner's production company, The Combine.

Cinesite received a $2.4-million loan from the government of Quebec to create its Montreal studio, and a further $19.6-million-loan guarantee to assist financing of the first three films.

Another big incentive for all players in the scene is the tax regime, which allows for deductions of up to 42 per cent of costs.

"The tax situation is phenomenal," said Dave Rosenbaum, a veteran Hollywood production manager (Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda) who moved to Montreal last year as Cinesite's chief creative officer for animation. Years of preferential industry taxation have created a virtuous circle, he said, in which increased production draws more talent, which in turn attracts further production and increases local training opportunities for animators.

The Little Prince, the first product of Montreal's animated-feature boom, played at the Cannes Film Festival and in cinemas in 50 countries before its Canadian and U.S. release last year. The $80-million production was nominally based in France, but director Mark Osborne told The Globe that "every frame" had been made in Montreal. Most of the work was done at Mikros Image, whose current projects include a First World War feature animation called Sgt.

Stubby: An American Hero, with leading roles for Helena Bonham Carter and Gérard Depardieu.

Sgt. Stubby and many other features planned for Montreal are in the $20-million-to-$40-million range, well below the cost of a Hollywood blockbuster. The revenue streams and expectations are different too. A big DreamWorks feature must have a massive theatrical presence, driven by a tsunami of advertising and third-party promotions. The smaller Montreal features will still target theatrical release, Rosenbaum said, but will also be able to look at streaming as a primary revenue source.

"At $20- to $40-million, you can sell to content providers like Netflix or Amazon and still make back your money," he said. The new math is already affecting liveaction films such as I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore, a modestly-budgeted feature that won a grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival in January and was released straight to Netflix a month later.

A Netflix release doesn't require massive promotion, Rosenbaum said, because the subscribers are already there. Planning an animated feature for an audience more likely to watch at home or even hand-held screen means less elaborate background composition, he said, and therefore lower production costs.

Rosenbaum said that smallbudget features also allow the studios to be less tied to mainstream taste than a production that has to earn $1-billion to be a success. Cinesite recently acquired the rights to all of silentcinema comedian Harold Lloyd's films, for a series of as-yet-undetermined animation-related projects.

"If it turns out that Harold Lloyd only appeals to cinephiles, that's okay with us," Rosenbaum said.

When Ted Ty moved to Montreal in 2014, l'Atelier Animation had yet to make a full-length feature.

His first with the company was its first too: Ballerina, a 90-minute film that opened in Canada on March 3. It employed 34 animators, only four of whom were not Canadians.

Unlike Cinesite and Mikros Image, which still do contracted visual effects and production services, l'Atelier Animation plans to focus on long-form animation as much as it can. It has joined with two British production companies to make an ongoing series called Robozuna (now showing on Netflix), and it's developing a second feature called The Bravest, about firefighters in 1930s New York.

"There's a lot of farming out in this industry," Ty said. "We could just be a service studio, but we decided against it. Ballerina was entirely our project, and that's the whole idea - to be a purely original-content studio."

Ballerina cost about $30-million - roughly a third of the per-minute rate at a big Hollywood studio, Ty said. There was no leeway for the kind of expensive second thoughts typical of blockbusters he has worked on, but the small scale also provided a creative high that's harder to reach in a bigger shop.

"There's something nimble and flexible and very direct about me having contact with the producers and discussing the script, and helping with the story and planning the characters throughout," he said. "When it comes to animating the characters, all that will hopefully give them more depth."

Associated Graphic

Dave Rosenbaum, seen in his Montreal office on April 5, is a veteran Hollywood production manager whose filmography includes Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda. Rosenbaum moved to the Canadian city last year as Cinesite's chief creative officer for animation.


Animation company Cinesite received a $2.4-million loan from the government of Quebec to create its Montreal studio, and a further $19.6-million-loan guarantee to assist financing of the first three films.


Icebox cake to the rescue
This no-bake treat, with a dash of berries to invoke spring's spirit of renewal, is a great changeup to the average dessert
Special to The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, April 12, 2017 – Print Edition, Page L3

My birthday is at the end of April, after Easter and following three other birthdays in my extended family this month.

I bake cakes for their birthdays, but mine is usually an ice-cream cake from the local dairy bar.

(This is by no means a complaint; I love ice-cream cakes.)

But there was a year when my sons, who were quite young at the time, wanted to help make my birthday cake. After a month of frosting, I couldn't bear the thought of another buttercream.

And, what's more, at their toddling ages I knew most of the work was going to fall to me anyhow.

Enter the icebox cake to save the day, or at least fulfill their request. An icebox cake is a layered arrangement of cream and cookies, chilled and left to set. The magic happens in that chilling time - the cookies swell and soften, turning sponge-like, and the cream thickens to something lusher than it was before.

It is notionally similar to a trifle or a tiramisu, but cakier than either of those. Truly, an icebox cake is a no-bake dessert that feels like a celebration.

It's also a fine thing for a throw-together Easter dessert.

While the season may have us brainwashed into thoughts of berries and bounty, the fact is that most of us are still a few months away from local produce. So, use frozen, and invoke the spirit of renewal even if we're not there yet. Here, I've used raspberries, as their bright acidity provides a needed counterpoint to the richness of everything else. That said, if you are lucky enough to find some forced rhubarb, a thick compote of the fuchsia stalks would be a treat.

Instead of a traditional whipped-cream filling, I opt for a diplomat cream, which is whipped cream bulked up with pastry cream. The pastry cream is basically a stove-top pudding, and can be made by hand or using a stand mixer. If it's your first time, a mixer frees both hands for pouring the hot milk into the egg yolks, but it is not essential.

Traditionally, icebox cakes are made with vanilla or chocolate wafer cookies, but I grew up with graham-cracker icebox cakes and I stand by the preference to this day. Graham crackers allow for optimal edge-toedge coverage and, after sitting overnight, their crumb more closely resembles that of a thin cake.

To make the cake without any cooking at all, make a lemon cheesecake-ish version with 2 cups mascarpone cream in place of the pastry cream in the filling (you may want to slip in a bit of vanilla bean and extra sugar), and use store-bought lemon curd instead of the raspberry sauce.


Makes one 8-inch square cake

Almond pastry cream:

2 cups milk

1 vanilla bean, split in half

6 egg yolks

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch A good pinch medium-grained kosher salt

1/8 tsp almond extract Raspberry sauce: 1 pound raspberries, fresh or frozen

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp lemon juice A good pinch medium-grained kosher salt

1/2 tsp rosewater, optional To assemble:

2 cups whipping cream, divided 45 honey graham crackers (the single kind)

1/4 cup icing sugar, plus extra for garnish A pinch medium-grained kosher salt

1 tsp vanilla extract Ground pistachios, optional

Start by making the pastry cream. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk over medium-high heat. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, stir into the milk, then pop in the pod as well.

Bring the mixture to a simmer, then set aside to steep for a few minutes. Remove the vanilla bean.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale, fluffy and thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the cornstarch and salt until smooth.

While whisking constantly, pour in the hot milk in a slow, steady stream. Continue whisking until completely combined.

Strain the mixture back into the saucepan, then bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking all the while and making sure to get into the edges of the pan.

Cook until thickened and the custard bubbles at its centre.

Continue to cook, still whisking well, for one minute more.

Off the heat, stir in the almond extract. Scrape the pastry cream into a bowl, then press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled and firm, about 3 hours.

To make the raspberry sauce, put three-quarters of the raspberries in a medium saucepan with the sugar, lemon juice and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer.

Cook, stirring, until the fruit falls apart and the juices thicken, 12 to 15 minutes.

Tumble in the reserved berries, fold them through the sauce and cook for another minute or so.

Carefully remove the raspberries to a blender and process until smooth. Push the purée through a sieve back into the saucepan. Return to the heat and bring to the gentlest of simmers, stirring all the while. Cook until it becomes sumptuous and thick with a glossy look, around 10 minutes more. At this point, you want the sauce just shy of jammy-ness, slightly thicker than maple syrup but not all the way to hot fudge.

Sieve again, this time to a clean bowl, and stir in the rosewater, if using. Taste, adding more lemon juice if needed, then cover and chill in the refrigerator until needed.

To assemble the cake, line an 8-by-8-inch metal cake pan with a cross of plastic wrap, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip 3/4 cup of well-chilled heavy cream until the cream begins to hold soft peaks.

Give the chilled pastry cream a few stirs to loosen, then fold it into the whipped cream to make diplomat cream.

Spread a small amount of the diplomat cream on the bottom of the prepared cake pan.

Arrange 9 crackers on top in a 3-by-3 grid. Spoon one-quarter of the cream on top of the crackers. Use an offset spatula to coax the cream into an even layer.

Splatter 2 tablespoons of the raspberry sauce over the cream.

It can be left à la Jackson Pollock, spread neatly or marbled into the cream. (You will use a generous 1/2 cup of the sauce for the entire cake.)

Top with another layer of graham crackers, followed by a quarter of the remaining cream, and 2 more tablespoons of sauce. Continue stacking until you have five layers of crackers and four layers of diplomat cream and raspberry sauce. Hold back just enough cream to cover the last layer of crackers.

Loosely cover the cake with a piece of plastic wrap, then draw the overhanging plastic wrap from the sides up to cover the edges. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to two days.

About 1 hour before serving, remove the cake from the fridge and peel back the plastic wrap.

Invert the cake onto a serving plate, removing the remaining plastic wrap. Smooth out the sides with an offset spatula and pop the cake in the freezer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the remaining 11/4 cups well-chilled heavy cream. When the cream begins to thicken, sift in the icing sugar, salt and vanilla extract. With the mixer set to medium-high, whip the cream until it holds firm peaks, being careful not to overbeat.

Take the cake out of the freezer and gently spread a thin layer of the whipped cream on top to cover. Chill the finished cake in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Dust with additional icing sugar and ground pistachios if desired, then serve with the remaining raspberry sauce on the side.

Associated Graphic

An icebox cake is notionally similar to a trifle or a tiramisu, but cakier than either of those.


Trump visa order met with mixed reaction by U.S. tech
While firms may approve of efforts to reform the H1-B worker program, many in the industry still fear Washington will go too far
Thursday, April 20, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A13

Silicon Valley leaders have been locked in a tense standoff with U.S. President Donald Trump over his hard-line stance on immigration, but the tech industry appears to be embracing Mr.

Trump's latest efforts at immigration reform.

An executive order dubbed "Buy American, Hire American" that Mr. Trump signed on Tuesday calls for federal agencies to review the H1-B program, which grants 65,000 temporary working visas to immigrants employed in select high-skilled fields such as technology and medicine, and another 20,000 to workers with graduate degrees from universities in the United States.

The future of the program, which awards visas at random in an annual lottery, has been a source of anxiety for Silicon Valley, where roughly two-thirds of science and technology workers are immigrants.

Industry leaders have long complained that the onerous U.S. immigration system has hampered their efforts to retain the world's top tech talent and made it difficult for young immigrant entrepreneurs to launch new businesses.

Canadians firms have been closely watching Mr. Trump's immigration agenda, with some U.S. industry analysts fearing restrictions on skilled worker visas may push technology workers north into Canada.

During a campaign stop in Fort St. John, B.C., this week, provincial Liberal Leader Christy Clark said "hire American" rules may be an opportunity for technology firms in Kelowna and Vancouver to attract the brightest minds from the United States. "You can't stop free trade in ideas," she said.

"We are going to try to make the most of that opportunity if we can."

Mr. Trump described the order as the first step in a "long overdue reform" of the H1-B program, to combat fraud and abuse with a goal of ultimately replacing the current lottery system with visas reserved only for "the most skilled and highly paid applicants" and which "should never ever be used to replace Americans."

Many in the U.S. tech industry view the move as aimed not at Silicon Valley firms, but at large technology outsourcing and consulting companies such as Infosys Ltd. and Wipro Ltd., several of which are headquartered in India but whose U.S. offices are among the heaviest users of the H1-B program.

A 2016 analysis of U.S immigration data by the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank backed by the labour movement, estimated that global outsourcing firms made up the majority of the top 10 applicants to the program from California., a tech-industry lobby group backed by Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg that advocates for immigration reform, released a statement Tuesday saying it was "hopeful" Mr. Trump's order would lead to improving the U.S. immigration system for high-skilled workers. It called for reforms that would raise the minimum wage to qualify for a visa and treat companies that are "super-dependent" on H1-B visas differently, such as banning their ability hire workers on H1-B visas as independent contractors through temporary staffing firms.

Outsourcing firms have long been a thorn in the side of U.S. tech companies, who say they struggle to compete for a limited number of visas for high-skilled workers against large firms recruiting lower-skilled computer workers for below-market wages.

Smaller startups in particular can typically afford to file only a handful of H1-B applications, usually for workers with very specific skills, says Manan Mehta, founding partner at Unshackled Ventures, a venture-capital firm based in Palo Alto, Calif., that invests primarily in startups run by immigrant entrepreneurs, including helping them navigate the U.S. immigration system.

"Right now, it's effectively who's got more raffle tickets than the others," he says. "It's just a matter of the consulting companies have more raffle tickets because they file more H1-B applications ... and as a result, their odds of success are much greater."

However, while U.S. tech companies may approve of modest efforts to reform the H1-B program, many in the industry still fear Washington may go too far.

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a research firm backed by the tech industry, warned that other proposals put forth by members of Congress from both parties - such as ending visas for spouses of H1-B visas or requiring companies to prove conclusively that no U.S. workers were qualified for a job - could would harm the tech industry's competitiveness.

"We are talking about fast-moving industries," foundation president Robert D. Atkinson said in a statement. "Companies get opportunities, and they have to jump on them. Delaying them for too long would be bad for innovation, job creation and growth."

In a news briefing ahead of the order Monday night, a White House official called out several global outsourcing companies by name, accusing the firms of flooding the H1-B program with applications and scooping up the "lion's share of the visas."

India's IT outsourcing industry was quick to defend itself against the criticism that it uses the H1-B program to undermine U.S.-based tech firms.

"We believe that the current campaign to discredit our sector is driven by persistent myths, such as the ideas that H1-B visa holders are 'cheap labour' and 'displace American workers' who train their replacements, none of which is accurate," the National Association of Software and Services Companies, an industry group representing India's IT outsourcing industry, said in statement following Mr. Trump's order.

The association warned that moves to restrict H1-B visas to only the highest-paid workers would have "unintended consequences," including favouring Silicon Valley over lower-cost regions of the United States.

Some outsourcing firms have already signalled that they plan to change their U.S. strategies in response to fears of a crackdown on the H1-B program by Washington.

Vishal Sikka, CEO of global IT outsourcing giant Infosys, which has offices across the United States and Canada, told a conference call with analysts this week that the company is focusing on increasing its U.S. hiring and expanding local training and development centres "to mitigate any potential risks from visa regulation in the U.S."

Arguments that the U.S. tech industry is suffering from a shortage of skilled local workers are "preposterous," says Chase Norlin, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who has called for Washington to reform the H1-B program.

"It's just another distraction mechanism that they're using to avoid discussing the real issue, which is the exploitation of cheap foreign labour," he said.

Mr. Norlin built a successful digital advertising company primarily through hiring and retraining unemployed local workers, mainly because he lacked the venture capital to hire the most coveted employees.

He says he began to rethink his beliefs about the tech industry's reliance on hiring skilled workers from abroad after major tech firms, including Google and Facebook, began to poach his employees.

Today he is CEO of Transmosis, a company that focuses on helping to train U.S. workers for highskilled science and technology jobs and connects them to local employers, including workers who have been laid off in recent years from U.S. tech giants such Microsoft, Cisco and HewlettPackard.

The number of applications to this year's H1-B lottery fell below 200,000 for the first time in five years, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service reported this week, although the program still reached its cap in just five days.

That drop in applications could be seen as a worrying sign that Mr. Trump's anti-immigration rhetoric has already put a chill on demand from foreign job applicants, said Russell Hancock, chief executive officer of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, a regional think tank.

"One possible interpretation is that our new President has already made America a less welcoming place and so people feel like they should keep their distance, don't bother," he said.

"That's bad news for the tech industry because we have to compete in a war on global talent."

Associated Graphic

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the company's F8 Developer Conference on Tuesday in San Jose, Calif.


Trump visa order met with mixed reaction by U.S. tech
While firms may approve of efforts to reform the H1-B worker program, many in the industry still fear Washington will go too far
Thursday, April 20, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A15

U.S. CORRESPOND SAN JOSE, CALIF. -- Silicon Valley leaders have been locked in a tense standoff with U.S. President Donald Trump over his hard-line stance on immigration, but the tech industry appears to be embracing Mr. Trump's latest efforts at immigration reform.

An executive order dubbed "Buy American, Hire American" that Mr. Trump signed on Tuesday calls for federal agencies to review the H1-B program, which grants 65,000 temporary working visas to immigrants employed in select high-skilled fields such as technology and medicine, and another 20,000 to workers with graduate degrees from universities in the United States.

The future of the program, which awards visas at random in an annual lottery, has been a source of anxiety for Silicon Valley, where roughly two-thirds of science and technology workers are immigrants.

Industry leaders have long complained that the onerous U.S. immigration system has hampered their efforts to retain the world's top tech talent and made it difficult for young immigrant entrepreneurs to launch new businesses.

Canadians firms have been closely watching Mr. Trump's immigration agenda, with some U.S. industry analysts fearing restrictions on skilled worker visas may push technology workers north into Canada.

During a campaign stop in Fort St. John, B.C., this week, provincial Liberal Leader Christy Clark said "hire American" rules may be an opportunity for technology firms in Kelowna and Vancouver to attract the brightest minds from the United States. "You can't stop free trade in ideas," she said.

"We are going to try to make the most of that opportunity if we can."

Mr. Trump described the order as the first step in a "long overdue reform" of the H1-B program, to combat fraud and abuse with a goal of ultimately replacing the current lottery system with visas reserved only for "the most skilled and highly paid applicants" and which "should never ever be used to replace Americans."

Many in the U.S. tech industry view the move as aimed not at Silicon Valley firms, but at large technology outsourcing and consulting companies such as Infosys Ltd. and Wipro Ltd., several of which are headquartered in India but whose U.S. offices are among the heaviest users of the H1-B program.

A 2016 analysis of U.S immigration data by the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank backed by the labour movement, estimated that global outsourcing firms made up the majority of the top 10 applicants to the program from California., a tech-industry lobby group backed by Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg that advocates for immigration reform, released a statement Tuesday saying it was "hopeful" Mr. Trump's order would lead to improving the U.S. immigration system for high-skilled workers. It called for reforms that would raise the minimum wage to qualify for a visa and treat companies that are "super-dependent" on H1-B visas differently, such as banning their ability hire workers on H1-B visas as independent contractors through temporary staffing firms.

Outsourcing firms have long been a thorn in the side of U.S. tech companies, who say they struggle to compete for a limited number of visas for high-skilled workers against large firms recruiting lower-skilled computer workers for below-market wages.

Smaller startups in particular can typically afford to file only a handful of H1-B applications, usually for workers with very specific skills, says Manan Mehta, founding partner at Unshackled Ventures, a venture-capital firm based in Palo Alto, Calif., that invests primarily in startups run by immigrant entrepreneurs, including helping them navigate the U.S. immigration system.

"Right now, it's effectively who's got more raffle tickets than the others," he says. "It's just a matter of the consulting companies have more raffle tickets because they file more H1-B applications ... and as a result, their odds of success are much greater."

However, while U.S. tech companies may approve of modest efforts to reform the H1-B program, many in the industry still fear Washington may go too far.

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a research firm backed by the tech industry, warned that other proposals put forth by members of Congress from both parties - such as ending visas for spouses of H1-B visas or requiring companies to prove conclusively that no U.S. workers were qualified for a job - could would harm the tech industry's competitiveness.

"We are talking about fast-moving industries," foundation president Robert D. Atkinson said in a statement. "Companies get opportunities, and they have to jump on them. Delaying them for too long would be bad for innovation, job creation and growth."

In a news briefing ahead of the order Monday night, a White House official called out several global outsourcing companies by name, accusing the firms of flooding the H1-B program with applications and scooping up the "lion's share of the visas."

India's IT outsourcing industry was quick to defend itself against the criticism that it uses the H1-B program to undermine U.S.-based tech firms.

"We believe that the current campaign to discredit our sector is driven by persistent myths, such as the ideas that H1-B visa holders are 'cheap labour' and 'displace American workers' who train their replacements, none of which is accurate," the National Association of Software and Services Companies, an industry group representing India's IT outsourcing industry, said in statement following Mr. Trump's order.

The association warned that moves to restrict H1-B visas to only the highest-paid workers would have "unintended consequences," including favouring Silicon Valley over lower-cost regions of the United States.

Some outsourcing firms have already signalled that they plan to change their U.S. strategies in response to fears of a crackdown on the H1-B program by Washington.

Vishal Sikka, CEO of global IT outsourcing giant Infosys, which has offices across the United States and Canada, told a conference call with analysts this week that the company is focusing on increasing its U.S. hiring and expanding local training and development centres "to mitigate any potential risks from visa regulation in the U.S."

Arguments that the U.S. tech industry is suffering from a shortage of skilled local workers are "preposterous," says Chase Norlin, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who has called for Washington to reform the H1-B program.

"It's just another distraction mechanism that they're using to avoid discussing the real issue, which is the exploitation of cheap foreign labour," he said.

Mr. Norlin built a successful digital advertising company primarily through hiring and retraining unemployed local workers, mainly because he lacked the venture capital to hire the most coveted employees.

