By Mika Rekai - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 0 Comments
Disney’s princess dust-up, a Star-Strangled Banner, and Canada’s next basketball superstar makes his choice
A slam-dunk decision
The waiting game is over for America’s top college basketball teams: one of the most-hyped recruits in years, the Canadian basketball phenom Andrew Wiggins, is going to Kansas. The six-foot-eight, 18-year-old forward and Toronto native passed over Florida State—the alma mater of both his parents—Kentucky and North Carolina, and will don a Jayhawks jersey come the fall, a decision that left coach Bill Self with what he called a “kind of surreal feeling.” Wiggins has been compared to the likes of LeBron James and is known for a blend of athleticism and effortless style on the court. Kansas, whose basketball program was founded by James Naismith, the Canadian-born inventor of the game, “felt like the place for me,” Wiggins said. But he’s only expected to stay for the year—he’s the heavy favourite for the top spot in the 2014 NBA draft.
Learn your ABZs
U.S. President Barack Obama joked at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner that he had “99 problems” and rapper Jay-Z, who had recently taken a controversial trip to Cuba with superstar wife Beyoncé Knowles, was one. Now it looks like the Obamas might well become a problem for Jay-Z, if first lady Michelle Obama’s remarks at Bowie State University in Maryland are any indication. At a commencement ceremony, she told graduates of the historically black university to “be an example of excellence to the next generation” instead of “fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper.” That’s career advice that might rufﬂe the feathers of Jay-Z, a high-school dropout who hosted a $40,000-a-head fundraiser for the president during his last campaign.
By Mika Rekai - Friday, May 3, 2013 at 12:49 PM - 0 Comments
The Karma was once the future, now it’s trying to stay on the road
When the Fisker Karma debuted in 2008, its stunning design and innovative plug-in hybrid drivetrain were heralded as the future of America’s automotive industry. Today, the company is on the brink of bankruptcy after selling fewer than 2,000 cars worldwide.
Last week, Fisker missed a $10-million loan payment to the U.S. government—it had been approved for a $529-million loan in 2009, and had received $192 million before being cut off—and the company is now being held up by critics as an example of the Obama administration’s failed green policies. At a hearing before Congress, conservatives accused the administration of making a rash and risky bet on Fisker and its untested technology.
Indeed, when Karmas landed on showroom floors in 2011, they were riddled with defects, and several needed their batteries recalled. And at $100,000, they were roughly the same price as a Porsche 911, which doesn’t need to be pulled over to be recharged.
By Mika Rekai - Monday, April 29, 2013 at 12:55 PM - 0 Comments
Collins becomes first openly gay athlete in North American major league sports
NBA center Jason Collins has come out as the first openly gay athlete playing major league sports in North America, sharing the news in a carefully-worded personal essay for Sports Illustrated.
The 31-year-old veteran of over 700 games says that he did not want to be a trailblazer, but is ready to take the mantle of responsibility because he is tired of pretending to be someone he is not.
“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation,” he wrote. The 7″ tall athlete has played in the NBA for 12 years, and says he hid his identity first out of fear and then out of loyalty to his teams.
“When I signed a free-agent contract with Boston last July, I decided to commit myself to the Celtics and not let my personal life become a distraction. When I was traded to the Wizards, the political significance of coming out sunk in.” He added that part of what prompted his decision was a desire to walk in Boston’s gay pride parade with his friend, a straight Massachusetts congressman.
A handful of professional athletes have come out after retirement, including John Amaechi (basketball), Billy Bean (baseball) and David Kopay (football). In Europe, rugby player Gareth Thomas came out in 2009, while he was still playing for Wales, and said that lying about his sexuality drove him to attempt suicide.
NBA Commissioner David Stern was quick to lend his support to Collins.
“Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue,” Stern said in a statement.
Former U.S President Bill Clinton also released a statement of support. His daughter Chelsea attended Stanford University with Collins.
“Jason’s announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community,” Clinton said. “It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities. For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive.”
By Mika Rekai - Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 5:00 AM - 0 Comments
America’s cupcake trend has fallen out of favour
America may finally be souring on a once-sweet trend.
Shares in Crumbs Bake Shop, a New York-based chain of gourmet cupcake shops, dropped 34 per cent this month, falling to an all-time low of $1.70.
