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The Big Story
Frequency Podcast Network
An in-depth look at the issues, culture and personalities shaping Canada today.
9 hours ago
What do employees need to work through a long, dark winter?
Good morning. It’s Monday. It’s January. It’s cold. It’s dark. There’s a pandemic. If you have been following public health guidelines in many parts of the country, you probably went, roughly, nowhere this weekend. And saw nobody. And now it’s back to work. What responsibility do employers have for helping their employees with their mental health? What's the business case for taking it seriously? How can we all help our friends and coworkers make it to the spring with their mental health intact? GUEST: Liz Horvath, Manager, Workplace Mental Health at the Mental Health Commission of Canada You can find the mini-guide on MHCC’s COVID-19 Resource Hub.
3 days ago
What a President Biden means for Canadians
On his first day in office, President Joe Biden cancelled a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, keeping a campaign promise to Americans but bitterly disappointing Albertans and many Canadian politicians. It may be a relief to have a more stable US President in charge, but Biden wasn't elected to help Canadians. What does the new administration mean for Canada-U.S. relations? For trade? For foreign affairs, especially with China? And for Canada's chances at climbing out of a recession and into a greener economy? GUEST: Cormac Mac Sweeney, Parliament Hill Reporter
4 days ago
QAnon after Trump: The ‘Storm’ that never came
There were no mass arrests, military tribunals or public executions. Donald Trump went to Florida and Joe Biden went to the White House and nothing 'Q' said actually happened. So once Biden was inaugurated, what did the QAnon army do? What happens to a movement when ... nothing happens? Where do the followers, who have thrown away family and friends, credibility and cash, go from here? And should we pity them, or laugh and gloat? GUEST: Justin Ling
5 days ago
Is Canada’s democracy safer than America’s?
Joe Biden will be sworn into office today, hopefully without incident. But in the United States, proponents of democracy are analyzing how close their own came to collapsing. When one party, or even just one powerful politician, decides to disregard norms that have always held fair elections together, it creates stress on a system not designed with bad actors in mind. So how safe, by comparison, is our democracy in Canada? What checks and balances exist here that don't exist in the US? How could determined parties or politicians attempt to undermine democracy? And how much depends not on laws but on a collective belief in the democratic process? GUEST: Stewart Prest, political scientist
6 days ago
Other provinces learned from the first wave. Ontario failed to protect long-term care residents.
Covid-19 devastated long-term care facilities across the country in the Spring of 2020. But over the summer months, many provinces found ways to reinforce the places that care for our most vulnerable. Ontario, however, did not. What did Quebec and other provinces do to mitigate the impact of the second wave on long-term care residents? Why didn't Ontario follow suit? What's being done now? And will anyone be held accountable for this systemic failure? GUEST: Cynthia Mulligan, CityNews
Jan 18, 2021
How can Canada stop the growth of hate groups?
Yes, it's worse in America. But it's not great here, either. The past few years have seen an alarming rise in hate groups in Canada—and there's nothing on the horizon that appears set to slow it down. It's a recipe for the sort of violence we've seen in Washington recently, and have seen on our own soil more frequently in recent years. So what does defuse the growth of white supremacy? What can governments do to curtail the kind of polarizing anger that leads to reactionary violence? And what can we do, each of us, when we see people we know who may be taking the first steps down a road that leads to conspiracy theories, hate and violence? GUEST: Shakil Choudhurt, Anima Leadership
Jan 15, 2021
Why do more than half of Canadians not have paid sick days?
We're now 10 months into a global pandemic and solidly into its second wave. And across the country, many workers are still not staying home when they're sick—because they simply can't afford to. Why don't so many businesses offer their employees paid sick days? Why haven't provincial governments mandated that they do? Why do critics say the federal government's attempt at paid sick leave is woefully inadequate? And why are we having this conversation almost a year into this pandemic? GUEST: Stefanie Marotta, The Globe and Mail
Jan 14, 2021
Can we build 15-minute cities where we live?
Most of us have spent the past year closer to home than ever before. And for a lot of Canadians part of that process has involved realizing just what their neighbourhood does and doesn't have. Maybe it's time to rethink how we create neighbourhoods, in order to maximize livability in our towns and cities. Maybe there's an easy formula we can follow to start doing that right now.... GUEST: Alex Bozikovic, staff columnist and architecture critic, The Globe and Mail
Jan 13, 2021
Is free speech actually in danger online?
Our host would be fine with never seeing another Donald Trump tweet ever. But is that fair? Is it a slippery slope? Social media companies, and other service providers, have the right to refuse service to anyone breaking the rules they promised to abide by — but not even the most left-wing voters would pretend that Trump is the only politician or person flouting those regulations. Why would Facebook and Twitter finally remove Trump now? Should they have done it years ago? What precedent are they setting? And when we look back at this week in the years to come, will we be able to say it has changed anything about the way politics are done on the Internet? GUEST: Jesse Hirsh, metaviews.ca
Jan 12, 2021
Is the internet breaking your parents’ brains?
Our parents warned us that the Internet could harm us—from stalkers to kidnappers, pedophiles, the dangers of too much screen time and countless other things—but did they heed their own lessons? Boomers lead the pack as the generation most likely to share disinformation, and over the past few months we've seen some of the results play out in real time. How can those of us who grew up online help the people we love who didn't learn the nuances of the way algorithms try to seduce them? Help them tell the difference between reliable and sketchy news reports? Help them understand exactly how and why social media wants them to be so angry? Can we help our parents stay safe online the way they once tried to do for us? GUEST: Bonnie Kristian, The Week
Jan 11, 2021
Will Canada’s transit systems change forever?
Ridership is down by more than half, while costs to keep vehicles clean and employees and passengers safe are higher than ever before. Covid-19 has put an incredible strain on transit agencies across Canada. But at the same time, has the pandemic begun to change how we operate public transit—perhaps not with a break-even mentality but as a moral obligation to get Canadians where they need to go? Might more funding become available to run different routes at different times and ease crowding? Or will politicians back off as soon as the pandemic begins to ease? GUEST: Ben Spurr, Transportation Reporter, Toronto Star
Jan 8, 2021
“It’s like walking in darkness”: One year since Flight 752
At the time it seemed like it might be the worst disaster of 2020. When Flight 752 was shot down in Iran, 176 passengers and crew, including 55 Canadians, were killed. In the months to come, the cries for answers would be drowned out by the rise of Covid-19, leaving the victims' loved ones still searching for answers and justice. What can be done to get them the concrete information that might give them closure? What does justice look like? What's it like when the world forgets a tragedy that you live with every day? GUEST: Hamed Esmaeilion had family on Flight 752
Jan 7, 2021
What now for America? And could it happen in Canada?
The world watched as an angry mob stormed the US Capitol Wednesday. It was a scene few imagined we'd ever see—but it was also, somehow, inevitable. In the weeks since the election Donald Trump had been broadcasting his desire for his followers to take action. Then they did. The mob was cleared. Joe Biden's win was certified and it appears there will be a peaceful transfer of power. But what does an early-January insurrection attempt portend for US and global politics in 2021? And how safe are we in Canada from the sort of angry political uprising we just watched our neighbour grapple with? GUEST: Balkan Devlen, senior fellow at McDonald Laurier Institute, Superforecaster for Good Judgment, Inc.
Jan 7, 2021
Teachers are doing their best. But they’re at the breaking point.
The past year has been hard on all of us—but especially for those to whom we entrust our children. From a rush to online learning with schools closed, to a hasty back-to-school plan that was followed by rising Covid-19 numbers in schools, to the uncertainty of not knowing when or how they'll be able to teach their students this winter...many educators are close to giving up. How can we keep our education system functioning while also protecting our kids, our families and the people we need to teach them? What have we learned about our education system that could help us adapt in the future? And what happens to it if enough teachers decide they simply can't take it anymore, and leave the public system for private schools? GUEST: Inori Roy
Jan 6, 2021
How worried should you be about the new Covid-19 variant?
In some parts of Canada—especially Ontario—hospitals are close to the breaking point. At the same time, tests are finding a variant of Covid-19 that may spread much faster than the usual virus. How worried should we be about what this means for the next several weeks? What do we know, and what don't we know, about the newest version of the virus? How precarious is our current situation? Is there a way to bring numbers down before the spring thaw and what would it take to do it? This is a look inside the second wave and at the light at the end of the tunnel. GUEST: Dr. David Fisman, epidemiologist, Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Jan 5, 2021
Covid? Rising. Vaccines? Slow. Politicians? Travelling. Inside a bad month for Ontario
This past week, Ontario broke its seven-day average Covid-19 case record. Its hospitals are nearly full. Its vaccine rollout is slow. And the government lost its finance minister, who became the first of several politicians around the country to be found travelling outside of Canada in the middle of the pandemic. When Covid-19 first hit Ontario, Premier Doug Ford's straight-talk and frank empathy drove his approval rating through the roof. Ten months later, he's facing a host of of issues that threaten not just that rating, but the wellbeing of the entire province. It's been a bad month for the Ontario government—but the next few weeks will determine if it gets worse. GUEST: Cynthia Mulligan, Queen's Park reporter, CityNews
Jan 4, 2021
You’re going to pay more for food this year. A lot more.
Welcome to 2021! It's going to cost more to eat this year. The unprecedented events of 2020 combined with longer-term issues will lead to a massive spike in the prices the average Canadian pays for most groceries — and restaurant food, too, when dining out returns again. How much? Which foods and why? Is this a one-time increase or the start of something that will only accelerate? And where can bargains still be found in the grocery store? GUEST: Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, professor in food distribution and policy in the Faculties of Management and Agriculture at Dalhousie University, lead author of the Canada Food Report.
