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The Big Story
Frequency Podcast Network
An in-depth look at the issues, culture and personalities shaping Canada today.
2 days ago
Why we need to market masks like condoms
It's clear from the politicization of masks in the United States, and the mandatory mask policies being enacted in Canada, that we're not seeing enough voluntary compliance to impact the spread of COVID-19. So who's to blame? And how do we get where we need to be to curb the virus? Messaging on masks has been abysmal since the early stages of the pandemic, so you can't simply blame people for not complying now. And the shaming and shunning of non-mask wearers isn't what's needed to convince everyone to buy in to something that represents a huge change in everyday behaviour. So what kind of messaging works? Well, we actually do have a pretty good idea... GUEST: Dr. Julia Marcus, epidemiologist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School; writer at The Atlantic
3 days ago
We have a rare opportunity to reimagine the way we travel. Will we take it?
Since the pandemic put a sudden stop to foreign travel, places around the world that were once overrun by tourists have had a chance to breathe. And the people living in them have started to realize what life is like without all those extra people. For some, the break has been nice — a chance to finally visit the monuments that were always just around the corner, but never empty enough to enjoy. For others, it's revealed a deep-rooted dependency on an industry that doesn't always love them back. As travel restrictions start to ease in Europe and other parts of the world, are we going to revert to our old habits or look for ways to create new experiences? GUEST: Christopher de Bellaigue, writer for The Guardian.
5 days ago
Migrant farm workers are dying of COVID-19. What’s being done to stop the spread?
Hundreds of migrant farm workers in Ontario have tested positive for COVID-19 and three have died, leaving behind wives and children. Health officials say the workers arrived healthy and that the virus was spread locally. How do these outbreaks happen even with regular screening in place? What measures are now being put in place to control the spread? Are they enough? GUEST: Kathryn Blaze Baum, The Globe and Mail
6 days ago
Internet Folklore: The case of the heart-shaped honeycomb
You may have seen the picture during one of its many trips around the internet over the past seven years. It's a honeycomb shaped like a heart, allegedly made by the bees themselves, freeform, when their keeper forgot to put the frame in their hive. It's a lovely story, and that's why it sticks around. Is it true? Not entirely. Does that matter? Maybe. But the case of the heart-shaped honeycomb provides a look inside a rapidly developing field called Internet Folklore, and can teach us a lot about the stories we tell and why some of them endure. GUEST: Steve Bryne, Folklorist
Jun 27, 2020
A Turning Point: Race Relations In Sports
In this special episode of the Big Story, Arash Madani of Sportsnet hosts a discussion of racism and activism in sports. The games we love have been at the forefront of many waves of social change, and they have the power to bring us together for a common cause. From John Carlos' raised fist at the Olympics to Colin Kaepernick's brave protest that cost him his job, we'll explore athletes, activism and what needs to happen now if real progress is to be made. GUEST HOST: Arash Madani, Sportsnet
Jun 26, 2020
Why do ‘wellness checks’ keep ending in killings?
In a perfect world, a "wellness check" would be exactly what it says. A person seems like they’re having trouble or are in crisis, so we call someone to check on them, to help them get well. As you probably know by now, that's not always what happens, and the results are people dead at the hands of the police. Why are police the default when a wellness check is called for? Does it have to be that way? How is a wellness check supposed to be conducted—are there protocols that aren't being followed? How are officers trained for them? Exactly how much mental health training do prospective officers get? GUEST: Uzma Williams, teaches a mental health course to students and prospective police officers at MacEwan University in Edmonton; she's also a co-editor of Police Response to Mental Health in Canada
Jun 25, 2020
Our second birthday: So, how’s 2020 treating everyone?
The Big Story turns two today. We're officially entering our toddler years, just in time to throw a tantrum at the news cycle with two of our favourite guests. This year is not yet half done and it either feels like it's been a week or a decade long. How will we remember 2020? Among the thousands of things that we've changed so far this year, which ones will last when things return to normal? How have we done, as the media, covering history as it happens? And is there ANY good news in this year? ... Anything? GUESTS: Sarah Boesveld and Fatima Syed
Jun 24, 2020
How do we fix hockey culture without burning it down?
The allegations in a recent lawsuit are horrifying to read. Teenagers allegedly being bullied and abused by older teammates as coaches watched and did nothing. These aren't the first stories to come from Canadian junior hockey players and they likely won't be the last. The initial reaction from those without a stake in the game, including our host, is to burn the whole system down. Is that the only way to fix it? What needs to change for the game we love to be safe for the kids who play it? Who's standing in the way of that? And what does real change look like inside locker rooms everywhere? GUEST: Brock McGillis, former OHL and pro player, LGBTQ+ speaker and advocate
Jun 23, 2020
A long fight to make the Air India bombing a ‘Canadian’ tragedy
Today is the 35th anniversary of the Air India bombing, which killed 329 people, 280 of them Canadian citizens. In the immediate tragedy, the terrorist attack was seen largely as a foreign incident. As recently as 2007, not even half of Canadians considered it a "Canadian" tragedy. Why did the largest mass murder of Canadians in the country's history remain for so long a story about India and Ireland? And how have things changed in the past decade to reframe it? GUEST: Chandrima Chakraborty, Professor, Department of English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University
Jun 22, 2020
A Guide To Relationships on Lockdown
When we discuss how COVID-19 has changed everything on this show, there's one big topic we haven’t covered yet. It’s sensitive. It’s intimate. It’s not easy to talk about even when there is no pandemic. It’s … just messy. It’s marriage. And living together. And partnership, with kids or without. If you’re married, or partnered, you haven’t been alone through all this. So you’re lucky. But you’ve also likely spent the last few months navigating an entirely different landscape, adjusting to a new daily life and, probably, fighting. At least sometimes. GUEST: Stephen Marche, host, How Not To F**k Up Your Marriage Too Bad (Available on Audible for free until July 11)
Jun 19, 2020
What does Tim Horton’s (and other companies) know about you?
You might expect the world's biggest technology companies to have your data and know a lot about your life. But your favourite (or least favourite) coffee chain?! This is the story of what happened when one reporter saw a notification on his phone and followed it down a rabbit hole to find out what, exactly, Tim Horton’s knows about him—and you too, if you use their app. Also, why exactly do they need to know that stuff? And what do they do with it? And who else might be doing it? Because if your local coffee chain can compile this stuff...what’s stopping everyone else? GUEST: James McLeod, business and technology reporter, Financial Post
Jun 18, 2020
“Outside is closed!”: What’s COVID-19 doing to kids in the long run?
The Hospital for Sick Children issued a report Wednesday that recommends children go back to school in September—even though it admits the virus likely won’t be eradicated by then. It says the risks of infection and transmission need to be balanced with the effects closed schools are having on their physical and mental health. What do we know about the long-term impacts of kids being yanked out of school and isolated from their friends for months on end? How does it impact different kids at different ages and in different situations, and how do researchers try to quantify it? What don’t we know right now? And what will be likely found out years down the line as the Pandemic Generation grows up? GUEST: Sarmishta Subramanian, Editor At Large, Maclean's
Jun 17, 2020
What does “Defund The Police” mean today, tomorrow and next year? What other options are there?
It's a slogan gathering steam, and support--but not enough support to make it practical. Yet. What don't people understand about the phrase and the options on the table for police reform, which range from abolishment of the police, to superficial changes that advocates say won't make much of a difference? How well do we understand what needs to happen next? And what reforms can actually make a difference now? GUEST: Monica Bell, associate professor of law and sociology, Yale University
Jun 16, 2020
What does the future of the U.S.-Canada border look like?
It's been closed to all but essential travel for months, and polls show most Canadians want it closed for a good while longer. The border is the most visible symbol of the increasingly divergent paths taken by Canada and the United States—paths that began before COVID-19 struck. In the 208 year history of the "longest undefended border", the experience of crossing has changed several times, and each event has left a lasting impact. What does the future hold for the relationship between the two neighbours, the border itself and the communities that live on either side of it? GUEST: Alex Bitterman, professor at Alfred State College of Technology at The State University of New York; Contributor, The Conversation
Jun 15, 2020
What do you really know about country music?
Most of us have a very specific image in our minds of what country music is. It shouldn’t be surprising—that's how it’s been promoted and sold for decades. But it wasn’t how the music was born. And it’s not representative of the artists who make it today, either. So what’s the real history of country music? GUEST: Elamin Abdelmahmoud, Editor of News Curation, BuzzFeed; contributor, Rolling Stone
Jun 12, 2020
Ending Racism: What Will It Take?
Today, a special episode of The Big Story: An in-depth conversation hosted by Sportsnet’s Donnovan Bennett, a Big Story regular as guest and host, and Cityline’s Tracy Moore, featuring thought-leaders from across the country, who share their unique experiences with systemic discrimination and their views on how all Canadians can advocate for impactful change. We really hope you’ll have a listen. GUESTS INCLUDE: Akim Aliu – Professional Hockey Player & Member of Hockey Diversity Alliance Michael Bach – Founder & CEO, Canadian Centre for Diversity & Inclusion Donovan Bailey – Olympic Gold Medallist, 5x World Champion & Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Inductee Cicely Belle Blain – Founder, Black Lives Matter Vancouver & Diversity Consultant Orlando Bowen – Former Toronto Argonauts Linebacker & Motivational Speaker Andray Domise – Journalist & Contributor to Maclean’s magazine, Big Story guest Wes Hall – Executive Chairman, Kingsdale Advisors Idil Issa…
Jun 11, 2020
It’s getting harder and harder to stop disinformation
It's been a banner year for disinformation, and the past few weeks have been the worst of all. Coronavirus hoaxes and miracle cures are still circulating, but there's also been a deluge of confusion, lies and misrepresentation around what's happening at the protests that have taken over streets in almost every town and city in North America. So how do you tell the real from the fake, especially when the misinformation is sometimes coming from traditional sources of authority? What are the most common hoaxes surrounding these protests? What's the goal of them? And how close are these social media hoaxes getting to inciting real-life violence? GUEST: Jane Lytvynenko, senior reporter, BuzzFeed News
Jun 10, 2020
If everything’s opening up, why am I so anxious?
Three months ago, Canadians were asked to adapt to a 'new normal'. We were told to stay inside, avoid contact with others, and limit trips to the bare necessities. It was awful, and scary, but we did it. Now, as case numbers of COVID-19 decline across the country, we're opening things back up—stores, parks, salons...even daycares. And some of us are anxious about returning to the world. What has the past three months done to our brains and the levels of anxiety we live with? Why have some people struggled to cope with isolation, while others are nervous to resume daily life? What will the long-term legacy of the pandemic on Canadians' mental health look like? And what are some coping strategies we can use if we're having trouble? GUEST: Judith Law, executive director of Anxiety Canada
Jun 9, 2020
How the pandemic put health inequality on display
The rates of COVID-19 among Black and other racialized communities in the United States and around the world are staggering. It would be interesting to have that data in Canada...but we don't have the numbers. Only recently has Toronto begun releasing COVID-19 cases broken down by postal code, and the map of where the disease is spreading is exactly what you may have expected. Even in a country with "universal" health care, racism and classism still play a determining role in far too many medical outcomes. What data do we need to do something about it? What do health care workers on the front line say is needed? Are they getting it? And how can we ensure the systems we change for the better to fight COVID-19 don't regress when the pandemic is over? GUEST: Dr. Naheed Dosani, palliative care physician and health justice advocate.
Jun 8, 2020
How much ‘working from home’ will become permanent?
Several of the world's leading technology companies—including Shopify, the largest in Canada—have announced that they don't ever plan to return to full-time office work. Other companies plan to stagger the return of employees as the pandemic wanes. Some may have to refit their entire floor plans in order to maintain social distancing if they want their staff back in the office. None of that is easy, or cheap. We might not know what the future of work looks like once a vaccine for COVID-19 is found, but it's safe to say that office work will never be the same. And what we've learned in the past few months, under the pressure of an emergency in a desperate situation, is not a fair proxy for what remote work in a normal world would look like. So what do we know about 'working from home' and productivity outside of a pandemic? What data will companies use to inform their decisions about how many employees return how often? And what should employees be doing to prepare for a future tha…
Jun 5, 2020
How worried should we be about foreign takeovers?
Right now, Canadian businesses are vulnerable. Many of them are worried they won't survive COVID-19, and that makes them attractive targets for foreign investors. In some cases, it's a win-win: Canada needs foreign capital, and these companies want to acquire assets in a stable and prosperous country. But some of these deals raise real security concerns. When a state-owned Chinese company pays millions more than anyone else is willing to for a Canadian operation...why is that? What do they think they're getting out of it? How can our government balance the need for foreign money with the risk of handing over Canadian assets and property to other governments? And how many of us are even paying attention? GUEST: Stephanie Carvin, assistant professor of international affairs at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University
Jun 4, 2020
Is history at a turning point? How can we meet the moment?
You may have heard the phrase this week, or even just this year, that we are living history right now. The truth is we are always living history, but some of us can afford to ignore it until it boils over. So what's the historical context for this moment in time? What can we learn from it? When racism, police brutality and the rage that comes in response to that are laid bare for the world to see, in the middle of a pandemic everyone wants to know what happens next. Where do we go from here? Is it possible to eliminate racism without dismantling capitalism? And what do we each have to do to steer the course towards a positive ending? GUEST: Andray Domise, contributing editor, Maclean's; Nathanson Fellow (History), York University
Jun 3, 2020
U of T medical school’s first solo Black female valedictorian graduates, and leaves behind a legacy of activism
Chika Stacy Oriuwa graduated from the University of Toronto's faculty of medicine on Tuesday as valedictorian—the first black woman in the faculty's history to receive the honour alone (Dr. Kristine Whitehead, a Black woman, was co-valedictorian for the Class of 1992). She is also the only black student in her class of 259. But thanks to her advocacy and the university's willingness to work with her, the medical school class accepted for next year has 24 Black students, the highest number in the school's history. Oriuwa's story is inspiring, but it also highlights just how many systemic barriers face Black students in Canada as they take aim at the highest levels of education. What needs to be done to fix this, and how can other schools and students follow her lead? GUEST: Chika Stacy Oriuwa, valedictorian, class of 2020, U of T Faculty of Medicine (CORRECTION: This episode states that Dr. Oriuwa was the first Black female graduate to be named valedictorian. She is the first to re…
Jun 2, 2020
Police brutality is not just an American problem. What needs to happen here?
There’s a natural instinct a lot of Canadians have to look at the United States and feel better about ourselves. It’s obviously not a great look for us as a country at the best of times. And right now we’re a long long way from the best of times. And anyone looking for examples of police brutality in Canada won’t have to go far. Nobody knows yet exactly what happened when Regis Korchinski-Paquet was alone with two Toronto officers last week. But she fell to her death with them there. Where does police oversight in Canada succeed or fail? What needs to actually happen to make progress, and how can it be done? What are the actual differences in process between us and the United States? GUEST: Asha James, human rights lawyer and partner at Falconers, LLP
Jun 1, 2020
How to be an ally in everyday situations
The images of police killing black men or assaulting protesters are horrifying and disgusting, but they are just the most visible tip of an ugly, ugly iceberg. Before we talk about how far we'll really have to go to change a culture of police brutality, we're going to talk about what each of us, especially those with privilege, should be ready to do right now. Many of us won't be in harm's way on the front lines of a protest—but we also miss the many chances we have to be an ally when it can make a difference. Today, we revisit a conversation about what keeps us quiet or still when racists, sexist and homophobic acts occur in front of us, and how we can change that. Until tomorrow, stay safe and help each other out. GUEST: Shakil Choudhury, Anima Leadership
Jun 1, 2020
Investigating the Toronto Blessing: A beautiful mystery
On January 20th, 1994, strange things started happening at a small Christian church in Toronto, Canada. Worshipers found themselves laughing, shaking, falling, rolling around on the ground. That was only the beginning. How did the church suddenly become one of Toronto’s ‘Top Tourist Attractions’? Was something supernatural truly happening? Did gold teeth miraculously appear in people’s mouths? Tara Jean Stevens was a teenager when this bizarre movement spread from Toronto to her childhood church on the other side of the country. More than 25 years later, her new podcast, Heaven Bent, searches for the truth behind the miracles and explores big questions of faith and feeling. The first episode was released today, and you can find it right here. GUEST: Tara Jean Stevens, host and creator of Heaven Bent
May 29, 2020
Hannah Georgas on what it’s like being a musician in the COVID-19 era
Imagine you're a Canadian musician about to go international. You've been working your way up the charts, year by year, with awards, acclaimed albums, and bigger and bigger tours. You've now got a new album on the way and a full European tour planned. You're ready for this to be the biggest year of your career. And it's February 2020... The music industry has been 'disrupted' a whole bunch of times in recent years, but never have the lives of the people who make the music and the thousands of people who make the magic happen been changed like this. When will live shows return? When would you feel comfortable at a packed concert? How do non-superstar artists survive without tour income? And how well can living room concerts replicate the intimacy of a killer live show? GUEST: Hannah Georgas, pop rock singer/songwriter
May 28, 2020
What’s the next disaster we need to prepare for now?
You may have heard that lots of people saw this pandemic coming. We still weren't adequately prepared. So what do we need to do now to make sure we are ready for whatever comes next? A pandemic is a low-probability, high-consequence events—it probably won't happen tomorrow, but it will happen eventually. Every year intelligence agencies, scientists and analysts spend a lot of time figuring out which of these events may be looming. Today's episode is about what they see right now. GUEST: Garrett M. Graff, Politico
May 27, 2020
What is Ontario doing wrong on COVID-19?
New infections are up. Testing is down. Contact tracing is late. People are partying in parks. A report from members of Canada's armed forces on conditions in long-term care facilities is deeply disturbing. And just a month ago it looked like the province was headed in the right direction. How did things go wrong? Were they ever really right in the first place? How does Ontario get back on track and... is a second lockdown possible now? GUEST: Dr. David Fisman, Dalla Lana School of Public Health
May 26, 2020
Schools and students in limbo as virtual fall term looms
Imagine being a high-school graduate right now, deciding whether to pay your tuition for post-secondary education in the fall. How do you know what you'll be getting for your money? Do the lessons in your program even translate to virtual education? And what about the hundreds of things that aren't taught in classes but make up university life? How much of that will even be possible? Meanwhile, colleges and universities are trying to make plans on the fly, survive the sudden lack of international students and keep their enrolment numbers from dropping in a world that could look dramatically different in September. It's going to be a very strange fall term on (or off) campus. GUEST: Joe Friesen, The Globe and Mail, postsecondary education reporter
May 25, 2020
How workers are fighting for their rights in a dangerous gig economy
A few months ago, a group of couriers won a huge victory for gig economy workers in Canada. And you won't believe what happened next... We're relying on this sort of work more than ever as we attempt to stay inside and order our meals and groceries delivered. And it has never been more dangerous. With that in mind, it's a perfect time to explore the fight for better conditions for precarious workers in Canada, and how the pandemic has (and hasn't) changed things. GUEST: Sara Mojtehedzadeh, Work and Wealth Reporter, Toronto Star, host of Hustled
May 22, 2020
Will COVID-19 bring down Airbnb?
Nearly every story on a housing crisis casts Airbnb as one the chief villains driving up rents and home prices. So it should not come as a shock that the crisis facing the company as worldwide travel grinds to a halt has been met with glee from people who have struggled to find affordable housing. But will this virus kill the short-term rental app, or merely change it? What has happened to rents and home prices in cities like Toronto and Vancouver where Airbnb hosts hold a massive amount of units? What about Airbnb landlords, some of whom have sunk their life savings into properties they rent through the app? And what can we learn from this situation about how our cities function and what they should be when life returns to normal? GUEST: Matt Elliot, municipal affairs columnist, Toronto Star, CBC
May 21, 2020
A groundbreaking terrorism charge against an alleged ‘incel’
The crime itself did not generate many headlines at the time it happened. Partly because the COVID-19 pandemic was ramping up, and partly because women are killed with shocking regularity in Canada. But three months later, two words were added to the murder charge against the accused: "terrorist activity". For those who watch the way these crimes are usually prosecuted, the change this week was an incredibly significant one, signalling both our willingness to move on from the "terrorist" stereotype, and the growing concern authorities have with the self-described 'incel' ideology. So why was the charge changed? What does it mean, both symbolically and legally? And what happens next? GUEST: Stewart Bell, reporter with Global News
May 20, 2020
How isolation is changing our use of substances
Have you found yourself joking about drinking your way through quarantine? You are, anecdotally and statistically, not alone. We know more people are reporting increased use of substances—but we still imagine there's a world of differences between people living with substance use disorders and those of us chasing boredom with beer. Why is that? What's happening in our minds when we turn to our favourite vices to pass the time? What do we need to know about substance use, both among people who may be struggling to find a place to live and those of us with more privilege and more money to use to cope? GUEST: Gord Garner is the executive director of the Community Addictions Peer Support Association, and lives with a substance use disorder himself.
May 19, 2020
An employment lawyer explains what we need to know as workplaces open
Employees returning to work is a positive sign in our battle against COVID-19, but it's also scary, and raises a lot of questions. Is my workplace safe? What is my employer required to do to make it safe? What do I do if I don’t think it is? What if my daycare is still closed and I don’t have childcare? What if I’ve been temporarily laid off—do I get my job back now? What if my office is safe, but I don’t have a safe way to get to it? Am I allowed to keep working from home, or can my company force me back? Today, a primer, from an employment lawyer who is in the thick of this right now. GUEST: Lindsay Scott, Paliare Roland and Pro Bono Ontario
May 15, 2020
Alone and threatened on a boat far out to sea…
Every bottom-trawling fishing boat off the coast of British Columbia has an independent observer on board. The observers monitor the catch and protect against overfishing and environmental harm. But when they do that, they're the only person on the boat with the power to report the captain and crew and cost them fines or perhaps their jobs. And many of them say they've been pressured to ignore violations, to the point where some have felt unsafe and have overlooked things they knew were going wrong. This is the story of the investigation that turned up an ugly practice happening way out at sea... GUEST: Jimmy Thomson, The Narwhal
May 14, 2020
What we do (and don’t) know about COVID-19 and kids
Schools in parts of Quebec reopened this week—though they look different. And other parts of the country will likely be considering this move soon. And as this happens we still don't know exactly how children contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Nor do we know how they're impacted by it. There are a couple of efforts underway to change that in Canada, if we can gather enough data quickly enough to report it. And even though we're doing all we can, we also won't really know how this virus behaves in kids until they're back in their natural element...which means school. So what happens next? And what do we need to be aware of? GUEST: Kelly Grant, national health reporter, The Globe and Mail
May 13, 2020
“Is this year really possible?” A COVID-19 vaccine explained
You know the timeline we've been quoted every time a COVID-19 vaccine is discussed: 12-18 months. But how accurate is that? What if we get lucky? What if we really, really don't? When you see news of a new vaccine entering a trial, how should you react? What percentage of vaccines that enter trials actually end up working? And if we do find a vaccine, how can we possibly make enough for more than seven billion people, and get it to them across the world? GUEST: Robert Van Exan
May 12, 2020
A very Canadian solution to a problem we’ll hopefully never face
You've seen the stories and images from around the world. Hospitals built in China in 10 days. Convention centres turned into temporary Covid-19 care centres. A medical train moving patients around France. When healthcare systems become overwhelmed, solutions are needed quickly—and they need to be executed in a span of days or weeks, not months. Canada has avoided that drastic situation thus far, but if the virus spikes in the fall, officials will have a plan to create temporary hospitals wherever they're needed. This is the story of how that plan came together. GUEST: Kenny Smith, Temporary Healthcare Creative.