He says he began to rethink his beliefs about the tech industry's reliance on hiring skilled workers from abroad after major tech firms, including Google and Facebook, began to poach his employees.

Today he is CEO of Transmosis, a company that focuses on helping to train U.S. workers for highskilled science and technology jobs and connects them to local employers, including workers who have been laid off in recent years from U.S. tech giants such Microsoft, Cisco and HewlettPackard.

The number of applications to this year's H1-B lottery fell below 200,000 for the first time in five years, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service reported this week, although the program still reached its cap in just five days. That drop in applications could be seen as a worrying sign that Mr. Trump's anti-immigration rhetoric has already put a chill on demand from foreign job applicants, said Russell Hancock, chief executive officer of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, a regional think tank.

"One possible interpretation is that our new President has already made America a less welcoming place and so people feel like they should keep their distance, don't bother," he said.

"That's bad news for the tech industry because we have to compete in a war on global talent."

Associated Graphic

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the company's F8 Developer Conference on Tuesday in San Jose, Calif.


China shows rising unease with N. Korea
Wednesday, April 12, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A5

BEIJING -- U.S. President Donald Trump has for months warned that his patience for North Korea is running out - and laid the problem at Beijing's feet.

"North Korea is looking for trouble," he tweeted Tuesday morning. "If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them!"

He then explained the terms of a grand bargain he has proposed: If China acts on North Korea, "a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them."

Now, as a U.S. aircraft carrier group sails toward the Korean peninsula and Pyongyang responds with threats of nuclear reprisal, there are new signals that China, too, is no longer prepared to abide Pyongyang's race to develop an atomic weapon it can fit on to a long-range missile.

China has turned back coal shipments from North Korea, blocking a key source of revenue for Pyongyang, and sent its top nuclear negotiator to Seoul for five days this week to discuss North Korea, an abrupt shift from its previous efforts to punish and isolate South Korea over the installation of U.S. anti-missile technology.

It all suggests China's longstanding support for North Korea is rapidly diminishing, after years of Pyongyang disregarding outside efforts to halt development of devastating new weapons.

"It's possible, and American officials are certainly hoping, that China's cost-benefit calculation is beginning to change; that China is beginning to incur real costs from the DPRK's nuclear program and it's becoming a Chinese problem," said Jeff M. Smith, director of Asian Security Programs at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington.

North Korea refers to itself as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK.

Worry that North Korea will conduct another nuclear or missile test in time for the 105th birthday of Kim Il-sung, the first leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, has lent new urgency to international efforts.

That birthday is April 15, and it coincides with meetings of the country's Supreme People's Assembly.

It has brought a new crush of tensions to the Korean peninsula, which has spent much of the past few decades whipsawing between relative peace and dire warnings of hostilities. Mr. Trump on Tuesday added to the rhetoric by calling the naval carrier group "an armada. Very powerful." In an interview with Fox Business Network, he said: "We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier.

That I can tell you."

Earlier on Tuesday, North Korea warned through state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun that it was prepared to unleash a vicious attack on U.S. targets using the small nuclear arsenal it has already developed. "Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the U.S. invasionary bases not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theatre but also in the U.S. mainland," it said.

In Seoul, such intense rumours about a looming military clash spread online that military officials were forced to make calming statements on Tuesday, calling the talk of war "overblown."

Meanwhile, "North Korea is, at least in its rhetoric, showing that it is willing to go not only to the brink of war but also to war," said Jung Hoon Lee, an expert in North Korean nuclear history who is director of the Institute of Modern Korean Studies Yonsei University, as well as South Korea's ambassador for human rights.

"We are getting very close to that threshold where there's not going to be a whole lot of options left," he said, suggesting either China can close an economic pincer on North Korea, or the Unites States will make good on its threats of military action.

Beijing has stuck to a position first espoused by Foreign Minister Wang Yi last month, when he argued that for North Korea to lay down its nuclear arms, the United States must also recognize and address Pyongyang's concerns for its own security.

"No matter what happens, we have to stay committed to diplomatic means as a way to seek peaceful settlement," Mr. Wang said after meetings with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. But, he warned, "the situation on the peninsula has arrived at a new crossroads" that could "lead to confronting conflicts."

And voices inside China have begun to call for Beijing itself to consider harsher measures. A commentary published in the past week by the People's Liberation Army-backed China Military Online expressed anger at North Korean nuclear tests, which have taken place not far from the Chinese border. Were radiation to leak, "China will employ all means available including the military means to strike back," wrote Jin Hao, a military analyst, describing a reprisal that would include "attacks to DPRK nuclear facilities." A fatal blow to Pyongyang's nuclear program, he believes, would render it "obedient immediately."

But the opposite could be true.

If North Korea is attacked, it "is highly likely to strike back, targeting above all the Seoul area," said Andrei Lankov, a North Korea expert at Kookmin University in Seoul. If that happens, "the most likely result is a second Korean War."

For that reason, he sees threats of military action, including the sailing of the USS Carl Vinson carrier group into the western Pacific Ocean, as "essentially bluffing."

The United States has sent potent military assets to the region many times before. In 2013, it dispatched a pair of guided-missile destroyers to waters near the Korean peninsula; fighter jets and bombers wing past North Korean airspace with some regularity.

They have always left without firing a shot.

Any military attack would likely prompt a devastating cascade of consequences.

"The whole peninsula would get stuck into a state they would have no way to deal with. So the U.S. needs to give a lot of thought to what it does," he said. "So the situation is very intense, but it remains hard to say that it has reached a war of hostilities."

Still, Prof. Lankov said, the calculations have changed now that the commander-in-chief is Donald Trump, a man who, like North Korea's Mr. Kim, has a reputation for volatility.

"That's the game the Americans are playing. They basically are capitalizing on the image of the current administration as unpredictable and somewhat irrational, on the assumption that maybe, just maybe, the North Koreans will be careful. Because God knows what the Americans are going to do," Prof. Lankov said.

What happens in the next few days will form one test, he said.

Pyongyang has for decades been tough to spook, and in normal times, Mr. Kim might conduct a military test to mark the April 15 birthday of his grandfather. This year, "it's quite possible that he will decide to play it safe," Prof. Lankov said.

"We are getting very close to that threshold where there's not going to be a whole lot of options left," he said, suggesting either China can close an economic pincer on North Korea, or the Unites States will make good on its threats of military action.

A new study by Sayari Analytics, a Washington-based group that digs out financial information on illicit actors, said North Korean trade with Chinese firms made up 40 per cent of the Pyongyang's hard currency earnings, with 300 Chinese companies exceeding $1-million in annual trade with the isolated country, South Korea's Chosun Media reported.

Beijing, however, has historically been loath to act harshly on North Korea, fearing a regime collapse that would create a flood of refugees and potentially bring U.S. forces to its border. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi last month argued that for North Korea to lay down its nuclear arms, the United States must also recognize and address Pyongyang's concerns for its own security. He called on the United States to halt military exercises in the region.

With reporting by Yu Mei

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Medics in Syria are taking no chances
Doctors thought they had seen the last of sarin gas. Since April 4, they have been doing all they can to prepare for more attacks
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, April 18, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A4

Medical groups working in rebel-held areas of Syria are scrambling to boost preparedness for more chemicalweapons attacks after the deadly assault in northern Syria two weeks ago - a sign of their increased vigilance as the battlefield becomes more unpredictable.

Makeshift field hospitals and clinics were unprepared for the sarin-gas attack that struck the town of Khan Sheikhoun and killed at least 80 people on April 4. International outcry after a sarin assault in Ghouta in 2013 resulted in a U.S.- and Russian-brokered effort to identify and destroy Syria's chemical-weapons stockpile.

After confirmation from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an international watchdog, health-care workers believed the deadliest chemicals had been removed from the battlefield and that the use of nerve agents represented a line that would never be crossed again.

Preparing for the possibility of more attacks using nerve agents "seemed to be a bad investment," said Dr. Houssam al-Nahhas, 29, the Syrian doctor who wrote the chemical-attack protocols for medical facilities in rebel-held areas of Syria, referring to the thinking of health-care workers in Syria at that time.

Now, as world powers squabble over the transparency of an international investigation by the OPCW into the April 4 attack, medical workers in opposition areas are taking no chances and stocking up on supplies for more such chemical attacks.

A convoy of emergency aid from the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, also known by its French acronym UOSSM, purchased and distributed 10,000 ampoules of atropine - the antidote for nerve agents - to 18 hospitals last week in opposition areas of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Idlib. At least 70,000 ampoules of atropine, 5,000 ampoules of pralidoxime and 350 chemical suits are needed to prepare the 70 hospitals operating in northern Syria, according to the UOSSM. The convoy also delivered 100 face masks, 100 chemical suits and 224 decontamination filters.

The attack in Ghouta, which claimed between 300 and 1,300 lives, according to various estimates, was the first documented case of sarin use in the Syrian war. The United States and Russia later formulated a deal under which the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad allowed international monitors to destroy its chemical-weapons stockpile. On June 23, 2014, the OPCW confirmed the last batch of such weapons - which included sarin, mustard gas and VX - were shipped out of Syria to be destroyed at sea on a U.S. vessel. Chlorine was not part of the deal.

Then came the attack on Khan Sheikhoun.

"The hospitals were equipped to deal with chlorine only," explained Dr. Hassan Dibs, who works in opposition areas of Syria. "The ability of medical workers to deal with more deadly agents declined significantly in the last three years because the UN had informed us that all the chemical weapons had been destroyed. We never thought sarin would be used again because we were confident the material had been disposed of.

"Because of this, the number of casualties from Khan Sheikhoun was so great. Doctors, nurses and paramedics were in shock," he added.

"After Ghouta, we started a serious preparedness plan for medical facilities to deal with chemical attacks like this," said Dr. al-Nahhas, who was the local co-ordinator for the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear-defence task force of the UOSSM. "After the agreement to destroy the weapons took place, we shifted our focus to choking agents, like chlorine. But obviously in Khan Sheikhoun, there was a sarin attack, which opens the door again and exposes us to these weapons."

Exposure to chlorine results in respiratory symptoms and high concentrations can cause pulmonary edema, coma and death. Nerve agents present graver symptoms because they cause overactivity in the entire body, leading to convulsions and, if the dose is high enough, immediate respiratory arrest.

Dr. Dibs said now, after Khan Sheikhoun, the focus in rebelheld areas has shifted to training medical teams on how to reduce the risks associated with nerve agents after an attack, including assisting patients around impact zones, receiving victims in care facilities while reducing the danger of secondary contamination, sterilizing emergency rooms and raising public awareness.

In Khan Sheikhoun, as in Ghouta, many fell victim to secondary contamination. Samir Youssef, 25, a construction worker, had no prior training before rushing to help the wounded who had collapsed on the street after the attack two weeks ago.

"My brother told me my eyes looked bloodshot, then I felt dizzy and fell unconscious," he said. Mr. Youssef was taken to two hospitals and eventually recovered.

The training that is under way, in many ways, is a revival of the preparedness procedures Dr. alNahhas was attempting to promote three years ago.

Like his patients, his life had been upended by war. Unable to complete his clinical medicine degree at Aleppo University, he was forced to relocate to Istanbul.

But the war had given him a new purpose. He would lead a medical team to treat casualties and, in the process, write the manual to prepare Syrian doctors working in rebel-held areas for future chemical attacks.

Hani al-Qateeni, a medic who spoke to The Globe and Mail in the immediate aftermath of the Khan Sheikhoun attack, had attended one of the training courses using Dr. al-Nahhas's manual. He knew to grab a protective mask before heading out to the scene to help the wounded.

"When we started the trainings, we were surprised. Even medical professionals didn't know the basics," he said.

Before the war, medical students were taught about illnesses associated with organophosphates, which encompasses a group of nerve agents including sarin, because it was used as a pesticide in Syria, a largely agrarian economy. "But when it comes to a chemical attack with mass casualties, there was no idea about what to do."

Dr. al-Nahhas first treated patients exposed to chemical weapons in Aleppo in 2013. He recalled vividly the day an elderly man and his six grandchildren staggered into a hospital on the Syria-Turkey border, where the young doctor was making his rounds.

By then, Dr. al-Nahhas had seen their symptoms - violent cough, difficulty breathing, intense chest pain - many times and knew they had been exposed to high concentrations of chlorine gas.

Syrian military attacks using chlorine were almost routine in rebel-held areas after the Assad government officially agreed to give up its chemical-weapons stockpile following the Ghouta incident.

"Right after the attack, [the grandfather] had the good sense to wash himself with water.

Then he rushed the grandchildren into the bathroom and saved the whole family," he said. "He came to the ward for advanced care, but it wasn't as serious as it could have been."

Only the man's wife, who was disabled and unable to be moved, was transferred to the intensive-care unit and later to Turkey, where she died. "I realized then how important public awareness was."

The reported use of sarin in Ghouta shocked Dr. al-Nahhas and he began preparing a response plan that he presented to a conference for medical organizations in Syria.

He is updating a manual he initially penned to help medical facilities cope with chlorine attacks. But many said that even with new training, little can be done in the event of another sarin assault without adequate stocks of medication - namely atropine and pralidoxime.

Asked if the assault on Khan Sheikhoun had better prepared him for future attacks, Mr. alQateeni sighed over the phone.

"God willing," he said.

Associated Graphic

Ziad Alissa, right, and Raphael Pitti, both members of the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM), deliver atropine, an antidote for nerve agents, to a staging area in Syria. At least 70,000 ampoules of the antidote are needed to prepare 70 hospitals operating in northern Syria.


UOSSM purchased and distributed 10,000 ampoules of atropine to 18 hospitals in opposition areas of Aleppo, Hama, Idlib and Latakia.

From Canada's fields to the world's kitchens
Rapeseeds were long crushed for their oil, but the product was unhealthy. It was a Saskatoon scientist that bred a new crop, worth $8.6-billion last year
Monday, April 17, 2017 – Print Edition, Page B1

Among the 25 ingredients in chef Jason Bangerter's terroir salad are marigolds, wild berries and ground black almonds, all grown within a short walk of his kitchen.

Foraged flowers and herbs supply bursts of citrus and pepper, he says, while seeds lay a crunchy base.

But it's the canola sorbet he spoons into the middle of the plate that ties it all together: a soft and buttery bearer of the sweet and savoury in a dish he serves at Langdon Hall, an inn and spa in Cambridge, Ont.

Mr. Bangerter makes the sorbet with canola oil, not olive oil, because it's Ontario-made - the only ingredient in the dish that isn't grown on the 75-acre estate - but also for its special taste.

"You have that fresh coldpressed canola flavour as the igniting point," he says. "You get a really big ... almost like a toasted corn flavour. It's just so unique and interesting."

It wasn't always that way.

Before there was canola, there was rapeseed, canola's smelly, bad-for-you cousin.

The small, dark seeds were crushed for their oil, which for centuries had been used for everything from cooking and lamp oil to lubricants in the steam engines and ships that powered the war effort.

But today what's known as canola is grown on 8.2 million hectares of Canadian farmland and found in doughnut deepfryers, chicken feed and fine kitchens such as Mr. Bangerter's.

By acreage, canola rivals wheat, comprising 25 per cent of farmers' fields compared with wheat's 27 per cent. (In 2000, there were twice as many acres of wheat as canola.)

That's all due to the work of Richard K. Downey, a plant breeder and federal government scientist from Saskatoon.

In the 1960s, he transformed rapeseed into a healthful, edible crop by breeding out the nasty traits - the erucic acid (bad for the heart and other organs) and the glucosinolates (bad for the livestock that ate the crushed byproduct known as meal).

Canola oil is low in saturated fat, high in monounsaturated fat and smokes very little in a frying pan.

The processed kind - not the cold-pressed canola Mr. Bangerter uses - adds little taste to food.

Like most other vegetable oils, canola oil is processed using chemicals - hexane and bleach. This, and the fact the Canadian crop is now genetically modified to resist drought and insects, makes it unpopular in some countries and in parts of the Internet.

Still, Canadian farmers in 2016 harvested canola worth about $8.6-billion, making it the most valuable field crop by revenue.

Canola production has doubled in the past 10 years, to more than 18 million tonnes in 2016, as global demand has soared.

"We've seen huge growth of canola over the last 20 years or so," said Michael Burt, the Conference Board of Canada's director for industrial economic trends.

Dr. Downey first came across rapeseed (as it was then known) while working in the fields of the federal Dominion Forage Crops Laboratory in Saskatoon as a 14year-old during the Second World War. Canada and its allies had lost access to a valuable source of rapeseed lubricant from Asia, and Ottawa was asked to begin growing the crop in greater numbers.

So, Dr. Downey began his first of several summers in the plots, weeding around the plants and eventually cross-breeding different varieties to find a strain best suited to the short Prairie growing season.

"When the first [seeds] came it was not well-suited. It was very late [to ripen] and the yields were reasonably good but there was a lot of improvement to be made in the oil content and maturity," Dr. Downey, 90, said by phone.

It turned out a Polish immigrant in the area had a garden full of the stuff, grown with seed he had brought from his homeland, where summers are also short and early maturing crops are favoured. This wound up being the variety much of the Prairies adopted.

Encouraged by a governmentguaranteed six cents a pound, farmers had planted 80,000 acres of the yellow-flowered crop by 1948.

By the late 1950s, Canadian rapeseed oil was being used for more than machine lubrication. It was being eaten by people, especially in Ontario, at a time the country imported 95 per cent of its cooking oils. Ontarians were not alone - people had eaten and cooked with rapeseed oil in China, Japan and other countries for centuries.

However, the federal government responded to a study that questioned the safety of eating rapeseed oil by - temporarily - ordering it off the shelves of grocery stores. Rapeseed, it turned out, contained something not present in other vegetable oils: erucic acid, which caused lesions on the hearts and other organs of lab rats.

Ottawa's ban did not last long.

But Dr. Downey, who had built his career spreading rapeseed throughout Canada, soon found himself working with another scientist in Saskatoon, Baldur Stefansson, on a new task: making it safer to eat.

By 1968, Dr. Downey had developed a low-acid rapeseed. By the mid-1970s, the pair of researchers had come up with three more varieties, each one better yielding and with low acid and glucosinolate (the chemical found unhealthful for livestock).

"The oil and meal that the crushers extracted were sent to the nutritionist and the margarine industry, as well, to prove to our customers that it had it had all the advantages we said it did.

They all said, this is great stuff," Dr. Downey said.

But now that the stuff was palatable, it needed a name to match.

"The industry said, we don't like phoning up our customers to say, 'We've got some low erucic, low glucosinolate rapeseed for you.' It was way too much," Dr. Downey said.

The western Canadian oilseed companies got together in the early 1980s and settled on canola - can for Canada and ola because it sounded a bit like oil, he said.

"So that was that."

Richardson International Ltd., a Winnipeg-based agriculture and food company, is just one Canadian company that has ridden the rising wave of new global demand for canola as a cooking oil, animal feed and biodiesel.

"We're handling eight times what we were in 2005," said Aaron Anderson, Richardson's assistant vice-president of grain merchandising.

China is now the biggest buyer of Richardson's canola, accounting for more than Japan and Mexico combined in 2015.

Also driving Chinese demand for Canadian canola is the Asian country's failure to grow enough of its own to become self-sufficient in the crop, said the Conference Board's Mr. Burt. "It's a niche where they do need to import a certain amount to meet their domestic needs, so we've been successful at exploiting that opportunity," Mr. Burt said in an interview.

Rapeseed, the smelly, unhealthful oilseed, has all but vanished.

But not the name. It's still called rapeseed in most countries, a quirk Dr. Downey attributes to professional pettiness.

Growers and seed companies "have used our material to breed that but they don't call it canola, officially, because they were jealous. They don't like the 'can' in front. They don't like to acknowledge that all this came from Canada," he said.

Dr. Downey's canola is grown worldwide. But neither he nor the federal government patented any of the varieties they developed.

As he sees it, any inedible rapeseed would only limit the market for the good old Canadian type.

And the more countries that grew it, the better.

"We did this for the common good and it's really paid off for the whole country," he said.

Associated Graphic

Canola crops, used for making cooking oil, are seen in full bloom near Fort Macleod, Alta.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Baldur Stefansson developed canola at the University of Manitoba. A Monday Report on Business story on canola incorrectly said he worked at a government facility in Saskatoon.

The risks and rewards of Isaac Julien
The British artist puts themes of race and migration on display at the ROM in an exhibit of two works
Monday, April 17, 2017 – Print Edition, Page L2

Over three decades, British artist Isaac Julien's work has evolved into multiple-screen video installations, as if one screen is too simple and limited a palette for the interconnected layers in his art.

Themes of race and migration were on display at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) recently in an exhibit of two works, collectively titled Isaac Julien: Other Destinies. His WESTERN UNION: Small Boats, (2007) was inspired by the treacherous seafaring migration of Africans heading to Italy, the extreme displacement on display almost a decade before the same images became daily news.

In True North (2004), a constructed ice cathedral is set among the natural sculptures of broken glaciers in scenes of exploration and colonialism inspired by Matthew Henson, a black African-American who was among the first settler explorers of the North Pole.

Currently, Julien is the International Artist Spotlight with Toronto's Images Festival, in partnership with the ROM and OCAD University, where Julien has committed to the mentorship of five interdisciplinary students in a new project called the Global Experience Project, which will invite this diverse group of young students to visit Julien in London to go behind the scenes of his work. While Julien was in Toronto, The Globe and Mail spoke with him about selfies, race and working with a global perspective.

I saw your work at the ROM and there was a school group of teenagers coming through - Oh, my God [laughs].

Why do you say, 'Oh, my God?' Well, because the fantastic thing about the ROM is it does have this huge variety of audiences and younger people and families.