Dec 28, 2020
How do we learn to be empathetic?
It's the ability to put ourselves in another's shoes and it's been needed more this year than ever. But what kinds of experiences teach us empathy? How do our childhoods shape the people we become? What can second-generation immigrants teach the rest of Canada about the skill? And how will Canada change when the unprecedented number of second-gen kids grow up and lead the country? GUEST: Sadiya Ansari, writer and reporter
Dec 21, 2020
What happens when we run out of space to bury our dead?
Blink and you could miss it—the Richview Memorial Cemetery sits nestled on a thin slice of land between two of North America’s busiest highways. The cemetery is guarded by one Randall Reid, but not all such places are so fortunate. Today we bring you an episode of a new Frequency podcast hosted by Big Story producer Stefanie Phillips. In this first episode of the series, Stefanie digs into the world of "cemetery hunters"— a unique special interest group that tracks down cemeteries that are forgotten and in imminent danger of being paved over to become parking lots. What does the future of our cemeteries look like—and who will save them when we’re gone? Listen to Paradigm on your favourite podcast player today.
Dec 18, 2020
“Christmas is a little different this year”: An interview with Santa
Over the past ten months we've been accustomed to seeing our daily routines change in ways large and small. Covid-19 has popularized phrases from "in these unprecedented times" to X "will look a little different this year". And for many Canadian families there is no annual tradition as profound as the holidays. And for those families' children there's nothing quite like Santa Claus. So how is the Jolly Old Elf coping with Covid, keeping his workplace safe and making sure that even if Christmas is different, it's still special? Well, we asked him. (Yes, this episode is child-friendly! Happy holidays from the Big Story team.) GUEST: ... Santa!
Dec 17, 2020
A pandemic makes local news more critical, but also more endangered
Ten months into this pandemic, after so many of us rediscovered how vital local news can be, there are even fewer local newsrooms in Canada than when it began. How did we end up here? What are we losing when small-town papers die? How is it possible this virus has made local news both more necessary, and more impossible to sustain as a business, than ever before? GUEST: April Lindgren, principal investigator for the Local News Research Project
Dec 16, 2020
Is Canada’s new climate plan finally getting serious?
It's as ambitious as any Canadian government has been so far—but is it enough? A new climate plan rolled out by Justin Trudeau last week takes aim at some real metrics for change. So how would it directly impact your life, and your wallet? What else is the government doing to move us into the future? How much depends on cooperation from the provinces? And is this another target we make plans for but never hit, or is this a real, bold step towards climate action? GUEST: Catherine Abreu, Executive Director, Climate Action Network Canada
Dec 15, 2020
‘Tis the season for mass evictions?
A moratorium on evictions in Ontario was once part of Premier Doug Ford's plan to "make sure you and your family can stay in your home during this difficult time." But that moratorium didn't last forever and the past month has seen a torrent of virtual eviction hearings, with tenants often left frustrated, confused and in tears by the process. What happened to "no Covid-19 evictions" in Ontario? Why have so many been happening at once? What are the opposition at Queen's Park and activists on the ground doing to stop it? And what are the real problems with tenant rights in Canada's largest province? GUEST: NDP MPP Suze Morrison, Official Opposition Critic for Tenant Rights
Dec 14, 2020
As vaccination begins, how can we convince hesitant Canadians to take the shot?
There will always be a group of people who flatly refuse to get vaccinated, and public health messages probably won't convince them. But there are far, far more Canadians who might get vaccinated, but are nervous of what they see as a potential risk. In some online communities, misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines, as well as other common vaccinations, is rampant—and it has left a lot of people afraid. What are they worried about? How can governments and public health officials provide clear, concise information that allays their fears? How can you start a conversation with someone you know who might be hesitant to get vaccinated? And how much work do we have in front of us if we want enough Canadians to get their shots to put the pandemic behind us? GUEST: Sabina Vohra-Miller, clinical pharmacologist, co-founder of the Vohra Miller Foundation
Dec 11, 2020
Have you ever purchased a ‘Bland’?
Welcome to the newest era of consumer capitalism. It's dominated by 'Blands' — clean, sleek, online products that bill themselves as the handcrafted little guy here to disrupt the giant corporations. They have origin stories. They care about values and design. And they're unique—except they're all exactly the same. From toothbrushes to mattresses, health insurance to hipster clothing and glasses to luggage, almost every product on Earth has a Bland claiming to do it better. How did we end up here and have we reached 'Peak Bland'? GUEST: Ben Schott, Bloomberg Opinion
Dec 10, 2020
What will the ‘Middle Class’ of the 2020s look like?
Middle Class is a term that comes from the 1950s, and while the economics surrounding it have changed fundamentally in 70 years, the goals and hopes and dreams of the people that belong to it have not. How long can that continue? What does a modern Middle Class look like? What should they aspire to? How should they be defined? How different will their lives, homes and finances be from past decades? And how should governments work to make sure they get a chance to thrive? GUEST: Max Fawcett, writer and reporter (Read Max's piece on the Middle Class in The Walrus)
Dec 9, 2020
Will BC’s government fix the racism in its health care system?
An investigation into an allegation of a racist game being played by hospital staff turned into a detailed report about system racism in British Columbia's health care system. The province has vowed to take action, but Indigenous people have heard those promises before. What will it take to really transform the system? How will the government even begin? And how long will it take in the middle of two separate health emergencies—both of which disproportionally impact Indigenous and racialized people? GUEST: Liza Yuzda, legislative reporter, News1130 and CityNews Vancouver
Dec 8, 2020
Covid-19 has hit Canadian charities where it hurts
This is the time of year when Canadians traditionally up their giving. But a lot of that tends to happen in person. This year, Covid-19 has made that tough. And the big picture isn't much better: In a year of economic hardship, fewer Canadians have money to spare for charity, and more Canadians than usual need the help these organizations provide. How has the pandemic hit charities? What have they done to adjust to "these unprecedented times"? And how can Canadians who do have the means get their money where it needs to be for the holidays? GUEST: Bruce MacDonald, President and CEO of Imagine Canada
Dec 7, 2020
How the PlayStation took over Sony, and games took over the world
You probably don't have a PlayStation 5. And even if you don't want one, there's likely someone in your life who is desperate to get their hands on it. Sony—a company that once sold just about every kind of electronics imaginable—has become 'The PlayStation Company'. And this Christmas marks the first skirmish in the latest console war between it and Microsoft's X-Box. How did video games come to dominate the future of two of the world's biggest tech companies? How did they come to dominate so much of our entertainment landscape? What's on the horizon for these new consoles? (And also: If you can find them, which one should you buy?) GUEST: Seth Schiesel, contributor at the New York Times, contributing editor at Protocol.com
Dec 4, 2020
What we do and don’t know about Covid-19 vaccines for Canadians
We have more doses on order per capita than any other nation. But we also have no real domestic production capacity. If you ask the Liberals, we're among the world leaders in terms of when Canadians can expect to be vaccinated. If you ask the Conservatives, we're well behind our peer countries already. Who is telling the truth? What are the facts on the Covid-19 vaccines Canada has ordered? What needs to happen next? And when will needles start going into arms on Canadian soil? GUEST: Matt Gurney
Dec 3, 2020
A delicate balance between humans, bears and fish
It's a cycle that repeats itself in many ecosystems where humans live: Harmony, profit, imbalance and then a desperate need to fix things. When wild salmon runs around Wuikinuxv, BC, dwindled to almost nothing, the local grizzly bears grew hungry — and dangerous to humans. Now the salmon are returning, but the community must find a way to manage both the fish and bear populations, and keep the forest healthy. GUEST: Jimmy Thomson, Beside.media
Dec 2, 2020
Vancouver wants to decriminalize all drugs. Will it happen? Will it help?
Last week Vancouver's City Council voted unanimously to ask the federal government for an exemption that would allow the city to decriminalize small amounts of all drugs. The move comes amidst a surge in the overdose crisis that has killed more Vancouver citizens than Covid-19. The city is looking at anything it can do to save lives, and there are studies and examples around the globe that indicate decriminalization can help. Will the federal government grant the exemption? Will this move become a political football? What would a Canadian city that decriminalized drugs look like on the street? Where do the police stand? And how soon might it happen? Because the crisis has advocates close to the breaking point... GUEST: Travis Lupick, journalist and author of Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle with Addiction
Dec 1, 2020
Who is the woman who broke baseball’s glass ceiling?