May 11, 2020
Will a Universal Basic Income finally get a real shot?
If there was one thing almost all governments—liberal, conservative, whatever—agreed upon when disaster struck, it was the need to get money into people's hands quickly. And in Canada right now, millions of people are receiving $2,000 per month from their government. This isn't universal, but it's a huge step towards a policy that has been fought for and fought against for decades, and not always by the people you'd assume would be for it or against it. So what is a Universal Basic Income? Where did the idea come from? How does it work and what would it take for us to give it a real chance at fighting poverty in the next few years? GUEST: Max Fawcett, writer and reporter
May 8, 2020
Oh great…now Murder Hornets?
Well, you probably shouldn't call them that. They may kill—but they don't intend to murder, which is what passes for good news in 2020. Since a New York Times headline vaulted the asian giant hornet onto the list of everyone's nightmares last weekend, it may seem like a new plague is almost upon us. But these hornets—at least a few of them—have been in Canada since last year. So what have we learned about their behaviour? How did they get here? What is British Columbia doing to find and extinguish them? How big a threat are they, really, to humans and to our ecosystem? GUEST: Paul Van Westendorp, provincial apiarist for British Columbia
May 7, 2020
Aid programs, partisan politics and the path forward: A dispatch from Ottawa
Over the past two months, several programs worth billions upon billions of dollars were rolled out to Canadian people and businesses faster than we could have imagined. So...do they work? How many people have needed them? How are they being tweaked on the fly? And why do opposition parties say they either don't do enough or need to be scaled back? After the initial burst of "We're All In This Together"—the politics as usual is returning to Parliament Hill, albeit virtually. And that may not be a bad thing, because as the first wave of COVID-19 dies down and we plan for the second, it's worth taking a hard look at what worked and what didn't. GUEST: Cormac Mac Sweeney, Parliament Hill reporter
May 6, 2020
A supply chain explainer, or why you can or can’t find flour
OK, maybe it's not necessarily flour, but surely there's been something missing from your shopping list since COVID-19 struck. You might be surprised to know that there haven't actually been any shortages. There's still more than enough flour, toilet paper, bread and milk to go around...it's just a matter of adjusting massive supply chains to get it to you where you need it. Today we'll walk you through how Canada's food supply chains work, why they've had to adjust and how they've worked remarkably well given the circumstances. GUEST: Michael von Massow, University of Guelph
May 5, 2020
Inside the strange world of designing psychoactive drugs
All of the psychoactive recreational drugs you can name are illegal in Canada. But if you're smart enough to make a new drug yourself? Well, it's not on the banned list yet. This is the story of a strange but fascinating ingredient called MEAI, the substance its inventor created, called Pace, and the inventor himself, who is also strange but fascinating. It's also a story about recreational drugs, and the push to legalize them as research becomes more expansive. (It's also not a story about COVID-19, because you deserve one this week.) GUEST: Jonah Brunet, The Walrus
May 4, 2020
Will we have to trade privacy for freedom to get ‘back to normal’?
In order for us to go back to day-to-day lives that are even close to normal, we’re going to have to be able to track contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19—and we’re going to have to be able to do that unbelievably quickly. Right now, we don't have the capacity to do that on a large scale. And if we don't promptly hire an army of health workers to do it manually, we will have to look to technology. Using surveillance to track citizens in the interests of public health, though, is an incredibly slippery slope. What would it look like? Who would have access to the data? How could people who don't want to participate opt-out? Is this even possible in a democracy? Should it be? These are the questions we need to think about before an emergency leaves us with no time to figure out the details. GUEST: Jesse Hirsh, research and futurist, writer at metaviews.ca
May 1, 2020
Everything but ‘Why?’: What we know now about the Nova Scotia shooting
In the days after Canada’s worst mass shooting, there were dozens of questions we couldn’t answer. The list started with things as basic as "How many victims?" and "Who were they?" It ended with the biggest one of all: Why? Police were clear that there would be no quick, neatly reported answers to anything. Now two weeks later, we know more, but not enough. We know Who and What and Where and, mostly, How. That’s what we can lay out for you today. The why, though? We might never know. GUEST: Greg Mercer, Atlantic Canada reporter, The Globe and Mail
Apr 30, 2020
Learning, innovating and grieving: Inside a Canadian ICU
This is a report from the front lines, and it's about both tragedy and triumph. When the COVID-19 crisis began, Canadian ICU doctors looked at their colleagues in Italy and Spain and feared that would happen here—that they would have to make horrible choices about who to treat and who to let die. That hasn't happened, in part because all of Canada came together to stay home and flatten the curve, and in part because we've been learning. About the virus. About how to treat it. About which strands of red tape to cut to free doctors up to do their jobs more efficiently. And a lot of those lessons will help us as this continues. GUEST: Dr. Michael Warner, medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital
Apr 29, 2020
What does COVID-19 mean for cottage season and rural communities?
It sounds like a first-world problem: "What if people can't visit their second homes?" But behind the stereotype there are hundreds of thousands of people facing tough choices. People who flee cities for rural areas in the summer are not exclusively rich folks off to a lakefront mansion, and the communities people visit on hot summer weekends depend on that influx of cash to get businesses through the winter. So with Victoria Day weekend approaching, what guidelines have been given to people who own cottages? To people who live year-round in the communities visitors frequent? What happens if small towns are overrun with city visitors, or if those visitors never show up at all? We're about to find out. GUEST: Matt Gurney, National Post
Apr 28, 2020
How did BC successfully flatten the curve? And will it stay that way?
Ontario and British Columbia discovered their first cases of COVID-19 just one day apart. B.C. was the first province to report community transmission. But since early March, while the virus numbers skyrocketed in Ontario and Quebec, B.C. kept the pandemic largely under control. How? What did B.C. do that other large provinces didn't? Who is Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer who has become a rock star in her adopted province? How much of this was preparation, how much reaction and how much luck? And what happens if the curve starts to bend upwards again? GUEST: Liza Yuzda, legislative reporter in Victoria, B.C. for NEWS1130
Apr 27, 2020
How long can we all follow strict social distancing orders?
All the reports say that, so far, Canada's strategy is working. The curves from province to province are beginning to flatten. That's thanks to Canadians isolating themselves for almost two months now. But how long can this high level of cooperation keep up? The weather in many parts of the country is getting warmer, we're already seeing some tiny protests, and if some people start bending and breaking the rules, how will we collectively respond to that? What do we need from governments and health officials to convince us to keep it up, but also give us enough hope that people won't be tempted to start finding ways around the rules? GUEST: Dr. Caroline McDonald-Harker, Sociologist at Mount Royal university, Director of the Centre for Community Disaster Research
Apr 24, 2020
A distraction for every type: What to watch during lockdown
We figured you might have exhausted your first choices and the obvious options by now—and with at least a few more weeks to go of self-isolation and sheltering in place, we wanted to make sure that you had something to take your mind off things. So we gathered up viewing types from across the spectrum, and put them to our media expert, who keeps tabs on what's available everywhere as part of his job. Whether you want to binge old rom-coms, miss sports dearly or want a jump on seeing things that will win awards next year, we've got a recommendation for you. GUEST: Norm Wilner, senior film writer for NOW Magazine, host of Someone Else's Movie and NOW WHAT?
Apr 23, 2020
What does the future of sports look like?
It's been six weeks since every major sports league hit pause on their seasons. We still don't have a timetable for their return. But the world of sports is as busy as ever, just in a very different way. There's no question COVID-19 will dramatically change the games we love to watch. But how? And for how long? And what have we realized about our relationship with sports in the time that they've been gone? GUEST: Richard Deitsch, The Athletic, Sportsnet (Check out Richard's new podcast, Sports On Pause, right here.)
Apr 22, 2020
What COVID-19 can teach us about being wrong
Dr. David Fisman has been at the forefront of the battle against infectious diseases, from SARS to COVID-19. We asked him about this new virus in January, and he got it wrong. He was far from alone in that. The nature of discovering new diseases is making hypothesis based on what's known, and then adjusting as new data becomes available. But in a world where we are held to our predictions or told not to flip-flop our positions, that nuanced approach can be mistaken for failure. Today, Dr. Fisman joins us again to walk us through everything we've been wrong about since COVID-19 emerged, how new discoveries have informed our approach and what we could still be wrong about as we plan for the months to come. GUEST: Dr. David Fisman, professor of epidemiology, Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Apr 21, 2020
What we know and don’t know about the Nova Scotia shooting
It’s been almost 48 hours, and police still aren’t sure how many people are dead. But it’s at least 19. It’s the deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history. We don’t yet have a motive. The surest piece of information we have about the tragedy in Nova Scotia this weekend, is that it’s going to be weeks and months, not hours or days, before we learn the full story. That, and that a province in the middle of a tragedy is not trying to properly mourn a second one. GUEST: Dan Ahlstrand, news director, News 95.7 Halifax
Apr 20, 2020
How COVID-19 could change our cities forever. Or not.
Open-concept floor plans. Roads designed for peak traffic at peak times on week days. Apartments built for sleeping and eating but not extended isolation. Sidewalks built for...closeness. This pandemic has cast a spotlight on the nature of how we design our homes, offices and cities. It's left huge swaths of space empty, and crammed some people into tiny boxes. There are design and planning lessons we can learn from what we're seeing now that could impact the way we live forever—but only if we want them to. What does a city look like after it's been changed by a year of social distancing? And which of those changes will become permanent? GUEST: Toon Dreessen, president of Architects DCA; former president of Ontario Association of Architects
Apr 17, 2020
How to eat well (enough) during quarantine
In the early days of self-isolation, for some people food was an adventure. For others, an obstacle. But now that we've been at this for a while, perhaps you've realized that your standards are slipping. How can we possibly feed ourselves well through this when there are so many barriers? Some of us have lost access to ingredients, or the income to buy them. Some of us are alone—and cooking for one is hard. Some of us are trying to keep young children fed—when they aren't getting enough exercise to make them properly hungry. And a lot of us are anxious, or depressed, and that makes it really tough to work up the energy to cook a proper meal. So when you do get the chance to shop or order, what should be on your list to help change that? GUEST: Leslie Beck, dietician
Apr 16, 2020
COVID-19 and domestic violence: A meeting of two pandemics
Shelters and advocates and even governments have sounded the alarm about what our efforts to stay in our homes and battle COVID-19 means for people who have an abusive partner. Many of the usual paths out of an awful situation have become much more complicated, if not impossible. As we face potentially several more weeks of sheltering in place, how can we help people who are living with abuse and violence in the home? What's the government doing to help them? How are shelters adapting to comply with social distancing? What needs to be done to protect people who are in vulnerable situations where they're supposed to be staying for their own safety? GUEST: Sarah Boesveld, reporter and guest-host of The Big Story
Apr 15, 2020
How a health reporter does her job when every story is urgent
Health stories are basically the only stories now. There are reams of sometimes-conflicting data, no shortage of sources (though some are much better than others) and someone has to sift out the themes that will have lasting impacts from the one-day scares and triumphs. This is where those who have made the health beat their career are essential. It might be the toughest job in journalism right now. So how do they do it? And what are they seeing? GUEST: Carly Weeks, Health Reporter, The Globe and Mail
Apr 14, 2020
A Canadian experiment looks for a ‘Hail Mary’ COVID-19 treatment
It's been used in desperate times of disease for a century—but there's never been a large-scale study of its effectiveness. It's relatively simple to administer, but requires a lot of resources to get right. Will it work? We don't know, but if it does it could be the armour the front-line workers need to battle COVID-19. Today we look at a Canada-wide experimental treatment that could provide some important insights into how we beat this virus. GUEST: Michael Doyle, journalist (Read Michael's piece in the Globe and Mail here.)
Apr 13, 2020
A guide to COVID-19 scams and how to protect yourself
A global pandemic has trapped most of us inside our homes. We're cut off from friends and family. We're scared and lonely and worried about our jobs and the rent or the mortgage. Which means, sadly, that we've never been riper targets for scammers and fraudsters looking to profit off our collective misery. The scams began as soon as news of a virus made its way out of China in January, and as COVID-19 spread, so did they. And once you lose your money or information to a scammer, it's far too late. So today, we'll try to arm you with information—to identify a fraud and protect yourself if you're targeted. GUEST: Sam Cooper, National Investigative Reporter, Global News
Apr 9, 2020
How many restaurants will survive this Spring?
An early estimate says perhaps one in 10 non-chain restaurants have already closed for good. This month could add 15-20% more. The hospitality industry depends so closely on incoming cash flow, that they simply aren't built to survive a shutdown like this. A group of independent restaurant owners have banded together to lobby all levels of government for the only thing they say can keep them alive through Canada's physical distancing regulations. Why are they different from other industries? Will they get it? And what will your local bar or eatery look like when this is all over? GUEST: John Sinopoli, co-organizer of savehospitality.ca.
Apr 8, 2020
How a Nfld. funeral home became the centre of Canada’s biggest COVID-19 outbreak
When Shannon Fleming's loved ones gathered to mourn her passing, there hadn't yet been any official bans on gatherings of this size in Newfoundland. Attendees remember it as a normal funeral, though the funeral home says it took precautions. A week later, someone who had visited the funeral home tested positive for COVID-19. More and more positive tests followed. Now it's Canada's largest single outbreak, and what should have been a farewell that drew a community together has become the centre of suspicion and anger between neighbours. GUEST: Greg Mercer, The Globe and Mail (Read Greg's story right here.)
Apr 7, 2020
COVID-19’s great mask debate
Everyone you know probably has an opinion on whether or not we should be wearing masks outside. So does Canada's chief public health officer—and her opinion has evolved over the past month. Canadians are now being encouraged to wear non-medical masks in places where social distancing is difficult. Which raises a couple of questions: What difference is this supposed to make, and to whom, and if it is supposed to make a difference, then why weren't we told to do so earlier? GUEST: Stephen Maher, contributing editor, Maclean's
Apr 6, 2020
How COVID-19 is changing B.C.’s approach to the opioid crisis
Pandemics force us into a lot of changes that otherwise might never have been made. Some of those changes are horrible choices between 'bad' and 'worse'. But not every one of them. In an effort to help both drug users and the front-line care workers who support them, British Columbia is changing its drug policy in a way that advocates have long hoped for. Will this approach spread to the rest of Canada, as provinces move to protect a vulnerable population? Will the results it delivers help modernize our approach to this problem for good? Time will tell, but for now those who have been pushing for progressive solutions say it's a welcome step taken under horrible circumstances. GUEST: Justin Ling, writer and reporter (Read Justin's piece on B.C.'s approach right here)
Apr 3, 2020
What it’s like to have COVID-19 (but not get tested)
The novel coronavirus presents in different ways for different people, and that means that experts think we're likely missing lots of cases due to mild symptoms, test shortages or both. This, perhaps, includes our host. But it definitely includes today's guest, who despite not being tested, due to not being at risk, was told by doctors that she had COVID-19, and then was told to go home and ride out the worst of it, unless she needed help breathing. So what are the course of symptoms, day by day, for one healthy young woman hit hard by the virus? She'll tell you, and also give you an idea of what to expect if you have to go through the process yourself. GUEST: Meghan Kraft
Apr 2, 2020
A stealth virus, the missing infected and playing the long game: Inside the COVID-19 numbers
POP QUIZ! If a province's report says it has 426 new cases of COVID-19 in one day, which brings the provincial total to 2392 and represents a 22% increase day-over-day—but the number of test results on that day tops 6,200, a figure more than double the total previous day's test results, when 260 new cases were found...is that a good day or bad day in the fight against this virus? The Coronavirus numbers come in a swirl, the data is not always accurate, and sometimes it's weeks behind. And yet everyone who has ever made a chart in Excel has a theory on what today's numbers mean for our effort to flatten the curve. Today, we'll tell you why the datasets aren't reliable, which numbers really matter and how we're doing—or how we think we're doing—based on the numbers we have. If you've been confused by conflicting reports based on the same numbers, this episode is for you. GUEST: Dr. Tim Sly
Apr 1, 2020
Montreal faces a rental crisis in a pandemic
For decades, the image of Montreal apartments has been a lure to the rest of Canada: Huge, spacious units in beautiful old walkups, for prices that wouldn't get you a basement in most other cities. Those days are gone. Montreal today features rising rents, evictions and the same short-term AirBnB challenges that have decimated the rental availability in Toronto and Vancouver. And now, in a city where a huge percentage of people have leases that expire at the end of June, a pandemic forcing the city into lockdown has the potential to upend the city's entire rental culture. GUEST: Tracey Lindeman, reporter, Montreal (Read Tracey's piece in Maisonneuve right here)
Mar 31, 2020
How to stay positive in self-isolation
These are stressful times, to put it lightly. And the message from Canada's health officials is that there's no clear end in sight for physical distancing measures. As we go longer and longer without the sort of everyday things that make us feel good, the COVID-19 pandemic will take a higher emotional toll. But that doesn't mean we're powerless. We actually know quite a bit about what our brains crave, and what makes us feel good. And there's a lot of it that can be done without leaving our houses. So, here's a little helpful instruction on how to get what you need no matter what's outside your door. GUEST: Dr. Elizabeth Dunn, University of British Columbia, Happiness researcher
Mar 30, 2020
Hospitals plan for the worst, as a community steps up
The last time we talked to Dr. Michael Warner, he was headed in a week leading his time in the critical care unit at a Toronto hospital. He joins us to update what teams at hospitals across the province are seeing on the front lines. The worst is coming, and it's scary, but the community response has also buoyed his spirits. This is a fight everyone can help win, by listening to doctors and helping frontline care workers. Want to pitch in? Start at ThePPEDrive.com. Start with one mask. GUEST: Dr. Michael Warner, medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital
Mar 27, 2020
Canada’s COVID-19 aid package and you
Do you qualify? How much will you get? For how long? What if you still have a tiny bit of income, but it's not enough to live on? What if you're already on EI? What if you haven't been fired, but can't work? What if the rent's due before the money arrives? The federal government announced an unprecedented aid package for Canadians who have lost their incomes in the pandemic. But the bill is complicated and there's more in it than the headlines you've read. Today we'll break down exactly who qualifies for what, and how you can get it if you're eligible. GUEST: Cormac Mac Sweeney, parliament hill reporter
Mar 26, 2020
Going back to school on a virtual campus
When Canadian campuses shut down, there wasn't a lot of time to make plans. Students needed to get home safely, if they could. Professors needed to set up virtual classes in a week or two—and nobody really had any idea when they might be back on campus. A month ago, Ontario teachers and the province were fighting about how much e-learning could be made mandatory. Now e-learning is the only learning still happening. So what happens when you try to move the highly social lives of college and university students online? GUESTS: Professor Ken Dyment, Student Stephanie Bai
Mar 25, 2020
Is a climate wakeup the silver lining on a horrible situation?
You’ve probably seen the pictures of clear canals and blue skylines as the world shuts down. They look like scenes from a better future. But most of them are real, and there’s not a lot of good news at the moment, so maybe we should take what we can get... A global pandemic causes a massive change in human behaviour, and as it upends the world it can also offer us some lessons on what is essential and what is not. And if we can learn from this shock to our collective systems, perhaps we can prevent the next one. GUEST: Katherine Hayhoe, climate scientist
Mar 24, 2020
How to talk to people who won't self-isolate...
Yeah, this means your parents. It's a problem a lot of Gen-X and Millennials are facing right now—their moms and dads are at the most risk from COVID-19. They're also pushing back on following extreme isolation orders, or at least some of them are. These conversations need to come from a place of love, and they can't be condescending. But parents are also used to being the ones giving the orders, not taking them—and that's where the arguments start. At least with our parents. GUEST: Michael Schulman, The New Yorker
Mar 23, 2020
Some Canadians have made it home. Others haven’t.
There are still plenty of Canadians abroad, all scrambling to get home. Depending on where they are, and when they left, some will have an easier time than others. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said almost a week ago that "it's time to come home," but not everybody has been able to follow that order. The government has helped some, others have been stranded. They have been taking to social media in search of flights, ideas or anyone who can get their message to someone who can help. Today, the story of one lucky student who made it back, barely, and one update from a couple still stranded, hoping for help. GUEST: Julia Morales, student at McGill University
Mar 20, 2020
A report from the front lines of Canadian hospitals
The phrase "overwhelm the health care system" has become a kind of catch all for the COVID-19 Worst Case Scenario, but what does that look like? How would it happen? And more importantly, how can we still act to prevent it? Our guest today runs an ICU at a Toronto hospital, and he's making all sorts of plans to try and deal with what's to come. He tells us what he expects, how ready we are and what both government and ordinary citizens can do right now to make sure we don't up at the Worst Case Scenario. GUEST: Dr. Michael Warner, medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital
Mar 19, 2020
We want to hear from you!
Here's a taste of what it sounds like when The Big Story team works from home. What are YOU doing to pass the time? Record a 30-second clip of yourself using the voice recorder on your phone or computer–or take a video–and email it to email@example.com and you could be featured in an upcoming episode! You can also reach out to us on twitter: @thebigstoryfpn We look forward to hearing from you!
Mar 19, 2020
Who’s most at risk from CoVid-19? What do they need?
We all have people in our lives who are vulnerable to the coronavirus. And yes, it’s easy to say, OK I’m going to stay away from my elderly parents, or other seniors. But there are people at risk from this disease that don’t show it, walking around. It’s not visible. They’re living with illness or are immunocompromised in some for or another. Our guest today is one of those for whom this disease is basically a death sentence. This is what he wants us all to know, right now. GUEST: Jeremie Saunders, host of Sickboy
Mar 18, 2020
Debunking CoVid-19 myths and hoaxes
You’ve probably heard at least one of these. It might’ve sounded too good to be true. You might not have cared, so eager were you for something concrete in a world of chaos. The Coronavirus isn’t the only thing spreading across the globe. As this pandemic grows, so does the sheer volume of disinformation. And all it takes to flourish is someone who wants to believe that a hair dryer can nuke this virus. And we’d all like to believe that, right? Today, we’ll set you straight. GUEST: Jane Lytvynenko, senior disinformation reporter, BuzzFeed News
Mar 17, 2020
From a cruise ship to quarantine and then to ... ?
Most of Canada is now adapting to a new life spent almost entirely in their homes. Some Canadians, however, have been locked down, in one way or another, for weeks now. You might remember the Grand Princess cruise ship, which sat off the west coast for a few days, before passengers were allowed to disembark. Some of those passengers were Canadian, and they were flown back to Canada and immediately placed in quarantine. That was a week ago. They had no time to pack their equipment or stock up on their favourite foods. As you adapt to an isolated life, it's worth listening to someone who's been at it for a while, under much harsher conditions. GUEST: Melanie Sibbit, Canadian under quarantine at CFB Trenton
Mar 16, 2020
Live from isolation: How do newsrooms work in a crisis?
