Jody Wilson-Raybould kept word to visit veterans despite resignation from Veterans Affairs


VANCOUVER—Just two days after resigning as Minister of Veterans Affairs, Jody Wilson-Raybould was still keeping up with plans to visit with veterans.

On Thursday, Wilson-Raybould visited the George Derby Centre, a senior care centre located in Burnaby, B.C., to help distribute Valentine’s Day cards made by students. The visit was planned while she was still in office.

Wilson-Raybould visited a senior care centre in Burnaby where she met with veterans and heard their stories.
Wilson-Raybould visited a senior care centre in Burnaby where she met with veterans and heard their stories.  (Casey Cook/Twitter)

Casey Cook, president of the board of the George Derby Centre and who was present during the visit, said that despite being in the middle of national political controversy, Wilson- Raybould did not mention politics and kept her focus on the veterans that day.

“I was just impressed with her, for operating in what must have been an extremely stressful situation … she never mentioned politics, she asked all the veterans where they were from and where they served; she spent considerable time with them,” Cook told The Star.

On Tuesday, Wilson-Raybould, who is also the MP for Vancouver-Granville, handed in her resignation has head of Veterans Affairs, just a month after she was moved to the job from her previous post as Attorney General. The move has been viewed by many as a demotion, possibly influenced by the Prime Minister’s Office to prevent the prosecution of Quebec company SNC-Lavalin.

Cook estimated that Wilson-Raybould spent close to two-and-a-half hours speaking with “every veteran in the room,” which he estimated to be approximately 40 in total. He thanked Wilson-Raybould for her visit on Twitter.

Read more:

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

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The SNC-Lavalin affair: meet the main players

Cook said that it was the first time that he knew of, in over 10 years serving on boards of senior care homes in the Metro Vancouver area, that any representative from the federal ministry had visited veterans.

“Frankly, I have not even seen a federal minister come to a centre,” he said. “I would venture to guess 90 politicians out of 100 would have cancelled this appointment.”

In her statement of resignation on February 12, Wilson-Raybould underscored her commitment to veterans.

“To Canada’s veterans and their families: I have the deepest admiration and respect for you. This decision is in no way a reflection of my desire to see your service and sacrifice upheld and honoured.”

With files from David Ball.

Cherise Seucharan is a Vancouver-based reporter covering health and safety/youth. Follow her on Twitter: @CSeucharan


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Trump lies his way through a visit to the border with Mexico as he escalates his ‘emergency’ threat


WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump lied his way through a visit to the Mexican border on Thursday, returning again and again to false claims as he attempted to promote his proposed wall project.

He unleashed the dishonesty barrage, which included at least 10 false or misleading claims, as he escalated his threat to declare a “national emergency” if he cannot convince Democrats to agree to spend $5.7 billion on the border wall.

He said he would “probably” declare an emergency, if there was no deal to end the 20-day-long government shutdown he initiated because of the wall dispute, and he added, “I would almost say definitely.”

Declaring an emergency would possibly allow Trump to build and fund a wall without Congress’s approval.

But it would be certain to be challenged in court and prompt abuse-of-power accusations, and several senior congressional Republicans have already said they would not support such a drastic measure.

NBC and The New York Times reported Thursday that the White House was looking at the idea of funding part of the wall using billions in unspent money that was allocated to the Army Corps of Engineers budget. NBC and the Times said the funding pool includes money intended for projects in areas hit by natural disasters, including Puerto Rico and California.

Trump has previously threatened to deny federal assistance to hurricane-damaged Puerto Rico and to fire-damaged California, whose officials have criticized him.

The shutdown will be the longest in U.S. history if it continues until Saturday, as appears likely.

Pressure has mounted on Trump as it has dragged on.

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers are scheduled to miss their first paychecks on Friday. The organization representing FBI agents issued a Thursday letter demanding an end to the shutdown, arguing that “financial security is a matter of national security.”

Trump’s Thursday dishonesty began even before he left Washington. He told reporters that, when he had promised during his campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall, he had never said this would be a direct payment.

“Obviously, I never said this, and I never meant, ‘they’re going to write out a cheque,’ ” he said, adding: “When I said ‘Mexico will pay for the wall,’ in front of thousands and thousands of people, obviously they’re not going to write a cheque. They are paying for the wall indirectly.”

He had not promised a “cheque” during the campaign, although he explicitly said “they may even write us a cheque,” but he had, in fact, made clear he was talking about a direct payment; a document still on his campaign website promised he would threaten Mexico with financial harm until it made an “easy” decision: “make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion.”

