Newest member of Team Jennifer Jones says she has ‘big shoes to fill’ heading into Scotties


It’s a Thursday afternoon in early February, and inside the Granite Curling Club in Winnipeg, champion curler Jocelyn Peterman is perfecting her craft.

You might expect the pressure to be intense for Peterman heading into the 2019 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Sydney, N.S., this weekend, as the new second for Team Jennifer Jones — taking over from Jill Officer, who announced last year she would be taking a step back from competitive curling. 

But the 25-year old from Red Deer, Alta., says the transition to Jones’s rink was a seamless one, and Officer — who will still be a part of the squad at the Scotties this year as the team’s alternate —has been especially supportive.

« Obviously, when Jill retired there were big shoes to fill. She’s such a great person and such a great teammate and such a consistently great player, » Peterman said.

« She’s been really great welcoming me to the team, and ensuring that there isn’t any pressure there. So it’s been really great and it’s nice to have her coming to the event as well. »

Returning champions

Following their win last year, Jones’s Manitoba-based rink is looking for a record-setting seventh national championship at the Scotties tournament, which begins Saturday, with lead Dawn McEwen, Peterman at second and third Kaitlyn Lawes.

The stakes are high — the winner returns as Team Canada at the Scotties next year, and also moves on to represent Canada at the women’s world curling championships in Denmark next month.

Jones’s rink won that championship last year.

« We’re just practising quite a bit and training in the gym, » said Peterman. « Mostly practising and taking some time to recover so that we’re healthy and feeling good heading into next week. »

Newest member of Team Jennifer Jones tell us what it takes to be a world class second. 1:54

Peterman knows what it takes to win a national championship.  She was the second with Alberta’s Team Chelsea Carey when they won the Scotties in 2016.

« Sweeping is kind of the main job of the second. Obviously, with the sweeping, you need to be physically fit — upper-body strength with the sweeping. »

Knowing the weight of throwing rocks is just as important, the Alberta native says.

« We throw a mix of shots, so light-touch weight shots and some big heavyweight takeouts as well. A little bit of both with the shots. »

At this practice, Peterman and teammate Lawes are taking turns throwing rocks and sweeping together.

There are also moments in the two-hour practice for the teammates to work on their own on separate sheets.

Peterman hopes to add another Scotties crown to her long list of curling titles, and says she would love to do it with her new teammates. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Peterman was skip throughout most of her junior career. This will be her fifth season playing team second, and she says she enjoys the combination of skills needed in the role.

« I do like that it’s a combination of shots and I do like that you get a good mix of sweeping in there as well. And when you’re needed you can contribute to the strategy as well. »

From competitor to teammate

Peterman says she was approached early last year by her new teammates to take over from Officer.

The decision to join the Olympic gold medal-winning squad was an easy one, Peterman says.

« The girls are all so good and so accomplished in the sport. I was honoured to be asked to be a part of their team and to be in such good company. »

She says she’s excited for the opportunity to play with one of the world’s best teams — and one she’d previously faced as a competitor.

« I’ve competed against them for a long time. But I didn’t know them too well on a personal level, » Peterman said.

Peterman says the Jennifer Jones rink has formed a strong bond ahead of the Scotties. ‘I’ve competed against them for a long time. But I didn’t know them too well on a personal level’ before joining the team, she says. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

« I just knew that they were so accomplished and such good curlers. I didn’t know them well, but it’s been nice getting to know them this season. »

Peterman feels a strong bond has formed between the rink during the very busy curling season that began last fall, and included a win earlier this month at the TSN All-Star Curling Skins game in Banff.

« So that was exciting. And yeah, it’s been a lot of fun. »

The second says she would like to add another Scotties crown to her long list of curling titles, and she would love to do it with her new teammates.

« It would be so exciting. It would be a pretty amazing opportunity with this team. »


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Every day ‘more difficult,’ but Jennifer Hillier-Penney’s family still looks for answers


A somber anniversary passed Friday night — it’s now been two years since Jennifer Hillier-Penney disappeared — but for some, not nearly enough has changed.

« We know no more now then the day she went missing, » says Yvonne Hillier-Decker, who is Hillier-Penney’s sister and one of the last to have seen the woman in St. Anthony.

Frustrated, sad and angry, Hillier-Decker and others in Hillier-Penney’s family organized a walk Saturday morning that took them to the steps of the RCMP detachment in St. Anthony and the driveway of the home where she disappeared.