Maybe this is the first time they come across a multiple-screen installation. It's a very unique context to have a work like mine shown in this encyclopedic museum. So I think it probably is quite interesting to witness the reactions and, well, maybe you can share that with me.

I followed them in sneakily and they were taking selfies with your video art projected on their bodies. What do you think of that interaction? We're in a selfie culture. They're not too dissimilar to people going to the Louvre, who are adults. Before they look at the Mona Lisa, they take out their cellphone and look with their cellphone before they look at the artwork. I think that's the new way of looking and I call it the "distracted spectator" and the "distracted gaze."

As someone who works in news, I found myself wondering what your relationship is with news.

Do you keep up on it the way some do, on an hourly, minuteby-minute basis? I think one of the things that may be different is that [news] has to be of the minute. That perhaps limits its possibilities for thinking about how it may be viewed in the future. In the case of WESTERN UNION: Small Boats, the news played catch-up to the artwork. Similarly, True North, which is a work looking at secret histories in Canada. In Canada, if we look at the question of Arctic exploration and connect it to First Nations people in relationship to Canada and the way in which some of these histories have been hidden and connect it to the idea of nationhood. The fact there's a black explorer, Matthew Henson, who went to the North Pole in 1909, who most people don't know, that's got to signify in a Canadian sense because it's connected to lots of other questions like climate change and these histories that are not always part of the storytelling of the nation.

What was it about Matthew Henson that resonated with you? I just didn't know Matthew Henson at all. I didn't know there was an African-American explorer that went to the North Pole who could speak different languages and Inuit cultures, I didn't know anything about this whole history.

Race and identity is a big part of your work. Is the art world receptive to challenging ideas of race and identity? I think the art world has been receptive to the idea of race in the work, aesthetically. At the same time, one could say that the art world has been quite slow to really look at these questions.

When I went to art school, for example, I didn't know there was something called the Harlem Renaissance, a black artistic movement that began in New York that is connected to black modernist practices. And now if there's a young artist, they can know about these things and take it for granted because I've made a film like Looking for Langston [his 1989 film about jazz poet Langston Hughes, an exploration of homosexual love, black masculinity, celebration and intimacy].

Or in a work like Ten Thousand Waves [Julien's 2010 nine-screen work inspired by the tragedy of 20 migrant Fujianese cockle-shell pickers who died working off the coast of England], a work I shot in China, which looks at migration from the Fujianese province to England, but goes back in time to the Ming period and to the point of view of a goddess, Mazu, played by Maggie Cheung in the work, where she looks at the tragedy out of the framework of the European point of view. The fact that she is a goddess from the Fujian province where the Chinese cockle-shell pickers originated from, in a way leads us to view that actually people from the Fujian province have been migrating for thousands and thousands of years and that culture created the American railroad and created the presence of the 200-year Chinese existence in Vancouver. And in a way it makes a mockery of all the rather expedient, contemporary questions around migration.

With such a global perspective in your work, is cultural appropriation ever a fear? With my work, it's very much about the fact that my parents originate from St. Lucia. Once I went to the Fujian province in China, I thought, "Oh, my God, this reminds me of going to St.

Lucia." One of the amazing things that has happened to that work is that it's in the M+ collection, which is going to be the Tate Modern of Hong Kong, the K11 Foundation in Hong Kong as well. So it's been acquired by the two most prestigious Chinese museum organizations in the world. And that was something I really wanted to achieve.

Specifically that it be acquired by a large Chinese organization? Absolutely. It meant it felt for me that it succeeded, in terms of identification. But I do think about those questions of appropriation, of course, and I feel very sensitive toward it.

When you look back on yourself as a teenager, what do you think young Isaac would think of your current life? I think I would have thought it would be quite impossible to do the things I do today.

Is there a piece of advice you universally give out to your mentees and that you might have given to yourself as a young person? I think it's about being honest to yourself and brave about the things you want to say in your work. To do that involves a certain amount of risk. You need to take that risk in terms of being able to articulate what you really want to say.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Isaac Julien: Other Destinies runs at the Royal Ontario Museum through April 23 (

Associated Graphic

London-based filmmaker and video installation artist Isaac Julien acknowledges that we live in a 'selfie culture,' and calls the practice of looking at artwork through the camera first and eyes second the 'distracted spectator' and the 'distracted gaze.'


From the Casco Viejo district, a traveller's photogenic fantasy come true, to Mercado de Mariscos, a popular seafood stop, the Central American seaside capital has re-emerged as a favourite tourist destination, and locals are thrilled
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page T1

PANAMA CITY -- I caught my first glimpse of Panama City's skyline at dusk. After exiting the canal and passing under the Bridge of the Americas, we left behind the jungles of Gatun Lake and the Canal Zone.

The first building to catch my eye was the vibrant Frank Gehrydesigned Biomuseo (Museum of Biodiversity). A short time later, the rest of the city came into sight: The towering white buildings glowed with a pink hue, giving the impression of a modern utopia.

The look was in direct contrast to the Panama of my memories.

That Panama of 20 years ago throbbed with grime and danger.

The memory that endures is of a hot-tempered taxi driver (in even hotter weather) speeding through dodgy neighbourhoods before finally admitting we were lost.

Being lost back then was cause for concern. But the city on the horizon appeared to be something completely different.

Until recently, Panama City brought to mind the global shipping industry and the imprisoned cocaine-trafficking dictator Manuel Noriega.

But the seaside capital has reemerged as a favourite tourist destination. There's that gleaming new skyline; Casco Viejo, the colonial-era quarter where centuries-old ruins are being transformed into hip hotels, art galleries, cafés and microbreweries; as well as a slew of refurbished parks and museums.

I have to admit the whole thing came as a bit of a surprise.

My first inkling the city had changed came during our canal transit. Visiting the canal is a highlight for most people who holiday in Panama and I've been fortunate enough to transit it twice, on our first and second boats. Unlike travelling by cruise ship or tourist boat, being on a private vessel going through the canal is a busy experience that requires all hands (plus a few extras) on deck.

For the two-day passage from the Caribbean to the Pacific, local expats Diane and Russ joined our family of three as volunteer line handlers. Between the hectic moments, which involved securing ourselves in each of the six locks with four heavy mooring lines as water flooded in or out of the chamber, lifting or lowering us about 10 metres, Russ and Diane told us about what had attracted them to Panama.

Initially, they'd simply been interested in the canal. And as I watched the turbulent mixing of salt and fresh water bubble toward the steampunk-looking gates, I understood their fascination with the engineering marvel.

But as we travelled the 77-kilometre waterway, our guests began interspersing details about their life in Panama City between stories and facts about the canal itself.

After pointing out the tracks for the historic Panama Canal Railway, they mentioned the city's beautiful new metro system.

While sailing past the verdant jungles of Gatun Lake, they mentioned biking in the city's parks.

When I served up lunch to our crew, they talked about the great food options found in different neighbourhoods. The Panama City they were describing sounded stylish, fun and very liveable. It sounded just like that radiant city on the horizon looked.

Intrigued, we decided to explore.

Casco Viejo was our first stop. Settled in 1673 and designated a World Heritage Site in 1997, the old quarter is that seldom-realized traveller's fantasy: an authentic place on the cusp of becoming the next hip thing. It brings to mind the walled city of Cartagena, Colombia, and the narrow streets of Old Quebec; churches, museums and impeccably renovated colonial mansions sit elegantly between a photographer's dream of ruined buildings still adorned in wrought iron and faded paint.

Anchored by the American Trade Hotel, which opened late in 2013, the oceanfront neighbourhood has had a steady influx of welcoming new businesses setting up shop in the long-neglected architecture.

There were cute cafés galore, but it was the Iglesia de San Jose that first tempted us off the streets and out of the 30 C heat.

In the gloom of its interior, we discovered that the intrigue of colonial Panamanian history far predates the canal. Home to the Altar de Oro (Golden Altar), which is rumoured to be the sole relic salvaged from Panama Viejo after the city was sacked by Henry Morgan in 1671, the church reminded me that the visual feast of the past is made even richer with its stories.

Happily, some excellent museums are found in the Casco.

There's the Canal Museum, the Museum of National History and the old cathedral, with its spires inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

Then there's the Santo Domingo monastery; its centuries-old Flat Arch helped convince canal engineers that Panama was earthquake-proof.

We spent the day wandering streets populated with shavedice vendors, musicians and kids playing soccer. When we got hungry, Rene Café served up an affordable four-course lunch of local specialties (including pork in a red sauce and sea bass) in a pretty setting. When it grew too hot, there were shady plazas to explore. When rain threatened, there were those museums.

From the Casco, we walked along the Avenida Balboa promenade to the Mercado de Mariscos (seafood market). As we approached, I caught sight of the traditional fishing boats contrasted against the glittering modern city. I made a beeline and joined locals and tourists photographing the scene as the sun set. But it was the more than 70 open-air restaurants that made us return more than once. A popular postwork stop for locals, you can choose your own seafood and have it traditionally prepared, or visit one of the ceviche stalls, where a big serving of fresh (and oh-so yummy) ceviche and beer for two comes to less than $5.

The people-watching was free.

With our urban exploring well under way - we even made a stop at Albrook Mall, Latin America's largest shopping centre - it was time to head into the wild. The city has a variety of excellent parks to choose among, but the Smithsonian's Punta Culebra nature centre was an easy choice. The small park is located on the Calzada de Amador, a five-kilometre causeway linking four islands which juts out into the Pacific and is popular with walkers and cyclists.

Culebra has a large wild sloth population as well as a variety of marine exhibits including turtles and sharks. We spotted our first of three sloths shortly after paying our $5 admission fee. As we wandered the humid jungle trails, youth volunteers eagerly pointed out other highlights.

Back on the causeway we played tourist - there are bikes, buggies and skates to rent and an assortment of shops and restaurants to explore. With our new wheels we headed to the Biomuseo. The topsy-turvy building is an attraction itself.

Built in a garden setting that's perfect for watching shipping traffic, the building also houses a free photo exhibit detailing Panama's history.

When it was time to see more, every Panamanian we spoke to was eager to share their insider secrets - and we quickly developed a "must-do" list ranging from ancient ruins to rooftop bars that would have taken months to work through. It seems locals are thrilled with how their city has evolved - and rightly so. We should all live in a place that not only becomes more beautiful but also safer, cleaner and more welcoming.

Associated Graphic

Top left: Visiting the canal is a highlight for most people who holiday in Panama.

Top centre: The topsy-turvy Frank Gehry-designed Biomuseo is built in a garden setting that's perfect for watching shipping traffic.

Top right: The streets of Panama City are populated with shaved-ice vendors, musicians and kids playing soccer.

Above: The city's gleaming skyline glows with a pink hue, giving the impression of a modern utopia.


Macron, Le Pen to face off in final French vote
Centrist ex-banker comes out on top in first round of election and is now clear front-runner to defeat National Front leader
Monday, April 24, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A1

PARIS -- French voters have handed the European Union a badly needed boost, making centrist Emmanuel Macron the favourite to become the country's next president and forcing the far right anti-globalist National Front to regroup.

Mr. Macron came out on top in the first round of voting Sunday in the country's presidential election and he's now the clear frontrunner to defeat the National Front's Marine Le Pen in a runoff on May 7.

Their campaigns over the next two weeks will be a clash of visions for the country, pitting Ms. Le Pen's Donald Trump-style protectionism against Mr. Macron's endorsement of a pro-EU, more open economy.

His victory on Sunday will be a relief for EU backers.

It comes only a few weeks after voters in the Netherlands turned away from an anti-immigrant movement and re-elected a proEU government, although with a smaller mandate. And it will bolster the EU as it begins negotiating Britain's departure with Prime Minister Theresa May, who is expected to win a substantial mandate in an election on June 8.

However, Sunday's results did deal another blow to establishment politics, after Brexit and the election of Mr. Trump in the United States. The candidates for the traditional parties on the right and left - François Fillon of the Republicans and Socialist Benoît Hamon - could do no better than third and fifth respectively, as voters appeared fed up with the status quo and opted for untested leadership.

Mr. Macron, a 39-year old former banker, started his political movement, called En Marche!, only a year ago but, with a centre-right platform, he managed to draw support from disaffected voters on all sides.

"In one year, we have changed the face of French politics," Mr. Macron told hundreds of supporters in Paris. He added that he planned to campaign on a message of optimism and hope "for our country and for Europe." He also railed against what he called 30 years of rule by the two mainstream parties, saying the country was ready for a change to something different.

Mr. Macron certainly has the edge in the second round. Polls give him a big lead over Ms. Le Pen and he now has the backing of the main parties as well as Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and one of the largest trade unions. Investors also expect him to win handily and the value of the euro soared immediately after Sunday's results.

For the markets, "the election is more or less over," said Nicholas Spiro, a partner at London's Lauressa Advisory. "This is the result investors were expecting. Markets will rightly treat this as a stark choice between the antiEuropean far right and the proEuropean centre and will now be even more convinced that Macron will win."

But there are no guarantees and Ms. Le Pen didn't lose by much on Sunday. In a race that was too close to call up to the last minute, Mr. Macron was projected to get 23.7 per cent of the first-round vote by the pollster Ifop-Fiducial; Ms. Le Pen was given 21.7 per cent.

Ms. Le Pen has also already won more votes in a presidential race than her father, party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, who took 18 per cent of the vote in the second round in 2002. And her success could translate into more seats in June when the country holds parliamentary elections.

She conceded nothing on Sunday, claiming victory and insisting that she was the only true anti-establishment candidate who offers France "the great alternative."

"This result is historic. It puts on me a huge responsibility to defend the French nation, its unity, its security, its culture, its prosperity and its independence," she told supporters in Lille.

She made it clear she will continue to campaign on her France-first agenda that calls for a halt to all immigration, a referendum on France's membership in the European Union and withdrawing the country from the euro. Mr. Macron will counter with his liberal platform of economic reforms, open borders and improvements to France's social safety net. But he, too, will be calling for changes to the EU, meaning that no matter who wins in two weeks, France and the EU are headed for change.

Mr. Macron has other advantages heading into the second round. The country's economy is showing signs of turning around, something he is likely to exploit as he and others have painted Ms. Le Pen's economic policies as reckless, particularly her call to pull France out of the euro.

And while Mr. Macron's support has remained largely steady during the campaign, Ms. Le Pen has been slipping, falling from as high as 27 per cent just a few weeks ago. Last week's terrorist attack in Paris, which saw one police officer killed and two others injured, also did not appear to boost Ms. Le Pen's support as many had expected.

However, Mr. Macron still faces some major challenges. France's economic recovery has been meagre and unemployment remains nearly 10 per cent, and far higher in many regions. There's also growing antagonism toward the EU and its many rules that some say have made the economy worse. Ms. Le Pen has drawn support in parts of the country hit hard by the economic downturn, notably in the north. Mr. Macron is also still largely unknown to many voters. He has never run for elective office and has spent much of his career as an investment banker.

Mr. Macron "is a mystery," said political scientist Dominique Moïsi. "On the surface, he is the best of the best. Everything you want, he has it." But his policies remain vague on many points, he added. That includes his economic policies, where he has not been specific about just how far he would go in easing the country's rigid labour laws.

Mr. Spiro said the fact Ms. Le Pen and far-left candidate JeanLuc Mélenchon, who is also a Euroskeptic, secured nearly 45 per cent of the vote "is a damning indictment of the European project and bodes ill for the prospects for meaningful fiscal and structural reform in France."

With Mr. Macron and his proEurope agenda the winner in the first round, all eyes now to turn to Italy, the euro zone's third biggest economy, as the biggest threat to the European project.

Italy is seeing its own populist surge. Its Five Star Movement (M5S), the main opposition party in parliament and the biggest elected populist party in the EU, is leading in the polls and could form the next government - an election must be held by this time next year. The latest polls put M5S at 31.5 per cent against 25 per cent for the ruling Democratic Party.

For now, though, Mr. Macron's supporters hailed his win as a vote of confidence in Europe.

They pointed out that, among the 11 presidential candidates, he has been the only one backing a stronger EU. "Victory for Mr. Macron will be a victory for Europe," said Claude Posternak as he stood in the middle of a sea of people cheering and waving French and EU flags at Mr. Macron's campaign celebration.

"It's a victory for Europe, for a new Europe."

Associated Graphic

The campaigns of Emmanuel Macron, left and Marine Le Pen will be a clash of visions for the country over the next two weeks.


Supporters of Emmanuel Macron cheer the centrist's lead in the first round of French presidential voting on Sunday.


Trudeau's Liberals: A midterm report card
From trade to the military, the federal government's first term has largely taken shape. Do they deserve another?
Tuesday, April 18, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A11

OTTAWA -- By now, you should have seen enough to decide whether you're inclined to vote for Justin Trudeau in the next election.

With the arrival Thursday of legislation to legalize marijuana use, with two of their four budgets behind them, and with most of the agenda implemented, imminent or abandoned, the Liberals' first term has largely taken shape. Should it also be their last? Let's take a look at how the government has performed thus far. Consider this one observer's midterm report card.

Mr. Trudeau came to power vowing to admit 25,000 refugees displaced by the Syrian civil war.

The rookie government missed the Dec. 31, 2015, deadline, but not by much, and the airlift has been welcomed by most Canadians. Former immigration minister John McCallum also increased the annual intake of immigrants to 300,000, which will help sustain a Canadian population that, were it not for immigration, would otherwise soon be in decline. The jury is still out on how the Liberals are handling refugee claimants crossing the border illegally, but over all, this government's immigration and refugee policy deserves high praise.

Praise is also warranted on the trade file. In opposition, the Liberals were lukewarm to the Conservative government's ambitious trade agenda. In government, they became firm supporters, pushing hard and successfully (if the Walloons can be kept onside) to complete the agreement with the European Union. Will they be able to conclude a deal with China, Japan or another major Asia/Pacific country between now and 2019? If so, the Liberals could count trade as one of their signature achievements.

On the environment, Justin Trudeau promised a new resolve in Canada's efforts to fight global warming. In the end, he simply embraced the targets established by the previous Conservative government. But the Liberals appear determined to meet those targets and, to that end, have persuaded most provinces to impose some form of carbon tax. Promise made; promise, at least partly, kept.

The Liberals also deserve qualified praise for their handling of the health-care file. Their funding broadly follows the targets set by the Harper government, but Health Minister Jane Philpott did find some extra dollars for mental health and home care, which the provinces, for the most part, accepted. Should Ottawa be meddling in how the provinces handle health care?

And is the money enough to meet the need? Probably not, in both cases. And the federal/provincial prescription-drug strategy remains more aspiration than reality. But Ms. Philpott can take credit for preventing a federal/ provincial impasse on funding.

The Trudeau government's relationship with the military is more problematic. Full marks to Mr. Trudeau for his government's commitment to lead a NATO battle group in Latvia, to deter Russian ambitions. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan's biggest procurement move was to acquire Boeing Hornets as a stopgap to replace the terminally aged CF-18s, while holding off on a permanent replacement for several more years. It was a controversial decision, but at least it was a decision. On the downside, the Liberals still can't make up their minds whether to commit to a peacekeeping mission in Africa, a defence review has been repeatedly postponed and the shipbuilding program continues to be plagued by delays. A very mixed bag.

Closer to home, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould skillfully piloted an emotionally charged bill on assisted dying through Parliament. The marijuana legislation is another big, important file that she has kept on top of. But the government's efforts to streamline and modernize the criminal-justice system haven't prevented impatient judges from throwing out cases that take too long to come to trial. Delays in appointing judges are making things even worse.

The minister has to take responsibility for this serious miscarriage of justice.

People have reason to be disappointed in this government's handling of Indigenous issues.

Mr. Trudeau's most impassioned promise was to transform relations with Canada's Indigenous peoples "on a nation-to-nation basis." While funding has increased, nothing transformative has emerged. The inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls proceeds at a glacial pace - which anyone could have predicted - and there is little evidence of accelerated progress in settling land claims, or of progress toward comprehensive education reform, which the Conservatives tried but failed to implement.

But, you might reasonably ask, what about the finances? How the government raises and spends taxpayers' money is a key metric on how it is judged. From this armchair, the government has little to brag about. The Liberals promised during the election campaign to run modest $10-billion deficits, with the money devoted to renewing infrastructure. Instead, the deficit was $23-billion in the past fiscal year, and is projected to be $28.5-billion in 2017-18, with no end to red ink in sight. A Senate report criticized the government's $186-billion decade-long infrastructure plan for its lack of clarity and co-ordination. The Liberals did implement their promise to make income tax and the child benefit more progressive, punishing the wealthy and rewarding the middle class, and Finance Minister Bill Morneau has earned praise for initiatives that make it easier to recruit foreign talent, raise venture capital and bring innovations to market.

It's a one-hand, other-hand file.

Mr. Morneau negotiated an enhanced Canada Pension Plan with the provinces: Good. He lowered the retirement age for old-age security: Bad. But it's the growing debt that causes this writer the most concern. When will this government keep its promise to balance the budget?

On two files, the Liberals deserve unremitting scorn. "We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-pastthe-post voting system," Mr. Trudeau said, over and over again.

But when a parliamentary committee urged a move to proportional representation, Mr. Trudeau balked; he also resisted calls for a national referendum on the subject. In February, the government announced it was scrapping its electoral-reform plans. A total fail.

The Liberals promised, as well, to end the conversion of home delivery of mail to community mailboxes. A subsequent study estimated that abandoning conversion would cost $400-million and sink the Crown corporation's efforts to stay in the black.