Trump claimed that the indirect payment he is now talking about would effectively be made by Mexico through the new North American trade agreement he has negotiated with Canada and Mexico.

But even if the agreement is eventually approved — Congress might take years before voting on it — it will never create a funding stream that can be allocated to an infrastructure project.

When he arrived in McAllen, Texas for an immigration roundtable at a Border Patrol station, Trump derided critics who dismiss walls as outdated and ineffective.

He said some old technology, such as the wheel, is timeless.

“A wheel is older than a wall,” he said.

He repeated it a few seconds later: “The wheel is older than the wall.

“Do you know that?”

Defensive walls predate wheels by thousands of years. (Jericho’s famous wall existed around 8,000 BC; the wheel is thought to have been invented around 3,500 BC.)

Seeking to portray Democrats as divided on the shutdown, Trump described a “big article” in which he said newly elected Democrats broke with party leadership and described the party’s “no wall” position as “indefensible.”

That did not happen.

An article in Politico merely included two Democrats expressing mild concern about how voters would respond to the extended shutdown.

Both of them continue to oppose the wall.

Trump again sought to use past presidents to bolster his case for the wall, suggesting that they, too, had wanted to build a wall: “They were going to build this wall in 2003, in 2006. They were going to build it 20 years ago. They were going to build it forever.”

While George W. Bush approved 700 miles of border fencing in 2006 — not the kind of giant concrete wall Trump campaigned on. Democrat Bill Clinton was president 20 years ago, and he made no effort to build a wall. Nor did Republican predecessors George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan; indeed, Reagan explicitly opposed the idea.

As he did in his Tuesday prime-time address, Trump offered a misleading description of Democrats’ position on the wall: This time, he said, “They said, ‘We don’t want a concrete wall.’ I said, ‘That’s OK, we’ll call it a steel barrier.’ ”

Democrats have objected to the project on the whole, not to Trump’s choice of material.

Trump left the Border Patrol station and went to the border, itself, at the Rio Grande. There, he told reporters, “The nice part about the wall or the barrier is I can have that worked out in 15 minutes. We can start construction.”

The construction process, which involves planning, study, contracting, and contentious property acquisition, would not begin nearly that fast.

Trying to exaggerate the problem of illegal immigration, Trump said of the Border Patrol: “They have done a fantastic job. Never so many apprehensions, ever, in our history.”

In reality, the number of apprehensions on the Mexican border in 2018, about 400,000, was not even a quarter of the total in 2000.

Daniel Dale is the Star’s Washington bureau chief. He covers U.S. politics and current affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @ddale8


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Doctors can now prescribe a visit to the ROM through a new initiative to combat anxiety and loneliness


When Nafisa Nezam Omar was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, she got an unusual prescription: T’ai Chi.

Several months after enrolling in the traditional style of martial arts, Omar, who lost her husband to a heart attack as well as a brother to gunfire and a sister to rocket shelling in Kabul, says she’s “finally being able to enjoy my life.”

“I’m now volunteering and doing well,” she said.

The Rexdale Community Health Centre, where her doctor is based, is among Ontario community health centres taking part in a pilot program that offers social and artistic remedies — including choir classes, fishing lessons, knitting and a visit to the Royal Ontario Museum — as an alternative treatment for certain health issues such as anxiety and loneliness.

The ROM announced Thursday it would be offering 5,000 free passes, each valid for four people, as part of the project.

“One of the things they’re trying to promote is a sense of belonging and empowering people to participate,” said Kate Mulligan, director of policy and communications for the Alliance for Healthier Communities, which represents 107 community-governed primary health care organizations and is leading the one-year program.

“It might be that the physician or nurse practitioner sees that you’ve been coming in 10 times and a medical solution is not readily available for what’s bothering you.”

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Among the most common complaints — gobbling up physician time and cost OHIP — is loneliness, Mulligan said.

She said through the program patients who meet the criteria are referred to a link worker, who walks them through a menu of treatment alternatives. The full menu of programs are free of charge to participants.

“The Rexdale program has focused on ROM-type things and getting people to participate in the community,” Mulligan said.

The concept of “social prescriptions” — where health practitioners prescribe artistic and social activities as alternatives to medication for people with mental health difficulties — started in the U.K., and has caught on in Montreal.

The Ontario program was launched this summer with a $600,000 grant from the provincial health ministry, targeting health needs of people who aren’t well-served by the mainstream health system, such as people who are racialized, LGBTQ, those facing employment barriers and Indigenous people, Mulligan said.