« Today is a very emotional day, » said Joann Peyton, another of Hillier-Penney’s sisters. « We would hope that it would not be two years since Jennifer went missing that we wouldn’t have the answers. »

The crowd of marchers held signs — « Justice for Jennifer » — and chanted « we want answers! » as they walked through the town.

The marchers walked through Husky Drive, and past the house where Jennifer Hillier-Penney was last seen. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

« There’s people around, there’s people in this community that have the answers we’re looking for, » Peyton explained.

Hillier-Penney was last seen on Nov. 30, 2016, at her estranged husband’s home. When her daughter woke up the following morning, she was gone — though her keys, purse and phone were all in the house.

The RCMP have labelled her disappearance as suspicious, but have never identified any suspects in the case.

In advance of an episode of The Fifth Estate broadcast on the disappearance, a justice of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Supreme Court issued an order that barred media from reporting that the police have identified anyone as being involved.

According to Hillier-Decker, RCMP investigators visited St. Anthony again this week, but did not share any new information with the family. She believes more needs to be done.

« We need more interviews done, more talking, more — not just coming around once a year. »

Jake, Jennifer Hillier-Penney’s great nephew, holds a her photo in a car seat following the walk in St. Anthony. His grandmother, Joann Peyton, says Jake can recognize his great aunt in photos. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Among the marchers were some of Hillier-Penney’s younger relatives, including her great-nephew, Jake. Peyton says the whole family is trying to keep the memory alive.

« All of our children and grandchildren — it’s been known, and we keep her memory alive through pictures, and when they get older we’ll tell them about Jennifer, the beautiful person that she is, passionate and caring, » Peyton said. « And she loved children. Children was her life. » 

Hillier-Penney had two daughters, Deana and Marina.

« She loved her girls dearly, » added Marilyn Earle, who helped organize the march.

‘Someone knows something’

Many of the posters and signs brought to the march showed an ominous passage: « Someone knows something. »

« There’s more than one [who] knows, » said Hillier-Decker.

She has concluded that Jennifer was killed.

« She was murdered, she was murdered the night she was taken, » she said. « They say St. Anthony is safe, St. Anthony is not safe, there is a murderer walking around here in St. Anthony. »

That hasn’t stopped the family from holding onto some hope they might find closure.

« Every day, every night, every hour, every minute, we’re just hoping that something shows up, » said Hillier-Decker. « We need answers. »

« It never gets easier, » added Peyton. « It’s actually harder, because every day you have to face that Jennifer is no longer with us, and we don’t have the answers that we’re looking for. »

« So every day is more difficult than the day before. »


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Jennifer McKelvie takes the scientific approach to municipal politics


Jennifer McKelvie is a scientist with a PhD, but the new Scarborough councillor thinks it’s her unquantifiable people skills that will help resolve issues like transit that have been frustrating residents in her riding for too long.

“They are tired of the debate and they want to see shovels in the ground and see something getting built,” said the incoming representative for Ward 25 (Scarborough Rouge-Park), one of four new faces on council, which is scheduled to meet for the first time on Tuesday.

McKelvie won her riding by 154 votes over Neethan Shan, making her one of only two councillors who managed to topple an incumbent in the Oct. 22 municipal election. (The other was Mike Colle, a former longtime MPP, who won Ward 8 Eglinton-Lawrence over incumbent Christin Carmichael Greb.)

Born in East York, McKelvie grew up on the border of North York and Scarborough, on the North York side of Victoria Park Ave. and now lives near the eastern extremity of the ward, in the Centennial neighbourhood.

She loves the easy access to nature that Scarborough provides, including the parks and treed streets where kids play road hockey, but feels that Scarborough tends to be forgotten by the city.

“Parts of our community actually used to be Pickering, so some of the manholes in the most eastern edge still say ‘Pickering’ on them,” McKelvie said during an interview in her spacious home on a heavily treed street.

“Because we’re on the eastern edge, we tend to be forgotten. A lot of buses, for example, will turn (around) at the University of Scarborough, but there is still a whole lot of Toronto that is east of that.”

McKelvie, who supports a three-stop Scarborough subway extension, wants to focus on getting action on issues that seem to have been stuck in an endless loop of decision-making at city hall.

“I think even on controversial issues, there is always consensus. And consensus doesn’t mean unanimous and it doesn’t mean everyone is happy, it just means that we have a path forward,” she said.

Growing up, McKelvie wanted to be a lawyer and work in environmental protection, but a single law course convinced her that she was better off in the sciences.

“It seemed it was more about the ‘gotchya’ than it was about being proactive,” she said of the law course.

She was director of research at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, managing international research collaborations on things like quantum computing and personalized medicine.