When the company debuted on the NASDAQ in 2011, it was the first cupcake bakery to go public, and its shares quickly rose to an all-time high of $13.
While store closures during hurricane Sandy have been blamed for the recent drop, many observers argue gourmet cupcakes were a trend doomed to fall out of favour. The craze began in the early 2000s, when another New York cupcake shop was featured on Sex and the City.
The first Crumbs location opened in 2003 at the height of cupcake mania, selling its creations for as much as $5 each. Analysts cited in the Wall Street Journal blame over-saturation as the root of the industry’s problems. Or perhaps customers realized it’s just as easy to make cupcakes at home.
By Mika Rekai - Friday, April 12, 2013 at 12:14 PM - 0 Comments
So why are so many people calling the ‘viral’ video a huge success?
A new video promoting the City of Calgary has been making the rounds on social media sites this week with many people calling the soulful montage a “viral success” for Calgary tourism – despite having under 1, 000 views on YouTube.
The generic tourism ad is part of the ‘Be Part of the Energy’ campaign, which aims to attract business and tourists to Alberta’s biggest city, and has been discussed at length on Canadian news outlets, including Global News, CTV and the CBC. Is the ad reflective of a new, more cosmopolitan Calgary? Is the new ad too youthful? Is it fair to baby-boomers and senior citizens? Is this the image that Calgary wants? Will this be a game-changer for Calgary? Has Calgary arrived?
By Mika Rekai - Monday, March 25, 2013 at 11:35 AM - 0 Comments
Welcome aboard Air Congestion
It’s an industry boom that knows no altitude limit. As Alberta’s oil industry rapidly expands, efficiently moving workers to and from remote extraction sites has become vital. But as petroleum companies of all sizes increasingly turn to private planes and company-operated airports, the skies are getting dangerously crowded. “There is a mentality that, here in the Great White North, there is nothing but space and open skies,” says Bill Werny, vice-president of operations at the Fort McMurray Airport Authority. “That’s just not the case anymore.”
While many oil-sands airports consist of a few small planes on a single strip of tarmac, the biggest companies charter more flights than many of Canada’s top commercial airlines. Combined, oil-sands airplanes move roughly 750,000 people a year, more than municipal airports in St. John’s, Victoria, Regina or Saskatoon. But while the location of municipal airport tarmacs is regulated by Transport Canada, private tarmacs can be built wherever someone is willing to lease the land. At low altitudes, Werny says the only navigation technique available to pilots is to “see and avoid.” Near-collisions, he warns, are becoming increasingly common.
This month, following on the heels of a study by the Fort McMurray Airport Authority that found 47 private air strips in the Athabasca oil-sands region alone, Werny set up a round-table group including private airstrip owners. While oil companies are wary of having private airstrips become regulated, many are taking part to discuss safety problems. While the group has “no authority” to set regulations, it is a first attempt to improve oversight for congestion concerns that have grown too big to ignore.
By Mika Rekai - Monday, March 11, 2013 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
All the jail’s a stage in the cash-strapped country
Italy’s prisons are so overcrowded and underfunded that living conditions were recently deemed human rights violations by the European Union. Oddly enough, they’re also at the heart of the country’s newest arts trend: prison theatre. As Italy’s cash-strapped government continues to slash funding for the arts, the country’s theatre enthusiasts are increasingly turning to prisons for a dose of culture. Almost every other jail in Italy now boasts an active theatre troupe. Rome’s high-security Rebibbia prison has sold more than 30,000 tickets since 2006; its take on Julius Caesar, starring mobsters and murderers, went on to become the subject of the award-winning 2012 film, Caesar Must Die.
While some Italians may be dismayed that unpaid convicts are overshadowing the country’s law-abiding artists, the government believes the programs teach prisoners empathy and trust. To Ivana Parisi, who organizes drama programs in a handful of Tuscan prisons, they enable prisoners to have “a dialogue with the outside world.”