“The money is not for us to hire staff at the centres or implement,” she said. “It’s more to do with how to evaluate this, so we can learn how it works and see if it improves health outcomes and reduces costs to the health system.”

Aided by a group of mentors parachuted in from the U.K. — where social prescribing shows promising results — the local team commenced designing Ontario’s first model for social prescribing in June.

An evaluation of a similar project in Gloucestershire, England, done by the University of West England in 2016, showed a 23 per cent decline in attendance and emergency admissions, decreasing dependence on primary care, and physician appointments declining by 21 per cent in the six months after a social prescription.

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“It’s really taking off in the U.K and their context is similar enough that we could see a strong connection and a way to sort of transfer the approach to here,” Mulligan said.

She’s keen on tracking how singing groups, such as choirs, might increase lung capacity for people battling chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“There can also be singing groups for people with Alzheimer’s,” she said.

The fate of the program will hinge on final outcomes, but Mulligan said if uptake figures are any barometer, then the thousands of people she estimates are already socially prescribed in Ontario is a precursor to success.

“Within the next six to 10 months we will have answers for the type of health outcomes we’re seeing,” Mulligan said.

The objective is to draft a final report recommending how to make social prescribing permanent for the 11 participating community health centres and potentially expand out to others under the Alliance’s banner.

“The plan is to make this sustainable for them without having to infuse any new workers or new money,” Mulligan said. “It’s an expectation that all 11 will continue doing it.”

The program is being heralded as a groundbreaking yet vastly underrated method by supporters, such as Dr. Iris Gorfinkel, a general practitioner in Toronto.

“I’m a huge proponent of this idea,” said Gorfinkel, who wants to see the practice expanded. “As family doctor I see so much loneliness and so much problems that arise directly from loneliness.”

With medical evidence linking loneliness to several psychiatric disorders, it represents a “very large aspect” of Gorfinkel’s work as a general practitioner.

“Consider that about 25 per cent of visits to a family doctor are related to psychological matters,” she said.

She said studies in England have found loneliness can be equivalent to smoking in terms of its health effects.

“It’s extremely damaging,” she said, so much so that she contends it should be a part of doctors’ routine questions during patient visits.

The outcome of the study will be highly anticipated in medical circles, she said.

“I’m looking forward to their findings,” Gorfinkel said.

Jason Miller is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Reach him on email:


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The Secret Bakery in Detroit That I Definitely Didn’t Visit


Every Friday morning, Bon Appétit senior staff writer Alex Beggs shares weekly highlights from the BA offices, from awesome new recipes to office drama to restaurant recs, with some weird (food!) stuff she saw on the internet thrown in. It gets better: If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll get this letter before everyone else.

Letter from Detroit

Where can I get some good bread around here? I asked Sister Pie’s Lisa Ludwinski while I was in Detroit visiting family last week. Well, there’s this guy, Maxwell Leonard, she told me, who doesn’t sell bread from a secret bakery in his house in Hamtramck. She ran into Max at a bar once and bought some bread off of him. This is the kind of guy who might have some spare loaves in his trunk. Which is how I found myself walking up the steps to Max’s house, where a black cat was snoozing on a chair on the porch, and a sign made from butcher paper hung on the door: “This is NOT a bakery.”

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max bread

It turns out Max, who is Elmore Leonard’s grandson (!!!), is an obsessive. Brimming with nerdy passion. Definitely complying with the state’s Cottage Law, which allows you sell non-hazardous food from your home (sorry, razor-spiked-candy confectioners, not you!). The kitchen was covered in flour. Max was covered in flour. A huge basket held seven loaves of the weekly bread: honey wheat. I bought one of those, two fresh English muffins, and a twisted pull-apart bread stuffed with his homemade sauerkraut. It was all fantastic. (Soon Max will be making the bread at Ochre Bakery, a new spot from the wonderfully caffeinated people who brought us Astro Coffee.)