One thing people around the game who know Kim Ng agree on is that she should have had a top job long ago. But considering baseball's legacy of promoting ex-players, many doubted the day would ever come. In November, the Florida Marlins made Ng the first female general manager in the history of the game. The questions now are around what she'll do with the team, why it took so long, and who else will follow in her footsteps... GUEST: Christina Kahrl, Senior Editor, ESPN MLB
Nov 30, 2020
Sometimes you have to talk about Fight Club
It seemed like a prank posted to social media—but there are witnesses who confirmed that the advertised fight night between McGill University students actually happened. Nobody was hurt, and it might have been a harmless enough story, but it illustrates the challenges first-year students are facing this year in dorms that they joke have become their prisons. GUEST: Selena Ross, digital reporter, CTV News Montreal
Nov 27, 2020
Small businesses are desperate and angry, and close to ruin
The irresponsible and illegal opening of an Etobicoke, Ontario BBQ joint this week ended Thursday when the owner was finally arrested. But in the Toronto area, it remains to be seen if he'll be the last person to defy the province's regulation. There's no excuse for breaking the law and endangering public health, but the Adamson BBQ saga is a symbol of just how angry and desperate small businesses in lockdown zones are as they face what they say are unfair restrictions that allow big-box stores to remain open while they are forced to close. Did the Ontario government screw this up? What needs to change? And how can these businesses survive in the meantime? GUEST: Ryan Mallough, director of provincial affairs for Ontario, Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses
Nov 26, 2020
How Alberta’s Covid-19 control crashed and burned
For the first six months of the pandemic, Alberta was one of the best provinces in Canada at containing Covid-19. Then it all went wrong. This week alone, the province had a day in which its case count was higher than Ontario's, despite having barely a third its population. How did it all fall apart out west, and who's to blame? And what needs to happen next to salvage a dangerous situation? GUEST: Courtney Theriault, CityNews Edmonton
Nov 25, 2020
“Rural” Canada is not far from the city, and the internet still sucks
Halton Hills is just over an hour's drive from Toronto. Many of its residents have been working from home for months. Issues were first raised about its internet connectivity 15 years ago—and many households struggle to get reliable connections today. As the pandemic pushes everything online, regions in rural Canada struggle to keep up. And we all too often think of rural areas as sparsely populated lands far from big cities. But they aren't. They're often just down the road and they need help to get online. GUEST: Melanie Hennessy, Georgetown Independent Free Press
Nov 24, 2020
Roommates and the global pandemic
Families have spent the past eight months in closer quarters than ever before. But what about people who share a home and aren't related or dating one another? How are roommates negotiating the many precarious situations that have arisen from sharing a house amid a pandemic? With more younger adults living in roommate situations later into their lives and careers, it's a path that millions are going to be navigating this winter. GUEST: Kelli María Korducki
Nov 23, 2020
What will happen to Canadian seniors this winter?
We want elderly Canadians, who are heightened risk from Covid-19, to be safe. For much of the past eight months, that has meant hundreds of thousands of grandparents haven't seen their grandkids, parents haven't seen their children, or their siblings — and for many of them, this has harmed them as much as a bout with the virus might. We all want our elderly loved ones to be around forever, but even forgetting about Covid-19, they won't be. And as they face another four to six months without much contact or support, many of them are wondering if they might not choose to take the risk with the time they have left. GUEST: Christina Frangou, science and health writer
Nov 20, 2020
How is QAnon coping with Trump’s loss?
As you might imagine, QAnon supporters believed that Donald Trump would handily win reelection. When he didn't, it blew a hole in the conspirac--hah, of course it didn't. New theories popped up to take its place, new 'loaves' were baked. New enemies were found. What can we learn from how the world's most dangerous conspiracy adapts to overwhelming evidence to the contrary? And can we find ways to help believers see the evidence in front of them? GUEST: Justin Ling
Nov 19, 2020
What happens when we’re tempted by herd immunity in a dark winter
The proposal is called the Great Barrington Declaration, and while it's couched in lots of scientific language, herd immunity is what it boils down to. It has support from a group of scientists and is scoffed at by many, many more. But during a time when Canada's various Covid-19 regulations, thresholds, protocols and half-lockdowns can seem incredibly confusing, the Barrington approach offers a simple answer. Especially as a dark winter looms and it feels easier to just give up. What do we know about herd immunity? Why is it so attractive? And if it's too dangerous to consider, what are our other options to get through the months ahead? GUEST: Andre Picard, health reporter, The Globe and Mail
Nov 18, 2020
How will restaurants survive the winter?
At least in the spring, there was a summer to come and some sort of certainty — restaurants would stay closed until Covid-19 was under control. This Fall, in most places in Canada, neither of those things are true. Opening plans and case thresholds are constantly shifting, while cities and provinces have different opinions about what should be open and when. Beyond all that, of course, there are climbing covid case counts, which means that even open restaurants are far from guaranteed enough business to survive. So...will they? How many will make it? And what can we (and governments at all levels) do to help them get through? GUEST: John Sinopoli, restaurateur, co-founder of savehospitality.ca
Nov 17, 2020
How Nunavut’s bubble finally popped
The territory went more than seven months as the last Covid-19-free spot in North America, but the past weeks have seen one case turn into a couple of dozen. Why did the bubble work so well for so long? What are the unique dangers the virus poses to Northern communities? How will officials try to reign in spread now that the virus is here? And what can we learn from how long the bubble kept Nunavut safe? GUEST: Kent Driscoll, APTN National News
Nov 16, 2020
How conspiracy became our new religion
Almost two weeks after the American election, leading social media platforms are inundated with false claims about the results. Claims that are supported and amplified by Donald Trump and key members of his administration. After talking tough regarding disinformation in the months leading up to the election, and even slapping warnings on the president's posts, have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok lived up to their promises? And the big question: Will Twitter ever ban Donald Trump? Where would their business be without him? GUEST: Jesse Hirsh, researcher and futurist, metaviews.ca
Nov 13, 2020
Can carbon caches help us preserve a moderate climate?
This is the finale of our five-part series in partnership with The Narwhal. Scientists have found protecting nature can provide more than one-third of the emissions reductions required to meet the world’s 2030 climate targets, thrusting Canada — home to 25 per cent of the planet’s wetlands and boreal forests — into the hot seat. There are more than enough challenges facing those fighting to save the climate, but there are some solutions right in front of us, too. GUEST: Emma Gilchrist, Editor-in-Chief of The Narwhal You can learn more at thenarwhal.ca.
Nov 12, 2020
It starts with a trout, and ends up a growing disaster
This is part four of a five-part series in collaboration with The Narwhal. There are no viable solutions to stop the tide of selenium leaching into Canadian and U.S. water from a 100-kilometre stretch of coal mines near Elk Valley, B.C., which are owned and operated by mining giant Teck Resources. Deformed fish, a potential fish population collapse and contaminated drinking water signal more trouble to come... GUEST: Carol Linnitt, Managing Editor You can learn more at thenarwhal.ca.
Nov 11, 2020
As oil and gas declines, where do the workers go?
This is part three of a five-part series in collaboration with The Narwhal. Alberta’s oil and gas workers can be underrepresented — or even maligned — in conversations about an energy transition in Canada. The Narwhal met with former oil and gas workers to learn more about their lives and personal reasons for transitioning to solar, and look at the process as a whole. GUEST: Sharon J. Riley, Alberta investigative journalist You can learn more at thenarwhal.ca.
Nov 10, 2020
B.C.’s looming extinction crisis
This is part two of a five-part series in collaboration with The Narwhal. Canada’s westernmost province markets itself as 'Super, Natural, B.C.,' but more than 2,000 species of animals and plants are at risk of disappearing — and unlike six other provinces, British Columbia still has no endangered species law, despite the NDP's election promise to introduce one GUEST: Sarah Cox, environmental reporter You can learn more at thenarwhal.ca.
Nov 9, 2020
“Them plants are killing us.”
This is part one of a five-part series in collaboration with The Narwhal. Two communities — one in Canada, one in the U.S. — share both a border along the St. Marys River and a toxic legacy that has contributed to high rates of cancer. Now the towns are banding together to fight a ferrochrome plant planned to process chromite from Ontario’s Ring of Fire, in turn generating the so-called ‘Erin Brockovich contaminant’ hexavalent chromium. GUEST: Hilary Beaumont You can learn more at thenarwhal.ca.
Nov 6, 2020
A tsunami of disinformation is coming from the White House
Almost everything the President of the United States has been saying since election day is false. His family and supporters are following suit. How is the internet handling a flood of misleading claims and outright lies? What makes the post-election disinfo so hard to debunk? How did we end up so far down this rabbit hole and is it even possible to climb back out? GUEST: Jane Lytvynenko, Disinformation Reporter, BuzzFeed News
Nov 5, 2020
While America counts, the world waits to exhale
As of Wednesday night, things looked relatively positive for Joe Biden's bid for the presidency. But Donald Trump's team is filing lawsuits, demanding recounts, or halted counts, and looks like it plans to scrap tooth and nail to win the election in the courts no matter the results on the ground. How successful that attempt will be depends on the judges themselves—but either way it puts the leaders of democracies around the world, including Canada, in a tough position until someone concedes. How would a protracted court battle for the American presidency impact Canada? What changes if Biden wins cleanly? What will Trump's mark on America's international reputation be if he is a one-term president? And what if he actually manages to find his way to a victory? GUEST: Balkan Devlen, senior fellow at McDonald Laurier Institute, Superforecaster for Good Judgment, Inc.
Nov 4, 2020
Are we living in a simulation?
No, the US election is not what spawned this question. New research in a field called 'simulation theory' pegs the odds that we're just AI creations in somebody's supercomputer at about 50-50. Really? How can we possibly determine this? What does simulation theory propose? What evidence do we have? Will we ever really find out? And could humanity one day create a simulation of our own? GUEST: Anil Ananthaswamy, Scientific American, author of Through Two Doors At Once
Nov 3, 2020
What to expect when American democracy is at stake
Is Democracy on the ballot in the American election tonight? How real is the threat of violence at the polls? What happens if Donald Trump squeaks out a reelection victory? What happens if Joe Biden blows him out but Trump refuses to concede? What could the courts do with a close election? And what does America's election mean for democracies around the world, like Canada's, where millions will be watching and waiting to see what happens to their ally? GUEST: David Moscrop, political scientist, author of Too Dumb For Democracy
Nov 2, 2020
Inside Canada’s most notorious heists
Why don't more Canadians know about the criminal masterminds behind some of Canada's most legendary capers? A new audiobook, True North Heists, tells the tales of some of the most outlandish capers ever committed on Canadian soil. Actor Colm Feore (Bon Cop Bad Cop, Trudeau) dramatically weaves together “in the moment” storytelling with interviews with those with deep knowledge of the heists themselves, including law enforcement officers, writers and the criminals themselves. You might know the stories of some legendary American thefts, but you might not know these ones. And yes, there's maple syrup involved. GUEST: Geoff Siskind, executive producer, True North Heists.