By Mika Rekai - Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
A tough environmentalist who spent years roughing it in India, she decided to take a resort holiday to unwind
Rebecca Mary Tarbotton was born in Vancouver on July 30, 1973, to Mike, an engineer, and Mary, a homemaker. Becky, the eldest of three, had an adventurous streak and loved to perform. By age 9, she had mastered the fiddle and the unicycle. At 10, she met Emma Mason, who quickly became her best friend. Soon Becky was pestering Emma’s father to buy the house next door so the two girls could play together more often. “It was a rundown old house. I don’t think my father had any interest in it, but when Becky asked him, he thought, ‘Well, how can I resist?’ ” Within months, the Masons had moved in.
Becky and Emma started high school in a highly competitive, enriched program at the Prince of Wales Mini School on Vancouver’s west side. Becky performed in the school’s musical every year, most memorably as Grease’s Betty Rizzo, the leader of the “Pink Ladies,” the girls who “rule the school.”
At 13, Becky went on a hiking trip with the Masons in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, in B.C.’s Bella Coola Valley. As they ﬂew out, Becky, peering from the window, was horrified to see massive swaths of old-growth forest that had been clear-cut. The stark remains left an indelible mark on her. From then on, the environment was her driving passion. Once, when she was 16 and driving to a beach on B.C.’s southern coast, Becky noticed a group of boys throwing crabs onto the two-lane highway to watch them get run over by passing cars. Incensed, Becky, who by then stood six feet tall and favoured big, imposing hiking boots, pulled over, waved her arms to stop oncoming traffic and stormed across the road to give the boys a piece of her mind. They quickly fled.
After high school, Becky went to McGill University, where she studied geography and, in 1993, took part in her first environmental protests over logging in Clayoquot Sound, B.C. She returned to Vancouver in 1995 to begin a master’s degree in community planning at the University of British Columbia and started working for the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC), a British environmental non-profit.
Becky spent the next eight summers in Ladakh, India, a sparsely populated, mountainous region in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, where she helped develop an advocacy group for female farmers. During the winter, she worked at the organization’s office in Devon, in southwest Britain, promoting alternative farming methods and the local food movement. In her spare time she liked drinking tea, reading books in her attic apartment and taking long walks in the countryside with Katy Mamon, a close friend.
In 2002, she moved to Berkeley, Calif., with the ISEC, eventually settling in Oakland. In 2007, she took a senior role with the San Francisco-based Rainforest Action Network and, in 2010, became its first female executive director. Soon Becky was leading a well-publicized campaign against Disney, the world’s largest children’s book publisher. It had been using paper from Indonesian rainforests and the group’s pamphlets showed Mickey and Minnie wielding chainsaws. Disney quickly gave in, promising to use sustainably sourced paper.
Becky, though devoted to environmental causes, always found time for her friends and family. She’d often phone her mom from the ferry on her daily commute home from San Francisco to Oakland. In 2011, on a ski trip to a friend’s cabin in Lake Tahoe, Nev., she met Mateo Williford, a solar-power technologist. Mateo, who noticed she was “very much a goofball” like him, was immediately attracted, and the two were soon dating.
In April 2012, Becky’s father, Mike, passed away from cancer, a devastating loss to Becky and her family. Two months later, Becky and Mateo were married in Katy’s backyard, amid an organic garden and a pond, surrounded by friends and family.
Becky’s work kept her busy, but last December, she and Mateo decided to finally take a proper vacation. For a hardened environmentalist used to spending her spare time hiking the mountains near Ladakh, the tourist mecca of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, was an odd choice, but she decided to join a group of friends at the resort. On Boxing Day, the group took a long swim in the open ocean, swimming a half hour from shore. They hit rough waves and Becky inhaled some water. She made it back to the beach, but died of asphyxiation on shore. She was 39.
By Mika Rekai - Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
Party president acknowledges low profile of contest
If most Canadians are unaware the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party is in the final throes of a leadership contest, they can be forgiven—most people in Saskatchewan don’t know either.
In a recent poll, Praxis Analytics found 63 per cent of Saskatchewanians could not name a single candidate in the race, which will be determined at a convention on March 9. Perhaps more astonishing, 45 per cent were totally unaware the NDP—once considered Saskatchewan’s natural governing party—is having a leadership convention at all.
As the ofﬁcial Opposition, the NDP holds just nine of the province’s 58 seats. The remaining 49 are held by the Saskatchewan Party, formed in 1997 by Liberal and Progressive Conservative MPs. Disgruntled centrists saw the merger as the only way to oust the NDP juggernaut, which had governed Saskatchewan for most of the last 70 years.