A final decision is expected this spring on whether to break the promise or lose the savings. Both choices are lousy. Shame on the Liberals for painting themselves into this corner.

On one vital issue, the jury is still out. Foreign policy under the Trudeau government has broadly cleaved to the principles established by Stephen Harper: a strong commitment to NATO and to free-trade agreements, caution in dealing with trade and human-rights issues in China, and stern disapproval of Russian ambitions in Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe. But the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President changed the game.

Keeping the Canada-U.S. border open, successfully renegotiating the North America free-trade agreement and preventing a crippling import tax from applying to Canadian exports are the most important priorities for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. Her success or failure could define this government.

Otherwise, not much is likely to change over the next two years, for better or for worse.

You may disagree with this report card, but you surely know enough now to come up with one of your own.

Associated Graphic

Justin Trudeau stops to take a picture with a school group visiting Parliament Hill on April 3. The federal Liberals came to power with ambitious plans, some of which were realized, and others not.


Ontario to impose rent control, vacancy tax
Proposals to curb overheated real estate market also expected to include a new tax on foreign property speculators
Thursday, April 20, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A1

The Ontario government will unveil a package of measures Thursday to cool Toronto's hot real estate market, which are expected to include a new tax on foreign property speculators and a sweeping expansion to rent-control measures.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said Wednesday that Toronto's housing market is starting to have "similarities" to Vancouver's overheated market last year, prior to the B.C. government's introduction of a foreign-buyers tax last August.

"What we're aiming to do is to bring in some initiatives that will help people in that whole continuum of housing, right from rental through to purchasing a home, without having unintended consequences, because that is my fear in a market," she said at an event in Ottawa.

The most significant change expected is the expansion of limits on annual rent increases to all rental properties, including newly constructed units, The Globe and Mail has learned.

Existing rent-control rules apply only to buildings constructed before 1991.

Some tenants have complained about huge rent increases in recent months as real estate prices have soared in the Toronto area.

Ms. Wynne is scheduled to announce her government's plans, along with Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Housing Minister Chris Ballard, at a media event in Toronto's Liberty Village neighbourhood, which has many condominium buildings that have been turned into rental units.

The government was still working on details of the plan Wednesday, but is expected to cap rent increases at a level based on the inflation rate, which is similar to the system currently used in Ontario for older buildings.

The formula limits increases to 1.5 per cent this year, but landlords can apply to the province for permission to raise rents further if they have made improvements to a building.

To cool the hot housing market in Toronto, the province is also considering a 15-per-cent tax on property purchases by foreign buyers. The tax is aimed at targeting speculators and is expected to exclude foreigners who buy properties to live in while working or studying in Ontario.

Mr. Sousa said Wednesday that he has kept close watch over the province's housing market for months and prices continue to climb to "extraordinary" levels.

He cited speculators as one of the contributing factors to Ontario's affordability crisis. "The degree of speculation in the system is crowding out families who are trying to buy into the market," he said.

The province will also work with municipalities on a vacancy tax for unoccupied housing in the Toronto region to encourage owners to rent out unoccupied spaces.

The tax requires co-ordination with municipal governments because it is applied on top of annual property taxes. Vancouver is in the process of implementing a vacant-home tax, with first payments coming in 2018.

The rent-control proposals are already generating controversy, with some in the building industry warning they could deter construction of purpose-built rental units.

"We think it's going to have that negative impact in terms of new rental construction," said Jim Murphy, president and chief executive officer of the Federation of Rental Housing Providers of Ontario, which acts for landlords, property managers and builders.

"So obviously, we are very concerned about that."

Daryl Chong, president of the Greater Toronto Apartment Association, said the current rent-control exemptions for newer buildings have spurred many owners to buy and rent out condo units, greatly increasing the supply of rental accommodation.

"What it has created is thousands of new rental units, but they are not in the form of one building, they are not purposebuilt rental," he said. "They are units in the basements of people's homes and in individual condo units. So it's hugely, tremendously successful."

He warned that rent controls could hurt small investors with just one or two condo units, who are seeing their costs rise 5 per cent annually but could now face rent increases much lower than that, set at or near the inflation rate. Many, he said, would sell, decreasing the rental supply.

Prominent developer Stephen Diamond also urged the government to slow down and consult with developers. He also said tax breaks or incentives, such as taking the HST off new rental projects, might soften any blow to a key sector of the province's broader economy.

"We are talking about a very delicate balance between encouraging the production of affordable housing and at the same time potentially discouraging investment in affordable or any housing in the province - which could tip us into a potential recession," Mr. Diamond said.

But tenants' advocates want expanded rent controls, and argue very little new purposebuilt rental has been created in Toronto anyway, even with exemptions for buildings built after 1991.

Geordie Dent, executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations, says just a few thousand purpose-built rental units have been built every year since 1991. Many more units were built in the 1950s and 60s, not because rent control was imposed in 1974, Mr. Dent said, but because of federal and provincial subsidies and incentives to build rental apartments that later dried up in the 1980s and 90s.

"There is no evidence that rent control affects rental-housing development in one way or the other, for the positive or negative," Mr. Dent said, adding that after the 1991 exemption was put in, rental-housing construction actually dropped, as Ottawa pulled out of the housing-subsidy business completely in the Progressive Conservatives' 1992 budget.

"This argument that rent control affects this? The only ones really making it are billionaire landlords who want to make an extra dollar," Mr. Dent said.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said Ontario must accompany expanded rent controls with new tax incentives or other measures to help spur new construction.

"If we want to make sure that in solving one problem - namely, to provide a degree of protection or stability for tenants - we don't create another one - namely, that cut off the supply of affordable rental housing, which we so desperately need - then I hope anything the Government of Ontario does will be accompanied by measures that substantially encourage the construction of affordable rental housing," Mr. Tory said.

Also Wednesday, the Ontario government said it will begin collecting more data on home buyers when they complete landregistration documents to develop more data on foreign ownership and speculation by investors in the market.

The new reporting requirements will take effect on Monday, and will apply to anyone who buys land that contains up to six single-family residences, or when they purchase agricultural land.

Buyers will have to provide information about where they live, their citizenship and permanent residency status. If property is bought by a corporation, it will have to provide information about who owns or controls the corporation.

The province will also require buyers to reveal whether they or their family members intend to live in a home as their principal residence, and whether the property will be leased out in whole or in part.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath told The Globe that Ms. Wynne's government should have acted sooner as homes in the Greater Toronto Area became increasingly unaffordable.

"I get the sense that this government at the provincial level has watched as housing affordability has grown into a crisis situation and they've basically allowed that crisis to continue to grow. That tells me that the Premier has been out of touch," Ms. Horwath said.

With a report from Justin Giovannetti

Associated Graphic

Ontario's new rent-control proposals are expected to be unveiled in Toronto on Thursday.


A program sponsored by the NHL and its players' association aims to hook new Canadians on the sport - one ball hockey game at a time
Monday, April 17, 2017 – Print Edition, Page L1

TORONTO -- Aya Negm and her little sister Menna looked shyly at the ball-hockey sticks lined against the wall, and then each girl excitedly reached for one. This was very different from the sports they had tried when they lived in Egypt - basketball, soccer and swimming - but the youngsters were intrigued.

The two sisters, 10 and 6, were getting a first brush with hockey, thanks to a Toronto program for new Canadians, part of the NHL's 2016 World Cup of Hockey Legacy Project. The league and its players' association commissioned a free ball-hockey program for kids of the city's recent immigrants. It's just one of the many efforts across the NHL to reach a wider, more diverse fan base and provide a gateway to hockey participation.

The ball-hockey program recently kicked off at the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Foundation's brand-new recreation facility in Toronto - MLSE LaunchPad - which offers free programming to the city's underserviced youth. The twice-weekly program runs on a sports court inside the modern 42,000-squarefoot facility in the Moss Park neighbourhood, on the ground floor of a Toronto Community Housing building.

"We were looking for a place where we could find support in Canada, and make friends," said the girls' mother, Mona Hady. "I want the girls to build more confidence. I want them to play in a place that is safe."

The girls were two of 16 kids gathered for the new learn-toplay program that day, scampering around learning the fundamentals of stick-handling, passing and shooting through fun games.

Some had just come off the basketball court across the gym, while others were wearing indoor soccer shoes and soccer socks.

"I was a ball hog at first and now I communicate more," said Abdul Abduliaah, a 10-year-old who emigrated from Libya. "I don't know how to skate. I never ice skated before, but I really love to score lots of goals in ball hockey. I didn't play any sports before I moved to Canada, but now I think I'm going to play a lot of sports in my life."

For many of these children, it's the first time they've ever partaken in an organized sports program. The staff at MLSE LaunchPad got the word out through settlement services and put out posters in multiple languages. The first session has a limited capacity, but they hope to grow it as it runs three more times this year.

"A program like this is great for newcomers to get to know others that are going through similar experiences," said Vera Dodic, manager of Toronto Newcomer Office. "Children and youth are able to build on their confidence and the sense of belonging faster. This obviously will help the whole family integrate faster into our communities."

Some families who visit MLSE LaunchPad need convincing that sports are as worthy of the child's time as homework or chores. Beyond the Maple Leafs logo on the court where they play, there is no obvious marketing of the team or the NHL to the kids. Coaches weave a different life skill, like independence or communication, into each day's lesson.

"They're playing on a Leafsbranded floor, so maybe they'll be compelled to turn on hockey on a Saturday night and find our team playing, but this is first about helping young people find life opportunities through sport," said Justin Bobb, director of sport programming at MLSE LaunchPad.

"Are we running this program so these kids will want to buy a Mitch Marner jersey or Leafs tickets? No, not really. We don't want them to fall in love with the Leafs because the team helped build this place. We want them to fall in love with physical activity and then maybe find our team at some point."

More than 300,000 newcomers arrived in Canada from July, 2015, to July, 2016, according to Statistics Canada. Meanwhile, the Migration Policy Institute says 1.38 million foreign-born individuals moved to the United States in 2015. As of the 2015-16 season, the NHL had players from 19 different countries.

So the NHL's continued efforts to grow diversity are important, and they certainly aren't the only league or business competing to reach new settlers soon after their arrival.

To kick things off at the World Cup of Hockey, more than 100 new Canadians took their citizenship oath at the fan village in Toronto, including long-time Swedish NHL star Daniel Alfredsson. Every new citizen got a Canadian hockey jersey.

"We believe that diversity isn't just for the sake of diversity," said Jessica Berman, the NHL's vice-president of special projects and corporate social responsibility. "We think people from different backgrounds playing our sport will make the product better and the experience more rich and meaningful for our fans."

The Leafs' community team organized a ball-hockey tournament for more than 100 Syrian refugees and their families in Sault Ste. Marie - including 70 children. Leafs legend Wendel Clark attended the event, handing out Maple Leafs merchandise and hockey sticks to participants.

The Washington Capitals brought Fatima Al Ali to Washington, a player from the United Arab Emirates women's national team, and gave her a whirlwind day with her favourite NHL team.

The San Jose Sharks held a Sikh Heritage night.

The Boston Bruins continued their five-year project to help build hockey in China, which has also strengthened its relationship with the Chinese community in New England. They hosted clinics in China last summer, brought Chinese youth hockey players from Beijing to Boston, and held a Chinese cultural night at TD Garden.

The Calgary Flames invited new Canadians to watch a practice, learn about youth hockey in the city and hang out with assistant general manager Craig Conroy and Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi broadcaster Harnarayan Singh.

"I was telling people how becoming a hockey fan can help someone feel a part of Canadian life - it certainly did for me," said Singh, who was born in Alberta to parents who moved here from India, and became an Edmonton Oilers fan.

"Most there that day had never been inside an NHL arena and we chatted with them as they watched practice down in the lower bowl. We also showed them video of special moments when hockey brought Canadians together - like the Vancouver Olympics or the Summit Series."

The kids at MLSE LaunchPad concluded their ball-hockey session with a scrimmage, cheering wildly for each goal.

Before they left for the night, they were handed tablets and asked to answer a few simple survey questions so the NHL and MLSE can track their attitudes toward sports and fitness, math, reading, writing, their sense of belonging in their new community and whether they consider themselves hockey fans.

"We think hockey teaches teamwork, commitment and perseverance - all qualities that make people successful in life in Canada," Berman said. "So here is access to our sport, and we want you to know that it is for everyone and we believe that being part of it can help to make you feel more Canadian."

Associated Graphic


A child takes a shot in Ball Hockey for Newcomers, a program in the NHL/NHLPA World Cup of Hockey Legacy Project.


Left: Allie Cornacchia offers instruction to Menna Negm, 6, who participates with her sister Aya, 10, in a Ball Hockey for Newcomers class. Right: The Toronto program takes place at the new MLSE LaunchPad community sports facility.

A whisper of buyer fatigue
Friday, April 14, 2017 – Print Edition, Page G2

Toronto's housing market remains an inferno but there are signs that some buyers are retreating from the heat.

In one Facebook group made up of real estate mavens, dozens of agents recently traded tales of showings that have dropped off dramatically. Possibly house hunters are waiting for a new crop of listings after the Passover and Easter holidays, agents speculate, or maybe they're waiting to see if any of the policy changes being floated by different levels of government will materialize. Perhaps they're worn out.

If there is a whisper of buyer fatigue, it seems to be in the singlefamily home segment. The condo market is showing no signs of cooling, agents say.

"It's fierce," says Christopher Bibby of ReMax Hallmark Bibby Group Realty Ltd.

Units are going for such rich amounts that sellers sometimes have trouble grasping the sale price.

"Did you send me the right paperwork?" asked one incredulous owner based in Winnipeg after Mr. Bibby struck a deal for his unit in central Toronto.

Some people are selling first and then looking for another place to buy as prices climb out of sight.

"What they thought was purchasing power is less and less," says Mr. Bibby, pointing to an average price in the Great Toronto Area that were up 33 per cent in March compared with the same month in 2016. "Something will have to happen but how do you slow the pace down?" This week, the Bank of Canada warned that speculators appear to be driving much of the runaway price growth in the GTA.

Taxing foreign buyers or speculators or vacant properties are some of the possible tools that policy makers are considering.

Many industry players argue that governments should be making it easier for developers to build instead of reining in buyers.

David Fleming of Bosley Real Estate Ltd. recently listed a 450square-foot downtown condo unit listed with an asking price of $399,000. After a few days, the unit had already had 80 showings; he guesses it will receive 15 offers.

Mr. Fleming says prices have become so erratic that it's nearly impossible for agents to estimate value based on sales of comparable houses or condos. "You can both overpay in this market and you can underpay."

He recently worked with some condo owners who decided to make the leap to a house. After the dust settled, they had sold the condo and purchased a house for exactly the same amount - $1.75-million.

When the condo unit in the King Street West neighbourhood was listed with an asking price of $1.4-million, it didn't take long for a bully to offer $1.425-million.

It was a Friday night and the offer was only good until 11:59 p.m.

When Mr. Fleming put the word out to interested agents, a second offer came in at an amount substantially higher.

It was a very special building and a large unit, Mr. Fleming says, but he advised the bully - a young man in his early 20s - that he had lost out. Mr. Fleming didn't suggest he raise his bid because he was mountains behind and another round would just prolong the agony. That's when the twentysomething came back with an offer of $1.75-million - a shocking $350,000 above his previous bid.

The rival was an established doctor in his forties who was just as keen on the King West condo with a forever view. At that point, Mr. Fleming had to advise the doctor's agent that the millennial was still at the table. "I'm not looking to grind anybody here - we'll take the highest offer at 11:59."

The anxious sellers, meanwhile, were losing their minds, he says. But Mr. Fleming urged them to stick to the plan of keeping the bidding open until one minute before midnight. The doctor scrambled to come up with more cash but fell short.

The sellers accepted the offer of $1.75-million.

That amount translated to $1,200 a square foot in a building where the average is $800.

"It's just obliterating any price per square foot," Mr. Fleming says of the benchmarks established by comparable sales in the same building.

The sellers, by coincidence, had purchased a house for the same amount when they faced less competition than expected. Mr. Fleming had expected the house to fetch $1.9-million to $2-million. Mr. Fleming figures they received an unreasonable amount for the condo and landed a good deal on the house.

In another case, Mr. Fleming submitted an offer for a detached house in the $1.15-million range.

Everyone expected an intense battle but only five offers landed and Mr. Fleming's came out on top.

When he called his clients to say they had got the house, he had trouble convincing them he was serious. "Is this a joke?" they asked. "If it is, we don't find it funny."

That's the one segment of the market where possibly a whiff of buyer fatigue has set in, he says.

Many agents will choose a list price slightly below the estimated market value of the property when they believe the sellers are likely to receive multiple offers.

But some set a dramatically low asking price in order to create a frenzy. For example, a house might be listed with an asking price of $799,000 when neighbouring houses properties have sold in the $1-million range. That tactic is wearing on some buyers, he says. "It's getting really, really tough for buyers to stomach that."

At the same time, buds are appearing on the trees and many more listings will arrive after the long weekend. "As soon as Easter is done, the market's going to explode."

Sales of preconstruction condos are so hot that builders can simply erect a sign a website and phone number. After a few months, they've collected thousands of names and e-mail addresses of interested buyers.

Once those newly built condos are completed, prices are escalating so quickly that developers can hold onto units and then gradually release new inventory, agents say.

Mr. Bibby says the same developers who used to court agents are often keeping agents out of the loop now that the market is so strong. "When times are good we can't even get a fair answer about what's available and when we can come in with our clients.

When times are tough they depend on us," he says. "It's very short-sighted."

He says it's frustrating for the clients who are genuinely looking for a place to buy.

Mr. Fleming also believes that scenario is very hard for buyers, who are often pressured to buy on the spot with little negotiation. "If you don't want it, I've got 1,000 people lined up," he says of what a developer's sales team will tell prospective purchasers.

Mr. Fleming says certain "VIP" agents who only work in certain projects will have increased access to units. Builders may offer incentives such as luxury cars if agents meet a monthly sales target.

"If a buyer agent sells 10 units in a building in a month, you know whose interest he's working in - his own."

Associated Graphic

Agent David Fleming expects this 450-square-foot King West condo unit listed with an asking price of $399,000 will receive 15 offers.


In praise of the stupid home
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, April 20, 2017 – Print Edition, Page L1

I love technology, but I don't want it to overrun my home.

I'm three-quarters of my way through a master's degree specifically focused on the management of technology and innovation. I marvel at a future of self-driving cars, computers that diagnose and treat disease and 3-D printed everything.

But, at the end of the day, when I close my door behind me, after using an analog, non-digital key to get in, I'm happy to live in what I call a stupid home. I don't own an Amazon Echo - and I don't want one (I'm busy, but still more than capable of turning on my own sound system and ordering my own laundry detergent).

And my walls are free of iPads or touch panels controlling the lighting, thermostat or anything else. I don't even own a television.

My aversion has less to do with fears of identity theft (though that would be valid: AT&T's 2016 Cybersecurity Insights Report discovered that only 10 per cent of companies producing Internetenabled devices were confident their security measures could prevent hacking). It has more to do with the gnawing feeling that technology is overrunning my life. Sometimes, my phone feels like an extension of my arm and I worry about the number of times I compulsively check my e-mail every day (let alone every hour).

It turns out, I'm on to something. Carving out space at home where technology doesn't infiltrate can be healthy: reducing stress, improving sleep - even resulting in better and more frequent sex.

According to Adam Alter, a psychology professor and an associate professor of marketing at NYU's Stern School of Business, we're living in a time of technological addiction - something he explores in his new book Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. Although Alter says that technology's transformative potential is "miraculous," our relentless attachment to our devices, with some people spending up to three hours a day on their smartphones alone, is resulting in a slew of unfortunate side effects.

For example, while our devices promise to connect us, they paradoxically make us feel lonelier and more alienated from our peers.

To counter the negative effects, Alter advocates that people create "a screen-free space" in their homes by locking "phones and other screens in a drawer in a room far away from where they are for a few hours a day."

He explains, "there's an old idea in psychology known as propinquity - the idea that things have a bigger effect on your experience of the world the nearer they are. It's very hard to develop an addiction to something you can't see or reach, so the best thing you can do is spend time away from tech - and spend time in a room that is as near to screen- and tech-free as possible."

Going tech-free, even in a single room, is an idea echoed by author Joshua Becker, who runs a blog about the benefits of simplifying your life: Becoming Minimalist. To Becker, creating a meditative, contemplative, screen-free boudoir results in better self-reflection (and therefore growth as a person), more knowledge (it increases reading) and better sex. "Couples who keep a TV in the bedroom have sex half as often as those who don't," he wrote on one blog post, referring to an Italian study.

"And spouses who choose to interact with one another on an emotional level have better, more fulfilling sex."

Becker's one exception is that "I currently use my cellphone as an alarm clock," he wrote in an e-mail. "It's tempting to use all of its capabilities, but I work hard to limit its use in the bedroom and near bedtime as part of my routine.

Author William Powers also believes in having firm boundaries when it comes to technology.

After spending 10 years working 80 hours a week in development aid, he was burnt out. Part of the issue was the pressure he felt to always be connected. "We are just tethered to the technology to the point where 75 per cent of Americans check phones under the table at dinner," he says. To counter the burnout, he not only slashed his working hours, but, with his wife, implemented weekly "sabbaticals" from technology. "Starting Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday, we don't check our devices," he explains. "We shut them off and remove the batteries."

Powers documented his experiments with "technology fasting" and other forms of pared-down living in a 2014 book New Slow City, but he continues the same habits to this day. "It's like Thoreau said 'Simplify, simplify,' " he explains. "When you simplify things, your life just becomes so much richer."