Oct 30, 2020
How long can Hollywood stay in limbo?
In a normal year, the start of November would mark the beginning of the prestige movie push, with award hopefuls, franchise films and feel-good family flocks crowding theatres. This year though, there's almost nothing left on the calendar and the top-grossing box office list features rereleases of films from the 1990s. Hollywood has been hoarding its blockbusters in preparation for a vaccine and a return to normal life in 2021...but what if that doesn't happen quickly enough? How long can studios sit on their biggest films in hopes of a return? Why is the system built to rely so much on a handful of megamovies that need to earn billions in order to be worth making at all? And when will our host finally get to see Dune and Black Widow? GUEST: Norm Wilner, senior film writer at NOW Magazine, host of Someone Else's Movie
Oct 29, 2020
Porn and the Pandemic: A study in adaptability
It was perfect timing, really, for OnlyFans. The website was growing in popularity because it allowed people to charge followers for exclusive content, and it didn't forbid pornography. And then the pandemic hit, and basically every mainstream porn studios had to shut down, and the performers flocked to OnlyFans as a way to keep their income afloat without professional work. Once again, a digital tool not intended for pornography had become a purveyor of it. Once again, the porn industry has adapted more quickly than any other entertainment medium. But how much of this change is permanent? And how much can other entertainment industries learn from pornography's lead? GUEST: Lina Misitzis, producer of The Last Days of August and The Butterfly Effect
Oct 28, 2020
Where is Ontario’s real gun violence epidemic?
You might think that it's gang-related shootings in Toronto that drive gun-violence statistics in the province. You'd wind up surprised. A new study examined in detail firearms-related injuries and deaths in Ontario for 15 years, from 2002-2016. What the authors found was that while urban gun violence drives headlines, a larger part of the problem happens outside of the spotlight, outside of the cities, in quiet, lonely places... GUEST: Dr. Natasha Saunders, co-author of Firearm-related injuries and deaths in Ontario, Canada, 2002–2016: a population-based study
Oct 27, 2020
Should Canada worry about a huge deficit?
Our government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars supporting Canadians through this pandemic. They're deep in debt—but how worried should they be? Traditional economic policy would have the Liberals reign in spending and make some cuts as soon as they can to try to mitigate the damage. Otherwise we might find ourselves hit by massive inflation. A newer economic theory, however, would urge the government to spend as much as needed as long as Canadians are struggling and simply print money as necessary to pay for it. OK, that's a simplification of modern monetary theory, but it gets at the basic point. Maybe we don't need to worry about how much debt we rack up? GUEST: Max Fawcett, The Walrus
Oct 26, 2020
Meet the new leader of Canada’s Green Party
Annamie Paul made history earlier this month when she became the first Black woman to lead a Canadian party when she became the successor to Elizabeth May. Now that the party is hers though, where is she going to take it? How can she bring the Green Party's branding beyond "the environment"? How will her party hold the Liberals to account without forcing an election Canada doesn't need? And how does she hope to snap Canadian voters out of their Liberal-versus-Conservative approach? GUEST: Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada
Oct 23, 2020
A trip to a beautiful little deadly beach
It's called Six Mile Beach, and it sits in a remote part of British Columbia. It’s not on any of the tourism brochures. You need to know how to find it to get there, but once you do, it’s stunningly beautiful. You can stand well out from shore and a sand bar makes it feel like you're walking on top of the water. It's a secret spot worth savouring. And every so often, someone dies. And no level of government wants to be responsible for those deaths. GUEST: Tyler Harper, Nelson Star
Oct 22, 2020
What happens when you give homeless people money?
Not your pocket change, either. We're talking about thousands of dollars in a no-strings-attached payment. A project in British Columbia did just that, and then followed 50 homeless people (as well as a control group that received nothing at all) for a year to discover what came next. The results of the study are making headlines and forcing us to confront both our own biases and policy decisions that might be costing taxpayers money without solving any problems. GUEST: Dr. Jiaying Zhao Associate Professor, Psychology, UBC, research lead for the New Leaf Project Research lead NLP
Oct 21, 2020
How Halloween highlights the COVID-19 communication paradox
Trick or Treating is cancelled in some Ontario hotspots, and it's easy to be upset on behalf of the kids and wonder why. After all, we've been told the safest things are done outside, wearing masks. This seems like something that kids—who are also in closed school rooms all week—should be allowed to do. And this is the problem of communication during this pandemic—when numbers in Ontario and elsewhere have been climbing for a month but death rates and hospitalizations haven't kept pace with the spike. The more we learn about COVID-19, the more our understanding of risk and recommended best practices evolve. But the more you change the messaging, the less people can follow it. So when we're in the middle of a spike and we're hearing we should all be extra cautious, holding off on Halloween may be more of a communications problem than a safety issue. GUEST: David Fisman, epidemiologist, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
Oct 20, 2020
Alleged abuse, coverups and years of trauma: Inside the legacy of the Basilian Fathers
For almost two years an investigative team has been digging into into claims of child sexual assault by priests who belong to a Canadian Catholic order known as the Basilian Fathers. The results of their work form Unrepentant, a film that includes firsthand accounts from victims of abuse, the near-murder of an accused pedophile, the mystery death of a priest after he is exposed, secret church files that show a pattern of shuffling around known abusers and a victim’s journey to Vatican City to confront church leaders…and more. The project's lead reporter joins us for a look at how it came together. GUEST: Adrian Ghobrial, CityNews
Oct 19, 2020
Remote work has been about survival. What’s happened to careers?
In the early days of the pandemic, it was fun to compare crude work-from-home setups. Eight months later, with no end in sight, the novelty is long gone. What's changed about the traditional career over the past year? How can workers do more than try to get through the day and move on with their careers? What does every manager need to be doing to support them? And how the hell are you supposed to network over Zoom? GUEST: Dr. Sonia Kang, Canada Research Chair in Identity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the University of Toronto; Host of For The Love of Work
Oct 17, 2020
A little bit of Hope
Amir Omidvar left Iran during the revolutionary crisis in 1982. For twenty months after leaving his home, Amir did everything he could to cross the Atlantic ocean. While taking refuge in Spain, he made three failed attempts to enter the US; a fake passport in Heathrow, a Mexican jail, and a beating by customs officers in Milan — until a fourth and final attempt brought him to Canadian shores. Amir speaks to his daughter, Shayda, about why he decided to leave and how arriving in Canada has impacted his life and the life of his family. Listen and subscribe to The Hopeful wherever you get your podcasts.
Oct 16, 2020
How Canada’s legacy of slavery lingers on today
Most Canadians didn't learn much about slavery in Canada in history class. Curriculums in this country have mostly focused on the Underground Railroad and largely glossed over the fact that slavery was legal here. That history explains much about the blatant racism that still exists in this country today, but it also explains far less obvious things about the everyday lives of many Black Canadians. We're starting to confront that history now, but we have a long way to go. GUEST: Charmaine A. Nelson is the Tier I Canada Research Chair in Transatlantic Black Diasporic Art and Community Engagement at NSCAD University. She will direct the first-ever institute for the study of Canadian Slavery.
Oct 15, 2020
How to prepare for a winter in lockdown
Unless you’re lucky enough to live in some of the areas of Canada that are largely free of Covid-19, you’re likely staring down a long few months spent isolated from most of the community, and spent largely inside your house. The case numbers are rising. We’re told it’s not safe to socialize indoors and we’re just weeks away from the first deep freeze and snow storm. It can feel like a lot—if you let it. That’s not us pep-talking you. It’s science. There are people who live so far north that winter dominates their lives; who live with darkness during the day for weeks at a time. And if you survey those people about winter, well, you’d find they’re better at dealing with it than you are. So what's their secret? GUEST: David Robson, science journalist and author of The Intelligence Trap
Oct 14, 2020
Inside the Atlantic Bubble, where life is close to normal
We don’t have to look as far as New Zealand to find examples of how the battle against COVID-19 can be won. We have a success story right here in Canada, where the so-called Atlantic Bubble has held up very well over the past several months, and where life is mostly back to normal. There is even hockey, with fans in the stands and everything. So how can the rest of Canada follow the Atlantic Bubble's example? Is it even possible for larger provinces? How have they managed to stamp out COVID-19, and what kind of price have they paid for doing so? GUEST: Greg Mercer, Atlantic Canada reporter, The Globe and Mail
Oct 13, 2020
Climate change reporting needs hope as well as fear
You have heard plenty of dire predictions and seen hundreds of horrible photographs. The Earth is in trouble, there's no doubt. But when coverage of climate change always focuses on so-called "disaster porn", it can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. How can reporters covering the very real danger we're facing avoid fostering a sense of inevitability among the people we need to make changes? GUEST: Sheril Kirshenbaum, host of NPR's Serving Up Science
Oct 9, 2020
“All we can do is brace for impact”: Canada plans for US political chaos
Our neighbour is in trouble. Whatever the results of the American election on November 3, there's only a small chance they won't be contested. The upheaval could last for months. It could get violent. It could fracture America. All of this obviously impacts Canada, so what are we doing to prepare? What should we be doing? How can our government gameplan for whatever happens in the coming months, and what are the best-case and worst-case scenarios for Canada if chaos reigns to the south? GUEST: Balkan Devlen, senior fellow at McDonald Laurier Institute, Superforecaster for Good Judgment, Inc.