She also worked at the non-profit, non-governmental Nuclear Waste Management Organization, bringing together academics and industry representatives to design nuclear containment systems, and engaging in community consultation on site assessments.

“I think my niche has always been bringing together people with diverse professional backgrounds and experience to solve complex problems,” said McKelvie.

“So that is what I want to continue doing at city hall, is looking out and saying OK, who are the people we need to bring to the table and how can we help to catalyze those discussions to innovate and modernize the city?”

People who know her say McKelvie is the right person for the job.

“She is data driven, problem-solving, very practical, very interested in reaching out,” said Barbara Sherwood Lollar, a University of Toronto professor who met her 20 years ago when McKelvie was an undergraduate there, and was her MSc and PhD supervisor.

While McKelvie is focused on making good decisions, she’s not about making unilateral decisions, Sherwood Lollar says.

“You can’t impose solutions. They have to be something that people have looked at from various perspectives and the broader group is on board with. She really understands that.”

Gerard Baribeau has known McKelvie since 2014, when a group of Scarborough Rotary clubs formed the Scarborough Community Renewal Organization, aimed at getting city hall to invest in what they believe is a forgotten suburb. McKelvie was elected as the first president.

“When you look at Scarborough, it is the largest land mass in the city of Toronto and the largest population, and it’s been essentially ignored,” said Baribeau, president-elect of the Rotary Club of Scarborough.

“Everything has been focused on downtown.”

While the Rotary Club is non-partisan, he believes McKelvie is suited to her new role.

“She’s a very dynamic person and extremely intelligent and a realist. She is what we would call a pragmatist. She’s smart and thinks of the community.

“I think she will make an excellent councillor and one that looks at the big picture.”

McKelvie says she also wants to work on bringing jobs to Scarborough and finding a solution to the traffic around schools during drop-off and pickup.

“It’s crazytown in the morning in front of all of the schools. The traffic is incredible. It has become very unsafe. We need to get our kids walking again, but we also need to look at how we can improve the flow in front of schools.”

She committed to advancing Vision Zero for school zones by 2022.

She said housing for seniors is another pressing problem in the ward. Homeowners who are downsizing don’t have many options when it comes to options for staying in the community.

She wants to put together a working group of residents, community associations and developers as a first step.

“It’s tangible. I think it’s something that we can set out right away to get started, early in the new year, and get this working group going so that we can find a way to make this happen.”

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Francine Kopun is a Toronto-based reporter covering city politics. Follow her on Twitter: @KopunF


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Jennifer Garner Loves Ina Garten’s Beef Bourguignon


In honor of Ina Garten’s guest editing week, we asked chefs and celebrity fans to share their favorite Barefoot Contessa recipes as part of our series “How Easy Is That?” Below, actress Jennifer Garner (currently starring on Camping on HBO) reveals how she discovered Ina’s classic beef bourguignon.

What is my favorite Ina Garten recipe? This is an unfair question, I may have to quit here. How could I possibly choose a favorite? Do you mean to ask me my favorite from each book? My favorite chicken, my favorite shrimp, my favorite muffin? Torture.

Okay, okay. My favorite Ina recipe is Ina’s beef bourguignon. (Called by its traditional French name boeuf bourguignon in the book.) The first time I made it was ages ago—we were shooting Alias in the early 2000s, and my co-star Michael Vartan had hunted down a signed copy of Barefoot in Paris for me. I made dinner for Victor Garber—who played my dad on the show—and his partner, Rainer. We were mid-season and had just finished a long week, and I somehow made this gorgeous meal on a Saturday night. I remember being in my little house listening to music and drinking a glass of gorgeous red wine. (Always cook with a wine you’d like to have at the table, right, Ina?) The house smelled like winter when Victor and Rainer arrived, and the meal was done. I didn’t have to get up to check anything or stir or sauté—everything had cooked in the oven, and we just sat and ate and talked and laughed.

Since that night I have made this recipe countless times—for small, intimate dinner parties or doubling it for my family at Christmas. And I’ve learned a lot about it through the years. I tried having a butcher cut the meat for me once and won’t do that again; I like my meat more carefully trimmed than just cubed. I know now to watch the bacon carefully (it can go from sizzling to sizzled in a few short seconds), and that the grilled bread dipped in the stew is worth every bite—even if half the table is filled with actors on no-carb diets! No matter what, it is absolutely a winner and gives everyone the feeling of luxury and time and depth of flavor. I haven’t made this for Ina, but would be thrilled to—her recipe is foolproof and there is no one better to share a table with than Ina and Jeffrey!