The Big Story is recording from self-isolation. We're doing this because it's the smart thing to do, because we want you to do it, too, if you can, and because the best way to tell the stories of how CoVid-19 has changed our lives is by doing it from ground level. As long as this public health crisis lasts, we'll be here with you in your homes, offices and home offices, offering the latest news, context and companionship and the usual expert interviews we do in studio. Today, on day one, we'll go inside a local radio newsroom, to find out how life changes when there's only one story to cover and it impacts everyone covering it the same way it does the people they're covering. GUEST: Amber LeBlanc, News Director, 680 News If you'd like to reach out to us and share your story, or ask a question you haven't gotten an answer to, you can find us right here: https://thebigstorypodcast.ca/contact/ Or on Twitter @thebigstoryfpn
Mar 13, 2020
Inside the 24 hours that shut down the sports world
Maybe sports is supposed to be a distraction. But on Wednesday night it was an alarm bell. And it all happened at lightning speed. Just before tipoff, the NBA cancelled a game, announcing that a player had tested positive for COVID-19, and then it suspended its season. In the following 24 hours, most leagues around the world announced they would follow suit. How did these plans escalate so quickly? Will drastic measures make people who may have been ignoring the threat of COVID-19 take it seriously? And while it's not the primary concern—just how widespread will the fallout from this be? GUEST: Michael Grange, Sportsnet
Mar 12, 2020
Are you tired? There’s a reason.
It's more than just annoying. In the middle of a run of seriously bad news, most of Canadians turned their clocks an hour forward this past weekend. And while everyone loves to complain about Daylight Saving Time, there's more and more research showing that it's actually harmful to us—in ways that involve everything from heart attacks to car collisions. So why do we still do this every year? And will we ever stop? The answer to the latter question is yes, probably. And in places like British Columbia there's even a chance that this past Sunday was the last time we'll ever Spring Forward... GUEST: Alex McKeen, Vancouver Bureau, Toronto Star
Mar 11, 2020
What happens when the global economy gets sick?
You've no doubt seen the screaming headlines about the stock market crash. The fear of CoVid-19 is real, especially for investors. Billions of dollars in value have already been lost. But there's also a bigger picture. Looking at how the stock market reacts to a threat like this virus can offer a glimpse of how the world is coping with uncertainty. Is there a big buyback after an ugly loss? Are there particular sectors rising or falling? What are governments planning to do to keep their economies stable? You may not have a buck in the market, but you can learn a lot from watching those who do. GUEST: Mike Eppel, Senior Business Editor, 680 News
Mar 10, 2020
How Foodora couriers made history with their fight to join a union
In what’s being called an historic precedent, Foodora couriers in Ontario recently won the right to join a union. The food delivery app calls its couriers “independent entrepreneurs”, but the workers disagree with that term, citing low wages, unreliable work hours, and safety issues on the job. What went into this fight? And what could this win mean for the future of Foodora and other food delivery services? GUEST: Sara Mojtehedzadeh, Work and Wealth Reporter, The Toronto Star
Mar 9, 2020
What happens after you break the ‘glass ceiling’?
When you look at who sits in positions of power in Canada, you won't see very many women. In 2018, they held just ten percent of executive positions in the country's 100 largest publicly traded companies. That same year they accounted for only 26 percent of Canada's MPs and 29 percent of MPPs. For those who do make it? The view from the top isn't perfect. Women in power are still subjected to the same harassment and sexism that exists on the rungs below. And they aren't there for very long. Women have fought hard for equal rights and representation, but more progress can't come fast enough. So what's stopping women from getting to the top and staying there? And how do we change it? GUEST: Lauren McKeon, author of No More Nice Girls
Mar 6, 2020
How Toronto’s transit system made its riders the enemy
No city's transit system is perfect. A network designed to move hundreds of thousands of people a day will never work flawlessly for all of them. But breakdowns and delays are one thing—alienating your passengers is another. And over the past month, the relationship between Torontonians and the TTC has reached a breaking point. The anger has been bubbling for years, but it came to a head earlier this week, when an unfortunate customer service representative answered an upset rider's question on Twitter. And got it wrong. The confusion the resulted became a symbol of everything wrong with the service's approach to the people who use it every day. GUEST: Ben Spurr, transportation reporter, Toronto Star
Mar 5, 2020
Did Super Tuesday really just end the democratic primary?
A week ago there were six legitimate contestants for the democratic nomination in the United States. Today there are basically two—and according to a lot of pundits, there's really only one: Joe Biden, back from the campaign scrap heap to champion the moderates. How did that happen so quickly? What does it mean for this fall's election? Can Bernie Sanders claw his way back to the top? What the heck happened to Elizabeth Warren? And to Canadians...what's the difference between them all? And would any U.S. president—even a second term of Donald Trump—materially change the relationship between the two countries? GUEST: Ryan Hurl, political science, University of Toronto
Mar 4, 2020
Licence plates, education fights and other dispatches from Doug Ford's Ontario
When what should be a one-day story lasts three weeks, the government handling it likely has a problem on its hands. In mid-February, Ontarians began spotting the province's new licence plates on the road and realizing they were very difficult to read. When confronted with this fact, the government stood behind its plates...for a while, anyway. Now the licence plates have been recalled, or will be soon, but not before a round of embarrassing press—exactly the kind of coverage Premier Doug Ford has been trying to avoid in recent months. In the meantime, the province is battling teachers' unions, facing fresh criticism over its autism plan and trying to prepare for a possible pandemic. What's going on at Queen's Park? GUEST: Cynthia Mulligan, CityNews
Mar 3, 2020
CoVid-19: What fear of a pandemic does to our brains
CoVid-19 is a respiratory disease—but that's not the only system in the body at risk when fear of a global pandemic reaches fever pitch. As information about who has the virus, where it has hit hardest and where it might be next dominates our networks and social media feeds, it can be easy to let fear take over. This is what happens in a pandemic, when our ability to evaluate risk takes a back seat to our darker fears. Today, we'll explore what CoVid-19—or at least, all the coverage of it—is doing to our brains' ability to sort danger from spectre, to push us toward a herd mentality and to either exacerbate our existing anxiety, or make us reckless enough to put others in danger. Canada has been mostly spared by the virus so far, but you wouldn't know it from the lines at Costco. This is why. GUEST: Dr. Steven Taylor, professor of clinical psychology, University of British Columbia; author of The Psychology of Pandemics
Mar 2, 2020
How a notorious Canadian con artist fooled the victims who trusted him
He'd had a tough childhood. He owned a boat. He'd just bought 300 acres to build a place for at-risk youth. He needed to go get his dog from his ex-wife. His backpack was stolen. He just needed a few bucks to get to Toronto... All lies. All told brazenly. And all of them accepted—until they weren't. We spend a lot of time today talking about how to avoid scams online, in the digital world. But there are still scammers operating in real life, preying on people's kind hearts and hopeful dreams. This is the story of one of them. GUEST: Andréa Speranza, fire captain
Feb 28, 2020
If a Coronavirus pandemic is inevitable, what should Canada be doing now?
While governments and health organizations bicker over the use of the p-word, it’s becoming clearer every day that countries are struggling to contain CoVid-19. To most scientists, it now looks like a much wider spread is a matter of when, not if. Even in Canada. David Fisman, who joined us last month to explain what epidemiologists look for in the early days of a virus, returns to talk us through the worrying turn CoVid-19 has taken. What’s likely to come in the next few days and weeks? And what can Canada—from the federal government to ordinary citizens—do to prepare for what now seems inevitable? GUEST: Dr. David Fisman, epidemiologist, the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
Feb 27, 2020
Did a powerful coach groom his talented young runner for sex?
Dave Scott-Thomas was easily the most famous running coach in Canada. At one point, Megan Brown was his star recruit. But her career went off the rails. Now, almost 20 years later, she says that he groomed her for a sexual relationship beginning when she was 17 years old. Scott-Thomas no longer works for the University of Guelph, and he's been suspended from his work with Team Canada in an Olympic year. But the scandal—and who stayed silent, who did or did not investigate his behaviour and when—is tearing the small world of Canadian running apart. GUEST: Michael Doyle, Special to the Globe and Mail
Feb 26, 2020
A mine vanishes, a court rules, and Alberta vs. Ottawa gets nastier
Teck Resources' Frontier project was supposed to bring thousands of badly needed jobs to Alberta. It won't. The company announced this week it was shelving the project as the deadline for approval from the federal government loomed. Did they pull the application because they knew it would fail? Did Justin Trudeau's government, intentionally or not, kill this project with delays and indecision? That certainly seems to be what Alberta's government believes. And after months of rhetoric between Alberta and Ottawa, the tension between the two administrations is close to the boiling point. So what happens next? GUEST: Jason Markusoff, Maclean's (Read Jason's analysis of the situation right here.)
Feb 25, 2020
A murder case, a warped reality and a wild conclusion: Part Two
Alan is sleeping. Outside, police are determining that they're all in. Nobody goes home until Alan confesses to a decades-old murder. This is as far as a Mr. Big investigation can possibly go, and the cops are determined to bring it home, no matter what comes next. Today, the story of what happens when you blur the lines of reality a little bit too far. GUEST: Michael Lista, Contributing Editor, Toronto Life
Feb 24, 2020
When a murder investigation goes horribly wrong: Part One
It's called a 'Mr. Big', and it's an investigative ploy so unique to us that it's also known to police around the world as the 'Canadian Technique'. It involves the creation of an alternative reality to induce a suspect to confess. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't, it can fail horribly. When police in Ontario decided to use a Mr. Big setup to try to solve a decades-old cold case, they had no idea just how far they'd end up taking it, or just how badly they'd end up botching it. This is the inside story of a reality bending investigation. GUEST: Michael Lista, contributing editor, Toronto Life
Feb 21, 2020
Has Canada reached Peak Craft Beer?
No matter where in this country you live, there's probably a local brewery not too far away. Since 2015, the number of craft breweries in Canada has more than tripled, and that figure will grow some more by the end of 2020. Meanwhile, overall beer drinking in Canada is declining and the big brewers are cutting their workforce. So what does this mean for one of the coolest industries in the country? Many of these breweries are launched with the help of government loans, but does Canada love beer enough to support a small-batch brewer on every block? Or are we headed for a sudsy reckoning? GUEST: Stefanie Marotta, The Globe and Mail
Feb 20, 2020
Everything we know (and don’t know) about Clearview AI and facial recognition
It supposedly has a database of more than three billion photos. But we don't have any evidence of how well it works. We know some law enforcement agencies, including Toronto Police, have used it. But we don't know how, or if they'll continue. We know there might be no way to put the facial recognition genie back in the bottle, but we don't know how our governments and courts will attempt to handle the issues that arise as the tech becomes more widespread. In short, for every question we can answer about Clearview AI and facial recognition, there's more than one that we can't. Yet. GUEST: Kate Allen, Science and Technology Reporter, Toronto Star
Feb 19, 2020
A thrilling naval rescue off the coast of Nova Scotia
The Makena was in trouble. Adrift and at the mercy of storms, the ship sent out a distress call. They were too far from Halifax to make it safely to port, and the situation was dire. Was there anyone in the area who could save them? Who could pluck a crew from a reeling ship in the middle of horrible weather? Two ships, from the Royal Canadian Navy, were on their way home when they got an urgent and unexpected call. This is the story of what happened. GUEST: Nick Taylor-Vaisey, Maclean's (Read Nick's story right here)
Feb 18, 2020
Meet the dad who quit his job to save the earth
Joshua Ostroff remembers being terrified of the end of world when he was a kid. That meant something completely different in the 1980s than it does now, but he still sees that fear in kids today, including his own. That’s why he dropped everything to be a real part in the fight against climate change–for his son, and all future generations. GUEST: Joshua Ostroff (@joshuaostroff), WWF Canada, you can read his piece right here
Feb 14, 2020
Is the illusion of love just as good as the real thing?
It’s never been easier to go looking for love, but actually finding it is a different story. No matter how many dating apps exist, love will always be tricky and messy and sometimes exhausting. But what if there was a way to skip all that stuff? Enter YouTube. Yes, YouTube. It's home to an entire community of people offering the illusion of love through ASMR videos. It's mostly just audio–usually of someone asking how your day was or what you'd like for dinner. Because it turns out, that's the kind of mundane stuff we crave. How have these videos become so popular? And what does that say about the increasingly lonely world we live in? GUEST: Michael Harris, author, essayist. You can read Michael's piece right here.
Feb 13, 2020
Inside the Wet’suwet’en protests
Many Canadians were shocked and angered this week to see photos of RCMP officers armed with rifles arresting Indigenous people for trying to protect their territory in northern British Columbia. The anger has sparked protests and blockades across the country in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en Nation hereditary chiefs, who oppose a planned natural gas pipeline. Today, an inside look at what's happening on the territory and the nationwide outcry. GUEST: Jesse Winter, photo journalist, @jwints GUEST HOST: Sarah Boesveld, @sarahboesveld
Feb 12, 2020
How Canada’s sex work laws put lives at risk
If things were different, 22-year-old Marylène Levesque would have known that her murderer was on day parole and had been found guilty of killing another woman years ago. She probably would have decided to not take him as a client, and she would still be alive today. But sex work laws in Canada prevent that kind of information to be known, even though it is legal to be a sex worker in this country. The criminalization around sex work doesn't protect sex workers–it puts them in danger. It also leads to misunderstandings about the industry. Sex work and sex trafficking are very different things. Today we discuss the damage caused when we conflate the two, why people choose to go into sex work in the first place, and what needs to change to protect them. GUEST: Chanelle Gallant, Director of the Migrant Sex Workers Project, @ChanelleGallant GUEST HOST: Sarah Boesveld, @SarahBoesveld
Feb 11, 2020
Where’s Canada’s worst housing crisis?
It's not in Toronto. Or Vancouver. Or even in the North. It's on a tiny little island that happens to be Canada's smallest province. How did that happen? You probably think of Prince Edward Island as an ideal vacation spot. But more and more people are calling it home. And as you might expect, the island's construction industry is not quite as adept at throwing up huge condos quickly as firms in bigger places. So where does that leave PEI's growing numbers of citizens living in precarious situations? Hoping the government can fix this, and fast. GUEST: Matt Lundy, economic reporter, The Globe and Mail
Feb 10, 2020
What’s driving the explosion in Lyme Disease in Canada?
It's a disease we never expected to see with any regularity in Canada, only to realize—perhaps too late—that maybe that was dumb. It’s a mistake to think of Lyme Disease as a rare illness now. Because all the data we have—and we don’t have enough—shows us that it is exploding in Canada, with numbers spiking every year. What's behind it? Why can't we properly test for it? And what do you need to know to make sure you're prepared for Spring? GUEST: Janet Sperling, Board Member of the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation; PhD Candidate, University of Alberta, Biological Science
Feb 7, 2020
An invisible epidemic of drugged drinks
If you're a woman, you've been warned to watch your drink. Because drink tampering happens every day in Canada—we just don't know how often, or with what, or where. As a country, or even province to province, we're still struggling to find a coherent strategy. And for all those warnings and awareness campaigns—unless you’ve been a victim of these drugs, you’re probably vastly underestimating the effect they can have on you, even if you make it home safely. GUEST: Rosa Saba, Calgary Bureau, Toronto Star
Feb 6, 2020
Two of Toronto's biggest problems collide with deadly consequences
Three people died this weekend, in a shooting at a downtown condo. The victims were all young men. The condo was a short-term rental, on AirBnB—a "ghost hotel" to use the phrase the company's critics have coined. Both the gun violence and the rental issue are issues that city council has tried, and so far failed, to solve. Last year was the city's worst in recent history for gun violence, despite council pledging more money for the police to combat it. Two years ago, the city tried to regulate AirBnB, but it's still waiting for those regulations to be adopted. And because those failures tragically met head on, just before the city's budget a shift in approach might finally be the result. GUEST: Jennifer Pagliaro, City Hall reporter, Toronto Star
Feb 5, 2020
How Canada is taking over the tech industry
For a long time, if you were a young innovator looking to make your name in the tech business, there was America...and then everyone else. The United States was the home of the biggest companies, the best facilities and was relatively welcoming to smart young disruptors who wanted to change the game. The first two things are still true—but as America has become harder and harder for immigrants to call their home, Canada has stepped up to fill the gap. Sure, it's nice to think about as emblematic of the sort of country we are—but it's also pragmatic: Canada used to suffer Brain Drain, losing talent to the south. Now the tables have turned. GUEST: Joel Rose, national correspondent, NPR
Feb 4, 2020
When the fear is worse than the disease
At least in Canada, the coronavirus is not a deadly threat. But lots of people are suffering anyway. The spectre of a respiratory illness from China has brought back both the fear sparked by SARS in 2003 and the racism and stereotypes that accompanied it. From stock photos of Chinese restaurants used to illustrate stories on the local impact, to supposedly "funny" jokes about the names of noodle shops and other businesses, and the more overt instances of hate speech and harassment, Asian Canadians are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus's impact in Canada at the same time that some of them are also fearing for friends and family back home. GUEST: Evelyn Kwong, Toronto Star
Feb 3, 2020
Will treating poverty reshape a child’s brain?
This is the story of a simple yet elegant experiment that could have profound implications. Does the impact of growing up in poverty literally alter the brains of poor kids? If that’s the case, how can we start to fix that? If the fix works, will the world be willing to implement it? All of a sudden what sounds like a simple answer begins to challenge our notions of what is deserved and what isn't, and the role that simple luck plays in the people we eventually become. GUEST: Shannon Proudfoot, Maclean's (Read Shannon's piece on the project right here.)
Jan 31, 2020
Why Mars is a lovely dream that will also probably kill anyone who goes
We're not the first generation to dream of colonizing Mars. Not even close. But we are the first to at least theoretically have the technology to reach the red planet. And we're not doing so great with the only planet we currently have, so letting billionaires make promises of populating a backup home seems like a pretty good idea. We might as well be ambitious, right? About that... Mars is hard to live on. Like, harder-than-the-Earth-after-nuclear-winter hard to live on. And even in the very best scenarios dangled in popular culture, there are a few things that always get left out. It doesn't mean it will never happen—and we'll send at least a few people, eventually—but it does mean the image of a Mars colony that's in your head is, well, something put there by Hollywood. GUEST: Dr. Katie Mack, theoretical cosmologist, assistant professor, NC State University
Jan 30, 2020
Canada’s Conservative party needs a new leader. And then what?
Even as conservative parties have triumphed provincially, it's become harder and harder for the federal Conservative Party of Canada to find a path to victory. Last fall's election offered members a glimpse of the problems a social conservative leader brings to a race—but is the solution as simple as electing a moderate to the top job? When what it means to be a conservative varies wildly province by province, a national leader has to walk several tightropes in order to bring together the factions that make up their party. Is anyone in the race capable of doing it? And even if they can, will it be enough? GUEST: Bob Plamondon, author and political analyst
Jan 29, 2020
Everything we know now about the Boeing 737 Max disaster
Two brand new airplanes crashed. More than 300 people died. And the Boeing 737 Max was grounded indefinitely. At first, the investigation, and the shutdown of one of the world's most popular new planes, was expected to take a few months. But as details emerged, the holes in the regulation, testing and certification system became evident. Now, it's been nearly a year since the second crash, and there's still no firm date for the planes' return to the skies. When they do, will anyone trust them? How did the system fail so badly? What's been changed to prevent it from happening again? And will the families of 18 Canadian victims get what they've been asking the government for? GUEST: Grant Robertson, The Globe and Mail
Jan 28, 2020
Kobe Bryant’s many lives and legacies
At any given time there are never more than a couple dozen people who are known to the planet by their first name only. He was one. It feels like that should be an honour the world decides to grant to someone. But it isn’t, really. It’s the result of a singular person wresting the name away from everyone else, making a surname unnecessary by sheer force of personality or will or excellence or notoriety. Or all four of those—like Kobe. And people who are known by only one name during their lifetimes are both legends as well as real, flawed humans at the same time...this is the story of one of them. GUEST: Donnovan Bennett, Sportsnet
Jan 27, 2020
What happens after you expose a Neo-Nazi recruiter?
The last time we spoke to today’s guest, his reporting had just set in motion a chain of events that would end with a former Canadian army reservist in a Maryland courtroom, facing charges for allegedly planning violent terror attacks. What happened in the months following the exposure of Patrik Mathews as a white supremacist in Manitoba, where he was actively recruiting for a domestic terror organization known as The Base, had been a mystery. Until Mathew was arrested earlier this month, and the reporter's name turned up in court documents... GUEST: Ryan Thorpe, reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Jan 24, 2020
Inside the hardest and least understood comeback in sports
If you ask an athlete about rehabbing a serious injury, they will tell you it's a long, complicated and frustrating process. Whether it's their knees, back, head, or shoulder–doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of work to be done and there's a process to be followed and you can’t rush it. But at least there is a process. There’s another type of rehab that some of the world’s most elite athletes go through, for which there is no blueprint. There’s no real timetable. There’s not even any certainty if they’ll ever return to their previous form. It's not an upper- or lower-body injury. It's somewhere in the middle... GUEST: Kristina Rutherford, Sportsnet
Jan 23, 2020
How scared should you be when a deadly new virus emerges?
You might feel you've seen the movie before—yet that somehow doesn't make it less terrifying. The new coronavirus emerging from China has a city on lockdown and the World Health Organization considering calling a global health emergency. So maybe the fear is warranted. But...maybe not. If you sit down and discuss the virus with someone who maps contagious diseases for a living—someone who studies how they spread and who helped guide Toronto through the SARS crisis in 2003—you'll know what to watch for over the next few weeks. And that's what we did, so hopefully we can all be smarter about what comes next. GUEST: Dr. David Fisman, epidemiologist, University of Toronto's Dalla Lanna School of Public Health
Jan 22, 2020
How fast fashion became a vicious and wasteful cycle
In order to feed the demand for new trends every season, and keep costs down to inspire continuous sales, the fashion industry needs volume. Which means it always requires new product. And if there’s new product, then there’s old product. And what do you think happens with old product? With perfectly good but unsold pieces of clothing that need to come off store shelves to make way for the new season? Nothing good. And we're only just starting to realize the costs that go beyond our wallet. GUEST: Meghan Collie, National Reporter, Global News
Jan 21, 2020
Inside the escalating war over Ontario’s classrooms
Every day this week, thousands of Ontario students will be out of school. Rotating one-day strikes will hit every school board in the province in the biggest escalation yet of a labour war that's been raging for almost six months. At issue? Class size, salaries, mandatory E-Learning, and other issues on which the teachers and the provincial government share no common ground. So how long can this go on? What's behind the latest tactics, both by teachers and the government? Who's winning the battle for the hearts and minds of parents across Ontario? And is there any hope of a happy ending? GUEST: Cynthia Mulligan, Queen's Park Reporter, CityNews
Jan 20, 2020
Imperial Oil ignored its own findings on climate change decades ago
It's disturbing and infuriating. Major fossil fuel companies are alleged to have known about the science of climate change for decades. One of them–Imperial Oil, the Canadian subsidiary of ExxonMobil–did its own research in the 1960s. But instead of changing its business model, the company ignored the findings and even spent money to promote misinformation. Today a journalist tells us how the company could have been a leader in the fight against climate change, but instead decided to profit off it. GUEST: Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept GUEST HOST: Richard Southern, 680News Business Reporter
Jan 17, 2020
Why Gen Z is being labelled “Generation Anxiety”
Being a teenager or a young adult is a stressful time. Anxiety is not uncommon when you're trying to figure out where you belong in the world. But today's youth are experiencing anxiety on a whole new level. Getting good grades and keeping friendships? That's the least of their concerns. They're worried about bigger things, like climate change and precarious work. Are these issues in any way comparable to what young people from previous generations worried about? How big of a role does technology play in all of this? And how are governments helping–or not helping–to offer much-needed support? GUEST: Johanna Chisolm, The Toronto Star GUEST HOST: Stefanie Phillips, The Big Story Producer
Jan 16, 2020
Did the longest punt in football history even happen???