Oct 8, 2020
What one refugee’s journey can tell us about Canada
Many of us take pride in Canada's diversity—but not all of us embrace it. And critics cite large numbers when discussing immigration policy. What that does is take the power of individual stories out of the equation. A new podcast examines the refugee journey through one man's harrowing journey across borders and an ocean to his new home, and what it can tell us about our country and what drives the Canadian Dream. GUEST: Shayda Omidvar, host of The Hopeful
Oct 7, 2020
Inside Nova Scotia’s complicated lobster fishery fight
In mid-September, commercial fishers began to protest and threaten First Nation lobster fishermen who were exercising their treaty rights to make a moderate living out of season. Traps were cut, boats burned and flares were fired. But it's not a new story. This is a decades-old problem that's never been solved. Why is a supreme court ruling from more than 20 years ago still largely ignored? Why do Indigenous communities face so much anger over such a relatively small catch? And what are the authorities—from the fisheries department to the RCMP—doing to protect a group that's just trying to take what Canada's courts have already granted them? GUEST: Trina Roache, APTN Investigations
Oct 6, 2020
How some churches get permission to use illegal drugs
The federal government may not be working towards decriminalization of banned substances, but if you follow the proper procedures, as some churches have, you can receive permission to import and use them. Recently a church in Winnipeg became the latest organization to receive permission to use daime tea, a psychedelic substance also known as ayahuasca. How did they receive permission? What is the drug and how do they use it? And what does the growing number of these exemptions say about the future of Canada's drug policy? GUEST: Rachel Browne
Oct 5, 2020
How do you vaccinate an entire planet?
If all goes well, sometime in the next six months, one of the many Covid-19 vaccine candidates will receive approval for human use. It will be a day to celebrate. The end of the pandemic will at long last be in sight. But what happens next? Who gets the first doses? The second batch? How do you actually vaccinate billions and billions of people, quickly and safely? A vaccine isn't the end of the road, as today's guest will tell us, it's more like an off-ramp. GUEST: Danielle Groen
Oct 2, 2020
Have you been sold a lie about recycling?
You're a good citizen, so you probably toss your plastic into the recycling bin. Especially if it has those little recycling arrows on it. Why wouldn't you? Public service campaigns have been telling you to do this forever. But what if those campaigns were a lie, designed to make you feel better about the plastic you use? What if plastic recycling was never going to be effective, except at selling more plastic? GUEST: Laura Sullivan, NPR News investigative correspondent
Oct 1, 2020
B.C. is going to the polls during a pandemic. Why?
September was a month for rising COVID-19 case counts in British Columbia. October will be a month for an election. Why now? That depends on who you ask. The NDP claim they need a mandate to govern more responsively during a pandemic. Their opponents say it's a power grab because the NDP's poll numbers are high. What will British Columbians think? Will they punish the NDP for forcing them to the polls? Will they lock in a government they appear to approve of? And how do you run an election in a pandemic anyway? What will be different about this one, and how can other provinces learn from what happens in B.C. this October? GUEST: Liza Yuzda, Legislative Reporter, News 1130
Sep 30, 2020
On the front lines as COVID-19 surges in Ontario
Cases are increasing exponentially. Hospital admissions are beginning to follow them. The doctors who oversee ICUs are nervous. And the public is looking for clear rules they can follow—only those seem to vary by public health unit. Dr. Michael Warner runs an ICU in Toronto. He can see the line from his hospital's COVID-19 assessment centre stretching down the road from his office. Along with other doctors and epidemiologists, he's been sounding warning bells about how close COVID-19 is to being out of control all over again. So what needs to happen now? GUEST: Dr. Michael Warner
Sep 29, 2020
In a strange year for sports, the Toronto Blue Jays had the strangest year of all
They played zero games in Toronto. They spent the first three weeks on the road. They lost their best hitter for half the year. Their ace welcomed a baby during a pandemic. They were written off as young but not ready. They ended up in the playoffs, by clinching a spot that had never existed until this season. The Blue Jays are a bunch of talented kids of former big leaguers, a South Korean ace and a handful of fireball arms out of the bullpen. They are flawed, but they don't care. They're not supposed to be here and they don't care about that, either. This is an unlikely team in the most unlikely of circumstances. So what do they do with it? GUEST: Arden Zwelling, Senior Writer, Sportsnet
Sep 28, 2020
How are kids coping with Covid-19 and school?
If you think that parents are nervous about Back To School, imagine how the kids are feeling. You’re going back to school, or maybe trying to learn from home. You’re not allowed to hang out with your friends except with masks and at a distance, yet you’re still supposed to share rooms with them. Your teachers are masked. They’re measuring space between your desks. You're worried about a virus you could spread to your parents and grandparents. And you’re supposed to go on with your school year as best you can. That’s...not easy. So how are kids coping? We spoke to one, and got some advice. GUEST: Andy Binau
Sep 25, 2020
Is there really life on Venus? How do we find out?
Last week, an unlikely research project made a startling discovery: Phosphine gas in the atmosphere of Venus. That's something that, as far as we know, is created by living organisms. Our efforts to find signs of life on other worlds, and a lot of our space dreaming in general, tend to focus on Mars. But all of a sudden we need to take a closer look at our other planetary neighbour. So how can we find out if there's really life right next door? What do we know about Venus and why has it been so hard to figure out so far? What else could possibly cause the presence of Phosphine and what would it mean, to space exploration and everything else, if this is really true? GUEST: Neel Patel, space reporter, MIT Technology Review
Sep 24, 2020
Savour your morning coffee now…
Because the coffee bean is in danger. A rapidly spreading fungus is threatening both the plants themselves and the farmers who make a living from them. The fungicides that used to stop it no longer work in many cases and climate change is making life easier for the fungus every day in areas where coffee grows. How long until there's a coffee shortage? Or until we start losing some of the more unique varieties? We don't know, but there is still time to fight the problem. GUEST: Maryn McKenna, science journalist and author
Sep 23, 2020
How conspiracy theories exploded in Quebec
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Quebec police estimate threats made against public officials are up about 400 percent. Most of the people arrested for making those threats show evidence of believing in conspiracy theories. In fact, belief in these theories, as well as distrust in the mainstream media, is rising quickly in the province. And not all of these theories are coming from the United States. Some of them are coming from inside the province. So what should police and governments be doing? Because things seem to be getting dangerous quickly. GUEST: Jonathan Montpetit, CBC Montreal
Sep 22, 2020
This model predicted the collapse of America
It’s not Donald Trump’s fault. He’s just an accelerant. America has been churning towards a crisis of democracy for decades. Our guest today created a model that predicted the 2020s would be the ultimate test for the future of America. The crisis point is here, so how will America respond? And what does it mean to Canada if our neighbours fail the democratic test? GUEST: Jack Goldstone, George Mason University
Sep 21, 2020
A look inside Canadians’ lives during a pandemic
On this show, we usually talk to experts—and that means during Covid-19 we've been speaking with doctors and infectious disease specialists, researchers and scientists, pundits and journalists, but not very often with average Canadians. Fortunately, someone has been. A new documentary that airs tonight follows several Canadians through the past six months, and takes us into their homes and virtual offices, giving us a glimpse of how all the big issues we discuss on The Big Story end up impacting folks who are just trying to live their lives in these "unprecedented times". GUEST: Pat Taney, Reporter/Producer, CityNews
Sep 18, 2020
The case that gave birth to Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit
In 1988, Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby represented the family of a young man named Michael Wade Lawson. Though neither Ruby, the family or anyone else involved at the time knew it, it’s a case that's had a profound impact on how police forces in Canada’s largest province do—and don’t—hold themselves accountable. Michael Wade Lawson, you see, was 17—a young Black man who was shot and killed by the police. After his death, amid a public outcry, Ontario's Special Investigations Unit was created, to investigate cases of police misconduct that resulted in injury or death to civilians. And that’s where today's story begins. GUEST: Clayton Ruby
Sep 17, 2020
Inside the making of an incel
This November, accused killer Alek Minassian will face trial for the 2018 Toronto van attack that killed 10 people and injured 16. In the aftermath of that attack, we learned that Minassian subscribed to the incel ideology—which has been linked to mass killings around the world. Incels entered the public consciousness as lonely people obsessed with other people's sex lives. But in recent years they've become increasingly deadly. How do young men find themselves radicalized into the incel subculture online? Where are they slipping through the cracks? And how can we respond more effectively to signs of violence before it happens? GUEST: Katherine Laidlaw
Sep 16, 2020
How hospitals are helping teachers as kids return to school
There are a lot of things that provincial back-to-school guidelines don't cover—because they can't. Every school is different, and so are the neighbourhoods they serve. And as students return, teachers and administrators often need answers, quickly, to problems they couldn't have foreseen. This is where a new program led by hospitals and doctors in Toronto's east end comes in. Each school is matched up with a doctor or hospital worker who can take their unique questions and come back to them with solutions. How can we do safe screenings with hundreds of kids and little outdoor space? How do you get toddlers to wear masks? What if physical distancing is impossible in my classroom? And at what point do we have to worry about uncontrolled outbreaks and school closures? GUEST: Dr. Janine McCready, infectious disease physician, Michael Garron Hospital
Sep 15, 2020
They defended their land, then the government abandoned them
It's been 25 years since the Ipperwash crisis and the killing of Dudley George. Long enough that there's a generation that doesn't remember it—but they have plenty of examples of modern-day land defenders standing up against the government. But the original protesters, who took back land the government had promised to return to them 50 years ago and won? They're still there. Still living at Stony Point. Still waiting for the military to clean up the mess it left behind. Still holding out hope of returning the land to its lush former glory. And in the meantime, they're trying to live on what the government left behind. GUEST: Cristina Howorun, CityNews
Sep 14, 2020
Do you need a news detox?