I wonder what other gems Ina has hiding in plain sight. Sometimes I go through and read her earlier books over again to come up with fresh ideas. Ina’s books, like her beef bourguignon, never ever disappoint.

Ina Garten’s Boeuf Bourguignon

Beef Stew with Red Wine
Serves 6

I never really liked beef bourguignon. After cooking for three hours, the meat was stringy and dry and the vegetables were overcooked. So, I tried to solve the problem and came up with a delicious stew that cooks in an hour and a half. The good news is that it’s even better the second day, so it’s great for entertaining. To make in advance, cook the stew and refrigerate. To serve, reheat to a simmer over low heat and serve with the bread and parsley.

1 tablespoon good olive oil
8 ounces good bacon, diced
2½ pounds beef chuck cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
½ cup Cognac or good brandy
1 (750-ml) bottle good dry red wine, such as Burgundy
2 to 2½ cups canned beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen small whole onions
1 pound mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thickly sliced

For serving:
Country bread, toasted or grilled
1 garlic clove, cut in half
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.

Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.

Toss the carrots, onions, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 2 teaspoons of pepper into the fat in the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with any juices that have accumulated on the place. Add the wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a boil, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and place it in the oven for about 1¼ hours, or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.

Combine 2 tablespoons of the butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium pan, sauté the mushrooms in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned, and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

Rub each slice of bread on one side with garlic. For each serving, spoon the stew over a slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley.

Recipe reprinted from Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home. Copyright © 2004 by Ina Garten. Photographs by Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.


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Why Jennifer Keesmaat’s mayoral campaign never took flight


Just days after Jennifer Keesmaat cycled to city hall and dramatically signed up at the last minute to challenge John Tory in Toronto’s mayoral race, she was surrounded by advisers in her midtown kitchen.

The ad hoc group assembled around her, according to two people who were there, were comprised of a collection of NDPers, including Councillor Joe Cressy, a smattering of Liberals, including MP Adam Vaughan, now re-elected councillor Shelley Carroll and several of former premier Kathleen Wynne’s staff members who would later be visible on Keesmaat’s campaign.

A “kitchen cabinet” of sorts, they came to one conclusion: the ballot question had to be about Premier Doug Ford slashing council nearly in half without warning. It had to be about which candidate could better stand up to a bully.

In the end, sources say, the campaign team that later assembled all but abandoned that narrative. Several agreed that, overall, it was Keesmaat’s team that let down Toronto’s former chief planner.

The Star is not naming sources who requested anonymity because their positions do not allow them to speak freely about confidential campaign information.

In the wake of a commanding victory by a still-popular Tory in Monday night’s election, those both on the periphery and inside the campaign say the lack of time Keesmaat had to make her pitch made the gap nearly impossible to close. But attacking Tory more than focusing on a fight with Ford, and failing to lay out her vision for the city, hurt her case.

Since 2017, Toronto progressives had calls and meetings trying to identify a progressive standard-bearer. Those who said no included Vaughan, former Toronto deputy police chief Peter Sloly, Councillor Mike Layton, retired sports executive Richard Peddie and Keesmaat, confirmed multiple sources who spoke to the Star on condition of anonymity.

Until the morning of July 27, when Ford confirmed his plan to slash the size of city council and Tory responded with what many saw as a meek response, Keesmaat was firmly against running, say all those who spoke to the Star. Tory, a conservative first elected in 2014, had no serious challenger.

The candidate search instantly restarted with a flurry of phone calls. Layton and Vaughan considered the question but again said no, said a source on the calls. Keesmaat, after a conference call with family members, said yes, triggering her trip to city hall and answering the prayers of progressives who feared Ford’s toll on Toronto if Tory insisted on playing nice with the premier.

Her supporters — she walked into the race with no team — hoped they could catch lightning in a bottle.

“In the end this was not Jennifer’s race to win,” Cressy said in an interview. “The biggest lesson is that mayoralty campaigns require exceptional organization and preparation, that launching a campaign before the wings are on the plane is extremely difficult.”

A seasoned team was quickly assembled, eventually moving out of her Chaplin Estates home — a mix of former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty staffers, Wynne staffers and seasoned NDPers. Her campaign manager was Brian Topp, the former chief of staff to Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley. Most did not know Keesmaat and were less familiar with city hall politics than Tory’s mix of Liberals and Conservatives.

Keesmaat herself drove the policy that was released, with the team at first slow on the uptake to distil her detailed ideas into platform planks that were palatable to the public, one insider said. It included a rent-to-own housing program, turning city-run golf courses into more accessible public spaces and a push for gender equity on city boards and commissions.