Now living in Bolivia and working on a study showing the correlation between GDP, carbon emissions and happiness, he's trying to instill the same boundaries to his children. His fouryear-old "has basically never seen a television," he says, "and my wife and I lead by example for our 12-year-old, talking to each other instead of being glued to our screens." While he admits that being unplugged "is easier in Bolivia" than New York, his former full-time home, his ideas have broad practicality. "This is not a radical thing," Powers says.

"Simply connecting in person, as opposed to online, is a big step people can take."

Importantly, Becker, Alter and Powers are not Luddites. To Becker, technology actually has an important role in making our homes better. "Technology can be quite helpful in removing clutter inside the home and allowing us to live with fewer possessions," he wrote in an e-mail. "Our phones take the place of many things that used to take up lots of space: books, movies, photos, maps, cameras, mail, credit cards, etc. [They] almost act as a Mary Poppins handbag of sorts - lots of stuff stored inside a very small package."

Alter adds a similar sentiment: "I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with smart home tech - or with any tech as long as it makes our lives better.

People just happen to feel that screens are making their lives less fulfilling and evidence bears this out. But if tech is a simple utility - if it makes our lives easier to live or more fulfilling, then I'm all for it."

I know what Alter is talking about. It's about finding that balance between utility and utter addiction. When my partner and I first moved in together 10 years ago, I was still a university student and he had just graduated.

We couldn't afford Wi-Fi, so we went without it for four months.

Smartphones weren't yet a thing.

Instead of compulsively checking our e-mails (we saved that for when we were at work and school), we read books and talked. It was nice.

But as life became more complicated, Wi-Fi became a necessity, as did smartphones. We wouldn't be able to make a living without either, more likely. But creating boundaries in our home - where technology only comes in so far but the rest is up to us - creates a sense of peace. It makes our place feel like a sanctuary from the chaos of the world, and helps us recharge for the next time we go back out there.

Trump targets Canada's dairy sector
U.S. President vows to eliminate 'very unfair' system and drive a hard bargain in NAFTA talks as he signs Buy American order
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A1

WASHINGTON, OTTAWA -- U.S. President Donald Trump is putting Canada in his crosshairs, vowing to eliminate its "very unfair" dairy industry supplymanagement system and threatening to tear up the North American free-trade agreement for good if Ottawa won't agree to substantial changes. At a tool factory in Kenosha, Wis., Tuesday - where Mr. Trump signed an executive order to reinforce protectionist U.S. procurement policies and limit the number of highly skilled foreign workers coming into the country - the President promised to drive a hard bargain in NAFTA renegotiations later this year.

And for the first time since taking office, he accused Canada of trade violations as he pledged to seek "fair trade" for Wisconsin's dairy farmers.

"In Canada, some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers, and others, and we're going to start working on that," he told workers at Snap-on Tools. "It's another typical onesided deal against the United States." If Mr. Trump goes after Canada's dairy industry, it could cause major political and budget problems for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Knocking down tariffs would deprive Ottawa of revenue, while a rise in imports could destabilize the country's carefully calibrated production system for industries worth about $10-billion annually.

Well-funded dairy lobbyists could also force taxpayers to hand over significant compensation: Last fall, the Trudeau government announced $350-million in compensation for Canadian milk producers after allowing more foreign cheese imports under the Canada-European Union trade deal.

Canada's protectionist rules for milk, eggs and poultry slap tariffs of up to 300 per cent on imports and tightly regulate price and production. The supply system stifles competition to ensure Canadian producers have steady market access. U.S. farmers also accuse their Canadian counterparts of slashing prices on ultrafiltered milk to drive American producers out of the market.

Mr. Trump's tough talk marks a return to his bellicose persona from the campaign trail last year, when he regularly derided NAFTA as one of the worst deals ever made. As President, Mr. Trump tamped the rhetoric down somewhat, calling only for "tweaking" in the Canada-U.S. trade relationship. And in recent weeks, a group of more moderate figures in his administration has been said to be gaining influence on the trade file.

But as he approaches 100 days in office, Mr. Trump renewed the fight. And where previously he had directed most of his NAFTArelated fire at Mexico, he now included Canada in his salvos.

"NAFTA has been very, very bad for our country. It's been very, very bad for our companies and for our workers and we're going to make some very big changes," he warned. "Or we're going to get rid of NAFTA for once and for all. We cannot continue like this, believe me."

On Tuesday, Canada's ambassador to the United States responded to Mr. Trump's attack by addressing the governors of New York and Wisconsin, two sources of U.S. dairy farmer discontent.

"Canada does not accept the contention that Canada's dairy policies are the cause of financial loss for dairy farmers in the United States. The facts do not bear this out," David MacNaughton wrote in a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Mr. MacNaughton attached a U.S. Department of Agriculture dairy publication that he said shows overproduction of dairy products in the United States and around the world are the reason for "poor results" in the American dairy sector. He also accused the United States of hypocrisy, pointing out that it imports a smaller percentage of dairy than Canada does and that the United States already has more access to Canada's dairy market than most countries do as a result of NAFTA.

Still, some Canadian politicians have suggested supply management could be used as a bargaining chip in NAFTA talks. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall floated the idea in Washington earlier this month, and contended loosening the system would have the side benefit of lowering prices through competition.

"If you take a look at the price of dairy in most states and you think about what low-income Canadian families are paying for the same block of cheese or quart of milk, maybe there's something meritorious about a policy that would potentially lower the cost of those staples for Canadians," he said.

Mr. Trump said Tuesday he was frustrated at the time it will take to get NAFTA talks started. Under the U.S. system for negotiating trade deals, the President must give Congress 90 days' notice before talks begin. "We have to wait these long periods of time. The whole thing is ridiculous," he said.

In the meantime, he is taking action on his own. The order signed Tuesday directs the government to reinforce Buy American policies - which favour U.S. firms over foreign competitors for government contracts - by eliminating any exemptions or waivers, such as those currently enjoyed by Canadian companies. It also seeks to tighten requirements for work permits, such as the H-1B visa heavily used by high-tech companies to bring in skilled foreign workers.

"For too long, we've watched as our factories have been closed and our jobs have been sent to faraway lands," Mr. Trump said, describing the World Trade Organization as "another one of our disasters."

The order, however, largely consisted of directives to his administration to come up with plans rather than immediate action. And there could be significant barriers stopping them from coming into effect.

Elliot Feldman, a Washington trade lawyer, said Buy American provisions run counter to WTO rules and run the risk of triggering trade wars.

"It encourages other countries to pursue similar trade-distorting, anti-competitive policies which Americans, especially, don't like, as it shuts them out of foreign markets," he wrote in an e-mail.

Targeting H-1B could set up a battle between the White House and Silicon Valley. The tech sector has proven willing to fight Mr. Trump before, with such heavy-hitters as Apple, Facebook and Microsoft backing court challenges to the President's ban on immigrants from six majority-Muslim countries.

The fact that any measures will not come into effect immediately gives Canadian diplomats, politicians and business people time to push back. One senior official in the federal Finance Department said Finance Minister Bill Morneau will tell the Trump administration that Canada is opposed to Buy American provisions when he travels to Washington later this week for the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Canada has notched some successes. Earlier this month, New York State dropped Buy America provisions from its budget after lobbying from the Ontario, Quebec and Canadian governments.

Brad Duguid, Ontario's Economic Development Minister, who travelled to Albany to lobby on the New York measure, made the case that Americans are hurting themselves by making such moves.

"Any measures that the U.S. government takes that increase the cost of trade between Canada and the United States will impact the nine million American whose jobs depend on an unfettered Canada-U.S. trade relationship," he said in an e-mail.

With reports from Greg Keenan in Toronto and Joanna Slater in New York

Associated Graphic

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a visit to the headquarters of Snap-On, a tool manufacturer, in Kenosha, Wis.,on Tuesday.


Cheese makers brace for European imports
Local artisans worry that new trade deal will push them out of the market as cheaper products direct from EU become available
Saturday, April 15, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A6

About 17 years ago, amidst what she calls a "stupid midlife crisis," Ruth Klahsen decided she wanted to become a professional cheese maker.

The former chef from Stratford, Ont., looked around for ways to learn the craft. In Canada at that time, cheese making was niche at most, and the best she could find was a four-day course. But cheese is a complicated business, demanding an understanding of history and tradition as well as precise microbiology and biochemistry.

So she turned to Europe. There, she found the wealth of knowledge she was looking for: apprenticeship programs with third- and fourth-generation cheese makers, PhD-level courses on cheese science and an entire institute set up by the French government devoted to the study of cheese.

"Really good European cheese - there's way more history and education than we have," she said. In Europe, unlike Canada, there was an established cheese culture, including systems such as the French Appellation d'origine contrôlée, which sets strict guidelines for how cheese is produced and sold in different regions - every detail spelled out down to the type of hay the cows can be given.

Ms. Klahsen worries that this disparity will soon work against her. She used what she learned to help build a successful business back in Ontario, which is now under threat from the European way.

In July, the government is set to more than double the amount of European cheese imported into the country as part of the new Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). This will mean an additional 17,700 tonnes of European cheese - a figure that represents about 4 per cent of current Canadian cheese production.

The Dairy Processors Association of Canada (DPAC) estimates the change could result in the loss of $230-million annually to domestic producers and potentially up to 400 jobs.

"All cheese makers will be impacted by this, whether you're small, medium or large," DPAC president Jacques Lefebvre said.

And while the changes seem like good news to consumers who want more variety at the grocery store, some say it could actually have the opposite effect.

"Consumers are sort of sitting here on a double-edged sword," said Georgs Kolesnikovs, who runs an annual cheese festival in Picton, Ont.

"On the one hand, it'd be nice to get some really sexy Camembert that I normally wouldn't see in a supermarket here. But on the other hand ... I worry that some of those little guys, they're going to be really endangered," he said.

The smaller producers don't have a diverse range of other products to turn to in the same way as bigger companies, such as Kraft or Saputo. "I fear that Big Cheese is going to be the big winner here."

The irony is not lost on those such as Ms. Klahsen, who helped to pioneer and popularize European-style cheese making in Canada, and now find themselves at risk of being displaced by cheese actually from Europe.

"It is comical. It's just kind of tragic," she said. The biggest concern for local cheese makers is not just a question of quality, but price. They say that a variety of factors, including supply management and generous agricultural subsidies in the European Union, mean milk prices and other costs of production are higher in Canada.

"My frustration with the whole thing is that the playing field isn't even," Ms. Klahsen said. "Why wouldn't [customers] buy really good French cheese when it's way cheaper than my cheese?" In a statement, an Agriculture Canada and Agri-Food Canada spokesman pointed to two funding programs announced last year aimed at the dairy industry. That funding, totalling $350-million, is aimed at helping dairy farmers and dairy processors to modernize their production systems.

But given that the government has not yet released details on how the CETA changes will be implemented - namely who will be allowed to import the EU products - groups such as DPAC say it's too soon to know whether such funding will suffice.

The government has also emphasized that this is the first time the import quota for cheese has been increased in more than 40 years, and stressed the benefits of creating access to European markets. But Mr. Lefebvre said most Canadian cheese producers aren't large enough to compete in the well-established European market.

Most frustrating to the industry is that the changes will take place just as many of the country's small cheese makers are beginning to make their mark. Until about the 1980s, Canadian cheese often simply meant white or orange. But around that time, a small group of producers in Quebec, including some European immigrants, began introducing new styles of French and Italian cheeses.

Over time, the artisanal and farmstead varieties - the latter meaning that the cows are raised on the same farm where the cheese is produced - became popular, and the number of producers increased. So, too, did the quality.

"All of a sudden, there was Québécois cheese just as good as what was produced in France, just as tasty, and had its own story to tell about its own terroir," Mr. Kolesnikovs said.

In 2013, the Lankaaster Aged Loaf - a traditional gouda "with lovely butterscotch, pineapple and lactic notes," according to Mr. Kolesnikovs's website - was declared the best cheese in the world at the Global Cheese Awards in Britain. And cheeses from Quebec and Ontario have won numerous medals over the years at the American Cheese Society competitions.

Producers in Quebec have been particularly vocal about their concerns. The province has the highest concentration of small-scale producers, and they already struggle to compete with one another.

"The market is saturated," Mr. Kolesnikovs said. "They're deathly afraid of all this cheese - lowerpriced cheese - from France and other places in Europe coming in and making it even more difficult to run their business."

Jean Morin, who Mr. Kolesnikovs describes as "the rock star of Quebec cheese at the moment," said the CETA changes in particular would hurt the rural villages whose economies depend on cheese production. In 2015, Mr. Morin's Laliberté (triple-cream cheese made from whole milk, with "aromas of mushrooms with cream") was crowned the Canadian Grand Champion title.

That cheese, as with his other varieties, is produced in the tiny town of Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick, located about halfway between Montreal and Quebec City.

In the village of about 400 people, about 20 are employees of Mr. Morin's business.

Also concerned are the dairy farmers. "Every percentage of market that is given away to foreign interests is milk that will not be produced in Canada," said Isabelle Bouchard, director of communications at the Dairy Farmers of Canada. Her group anticipates the change will result in $116-million in lost revenue annually.

These days, Ms. Klahsen has been active in advocating for more education so that the new generation of Canadian cheese makers can be better equipped than she was all those years ago.

"There's just so much potential," she said.

Mr. Morin agrees.

"We are afraid," he said. "But we are hopeful."

Associated Graphic

Ruth Klahsen, founder of Monforte Dairy, travelled to Europe to learn traditional cheese-making techniques, but now fears increased European cheese imports, part of the new CETA deal, may hurt her business.


When an opera festival's drama is offstage
With a new position as general director of the Vancouver Opera, Kim Gaynor couldn't let her leg injury take the spotlight
Monday, April 24, 2017 – Print Edition, Page L2

VANCOUVER -- Not that there's ever a good time to fall from your horse, but when it happened to Kim Gaynor, it was particularly inconvenient.

Gaynor was exactly three months away from launching a brand new opera festival in Vancouver when she fell from her beloved horse Gin Fizz de St. Germain. She had brought him over from Switzerland when she left the Verbier Festival to take on the position of general director of Vancouver Opera. It was a serious accident that resulted in a tibial plateau fracture, with cracks down her leg almost to the bottom. She was in hospital initially for two weeks; but a few days after her release, she had to return because of a serious infection.

"Six weeks of antibiotics; I just finished. And painkillers. It was a very, very painful injury. So one week I've been heavy-drugfree," Gaynor says during an interview just before Easter weekend. She pulls up her left pant leg, revealing an enormous scar.

But even with 14 inches of metal in her, Gaynor still had an opera festival to plan, no easy task in an arts environment faced with aging audiences and declining sales. With no WiFi in the hospital, friends wheeled her over to the closest Starbucks so she could get some work done. Further complicating matters, she was robbed twice during her ordeal - her phone and e-reader stolen from her hospital bedside while she was in a drug-induced sleep; and back at home, while immobile upstairs, an intruder entered the house and walked off with her computer. With replaced electronics, she did as much work as she could from the hospital and home.

"I knew that would all be under control and people kept me up to date," she says now.

"Obviously, had there been big problems, it would have been different because I would have been not able as well as normally to deal with them, but we haven't really run into any of those yet."

Still, it was an awful lot to deal with as the inaugural Vancouver Opera Festival approached. Not only is it a new festival, which has replaced the traditional season model at VO, but Gaynor herself is also new to the company, having taken over from James Wright only this past July. "There's never a good time to smash your tibia, but it's kind of the worst time with the new job and the festival coming up. But I will hobble around on my crutches as best I can," she says.

As crutches go, they're quite lovely. Gaynor had finally been back on her feet - well, one of them, anyway - making a gradual entry back into the workplace when she attended a board meeting ahead of the company's big gala on March 31.

She was bemoaning the ugliness of her crutches when Parvin Mirhady, VO's head of costumes, came to her rescue. "She took my crutches and brought them back at the end of the board meeting bedazzled," Gaynor says. Gaynor had intended to use them like that only for the gala, but the ultimate fashion accessory has turned out to be a fine ice-breaker. "Everywhere I go, people smile and talk to me.

It's a conversation starter. It's better than my dog," she says. "I don't know how long I'll keep them, because actually my entire house and car and dog are covered in little sparkles."

Gaynor will certainly still be using those crutches (perhaps restyled) when the inaugural Vancouver Opera Festival opens on April 28. Taking place primarily at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, the Vancouver Playhouse next door and on the Queen Elizabeth Plaza, the festival is packed with promising programming.

There are three core productions: Verdi's Otello, Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, with libretto by Terrence McNally, based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean. Prejean herself will appear at one of the complementary festival events, many taking place in the Festival Tent on the Queen Elizabeth Plaza.

The Plaza will be animated with an opera-inspired video installation by artist Paul Wong on enormous screens, playing until the action shuts down each night. And unlike many other events that take place in that space, the festival will not be cut off from view with fencing.

"I wanted to have something open and inviting," Gaynor says.

"I wanted a made-you-look effect." There are challenges with putting on this festival that don't involve bone fractures - some quite Vancouver-specific.

With the hopes of creating a festival feel on the outdoor plaza, the possibility of rain is not thrilling. And the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, the venue for Otello and Dead Man Walking on alternating dates, was not built to accommodate works in repertory. There are no wings or backstage areas that can adequately store the sets. So the company commissioned a single set that would serve both shows (but decorated so that it will be unrecognizable from opera to opera).

Then there's the all-important box office. VO moved to a festival model to ensure the future viability of the company as it deals with universal challenges facing the opera world. Gaynor says tickets are selling, but she concedes the buzz has been slow to build.

"It's only just now that we're starting to see press coming out about the festival, so I'm still really waiting for the big excitement," she says. "I think festivals, for them to be successful, have to have a level of buzz that happens. Now, it's a new festival so that's harder to generate ... but I'm still hoping that that will happen. So that's the anticipation thing right now: wondering 'will the fire catch?' "

The Vancouver Opera Festival runs April 28 to May 13 (


In addition to the three opera productions, here are five worthy events at the VO Festival.

Ethical Justice in the 21st Century You've seen the film, now meet its inspiration. Sister Helen Prejean, author of the book Dead Man Walking, joins a panel to discuss the death penalty, incarceration and their alternatives. April 29, 4:30 pm, Festival Tent .

The Carmina Burana Sing-Along Watch from your seat or register to rehearse and perform with the Vancouver Bach Choir and sing onstage. May 3, 8 pm, QET .

New Works Project In four open workshops, UBC student composers and writers collaborate with two singers and a pianist to create new chamber opera works.

May 3, 5, 10 and 12, 3 pm, Festival Tent

Ute Lemper The legendary German singer makes a rare Vancouver appearance with her show Last Tango in Berlin, with songs by Piaf, Brel and others. May 4, 8 pm. Orpheum Theatre (with a free talk May 5, 4:30 pm at the Festival Tent)

Tanya Tagaq Never miss an opportunity to see Tagaq, the Polaris Prizewinning throat singer who puts on a mind-blowing show. May 12, 8 pm, Vogue Theatre

Associated Graphic

Kim Gaynor, the head of the Vancouver Opera festival, is seen at the opera's facilities on April 13. Gaynor took a hard fall off her horse, which landed her in the hospital for a few weeks, three months before the festival's launch, making the festival planning a challenge.


Eaton's heir loved horses and rock music
In 1970, he helped organize the Festival Express, a cross-Canada concert tour featuring Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, April 21, 2017 – Print Edition, Page S8

Thor Eaton, who died last week, was one of the four Eaton sons who inherited the Eaton's department-store empire, a business so successful that it once accounted for half the department-store sales in Canada. Though he owned a quarter of the company, he never worked there, except for a brief period one summer when he was a student.

"He was uninterested and uninvolved," said his wife, Conservative Senator Nicole Eaton (née Courtois). "Once, when we were in a department store in Tokyo, he gave me a tour and showed me exactly how a department store worked, so he understood the business."

When the Eaton's departmentstore chain was in trouble in the 1990s, Mr. Eaton pitched in, meeting with shoppers and store staff in Alberta, while his three brothers covered the rest of the country. Eaton's went bankrupt in 1999, after its revenue plummeted in the previous decade.

The Eaton family was not left destitute, however. They had gone public with the Eaton's department-store chain in 1998 and sold their 41-per-cent interest in CTV in January of that year.

Thor Eaton's early interest was rock 'n' roll and promoting concerts. He and his business partner, Ken Walker, ran a concert promotion firm called EatonWalker Associates, that included his younger brother, George. In 1969, the year of the Woodstock Festival, the partners bankrolled the Toronto Rock 'n' Roll Revival at Varsity Stadium, with acts such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and the Doors.

The next year, Thor and his brother financed one of the most unusual musical events in Canada, the Festival Express, which he also organized with Mr. Walker. The transcontinental rock-music tour featured such major performers as Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead. What set it apart was that the musicians travelled together on a chartered train between venues. Film of that tour lay unused for decades, until it was made into a documentary shown at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2003.

Thor Eaton negotiated the rental of the passenger train from CN. The railway was reluctant at first, but Mr. Eaton pressed an uncle on his mother's side, a successful businessman in Montreal, who was able to help persuade the company to rent out the train. The musicians performed at concerts along the route, in Toronto, Winnipeg and Calgary.

Mr. Eaton, who in 1970 had long blond hair, befriended many of the rock stars, having a whisky with Janis Joplin before every show. On another occasion, John Lennon and Yoko Ono visited him at his family's house north of the city.

Just before the Festival Express, a group of radical fans visited Mr. Eaton unannounced at his office in Toronto. They demanded free tickets, free food and free dope. Mr. Eaton politely threw them out of his office.