While Saskatchewan NDP president Cory Oxelgren acknowledges the low profile of the race, he blames it on a lack of acrimony between the candidates. (The three leadership candidates are locked in a three-way tie.)
“If there was more divisiveness, there might be more headlines,” he says.
But the popularity of Premier Brad Wall, first elected in 2007, has certainly not helped. With its wealth of natural resources, the province emerged from the recession relatively unscathed, and Wall reaped much of the credit. His approval rating of 67 per cent makes him the most popular premier in Canada.
Still, Oxelgren is confident the party can mount a comeback in the next election. “I’m not worried that we will disappear.”
By Mika Rekai - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
It is a national tradition that has boiled the blood of environmentalists for decades,…
It is a national tradition that has boiled the blood of environmentalists for decades, but a recent report says the Japanese whaling industry is dead in the water.
While the government has always asserted that eating whale meat was an indispensable part of Japanese culture, a report compiled by the U.S-based International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) says demand for whale meat has fallen to a historic low. In 2011, whale meat consumption was just one per cent of its peak of 230,000 tonnes in 1962. The report says the whaling industry employed fewer than 1,000 people last year, and has only survived due to government subsidies, without which it would collapse. A decision to divert money from the tsunami disaster relief to prop up the whaling industry provoked an outcry.
Though the industry is fading, it may never disappear entirely. Eating whale meat can be traced back to the earliest Japanese religious texts and half the protein eaten in Japan during the Second World War was whale. But the report found 89 per cent of Japanese people had not bought whale meat in the past year. The IFAW recommends an entirely different kind of hunting called whale-watching.
By Mika Rekai - Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 12:08 PM - 0 Comments
Read all about it…everywhere
It’s Valentine’s Day again, and what better way to celebrate then by reading dozens of articles about why love is probably dead. The reason, according to silver-haired columnists around the world, is because of today’s youth and their unholy reliance on technology. Why is there so much texting, they all ask, and so little staring into the soulful abysses of your lover’s eyes?
In 2009, David Brooks at the New York Times may have well started the trend for curmudgeonly Valentine’s griping when he wrote this article. According to Brooks, Facebook, Twitter, online dating–even cellphones themselves–are to blame for sucking all the rose-tinted, candle-lit romance out of life and leaving only the cold, tasteless husks of a casual relationship in their place. Brooks suggests a return to the “Happy Days era” when “courtship was governed by a set of guardrails”. While Brooks seems to appreciate that Happy Days is a fictional television show set in a pre-feminist era, he still thinks it’s better than whatever young people are up to now: instagraming their love into oblivion, probably.
By Emily Senger, Jaime Weinman, Jonathon Gatehouse, and Mika Rekai - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 7:00 PM - 0 Comments
Obama gets caught in “Skeetgate” and HMV learns the power of social media
Shorn for love
America isn’t the only place where young pop stars have to apologize for having a sex life. Minami Minegishi, a 20-year-old member of the Japanese musical group AKB48, shaved her head in penance after a gossip magazine showed her leaving the apartment of a backup dancer from another band. It wasn’t the romance with a rival group that caused the scandal, but the fact that, as Minegishi said in an apologetic YouTube video, she did not “behave as a good role model” and follow the band’s rules about sexual behaviour—namely, it’s off-limits to girls. The tearful apology didn’t help her cause—management demoted the star to a trainee team.
When U.S. President Barack Obama told the New Republic that “up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time,” he probably never dreamed he’d set off a full-fledged new conspiracy theory, now dubbed “Skeetgate.” Many conservatives accused Obama of lying about his gun fandom; one Republican representative demanded to know “if he is a skeet shooter, why have we not heard of it?” The outcry grew so great that the White House released a photo of Obama shooting skeet at Camp David, which simply resulted in accusations that it was photoshopped, plus mockery of the “mom jeans” he was wearing in the picture. Continue…
By Mika Rekai - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 11:36 AM - 0 Comments
Quebec tourism agency Uniktour preparing to compete with Virgin Galactic for would-be astronauts
Canadians who dream of going to the final frontier will soon be able to find cheaper flights. Last week, Quebec tourism agency Uniktour announced it will be collaborating with Space Expedition Corp. and XCOR Aerospace to offer private space travel by 2014. Uniktour will be selling two different space packages, for $95,000 and $100,000, which includes hotel stays and astronaut training. That’s about half the price of the flights offered by main rival Virgin Galactic.