Are you addicted to the news? Don't lie! It's understandable. This year has been hard, and everything feels like a crisis sometimes, and some of us can't look away. Not knowing what's happening in the world at all is not an option, but what if we don't have to know everything absolutely immediately? Is it possible to regulate the way you consume the news without missing out on the things that matter? Is it possible to go cold turkey for a little while to break the habit? GUEST: Peter Laufer, James Wallace Chair Professor in Journalism at the University of Oregon, author of Dreaming in Turtle and Up Against the Wall: The Case for Opening the Mexican-U.S. Border.
Sep 11, 2020
Back to school for some. Private learning pods for others.
It's been a chaotic and eventful—and still not yet close to done—return to schools across Canada. A majority of parents have chosen to return their kids to the classroom. Other have opted for remote learning either by necessity or preference. And then there are the private pods—small bubbles of a few families, taught by a teacher hired to work privately. Of course, having the means to afford private instructions for your kids is a privilege. It's a sign of inequality in education access. And if the pandemic lingers and drives more families to this solution, it could potentially undermine the school system. But should any of that matter to parents whose first job is to keep their children safe in the best environment possible? GUEST: Matt Gurney, National Post, Code 47
Sep 10, 2020
A story about the family that just kept growing
In a large house, in a very nice area of Toronto, in the 1970s and 80s, there lived a normal family: Mom, dad, kids. Roughly thirty kids, actually, most of them adopted from all over the worlds. Thirty kids with different languages, needs, dreams and personalities. Why did they do it? What happened when they did? What kind of legacy does the Simpson family leave behind today in a city and country they helped build just be being a normal, loving, ever-growing family? GUEST: Nicholas Hune-Brown, Toronto Life
Sep 9, 2020
Will outer space become the new Wild West?
When SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy took off from a NASA launchpad this year, it marked a new era of manned spaceflight, one in which private businesses have as much of a stake in success as government space agencies. But have we stopped along the way to think about the ramifications of that? What rules do companies like SpaceX have to follow once they are out on the final frontier? If they break them, who makes sure they pay for it? And as technology evolves at a rapid pace and these partnerships become more common, who or what stops space from becoming the new wild west? GUEST: Michael O'Shea
Sep 8, 2020
Canada’s new approach to treating obesity
A lot of Canadians are obese. That's a fact. But a lot of the things you think you know about that fact—why they're obese, how they could lose weight, what they need to hear from their doctors—just aren't true. Last month Canada unveiled a new set of guidelines for treating obesity, and the biggest headline among the recommendations was: "No dieting." But the guidelines don't stop there. From an acceptance of surgery as a solution, challenging the biases of doctors and looking at obesity as a science-based problem, they call for a dramatic change in approach to the problem. Will they work? Will we follow them? GUEST: Dr. Sean Wharton
Sep 4, 2020
Your guide to government benefits after the CERB
It was a program created at unimaginable speed under incredible circumstances. And it has helped millions of Canadians. But six months later—two months longer than initially planned—the federal government is ending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. So what’s next? Expanded EI qualifications, new programs for those who don't qualify for EI and other efforts aimed at supporting workers still impacted by COVID-19. Who qualifies? For how much? How quickly and for how long? And what do you need to prepare to apply? We've got a guide to post-CERB Canadian government help. GUEST: Rosa Saba, business reporter, Toronto Star
Sep 3, 2020
How police use private donations to buy big-ticket items
One of the goals of the movement to defund the police is to limit a police force's ability to acquire expensive, military-style equipment. Even if that movement is successful, however, the police have other ways of funding their purchases. It doesn't get much attention, but police foundations across Canada have in recent years used money given to them by corporate donors to help police purchase everything from a patrol boat to an armoured vehicle and a drone program. None of those purchases needed the approval of city hall or the public. None of them was open and transparent. And none of them would have been stopped by defunding the police department. In fact, as defunding the police gains momentum, these foundations will become more attractive to police departments and more outrageous to people who worry about preferential treatment for donors. GUEST: Martin Lukacs
Sep 2, 2020
Would you do jury duty in a pandemic?
It's already something some people try to avoid—and the thought of spending hours in a courtroom with others, masked or not, doesn't make jury duty any more appealing. But jury trials are returning this month, and so jury questionnaires are already on the way to mailboxes. But what's being done to keep jurors safe? To make it worthwhile for them to serve? And to mitigate that added burden on any disruption to work or home life that comes with COVID-19? Should we be trying to make jury trials function well enough, or take this opportunity to rethink jury duty forever? GUEST: Mark Farrant, CEO of the Canadian Juries Commission
Sep 1, 2020
Inside the Trudeau government’s own-goal on solitary confinement
The practice of solitary confinement in Canada had been found to violate inmates' human rights. The government had been given a year to fix it, and last December, the year was almost up. Since then, a lot has changed in the world. But it seems not a lot has changed in our prison system. And if anything had really changed, we likely wouldn’t know, because the government won’t tell us. It won't even tell the panel it appointed to watch over its work. Why? GUEST: Justin Ling
Aug 31, 2020
Winter is coming. Are we ready?
It sucks to think about cold weather and flu season when BBQs and beaches are still on the menu, but that’s the life of epidemiologists during a global pandemic. School starts next week. Fall is almost here. We’ve learned a lot about Covid-19 since February but have we used that knowledge to prepare for an inevitable second wave? And when that wave does come, how bad will it be? GUEST: Dr. David Fisman, epidemiologist
Aug 29, 2020
A Sip of Black Tea
We're bringing you a special episode of our sister show, Black Tea. In this one, Mel and Dalton talk to Celina Caesar-Chavannes, a former Member of Parliament, about how a lack of political will directly harm Black communities. We hope you'll listen.
Aug 28, 2020
A special message from The Big Story
A special episode of the Big Story looks at what has happened in sports over the past 48 hours and asks a question: If it isn't business as usual, and talking won't get things done, what will? GUEST: None.
Aug 27, 2020
How the pandemic poured gas on the income inequality fire
You’ve probably lived most of your life with rising income inequality. The rich steadily get richer while the rest of us just try to keep up. It’s difficult sometimes to keep in mind that it wasn’t always this way; that this is a choice we made—maybe not us, but the people we put in power. What Covid-19 has done to steadily rising inequality is, basically, the equivalent of throwing gas on a fire. We're getting dangerously close to a tipping point. What happens when we reach it? GUEST: Bruce Livesey, investigative reporter and writer
Aug 26, 2020
Who is Erin O’Toole? And should Justin Trudeau be worried?
He loves Top Gun, but he admits he's not Maverick. He courted the social conservative vote, then turned around and made a play for moderates. He wants a more inclusive Conservative Party of Canada, but he won't budge on the carbon tax. How did Erin O'Toole pull off the upset victory? What's his vision for the party he now leads? Where did he come from and is he just boring enough to put a real scare into Justin Trudeau and the Liberals? GUEST: Marie-Danielle Smith, Maclean's (Read Marie-Danielle's profile of O'Toole right here.)
Aug 25, 2020
What it’s like to get cancer care during a pandemic
It's perhaps the worst news you can imagine getting—and the only way to make it worse is to get it via videoconference in the midst of a pandemic. COVID-19 has forced sudden changes to the medical system, and created a flood of new health questions for anyone at risk. But do we have the answers? How do we give patients the care they need for life-threatening illnesses, and the support they need to fight through them, when we're still learning about a new virus? GUEST: Anne Borden, writer, host of Noncompliant.
Aug 24, 2020
Now we know how COVID-19 has changed the workday
The past six months have featured a lot of speculation about what the pandemic has done to the average workday for those lucky enough to have a job that can be done at home. Now we have some real data on how the lives of millions of workers have changed. Are we working more or less? Are our meetings getting longer? What are we missing about the office? How can companies adapt to what their workforce needs? And which strategies that we're learning now will stick around? GUEST: Jeff Polzer, Professor of Human Resource Management, Harvard Business School
Aug 21, 2020
What ‘Anne With An E’ fans taught us about cultural politics
Anne With An E is a reimagining of Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables tales. It ran for three seasons, and then got cancelled. And the fans took it personally. This isn’t a conversation about Anne With An E, though, it's a conversation about what happens when popular culture becomes a political identity. GUEST: John Semley
Aug 20, 2020
What the hell just happened in Ottawa?
Since Monday, the nation’s federal government has seen a high-profile resignation, a historic appointment, a prorogation of parliament in the middle of a pandemic, the release of 5,000 pages of documents concerning the government’s latest scandal, the promise of a reset and the threat of a fall election. Just another lazy August weekend in Ottawa. So why did the Liberals prorogue parliament? What will happen when it returns? Did Bill Morneau resign or was he fired? And what will Chrystia Freeland include in what is expected to be an ambitious plan for economic recovery? GUEST: Cormac Mac Sweeney, parliament hill reporter
Aug 19, 2020
What is “It is what it is”?
You probably first heard it from the mouth of a losing coach or player—but that's not where it came from. You may have noticed that US President Donald Trump used it to brush off 150,000 dead Americans, and everything that happened afterwards. It's a phrase that means almost nothing, yet is used to describe everything. So why has it become so ubiquitous? When we say "It is what it is", what are we trying to convey? How versatile is it and how much depends on who's using it? And when we do use it, what precisely is the "it" we're referring to? GUEST: Miles Klee, MEL Magazine
Aug 18, 2020
What does the future of dining out look like?