The initial rollout was slow. Over the course of just over 60 days, she made about a dozen major announcements. After the first announcement on Aug. 7 about her affordable housing plan, she did not return with another pitch to voters until Aug. 30, 23 days later, rolling out her transit plan.

In the first announcement on affordable housing, the successful businesswoman and former chief planner, who is in demand for speeches worldwide, relied on notes and speaking points in front of her — something insiders say was a repeated mistake.

One political observer said the voters who don’t remember her from her city hall days never got to see the real Keesmaat — a planner obsessed with evidence and details, who talks easily and inspirationally about transit-oriented development and complete communities.

“All that was missing,” said one source who observed the campaign from the periphery, noting the campaign got Keesmaat speaking on an NDP message track instead of Keesmaat finding a team to rally around her own confident, unique vision.

Another tactical error, sources said, was the focus on attacking Tory.

Three to four weeks into the campaign, a team meeting to regroup on messaging happened in a boardroom at DIALOG — the planning consultancy that encompassed the firm started by Keesmaat before she became chief planner. Keesmaat rehearsed a new stump speech slagging Tory, which some in the room said was too off-brand.

Those in attendance were divided over whether attacking Tory as a primary campaign tactic was the right move.

The team also failed, one source said, to slap Tory for his refusal to debate Keesmaat one-on-one. A chicken suit was ordered to shame him but its arrival, the source said, was delayed by customs. It was eventually used briefly to no effect.

Keesmaat’s team, the same source said, also failed to capitalize on Ford’s decision to invoke the notwithstanding clause to overrule a court judgement that blocked his legislation cutting the size of council to 25 wards.

Another source said: “Jennifer’s not an attack dog . . . I feel like she was limited to really transmitting who she was as a leader.” One insider noted Keesmaat was struggling in the limelight to transform from urbanist speaker and ex-bureaucrat to hard-hitting politician.

“She was trying to find her own voice as a politician too,” one source told the Star, acknowledging Keesmaat frequently stuck to talking points in the beginning. “It was an entirely new thing for her.”

Meanwhile, the campaign only ever really mounted an “air war” — messaging — without any serious efforts to mobilize a ground game to get signs in yards and identify voters to get to the polls.

Keesmaat did not agree to an interview for this story.

Chris Ball, a former Ontario NDP communications staffer and principal at Earnscliffe Strategy Group, who ran Keesmaat’s war room, told the Star he feels good about the campaign they ran.

“It started on the last day for registration and we did build a bit of a movement behind us,” he said. “I think getting around 25 per cent of the vote is actually a good showing for a campaign that had less time than the incumbent. We took on a popular incumbent and Doug Ford dominated the race for about two-and-a-half weeks.”

Keesmaat also had advice on key policy from the likes of Sloly, and those with business acumen like former MLSE boss Peddie.

“We had a mayor who has never really stopped campaigning since the day he got elected four years ago. He’s a photo-op waiting to happen,” said Peddie. Tory was, he said, the safe candidate in an uncertain time for the city under Premier Ford.

“Time was not an ally for her. When she started she didn’t have an office, she didn’t have a (campaign) phone. She was starting from nothing and that had to hurt. Would a couple of more months made a difference? Sure it would have. Would it have been enough to beat a safe-looking incumbent? Probably not.”

Throughout, one insider said Keesmaat remained “upbeat” as volunteers and residents said they were compelled to get involved for the first time because of her candidacy. Peddie said she was “very happy with the team around her.”

The source who was critical of the campaign’s tactics made clear Keesmaat herself was a “solid candidate” full of confidence and poise.

“In some ways, what she did from a dead start was pretty remarkable,” that source said.

Another source with outside knowledge of the campaign said Keesmaat never really had a fighting chance — that there was likely no progressive candidate who could have bested Tory.

“In this city, unless you’re a crack-smoking mayor you’re pretty safe for two terms, and I’m not convinced Rob (Ford) couldn’t have been re-elected.”

David Rider is the Star’s City Hall bureau chief and a reporter covering Toronto politics. Follow him on Twitter: @dmrider

Jennifer Pagliaro is a Toronto-based reporter covering city politics. Follow her on Twitter: @jpags


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Jennifer Keesmaat says city agencies need more oversight


Amid growing privacy concerns over the proposed Google-partnered neighbourhood on Toronto’s waterfront, former chief city planner Jennifer Keesmaat is promising more oversight of city agencies if she is elected mayor.

“Some of our agencies have been operating in the dark for too long,” Keesmaat told a news conference Tuesday at Small St. and Queens Quay, near the site of the proposed Quayside neighbourhood.

Mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat says there are “deep and growing concerns about data privacy” emerging from the deal between Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs.
Mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat says there are “deep and growing concerns about data privacy” emerging from the deal between Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs.  (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star file photo)

The neighbourhood is being built as a partnership between Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs, a sister company of Google. A detailed project description has yet to be released, but concern is growing over what will happen to the data expected to be collected from cameras, sensors and smartphones in the neighbourhood, and whether it will amount to mass surveillance.

“The deal with Sidewalk Labs was done behind closed doors, without proper public transparency about what Waterfront Toronto and Google were planning to do to our waterfront,” Keesmaat said.

“There are deep and growing concerns about data privacy and we are still missing key details about Google’s plans, to say nothing of the flawed and troubling process that got us here today. It’s unacceptable.”

Keesmaat said that if elected mayor, she will lead a transparency review of Waterfront Toronto, Toronto Hydro, the Toronto Transit Commission and Toronto Community Housing, and ensure that in future they operate with the same level of transparency found at city hall.

“We need to instill the strongest standards for making meetings public,” said Keesmaat, who is running a distant second to incumbent Mayor John Tory.

“Closed door meetings should be the exception, not the rule and that’s not the case right now at many of our agencies.”

Keesmaat said she also wants to see detailed public disclosure of the deals that are made with consultants and contractors.

On Monday, Sidewalk Labs promised it won’t control the data, saying it wants to see a public trust created to take charge of it.

Earlier this month, tech expert Saadia Muzaffar resigned from Waterfront Toronto’s digital strategy advisory panel, citing concerns about the lack of safeguards in place to protect the project’s data and digital infrastructure.

Francine Kopun is a Toronto-based reporter covering city politics. Follow her on Twitter: @KopunF

She was Toronto’s chief planner for five years, known for being outspoken on what she felt was best for the city. Now, Jennifer Keesmaat is taking on John Tory to be mayor. Is she ready to serve as a politician instead of a bureaucrat?


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Jennifer Keesmaat is Toronto’s vote for modernity


If Premier Doug Ford is the past and Mayor John Tory is the present, Toronto mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat is the future.

But who thinks about the future? Keesmaat’s biggest problem will be that harried voters in every part of this huge urban and suburban city might be too busy to take an hour to think ahead, much less to vote. With their days spent keeping their personal canoe afloat — work, family, rent, mortgage, a rough commute, health, heat, cold, and of course raccoons — they’re too busy coping. The future is someone else’s problem.

Toronto mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat speaks to the Toronto Star editorial board.
Toronto mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat speaks to the Toronto Star editorial board.  (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star)

But the future was Keesmaat’s job for five years. She was Toronto’s chief planner. Assiduously recruited by the city from her own growing business, she did nothing but look ahead, visualizing how the city might look, feel and be easier to get to and get around in. She had to consider dollars and cents, entrenched corporate, community and government interests, along with that elusive creature hunted by us all, quality of life.

What is your quality of life right now? Straitened, I imagine. What is mine? Fretful. Like many voters, I have ideas. I want a shorter Gardiner expressway (in over-large Ward 19, I’m voting Matthew Kellway), more trees (and possibly granny flats?) in the suburbs, laneway housing in the urbs, more LRTs, a downtown relief line that will ease the hot, slow squash for subway riders from all parts of the city, climate-friendly buildings, more density … my requirements are endless.

And then, suddenly, the future slammed its face right up against us all with an unfolding dystopia in 12 years.

Scientists had been telling us about what climate change will have done within a century. That’s so distant. I will not see those years, I will not make old bones, I thought.

And then climate scientists sent out an urgent bulletin: we have only 12 years left to keep global warming to 1.5C. If not, life will become uncomfortable for all and unbearable for many. Unprepared places — like traditionally run, hidebound cities — will be in for it.

How do politicians react to crisis? Remember what happened when Premier Ford told Mayor Tory “in passing” that he wanted to shrink Toronto’s city council. Tory didn’t take it seriously.

Then an elected Ford did it. Tory didn’t get openly angry, which is fine, but he didn’t even seem energized, ready to fight tooth-and-nail for citizens who would lose their closest local link to democracy. Tory suggested a referendum, of all things. It worked so well for the Brits, I note. Why would it go differently than the election that had just brought us Ford?

I have rarely been so disappointed in a politician.

Keesmaat, taking questions on Thursday from the Star’s editorial board, is different. She radiates energy. She is an intellectual with a detailed understanding of every dragged-out city problem. But most of all, she is hopeful rather then despairing. She contains no discouragement, and that’s saying a lot in these times.