Thomas Pinckard swears that he booted a football 114 yards during a university game in 1966, but it was only a few months ago the accomplishment was acknowledged. Our guest today came across this story and became fascinated by the effort behind Pinckard's insistence that the punt happened. He joins us today to talk about the rabbit hole he went down, and the potential inaccuracies he discovered along the way. GUEST: Aaron Hutchins, Maclean's
Jan 15, 2020
Harry and Meghan are moving to Canada. What does this mean for… everything?
It's an unprecedented move. Last week, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they were stepping back from their roles as senior members of the royal family and moving to North America. Their plan is to be half in, half out, and financially independent. How would that work, logistically? What does this do to the future of the monarchy? And, the question on all Canadians' minds, are we going to end up paying for Harry and Meghan's security? GUEST: Patricia Treble, writeroyalty.com GUEST HOST: Claire Brassard, The Big Story Producer
Jan 14, 2020
Do you know how toxic your cosmetics are?
Unless you're really dedicated to finding out on your own, probably not. Lists of ingredients can be nearly incomprehensible, and some formulas are proprietary and aren't required to list their ingredients at all. We've known for decades that some of those ingredients are potentially harmful—but no warning labels are required. Why are health and beauty products held to a different standard than other products that are potentially hazardous? A new documentary digs into the decades long fight to discover what's inside the products we put on our skin, and what the ingredients can do to us when they're applied day after day for years. As you might imagine, some of the stories will make you rethink your everyday routine. GUEST, Phyllis Ellis, director of Toxic Beauty
Jan 13, 2020
Will 5G in the U.S. mess with Canada and the world’s weather forecasts?
You likely know of this phenomenon as the Butterfly Effect. The formula predicting the world's weather is incredibly precise and complex. So when something messes with even a small part of it, the entire system is at risk of returning bad results. This is why weather forecasters are so worried about the rise of 5G technology, particularly in the United States. In the U.S., the frequency 5G will use is dangerously close to some of the most important frequencies science relies upon for its predictions... GUEST: Dan Vergano, Science Reporter, BuzzFeed News
Jan 10, 2020
How disinformation spreads during breaking news events
First, there was the threat of war. Then an earthquake. Then a plane crash. All in the same region during a 12-h0ur stretch that left the entire world scrambling for information. In those situations, we're particularly vulnerable to spread of hoaxes, conspiracies and good ol' fashioned lies. Unless we can debunk the falsehoods in real time. Jane Lytvynenko is a disinformation reporter at Buzzfeed News. When global tragedy strikes, she's often social media's point person for flushing out fakes. When news events pile one on top of another, it's almost impossible not to get lost in the mess. Here's how she does it—and how you can sort truth from fiction for yourself the next time it happens.
Jan 8, 2020
In the wake of tragedy, will Canada reexamine diplomacy with Iran?
Canada and Iran have had no diplomatic ties since 2012. When tragedy struck near Tehran on Tuesday night, and 63 Canadians were killed onboard a plane that went down due to an apparent mechanical failure, the cost of cutting those cords was felt deeply in Canada's Iranian community as families scrambled for scraps of information. Led by the Iranian-Canadian Congress, many Canadian-Iranians are hoping for a restoration of diplomacy. Will the government listen? Why were so many Iranian-Canadians on board the doomed flight? What is happening in the community tonight, and what will happen in the days to come GUEST: Younes Zangiabadi, research director, Iranian-Canadian Congress
Jan 8, 2020
Why do we pit one generation against another?
Millennials blame Boomers for the state of the world today. And Boomers blame the kids for not knowing how good they have it. There's been a lot of attention focused on a so-called Generational War, but a closer look reveals that this has been happening since humanity invented the concept of generations, and probably earlier than that. What do the numbers say? Which part of the popular narratives are true and which are false? And is the real villain the concept of 'generations' itself? GUEST: Marie-Danielle Smith, Maclean's (You can read the entire Maclean's project right here.)
Jan 7, 2020
Does Vancouver need to start turning tourists away?
Ten million visitors can do a lot of good for a city's economy. But if they're all coming at the same time, and visiting the same places, they can also do a lot of damage to places known for their natural beauty. Canada's most picturesque city is dealing with a problem that some of the world's oldest and most iconic cities have faced. It's just too popular. Tourism Vancouver has already shifted its strategies, but do they need to take more drastic action to preserve Vancouver for the people who actually live there? GUEST: Molly McCluskey, CityLab contributor
Jan 6, 2020
What’s it like to be a voluntary cyborg?
Welcome to a new and intriguing-but-terrifying year! It may not be standard practice yet, but we're well on our way to a world where a large swath of the population have become cyborgs. That's not an exaggeration. Technically, all you need to be a cyborg is some functioning electronics installed in your body, and there's an underground industry for those very modifications that's booming. Our guest today is a cyborg. She's got computer chips in her hands that she can program to do specific things. Like what, you ask? You'll have to listen to find out. GUEST: Tamara Banbury, PhD student, voluntary cyborg
Jan 3, 2020
What can we learn from the life and legacy of Rob Ford?
This is the story of how one man went from the outskirts of Toronto to a seat in the building at the heart of its power. Before he was the Mayor of Toronto, and before all the insanity that came in the years following that, Rob Ford was just a young man working at the family business in the suburbs, looking for a spark. An unlikely business request led Rob and his family into politics, and Toronto hasn’t been the same since. Today we bring you a special preview of a new podcast on the Frequency Podcast Network, The Gravy Train.
Dec 30, 2019
Can Taylor Swift change the music industry? (Again.)
Over the decades—since recorded music became big business—thousands upon thousands of artists have been screwed by their record labels. This isn’t a secret. Ask anyone who pays attention to the inner workings of the music industry and they can give you plenty of examples. But outside the industry, it’s not usually public until it interferes with an artist’s ability to make music. And even then, it’s certainly not this public. So can Taylor Swift's willingness to tell the entire world about the raw deal she feels she got from her former music label and its new owner provide a blueprint for the many artists who have similarly lost control of their work? Or is this something Taylor alone can do, and nobody else can copy? GUEST: Amanda Kingsland, National Country Music Director, Rogers Radio
Dec 27, 2019
Rivals in Montreal’s Bagel Wars unite to fight for their ovens
The Montreal bagel is woven into the fabric of the city's cultural and religious history. Two proprietors in particular are at the heart of it all. Fairmount and St-Viateur have each been selling these bagels forever. These family businesses each make their product in a way unique to the city, and they’re famous for it. They do it using huge wood burning ovens, right in the middle of residential neighbourhoods. And in the era of environmental awareness, you might guess where this is going. This has led the often bitter rivals to team up in a quest to preserve what they say is a piece of the city's heritage. GUEST: Dan Bilefsky, New York Times' Canada correspondent, based in Montreal
Dec 21, 2019
How to have a Green Christmas (Moms in the Middle bonus)
Did you know Canadians produce about 25 per cent more waste during the holidays? It's not like we have evil intentions, but at this time of year it's almost impossible to avoid waste. And even when we try to do our part to contribute in the fight against climate change, during the holiday season a lot of us have some really bad habits—especially those of us with large families or young kids. So this week, our sister show Moms in the Middle decided to tackle these habits and offer some ways that we can do better. If you like this episode, you can check out Moms in the Middle right here. Happy holidays!
Dec 20, 2019
An unexpected year of craziness for Canadian politics
This time last year, the Liberals were leading the polls and there was no doubt that Justin Trudeau would be reelected. It was going to be an easy, forgettable election. But then... 2019 happened, and suddenly voters had a lot more to think about. It was exhausting. And whether or not voters were happy with the election results, the country let out a collective sigh of relief when it was over. How unprecedented was this year of political scandals in Canada? And is this something we should just get used to? GUEST: Cormac Mac Sweeney, Parliament Hill Reporter
Dec 19, 2019
Has Facebook become the internet’s super villain?
The history of technology in the 2010s is dotted with dozens of Facebook scandals—but for most of the company's lifespan, it's maintained the veneer of plausible deniability. That was a slip-up, one apology might claim. Another might promise the company was working to fix the problem. Facebook's leader, Mark Zuckerberg, was frequently front and centre to reassure users that Facebook had their best interests at heart. It's hard to believe any of that anymore. In 2019, Facebook stopped pretending. No, it would not police outright lies in political ads, nor would it bar publishers known for racist messages from being listed as a 'trusted' source. No, Zuckerberg would not be appearing to address the concerns of politicians in the UK and Canada ahead of their elections. Oh, and also Facebook is making its own money now, OK. Now that the facade has come down, what's Facebook's next move? And how can users be aware of what the company is doing with their data? GUEST: Jesse Hirsh, futurist…
Dec 18, 2019
Are we finally turning the tide on climate action? Is it already too late?
There was no shortage of bad numbers for the world's climate future this year. You could read them off by the dozens. But there were also a whole bunch of good ones. One day. Four million people. Six thousand events in more than 1,000 cities across 185 countries. And that was just one day of action out of many held over the year. This, finally, was the year that people took to the streets en masse demanding change. As the situation becomes more dire, the calls to action become more critical—and perhaps in 2019 the world finally hit a tipping point. Certainly Canada's politicians heard the demand—every major party released a comprehensive climate plan and voters cited it as a top-three issue in almost every survey. But will this make a difference going forward, or are the changes to our ecosystems too baked in to be stopped now? GUEST: Catherine Abreu, Executive Director, Climate Action Network Canada
Dec 17, 2019
Was 2019 the year we literally lost the plot?
For decades now, Hollywood has been trending towards more and more blockbusters and less and less everything else. This year was the pinnacle of that strategy. In 2019 it didn't matter whether or not you liked a film or a TV show or not, or is it was a compelling piece of art--what mattered was that you were prepared to fight about it, and loudly. Marketers have weaponized fan loyalty and unleashed it in a way that blocks out almost everything else from the pop culture conversation. And there's no going back. If you want something that's not a blockbuster or a franchise you're going to have to hunt for it—because you won't hear about it. What does this mean for the future of TV & Film? GUEST: Norm Wilner, senior film writer, Now Magazine; Host, Someone Else's Movie
Dec 16, 2019
The Big Stories of 2019: Bianca Andreescu vs. The Raptors
On Jan. 1, the Toronto Raptors were a team that always folded in the face of playoff adversity, and Bianca Andreescu was an 18-year-old tennis hopeful ranked well outside the top 100 in the world. Now? Well, you know by now. What did these underdog champions teach Canada about its sporting culture this year? Which of them had the greater achievement? And what would you have bet, way back in 2018, that Canada could have one of its most successful sporting years in history without hockey even being a factor? GUEST: Donnovan Bennet, Sportsnet
Dec 13, 2019
Can immigration save Quebec’s small towns?
As a riding, Beauce was represented until recently by Maxime Bernier, the leader of the most anti-immigrant party in the country. As a collection of towns desperately searching for workers to keep businesses open, however, it is actively recruiting immigrants with promises of jobs and housing. You might imagine, given the way they've voted in the past, that this doesn't sit well with the majority of residents in towns like Saint-Gédéon or Sainte-Clotilde, but the continued existence of these places may depend on their ability to welcome people who come from other countries, in search of the jobs and futures they've been told they can find here. If those prospective citizens don't stick around, then neither will local businesses that are just holding on. And once they go, that's it. GUEST: Étienne Lajoie (You can read Étienne's piece in The Walrus)
Dec 12, 2019
How do registered sex offenders end up on dating apps?
...Very easily. The sex offender registries are public, and they exist in part so that prospective partners can be aware of past crimes. But on many popular dating apps, being a registered sex offender isn't a barrier to creating an account. An investigation in the United States found again and again that offenders—even some who used the apps to find their victims in the first place—could simply create a new account and keep going. We know that screening is possible because at least one popular site does it. And the owners of that site and app own three other popular services...that don't screen. So why not? GUEST: Hillary Flynn, investigative reporter
Dec 11, 2019
What’s it like to open your own pot store?
Today's guest won the lottery—an Ontario-wide lottery to determine who would get the province's first licenses to sell marijuana at a retail location. And once his name came up, the clock started ticking. He had less than three months to go from lucky winner to owner and proprietor. What's it like to try to open one of the province's first legal weed shops? Where do you get the money? Find a location? What product do you order? Who do you hire? Do you get high on your own supply? We'll go inside one man's unlikely career change and everything that came next. GUEST: Steven Fry, owner of Canna Cabana Hamilton, co-founder and CEO of Sessions Cannabis
Dec 10, 2019
We take too many antibiotics. We’re starting to pay for it.
It seems kind of wrong to call them "superbugs"—even though it is a very effective term. Really, they're antibiotic-resistant bacteria, who have evolved to survive the things that threaten their existence. Just like every other living thing, including us, has done forever. And now they pose a growing threat. The problem is that when they evolve, we get sicker, and people die. So our medicines have to evolve, too. And nobody wins when that happens. So perhaps we just need to figure out when, exactly, we really need medicine. And when we don't. GUEST: Dr. Kevin Schwartz, Infection Prevention and Control, Public Health Ontario
Dec 9, 2019
He died with the key to $250 million. Unless he’s still alive…
When Canadian Gerry Cotten died on his honeymoon in India last year, he did so as the only person on Earth with access to a quarter-billion dollars of investor's money in cryptocurrency. Depending on who you ask, the founder of Quadriga was either an entrepreneur or a scam artist, and all of this was either a horribly unfortunate fluke, or a well-executed scheme that paid off perfectly. Now, depending on which of the many investigations you follow, Cotten is either dead, or... well, mostly they simply won't tell you. But on this case, the FBI and RCMP may both be chasing the findings of a group of cryptocurrency devotees who delved into Cotten's past on the internet, and turned up all sorts of interesting things. GUEST: Nathaniel Rich, Vanity Fair (You can read Nathaniel's piece in VF right here.)
Dec 6, 2019
Decades after École Polytechnique, we’re still trying to change the conversation
As we do every year, today Canada will mourn the victims and survivors of a misogynist terror attack in Montreal in 1989. And we will try to talk about what's changed, and what hasn't and what we might be able to do about that. And that's important—but maybe we also need a better way to talk about the problem. What if we called these acts terrorism? What if we asked men to write most of the columns about it every year, instead of women? We if we stopped using the passive voice when writing the headlines? What if we let the conversations be a little messier, and a little more honest about the scale of the problem? GUEST: Sarah Boesveld (You can read some of Sarah's work on this problem right here.)
Dec 5, 2019
How can Canadian kids reclaim the pure joy of hockey?
Fewer children than ever are strapping on skates and fewer are staying in the game as they grow. Those that do, if they show any talent, quickly end up sucked into a world of high-end skills coaches, endless games and tournaments and practice drills. Some of them also contend with unrelenting coaches behind the bench and furious parents screaming from the stands. So is the game, as our guest today puts it, on the brink? How did we get here? Can we find a way to reclaim the pure joy of hockey for Canadian kids, and welcome new Canadians to the sport? Who’s working out there in small arenas and towns to make that possible, and how can we make their efforts matter across the country? Because that work is being done—just not on a national scale. GUEST: Sean Fitz-Gerald, author of Before The Lights Go Out: A Season Inside A Game On The Brink
Dec 4, 2019
Are Toronto’s landlord-tenant rules just broken?
In the most crowded rental market in Canada, a rule designed years ago to help landlords improve their buildings is being used to put paying tenants out on the street. As units become ever more attractive, it's happening more and more often. So what are No-Fault Evictions? How are some landlords weaponizing them to raise rents in Toronto? And what rights do tenants have when they get a notice? Then there's the big picture: A year ago, Canada's largest city was in the middle a rental crisis, and one year later the numbers haven't budged. What are governments doing to solve this? Will anything actually make a difference, or is this just part of the price Toronto pays for being one of the world's best places to live? GUEST: Emily Mathieu, affordable and precarious housing reporter, The Toronto Star
Dec 3, 2019
When Instagram influencers are paid to get political…
In their Instagram ads, these hip, young city dwellers are overjoyed at the idea of a new transit line connecting them with neighbourhoods they've yet to visit. They're excited for new transit options and they're eager to tell you about it. That's because they're getting paid. The posts are sponsored by Metrolinx, an Ontario crown corporation, to endorse the controversial new Ontario Line, which would cut through some of Toronto's East End neighbourhoods. The ads generated a firestorm last week, and some of them have since been taken down by the influencers. But the strategy raises a bigger question: How different is the influencer economy from traditional media when it comes to political ads? What kind of disclaimers should these ads carry? Are they working? And what comes next—for both the ads and the Ontario Line? GUEST: Ben Spurr, transportation reporter, Toronto Star
Dec 2, 2019
Why are so many people turning to food banks?
In an economy that looks really strong to most of the world, hunger is on the rise. One in seven people in the Toronto region struggles with food insecurity. That’s according to the 2019 “Who’s Hungry: Profile of Hunger in the Toronto Region” report, which says food bank use rose by four per cent in the last fiscal year. Food is a basic necessity, so why are so many people unable to afford it? What needs to change so that people don’t need to skip meals to pay their bills? And what can we all do to help? GUEST: Neil Hetherington, CEO of The Daily Bread Food Bank
Nov 30, 2019
BONUS: The woman who hunts illegal arms merchants
Kathi Lynn Austin has targeted, investigated and helped to bring down some of the world's most dangerous arms dealers, exposing transactions that fuelled the Rwandan genocide and shutting down smuggling networks that helped power years of civil war in the Congo. But she is neither a cop nor a CIA agent nor a crusading prosecutor. She’s merely an American civilian with a deep sense of moral outrage and a deeper reservoir of courage. This weekend's bonus is an episode from our newest podcast, The Power of One. In this episode, Austin herself joins host Sarmishta Subramanian to describe Austin's unlikely career path into investigating the illicit arms trade, some of whose treacherous players she has met face-to-face. In doing so, she has gathered leads and evidence against everyone from a global gun kingpin to a network supplying guns to rhinoceros poachers. Says one colleague: “I’ve seen her living out dramatic detective stories, all in the name of peace and social justice and pro…
Nov 29, 2019
Should Canada meddle in the United States’ 2020 election?
If the countries that don't have the best interests of democracy at heart are willing to use the internet to interfere with America's elections, then why shouldn't we interfere on behalf of democracy? Today, our guest argues that we can't afford not to. But even if we agree that protecting democracy is good—how would Canada do this? Publicly or privately? On behalf of individual candidates or national parties? And what happens if the Americans find out? Much of the world is playing a dangerous game. Does that mean we have to get off the bench, too? GUEST: Stephen Marche (You can read Stephen's essay in The Walrus)
Nov 28, 2019
How does hockey reckon with an abusive power structure?
The stories run the gamut, from mind games that old-school coaches try to play with young players to horrific allegations of racial and physical abuse. But they do have one thing in common: A coach asserting his dominance over players whose careers he controls. As current and former players have told their stories of what can go on behind closed dressing room doors this week, it's become clear this is a long-overdue reckoning for a sport that can permit the worst kind of behaviour in the name of "motivation" or "toughening a player up". In a normal workplace, these stories would mean an overhaul from the top down. Will hockey in general, and the NHL in particular, be brave enough to start to fix a structure that's clearly broken? GUEST: Jeff Blair, writer at Sportsnet.ca, co-host of Writer's Bloc at Sportsnet 590 The Fan
Nov 27, 2019
When parliament resumes, which backroom deals will become law?
You may have noticed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau taking a lot of meetings over the past months—with potential political partners, with the opposition, with premiers from around the country. Well, in a minority government, you only get to pass what you can get support for. And having declined any opportunity to form a coalition government, the Liberals are going to need to court votes on a case by case basis, beginning with the Throne Speech next week. So who are their dance partners? What's likely to get done first and what will be a tough fight? Will Trudeau be willing to compromise with Conservative leader Andrew Scheer? Or does he smell blood in the water around the embattled opposition leader? There's been a lot of quiet talk since Canadians voted last month. Next week everyone has to speak up publicly. GUEST: Cormac Mac Sweeney, Parliament Hill reporter
Nov 26, 2019
Victoria’s Secret and the war for the fashion industry
For 23 years, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show was a staple of the industry. Every year, an hour of prime-time TV would be devoted to the 'Angels' swaying up and down a catwalk in the latest lingerie. But no more. Last week, the company announced the show was done. Why? They were vague, but it wasn't hard to read between the lines. For the past decade, and especially in the past few years, the fashion industry has been torn between traditional beauty standards of thin, mostly-white models and the demands from inclusion coming from all corners. The end of a fashion show that had been roundly criticized for not changing with the times, might feel like a victory to those who wish the industry would change faster...but is it just a drop in a bucket for a business built on exclusivity—and rarely the good kind? GUEST: Katherine Singh, FLARE.com
Nov 25, 2019
A crisis point for abortion access in New Brunswick
Clinic 554 has been closed before. It pulled through and reopened, but only because the community rallied around it. Now it's in danger again, and the future of the last clinic outside a hospital to provide abortions in the province is in jeopardy. Will the province or the federal government step in? Will anyone? Because it's not just about abortions—New Brunswick has an urgent shortage of family doctors. If Clinic 554 vanishes, thousands more people will be added to the long, long list of people without anywhere to go except the emergency room. And a situation that's already being called a crisis will only get worse. GUEST: Sarah Ratchford, FLARE.com (You can read Sarah's piece on Clinic 554 right here.)
Nov 22, 2019
Could electric vehicles hold a key to the future of the oil sands?