In most places, restaurants can reopen for indoor dining—with a whole lot of restrictions. But with limited seating available, it's going to be impossible for most places to sustain their business on diners alone. And most of us don't feel great about going right back to a restaurant anyway. So...what next? As awful as COVID-19 has been for the hospitality industry, it has merely accelerated some longtime trends like to move to delivery and takeout, the phenomenon of Ghost Kitchens and other, more creative, ways of doing business. So what will the restaurants that survive the pandemic look like when life returns to normal? GUEST: Corey Mintz, food reporter
Aug 17, 2020
Tracy Moore brings blunt anti-racism to daytime lifestyle TV
Tracy Moore took over as host of Cityline 12 years ago, the first black woman to host a Canadian daytime lifestyle show. The reaction to her debut was…ugly. But 12 years later, Tracy is still here, and has been talking fashion and health and recipes and everything else you’d expect for more than a decade. But now, she’s also talking about anti-racism and white supremacy. On a lifestyle show. In a space that’s traditionally been considered out of bounds for anything political or uncomfortable. So how is that working out? GUEST: Tracy Moore, host of Cityline
Aug 14, 2020
The Raptors are back, and ready to repeat. Here’s why this team is unique.
What the Toronto Raptors are attempting has never been done before—they're trying to shed a superstar and get even better. When the reigning champs begin the NBA Playoffs Monday against Brooklyn, they'll do so with a better winning percentage than they managed with Kawhi Leonard shutting down opponents and filling the bucket. What makes this group so special? How do they go about winning games against teams that feature Hall of Famers at the top of their rosters? What will they have to do to thrive in a star-driven playoff series? What's their biggest weakness? And can they really, actually win another NBA title? GUEST: Michael Grange, Sportsnet
Aug 13, 2020
What if Back to School isn’t the best option for kids?
There are lots of reasons schools should open in the fall. From parents' sanity and productivity to the fact that without the childcare schools provide, working parents are basically screwed and economic recovery is impossible. But there's another assumption that we make when discussing sending kids back in September: That going back will be the best thing for their mental health. What if that assumption's wrong? School can be a source of anxiety and stress for kids at the best of times, never mind how it feels when it comes with fear of contracting Covid-19 and bringing it home to make a parent or grandparent sick. Classroom learning doesn't work for some kids, even without teachers in masks and socially distanced. Maybe we should have a more nuanced conversation about what school in a pandemic could look like, instead of assuming it's either in-person or a boring, glitchy Zoom call. GUEST: Dr. Tyler Black, suicidologist and emergency psychiatrist in B.C.
Aug 12, 2020
Travel Do’s and Don’ts during a pandemic
Should you drive, take the train or fly? Where should you stay when you arrive? Can you use public bathrooms—and how do you do it safely? Are airlines still enforcing social distancing inside planes? Do you need to wipe down your tray table? Can you ride in a car with another family if you all wear masks? Travel is about getting outside of our comfort zone—which means something much different in 2020. But for those of us with loved ones in other cities, provinces and countries, it might be a necessity, either due to an emergency or just for our own mental health. So, how do you assess risk when you're on the road? And if you are going to travel, how do you do it safely?
Aug 11, 2020
Doug Ford Vs. The Pandemic
Ontario's premier won a landslide election in 2018, but by the end of last year his approval rating was underwater. It's fair to say that when COVID-19 began, Ontarians were skeptical of his leadership. Six months later, though, Ford's approval is sky high. So what happened? Did Ford rise to the challenge or just beat low expectations? Has he really changed minds or is this just a crisis bump? What did Ford do right and wrong over the past six months? And what's next for a leader who could be right back on shaky ground if his plan to reopen schools ends in disaster? GUEST: Nick Taylor-Vaisey, Maclean's
Aug 10, 2020
Why are headless sea lions being found on B.C.’s beaches?
Dead sea lions turn up from time to time on beaches in British Columbia. That's not unusual. Recently though they’ve been found missing their heads. And yes, that’s the strange part. But not the strangest part. What or who, took their heads? Before or after they died? Why? What happened to the heads after they were severed? And what does this whole strange saga tell us about the delicate balance of predator and prey … and working fisheries on our west coast? GUEST: Wanyee Li, Vancouver Bureau, Toronto Star
Aug 7, 2020
Aliens in 2020: Is the truth finally out there?
It’s worth looking, every so often, at the stories of 2020 that haven’t gotten much attention because of the...raging global pandemic, furious protests against police brutality and racism, the never-ending saga of Donald Trump somehow being President of the United States and the general 2020 news like murder hornets, plane crashes and catastrophic global warming. It’s been a busy year and some things slip through the cracks. Little things, you know? Aliens, stuff like that. Wait! Aliens? Yup. Aliens. It's that kind of year. GUEST: Marie-Danielle Smith, Maclean's
Aug 6, 2020
Meet Canada’s ‘Dreamers’ and the barriers they face
When they're going through elementary and high school, nobody asks these children and teens about their immigration status. That's policy in our system. When they graduate however, even if they've got straight 'A's, post-secondary education is just about impossible. So some of our brightest young people leave school, and take up under-the-table jobs in factories and bakeries, putting aside their dreams to keep themselves and their families safe in Canada. Is there a better way? Meet Canada's 'Dreamers'. GUEST: David Bruser, Investigative Reporter, The Toronto Star
Aug 5, 2020
How close are we to a Covid-19 vaccine, really?
There's a ton of good news about various Covid-19 vaccine trials moving to Phase Three. What does that actually mean? Some companies might even begin production now, hoping for positive results, in order to meet global demand should the vaccine be proven to work. Politicians keep touting early 2021 as a target, but... What do we still need for these vaccines to be proven effective? Who makes that call and what goes into it? What role will politics play? Can we even hope to make enough to treat everyone? And what if some people refuse to take a vaccine that's been cleared for use? GUEST: Ivan Semeniuk, Health Reporter, The Globe and Mail
Aug 4, 2020
Why do some people keep testing positive for Covid-19?
In casual discussion of the virus, the term "Long Haulers" is, generally, used to describe people for whom symptoms of Covid-19 can linger for weeks and months, long after the worst seems to be over. And that can be debilitating. But that’s not the only kind of ‘long-hauler’. There are also people, we’re learning, who recover, but continue to test positive weeks later. Even without any symptoms. How long can this virus linger inside people? What can other diseases that stay with people for years and even lifetimes tell us about what we’re seeing in these cases with Covid? What do we still not know about how all this works? GUEST: Roxanne Khamsi, science writer
Jul 31, 2020
We need to talk about how we talk about Kanye West
Kanye's a celebrity. He lives his life extremely publicly and he's openly discussed his mental health. So many of us feel free to speculate about it, too. When we do, we're also talking about thousands of non-celebrities who live with mental health challenges—and they hear exactly what we're saying. Why do we feel so confident to discuss the mental health of celebrities as though we know them? What does calling Kanye 'crazy' or 'unhinged' do to other people with bipolar disorder who aren't rich and famous? And how can we call out Kanye for his offensive behaviour without blaming it on his condition? GUEST: Stacy Lee Kong, author of Friday Things
Jul 30, 2020
Is this the end of the Safe Third Country Agreement?
A landmark ruling last week found that sending refugee claimants back to the United States under the Safe Third Country Agreement violates their human rights—and a federal judge has given the government six months to fix or terminate the policy. What does this mean for the US-Canada border? For the thousands of refugees every year that arrive in the United States then try to make it to Canada? To understand this agreement you have to go back to the months after 9/11, when immigration and border security were undergoing massive changes. And to understand why the agreement has been invalidated in court, you need to look at what's changed at the border in the years since then. GUEST: Sharry Aiken, Professor of Immigration Law, Queen's University
Jul 29, 2020
A window into the failure and racism in Canada’s child welfare programs
There are at least 102 kids. Most of them are Indigenous. Over seventeen years their money was stolen from their bank accounts, pushing them into poverty, homelessness and worse. And nobody noticed. Nobody cared. A multimillion dollar settlement from the BC government admits that this happened, and attempts to make up for the failures with at least $25,000 per victim. But no criminal charges have been filed. No inquiry is forthcoming. And the details of how this happened gives us a look into just how unfair the system that's supposed to help these kids can be. GUEST: Holly Moore, Investigative Producer, APTN
Jul 28, 2020
How did QAnon evolve? And can believers ever be convinced otherwise?
It began as a strange conspiracy theory in American politics. It's since become much strange, much more widespread and much more dangerous. QAnon has spread around the world and driven real-life events that put lives in danger, including here in Canada. How did this happen? What's behind QAnon's rapid spread and how can we try to convince believers that none of it is true? And what happens if we simply can't stop it and something awful happens? GUEST: Marc-André Argentino, Concordia University
Jul 27, 2020
B.C. Manhunt: One Year Later
Last summer, long before a pandemic was on the horizon, the biggest story was a teenage manhunt. After discovering the bodies of Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese at one location and Leonard Dyck at another, the RCMP named an 18 and a 19-year-old as their main suspects. And they were on the run. After a nationwide sweep that involved the military and tons of media coverage, police found the killers' bodies in the brush of northern Manitoba. In a video found on site, Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky confessed to the murders and voiced their plans to end it all with a murder suicide. Now, a year later, the RCMP are preparing to close the case for good. But one major question remains: Why did they do it? GUEST: Alex McKeen, Vancouver bureau reporter for the Toronto Star, who, with colleague Douglas Quan, recently wrote about the anniversary.