Thor Edgar Eaton was born in Toronto on Aug. 22, 1942, to the former Signy Stefansson, an Icelandic-Canadian, from whom he inherited his Nordic name and blond hair, and John David Eaton, who was a grandson of Timothy Eaton, founder of the Eaton's empire. Thor went to St. Andrew's College, north of Toronto, and the University of New Brunswick. After he left UNB, he worked for a while as a stock broker with Dominion Securities.

When his father died in 1973, Thor and his three brothers, always known as the Eaton Boys, inherited the department store and catalogue business, as well as other interests, including CFTO, Canada's most prosperous private television station.

By this time, Mr. Eaton had eased out of rock promotion and taken up horse racing. He bought a number of thoroughbreds, among the first were three he bought from the stables owned by Conn Smythe, the late owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs. As an aside, Mr. Eaton was a lifelong fan of the Toronto hockey team and a former director of Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd., which owned the team.

Mr. Eaton started racing his horses first at Woodbine and other tracks in Ontario. Breeding horses became a business and he had stables at his farm, Eaton Hall, in Caledon, north of Toronto. Later he also operated a stable in Ocala, Fla. (known as the "horse capital of the world"), and raced in the winter season at tracks such as Hialeah, near Miami.

"He had hundreds of horses over his career and we won a lot of races over the years," said Mike Doyle, the Irish-born trainer who worked with Mr. Eaton for decades. "I think two of the best horses over the years were Bessarabian and Muskoka Weekend. Thor was a wonderful man to work with. He was always calm and dedicated to the horse world."

In his book The Eatons: The Rise and Fall of Canada's Royal Family, Rod McQueen reported that Thor Eaton was once offered $2-million for Bessarabian but turned it down. The horse had 18 wins and earned more than a million dollars.

Mr. Eaton's investment in his horses was far more than merely financial. His wife recalled the time when one of his horses stumbled at a race in Toronto. It had a broken leg and was put down a short while later. Thor was visibly upset and left the track. In the old days he might have had a stiff whisky, but he was a teetotaler for the last 30 years of his life. "He was so upset and flustered, he said let's go have a Dairy Queen," Ms. Eaton said.

Thor Eaton was a voracious reader and the bookshelves in his house are crammed with mystery novels, histories and political biographies. He read five newspapers a day: The Globe and Mail, The National Post, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and the Toronto Sun. Mr. Eaton was fascinated with politics, and was a strong supporter of the Conservative Party of Canada.

"He was fiscally conservative but socially liberal. He was far too bohemian to care about how people lived their lives," his wife said.

His pastimes included salmon fishing, and he would spend weeks on the Bonaventure River on the border between Quebec and New Brunswick, and in later years on the Eagle River in Labrador. On a salmon fishing trip in 1997, he complained that his vision was a bit fuzzy in one eye. He was soon blind in that eye and at the end of his life was losing vision in the other eye as well.

Mr. Eaton died on April 10 at home in Toronto after a sudden heart attack, at the age of 74. He leaves his wife, Nicole; son, Thor, Jr.; daughter, Cléophée; two grandchildren; and three brothers, John Craig, Fredrik and George.

To submit an I Remember: Send us a memory of someone we have recently profiled on the Obituaries page. Please include I Remember in the subject field.

Associated Graphic

Thor Eaton was one of four sons who inherited the Eaton's department-store empire. Throughout his life, he had many diverse passions, including music promotion and horse racing.


Thor Eaton, centre-right, walks through an Eaton's store in 1997 following a news conference with the new president of the company, George Kosich, centre-left, and Thor's three brothers.


ENCOUNT3RS, opening at Ottawa's National Arts Centre, unites three prominent ballet companies - Ballet BC, Alberta Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada - in honour of the country's sesquicentennial. But it's less a 'celebration' and more a crucial investment for the country's dance community, Martha Schabas writes
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, April 20, 2017 – Print Edition, Page L1

Emily Molnar and Nicole Lizée had their first meeting at the café by domestic security in Montreal's airport. After exchanging video links and recordings of their work, the artistic director of Ballet BC and the Lachine, Que.based composer tried to squeeze the most out of Molnar's short stopover in Quebec. They talked about books, film and new visual art, discussing recent obsessions and ideas that were on their minds.

"We both make work by building worlds within worlds - we break stuff down until we find new opportunities," Molnar explains.

The Molnar-Lizée partnership is one of three choreographer-composer pairings that form the basis of ENCOUNT3RS, a landmark triple bill that opens at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on Thursday night. It's rare to see three prominent Canadian ballet companies onstage together and this major project, in honour of Canada 150, does just that, uniting Ballet BC, Alberta Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada on the same program. Thirty-minute ballets have been commissioned from key choreographers from each company, pairing them with a Canadian composer of their choice. "I was so compelled by the intricacy and imagination of Nicole's work," Molnar says. "She pushes the potential of what an orchestra can do as a collective."

Jean Grand-Maître, artistic director of Alberta Ballet, is collaborating with Newfoundlandbased composer Andrew Staniland, and Guillaume Côté, choreographic associate at the National Ballet, is working with the Toronto-based Kevin Lau.

The idea for ENCOUNT3RS dates to 2013, when British conductor Alexander Shelley was appointed music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

With Canada's sesquicentennial around the corner, Cathy Levy, who is director of NAC's dance programming, started to dream of a major collaboration.

"The question was: How do we make something monumental together?" she explains.

For Levy, it was crucial that this "something" be an actual investment in the country's contemporary-dance repertoire, rather than a mere celebration of it. She calls ENCOUNT3RS a "legacy project" in the sense that each of the ballets and music compositions will live on beyond their run at the NAC - all three will be remounted at their respective company either later this year or in the 201819 season.

For Ballet BC, a company that doesn't have the luxury of its own orchestra, remounting is made possible by a professional recording that NACO will make of each composition. Levy thinks the music can potentially stand alone in the future, too. "It is a rare logistical challenge to bring three ballet companies together for an evening and we didn't want this to be three shows and we're done. For us, it was very important that the artists own the work."

ENCOUNT3RS is also a way of trying to tackle an ongoing problem in contemporary dance: Mixed programs and non-classical work are a challenge at the box office. "It is about taking risks," Levy adds. "It's 2017 and this is about saying these artists are current contemporary makers of this form - and we want to celebrate that."

The commission offers each choreographer a particular kind of artistic opportunity. For GrandMaître, who's known for his portrait ballets about Canadian singer-songwriters and normally has to worry about programming that balances the Alberta Ballet season, the project was a refreshing clean slate. "It's been a very long time since I've had a commission that's 'do what you want'," he says. He chose to work with the Juno Award-winning Staniland because of what he perceived as a lot of humanity in his music. "I'm wary of contemporary music where they're trying to reinvent the form, and innovation stands in for feeling."

Their Caelestis draws on the choreographer and composer's shared interest in the number phi and the related concept of the golden ratio. Staniland wanted to look at the way phi could be reflected in harmonic sequencing, while Grand-Maître wanted to apply the concept to the tension between the natural and technological world. He describes the ballet as a reimagining of Adam and Eve in a new technoindustrial landscape. "My choreography tends to be exaggerated. I like the dramatic flesh. The body becoming sublime - that's something I kept saying to my dancers in the studio."

Levy, who's seen Caelestis in rehearsal, says, "I think Jean's head has exploded in the most beautiful way."

After meeting in Montreal, Molnar and Lizée decided to build a ballet around the theme of dreaming. Lizée liked the idea of a person having an alter-ego while she's asleep, while Molnar liked the concept of lives not lived. "If you put your life on hold, where would you go?" she muses. They started to build a vocabulary that was based on the image of concentric dreams. "The stage is the eye of an observer who's dreaming," Molnar explains, adding that the protagonist in Keep Driving, I'm Dreaming is always shifting and that the ballet unfolds in a "surreal, abstract landscape, without beginning or end, and using the imagery of different relationships."

Out of the three choreographers, the process has been the most surprising for Côté. He requested to work with Lau after their collaboration on the National Ballet's large-scale adaptation of Le Petit Prince, which had its world premiere last June. Dark Angels started out with the concept of assimilation and ritual, looking at the individual versus the collective from a primal, animalistic point of view. "Kevin came back with an incredibly powerful and tense score," Côté tells me. "What we'd done in the past had been more melodic and this was suddenly, intensely powerful and rhythmical. I got very excited."

With a cast of 10 (mostly principal) dancers from the National, Côté felt he had to push himself into uncharted creative territory to do the music justice. "I was up against somewhere where I had to decide whether I keep creating in the vocabulary I always use - or do I try something new? And I tried something new. Working from the point of discomfort was necessary." Later he adds, "Dark Angels will definitely be something I remember, because it was definitely outside my comfort zone."

All three choreographers are thrilled to have their companies share a stage with their colleagues from across the country. Despite the sprawling distance between coasts, Canada's ballet community is small and the NAC studios have become host to a reunion of former classmates and collaborators. There's also an outpouring of gratitude for the creative leadership of Shelley, whom Levy describes as "the seventh artist" in the project; he was an ongoing source of input and inspiration for composers and choreographers alike and a real force in bringing ENCOUNT3RS from concept to stage.

"This is exactly what a National Arts Centre should do," GrandMaître says.

ENCOUNT3RS runs April 20-22 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa (

Associated Graphic

The Alberta Ballet is seen in rehearsal. The ballet's artistic director, Jean Grand-Maître, is among the collaborators behind ENCOUNT3RS, which debuts in Ottawa on Thursday night.


Guillaume Côté, choreographic associate at the National Ballet, rehearses for a show.


For over two decades, top model Stacey McKenzie has advocated for a more diverse standard of beauty. As Randi Bergman learns, the fashion industry is finally listening
Friday, April 21, 2017 – Print Edition, Page P30

I first encountered Stacey McKenzie when I was a student volunteering backstage at Toronto fashion week about a decade ago. Fresh off the runway, she returned to the room full of racks and industry rookies to report that someone had called her ugly from the front row. Met with sympathetic looks, she immediately burst into a baritone laugh before sauntering over to her dressing area to slip into her next look. If the snub had made her feel any sense of insecurity, it certainly didn't show.

Many models deal with their fair share of negativity during their careers, but McKenzie has made overcoming such adversity something of a specialty. A 5'10" top model, she has enjoyed steady work for close to 25 years. She's also a larger-than-life personality who appears regularly on TV as a-red carpet commentator and has enjoyed a multi-episode stint on this year's season of America's Next Top Model (ANTM). McKenzie's most timely title, however, is trailblazer. During a season when issues she's long advocated for or - mainly catwalk diversity, unconventional beauty esand fashion's power to boost self-esteem - are finally being embraced by the industry, McKenzie's influence on her field is coming into focus.

The second time I met Stacey McKenzie was at the photo shoot for this story, where she wiggled around in the type of ball pit a parent might rent for a toddler's backyard birthday party, giving her all to every shot. When in McKenzie's presence, you can only assume she's always possessed supreme self-assuredness, but growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, she was frequently bullied for her light complexion, abundant freckles, full lips and that deep boom of a voice. "I didn't go out much, which I think was my mom's way of shielding me," says McKenzie.

"I was very outgoing but I would get teased a lot."

She wasn't "discovered" as many models are. Instead, she decided to become a model after coming across a picture of Madonna and the Parisian designer Jean Paul Gaultier in a magazine as a kid during the '80s. "When I saw the picture of them I figured, 'they're different looking, just like me,'" she says.

"They both had the white skin and bleached blond hair and there was a bit of a connection there because I had never seen anyone that looked like me in my country."

Despite not knowing that modelling could be a career, something clicked for McKenzie, setting her on a personal quest. For years, she practiced her walk in the mirror, at the mall and at school until relocating to Toronto as a teen, with her mother, where she discovered episodes of Fashion Television and models such as Pakistani-German-Canadian Yasmeen Ghauri who were broadening the scope of beauty ideals at the time. She cold-called every agency she could find, each time receiving a polite "no." Later, she'd spend lunch money on overnight buses to New York City, where she received less polite refusals. "I kept trying to change my look to fit in and when that didn't work, I realized I should just accept it," she says. After finishing high school and working three jobs to save up for a flight, McKenzie gave modelling one last shot in Paris.

"I met Stacey through a mutual friend who called me and said, 'I'm going to send you an amazing girl, but be ready," remembers Gaspard Lukali, McKenzie's first agent in Paris.

His first move was to send her to the casting for Gaultier's Fall 1994 show. Having arrived too late and sobbing in a phone booth nearby, she was approached by Gaultier's assistant who hired her on the spot.

Castings for Christian Lacroix, Alexander McQueen and Thierry Mugler soon followed, as did a spot in a 1995 Calvin Klein ad campaign, which she scored by charming legendary fashion photographer Richard Avedon. In 1997, McKenzie played a now-iconic bit part as a sci-fi stewardess in Luc Besson's cult-classic film, The Fifth Element, starring Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich.

McKenzie's ascension was perfectly timed for the supermodel era, a high-glamour moment that saw individuality and over-the-top personality become prized in the fashion world. "The Big Five" (Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz and Christy Turlington) were as much beloved for their looks as for their personas. Meanwhile, Tyra Banks was in the early stages of spinning off her own success into the ANTM franchise. But, into the new millennium, models evolved to become blank - usually Caucasian - canvases for big labels to impose their brand identities on and celebrity models appeared much less frequently on the catwalks. After informallymentoring younger models for years, McKenziemoved back to Toronto in the mid-2000s and launched a series of motivational workshops that used the runway as a platform for building up a strong sense of self-esteem in young people, many of them her female fans. "I know what it feels like to not have that help," she says. More recently, she started a summer camp for girls where they learn from professionals in the fashion, art, entertainment and business fields. "It's about going after your destiny," she says.

McKenzie is particularly keen on promoting diversity, an issue the fashion industry has historically been slow to embrace but has made substantial strides to address over the last couple of seasons. "I think it's about time," says McKenzie. "There are so many diverse looks in this world, people need to relate. When I was starting out, I could never relate." She's not the only one to remark on this change. "In terms of blackmodels, there used to be only one look. Today you seemany successful black models who are also diverse within that context," says Zoomer magazine's Suzanne Boyd, a friend of McKenzie's. "Stacey started that - from the short hair with its natural texture or cornrows, and its caramel colour, to her freckles not hidden by makeup. All those Stacey-isms are now not only represented by her."

The recent embrace of models such as the Fall 2017 season's breakout star, Canadian Aleece Wilson, prove that McKenzie's career has helped the industry finally view uniqueness as an asset. "Canada has been the quiet storm giving the fashion and beauty worlds stars when those worlds needed them most," says Boyd, reflecting on the careers of similarly singular model successes such as Coco Rocha and DariaWerbowy. "I think what ties it together is that our models go out into the world personifying Brand Canada values - great beauty, individuality, character, good behaviour - and they achieve long, solid, careers." There's nothing ugly about that.


Stacey McKenzie's career ranges from guest spots on shows including America's Next Top Model (pictured above with host Rita Ora) to youth workshops called Walk This Way (middle right). In February, she returned to the runway for The Blonds' New York Fashion Week show (bottom right). Top Model (she's pictured above with co-host Rita Ora) to youth workshops runway for the Blonds' New York Fashion Week show

Associated Graphic



The bold future of Indigenous documentary cinema
Friday, April 21, 2017 – Print Edition, Page R1

On a bitter winter day in 1969, members of the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne, near Cornwall, Ont., began blocking a bridge on the reserve that linked Canada and the United States: The protesters complained that Canadian customs agents were imposing duties on their shopping as the natives moved across their own territory. Michael Kanentakeron Mitchell, a young Mohawk activist working with the National Film Board of Canada's Challenge for Change community film program, knew a story when he saw one. He contacted the NFB, which sent a camera crew to the blockade.

The result, directed by Mitchell and Mort Ransen of the NFB, is the seminal 36-minute documentary You Are on Indian Land.

The film, in which Mitchell figures prominently addressing the crowd and getting arrested, is mainly a real-time record of the protest as police haul away proud young rebels, outraged middle-aged women and mischievous children. You Are on Indian Land is often considered the beginning of Indigenous documentary in Canada, an object lesson on how to use the camera to expose wrongs or make a case for rights. The film can be streamed for free at but a remastered version with Mitchell now credited alongside Ransen is also being unveiled at Vancouver's DOXA festival in May.

If that is where Indigenous documentary has come from, The Road Forward represents the bold and optimistic position where it now stands. That film, a musical history of native nationalism by Dene-Métis playwright Marie Clements, will be featured both at DOXA and at Toronto's Hot Docs festival next week. As the spring documentary season opens, Canada's reconciliation with its aboriginal peoples is in the air.

Mitchell stuck with politics, not filmmaking - for many years, he served as Grand Chief of Akwesasne - but the tradition of powerful aboriginal documentary was maintained at the NFB, most notably by Alanis Obomsawin, director of Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance and more recently, We Can't Make the Same Mistake Twice, about federal funding of on-reserve child welfare services.

These films represent an activist tradition that trades in hard facts and strong viewpoints; Clements's film, meanwhile, opens up a whole new chapter.

In one of its early and most convincing moments, The Road Forward features the sound of the powwow drums emerging seamlessly from the pounding typewriters that are producing stories for The Native Voice newspaper in 1940s British Columbia. The film goes on to alternate between interviews with elders recalling events in the struggle for native rights and musical sections evoking such sorrows as the residential schools or the missing and murdered women.

These interludes, with the ethereal quality of music videos, are performed by various artists of native ancestry, including composer and blues artist Wayne Lavallee, actress and singer Cheri Maracle, hip-hop artist Ronnie Dean Harris and Métis fiddler Jeremy James Lavallee.

As a detailed history of native politics on the West Coast, the results are sometimes hard to follow; the film began life as a live show at Vancouver's Touchstone Theatre and its non-linear mix of documentary and music may have seemed a lot more natural on stage. On film, the results are uneven, but the mix is provocative: As the ensemble gathers for a final number, song seems to be replacing speech and poetry replacing rhetoric. The clear implication of Clements's film is that reconciliation will come from the arts.

But that's the big picture. Another way to look at aboriginal experience is to focus down to the very specific. In the aftermath of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in an era where much has been said about the impact of the residential schools, there are two films at Hot Docs that offer other reflections on that period and its legacy.

One is Birth of a Family, a documentary by Tasha Hubbard, about four adult siblings who are meeting for the first time: Betty Ann Adam, a reporter with the Saskatoon Star Phoenix (and cowriter of the film) was adopted into a white family as a threeyear-old, part of the so-called Sixties Scoop marked by the controversial practice of placing native children in non-native homes. Adam eventually found her Dene birth mother and one sister but never had contact with a second sister and a brother.

It is only now, in their 50s, that the foursome is finally meeting, taking a trip to Banff National Park and visiting a First Nations museum where they try to learn about the culture of which they were deprived. The doc is full of poignant moments but, relying entirely on the siblings' current conversations and interviews, has little background about their original family, the circumstances in which they were taken or even how they feel it affects their current lives. If anything, Birth of a Family calls for a second chapter, a less personal, more factual doc about the Sixties Scoop itself.

The second film is Bee Nation, a cheerful CBC doc about Cree children on Saskatchewan reserves who are beating the odds. Clearly, the loveless regime of the residential schools damaged many survivors' ability to parent their own children, while media reports from impoverished reserves may reinforce defeatist attitudes in both aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities. Bee Nation serves as an antidote with its optimistic story about children who are flourishing thanks to good schools, committed teachers and, most of all, nurturing parents.

The film, directed by Toronto documentarian Lana Slezic and chosen by Hot Docs for its opening night, follows a half dozen children as their schools get involved in a national spelling contest, marking the first time First Nations students from Saskatchewan have participated, creating their own regional division representing their province.

Tension builds as three local winners, children who have rarely left the isolated reserves where they live, earn spots at the finals in Toronto.

It pains him to say so, but the principal of one of the schools tells viewers the hard truth about his priorities: It's English and math that will help these children get ahead, not their lessons in Cree. Meanwhile, all the children say they love the freedom and the sense of community on the reserve but know they will have to leave; every parent interviewed stresses the importance of further education.

So, for all that Bee Nation focuses narrowly on the codified achievements of correct English spelling and a feel-good message about youth empowerment, you can sense a dilemma looming as these children consider how to enter the world beyond the reserve without losing their culture. They are the grandchildren of the residential-school generation and they, at least, seem much better prepared to negotiate the right fit for themselves and to enjoy a healthier relationship with the rest of Canada.

Perhaps reconciliation will be facilitated by the arts; certainly it is going to be tracked by documentary film.

Hot Docs runs April 27 through May 7 in Toronto (; DOXA runs in Vancouver from May 4 to 14 ( Throughout 2017, the NFB will be offering free screenings across Canada of the Indigenous films in its collection; details will be announced May 5.

Associated Graphic

In The Road Forward, playwright Marie Clements seems to imply that reconciliation for native people will come from the arts.

Off the beaten path in China: great for travellers, a headache for business
G Adventures finds interest among tourists for adventures in China and Tibet. But border crossings can trip up plans
Tuesday, April 18, 2017 – Print Edition, Page B8

At the mention of Tibet, Toronto-based travel entrepreneur Bruce Poon Tip reacts with a breathless, "Oh, God."

He isn't trying to begin a discourse on dharma and deities in comparative world religions. He's talking about earthly matters, namely restrictive travel visas and erratic Chinese government controls over Tibet, which have made operating tours in Tibet exasperating, if not occasionally impossible.