Trips booked via Uniktour will blast off from California’s Mojave desert and the Caribbean island of Curaçao. Unlike Virgin, which plans to take six tourists into space once a day, Space Expedition will be taking one tourist into space four times a day. Because the shuttle is so small, the tourist will be seated like a co-pilot. The flights will last about an hour, with several minutes spent at the edge of space, 100 km up: just long enough for passengers to experience weightlessness while admiring the blackness of space and the curvature of the Earth.
By Mika Rekai - Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
Introducing the Grammy-winner as global creative director brings the Z10 a celebrity endorsement
In a single day last week, Research in Motion launched a new operating system, two new smartphones and changed its company name to BlackBerry. It also introduced a new employee, global creative director Alicia Keys.
The Grammy-winning singer said her “goal is to inspire creativity” in her new job (despite tweeting from an iPhone a day earlier). But will she be more than just a celebrity endorser? Giving musicians lofty creative director titles (will.i.am at Intel in 2011, Lady Gaga at Polaroid in 2009) has become an oft-ridiculed trend at tech companies. Kenneth Wong, a marketing expert at Queen’s University, says a true collaboration with Keys could actually be beneficial. “Celebrity culture is deeply integrated with the Internet and social media,” says Wong. And Keys could serve as a bridge to the app world that BlackBerry ignored in the past. “For BlackBerry not to use her would be a missed opportunity,” he says.
By Mika Rekai - Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 11:22 AM - 0 Comments
Getting their just desserts
It’s been just over a year since Moammar Gadhafi was killed in Libya, bringing his violent, 40-year dictatorship to a sudden, brutal end. While the newly liberated country is still recovering from civil war and political unrest, some Libyan entrepreneurs are taking advantage of their new-found freedom—and for many, life is sweet. For the first time since economic sanctions were imposed in the early ’90s, the former Italian colony is finally indulging in the food it missed most—ice cream.
During the later Gadhafi years, it was almost impossible to acquire street-trading licences, and even more difficult to purchase the equipment and necessary ingredients from Europe. But since 2011, dozens of Italian-style ice cream shops have sprung up across the country. Every day, hundreds of Libyans brave long lines for brand-name flavours including Snickers and Nutella, and ice cream trucks are now common sights in city streets.
“There’s a market for it here,” Hussein Bannour, a gelateria owner from Tripoli, told the BBC. “Libyans are proud of things like this because we didn’t have it before.”
By Mika Rekai - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 10:08 AM - 0 Comments
Desperate to fly, he was denied a pilot’s licence due to two heart transplants. A year ago, after six appeals, he finally got his wish.
Glen George Freeland was born on Dec. 7, 1973, in Fairview, Alta., to Vaida Allan, 16, and David Freeland, 18. On the night Glen was born, a mix of wet weather and a flash freeze coated the roads with ice, and his mom barely made it to hospital in time. “Glen was in such a hurry to be born,” says Vaida. “And he never stopped being in a hurry.”
When Glen was two, his parents separated and David, a labourer, moved to Edmonton, while Glen and Vaida stayed in Peace River, near her parents. When Glen was a baby, he loved pickles, exploring, and making people laugh. Vaida couldn’t open the back door without Glen crawling out, and making for the nearest mud puddle. He was the class clown and made friends easily, but his best friend was Brian Freelend (sic), one of his three “double cousins”—the children of Vaida’s sister, Trish, and David’s brother, Bob, who had also married. Vaida remarried and had two more children, 10 and 12 years Glen’s junior, but he remained closest to Brian, who was just 1½ years younger than him. When they were kids, they loved building elaborate tree forts—which they would then knock down and rebuild. “Glen never stuck with one thing for very long,” says Brian. “He was always coming up with new ideas.” He and Brian came up with all kinds of outlandish business schemes to line their pockets, and Glen bought his first snowmobile when he was 16, months before he bought a car.
By Mika Rekai - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 5:59 PM - 0 Comments
Mika Rekai likes her old one, thank you very much. Here’s why.
As a young person with a BlackBerry, sometimes I get lonely.