One of the things bitumen is good for producing is carbon fibre. Because it's lighter than steel, carbon fibre is used in many electric vehicles. Because the world is warming and the future of fossil fuels are precarious, electric vehicles are becoming more popular. Could this cycle somehow lead to a new line of business for companies that have employed thousands of workers in Alberta's oil sands? Well, maybe. There's a long ways to go, but the potential is there—and it's innovative projects like this that will help the province thrive even as the world changes around it. The question now is if there's enough political will to go chasing these solutions on a large scale? GUEST: Chris Turner, energy journalist, author of The Patch: The People, Pipelines and Politics of the Oil Sands
Nov 21, 2019
Thompson, Manitoba has a violent crime problem
Every year, Maclean's crunches the numbers on some of the most dangerous places in Canada. And for the past four years, the leader in violent crime severity has been Thompson, Manitoba. It has some of the problems that many communities face—poverty, addiction, homelessness—but its remote location makes them all worse. So what has the community tried to get crime down? What's worked and what hasn't? It's clear by now the problem won't be solved by policing alone, so what kind of holistic approach might help? And, simply, how does it feel to live in a place that's become known as a crime capital? What does that do to citizens? GUEST: Shannon VanRaes, Maclean's (You can explore the entire Canada's Most Dangerous Places 2020 package right here)
Nov 20, 2019
A terrifying new smartphone scam is on the rise
It's called 'phone number porting' or 'SIM swapping' and if a scammer can pull it off, it transfers your phone numbers, and all the access to all the applications and services that come with it, to a third party. That person can then use your number to gain access to many other parts of your digital life, and hold them for ransom. So why is this technique on the rise? What are carriers and police doing to stop it? What can you do if you suspect someone's trying to get control of your number? And when the authorities catch up to this one, what's next in the digital arms race? GUEST: Ritesh Kotak, cybersecurity expert
Nov 19, 2019
There’s lead in our drinking water. Why are we just finding out now?
A massive Canada-wide investigative project revealed that a third of Canadian homes and schools tested had dangerously high levels of lead contamination in drinking water. While that fact itself is shocking, the reality that it took a team of reporters and scientists months to unearth it is perhaps more troubling. Why is there no central process for testing and reporting contaminants in drinking water? Why do so few people have access to this information? Where was the breakdown in government oversight? And now that we know...what do we do about it? GUEST: Rob Cribb, lead investigative reporter, Toronto Star
Nov 18, 2019
Lucy DeCoutere on life after the Ghomeshi trial
It's been five years since Lucy DeCoutere went public with accusations of sexual assault against former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi. The actress and Royal Canadian Air Force captain joins guest host Sarah Boesveld to talk about the trauma of the trial, and what she's learned about change, healing, and resilience. From finding humour in dark situations, to hiking to Mount Everest Base Camp, DeCoutere tells us of the responsibility she now has to be an advocate, and the resulting emotional toll. Guest: Lucy DeCoutere Guest Host: Sarah Boesveld
Nov 15, 2019
Would you trust an AI program with your medical diagnosis?
A new piece of medical software's first job will be to offer a second opinion on conclusions drawn by human doctors in Toronto, but the days of Artificial Intelligence making medical diagnoses are likely not far off. Toronto’s University Health Network is teaming up with researchers at the University of Waterloo and the Vector Institute to develop the program, which can read and provide feedback on medical images like x-rays and ultrasounds. So how does the it work? What problems does it aim to solve? How accurate are human doctors at reading images like x-rays and MRIs? And why is our instinct to trust them over programs that can sort through tens of thousands of similar images to draw a more accurate conclusion? GUEST: Dr. Hamid Tizhoosh, director of the KIMIA lab at the University of Waterloo
Nov 14, 2019
Inside the divided Conservative Party of Canada
Will Andrew Scheer still be leading his party six months from now? Depends on which half of the party wins an internal clash over its direction. The moderate faction believes that Scheer's inability to answer questions on his personal beliefs around same-sex marriage and other topics was a deciding factor for many Canadians who refused to vote for him. The more socially conservative wing believes that Scheer lost in part because he shied away from openly declaring his stances on abortion and other issues. There's a leadership review at the party convention in Toronto in April, and between now and then the party, and its leader, will have to decide who they really are, and how to sell themselves to Canadians. Because like Scheer on the question of same-sex marriage, they need a better answer, quickly. GUEST: Stephen Maher, contributing editor, Maclean's
Nov 13, 2019
The story of the secret salmon journals
If you think worries over the health of Canada's fish population are a recent thing...they're not. More than 100 years ago, officials in British Columbia were concerned enough about the state of the Sockeye Salmon that they compiled journals upon journals full of data. And then those journals disappeared. When they were later discovered, there was treasure inside them—at least for the scientific community. And the resulting work has allowed us to get a much clearer picture of how healthy the population of one of Canada's most iconic fishes really is, and what it needs from us. GUEST: Alanna Mitchell, science journalist, author, playwright
Nov 12, 2019
Disney+ arrives and the Streaming Wars really begin
If anyone can knock Netflix down a peg or two, it's the House of Mouse. Today marks the launch of Disney's new streaming video service, Disney+, and it comes with (almost) all the star power you'd expect—from classic animations, to Marvel and Star Wars and more. But will it actually make a dent in Netflix's spot atop the food chain? That depends. The video streaming industry is at a tipping point, with everyone from Apple and NBC to Disney and HBO and more joining Netflix and Amazon among the established players. But how many of these subscriptions are people actually prepared to pay for? What happens to the industry if customers decide the content is too hard to find between several different services? Will any of these services turn into profit-generating businesses, or is the whole thing a ... House of Cards? GUEST: Raju Mudhar, entertainment reporter, Toronto Star (Read Raju's summary of the new players in the game right here.)
Nov 11, 2019
Can restorative justice help rape victims heal, and avoid a painful trial?
Marlee Liss was raped, and she knew how awful it would be for her to relive it during a trial. She wanted a process that would do more than that—she wanted understanding, and closure and she didn't want her assailant to go to prison. So Liss opted for restorative justice. It's not a widely known option in Canada—though most victims have the right to it—and it's almost unheard of in cases of sexual assault. So why did Liss opt for it? And what was it about the process that worked so well that she's since started an advocacy group to help more people who have survived sexual assault to explore the option? GUEST: Marlee Liss, author and co-founder of Re-Humanize
Nov 8, 2019
How “OK Boomer” sums up a massive generational divide
It began as a meme the kids use on an app you've probably never tried if you're over 25—yet somehow the phrase "OK Boomer" managed to dominate digital culture this week. How? Why? Oh and also: Ummm, what does it mean? If you're reading this and feeling ancient, don't worry. That's the whole point of today's episode. The world is changing faster than ever—and that means that what used to be generation gaps are now generation chasms. And that's changing the outlook of today's teens. The whole being-handed-a-world-that's-literally-on-fire thing may also have something to do with this. GUEST: Katherine Singh, FLARE.com
Nov 7, 2019
Who killed Barry and Honey Sherman? Inside The Billionaire Murders
It's one of the most mysterious cases in Canadian history, and one of the most high-profile. A billionaire husband and wife found dead in what at first appeared to be a murder-suicide, but quickly becomes something else. For almost two years, police have been investigating the deaths of the Shermans, and revealing very little about what they've been finding. But a new book by an investigative reporter digs deeper into the hunt for answers in the Sherman case—and we spoke to the author about all the things the police aren't saying, and why we might finally have answers soon. GUEST: Kevin Donovan, author, The Billionaire Murders
Nov 6, 2019
Why there’s no such thing as sticking to sports
You may have heard of Deadspin. In fact, you probably have. Well, now it's dead. The site's entire staff resigned last week after its management insisted they stick to sports, and avoid the politics and lifestyle writing that made the site so beloved. But here's the thing—sports is about politics, and lifestyle and culture, and everything else. "Stick to sports" is both an insult and a rallying cry—but what do people mean when they say it? What kind of sports stories are only sports? And what happens when you try to force talented storytellers to stick to a single aspect of their profession? GUEST: Donnovan Bennett, Sportsnet
Nov 5, 2019
Why is the whole world protesting in the streets?
The specific causes may not be the same, but a general sense of urgent unrest has propelled millions of people into the streets in countries around the world. From Hong Kong to Chile to Catalonia to Lebanon, it may seem as though the world has never been as rife with public protest as it currently is. But is that true? And if so...why? What's behind the sentiment that things have to change—even if the specific change may vary by country? What determines whether these protests succeed or fail? And how has social media changed people's ability to organize, for better and for worse? GUEST: Michael Safi, The Guardian and The Observer
Nov 4, 2019
When Doug Ford returns to the legislature…
Ontario Premier Doug Ford adjourned the legislature in June, and then was gone for about five months—the longest break for a legislature in a quarter-century. Then, one week after the federal election, Ford and his Conservative government returned to Queen's Park. And...now what? Why was Ford gone so long? That depends on who you ask. But there's no denying that the government is hoping to use the extended break as a reset, for their tone, for some of their policies and hopefully for their poll numbers. Will it work? Or is the province too divided to come together on a common agenda? GUEST: Cynthia Mulligan, Queen's Park reporter, CityNews
Nov 2, 2019
BONUS: A conversation about history with Dan Carlin
Dan Carlin is the host of Hardcore History, one of the biggest podcasts in the world. He's also an author, and his new book tells the tale of all the times the world almost ended...but didn't. He sat down with Jeff Marek, host of 31 Thoughts and a friend of The Big Story, in Toronto this week, and the conversation was fascinating enough that we thought we'd ask them if we could let you hear it. And they said yes, so here it is. A discussion about how The End Is Always Near. We'll be back on Monday with a fresh episode of The Big Story.
1 hr 16 min
Nov 1, 2019
Are international students being taken for their money?
An investigation into the system that brings international students to Canada to study found exponential growth over a short time, as well as some disturbing results. Are the students who often spend everything their family has to come to Canada in the hopes of an education, a job and a shortcut to immigration getting what they pay for? In many cases the answer is no. It's not fair to the students—Canadian or international. It's not fair to the immigration system. So who does it benefit, and why is it happening? GUEST: Grant LeFleche, St. Catharines Standard (You can read 'The Price of Admission', by Grant, Isabel Teotonio and Nicholas Keung, right here)
Oct 31, 2019
Wexit might be funny but the anger behind it isn’t
“Wexit” is somewhat of a laughable term, but the separation movement is gaining a lot of traction in Western Canada… especially in Alberta. It’s not a new idea for Albertans, so where did this resurgence come from? What would it actually look like if the oil-dependent province separated from Canada? How is this different from the Quebec separatist movement? And what can Justin Trudeau do, if anything, to soothe tensions with the West? Guest: Jason Markusoff, Maclean's
Oct 30, 2019
The problem with Canada’s temporary migrant labour program
The stories are horrible, and there are a lot of them. Mistreatment at best, assault and abuse at worst. They sound like the stories you hear from the United States, about the exploitation of undocumented immigrants who cross the border to pick American crops. Except they're happening here, while foreign workers pick ours. So what's wrong with Canada's Seasonal Agricultural Worker program? Who's to blame and can it be fixed? And why do so few Canadians even know this program exists, let alone what can happen to those who take part in it? GUEST: Sara Mojtehedzadeh, Work and Wealth Reporter, Toronto Star (You can read Sara's investigation right here)
Oct 29, 2019
Women in Canadian Politics: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times
Last week, more women than ever before were elected across the country. It's a new record for a number that hasn't always inched upwards in every election, and that's worth celebrating. But among the victories, most of the winners were incumbents, and very few women were chosen by their parties to run in so-called 'safe' ridings. And then, two days after Canada voted, we got an example of the cost of being a powerful female politician, when Catherine McKenna's Ottawa riding office was defaced with a gendered slur. In the wake of never-before-seen success, are Canadian political parties of all stripes doing enough to encourage women to get into the political game, help them win office and protect them once they get there? GUEST: Sarah Boesveld, writer/reporter/podcaster
Oct 28, 2019
One man’s fight to get clean offers a view inside the opioid crisis
Rabbit is a user. But he doesn't want to be. He wants to get clean, and he tries. Hard. But it's not easy. Rabbit's story, told in a new documentary, displays the contradictory approaches available in the crisis from helping users change their lives completely, as opposed to keeping them safe while they fight to do it themselves. Is it better that Rabbit can work at a needle exchange program, because it helps ensure he's using clean needles? Or does that just keep him enmeshed in the lifestyle that leads to drug use? And if he does want to go to rehab...how does he do it? Beds are scarce and help is hard to find. Perhaps the best way to understand the crisis is to go beyond the statistics and help those in the middle of it tell their stories. GUEST: Karen Wookey, Producer and Co-Director of "Saving Rabbit"
Oct 25, 2019
How Meghan Markle is challenging Royal tradition
You probably saw the clip. Most of the world did. The Duchess of Sussex, in a scene from a documentary that aired this week, sincerely thanks the interviewer for asking her if she's OK. "Not many people have asked me if I'm OK," she adds, in what many who follow the Royal Family took to be a shot at her new in-laws. But more important than the "shot" was the chaser: Markle admitted she's not OK. That it's been a struggle. That the past year has taken a toll on her. For a member of the family that embodies the phrase "stiff upper lip", this was something new. Is it a sign of the times? Or a sign that the newest member of the family won't let tradition dictate the way she lives her life? And if it's the latter, what does that mean for the most tradition-laden family on the planet? GUEST: Patricia Treble, writeroyalty.com, Maclean's
Oct 24, 2019
How to lose millions of dollars selling pot
This is not as impossible as it seems! All you need is a high price point, a total lack of marketing, almost no locations, and enough red tape to prevent fixing any of those problems. Congratulations Ontario! After one year of legal cannabis, your province takes the prize for the worst rollout. So what went wrong? And what's changing in Year Two that might help the province actually turn a profit selling a product that lots of people want, but not enough of them seem to want to buy from the government? GUEST: Adrian Ghobrial, CityNews Toronto
Oct 23, 2019
When the NBA champions go back to work
The banner is up. The rings have been given out. The Toronto Raptors are back to business. But after losing their best player in free agency, nobody's giving them much of a chance of repeating their title. That's fine by them. This is a team that thrives on adversity, lead by a point guard that has one of the more unique mindsets in sports. And upstairs, one of the NBA's chess masters is looking well beyond this season, even if his players aren't. So what are the 2019-20 Toronto Raptors? Defending champs? A rebuilding team with an eye on the future? A bunch of guys that will never give you a night off? Probably all three. GUEST: Donnovan Bennett, Sportsnet
Oct 22, 2019
Canada’s election ends and … now what?
It's over. Justin Trudeau remains Prime Minister of Canada. The Conservative party is still the opposition. That much is certain. Everything else, though? It's much more complicated. How will Trudeau govern as a minority? Who will he work with? What parts of the Liberal platform will he be able to deliver? And, for the losers: What now? Are the knives out for Andrew Scheer? What became of the late NDP surge? And what are the chances we're doing this again next year? GUEST: John Stall, political affairs specialist
Oct 21, 2019
Election Day: You have more choices than you think
Vote strategically. Vote your heart. Vote your wallet. Vote your values. Lord knows every major party has made its final plea to you—and after a long, ugly campaign you may be desperate for anything but what you've heard the past month. Luckily for you—there are options! The five major parties are not your only choices. There are more than 20 parties fielding candidates in this election. The so-called 'fringe' parties may not win a seat, but they don't lack for passion, or creativity. Or humour. And if you've suffered through the past six weeks with us—you could probably use some of that. GUEST: Cormac Mac Sweeney, parliament hill reporter
Oct 18, 2019
Which party’s climate plan will actually work in the real world?
Every major party has a real plan that aims to counter climate change. But not all plans are created equal. Nor are all of them even realistic. Polls show that Canadians of all political stripes care about this issue—but neither they nor their preferred parties agree on what's needed to tackle it. So what does the science say? And what about actually implementing what the science says? Our guest today is a climate scientist who worked with an Albertan economist to assess the climate platforms on both their effectiveness and feasibility. So if you want something to get done, and don't want us to swing for the fences and miss badly, here's what you need to know before you vote? GUEST: Prof. Katharine Hayhoe, Texas Tech University
Oct 17, 2019
Health Care is a major election issue. But what’s on the table?
When you ask a Canadian what they like or don't like about their health care, they are full of opinions. And obviously, there are few areas of policy that impact our lives more. But what role does health care policy play in federal elections, and in this one in particular? The big, bold idea on the table this election is Pharmacare—and that could be a game changer. But beyond that possibility, and all the usual promises about money for the provinces, what are the leaders promising Canadians that will immediately shape how they interact with Canada's health care system? What do they plan to do about our aging population? About homelessness? About the opioid crisis? And how much control does Ottawa have over, for example, how long you have to wait for an MRI? GUEST: Andre Picard, health reporter, The Globe and Mail
Oct 16, 2019
Our new podcast: The Gravy Train
The Gravy Train is a special, eight-part narrative podcast from The Big Story and Frequency Podcast Team that explores the tragic life and enduring legacy of Toronto's notorious mayor Rob Ford. Hosted by Jordan Heath-Rawlings, and featuring dozens of interviews from key players, the series tells the inside story of Ford's rise and fall, and lays out the populist blueprint that politicians around the world are following today. Rob Ford's rise was a sign the world was changing, but we were too busy laughing at him to notice. Have a listen to the trailer and subscribe to The Gravy Train in your favourite podcast player. On Apple Podcasts, just tap right here. The first two episodes arrive Oct. 31, 2019.
Oct 16, 2019
Life’s expensive. But can a government really fix that?
Affordability is the buzzword in this election campaign. You can see it everywhere from lists of voter concerns to policy papers to slogans like the Conservative party's "It's time for you to get ahead." So naturally, every party is vying to claim they'll save you money. Will they? Time will tell. It's tempting, no matter your political leanings, to listen to the people who can put a specific dollar amount on a promise—"$500 back in your pocket" sounds really nice. But can they deliver it? And is that $500 worth more than a policy that might save you thousands in your old age...assuming it can ever be implemented. If a government wants to make life more affordable for its people, what options do they actually have at their disposal? GUEST: Mike Eppel, Senior Business Editor, 680 News, CityNews
Oct 15, 2019
Trudeau made promises to Canada’s Indigenous peoples. Did he keep them?
There was a lot of optimism about Justin Trudeau in 2015, and not least among Canada's Indigenous communities. Trudeau's Liberals had made a lot of ambitious and overdue promises. Four years later? Well, the optimism has vanished—but what have the Liberals actually done? A thorough document released by the Assembly of First Nations chronicles the Liberals successes and failures over the past four years and lays out the work still to be done. Is Trudeau the man to do it? If the optimism is gone, what pragmatic choices are there in this election for those who expected more? And how much Truth and Reconciliation has actually taken place? GUEST: Todd Lamirande, APTN
Oct 11, 2019
Why Ottawa’s beautiful new train doesn’t work
Our nation's capital has a spiffy new transit line. It cost a couple of billion dollars and arrived a year behind schedule. When it works, it's fantastic. Only it...hasn't been working. The commutes of those in Ottawa became hell this week when system stoppages left thousands of people crammed into stations with no way to escape. There were curse words, and laughs, and plenty of memes. But behind it all is a project that should be a huge leap forward for a growing city. It seemed like it was—and it might still be! But what went wrong to bring down the whole system on the first few days of heavy use? Is it fixable? And what happens if it's not? GUEST: Mark Sutcliffe, 1310 News, Ottawa
Oct 10, 2019
The roots of why Saskatchewan hates Trudeau
In Saskatchewan, voters rank climate change as one of their top election concerns. They also hate Justin Trudeau's plan to fight it. With a passion. Westerners hating a Trudeau is nothing new of course, but it does give us a chance to delve into what a lot of the country doesn't understand about the prairies in particular. How do you lower your carbon footprint when you live a hundred miles from anything? If not carbon pricing...then what could Saskatchewanians actually support? And are any parties besides the Conservatives speaking to their concerns? Why not? Today, our Lay of the Land series visits a province that gets lumped in with Alberta—even though it has its own issues. GUEST: Stephanie Taylor, Saskatchewan Correspondent, The Canadian Press
Oct 9, 2019
Let’s talk about why we don’t talk about policy
Did you hear that Justin Trudeau travels in two planes? Or maybe you heard Andrew Scheer is a dual citizen? You sure did. Perhaps you also heard the one about the differing plans for funding a national pharmacare program that would change the lives of people across Canada? No? Well, two out of three ain't bad. It's not that past campaigns used to be completely thoughtful, policy-driven exchanges of ideas about the future of this country—but it does feel like this campaign has been so wrapped up in a mixture of scandals—big, small and non—that some impressive policy proposals are getting lost. So what are we missing amidst the noise? What's different about this campaign? And who's to blame? Is it social media? The campaigns and the leaders themselves? Or maybe ... it's ... us? GUEST: Cormac Mac Sweeney, parliament hill reporter
Oct 8, 2019
Will Quebec change its mind? And change the election?
Right now, polls indicate the Liberals hold a solid lead in Quebec. But if there's one place where voters can decide to ditch a party quickly, it's La Belle Province. They've done it many times before. And Quebec matters so much to this election's outcome that not even the most progressive parties are willing to meddle in the province's discriminatory Bill 21. So what could change the minds of Quebecers, then? Why have they stuck so firmly in Justin Trudeau's camp so far? Could the Bloc Quebecois, well, block the Conservatives from gaining enough ground here to win? Oh, and what the heck happened to the NDP presence in Quebec—the massive surge that propelled them to official opposition status less than a decade ago? GUEST: Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press
Oct 7, 2019
Lessons from BC’s minority government
Two weeks out from Canada's federal election, we're firmly in minority government territory—which means it's time to visit British Columbia, home of the most functional minority government in recent memory. It's been nearly two and a half years since BC's last election, and if you'd offered voters the bet in May of 2017, most would have thought they'd have been back at the polls long before now. So why has government worked in BC? What issues has the coalition tackled? What does the stark split between coastal and interior voters mean for the federal parties currently courting BC votes? And if the Oct. 21 vote comes down to the wire, what should Canadians watch for out of the last province to report results? GUEST: Liza Yuzda, BC legislative reporter, News1130
Oct 4, 2019
The Célinaissance: How Celine Dion became cool
Céline Dion has been many things throughout her career, but "cool" has rarely been one of them. As one of the bestselling artists to call this country home, and an unabashedly proud Canadian and Quebecer, Céline should have won us all over long ago. But she never quite broke through to the more cynical younger generation. Until that generation stopped being cynical, that is. It turns out Céline Dion was always cool. She was just waiting for us to come to her. And over the past few years, we have, by the millions. GUEST: Suzannah Showler, the Walrus
Oct 3, 2019
Do Canadians have a Right To Be Forgotten online?
It's 2019. By now plenty of Canadians have humiliating results in Google searches for their name. But do we need a process for making those listings disappear? The European Union has one—it's called the Right To Be Forgotten. And there's currently a debate in public and in the courts, over whether or not Canada needs such a framework. But if we did have it, who would get to exercise that right? Who would decide if a piece of information should vanish from Google or not? And ... should we even be allowed to hide true results about us online? GUEST: Michael Geist, Law Professor, University of Ottawa, online privacy specialist
Oct 2, 2019
In the Northwest Territories, voters will get creative to be heard
The federal government is perhaps the least impactful government to the daily life of the people living there. Except for one thing: Whomever sits in Ottawa controls how much, or how little decision-making power will be granted to the provincial, municipal, and First Nations governments in the region. And in a region with no shortage of everyday problems, it's those decisions that can make all the difference. So how do citizens make their voices heard, when one MP oversees a gigantic land mass? Very carefully. Welcome to the last of our Northern Trilogy, looking at how this election impacts Canada's far reaches. GUEST: Dëneze Nakehk’o, Founding Member, Dene Nahjo
Oct 1, 2019
Will Newfoundland turn on Trudeau this time?