"There have been times when they've just closed the border completely, and without any notice. We've had passengers on their way to the border in Nepal, on a trip with us, and the border closes. It happens regularly," said Mr. Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures. Started in 1990 as a travel company to fill the gap between backpacking and more mainstream travelling, G Adventures now offers an array of group tours. The company has approximately 2,500 employees and 23 offices around the world.

"It's a customer service nightmare for us, when we have a group of people who have paid us to go to Tibet, they're in Nepal about to go across the border, and the border closes," he said.

Yet, interest in Tibet and China as a whole is huge, he added, with demand comparable to other bucket-list destinations such as Machu Picchu in Peru or the Egyptian pyramids, locations with similar political uncertainties and business difficulties.

He described China's travel industry, if not the larger service sector, as having previously been closed in many ways to a company such as G Adventures, which seeks to maintain standards comparable to its other world destinations, and therefore wants to ensure that its tour guides are paid fairly and its local operators are properly licensed and insured.

Though Tibetan destinations may still be problematic, the service sector in China is now showing a new openness and maturation, Mr. Poon Tip said, allowing G Adventures to make significant in-roads on the company's own terms.

In fact, the Conference Board of Canada sees a limited easing of restrictions in the service sector generally.

"China's service sector remains relatively closed to private investment compared to the manufacturing sector, but there are some signs that some restrictions are loosening," said Julie Adès, senior economist at the Conference Board's Global Commerce Centre.

"For example, restrictions were relaxed on services such as e-commerce and finance, under China's 2015 foreign investment industrial guidance catalogue.

And China's most recent five-year plan had the opening of the services sector among its objectives."

Also pushing this is the simple fact that service industries are growing in China, providing an obvious market for foreign companies, if China were to open those industries further to foreign direct investment, she said.

For years, G Adventures had found itself up again the Chinese government's insistence on controlling the movement of visitors by making travel companies use government agencies. "And that didn't fit the values of our business, because government agencies, in turn, weren't paying fair wages to their employees," comparable to other countries, Mr. Poon Tip said.

"For years, we were not in China. It was this ridiculous thing that we were this big travel adventure company that had no tours," he said. "But I have to say that once we crossed all of those hurdles, China has actually become a very co-operative place. And it's been, I won't say easy, but it's been a success story for us, after literally years of finding an operating model that would work."

G Adventures specializes in itineraries that attempt to show sides of the country less seen by tour groups. "It should be said that the way we do our tours, we promise them [our customers] unique and authentic things. It takes them off the beaten track, and the Chinese don't like that.

It's no problem if you run a tour to Shanghai or Beijing, to see the terracotta soldiers, the Great Wall of China," he said.

It's the more alternative kinds of trips, involving hiking, biking and interacting with locals that can be challenging to run. "Everything else we do in the world is made much more complicated there," Mr. Poon Tip said.

About 10 years ago, G Adventures tried a new approach. It had previously relied on local operators, but it needed more control over the quality and management of the tours. Getting the licences to operate tours continued to be cumbersome, taking up to two years. So, around 2007, the company began entering into joint ventures with local companies, with G Adventures owning a minority stake, but having equal voting shares.

Yet difficulties continued. There was "a huge difference in business operating standards, business culture, cultural differences in terms of what the business values. Because we're talking about the service industry, we value our people," Mr. Poon Tip said, adding, "We were literally getting letters from our employees in the region, saying they weren't being treated fairly. The companies there didn't value employees in the same way."

Mei Zhang, chief executive officer and founder of Beijing-based WildChina Travel, noted, for example, how costs among local Chinese tour operators have traditionally been kept low by economies of scale, with large tour buses and with the practice of guides and drivers not being paid daily wages. "Instead, they were paid when clients were taken to commission-paying shops, and [the guides and drivers] took a cut from the enforced shopping," she wrote in an e-mail.

This has now been banned, but there are many ways in which tour operators still circumvent the ban. "When it comes to enforcement, there is still a bit of a ways to go," she noted. WildChina, on the other hand, pays its guides itself, as does G Adventures.

The ability to address qualitycontrol problems and pay local operators directly came as regulation improved and the industry continues to mature.

"It started around 2012. Once we were there, we started hiring our own people. We are still using local services, but we can contract them with our own people.

The people that work for us, that deliver our tours, are actually now employed by us," Mr. Poon Tip said. This means that those contracted employees are not only on G Adventures' payroll, but can now be trained and are in closer communication with the company through its Beijing office.

That communication is key, because the company is so dependent on social media, which can also be problematic in China.

"All of our tools are within Facebook, Twitter. We even have our own internal communication for our sales forces, and at times we've had to do these workarounds to get connected to our systems," he said.

And so, even though the travel industry can be seen as part of the maturation of China's service sector toward foreign companies operating there, particularly for companies off the beaten path, the process of openness is still new. And it can be fleeting, as with the various travel restrictions in Tibet.

"It's always touchy," Mr. Poon Tip said.

Associated Graphic

Prayer flags in Tibet. Occasionally, the border just closed, blocking G Adventures customers.


G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip: 'For years, we were not in China' because of hurdles.

With The Fate of the Furious, the most improbable franchise in Hollywood history returns for a remarkable eighth go-round. Barry Hertz reviews the big, dumb and undeniably fun blast of cinematic excess
Friday, April 14, 2017 – Print Edition, Page R1

The Fate of the Furious Directed by F. Gary Gray Written by Chris Morgan Starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham and thousands upon thousands of destroyed automobiles Classification PG; 136 minutes 3

Everything you need to know about the current state of the Fast and Furious franchise, Hollywood's most improbable success story, can be gleaned from the title of its eighth film: The Fate of the Furious. Almost 16 years old - the original entry, The Fast and the Furious, debuted in the practically Rockwellian America of June, 2001 - the series now purports to carry the burdens that come with age. "Fate," after all, is a loaded word, one weighed down by the promises of responsibility, change and death. "Fate" implies an inescapable final destination, a road map to a future of narrative closure and emotional catharsis.

But "Fate" still rhymes with "eight."

So just as its title implies, The Fate of the Furious offers a soft sell of maturity, with the underlying promise that it hasn't abandoned the goofy antics of its youth (even if producers didn't go with, say, a har-har The F8 of the Furious). If anything, the new film is more attuned to its puerile sensibilities than ever before - and this is a series that once punted a sports car through not one, not two, but three Abu Dhabi skyscrapers as if the act was simply what nature intended.

Which is how we find ourselves, at truly any single point in this new film, faced with one jaw-dropping scenario after another, each defying the laws of physics and logic in a thousand different ways: Hordes of hacked sports cars rain from the sky in midtown Manhattan. Human beings eject themselves out of vehicles hurtling along the frozen ice fields of Siberia at hundreds of miles an hour with barely a scratch to prove their mortality. A man - well, if we can call Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson a mere man - gently guides a missile out of his path, propelling it toward an enemy's fiery doom.

Each moment is unbelievable, insane in its concept and execution, but genuinely thrilling all the same.

Somehow, a narrative ties all the above set-pieces together, but discussing the plot of any Fast and Furious movie is a true endeavour, as each story is seemingly built backward - design the bombastic bits first, then reverseengineer those around a mishmash of clichés, wisecracks, MacGuffins and opportunities for Vin Diesel to attempt a clear enunciation of the word "family," preferably while clad in a tank top and/or sipping his signature Corona (although it seems the gang now prefers Budweiser).

Regardless of the challenge, here's an old college try, although the only school the Furious gang graduated from was one of insanely hard knocks: After the events of Furious 7, which saw the departure of original Fast hero Brian O'Conner (the late Paul Walker), Diesel's Dom Toretto is savouring the good life, honeymooning with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) in Cuba and sharing some of the least sexy postcoital scenes ever committed to film. (Diesel and Rodriguez bring their own distinct charms to the Furiousverse, but their romance is the most unbelievable element in an enterprise committed to implausibility.)

Thankfully, along comes the aptly named villain Cipher (Charlize Theron, oozing evil and sporting a repelling hairstyle to match, but with no real motivation beyond, um, being bad) to add some tension and sex appeal to the proceedings.

Suddenly, Dom is coaxed into betraying those he holds most dear - his capital-F Family! - as well as his preference for white clothing (he's one fedora away here from being a literal black hat). From there, it's all a matter of getting from Point A to Point B in the quickest time and with the most vehicular destruction possible. It's a method of storytelling that ropes in faces familiar (Johnson's delightful government agent/Incredible Hulk stand-in), unexpected (Jason Statham's reformed villain), bewildering (a certain British Oscar winner gets her hands dirty) and unwelcome (Scott Eastwood's ultrabland junior G-man, filling in when Kurt Russell evidently had better places to be).

The mechanics of it all fall apart upon even cursory inspection - these characters started off 16 years ago fencing electronics, and are now tasked with preventing a Third World War - but this is a movie defiantly proud of its senselessness. The Fate of the Furious isn't here to play by cinema's rules, or even the rules of a traditional studio tentpole - it's merely a very shiny, very attractive vessel designed to deliver the thinly drawn but charming characters we've come to care for and scene after scene of you-can'tbe-serious destruction.

This isn't intended as a knock, either. As the Furiousverse has expanded over the years, it's become increasingly self-aware of its crass appeal, its total and complete mania. It is one of the few franchises that's earned more critical acclaim as its sequels multiplied, and that's far from dumb luck. Diesel, his producers and his cannily cast band of ethnically diverse costars know that they're playing with some very expensive fire here - and the only way to ensure it won't burn out is to keep pouring on gallons and gallons of fuel. More knockout fights, more comically sized weapons, more magically resurrected characters, more blatant homoeroticism (Johnson and Statham come this close to making out), more everything and anything. It's stupid, but it's the sort of stupid that comes bearing gifts, if you're smart enough to accept them.

Still - and with any film even pretending to concern itself with the passage of time, there's always a "still" - Diesel and company cannot outrun that nasty bit of destiny the title promises. For every "hell yes" moment of action-film ecstasy, there's a weary flick at why this might not be so fun in a few years. After two hours of may.

hem for the eighth go-'round, the exhaustion lingers a bit longer than before - not a good sign when there are (at least) two more Furious films on the horizon.

Also not helping matters is the absence of directorial mastermind Justin Lin, who left the series after Part 6, replaced for Part 7 by the able James Wan and now the merely passable F. Gary Gray. The youthful verve Lin delivered - such smoothly choreographed chase scenes,

such perfectly staged moments of hand-to-hand combat - is gone, swapped for Gray's sometimes choppy and sometimes worse aesthetic that barely conceals the fact everyone's been in this game for some time.

If the fate of the Furious series is to grow somehow both wearier and dumber with age, then the eighth film is proof of a mission firmly accomplished.

And there's no shame, Vin, in hanging it all up after a job well done.

Associated Graphic

Each moment in The Fate of the Furious is unbelievable, insane in its concept and execution, yet genuinely thrilling all the same.

The romance between Michelle Rodriguez, as Letty, and Vin Diesel, as husband Dom, makes for the most unbelievable element in an enterprise committed to implausibility.

Hockey blade company looks to score in America
Small Canadian companies like Bladetech Hockey need to target their niche in order not to skate on thin ice in the U.S.
Wednesday, April 12, 2017 – Print Edition, Page B7

No Canadian National Hockey League team has won the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens hoisted the cherished chalice in 1993.

Anthony Morra is hoping that run of futility continues for at least one more year.

Specifically, he's hoping that the Washington Capitals, recent winners of the Presidents' Trophy as the top seeded team going into the playoffs, can finally win a first championship in franchise history.

But Mr. Morra is no mere fan.

As the chief executive officer of Bladetech Hockey Inc., a Torontobased business that invented a "spring loaded" hockey blade that recoils to provide more power in each stride, Mr. Morra says that about 15 of the 20 skaters on the Capitals are using his blade.

As he notes, the opportunity of seeing that team skate the Cup around the rink largely on his skate blades would be just about the ultimate validation for any hockey equipment business.

Founded in 2013 with his business partner, Jeffrey Azzolin, a former mechanical engineer, Bladetech Hockey finally hit the market with its unique Bladetech Burner blade just over a year ago.

The skates retail from $140, and the company now has about 35 NHLers using its product on nine different teams.

But while hockey is still very much Canada's game, the reality is that for any small, niche business, the United States represents a rich opportunity to grow a brand and improve market infiltration, and that reality was no different for Bladetech.

"The fact that we're basically exporting to the States was kind of a necessity based on the fact that we wanted to target the NHL as part of our strategy with the new technology, with the new product," Mr. Morra says. "[We] wanted to test it with the best players in the world and most of them are in the United States, given that most of the teams are in the U.S."

Knowing that they had a very small company that nobody had heard of, Mr. Morra and Mr. Azzolin felt that the best way to put their product on the map was to put it in the hands of the people who spend most of their time with professional hockey equipment: the teams' equipment trainers.

After getting NHL approval as well as a patent for the technology, the pair went to a hockey convention in Nashville last summer where all the equipment managers from all the leagues gather to network and compare notes.

That's where things started to take off.

"The biggest challenge is everybody is hyper critical and super skeptical, especially about a new technology from a couple of guys that nobody knows," Mr. Morra says. "... They're professionals working at the highest level, the guys that we're dealing with in the States, so they need to know it works."

While Canada is still a priority as a market, with the company starting to expand into retail stores nationwide, Bladetech is also looking a little further afield, and aiming to expand its efforts into northern hockey-savvy states such as Minnesota and New York in the next year.

"Proximity-wise those are close, so easier to manage," Mr. Morra says. "So that's a natural next step for our export [strategy]."

For any Canadian export company, having a targeted growth strategy is a necessity, experts say. Like Bladetech, BioSteel Sports Nutrition Inc. started off as a small company. Its sugarfree, all-natural sports drink is marketed as a healthy alternative to mass-marketed beverages such as Gatorade.

In the United States, BioSteel retails in niche places such as hockey stores, baseball shops and some health-food outlets.

Much like Bladetech, which is trying to co-exist with big hockey manufacturers such as Bauer Hockey Inc., BioSteel is going up against the likes of beverage behemoths.

To survive, BioSteel co-founder John Celenza says it is important for small Canadian companies to stay the course with what got them to where they are today.

"Stay true to your offering and to your story because the second you deviate from that, you'll be eaten alive," he says. "The only way in my industry or in the industry you're speaking of is to have a better offering and to educate the consumer as well as you can."

From there, he adds, a company will be able to grow its distribution as word of mouth about the benefits of the product becomes the most effective form of advertising. While Bladetech may be pinning some of its hopes for awareness on the success of the Capitals, BioSteel has a stable of top athletes who endorse its products, such as NHL scoring champion Connor McDavid, or reigning NFL rookie of the year Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys.

Mr. Elliott was an unknown quantity who burst onto the U.S. sporting scene clutching a bottle of BioSteel.

"We kind of got associated with some of that success," Mr. Celenza says. "The better he does, the more media hits he gets and the more people see our brand, so that definitely resonated into sales calls, and with sales calls come sales."

A key step a small Canadian company should take to penetrate the larger U.S. market is pinpointing the unique value they can have for customers, experts say.

"One of the most important pieces for these niche products is that they need to really clearly identify how their product is solving a problem," says Steve Callaghan, the regional vice-president for Ontario at Export Development Canada (EDC).

However, Mr. Callaghan says it can be difficult for some small Canadian businesses to develop strong connections in a target market unless they have a presence there. So he suggests recruiting sales people locally.

To find the right connections, whether they be retailers, or sports teams or others that resonate with the target consumer, there are systems in place to help Canadian companies.

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service has staff based regionally in the United States and is often a good place to start, and many states have their own development organizations that put on regular events, allowing for networking within a given market. In addition, the Trade Accelerator Program through the Toronto Region Board of Trade, for example, is another organization that can help small companies devise a smooth market entry plan.

Robert Pelletier, EDC's chief representative in the United States, says contacting the consulate in whichever market a company is targeting is often a good first step.

"I typically direct companies to them, because they might have a good database of companies, distributors, sales people that they trust and have got good feedback on," he says.

While economic and trade uncertainty still prevails with regard to the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mr. Pelletier says that Canadian companies are still dealing from a position of strength. Citing a continued need for innovative, efficient products, as well as the lower loonie and continued regulatory harmonization with regard to consumer goods, he says smaller Canadian companies can continue to punch above their weight south of the border.

Associated Graphic

Many of the Washington Capitals are wearing skates from Bladetech, co-founded by Anthony Morra, below.


Tough love
Ten years on, Milan Lucic isn't the same man he used to be: He's no less frightening, but now he picks and chooses his battles
Wednesday, April 12, 2017 – Print Edition, Page S1

EDMONTON -- He is not the man he used to be. Milan Lucic is older and wiser. He is not the fellow who taunted fans in Montreal from the penalty box a few years ago, making an obscene gesture and pretending to hoist the Stanley Cup over his head. He is not the same guy who became engaged in a late-night scuffle once outside a poutine joint in Vancouver.

A man changes with time and circumstances. Lucic was close to his dad, and was shocked in 2015 when Dobro Lucic killed himself.

His father was an immigrant from Serbia who came to Canada when he was 27. He was a longshoreman, an occupation every bit as tough and gritty as a hockey enforcer.

It is not to say that Milan Lucic is softer now, but he is more mature. He remains the most frightening player in the NHL, and has helped Connor McDavid enjoy an MVP-calibre season. The Art Ross Trophy winner is rarely roughed up, and that is because of the fear that Lucic, his hulking 235pound bodyguard, will retaliate.

He will, but not without thought.

"When I came into the league, I kind of knew the way to make a name for myself, and for me the best way was to stick up for myself and my teammates," Lucic said Tuesday after the Oilers practised at Rogers Place for their first-round playoff game on Wednesday against San Jose.

"You don't think of much when you enter the league at 19 or 20.

You are full of piss and vinegar and single and living your dream.

"Now it is 10 years later and I have a wife and two kids, and I have a better understanding of what's good and what's bad. Of course, things change."

Lucic picks and chooses his fights now. He went 20 games at one point this season without a penalty, and is barely in the top five on the team in penalty minutes. He finished the regular season with 23 goals, three more than Taylor Hall scored in New Jersey. Lucic had 50 points, including nine in the past 10 games as the Oilers pushed their way up the standings. He had a natural hat trick - three straight goals - when Edmonton dispatched with the Sharks last week in San Jose.

Before that, with the Oilers trailing 1-0, he had an extended slugfest with Micheal Haley.

"We are lucky to have him at this time of year," Oilers' coach Todd McLellan says.

"Milan's completely, emotionally attached to this group now and his play has reflected that. He has stepped up to the plate."

Lucic has fought only six times, and has deferred when opportunities presented themselves. He had a quiet stretch early on, but has finished with a flourish. That is in keeping with his stature as a veteran and assistant captain. Combined, the Oiler players have only participated in 342 postseason games.

Lucic has been in 102, and won a Stanley Cup with Boston in 2010-11.

"Maybe I was pressing a little too hard in December and January," Lucic says.

The Oilers announced his signing as a free agent with great fanfare on Canada Day. He was one of the biggest names available, and it was a sign that things were markedly improved when Edmonton was able to get him. At the time, he said he came because of McDavid - that a guy only gets to play with a talent like that perhaps once in a lifetime. He was gregarious and accommodating and his wife, Brittany, was there with him. Together, they have two little girls.

Lucic is not what you expect.

There is much more to him than the tough guy on the ice.

He is friendly and outgoing and doesn't give easy answers during interviews. He talks from his heart and commands respect from his teammates. He has been there and done that, and done it well.

In his mid-teens, McDavid made a video and imaged himself playing on a dream line with Lucic. Reality is better than fiction.

"His is such a great voice in the dressing room," McDavid said Tuesday. "He knows what it takes to do this, and we know guys on other teams aren't taking liberties with me or any of our other young players."

Louie DeBrusk, a brawler when he played with the Oilers and three other teams in the NHL, says there is nobody in the league that can compare with Lucic.

"He is the type of player that every tough guy wants to be," says DeBrusk, now a broadcaster. "He is one of the toughest guys in the league, but he is going to score 30 goals one of these years for the Oilers.

"I can't think of another guy in the NHL that is like him."

It hasn't always been that way for Lucic. He remembers breaking in with the Bruins in 2007, and playing only limited minutes for about half of the season. He credits Marc Savard and David Krejci for taking him under wing, and making him a better, more confident player.

"They taught me about playing smarter and being more efficient," Lucic says.

You can see that in him as an older player. He is 29, and the playoffs are only a day away.

The Oilers are in them for the first time in nearly 11 years.

Edmonton won 47 games this season, its most since 50 in 1986-87. The Oilers came within an eyelash of unseating Anaheim atop the Pacific Division.

"There was a lot of uncertainty about the Oilers this year," Lucic says. "Coming in, I thought we would most likely be pushing for a wild-card spot rather than the division lead. So I can't really say that I saw it coming.

"A lot of has to do with Connor, but other guys have stepped up their game, too. It shows that there is a will here to win."

He says he has been telling his teammates that if they keep playing as well as they have, they can go far into the postseason.

"It's the first time for many of them, so it is definitely going to be a new experience," he says.

"But even for a guy who has been there, it is still exciting.

You always look forward to this time of year.

"I am excited to see what Connor is capable of in the playoffs.

He took his game to another level at the end of the season. I am fortunate to call him my teammate and am excited to be at his side and be part of this journey with him."

He is not the man he used to be, but in one way, Lucic is.

"At the end, what I focus on is keeping that love I had for the game as an eight- or nine-yearold kid," he says. "I remind myself of that every day."

Associated Graphic

Milan Lucic went 20 games at one point this season without a penalty, and is barely in the top five on the team in penalty minutes.