I first felt the loneliness in the winter of 2010, when I would get together with my regular crew of early twentysomethings in a dive bar or a beer-glazed living room. It was the first true winter of the iPhone, and where once, in the heyday of our youth, we would spend our time socializing meaningfully, looking deeply into each other’s eyes as we discussed world issues, now everyone seemed to be transfixed by their cool new phones, and specifically, by“apps”. Charlie had an app which helped him build a bookshelf, Chad had an app to help him run five kilometres, Lucy had an app which was just a bunch of photos of fit girls’ bottoms and they all had Angry Birds. “What apps do you have?” they asked me.
“I have no apps,” I said, the shame welling up inside me. “I only have a competent phone, which keeps me reliably connected to friends, family and school.”
By Mika Rekai - Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 6:41 PM - 0 Comments
Kathleen Wynne is almost certain to become Ontario’s next premier. She will be the…
Kathleen Wynne is almost certain to become Ontario’s next premier. She will be the first woman to hold the position, as well as Canada’s first openly gay premier. With Gerard Kennedy’s and Charles Sousa’s endorsements, the only question left at the Ontario Liberal convention is: will Wynne’s victory speech air before the hockey game, or during it?
Tonight, Wynne’s victory will be sweet.
Tomorrow she will have to let go of optimistic rhetoric and face reality.
The Liberals are polling in third place provincially. Just today, thousands of teachers and union representatives took to the streets in protest of Bill 115 (for which Wynne voted) and what they characterize as the undemocratic legacy left to Ontario’s Liberals by Dalton McGuinty. Tomorrow, Wynne will have to answer to that legacy. She may say her leadership ushers in a new beginning, but the unions are much less likely to take her at her word than the adoring crowds of large-L Liberals that have surrounded her on the campaign trail.
If one thing differentiated the campaigns of Kathleen Wynne and her main rival Sandra Pupatello, it is that Wynne was running one race: the race to become Premier. Pupatello was running in two: the race for Premier and the race for Leader of the Opposition. While some have found her combative rhetoric abrasive, especially in contrast to the overwhelming optimism exuded by her fellow candidate, the Pupatello approach had some long-term merit. The next premier will lead a minority government and a party that’s more despised by its small-l liberal base than ever before, there is a very good chance Wynne will be leading an opposition party before long.
Tonight though Wynne is poised to make history. Tonight she should bask in the lights, dance with her campaign team and savour the taste of victory because tomorrow, she could very well be eating crow.
By Mika Rekai - Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 1:35 PM - 0 Comments
To recap: Hope. Optimism. … Pick Me.
With the first ballot out of the way, it’s on to second choices at the Ontario Liberal leadership convention in Toronto.
In speeches on Saturday morning, the would-be Liberal leaders wooed both committed supporters and those they hoped to attract after the first results.
Results of the first ballot were as follows:
Sandra Pupatello, 599
Kathleen Wynne, 597
Gerard Kennedy, 281
Harinder Takhar, 234
Charles Sousa, 222
Eric Hoskins, 150.
The candidates delivered speeches with great energy but with very little mention of any policy.
Themes of the day: “Optimism” and “Hope” — two things that only capital “L” leaders possess, at least according to these leadership hopefuls.
By Mika Rekai - Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 6:32 AM - 0 Comments
If you were to believe Dalton McGuinty’s son — and most people do on…
If you were to believe Dalton McGuinty’s son — and most people do on this — the premier gave himself the nickname “Premier Dad.” On Friday night at Maple Leaf Gardens, the Liberal Party of Ontario celebrated “Dad” first and “Premier” second.
Inside the convention, the tribute began with an introduction by two of his children, who laughed about the family nights and golf games they shared with their dad, far away from Queen’s Park. Later there was a slideshow featuring photos of a young, shaggy-haired McGuinty teaching kids to water ski, followed by photos of the polished politician holding babies, and finally of the silver-templed premier gamely pouring coffee with a laughing Tim Hortons worker. When McGuinty finally faced his audience at the end of the night, he was the first person to mention legislative issues and only vaguely alluded to improvements in education, health care and the environment.