Jul 24, 2020
It’s time we consider getting rid of tipping in restaurants
As the nation yawns awake following a months-long shutdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, restaurants are welcoming diners again. This once fully relaxing experience is now riddled with reminders to be vigilant: Sign-in sheets to allow for contact tracing. Strict rules about wearing face masks indoors. Tables positioned six feet apart. This is a whole new world — unfamiliar to diners, for sure, but also nearly unrecognizable to restaurant staff who’ve gone from being out of work to being frontline workers. And the tips? Let’s just say they’ve been better. As the restaurant industry adjusts to this new reality, there may well be an opportunity for fundamental change — and some advocates have put the practice of tipping on the chopping block. What’s so bad about the gratuity system? And what would a world without tipping look like? Guest: Hassel Aviles, co-founder of Not9to5, a Canadian nonprofit that empowers hospitality workers by connecting them with resources on men…
Jul 23, 2020
The RCMP’s Reckoning
It’s an iconic image of Canada: A Mountie, donning a red serge, Stetson hat, combat boots, standing on guard for thee, which is usually taken to mean “all of us.” But this image, as mighty as it seems, is attached to what critics call a massive, dysfunctional, paramilitary institution that can’t seem to ever hold itself accountable. Its relationship with Indigenous peoples is as strained as ever and there is quaking within its ranks, leading to hundreds of millions of dollars spent on inquiries and settlements. While the residents of Portapique, Nova Scotia took to the streets this week demanding a public inquiry into the RCMP’s response the day 22 of its residents died at the hands of a gunman, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission found the Mounties’ “command and control” approach to policing has led to “unreasonable" use of force in their response to mental health and wellbeing calls. It doesn’t help that their top official can’t answer a basic questio…
Jul 22, 2020
How Canadian media’s whiteness fails all of us
Radiyah Chowdhury first thought about leaving the media business when she was still in journalism school. Back in her first year classes, sitting amongst a sea of white peers, she remembers getting an introduction to the idea of “objectivity” and feeling awash in anxiety. “Objectivity, as it was presented to us seemed to be tailored for a specific type of person, one whose capacity to be dispassionate about certain issues came from a place of privilege that was unfamiliar to me,” she wrote in an essay that won this year’s Dalton Camp Award. The industry, as it is, poses a next to impossible ask for journalists of colour, wrote the assistant editor at Chatelaine. These storytellers have been tokenized and largely shut out of an industry dominated by white people. Now that the news business is being taken to task for systemic racism, will we finally see meaningful change? Or will the media cycle churn on? GUEST: Radiyah Chowdhury, assistant editor at Chatelaine and winner of th…
Jul 21, 2020
Inside Canada’s first major case of the #MeToo era
Matthew McKnight was a fixture in the Edmonton bar scene, known for partying in colourful animal themed jumpsuits and sometimes only his underwear. He’d buy rounds of drinks, distributing them to pretty young women enjoying a night on the town. In April 2016 the first — a 17-year-old girl — would report to police that she had been sexually assaulted by McKnight. Many other women soon came forward with their own experiences of assault at the hands of a man whose exploits had been an “open secret” for far too long. This past fall, Matthew McKnight pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of sexual assault against 13 different women. In January, a jury found him guilty of five of them. Now, as he awaits sentencing, the case is being scrutinized as one of Canada’s first legal reckonings of the MeToo era — a test of how the court handled a rare case of multiple charges of assault against one serial sexual predator. Can justice really be served? Guest: Jana Pruden, crime and feature w…
Jul 20, 2020
Data, Dating Apps and Danger for LGBTQ People Online
By now we've become at least semi-acquainted with the idea that advertisers and social media companies scrape and use our personal information in ways we can't even begin to comprehend. But a new analysis of the ways LGBTQ people are targeted, surveilled and censored online reveals a disturbing and disheartening tool international governments are using to persecute the queer community: Data from dating apps. In a report released last week, cybersecurity company Recorded Future found dating apps like OKCupid, Grindr and Tinder collected user data, including users' exact location, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, political beliefs, drug use and more, and shared it with at least 135 third party entities. The company observed multiple cybersecurity attacks traced back to Russia and other Eastern European countries as well as cases all over the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and Africa. Sometimes, people were entrapped, beaten and tortured. What implications does this data collec…
Jul 17, 2020
Anne Applebaum on the Harper’s Letter and the rise of authoritarianism
Last week, Harper’s magazine published an open letter, speaking out against a culture of “intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.” The letter was signed by 150 people. Among them, prominent figures like J.K. Rowling, Margaret Atwood, and Salman Rushdie. Once published, it created a wave of backlash, and at least two people withdrew their names when they saw who else had signed it. Today, a discussion with one of the letter’s signatories about flawed democracies, and why she felt it was important to sign the letter. GUEST: Anne Applebaum, author of Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism
Jul 16, 2020
Could decriminalizing drugs save lives and fix the opioid crisis?
Last week the Canadian Association of the Chiefs of Police announced their support for decriminalizing the personal possession of illicit drugs. Drug use and addiction, they said, is a public health issue. And simple possession should be treated with health and social service resources, rather than through the criminal justice system. It’s an idea researchers and people who work in addiction have hammered away at for decades. But it's still a shocking position for the association representing police chiefs across the country. So why now? And what does this mean for drug policy in Canada? GUEST: Justin Ling, investigative reporter. GUEST HOST: Sarmishta Subramanian
Jul 15, 2020
Nature’s calling but there’s nowhere to answer. Why we need to make public toilets a number one issue.
We can joke as much as we want about it, but the reality is that we all go to the bathroom, every single day. It’s a basic human need. Yet many cities are failing at providing accessible public toilets for everyone. What will it take for politicians and city planners to take the issue seriously and address the underlying discrimination and inequality? Which cities are doing it right? How has the pandemic highlighted the need for accessible public washrooms? Could this be a turning point? GUEST: Lezlie Lowe, author of No Place to Go: How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs GUEST HOST: Sarmishta Subramanian
Jul 14, 2020
Labour Day is weeks away. Why is the safe return to school still not a priority?
When the entire country went into lockdown a few months ago, it meant kids would be staying home and most of their parents would be too. But now, as businesses reopen and people start going back to work, parents are wondering where their kids are supposed to go. With Labour Day fast approaching, are we doing all that we can to ensure a safe full return to school and protect the educational rights of children? If not, how many parents will have to leave the workforce to provide for their kids? And can you take a wild guess as to which parent that responsibility will usually fall on? GUEST: Lauren Dobson-Hughes, gender and international health consultant. Read her opinion piece here. GUEST HOST: Sarmishta Subramanian
Jul 13, 2020
Three countries are shifting international political order. Why now?
In nearly a single week, three global hot spots ushered in some dramatic changes. Russia made a constitutional amendment allowing Vladimir Putin to add 16 additional years to a 20-year run. China put into effect new security law, stripping Hong Kong of its autonomy and shuttering the democracy movement. And in Israel, a looming annexation plan could take over as much as 30 percent of the West Bank. Why did all this happen now? Did the global pandemic play a part? Did an America in free fall encourage it? And what will it do to the peace and balance of power on the world stage? GUEST: Mark MacKinnon, senior international correspondent for The Globe and Mail. GUEST HOST: Sarmishta Subramanian
Jul 10, 2020
Sports are coming back! But should they?
We're just a few weeks away from the return of the NBA, NHL and MLB. The NFL plans to join them soon afterwards. It could be a wonderful few months for sports fans ... but it's also unnecessary, risky and could end very, very badly. How badly do leagues, players and networks want the games to return? What happens as more and more players test positive? What do we know about how the plans are working so far? What would it take to shut down a single team, or a whole league? What if someone dies? It's a grim but real possibility. GUEST: Donnovan Bennett, Sportsnet
Jul 9, 2020
Inside the world of contact tracing
If Canada is going to keep COVID-19 under control, contact tracing and tracking will have to play a huge part in it. You hear about contact tracing in every interview or article about controlling the virus—but how does the process actually work? Who are the people tasked with the often difficult job? How do they deal with people who are scared or angry to hear from them? How many cases can be missed before an outbreak looms? And as Canada prepares for a second wave...do we have enough of them to handle what's coming? GUEST: Aaron Hutchins, Maclean's
Jul 8, 2020
Can big brands force Facebook to change in time for the US election?
There's another public outcry about Facebook! Shocking, right? But this time over 800 companies are putting their advertising dollars behind it, in an attempt to force the social media giant to confront hate speech and white supremacy on its platform. Will it work? Is there a dollar amount big enough to force Mark Zuckerberg to back down? And how much of a role will Facebook play in the upcoming U.S. election? Are we in for a repeat of 2016? GUEST: Jesse Hirsh, Futurist, Metaviews.ca
Jul 7, 2020
What’s the story behind the Liberals’ cancelled WE Charity deal?
The organization was supposed to distribute more than $900 million in student grants, but the reaction when the deal was announced was immediate and intense. There's now an ethics investigation and WE has walked away from the plan. What happened? Why did the Liberals agree to this, and what should they have known about the organization before announcing it would be handling nearly a billion dollars of taxpayer money? GUEST: Jesse Brown, Canadaland
Jul 6, 2020
Inside the month Canada lost to COVID-19
Warning bells were sounding. Some of the country's leading scientists were writing urgent emails to politicians and public health units. There was an emergency coming. It was going to get bad. We should take action now. Still, Canada waited to take steps such as closing borders, securing PPE and planning for a massive wave of COVID-19. Compared to our neighbours to the south, we've handled the crisis fairly well—but what could we have done with an extra month to plan? How many lives and millions of dollars could we have saved? Who sounded the warnings, and who listened? And who didn't? GUEST: Robyn Doolittle, The Globe and Mail
Jul 3, 2020
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
Jul 2, 2020
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.
Jun 30, 2020
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
Jun 29, 2020
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 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
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.)