She reminds me of Chrystia Freeland, an intellectual with an intuitive understanding of her opponents with whom she has great patience. “Chrystia Freeland is a role model,” says Keesmaat.

The Star’s Election Promise Tracker follows the differences between Tory and Keesmaat. Her plans are noticeably more detailed and ambitious than his. He has four transit promises, one of which is a daring plan to “maintain the discount for seniors on TTC fares.” Edgy.

She has made 10 promises on transit, but the one that most impresses me is building the Downtown Relief Line “three years faster than currently projected.” Speed matters more than ever. Nothing could be kinder to the city and the planet, our beloved little blue ball falling around the sun, than to get polluting cars off the road and send people off to work on a fast, generous subway.

I do get the impression that Tory moves more slowly, like the Lazy River ride at the water park. Lazy Rivers are circular. You end up right where you began.

Keesmaat’s daughter, who has just entered university, would consider becoming a teacher but it’s impossible, Keesmaat says. You can no longer live in Toronto on a teacher’s salary. How has it come to this?

Heather Mallick is a columnist based in Toronto covering current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @HeatherMallick


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Judge issues unusual pub ban in Jennifer Hillier-Penney disappearance case


A Supreme Court judge has granted an unusual publication ban in the case of Jennifer Hillier-Penney, of Newfoundland, who vanished without a trace almost two years ago.

The judge ruled that the media is « prohibited from publishing in any document or broadcasting or transmitting in any way that the RCMP has identified any person as being involved in the disappearance, alleged kidnapping and murder of Jennifer Hillier-Penney. »

In a Corner Brook court on Friday, Justice George Murphy issued the ban, and noted it applied to all media. That ban does not apply to people unassociated with the police from airing their suspicions or disclosing to the media what the RCMP told them.

The Crown took CBC to court over the issue in advance of The Fifth Estate airing a show on its investigation into the Hillier-Penney case on CBC-TV Oct. 14.

Before making his decision, Murphy heard arguments from the Crown, the CBC’s lawyer and a lawyer for Dean Penney, Hillier-Penney’s estranged husband, who supported the publication ban.

Penney was present in the courtroom Friday but didn’t speak at the hearing, which involved a lengthy debate between the lawyers and the judge on balancing press freedom and police work.

Hillier-Penney was last seen on Nov. 30, 2016, at her estranged husband’s home in St. Anthony. The 38-year-old mother of two was spending the night at Penney’s to look after the couple’s teenaged daughter. Her coat, passport and car keys were all found in the house.

The RCMP labelled her disappearance as suspicious, but have never identified any suspects or persons of interest. Hillier-Penney’s family has been vocal in their belief that she was killed.

The ban will cease if the Mounties lay charges or publicly identify a suspect.

Hillier-Penney was last seen here, at her estranged husband’s house in St. Anthony. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Crown, Penney’s arguments

Crown attorney Adam Sparkes argued that any identification in the media would compromise the ongoing and active police investigation, risking the administration of justice. He specified this was particularly crucial as no charges have been laid.

Sparkes also said CBC employees misrepresented themselves in a letter to Penney asking for an interview.

Penney’s lawyer, Bob Simmonds, said any identification now would compromise any future trial and inhibit jury selection, if those possible events were to occur.

He argued the RCMP made significant errors in their investigation, implicating only one person. Simmonds added Penney is concerned about possible vigilante action against him in his hometown.

Friday’s legal proceedings took place at the courthouse in Corner Brook, N.L. (Lindsay Bird/CBC)

Freedom of the press

CBC lawyer Amy Crosbie argued against the publication ban. She said the Crown’s fears that a named suspect would compromise the police investigation were too general, and without any substance or elaboration upon those fears, the ban infringed upon freedom of expression.

Elaborating on investigation techniques before any charges are laid defeats the purpose of those techniques, Sparkes responded.

Crosbie said even a narrow ban, such as the one ultimately put in place, compromised the ability of the press to report.

In giving his decision, the judge said he needed to balance the public’s access to information with criminal investigations.

If no suspects are named in one year’s time, the ban expires.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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Jennifer Keesmaat struggling to gain on John Tory, poll shows


As Torontonians vote in advance polls, an opinion survey suggests former chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat is failing to gain ground on frontrunner Mayor John Tory.

The Forum Research poll of 987 Torontonians conducted Oct. 3 to 5 gave Tory the support of more than half of respondents, 56 per cent, and Keesmaat less than one-third at 29 per cent.