City dispensaries count down to legalization
A siege-like atmosphere pervades cannabis shops still in operation as they contend with threats from armed thieves, and the city
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Print Edition, Page M2

TORONTO, VANCOUVER -- After the battering ram smashed through the front door, the officers quickly rounded up everyone and handcuffed them inside the small shop at Yonge and Wellesley.

The customers were soon let go, but Neev Tapiero, the owner of Cannabis As Living Medicine (CALM), Toronto's oldest dispensary, was held under arrest for three hours and charged with drug trafficking as part of a oneday crackdown on 43 marijuana dispensaries last May. Federal drug prosecutors have since stayed or withdrawn charges on 36 of the people nabbed in the citywide sweep while another 10 still face trial for selling marijuana outside Ottawa's mail-order system for registered medicalcannabis patients.

It was the third time Mr. Tapiero had been arrested and charged with trafficking since opening CALM in 1995, which the Ryerson arts undergrad and two friends began as a tiny operation offering cannabis to people suffering from HIV, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and spinalcord injuries.

In order to avoid further police scrutiny, CALM now operates from a secret downtown location. New members must be referred by current clients and forward their medical documents before entering the premises, as well as agree to a list of 18 rules that include: not using their cellphone on site, not smoking cannabis within a twoblock radius of the dispensary and visiting only once a day.

"It's in the rules not to tell people where the address is," said Mr. Tapiero, his bare feet clad in Birkenstocks when The Globe and Mail visited CALM on a near-freezing afternoon late last month.

A siege-like atmosphere pervades dispensaries still in operation as they contend with security threats from groups of armed thieves, as well as the city's arsenal of tactics, which include sending threatening letters to the landlords of the shops and restricting the activities of dispensary owners through bail conditions imposed after raids.

In and around Kensington Market, the largest dispensary hub in Toronto, visitors to the handful of remaining shops are buzzed in through frosted doors and greeted by imposing security guards. Staff and management deny requests for an interview.

While their counterparts in Vancouver say targeting all illegal pot shops is a waste of taxpayer money, Toronto police are vowing to continue enforcing existing federal drug laws on the city's several dozen remaining dispensaries in the lead-up to legalization, which could happen as early as next summer.

The federal cannabis legislation unveiled last week left the question of where cannabis may be sold entirely up to provinces and municipalities. This could mean, similar to alcohol sales, consumers across Canada could have vastly different ways of buying recreational marijuana.

A federal task-force report informing the government's legalization push recommended against selling the drug in liquor stores, noting concerns that mixing alcohol and marijuana leads to higher levels of intoxication.

But politicians in British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario floated the idea of selling cannabis at such government-run outlets, and have voiced their displeasure with the scofflaws running dispensaries in their provinces.

Canada's several hundred dispensaries all operate outside the federal government's medicalmarijuana program, which permits about 40 industrial-scale growers to sell dried flowers and bottles of cannabis oil directly to patients through the mail.

Long-time operators such as Mr. Tapiero say that if Ottawa truly wants to eliminate as much of the black market as possible through legalization, dispensaries should be given a "fair kick at the can" to become legal retailers.

"I want to make a legitimate wholehearted effort to be part of a legitimate system," he says.

Some dispensary operators aren't taking their chances in case those currently running afoul of the law are prohibited from joining any eventual licensed distribution network.

Christine Duhaime, a lawyer and expert on money laundering, said five Canadian dispensary owners have contacted her since the bill was unveiled last week asking for help undergoing a "corporate reinvention," whereby directors and officers in their company would be replaced by others without criminal records or histories likely to draw the attention of regulators.

"If there is an issue with your people, you can preserve the assets of your company, then you reincorporate, take the asset, sell it with new directors and officers," Ms. Duhaime said, adding that online gambling companies completed similar overhauls as provinces moved to regulate that industry. "So you are, in effect, a new group with different people with the same stores and the same assets.

"You're doing a culture change at the same time - I don't view that as shady at all - that's in fact a good way to go."

Dana Larsen, an activist who has spent the past two decades criss-crossing the country campaigning for legalization, says as long as storefront sales remain illegal for independent entrepreneurs these dispensary operators will find a way to sell their products.

Mr. Larsen, whose two longstanding dispensaries are trying to become licensed under the City of Vancouver's new bylaw, said many dispensaries already offer online shopping - a much cheaper, less risky option than a bricks-and-mortar location. He said he helped create Bud Buddy, one of Canada's most prominent online retailers, more than a decade ago, but no longer has any affiliation to the site despite Web registration details linking to his family.

The only way to eliminate the majority of the black market, he contends, is to sell legal cannabis for as little as $3 a gram, roughly a third of what people are paying now on the illegal market and many of the licensed medical-marijuana growers.

Don Briere, who runs Weeds Glass and Gifts, one of Canada's biggest chains of illegal dispensaries, said he is close to reopening seven of his franchises shut down in Toronto after either raids or pressure on landlords.

He said he is intent on filing a Charter challenge protesting the police action against his stores, which he figures will give him an injunction to operate Weeds freely in the city while the case winds its way through the courts.

Kirk Tousaw, a B.C.-based lawyer who won a Federal Court case last year that overhauled Ottawa's medical-marijuana rules, said one of his Toronto dispensary clients - Phytos Apothecary and Wellness Centre - has already filed a Charter challenge and, if it wants to, could likely receive a court injunction allowing it to stay open because Canada's current mail-order medical-marijuana system does not provide reasonable access to pot.

Mr. Tousaw predicts that the more restrictive a province's approach to selling alcohol, the more restrictive the eventual legal sale of cannabis will be.

"The alcohol industry is still battling stupid rules 100 years after their prohibition ended," he said. "So I'd imagine we'll be battling stupid rules for some time to come in the cannabis sector, but we should learn from some of these mistakes.

Associated Graphic

Consumer demand for marijuana has played a significant role in prompting the government to create a legalization strategy that could take effect as early as next summer - good news for those sellers striving to adapt their businesses to comply with imminent regulation.


Dispensaries count down to legalization
A siege-like atmosphere pervades cannabis shops still in operation as they contend with threats from armed thieves, and the city
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Print Edition, Page S1

TORONTO, VANCOUVER -- After the battering ram smashed through the front door, the officers quickly rounded up everyone and handcuffed them inside the small shop at Yonge and Wellesley.

The customers were soon let go, but Neev Tapiero, the owner of Cannabis As Living Medicine (CALM), Toronto's oldest dispensary, was held under arrest for three hours and charged with drug trafficking as part of a one-day crackdown on 43 marijuana dispensaries last May. Federal drug prosecutors have since stayed or withdrawn charges on 36 of the people nabbed in the citywide sweep while another 10 still face trial for selling marijuana outside Ottawa's mail-order system for registered medicalcannabis patients.

It was the third time Mr. Tapiero had been arrested and charged with trafficking since opening CALM in 1995, which the Ryerson arts undergrad and two friends began as a tiny operation offering cannabis to people suffering from HIV, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and spinalcord injuries.

In order to avoid further police scrutiny, CALM now operates from a secret downtown location. New members must be referred by current clients and forward their medical documents before entering the premises, as well as agree to a list of 18 rules that include: not using their cellphone on site, not smoking cannabis within a twoblock radius of the dispensary and visiting only once a day.

"It's in the rules not to tell people where the address is," said Mr. Tapiero, his bare feet clad in Birkenstocks when The Globe and Mail visited CALM on a near-freezing afternoon late last month.

A siege-like atmosphere pervades dispensaries still in operation as they contend with security threats from groups of armed thieves, as well as the city's arsenal of tactics, which include sending threatening letters to the landlords of the shops and restricting the activities of dispensary owners through bail conditions imposed after raids.

In and around Kensington Market, the largest dispensary hub in Toronto, visitors to the handful of remaining shops are buzzed in through frosted doors and greeted by imposing security guards. Staff and management deny requests for an interview.

While their counterparts in Vancouver say targeting all illegal pot shops is a waste of taxpayer money, Toronto police are vowing to continue enforcing existing federal drug laws on the city's several dozen remaining dispensaries in the lead-up to legalization, which could happen as early as next summer.

The federal cannabis legislation unveiled last week left the question of where cannabis may be sold entirely up to provinces and municipalities. This could mean, similar to alcohol sales, consumers across Canada could have vastly different ways of buying recreational marijuana.

A federal task-force report informing the government's legalization push recommended against selling the drug in liquor stores, noting concerns that mixing alcohol and marijuana leads to higher levels of intoxication. But politicians in British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario floated the idea of selling cannabis at such government-run outlets, and have voiced their displeasure with the scofflaws running dispensaries in their provinces.

Canada's several hundred dispensaries all operate outside the federal government's medicalmarijuana program, which permits about 40 industrial-scale growers to sell dried flowers and bottles of cannabis oil directly to patients through the mail.

Long-time operators such as Mr. Tapiero say that if Ottawa truly wants to eliminate as much of the black market as possible through legalization, dispensaries should be given a "fair kick at the can" to become legal retailers.

"I want to make a legitimate wholehearted effort to be part of a legitimate system," he says.

Some dispensary operators aren't taking their chances in case those currently running afoul of the law are prohibited from joining any eventual licensed distribution network.

Christine Duhaime, a lawyer and expert on money laundering, said five Canadian dispensary owners have contacted her since the bill was unveiled last week asking for help undergoing a "corporate reinvention," whereby directors and officers in their company would be replaced by others without criminal records or histories likely to draw the attention of regulators.

"If there is an issue with your people, you can preserve the assets of your company, then you reincorporate, take the asset, sell it with new directors and officers," Ms. Duhaime said, adding that online gambling companies completed similar overhauls as provinces moved to regulate that industry. "So you are, in effect, a new group with different people with the same stores and the same assets.

"You're doing a culture change at the same time - I don't view that as shady at all - that's in fact a good way to go."

Dana Larsen, an activist who has spent the past two decades criss-crossing the country campaigning for legalization, says as long as storefront sales remain illegal for independent entrepreneurs, these dispensary operators will find a way to sell their products.

Mr. Larsen, whose two longstanding dispensaries are trying to become licensed under the City of Vancouver's new bylaw, said many dispensaries already offer online shopping - a much cheaper, less risky option than a bricks-and-mortar location. He said he helped create Bud Buddy, one of Canada's most prominent online retailers, more than a decade ago, but no longer has any affiliation to the site despite Web registration details linking to his family.

The only way to eliminate the majority of the black market, he contends, is to sell legal cannabis for as little as $3 a gram, roughly a third of what people are paying now on the illegal market and many of the licensed medicalmarijuana growers.

Don Briere, who runs Weeds Glass and Gifts, one of Canada's biggest chains of illegal dispensaries, said he is close to reopening seven of his franchises shut down in Toronto after either raids or pressure on landlords. He said he is intent on filing a Charter challenge protesting the police action against his stores, which he figures will give him an injunction to operate Weeds freely in the city while the case winds its way through the courts.

Kirk Tousaw, a B.C.-based lawyer who won a Federal Court case last year that overhauled Ottawa's medical-marijuana rules, said one of his Toronto dispensary clients - Phytos Apothecary and Wellness Centre - has already filed a Charter challenge and, if it wants to, could likely receive a court injunction allowing it to stay open because Canada's current mail-order medical-marijuana system does not provide reasonable access to pot.

Mr. Tousaw predicts that the more restrictive a province's approach to selling alcohol, the more restrictive the eventual legal sale of cannabis will be.

"The alcohol industry is still battling stupid rules 100 years after their prohibition ended," he said. "So I'd imagine we'll be battling stupid rules for some time to come in the cannabis sector, but we should learn from some of these mistakes.

Associated Graphic

Customers and staff smoke marijuana and converse at the Green Ceiling cannabis vapour lounge in Victoria last month.


The recently tabled bill to legalize marijuana countrywide could be enacted and take effect as early as next summer.


Britain's May makes a calculated gamble
With a 20-point lead in the polls, the Tory Prime Minister calls a snap election, counting on receiving a solid mandate from voters to set her own Brexit agenda
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A1

British Prime Minister Theresa May has launched the country into a snap election campaign, hoping to build her own legacy as a leader who reshaped Britain and Europe.

On Tuesday, Ms. May reversed her long-held vow not to call an early election and announced plans to hold a vote on June 8.

The decision came only a few days ago, she said, during a walking holiday in Wales with her husband.

But the planning has clearly been on her mind ever since last July, when she became Prime Minister, and Conservative Party Leader, in the wake of the vote to leave the EU and the abrupt resignation of David Cameron, who was on the losing side.

Since then, Ms. May has tried to steer the country through the early stages of the Brexit process, triggering the EU exit mechanism last month and making it clear Britain would not be keeping any ties to the EU beyond a new trade deal that she wants to negotiate.

She's also laid out an ambitious domestic agenda that includes reforming the education system, overhauling the National Health Service and making businesses more responsive to investors.

Now she is hoping she'll have a mandate from voters to do all of that.

Her election call has also sent more reverberations throughout Europe, which is already bracing for elections in France and Germany. Brexit talks between Britain and the EU are slated to begin this summer, and Ms. May is clearly hoping she will have a resounding mandate to set her own agenda for the discussions and lead the process.

"It was with reluctance that I decided the country needs this election, but it is with strong conviction that I say it is necessary to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond," Ms. May said on Tuesday.

It's a calculated gamble by a politician not known for taking risks.

Britain isn't due for a scheduled election until May, 2020, and ever since she replaced Mr. Cameron as party leader, Ms. May has stuck to that timetable, brushing aside Conservative insiders who have been pushing for an early vote for months. She's clearly been swayed by a series of positive opinion polls, the growing unpopularity of Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn and a recent Tory by-election win in a Labour stronghold. A snap poll released on Tuesday after Ms. May's announcement gave the Tories a 21-point lead over Labour, the biggest lead for the Conservatives since the 1980s.

Ms. May has also been given a convenient window of opportunity. She triggered the EU exit mechanism in March, launching a complex negotiating process that's expected to last at least two years. But face-to-face talks with the EU won't start until this summer, meaning Ms. May has a chance to win a solid mandate from British voters before negotiations begin. Expanding the Tories' slim 17-seat majority would also allow her to quell internal dissension from fierce proBrexit backbenchers who grumble any time Ms. May fails to toe a hard line with the EU.

"It's absolutely the rational choice," said Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London. "She'll win easily and with the kind of majority that will both crush Labour and mean she won't be so beholden to the Brexit ultras on her backbenches: truly a win-win. The miracle is that she's resisted the temptation until now - and managed to spring a genuine surprise on some of those closest to her who believed she didn't do politics as usual. Well, this is politics as usual - the PM who's sure she's going to win calling an election - with a vengeance."

A resounding victory would also give Ms. May the opportunity to pursue her domestic priorities and set the stage for future wins.

"It would open the possibility of a pretty long, secure, stretch in office to pursue whatever she wants to do in the long run," said Robert Ford, professor of political science at the University of Manchester. "She'd be in a position to really aim as high as she wants."

But there are risks as well. While the Labour Party is divided, other opposition parties have put up a strong challenge to Ms. May's handling of Brexit. The Liberal Democrats won a by-election last fall on a platform of pushing to keep Britain in the European single market, something Ms. May has rejected as she opts for a clean break with the EU. That message could begin to resonate if enough voters are feeling uneasy about Brexit. "If you want to avoid a disastrous hard Brexit, if you want to keep Britain in the single market, if you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is your chance," Lib Dem Leader Tim Farron said.

The Scottish National Party, too, has posed a threat to Ms. May. The SNP holds nearly every seat in Scotland and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is pushing for a second referendum on Scottish independence because a majority of Scots voted to remain in the EU last June.

"This announcement is one of the most extraordinary U-turns in recent political history, and it shows that Theresa May is once again putting the interests of her party ahead of those of the country," Ms. Sturgeon said Tuesday.

"In terms of Scotland, this move is a huge political miscalculation by the Prime Minister. It will once again give people the opportunity to reject the Tories' narrow, divisive agenda, as well as reinforcing the democratic mandate which already exists for giving the people of Scotland a choice on their future."

Technically, Ms. May can't call the election without backing from the opposition parties. Under Britain's fixed-term legislation, an early election can only be called with the backing of twothirds of members of Parliament.

Ms. May will introduce a motion on Wednesday calling for a vote and Mr. Corbyn and Mr. Farron have pledged to support it.

As for the EU, officials in Brussels will be watching the campaign closely and bracing for the result. On Tuesday, EU Council President Donald Tusk likened the election call to an Alfred Hitchcock film. Playing on Mr. Hitchcock's famous remark that a good movie should "should start with an earthquake and be followed by rising tension," Mr. Tusk said on Twitter: "It was Hitchcock, who directed Brexit: first an earthquake and the tension rises."

Associated Graphic

British Prime Minister Theresa May walks out of 10 Downing St. to speak to media in central London on Tuesday. Ms. May has surprised the country by announcing a snap election, saying the country needs strong leadership through the Brexit process.


A copy of the Evening Standard displays British Prime Minister Theresa May's call for a general election in London on Tuesday. A snap poll released after the announcement gave the Tories a 21-point lead over Labour, the biggest lead for the Conservatives since the 1980s.


Queen's Park mulls reforms to powerful land-use tribunal
Tuesday, April 18, 2017 – Print Edition, Page A1

The provincial Liberal government is contemplating an overhaul of the Ontario Municipal Board that would dramatically reduce the powers of the controversial land-use tribunal.

The Globe and Mail has learned that the current proposals under active discussion inside Queen's Park would significantly rein in the powerful OMB, which has long been criticized by municipal planners, politicians and local residents as too friendly to developers.

But some fear a drastically weakened OMB would give too much power to local politicians beholden to not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) neighbourhood associations, potentially slowing development, blocking attempts at intensification and making it harder to build more new housing in the Toronto-area's already hot real estate market, which the province is scrambling to find ways to cool.

Critics have been pressing the province for years to either scrap or radically restructure the OMB, which hears applications from developers trying to build projects over the objections of local city planners or residents.

With Premier Kathleen Wynne's government sinking low in opinion polls and an election due next year, that pressure intensified in recent weeks after a controversy erupted over a 35storey condo tower approved next to John Fisher Junior Public School near Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue in Ms. Wynne's midtown Toronto riding. The project has prompted vocal protests from parents, the school board and Toronto Mayor John Tory, who called the project "preposterous."

Sources familiar with the proposals say the reforms would see the OMB turned into a more hands-off appeal body, along the exact lines that many of its critics, including Toronto chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, have called for.

Under the current plans, The Globe has learned, the OMB would be largely stripped of its ability to conduct what are known as de novo hearings, or hearings that start from scratch.

Such hearings would only occur if a municipality fails to make a decision on a development within the required time frame. As a result, the reformed OMB would largely be restricted to considering challenges of council decisions, as an appeal court might.

In another proposal, most of the new OMB's hearings would be through written submissions, eliminating the costly and timeconsuming courtroom-like process required now that can see city planners cross-examined as though they are witnesses at a trial.

For major decisions, one source familiar with the proposals said, the OMB would be required to have a panel of three members, instead of leaving the entire ruling up to just one member as it does now.

The OMB would also, in the first instance, likely send its ruling back to the municipal council in question for reconsideration.

Whatever the council then decided could bounce back up to the OMB for another appeal, however.

The proposed reforms would also drastically scale back the OMB's current wide-ranging powers over outcomes, strictly limiting its decisions to whether a council has complied with the province's planning policy statements and the council's own municipal official plan. This could mean that developers' efforts to go beyond limits imposed by a council, such as on the height of a condo tower, for example, at the OMB would be dramatically reduced.

Sources say the OMB would no longer hear challenges, usually launched by developers, to entire municipal official plans, a practice that can now delay their implementation for years.

Last year, the Premier told Municipal Affairs Minister Bill Mauro to make reviewing the OMB a key mission of his mandate. In October, 2016, his office released a public consultation paper that laid out many of the possible changes, and sought feedback from planners, developers and the public. One source said recently that the proposals now on the table at Queen's Park still needed to be approved by a cabinet committee. The government has long said that proposed amendments to the Planning Act to reform the OMB would be put forward for legislative approval this spring.

Mark Cripps, press secretary for Mr. Mauro, called The Globe's report "speculation" and said the minister had made no final decision on any OMB reforms. The legislation still had to be drafted, he said, although he expected it to be unveiled before spring was out.

"Nothing's been finalized yet. A lot of this sounds like right out of the consultation paper," he said.

"We expect to bring something forward in the coming months."

With many developers blaming the current amount of red tape for slowing project approvals and exacerbating the real estate crisis, some are concerned a weakened OMB would only make things worse. They can be expected to fight back against the proposals.

Just last week, a group of senior developers met with the Premier and pleaded their case.

"The reality is that those local political decisions will not all be good planning decisions," said Joe Vaccaro, chief executive officer of the Ontario Home Builders' Association. "What other mechanisms are you going to put in place to ensure council decisions are good planning decisions?" Ms. Keesmaat, Toronto's chief planner who has been advocating for changes to the OMB, along with her counterparts in municipalities across Ontario, said the proposals contain many of the reforms she has been calling for.

"I am very optimistic that we are on the cusp of reforms that will repair what is right now a really broken system," Ms. Keesmaat said.

She dismissed concerns that a weaker OMB and a strengthened hand for city council would allow NIMBYs to strangle new development in Toronto. "There already is a very pro-development culture in the city," she said. "We wouldn't be one of the fastest growing cities in North America if that wasn't the case."

Geoff Kettel, co-chairman of the Federation of North Toronto Residents' Associations (FONTRA) and a veteran of battles at the OMB in which residents and city planners must face off with wellfunded developers' legal teams, welcomed the proposed reforms.

He said they would make it much less li