When election results start coming in on October 21, it will be Newfoundland and Labrador that tells us first if the winds of change are blowing. In 2015, the Liberals swept Atlantic Canada, taking every seat, including all seven in Newfoundland and Labrador. And it's still possible they do it again—but that's far from certain. So what were Newfoundlanders promised in 2015, and have the Liberals delivered? What matters most to voters out east, and what unique challenges are they dealing with? And if we're looking for signs on election night that Canada will have a new government, which ridings should we be watching? GUEST: David Maher, legislative reporter, St. John's Telegram
Sep 30, 2019
It’s not just the climate heating up in the Yukon
If you guessed this is where you'd find Canada's lowest unemployment numbers, and growing concerns that a lack of workers would hold back a booming economy, come collect your prize. Unfortunately, with all that growth comes some of the problems faced by Canada's largest cities—combined with the same challenges any far-North communities must navigate. It's a truly unique place, and one that doesn't get nearly enough attention from Canada's major parties as it should. So why not? And will any of the leaders speak to Yukoners before they go to the polls? The latest in our Lay of the Land series. GUEST: Chris Windeyer, CBC North
Sep 27, 2019
As Canada strikes for climate, this tool helps us understand climate policy
Every major Canadian party acknowledges that climate change is real, and caused by humans, and needs policy to address it. But that's about where the similarities stop. And since the actual policy positions themselves can be both too dense to get through and too full of promises to offer much in the way of realism, Canadians might need some help sorting through them. Envirovote Canada is an attempt to do just that—and it was conceived by one of the hundreds of thousands of young people around the world doing everything they can to help us all understand the challenges and solutions we face. GUEST: Isabelle Hurley, Master's Student, Biology, Dalhousie University, envirovote.ca
Sep 26, 2019
Here’s how money sneaks into Canadian elections…
Ontario Proud wasn’t the first group to do it. The right-wing, self-proclaimed “grassroots organization” was actually a response to similar groups on the left. But the extent to which the organization was able to attract high-dollar donors and build an online audience dedicated to wiping out Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne should serve as a wakeup call to anyone who thought that the influence of cash into third-party advertising was only a problem in the United States. Ontario Proud is now dedicated to bringing down Justin Trudeau. It's the most successful example, but it's far from alone. And what they do is not illegal—it’s just the inevitable result of campaign finance laws that haven’t adapted to a new reality, and that allow groups on both sides of the spectrum to hover up money and spread messages that are very close to those espoused by their party of choice, as long as they follow the rules. Here’s how that works. GUEST: Greg McArthur, The Globe and Mail
Sep 25, 2019
Will a health-care crisis decide these critical seats in October?
The video went viral, because how could it not? In it, a mother is torn between tears and rage, describing the two years she went with her cancer undiagnosed, because she simply didn’t have access to a family doctor. Her rage was directed at her premier, but as the federal election campaign moves (hopefully) towards policy, in places like Nova Scotia, it’s very clear what the number one issue is for voters. How can the Liberals, who swept all of Atlantic Canada in 2015, expect to keep all those seats in the face of hundreds of thousands of doctor-less patients? Can the other parties promise real solutions, or just vague promises of ‘solving’ a problem that’s been getting worse no matter who leads in Ottawa? And in an election that’s so far been fought on scandals and name-calling and issues of social justice, will Nova Scotians vote on anything other than their health and their pocketbooks? GUEST: Rick Howe, The Rick Howe Show, News 95.7, Halifax
Sep 24, 2019
What if AI is better than the polls in this election?
Her name is Polly, and she got Brexit right. The polls missed it. She's called a few other races that consensus polling was wrong about, too. So who is she? She's an algorithm created by a small, Ottawa-based Artificial Intelligence company, and she has a unique approach to compiling data about elections—using the opinions that most of us share, every day, for free. So what happens if Polly is consistently better than the polls? What if she outperforms them during this election? And what other uses could we find for an AI program that can predict shifts in human behaviour? GUEST: Max Fawcett, The Walrus
Sep 23, 2019
Maybe “Not In My Back Yard”. But some people don’t have that choice.
Garbage dumps. Industrial plants. Factories that use toxic chemicals. Nobody wants them in their neighbourhood. But they have to go somewhere. And historically, there's been a very clear pattern to where they end up. And when a professor at Dalhousie University's Faculty of Health decided to examine how these things ended up where they did, and what they did to the neighbourhoods in which they were placed, it was the beginning of a story that became a book, and then a documentary and now takes aim at changing minds in the highest level of government. GUEST: Ingrid Waldron, There's Something In the Water
Sep 20, 2019
It’s not just a brownface photo. The whole election is about race.
The Prime Minister has apologized for his past racism. His main opponent has called him unfit to lead, but has refused to turf his own candidates over their past racism. The leader of the party in third place is the first visible minority to lead one of Canada's major federal parties. A fringe party boasts a slate of candidates with anti-immigrant views. And hate crimes have spiked across the country over the past two years. So yes, we can absolutely reckon with the fact that photos of the Prime Minister in racist makeup have been uncovered, but we also need to reckon with the larger issue of systemic racism in Canada and in Canadian politics in particular. Can the first reckoning lead to the second? Or will we spend the next month pointing fingers? GUEST: Fatima Syed, National Observer
Sep 19, 2019
If Ontario decides the election, what decides Ontario?
At a glance, Ontario might seem like a Conservative stronghold. It's barely been a year since voters booted the provincial Liberals out of office in a wave. But a lot can change in a year. Today, our Lay of the Land series goes inside Canada's most populous province. Nobody can agree on how much impact Premier Doug Ford will have on Andrew Scheer's chances to win this province. But almost every poll points to the seat-rich suburbs of Toronto being the difference between victory and defeat for Scheer and Justin Trudeau. What do those ridings care most about? How do they see the first year of a provincial Conservative majority? And if a handful of ridings in that area are really going to decide the election, then which ones are they? And who are the candidates? GUEST: Fatima Syed, investigative reporter, National Observer
Sep 18, 2019
Why pedestrians keep dying on Toronto’s streets
The goal five years ago was zero. As of today, the number is six—as in six pedestrians, every day, injured or killed by a car. And the city is on pace to surpass last year's total of 41 deaths. Toronto's plan to protect its pedestrians is failing miserably, even though the same plan is working in major cities around the world. So what's wrong with Toronto? Is it our drivers? Our roads? Are our pedestrians more careless or prone to jaywalking? And what can city council do if it wants to get serious about keeping people safe on Toronto's streets? GUEST: Mark Pupo, Reader's Digest and Toronto Life
Sep 17, 2019
The issues you don’t hear about when politicians go North
Canada's federal leaders love to visit places like Nunavut. It's a good photo op. It's a chance to talk about Reconciliation and make promises to Inuit communities. You can easily make your climate point—either about the severity of the crisis or how badly a carbon tax would hurt. But what they don't often come up to talk about is the issues that really matter to the people who live here: Housing. Food. An incredibly unpopular airline merger. Today's episode of our Lay of the Land series takes us to Iqaluit, where most of us have no idea how much a house costs... GUEST: Kent Driscoll, APTN
Sep 16, 2019
How film describes our world, even when it’s bad
The Toronto International Film Festival wrapped this past weekend and it had a lot to show us. This year, it seemed like the films were all saying the same thing about our world: We're sick. We're tired. We're oppressed. But we haven't given up. All art, of course, is a reflection of the world that makes it. But what happens when the world that makes it is...kind of falling apart? Norm Wilner takes us on a journey through TIFF, and by extension, through the heart of the mess of the past two years. Where does our art come from? How does it find hope amidst the chaos? Where will it go in the years to come? GUEST: Norm Wilner, Someone Else's Movie, Now Magazine
Sep 13, 2019
A potentially fatal lung illness is paralyzing the vaping world
Nobody can figure out what's causing it, but hundreds of people are sick and six are dead. Most of them were young and healthy. The only thing they had in common was...vaping. That doesn't mean everyone who vapes is at risk. It could be a bad batch of black market product. But it does mean that there's a lot we don't know about a new way to consume tobacco that's becoming incredibly popular. So far, no cases have been reported in Canada. Or at least we haven't found them. But the American government is planning drastic action. So what is Health Canada doing? What do you need to know if someone you know vapes? And what happens to a young industry that's facing increasing public panic? GUEST: Carly Weeks, health reporter, The Globe and Mail
Sep 12, 2019
Canadian airline passengers will soon have rights. But will they be enforced?
Flying is one of the most stressful things humans subject themselves to. And flying with a screaming kid next to you is one of the worst things that can happen on a plane. There might be only one thing worse: A screaming kid...with no parents. Of the many horror stories of airline travel is this recent phenomenon: Parents being seated away from their children—and sometimes these kids are three or four—in another section of the aircraft. Or being told they have to pay for reserved seating to avoid the chance this will happen. It's this exact kind of you-have-no-option scenario that the Air Passenger Protection Regulations are supposed to prevent when phase two begins in December. But will these regulations be enforced? Or is the language halfhearted enough that nothing will get done, and flying in Canada will continue to be awful with a chance of disastrous? GUEST: Tamar Satov, Today's Parent
Sep 11, 2019
The election is on. A debate looms. Where’s the PM?
Today, Canada's 43rd general election officially begins! And tomorrow, you get to hear from the people who want to be your Prime Minister. Well, not all of them, actually. When the first leaders debate of the campaign begins tomorrow night, Justin Trudeau will not be on the stage. Why isn’t he there? Depends on who you ask. But it’s not the only debate the Prime Minister will miss. And that’s certainly a change from the last election. What's different? Well, there's a debate commission now, and there are "official" and "unofficial" debates. And Liberal strategies have changed, too. Winning will do that for you. But Trudeau's absence aside, what will this debate tell us about Oct. 21? Plenty... GUEST: Cormac Mac Sweeney, Parliament Hill reporter
Sep 10, 2019
Halifax after Dorian: Did the city dodge a bullet?
The last time a Category Two storm blew through Nova Scotia, eight people died. In the wake of Hurricane Dorian this weekend, east coasters were counting their blessings and cleaning up the mess. But none of that was guaranteed on Saturday afternoon, when evacuation warnings were issued and residents were wondering if they should flee. And that Saturday, a local radio host was sitting down in his chair for what he thought would be a few hours on the air. It was a lot longer than that... GUEST: Sheldon MacLeod, News 95.7, Halifax
Sep 9, 2019
Is Canada headed for a recession?
The word has a clinical definition, but inspires an emotional reaction. And here's the thing: Reacting can make it worse. So you need to stay calm. There are troubling signs in the global economy, and Canadians are carrying a ton of household debt. And that's not a good mix. But what has to happen to push us over the edge and into a recession? And how should you be preparing in case it does? GUEST: Daniel Tencer, business editor, HuffPost Canada
Sep 6, 2019
Is the NDP collapsing just as election season begins?
Philippe J. Fournier sees a lot of polls. Actually, he sees all of the polls. And there aren't many good ones for Jagmeet Singh and the New Democrats these days. Is the NDP's fall severe enough to pose a threat to their party status? What's happened to the party that formed the official opposition not that long ago? We also discuss everything Fournier's models say about the state of the race before the writ drops: Does it matter if the Liberals get completely wiped out in the prairies? Did the revival of the SNC-Lavalin scandal move the needle? In a model that consistently predicts a minority government, who stands to hold the balance of power? And will Philippe get any sleep between now and November? GUEST: Philippe J. Fournier, 338Canada.com, Macleans.ca
Sep 5, 2019
Did Jay-Z sell out to the NFL? Or infiltrate the old boys club?
The superstar rapper used to scorn the league. At concerts, in interviews and on his records. But in August, all that changed. The superstar and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced a massive partnership that would see Jay-Z's Roc Nation lend its name and influence to the league's entertainment programming, and the NFL take its cue from the rapper on issues of social justice. The backlash was intense. From fans, players and the media alike. Jay-Z had aligned himself with Colin Kaepernick in his collusion case against the NFL. He'd worn the quarterback's jersey and spoken out about his treatment at the hands of owners. All of a sudden, Jay-Z said, we were "past that". So...why? Did money speak louder than his conscience, or is there a longer game being played here? The NFL kicks off its 100th season tonight. It's never had a black majority owner. What would change if, say, a rapper from Brooklyn could break that door down? GUEST: Donnovan Bennett, Sportsnet
Sep 4, 2019
What happens to kids’ brains when they don’t learn handwriting?
Handwriting isn't taught much anymore. That's bad for our minds in ways we are only now starting to realize. The practice was phased out of most curriculums because so few of us use it in everyday life, and to make room for more digital literacy skills—which we believe are crucial for kids to learn as young as possible. But new research is starting to show us the real purpose of handwriting—and it has to do with the way our brains process tasks. It turns out that annoying, painful cursive practice is what allows us to make the physical part of writing automatic and free our mind to concentrate on the meaning of what we're putting on the page. So what happens to us when we've no longer got that skill? GUEST: Hetty Roessingh, Professor at the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary
Sep 3, 2019
BONUS: Bianca Andreescu can’t stop winning
Back in March, we told you the story of a Canadian teenager who was making some waves in the tennis scene. If you weren't a tennis fan—or a sports fan—you might have skipped that episode. But since then something's happened. Or more accurately, something hasn't happen: Andreescu hasn't lost a completed match since early March. She won her first title two days after we recorded this episode, then missed nine weeks with a shoulder injury and is undefeated since her return, taking home the Rogers Cup title in Toronto in the process. Now that she's through to the quarter-finals of the US Open in New York, we thought we'd give you a chance to catch up if you haven't already—and meet the new face of Canadian sporting dominance. GUEST: Kaitlyn McGrath, The Athletic Toronto
Sep 3, 2019
Our world has never been more convenient. What is that doing to us?
You can order anything, literally anything, with the press of a button. If you don't ever want to leave your house, you don't have to. There's an entire industry, worth tens of billions of dollars, that sells you nothing but your own time. Is that a good thing? Studies show we're more lonely then we've ever been. Our attention spans are shorter. We have fewer friends. We don't connect, face-to-face, with the people in our community. Part of that is because we simply don't have to. Do we need to change our behaviour, or will we adapt to the new human reality? Can things be too convenient? GUEST: Gayle MacDonald, The Globe and Mail
Aug 30, 2019
This is what happens when a whistle-blower gets it wrong
It's called The Misfire Report, and it details an investigation into seven contract researchers in British Columbia's health ministry. Seven researchers were suspended or terminated as a result, and one of those researchers took his own life. But the researchers weren't guilty of anything. There should never have been an investigation—or, if there had to be one, nobody should ever have lost their job, never mind their life, as a result. So how did this go so badly wrong? And what can we learn about what happened as a result? GUEST: Kerry Gold, reporter (Read Kerry's story in The Walrus right here.)
Aug 29, 2019
Email is ruining our vacations. What are we going to do about it?
How many unread emails do you have? And how does that make you feel? Whether you're an email infinity person, or an inbox zero person, we all just want control over our email inboxes. But when you go on vacation, that control gets a little harder to attain. So what do you do? Do you quickly skim your inbox for the important ones when you get back? Do you go through all of them in detail while you're away? Or do you just delete them all without even looking? Whichever one you choose, the fact remains; your email is getting in the way of your vacation. When did the reaction to email notifications go from eagerness to read what someone wrote you, to anxiety propelled by dozens of ringing tones? And what is it doing to us? GUEST: Marina Koren, staff writer at The Atlantic
Aug 28, 2019
What is happening to Tim Hortons?
Tim Hortons has been the most Canadian coffee shop for so long, it's not a stretch to call it part of our national identity. They had done such a good job of positioning themselves as the "average Canadian" coffee and donut shop, people who never went there sometimes even felt a little guilty about that decision. But then came the chilli, and the chicken strips, and the artisan-style grilled cheese. Now Tim Hortons is opening their very own innovation cafe– and it's unlike any Tim Hortons you've ever been to. So what, exactly, is the plan here? Why has the company spent so much time recently focusing on offering things that aren't their core products? What has become of the Tim Hortons that was mythologized in so many commercials between hockey games? GUEST: Corey Mintz, food reporter
Aug 27, 2019
Death in the Digital Age: How to protect your digital assets
In a world where almost everything is done online, and passwords protect all of our accounts, the person left to execute your will has a tougher job than ever before. Not only are they left with the responsibility of managing everything you own, but they also have to get through a wall of passwords to do it. So, how do we start managing our digital assets? How can we make it easier for the people we love after we're gone? And how do we talk about it? GUEST: Sharon Hartung, author of Your Digital Undertaker: Exploring Death in the Digital Age in Canada
Aug 26, 2019
Will the Liberals even win a seat in Alberta this time?
Alberta's disdain for Trudeaus runs pretty deep. In part two of our Lay of the Land series, we visit the Tory stronghold and examine the electoral landscape. The province wasn't a total loss for Trudeau and his Liberals in 2015, but they could easily be completely shut out here this fall. What's at the root of Alberta's anger at the federal government? How much of that is their fault? And if Andrew Scheer can't knock off a few Liberals in the suburbs this time, what does that say about the national vote? GUEST: Jason Markusoff, Alberta correspondent for Maclean's.
Aug 23, 2019
How Carson Crimeni died while his “friends” watched
Carson was 14. He was hanging out with older teens and they gave him a fatal dose of MDMA. He was found later that night. By that point, videos of him in the throes of an overdose had been circulated on social media. We know that at least a dozen people, probably hundreds of people, watched Carson Crimeni while he was dying and did nothing. What happens to a community when one child is dead, and everyone knows that 10 other kids watched it happen, but nobody’s certain exactly who they are? How the hell do you navigate that—while you’re waiting to see what the police do next? GUEST: Nancy MacDonald, The Globe and Mail
Aug 22, 2019
HIV in 2019: Who we’ve left behind
HIV may not be as prominent in North American media as it was 30 years ago, but people still live with it. It still has no cure, and still plenty of stigma. While it is true that the advancements in HIV treatments help make the infection easier to live with, it's dangerous to use that as an excuse to ignore the very real needs of those affected. What are the struggles that people with HIV face every single day? What can be done to help? And in the 30+ year shift in our discussion around HIV/Aids, who have we left behind? Today's discussion is mostly about women living with HIV. It's about the different realities they face, the extra barriers they have to get around, and the importance of having spaces where they can feel a sense of community. Guests: Eno Akan-Essien, women's community development coordinator for WHAI Molly Bannerman, director of WHAI
Aug 21, 2019
Infiltrating The Base: Inside a terror network right here in Canada
They call themselves The Base. They are white supremacists who don't think the alt-right goes far enough. And they recently began looking for new members in Winnipeg. This isn't a group planning protests and marches. They are actively planning to start a violent race war. So when posters went up in Winnipeg looking for new would-be terrorists, Winnipeg Free Press reporter Ryan Thorpe went undercover. Over the course of a month, he went through the vetting process, convinced the group he was legit, and met with their man in Winnipeg in person. That man was a member of the Canadian Army Reserves. He was allegedly taken into custody this week, after Thorpe's investigation was published. This is what it's like to infiltrate a terrorist organization in your own backyard. GUEST: Ryan Thorpe, Winnipeg Free Press (Read Ryan's feature report, Homegrown Hate, right here.)
Aug 20, 2019
Is Abdilahi Elmi’s deportation a failure by the Canadian government?
Unless something happens, 34-year-old Abdilahi Elmi will be deported next week. He'll be sent to Somalia, where he hasn't lived since he was 10 years old, and where he doesn't know the language or culture. He's being sent to a town that suffered a devastating terror attack just last month. Elmi is being deported because he's not a Canadian citizen. He's not a citizen because at the time he needed to apply for citizenship, he was in the care of child welfare services. And they didn't apply on his behalf. Elmi is not the first refugee to find himself in this predicament, and unless a change is made, he won't be the last. How do kids fall through the cracks, and turn into adults whose lack of citizenship means that they are punished twice for any criminal case—once by the law and once by a system that should have helped them decades ago? GUEST: Robyn Maynard, research, activist, author of Policing Black Lives
Aug 19, 2019
Manitoba is voting in an election. And then in another one.
On the second-to-last day possible, Manitoba's government called an election one year early. So in September, the provincial Progressive Conservatives will try to secure another mandate—and then six weeks later their federal counterparts will try to turn the province all blue. Today's episode is part one of our Lay of the Land project. In the weeks leading up to the federal election, we'll dive into the issues impacting voters in every province and territory, examine how their votes will be won or lost, and what the state of play in their province can tell us now about what to expect when the country goes to the polls. GUEST: Kristin Annable, CBC Manitoba
Aug 16, 2019
Microplastics are everywhere. Even in the air you breathe.
You know all those cool tiny parts that make up the universe? The invisible particles and micro-organisms and molecules that we can’t see, but play that their own crucial parts in keeping the world in harmony? Well, microplastics are just like them. Except they’re plastic, we made them and they don't help keep anything in harmony. So what are they and where can they be found? How can we try to filter them out? What do they to do people and animals? And just how much of them are we eating, or drinking, or even breathing right now? GUEST: Rachel Chen (Read Rachel's guide to microplastics at Chatelaine.com)
Aug 15, 2019
After a month of bullets, the Prime Minister came to town…
Stop us if you've heard this one before: The gun violence epidemic in Toronto is out of control. Yes, it seems like we do this every year, and perhaps that's because the underlying issues are never given the deep attention and support from government that they deserve. But this week, after a prolonged spike in the number of shootings, Justin Trudeau came to speak with mayor John Tory. And Police Chief Mark Saunders held a press conference the following day. So what's being done? Will the federal government support meaningful gun restrictions, or offer funding for communities that badly need investment? Or will they toss some money at the problem, make a few digs at the conservatives and promise that a plan is coming? You know, sometime soon? This is, after all, an election year... GUEST: Cynthia Mulligan, CityNews
Aug 14, 2019
What’s it like to grow up in a town with only seven kids?
This is a story about the students who attend Basque Memorial, a kindergarten to grade 12 school in a tiny little place called Red Bay, Labrador. All seven of them. They are the only kids in town. There's not enough of them to field a baseball team. But there's a school with nearly a full classroom each. The town of Red Bay, meanwhile, is small, and shrinking. Although this story might be on the more extreme edges of the struggle communities in Newfoundland and Labrador are facing, it is by no means unique in its challenges. So what's it like to grow up in a town with fewer than 10 kids? And at what point does a town's shrinking population become unsustainable? GUEST: Katie Daubs, Reporter, The Star
Aug 13, 2019
What do you do when you see a murder on the internet?
Two weeks ago, four people were dead in a Markham, Ontario home. Before the police had seen the bodies, another group of people had. The alleged killer shared a potential confession as well as graphic evidence of the crimes with some acquaintances he'd made while playing an online video game. So around the world, while police had no knowledge of what was transpiring, this group of gamers was facing an impossible dilemma. First, how did they even know this was real? Second, where was it happening? If this really was a multiple murder, who should they call? In the wake of mass shootings that have been live streamed by killers over the internet, these are terrible questions that need answers. If you know a horrible crime is happening in real life, right now, but you've only seen it on the internet...what should you do? This is the story of how one group tried to answer that question. GUEST: Wendy Gillis, The Toronto Star
Aug 12, 2019
Should orcas have the same rights as people?