Voters stream into Toronto city hall to vote in advanced polls for one of the 35 mayoral candidates and for one of the 242 council candidates running in 25 wards in the Oct. 22 election on Oct. 10, 2018. Advanced polls are open until Oct. 14.
Voters stream into Toronto city hall to vote in advanced polls for one of the 35 mayoral candidates and for one of the 242 council candidates running in 25 wards in the Oct. 22 election on Oct. 10, 2018. Advanced polls are open until Oct. 14.  (Steve Russell / Toronto Star)

Fifteen per cent of people expressed support for one of the 33 other mayoral candidates while the rest were undecided.

The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points 19 times out of 20.

A previous Forum interactive voice response telephone survey, conducted Sept. 29, gave Tory the same level of support and 28 per cent support for Keesmaat.

“Tory looks to have a double-digit lead, and, with only 2 weeks to go before election day, it’s a lead that may be very difficult to erase…,” Bozinoff said, adding that “at this point, a Keesmaat victory would almost certainly require a Tory collapse.”

Keesmaat, 48, made a surprise jump into the mayoral race July 27 as nominations were about to close, jolting a Tory re-election campaign that appeared set to cruise toward the election without a prominent challenger.

She has positioned herself as a progressive alternative to the conservative, suburban-minded mayor with platform planks that include replacing the elevated east Gardiner Expressway with a ground-level boulevard, and putting bike lanes on a stretch of north Yonge St. as part of a city staff-proposed street remake.

Keesmaat has also said she would fight Premier Doug Ford’s attempts to shape Toronto decisions while Tory has stressed his ability to get along with other governments.

Last week, when asked about her campaign’s apparent failure to steal support from Tory, Keesmaat said she remained “incredibly optimistic” that she would emerge the surprise victor in what she called a “David and Goliath” battle.

Election day is Oct. 22 but advance polls opened Wednesday, two in each of the 25 wards and another at city hall. The early voting runs until Sunday.

On Wednesday morning Tory escorted his mother Elizabeth Bacon to an advance poll at Timothy Eaton Memorial United Church on St. Clair Ave. W.

David Rider is the Star’s City Hall bureau chief and a reporter covering Toronto politics. Follow him on Twitter: @dmrider


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Jennifer Keesmaat wants to transform city-owned golf courses into public spaces


Mayoral candidate and former Toronto chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat announced a new proposal to convert three city-owned golf courses into publicly-accessible spaces intended to be open year-round.

Don Valley Golf Course, Scarlett Woods Golf Course and Dentonia Park Golf Course operate under a net loss, Keesmaat said in a news release Monday. The three courses are currently public land and are located in North York, Roselands and in Oakridge, respectively.

Jennifer Keesmaat wants to consult with local community members on how to transform three city-operated golf courses into open spaces.
Jennifer Keesmaat wants to consult with local community members on how to transform three city-operated golf courses into open spaces.  (Richard Lautens / Toronto Star)

“The current usage of these sites just doesn’t represent a good use of public land, especially when the city is operating these courses at a loss,” Keesmaat said. “There is so much more we can do with this land to benefit far more people. Highest and best use of public land means opening it up to more uses by more people, and that’s what I’m proposing here.”

Despite “ongoing trends of declining usage,” Toronto’s 2018-2026 capital plan reserved approximately $10 million to improve the aformentioned courses, Keesmaat said.

Keesmaat proposed making the spaces free and open to the public, and intends to consult with local community members to make sure that each site “responds to the desired uses and existing gaps in services.”

“In some cases, that might be parkland or an arts or cultural hub, and in others it might be a new community centre or sports field that neighbours identify as desirable for the site,” she said.

“Whatever the chosen mix of uses, the common thread would be turning public land where usage is currently highly exclusive into areas that can benefit the community at large.”

Keesmaat mentioned that her proposal follows the example of other Canadian cities, such as Vancouver and Thunder Bay, which have re-evaluated their role as golf-course operators.

There are two more city-owned and operated golf courses in Toronto — Humber Valley in Etobicoke and Tam O’Shanter in Scarborough. The city also hires third-party operators to provide food, lessons and rentals, among other services.

The issue of golf courses was brought up in city council back in January when a report from city staff recommended a review of their operations. Councillor Janet Davis (Ward 31, Beaches-East York) said golf courses are a good use of green spaces and encouraged more people to get involved.

Dena Lewis, an ecologist with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, disagreed and said in January that restoring the golf course land to naturalized green space with trails would be better for the environment, help prevent flooding, improve the city’s tree canopy, and give residents recreation space

With files from Samantha Beattie

Ilya Bañares is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @ilyaoverseas


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