By Mika Rekai - Friday, January 25, 2013 at 2:11 PM - 0 Comments
What you need to know about the six candidates, and then some
After the surprise resignation of Dalton McGuinty in October, the Ontario Liberal Party is finally ready to elect a new leader. While there are currently six candidates vying to be Ontario’s next premier, the odds are it will come down to a two-way race between Toronto’s hyper-progressive Kathleen Wynne and Windsor spitfire Sandra Pupatello. The voting process, however, may render a few surprises. Instead of allowing all party members to vote, the next premier will be selected by 2, 200 chosen delegates and “ex-officios”—former and current Liberal MPPs and MPs. The same process was used in the federal Liberal leadership contest in 2006, which saw Stéphane Dion upset front-runners Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae after Dion received overwhelming support from delegates of defeated candidate Gerard Kennedy. While the process has been criticized for being both time-consuming and elitist, watch for it to inject a little drama into the weekend’s voting.
By Mika Rekai - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 7:00 PM - 0 Comments
Residents fear dognapping network
Over the last year, by some estimates, roughly 50 dogs have gone missing in southeastern Manitoba, sparking fears there is a dognapping network at work. And while the RCMP insist there is no evidence to support this claim, locals are becoming increasingly convinced the animals are being used as “bait” dogs to train other dogs to fight.
Many of the dogs disappeared when they were on private property. One resident told the Winnipeg Free Press he found tire tracks and a dog biscuit near his property, but because he had an invisible electric fence, his dog was not lured away. Others have not been so lucky. Last week the skinned remains of a dog were found beside a rural highway propped up in the snow. Owners have formed a Facebook group to share their stories.
But even if police discover the pets were stolen for dogfighting, there may not be much they can do. Under the federal Criminal Code, only those who are shown to be “wilfully neglecting” animals can be charged with animal cruelty. In Manitoba, it is illegal to make animals fight each other, but what constitutes participation in a dogfight isn’t clear, making the crime hard to prosecute.
By Mika Rekai - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 2:40 PM - 0 Comments
Climbers defy gravity to capture heavenly perspectives and stomach-turning drops
Tom Ryaboi has always been a fan of heights. One night, when he was a young child, his father came home from work and found him sitting on top of the refrigerator, taking in the kitchen from a new angle. Ryaboi’s appetite for height has only grown. At 23, he began sneaking into construction sites and taking photographs from the rooftops and ledges of Toronto’s highest skyscrapers. Climbing up cranes, evading security guards and risking the occasional trespassing ticket, Ryaboi has captured heavenly perspectives and stomach-turning drops rarely seen by anyone. And in his five years of gravity-defying work, he has helped to turn “rooftopping” into a global photography trend. “I like that everyone is making it their own,” he says. “The kids in Russia, in Melbourne, they all do something a little bit different.”
These days, building owners are happy to have the photographer immortalize the view from their rooftops. “Ironically, some of the buildings that I entered on my own have now invited me back to shoot again,” he says.
Although Ryaboi has taken his talents to a number of cities, including Chicago, Detroit and Montreal, he says Toronto is still his favourite muse. “Toronto has more buildings under construction than all of the States combined,” he explains. “Going up an unfinished building, looking for that shot . . . it’s a rush.”of Photos
By Mika Rekai - Monday, January 21, 2013 at 3:50 PM - 0 Comments
Mika Rekai reports on the spirit of the crowd furthest away from the Capitol building
In 2009, Washington D.C. prepared for hundreds of thousands of people to descend on the nation’s capital to celebrate Obama’s first inauguration. When over two million arrived, pouring into every corner of the National Mall, the mood was often described as “electric”. After an unprecedented campaign, hope and change had arrived in the United States, and people were holding their breath to see what this new president could do.
By Mika Rekai - Monday, January 21, 2013 at 11:42 AM - 0 Comments
Mika Rekai on the allure of Joe Biden
Before being picked as Barack Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden was best known by American for commuting by train between Washington and Delaware and for his many, cringe-inducing verbal gaffes.
Despite being one of the longest serving members of the U.S. Senate, in 2008, Biden captured less than one per cent of popular support in the Democratic primary, and dropped out after the Iowa caucus.
When he joined the Obama ticket, his age and years of government service were intended to appeal to voters concerned about Obama’s lack of experience. Biden, they seemed to think, had the gravitas to balance out Obama’s youthful celebrity.