There are now 73 southern native killer whales left in the world. Three more died last week. There are now so few of them, we know them by family, and by name. When a mother carried her dead calf with her as she swam for 17 days last year, the world felt her pain and mourned with her as though she was a person. So...what if she was? One of the proposals to help this vanishing species involves legally granting them 'personhood', which would convey upon them the same rights people have to live without fear from other humans. It seems insane, except it's been done before. It seems unwieldy and unworkable...and it very well might be. And it would need buy-in from a couple of levels of government. So will it happen? It's very possible, and if it does the Trans Mountain pipeline might face another huge obstacle—"people's" lives might be at risk. GUEST: Lyndsie Bourgon, The Walrus
Aug 9, 2019
End of a manhunt: What we know. And what we might never know.
This story spanned nearly a month and crossed thousands of kilometres of Canada's wildest North. It began as a search for two missing young men. It ended with the discovery of the bodies of those same men, who were now wanted for murder. Some facts of the case we know already, and more will emerge in the coming days. But since everyone directly involved is dead, and the crimes occurred in remote locations far from witnesses, there are other things we'll never find out. And if we never have all the facts, everyone will imagine their own. It's not pretty but that's how these things work. And why nobody will ever forget this case. GUEST: Lasia Kretzel, reporter, News 1130 Vancouver
Aug 8, 2019
Canada’s Best Community is…
We'll reveal what the raw numbers say in this episode. But here's the important thing: If you crunch all the stats—like, ALL the stats—you end up with an interesting place from which to start a discussion about what we value about where we live. Is affordability more important to you than recreation or health care? Do you value good weather more than lower taxes? Do you need to be somewhere with a booming economy, or are you fine telecommuting? And then there are the big things that can impact how our community works for us. Do you have kids? Are you retirement age? Do you plan to ever own your own home? Are you a new immigrant? The way we each determine what makes an area the best community for us might be subjective—but if you gather the numbers that can answer all your questions, you'll have a good sense of where in Canada you might feel most at home. And our guest today did exactly that. You can take a look at the full rankings, and even weight factors to create your own l…
Aug 7, 2019
You’ve been hacked. Yes, you. So what now?
If you spend basically any time online, someone's stolen your data at some point. Probably many times over. So rather than react with fear to blazing headlines on how many millions of accounts were compromised, how can we better understand and prevent the consequences of data breaches like last week's Capital One hack? What kinds of protections can provide additional security, without requiring unnecessary time and effort to maintain? What do most people get wrong in the wake of the latest hack? And what actually happens to your data when it's pilfered, anyway? This is the episode for anyone who's tired of not understanding the nuance behind the 'HACKING' headlines. GUEST: Matthew Braga, project manager of the Security Planner tool at the University of Toronto's CitizenLab
Aug 6, 2019
The Little Canadian Town That Could (Go Carbon Neutral)
Sometime very soon, Eden Mills, Ontario, will become Canada's first carbon-neutral community. How did it happen? You might be surprised. It wasn't with millions in carbon taxes. Or through government intervention. It didn't come from a billionaire's sweetheart investment. It's not a PR stunt. One citizen saw communities overseas who had proven it was possible. He came back home and started enlisting his neighbours. And the idea spread. Small things became bigger things. Everyone started to get excited, and everyone wanted to play a role. That's it. That's how it happened. Now...how does it happen elsewhere? GUEST: Alireza Naraghi, Maclean's (Read his story from Eden Mills, right here)
Aug 2, 2019
Who is cottage country really for?
It’s considered a quintessentially Canadian tradition: Pack up the car with too much food, load up on bug spray, throw a canoe on the roof rack and sit in bumper to bumper traffic until…sigh, you can finally exhale on the dock at the cottage. But look around at those faces stuck in traffic, or in the boats whizzing by on the lake, and those faces are very likely to be white. Is the tradition of going to the cottage really a Canadian experience reflective of this country in 2019? How does the idea of relaxing on a piece of land in the wilderness sit with us at a time when racism and colonization is being discussed more and more, and housing prices are through the roof? Toronto writer Elamin Abdelmahmoud unpacked all of this in an article for Cottage Life. He joins us on The Big Story today, just in time for the long weekend. Guest: Elamin Abdelmahmoud, writer, editor, Buzzfeed
Aug 1, 2019
How a Toronto ob-gyn gamed the system and put his patients’ lives at risk
For years, Dr. Paul Shuen was a highly-respected obstetrician and gynaecological oncologist at Toronto’s North York General Hospital. He delivered more babies than a lot of his peers and enjoyed accolades from others in the cushy world of Toronto medicine. But then a pair of nurses discovered he had been secretly inducing labour in his patients so that they would deliver on his schedule — one that would involve him going home with more money per birth. It resulted in him losing his license…a departure that was wrapped up as a retirement from an esteemed career, despite the finding that he had put his patients’ lives at risk. Michael Lista and his editors at Toronto Life had to fight for access to evidence heard against Dr. Shuen in his disciplinary hearings, in order to reveal this doctor’s misdeeds in a stunning piece of investigative journalism. Guest: Michael Lista, contributing editor, Toronto Life. You can read his piece on Dr. Shuen here. (Note: There are some graphic…
Jul 31, 2019
What does “middle class” really mean, anyway?
Are you a part of the Canadian middle class? At times, that term can feel like it’s just part of a politician’s flashy sloganeering, designed to get more votes. But the fact is, we aren’t super great at talking about class in Canada, so it isn’t any surprise we don’t have a strong sense of what it means or how to identify with it. According to University of Western Ontario sociologist Wolfgang Lehmann, who has studied cohorts of students who were first in their families to graduate from university, it might even be dangerous to lump everyone into this homogenous idea of “middle class,” when there is actually a working class, too, just as there is also that lofty “1 percent.” He should know — Lehmann grew up working class himself. So did Maclean’s writer Shannon Proudfoot, who joins us to talk about the nuances of class identity in Canada today. Guest: Shannon Proudfoot, writer, Maclean’s
Jul 30, 2019
Will any of the federal party leaders give us something to believe in?
You know how important it is to exercise your right to vote. You want to get out there on election day and pick a leader that will make a real difference. But what if none of the candidates really speak to the issues that matter to you? What if all of them are just a bit... underwhelming? If that's how you feel about the three major party leaders in the upcoming federal election, you're not alone. Journalist Justin Ling explains how Justin Trudeau, Andrew Scheer, and Jagmeet Singh each fall short of delivering concrete solutions to the problems affecting Canadians today, and what they need to do to make it right. For starters, he says, talk to us like adults. Guest: Justin Ling, reporter/podcaster, host of OPPO
Jul 29, 2019
Country music has a woman problem
When you think of the great women of country music, names like Shania, Loretta, and Dolly probably come to mind. But turn on any country music radio station today, and you'll no doubt notice men getting way more airtime than women. A new report by Dr. Jada Watson (done in consultation with WOMAN Nashville) finds that from the start of the millennium to the year 2018, representation of women on country radio dropped roughly 20 per cent. Why is this? And what impact is it having on female artists? On the industry as a whole? Country music fan Sarah Boesveld guest hosts this week of The Big Story. She spoke with Dr. Watson about how deep this issue runs, what's being done, and what more can be done to close the gender gap. Guest: Dr. Jada Watson, SongData Project Guest host: Sarah Boesveld
Jul 26, 2019
Mosquitoes will kill us all one day. Probably.
Does it feel like the mosquitoes are worse this year? Do they bite more frequently? Are they lingering much longer than usual? None of that is good. But it's not the worse-case scenario. In Canada, at least for now, mosquitoes are a bloody nuisance. Over the scope of human history around the world, however, they're merciless spreaders of fatal diseases. And as Canada warms, those mosquitoes come closer. So yeah, it's not exactly hyperbole. If there's one creature most likely to devastate a human population, it's that little jerk buzzing around your bedroom. GUEST: Dr. David Fisman, epidemiologist, Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Jul 25, 2019
If we can’t take the heat, how can we adapt to the kitchen?
This isn't an episode about fixing climate change. It's a story about how to live with what's happening. It doesn't matter if you disagree over why we're seeing more heat waves, higher average temperatures, and melting permafrost—it matters what we're going to do about it. So how do humans learn to live in a hotter world? There is a surprising number of simple things that both individuals and governments can do that can turn "unbearable and dangerous" into "uncomfortable but hopefully safe". Will we do them? Or will we spend the next few months arguing about a Carbon Tax while elderly and vulnerable people die in sweltering apartments with no air conditioning? GUEST: Dr. Blair Feltmate, Head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, University of Waterloo
Jul 24, 2019
We’ve been to the moon. It was great. What’s next?
The 50th anniversary of the moon landing has rekindled some of our collective wonder at putting actual human bodies on solid footing in space—but will that translate into action once the nostalgia fades? And if it does, what should our goal be? The moon? Mars? Beyond? What’s next? There's something about putting real people in space that robots can't replace—even if for many missions they are far more effective. But without a Cold War to push a frantic space race, what will drive humanity's next ambitious adventure? GUEST: Michael Wall, senior writer, Space.com; Author of Out There
Jul 23, 2019
Inside CAFE: The illegal pot dispensary police can’t shut down
To be fair, they do force it closed. But then it reopens. Sometimes the very same day. So why, nine months after legalization, can police and the City of Toronto not manage to keep CAFE's dispensary doors shut? And why is it worth the monumental hassle on the part of the owners to keep reopening in the face of locks and bars and fines and threats? The latest salvo occurred over the past week. Police brought in gigantic 4,000-pound cement blocks and stacked them in front of the entrances and exits of the stores. CAFE found machinery and removed them in the dead of night. Police brought them back and barred the doors. CAFE staffers started selling pot directly on the street. Why is the black market still alive and thriving almost a year after pot became legal? What are we getting wrong? GUEST: Adrian Ghobrial, CityNews Toronto
Jul 22, 2019
Would you live in the City of the Future?
How much of your privacy are you prepared to trade for ease and convenience? And before you answer this, take a look at the fine print of all the apps you've downloaded recently. But what about in the real world? In your physical space? This is the debate around Toronto's Sidewalk Labs proposal, which would see a new 'smart' community built along the Waterfront. There are hundreds of benefits to using data to build a more efficient city. And hundreds of downsides to collecting it from citizens as they go about their daily lives. So how will this debate unfold? Will part of Toronto become 'smart'? And why is the corporation that wants the data also proposing allowing other organizations to access it? GUEST: John Lorinc, senior editor, Spacing Toronto; 2019-20 Atkinson Fellow (focusing on Smart Cities, data and privacy)
Jul 19, 2019
Why impaired boating includes basically everything now
Ever enjoyed a beer while lounging on a inflatable mattress in a lake? What about while fishing in a rowboat? Chilling on a paddle board? Count yourself lucky you didn't run across a police officer in a bad mood. You could have lost your driver's licence, or worse. A conviction in late June that stemmed from the tragic death of a child laid bare the problem with Canada's current approach to impaired boating. With no clear definition of a "vessel" anything used to float in a waterway could potentially qualify, and lead to serious charges under laws that are meant to punish drunk drivers. How did we end up in this situation? Just how far could police go if they really want to punish someone caught with a beer in a kayak? What do we do about well-meaning rulings that set bad precedent? GUEST: Brian Platt, reporter, National Post
Jul 18, 2019
Why nobody wants to call it ‘stalking’…
A young woman was murdered this week, in gruesome fashion, by a man she met online. A police spokesperson said that the label of "stalking" didn't apply because "She met with him willingly." Meanwhile, thousands of women online were sharing the stories of their stalkers for the first time...and many of them originally met with them willingly. The past two years have seen us confront sexual assault and harassment face on, in a way we have not in the past. But stalking has been a missing part of that conversation. Why is that? How well do victims understand their rights when someone stalks them? How do police respond when it's reported? How can we recognize when behaviour that began in a manner that seemed innocent is crossing the line? GUEST: Julie Lalonde, activist and educator, OutsideoftheShadows.ca
Jul 17, 2019
How modern parenting became an insane competition. And how we can stop it.
Even if you don't have kids, you've seen competitive parenting. It's on your Instagram or Facebook account every single day. My kid can sit up! Mine uses a spoon! Mine can do a perfect backstroke! It's exhausting, but this is what parenting in the age of social media has come to for a lot of parents—even those, like today's guest (and your host), who swore it would never happen to them. How does this cycle of competition begin? What do doctors have to say about it? How can parents let go? And why are "milestones" even a thing? GUEST: Sarah Boesveld, Chatelaine (and occasional guest host of The Big Story)
Jul 16, 2019
Election 2019: 100 days out, what do we know?
Elections take forever, and then they sneak up on you. There are fewer than 100 days until Canada votes on Oct. 21, and the polls show a near tie between the Liberals and Conservatives. Those same polls predicted a firm Liberal second term in 2018, and had the Conservatives near a majority earlier this year. So what do we actually know about this coming campaign? Where do we stand, and what happens next? What role will climate change play? Do people still care about the SNC-Lavalin scandal? And did Jagmeet Singh already blow his chance to make a dent? GUEST: John Geddes, Ottawa Bureau Chief, Maclean's
Jul 15, 2019
How the rise of Beyond Meat could revitalize the prairies
It's become the brand synonymous with imitation meat. It seems to arrive in a new chain every day. And the process by which it is made offers Canada a huge opportunity. Why has Beyond Meat stomped on the competition? What makes it different from other meat substitutes? How does the substance come together? And why is the key to what could be a multi-billion-dollar industry a simple yellow pea that's grown on the prairies? GUEST: Jake Edmiston, Financial Post
Jul 12, 2019
How everyone got played by an anti-abortion movie
Unplanned opens in Canada this weekend. It's a movie that's not worth talking about...yet everyone is anyway. Why? Using controversy and the spectre of censorship to sell a piece of media goes back decades. But in recent years, it's a strategy that's been perfected by a certain kind of evangelical film or book. There's a firm playbook for it, and even though everyone from protesters to activists to entertainment companies and the media should know better by now, it still works. How do we give the anti-abortion movement the critical attention it deserves without playing into the hands of people monetizing outrage? (Perhaps by giving up and talking about the Lion King remake instead? We'll do that, too. Our guest has already seen it.) GUEST: Norm Wilner, host of Someone Else's Movie, senior film writer at NOW Toronto
Jul 11, 2019
What does the world look like after we solve climate change?
It's dramatically different, but not in the ways you've likely been told. And that's the real problem. The technologies that can help us reach a zero-carbon world exist, and they're getting cheaper every day. Fossil fuel dependence is vanishing quickly, too. If you examine how far we've come in just five years, it's clear we have the ability to solve this problem, and we can do so in a way that doesn't require massive changes to the way we live. So why isn't that message being shouted from the rooftops? Why aren't the road maps being implemented? If solving climate change is within our grasp right now...why are so many people acting like it's already too late? GUEST: Alanna Mitchell, science journalist, Maclean's
Jul 10, 2019
A Canadian lobbying firm is meddling in Sudan’s revolution
It's will of the people against a military regime. A military regime that is, apparently, getting six million dollars worth of help from a Canadian lobbying firm. Canadians have watched for months the scenes from pro-democracy protests across the world in Sudan. They are inspiring, sometimes terrifying, and above all they are courageous. But the Canadian link to this revolution is not a positive one, and it may be breaking sanctions. So why is a Montreal-based firm offering to help polish the image of, and facilitate military deals for, a regime that has seen hundreds of protesters massacred? What kind of regulations and laws govern this kind of contract? How unusual is this kind of deal? And what comes next? GUEST: Geoffrey York, Africa Bureau Chief for The Globe and Mail
Jul 9, 2019
How Roxodus nearly became Canada’s own Fyre Festival
It was going to be the biggest classic rock festival this country had ever seen. It was supposed to happen this weekend. And it died just 10 days before opening night. Now the OPP is involved and fans and vendors alike are left in the dark. This is the story of what happened to Roxodus. The lineup featured everyone from Aerosmith to Blondie to Kid Rock and Nickelback and Lynyrd Skynyrd. It was to take place at the Edenvale Airport, in a tiny Ontario community north of Toronto. The organizers initially claimed rainfall was to blame for the cancellation, but that story quickly fell apart. So what was going on in the weeks leading up to the sudden cancellation? What happened to the money? What will the OPP investigation discover? And given what we know now about organization and logistics—are would-be concertgoers lucky that this festival never actually happened? GUEST: Shawn Gibson, Barrie Today
Jul 8, 2019
It’s A Teenage Vape Land
The numbers are shocking. Among teens, the use of vape products has nearly doubled in the year since the products became legal. We don't officially know why...but you might find some clues in big, flashy, poster-sized pictures in the window of your favourite convenience store. What do we know about vaping's appeal to young people? About its long-term effects? About the link between e-cigarettes and traditional smoking rates? When schools are removing the doors to bathrooms to try to stop kids from huffing vapour in there like yesterday's kids used to inhale smoke, it's clear something worth investigating is happening here. GUEST: Carly Weeks, health reporter, The Globe and Mail
Jul 5, 2019
How a Canadian Trump cartoon shook the continent
You've seen Michael de Adder's viral cartoon by now. It features Donald Trump callously playing golf past the bodies of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter Valeria—the migrant and his daughter who drowned trying to reach America. The drawing caught fire everywhere it was seen, whipped social media into a frenzy and allegedly cost de Adder a freelance gig at an East Coast publishing house. Why do editorial cartoons still feel so vital in the age of memes? If they are, why are the numbers of employed editorial cartoonists dwindling? What makes a cartoon like de Adder's so wrenching and ruthless? And how do massive media conglomerates with delicate political sensibilities weigh them when considering what to publish...and what to hold back? GUEST: Sue Dewar, editorial cartoonist, Postmedia
Jul 4, 2019
“Playing footsies with white supremacists”: The story of a councillor’s Facebook post
When a Barrie, Ontario city councillor wrote a long post criticizing two local MPs for "playing footsies with white supremacists" he might have been expecting some pushback. But nobody thought it would end in two defamation suits, an official reprimand and a long and passionate council meeting. Keenan Aylwin's story is one that's probably going to happen elsewhere as election rhetoric heats up. With white supremacists becoming increasingly unafraid to voice their opinions in public, what duty do politicians have to disavow their support? And if they don't, what can those politicians' opponents do about it? GUEST: Fatima Syed, National Observer
Jul 3, 2019
When the Queen dies, what happens next?
One day, sometime soon, the world will stop. The bells will ring and Buckingham Palace will make an announcement that hasn't been made in almost 70 years: The Queen is Dead. And what happens then? There is already a strict protocol, rehearsed in the dead of night, for the hours and days following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. But beyond the royal family itself, the world will be shifting in many ways, with Commonwealth countries like Canada perhaps leading the way. Will calls for the abolishment of the monarchy gather renewed support? Will Canada write the Crown out of so many of its little-known-but-crucial processes? The monarchy and the world have changed so much since the last time it had a new royal at its head, and one day sometime soon the world will have to reconcile those two realities. GUEST: Patricia Treble, Maclean's and WriteRoyalty.com
Jul 2, 2019
Feral Pigs are taking over the prairies
It started with a few escaped imported pigs, decades ago. Now the animals are considered an invasive species, with no natural predators and they're reproducing at an alarming rate. Alberta got a handle on its rat problem by acting quickly and decisively. Is it too late to do that here? What dangers does the rapid spread of these pigs pose? And if total eradication is the only solution... Is that even possible? Oh and: What's the Judas Pig solution? GUEST: Jason Markusoff, Maclean's
Jun 28, 2019
Selfie culture is harming Canada’s parks
When you get back to nature this weekend, and stop for a pic for Instagram, take note of how many people around you are doing the same thing. Workers at Canada's parks have definitely noticed. It's not the pictures that are the problem. It's the litter and the crowds and--for some of Canada's best little spots--the location data. GUEST: Joel Barde, The Walrus
Jun 27, 2019
Could Toronto’s fight against Ontario lead to independence?
Becoming a Charter City is not the same thing as seceding from Ontario. But it's close: A legislative move that would give the city far more control of its own governance and finances. A community meeting about the possibility last week packed a large church to the bursting point and drew standing ovations for councillors vowing to take the fight to Premier Doug Ford. The barriers to this move are significant: Cities in Canada have almost no power, and it's hard to imagine Ford agreeing to give Toronto its independence. But what about the next government? What if this becomes an election issue, as the group behind the movement is aiming for? And in the meantime, how do cities with no power fight back against their provincial overlords? GUEST: Jennifer Pagliaro, City Hall reporter, Toronto Star
Jun 26, 2019
Why kindness is our best hope to save the world
If you watch, or read, or listen to the news...you’re probably afraid at least some of the time. And angry the rest of it. So how do we react to that? A lot of us shut down. But that won’t fix anything. What might fix things though, is all of us caring more, and letting that empathy lead us towards action. And that is not a naive optimist's dream of a better world—it's a fact backed by both reams of research and a growing political movement that spans the globe. There's a bottom-line case for choosing compassion over cruelty, and the challenge of our time is convincing the people in power that empathy is in their best interests. GUEST: Anne Kingston, Maclean's
Jun 25, 2019
The Big Story Uncut: One Year of This Already?
When we launched this podcast, we didn't know if we'd last a month. Now it's been a year of big stories and we're still here. So what were the best stories of our first year? The ones you listened to the most? The topics we covered most frequently? Our favourite guests? Toughest discussions? All of that is on the table, as we sit down to celebrate our unlikely success. This is a thank you episode, because this podcast would not exist without the people who listen to it, send us story ideas and tell us when we're awful (or not). GUESTS: Jordan Heath-Rawlings (host) and Claire Brassard (producer). Don't blame us, we asked you and you told us this was what you wanted.
Jun 24, 2019
It took a while, but the Conservatives have a climate plan
But...is it any good? We at the Big Story podcast are not equipped to assess a document dense with scientific jargon, but we know a noted Canadian climate scientist who absolutely is. So how does the Conservative plan stack up with the approach and promises made by the other three major parties? Will any of them do enough to meet targets that would make a meaningful difference? How can the average voter parse these kinds of things, which are so chock full of data and buzzwords that they seem designed to be impenetrable? And if we don't like what we see, how can we approach our politicians in a way that might actually get through to them that many people plan to vote on this issue? GUEST: Katharine Hayhoe, climate scientist and professor at Texas Tech university
Jun 21, 2019
Pride is corporate now. Is it too corporate?
It began as a fight—for space, for rights, for life. Now it's a party. A really great, life-affirming party. With lots of sponsors. But has Pride in major cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver become too divorced from its roots? It's a loaded question for many in the LGBTQ2 community. There may not be a right answer. What makes sponsorship of a Pride event attractive to companies, and how can they do it right? How can organizers walk the line between securing the funding needed to have a fantastic, safe event, and representing the spirit in which Pride was born? And who is working in the community to take Pride back to its original message? GUEST: Rachel Giese, editorial director, Xtra
Jun 20, 2019
Sharks with very sharp tweets
They crack jokes, they check one another out, they challenge stereotypes and they offer their followers a glimpse inside their everyday lives. At least as far inside as the data gleaned from their tags and published on social media can take us. The heart of Ocearch's approach to conservation and research is to raise awareness and make people feel a connection to the creatures they're studying and protecting—hence, sharks with Twitter accounts. But the strategy goes much deeper than that and has sparked controversy both inside the scientific community and in some of the places, including Nova Scotia, where it conducts its research. How did the company morph from an entertainment house making a reality TV show to a data-centric science organization? And can other organizations looking to inspire passion in their supporters learn anything from its approach? GUEST: Chelsea Murray, The Walrus, co-founder of The Deep
Jun 19, 2019
Pharmacare is on the table. Will anyone make it happen?
It's the missing piece of Canada's health-care puzzle. Most actual "care" in this country is covered and never refused, but millions of people still struggle to afford the medicines they're prescribed. A long-awaited set of recommendations suggests Canada fix that by adopting a national, single-payer pharmacare plan. But that's easier said than done... What would it take to get prescription drugs covered in this country? How much would it cost? What kind of difference would the average Canadian see? And given that these recommendations come months before an election that seems destined to be about affordability, where do Canada's political parties stand on pharmacare? GUEST: Cormac Mac Sweeney, parliament hill reporter
Jun 18, 2019
Stalkerware: When a phone becomes a tool of abuse
As partner abuse goes digital, a watchdog group is warning Canadians how easy it can be for an abusive spouse to install Stalkerware on a victim's phone. Much of it is specifically marketed and sold to help people surveil their partner's without consent. And CitizenLab's new report urges police and the courts to figure out a plan to prosecute for it. So what is it, exactly? How does Stalkerware end up on a phone, and how can you tell if there's any on your device? What legal options do victims have? And what's at the root of the problem that lets new technology be turned into a weapon of domestic violence? GUEST: Kate Robertson, research fellow at CitizenLab, criminal lawyer
Jun 17, 2019
On Vancouver Island, trees are vanishing…
Timber Poaching is exactly what it sounds like: People entering public forests, chopping down trees and carting them off. It's not an easy way to make a buck, and it's not legal either, but some people are desperate. What's driving the spike in poaching of Vancouver Island's forests? How does the changing makeup of the island contribute to it? How awful a crime is it, really, to take a single tree from a forest full of them? And also, how exactly is it done? GUEST: Lyndsie Bourgon, The Atlantic
Jun 14, 2019
How it Began: The Kawhi Leonard Trade Revisited
The Raptors are champions! And it began last July 18, when General Manager Masai Ujiri traded his team's most beloved player. Some fans were angry. Some Raptors were angry. But Ujiri was unrepentant. The day the trade became official, we talked to Michael Grange of Sportsnet about what loyalty means in sports, why Ujiri would make this move, and what Kawhi could mean for a city that didn't know how to win when it counted. Eleven months later, the Raptors are NBA champions and it's worth revisiting this chat to relive just how impossible this fairy tale ending was when it all began.
Jun 14, 2019
Rats are taking over Toronto. The city is…studying it.
They swarm in alleys, crawl up toilets and dig through foundations. By every measure, rats are on the rise in Toronto—and in large cities around the world. The difference between Toronto and so many of those cities? Other cities take action when homeowners report infestations. So far, Toronto has no official policy or strategy. Alberta claims to be free of mating rats. Vancouver has "The Rat Project". New York and Chicago have extensive plans in place to corral exploding populations. So what is Toronto doing? What will happen when the study is complete later this year? And if you've got rats, like, right now, what can you do? GUEST: Amy Dempsey, feature writer, Toronto Star (We apologize for how often you might squirm while listening to this episode.)
Jun 13, 2019
Does a single-use plastics ban make sense? Would it work?
The oceans are clogged with plastics. Our recycling system is broken. Is it time to ban them wherever we can? The Liberal government's new proposal to ban single-use plastics "as soon as 2021" could make that happen—but there's an election in the way, not to mention that the proposal doesn't have overwhelming public support. But as we do on The Big Story, we'll attempt to explain what this would mean and how it would work for normal humans—the sort of people who have a plastic bag filled with other plastic bags under the sink, or go through a plastic fork and knife with every second workday lunch. Would this proposal actually help? Would it change behaviour? What are the alternatives to these plastic products? And what do the people who spend their lives fighting for cleaner oceans think of it? GUEST: Sarah King, head of Greenpeace Canada's Oceans and Plastics campaign
Jun 12, 2019
Doug Ford’s government has bet on booze. Is it paying off?
Ontario's laws governing the sale of alcohol are some of Canada's strictest, and Doug Ford's campaign was filled with promises to loosen them. Some of them have been delivered. Others have not. And one that's just a final proclamation from becoming law could start a trade war that could cost all Canadians taxpayer money. How far will Ford go to deliver beer to corner stores? How is the plan working with voters? As the Conservatives head off for five months away from Queen's Park, are they doing so to reset their focus, or because they're hurting their federal cousins' chances in the critical 905 region? GUEST: Cynthia Mulligan, CityNews
Jun 11, 2019
Edmonton doesn’t want to be Oil Town anymore
Can a city change its fortunes by changing the industry its known for? Edmonton, Alberta is trying. Over the past two years, the city has launched a comprehensive strategy to attract medical research talent from around the world, by offering researchers access to data, artificial intelligence and industrial design resources that aim to make breakthroughs faster. It's called Health City—and every couple months, we hear a new story of one of those breakthroughs, or about an adaptation of existing technology. But can a smallish city in Alberta really transform itself into an international medical research hub? What kinds of headline-grabbing announcements will it take? What can the city expect in terms of cooperation from the provincial and federal governments? And...what's coming out of these labs next? GUEST: Steven Sandor, editor of Avenue Edmonton
Jun 10, 2019
Christine Sinclair (probably) won’t play forever. So appreciate her now.
Canada's opening match at the Women's World Cup is today. And, as usual, the best player on the pitch will be Christine Sinclair. At age 36, she's still the undisputed leader of her team, one of the very best women in the world at what she does and, right now, just a handful of goals away from becoming international soccer's all-time leading goal scorer—for either gender. So why isn't she automatically included on the Mount Rushmore of Canadian sports legends? How has she managed to spend nearly 20 years adapting to whatever style the game or her opponent throws at her? When she does open up, what is she like? And will she finally lead Team Canada to the top of the mountain eight years after dragging it out of the valley? GUEST: Stephen Brunt, Sportsnet
Jun 7, 2019
iTunes is dead, and so is an era of music history
Rip. Mix. Burn. That's how Apple sold iTunes when it debuted. They didn't intend the slogan to sound like a tacit endorsement of music piracy...but to a generation of music fans, that's what it became. Apple killed the nearly 20-year-old piece of software this week, and even though it had become a bloated and irrelevant mess, there was no shortage of mourners. What did iTunes do to the music industry? What legacy does it leave behind? How did one little (at least at first) application bridge the divide between physical and digital media? And if it sucked so much, why do we remember it so fondly? GUEST: Alyssa Bereznak, TheRinger.com
Jun 6, 2019
How did Canada and China end up here? How does it end?
The past six months have seen a brutal deterioration the Canada-China relationship. It all began because we did a favour for that other Superpower—the one to the south of us. Now China is using all of its levers—from detention of Canadians to trade and economic pressure—to push the Canadian government to cave. Meanwhile, America is urging Canada to escalate things by banning a Chinese telecom from our 5G networks. Does Canada have any good options here? How can the federal government ensure the safety of its citizens and trade relationships without backing down in front of the world, most importantly the U.S.? And what should our long-term strategy be, for existing in a world where China is challenging U.S. global supremacy? GUEST: David Moscrop, political scientist, author of Too Dumb For Democracy
Jun 5, 2019
Burnout syndrome is real, and getting worse
More of us than ever before are burning out at work. The rise in this kind of stress, in fact, is pronounced enough that last week the World Health Organization categorized "burnout" as an official occupational syndrome. That means no, you might not just be having a rough couple weeks. You might really need help. Because we know now that the end of this path isn't pretty. Why are we more stressed at work than we've ever been? Will having WHO-approved medical language help employers and employees address the problem? What do you do when a weekend away doesn't fix anything? How can you tell when someone's in danger of flaming out, and how do you talk about it with them? GUEST: Hamza Khan, educator, speaker, author of The Burnout Gamble (For more from Hamza you can watch his TED talk on burnout right here.)
Jun 4, 2019
Dementia and assisted death in Canada
When the government passed bill C-14, allowing chronically ill patients to access assisted death, some end-of-life conversations became easier. But not all of them. The current law in Canada does not allow patients who have been diagnosed with dementia to plan their deaths. For many people who are frightened about the final days of the disease, that's not acceptable. But there's a reason very few places in the world have allowed these patients to avail themselves of the service. The questions raised by it are some of the most fundamental to humanity, and the burden the decision would place on family members and even doctors is unfathomable. GUEST: Shannon Proudfoot, Maclean's (You can read the pieces Shannon references here, here and here.)
Jun 3, 2019
What happens when a fatal grizzly attack goes viral?
It was a tragedy of the sort that sometimes happen in Canada's North, where communities rub up against the wild. Two people, including an infant, were dead. So was a bear. A husband who lost his family in the attack was traumatized. And then the story broke online, and it got worse... GUEST: Eva Holland, Outside magazine (Read Eva's story right here)
May 31, 2019
The Memeing of Life
A famous cat died, and then we got an email. Today's episode is what happens when you follow a viral story to its logical conclusion. You'll learn where memes come from, how long they've been around, what they signify to us and how communication is coming full circle, from hieroglyphics to emojis. GUEST: Ian Dennis Miller, PhD candidate, University of Toronto; meme expert
May 30, 2019
No one died in Toronto’s last flood. That was luck.
The city is vulnerable to massive rainstorms. They're happening more frequently. So what's the plan? When Toronto flooded during a massive 'Ninja Storm' last August that dumped a still-unknown amount of water, it could have been much worse. And while that evening is the most stark example of what severe amounts of rain can do to the downtown in particular, it's certainly not the only example. So what happens when last August happens again? We're used to thinking of climate change as a crisis for the future. But in Toronto and cities across Canada, The Star is examining the changes that have already happened, and what they can tell us about how ready we are for a world where 100-year floods happen much more frequently. Has Toronto learned from last August? Sure. Are changes being made to help the city tackle the problem? Yup. Is the city ready for another storm a year later? Not even close. GUEST: Moira Welsh, investigative reporter, Toronto Star
May 29, 2019
Superfan Nav Bhatia: A story of love and Raptors basketball
You've seen him sitting (OK, standing) courtside if you've ever watched a Toronto Raptors game. If you've followed the team during its historic run to the NBA Finals, you've probably heard pieces of Nav Bhatia's story. He's a Day One fan, a proud Torontonian, a legendary car salesman, and a Sikh immigrant to Canada at a time when the country wasn't as multicultural and proud as it would later become. Last week, a racist Tweet from a Milwaukee Bucks fan thrust Bhatia into the spotlight in the middle of the Western Conference Finals, and he responded the way he always has, with pride and kindness. As the basketball world arrives in Toronto for the game's biggest event, everyone who's spent time with Bhatia is sharing their stories. But today he shares his, in full, with us. If you've ever heard the cliche that sports can bring people together—just know it's not a cliche to Nav. GUEST: Nav Bhatia, Raptors Superfan
May 28, 2019
A sugar tax on drinks in Canada? Would it even work?
It's supposed to fight obesity, spur healthier choices, and maybe even raise some revenue. But would the tax on sugary drinks currently being floated by Liberal MPs actually accomplish those goals? Would Canadians ever support it? What, exactly, would be taxed? And if it was implemented, who would bear the brunt of it? (Hint: It's not who you think.) Before we add another tax to a long list, we need some honest answers. After all, it's been tried elsewhere, so we should have some basic results. GUEST: Natalie Riediger, University of Manitoba
May 27, 2019
A brawl for the climate change vote
The Green party has seen its poll numbers spike as Canadian voters focus on climate change. How will that impact the fall election? The Liberals would now like you to know they care very much about climate change. So would the NDP. If you're wondering why they're telling you this so loudly at every opportunity, blame the Greens. And the Canadians who are using them as a lever to demand action. Elizabeth May's party has seen a jump in the polls this year, while also nearly winning the PEI provincial election, then taking a B.C. by-election to give them a second seat in the House of Commons. The party also released a comprehensive climate emergency plan, that pushed both the Liberals and NDP to race to reaffirm their climate bona fides. But how much of this is real? Can a spike in the polls translate to success in October? Will the Greens own the balance of power, or will they fracture the progressive vote? GUEST: Cormac Mac Sweeney, Parliament Hill reporter, City News & Rogers Radio…
May 24, 2019
A baby sleeper was recalled in the U.S. after 32 deaths. Not in Canada.
In Canada, it's called the Rock 'N Play "Soothing Seat"—not "Sleeper"--because of our strict regulations on sleep products for infants, it's not allowed to be marketed as a "sleeper". Which also means that when the product was recalled in the United States this month because of 32 deaths over eight years, it wasn't recalled in Canada. But it's the same product. Does a name really make a difference in how parents use a product? How can desperation drive parents to let their children sleep in ways that might be unsafe, just because they work? Are these deaths actually due to the product, or just the kind of unimaginable tragedies that sometimes happen, multiplied by millions and millions of products sold? GUESTS: Ariel Brewster and Claire Gagne, Today's Parent
May 23, 2019
Canada’s election guru is a physics teacher in Montreal
Philippe J. Fournier teaches physics by day and models our elections by night. Like, all night. As computer modelling of political data gathers steam around the world, Fournier created 338Canada.com to try to crunch all the numbers and predict provincial elections. With a batting average above 90 percent so far, this fall’s federal election will offer his biggest test yet. How is election modelling different from the polls you see every day? What does Fournier do that makes his predictions so eerily accurate? What can they tell us now about what might happen come October? And...how does an astrophysics prof end up predicting political twists and turns, anyway? GUEST: Philippe J. Fournier, 338Canada.com, Maclean's
May 22, 2019
How Canada’s Anti-Abortion Movement Recruits Young People
While many may think of abortion as a non-issue in Canada, the movement against it still exists… but it looks a lot different than it once did. Young people (Gen Zers to be specific) are increasingly labelling themselves as pro-life, attending anti-abortion marches and supporting pro-life politicians. What’s changed in the decades since abortion was a federal election issue? How are young people being recruited? Will this strengthen the anti-abortion movement or hurt it? And could the issue ever really come back up again in Canada as it has recently in the US? GUEST: Sydney Loney, FLARE.com
May 21, 2019
Recycling in Canada is broken. Can it be fixed?
You probably don't know exactly what should and should not end up in your Blue Box. But even if you did, only a staggeringly small fraction of the recyclable waste you put inside it would ever end up as a new product. What's changed in the recycling industry to leave tons upon tons of otherwise recyclable plastics sitting in shipping containers or redirected to landfills or incinerators? The good news is our individual mistakes and laziness are a very small part of the problem. But that's also the bad news. GUEST: Jeff Lewis, environment reporter, The Globe and Mail
May 17, 2019
A new look inside the Bruce McArthur investigation
What did the Toronto Police know? When did they know it? Crime reporter Wendy Gillis accessed court documents, and conducted extensive interviews with detectives to put together the story of an infamous investigation from the perspective of the people chasing a serial killer. Police faced extensive criticism over the McArthur investigation. Both for how long it took them to get serious about the men going missing in Toronto's gay village, and for insisting a month before McArthur was caught that “the evidence today tells us that there is not a serial killer.” Today, you'll hear how soon they realized they were wrong, and what happened next. GUEST: Wendy Gillis, crime reporter, The Toronto Star (You can read Wendy's four-part investigative report here.)
May 16, 2019
Who is Sam Oosterhoff?
Meet the youngest MPP in Ontario history. And his ideology. He hates abortion and liberal sex-ed curriculums. He loves Dr. Suess. He parodies the Monster Mash ("We stopped the caaaaarbon tax!") in the legislature. His office calls the cops on seniors holding a "read-in" to protest library cuts. He was quiet as a 19-year-old backbencher in the opposition, but he's speaking his mind these days. So: Who is Sam Oosterhoff? What's he doing to Ontario's conservative party? Where did his fundamentalist outlook come from? How did he get elected as a freshman? And what, exactly, is his plan? We asked the man who's been covering him since before anyone outside the Niagara region knew his name. GUEST: Grant LaFleche, investigative reporter, St. Catharine's Standard
May 15, 2019
A trip inside the work camps that build Canada’s pipelines
When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mentioned the need for gender-based analysis of construction camps that dot remote areas of Canada's west last year, he was met with a hail of criticism for casting all men who work at those camps as potential rapists. That, of course, isn't the case—but what does the sudden influx of thousands of workers do to the communities who try to welcome them? It's complicated. These work camps provide an undeniable influx of cash to communities who often struggle economically. But they also flood social services built for much smaller populations, bring higher rates of crime and, yes, increased reports of sexual harassment and assault. So what's being done on the ground to help victims or prevent future ones? How do the people who live with the "shadow population" see it? And what does the research say? GUEST: Kyle Edwards, Maclean's
May 14, 2019
Will climate change kill Canada’s backyard hockey rinks?
This is one that will kick us right in the national pride. In order to make a good outdoor hockey rink, you need the temperature to get below freezing and stay that way consistently for a while. If you've been paying attention the past few winters, you may have noticed that's not as common as it once was. So is the outdoor rink doomed over the next few decades? Hockey will always be a part of the Canadian myth, and it and other winter sports aren't going to vanish. But what happens when the only Canadians who can play them are ones who can afford indoor ice time, or admission to ski hills that make their own powder? If we don't have the weather to play and practice, how will Canadians dominate the sports we've come to associate with national pride? GUEST: Stanley Kay, Sports Illustrated
May 13, 2019
What does an election look like when local news is dying?
This will likely be Canada's least-covered federal election in history, at least on a local level. The race to be Prime Minister will receive no shortage of analysis, but in the midst of vanishing local news outlets, what happens to the other 338 other races? What kind of coverage can local news outlets afford to take on this fall? And when they run out of reporters, or money, what stories are the first to go? What replaces them? What options do voters have for in-depth local analysis? And, of course, how will savvy political campaigns take advantage of the situation? GUEST: April Lindgren, head of the Local News Research Project, professor of journalism at Ryerson University
May 10, 2019
How do you make social media safer?
Logging into a social network can be qualified as risky behaviour, in the same vein as drinking, gambling or unsafe sex. We know enough about it now to understand that it does things to our brain, and now it seems even the tech giants are acknowledging that some of their platforms' key features are...bad for us. This week, Instagram removed the ability to instantly see the number of likes a post has received. Minor? Sure. But those little hearts are a key social currency, says Bailey Parnell, a social media researcher who studies the link between these systems and our mental health. How can we practice "safe social"? What further changes could be coming from the teach giants? How bad does it have to get before we change our habits? GUEST: Bailey Parnell, CEO of Skills Camp, social media researcher and lecturer.
May 9, 2019
Food waste in Canada is staggering. But is it our fault?
We waste enough food every year in Canada to feed a second country. The scope of the problem has finally been measured and it's immense. But food waste is not what you probably think it is. How do we track the quantity of food we waste and, more importantly, figure out where it gets wasted? How can we begin to redirect some of that food to people who need it? Are we part of the problem, or is that produce you bought in bulk and let spoil in the fridge nothing more than a drop in the bucket? GUEST: Lori Nikkel, CEO, Second Harvest
May 8, 2019
Women’s hockey is at a tipping point
More than 200 of the best women's hockey players in the world are prepared to sit out an entire season in their quest for a unified North American league. Their colleagues feel that their absence could damage the sport. The Canadian women's league folded unexpectedly last month, just a few days after its championship game, leaving five full teams looking for a place to play this coming season. Wages are low, travel is rough and yet nobody wants to give up and walk away. So what happens now? Millions of fans watch these women during the Olympics. Canada-U.S. games are instant classics. But getting people to watch women to play hockey at the highest level at any other time has been a struggle. What does the future hold for women's hockey? And will this latest gamble accomplish anything? GUEST: Kristina Rutherford, senior writer, Sportsnet.ca
May 7, 2019
How to stop a hate crime before it starts
Street harassment, confrontations and hate crimes are on the rise. We have the numbers and we see viral videos of these incidents every day. If you walk the streets or ride transit or shop in your city, there's a decent chance that if you're not a victim yourself, you'll be near an incident when it happens. So if it does, how can you intervene? What actually works? We asked this question in our office, and none of us had a good answer. If we see someone being victimized, we want to help, but often we don't know where to start. Or it happens too fast for us to step in. Or it feels too dangerous. Or we're in a professional situation and we don't know what speaking up might cost us. None of those things are excuses, but they're all thoughts that can prevent action. We wanted the tools to take action, and we wanted to make sure you had them, too. GUEST: Shakil Choudhury, co-founder Anima Leadership, author, Deep Diversity: Overcoming Us Vs. Them
May 6, 2019
“It was the shoes that made me realize that we were poor.”
By the end of the month, Payless Shoe Source will have vanished into retail history—taking more than 60 years of business, 18,000 jobs and more than 2500 combined stores in the U.S. and Canada with it into oblivion. Retail chains go out of business all the time of course, and most of them don’t rate a eulogy. But Payless does, because it existed at the intersection of classism and capitalism, and it is both a victim of the retail apocalypse and a key figure in rise of fast fashion. So what legacy does this chain leave behind? What does this store mean to the millions of kids who couldn’t afford the ‘good’ shoes with the swooshes or the stripes on them? Why is it dying at the same time as more people than ever are falling in to poverty? And did it go out with perhaps one of the only meaningful pranks ever performed by a corporate entity? GUEST: Sara T Bernstein, writer, The Outline, co-founder Dismantle digital magazine
May 3, 2019
Inside the secret finances behind the housing crisis
It's not just the market in your city. Or your neighbourhood. Or your budget or financial situation. There's a shadowy global financial practice at work that is fuelling the housing crisis in cities around the world. And nobody knows how to stop it. Today we'll explore the shady-but-legal practice of private equity firms approaching housing as a commodity for investment at scale, in cities around the world, including Canada. What happens when a dwelling that should be a forever home for a family becomes just a trade chip amongst tens of thousands of others, to be bought and sold solely based on profit margin? Nothing good, you would imagine. And you'd be right. But can cities and governments figure out a plan to stop it? GUESTS: Leilani Farha, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing; and Fredrik Gertten, documentary filmmaker (You can watch the trailer for their film, Push, and find out where it's playing, right here)
May 2, 2019
Quebec’s hijab ban: “Like a birthday present to the radicals”
There’s a fight brewing in Quebec right now that has implications well beyond the provincial border, and could spark outrage around the world. Quebec’s majority provincial government plans to pass Bill 21 before the legislature breaks for holiday in mid-June. If it does, the bill would ban all public workers in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols. As you might imagine, that would potentially get very messy. So why is the bill going forward? What problem does it aim to solve? Why do its supporters defend it as necessary for the separation of church and state in the province, and its opponents as a simple hijab ban aimed at Muslims? And why is the whole world watching what happens next? GUEST: Michael Coren, columnist, broadcaster