Photo by Alex Beggs

Elsewhere in Detroit, I got my fix of Jet’s square pizza, where I learned you can order an entire squeeze bottle of ranch dressing for $3 instead of getting three sides (HOW ECONOMICAL!). I had pho from Que Huong three times. We feasted on caramel wings at Flowers of Vietnam, which was everything I’d hoped it was after reading dream hampton’s piece on it; and offal yakitori at Marrow, a new butcher shop-slash-restaurant with a killer wine list from owner Ping Ho. We stopped by Adachi sushi in Birmingham where we introduced my outlaws to fatty tuna, a revelation; we ordered big bowls of split pea soup at Russell Street Deli, where I nabbed a “FAMOUS FOR SOUP” shirt for soup’s biggest fan, Christina Chaey. At Eastern Market, I picked up a mini sweet potato pie from sweet potatoes’ biggest fans, Sweet Potato Sensations. A light and barely sweet Algerian pastry dipped in honey and sesame seeds from Warda Patisserie. Bright pink raw kibbeh at Al-Ameer. And how could I forget! We had even more secret food at Kung Food Market Studio, where chef Jon Kung made us pork and chive dumplings in milky white bone broth, rich in calcium from a pig’s head that completely disintegrates after 48 hours. Delicious. (Order all kinds of goodies by Wednesday, waltz into his studio on Saturday, doggo not for sale.)

Wow, that was a lot.

For EVEN MORE, read our Detroit city guide here!


Halloween costume of the week

Look at this amazing Halloween costume of BA’s own Brad Leone and Claire Saffitz!!! Gahh!!! They even made Oreos!?! Big claps for Angela and Tim!

Boom shakalaka

It all happened so fast. A BOOM, the sound of glass shattering, a small yelp, several gasps. “What was that?!” “Is everyone okay?” “…Amiel?” A glass bottle of what we thought was a chef’s homemade soda turned out to be something fermented and it spontaneously exploded all over Amiel Stanek’s desk and office carpet. Amanda Shapiro was on a Professional Sounding Phone Call and we heard her tell the person on the other line, “Something just exploded so everyone’s freaking out.” Thankfully, no one was harmed—unlike the time shards of glass split Alex Delany’s lip when someone sabered a bottle of Champagne (long story)—so we carried on with our day.

Overheard in the office

“Grunts, slumps, and a whole lot of dump cakes.”

broccoli bolognese with orecchiette

Unnecessary food feud of the week

“Basically, it boils down to this: I’m right and he’s wrong.” That’s Adam Rapoport, defending his vision for a “weeknight” bolognese sauce, which was supposed to be a recipe collaboration with Andy Baraghani before a deep rift threatened to tear them apart. “Adam keeps saying ‘weeknight’ bolognese, which isn’t a thing,” Carla Lalli Music told me, “And Adam wants to purée the pancetta. Andy is not going to do that.” Adam already has this broccoli bolognese recipe someone let him get away with—isn’t that enough? This guy is trying to fool TIME and time isn’t having it. “We actually see eye-to-eye on most of the recipe,” said Andy, “This is an ongoing dialogue. We’ll figure it out.” What a diplomat. Recipe…coming eventually!


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I set out to visit all 45 national parks. Instead I visited all 47


GOOSE BAY, N.L.—I’ve finally done it. Visited all 47 of Canada’s national parks and reserves.

No asterisks, no missed reserves, no exceptions.

On Labrador’s Atlantic coast, a pristine 50-kilometre beach called Wunderstrand was recorded in ancient Viking sagas. It’s part of Akami-Uapishk-KakKasuak-Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve.
On Labrador’s Atlantic coast, a pristine 50-kilometre beach called Wunderstrand was recorded in ancient Viking sagas. It’s part of Akami-Uapishk-KakKasuak-Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve.  (John Honderich / Toronto Star)

To do so, this summer I had to fly as far north as commercial airlines will go and then to the wilds of central and eastern Labrador.

My odyssey began early last year as a personal celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday with the goal of visiting every park. Now complete, I have trekked more than 100,000 kilometres to each province and territory in 18 separate and memorable journeys.

I visited 45 parks last year, but one new northern park officially opened later last year and a national reserve had somehow escaped my list. Thus my goal was not complete.

My first trip took me to the tiny Inuit hamlet of Resolute Bay on the south shore of Cornwallis Island, overlooking the Northwest Passage. Its street plan is laid out like the hoofprint of a caribou, and its 175 inhabitants live a stone’s throw from a giant airfield and weather station built in the ’40s by both the U.S. and Canada.

Resolute was created in 1953 as part of a High Arctic relocation program to assert Canadian sovereignty during the Cold War. Inuit from northern Quebec and Baffin Island were promised homes, and game to hunt. When they arrived, they found neither.

A promise to be able to return home after one year was also rescinded. In the ’90s, a royal commission recommended the survivors and their families be given $10 million. They finally received a formal apology from Ottawa in 2008.

Resolute is the jumping-off point to visit Qausuittuq National Park (pronounced kow-soo-ee-took), which means “place where the sun doesn’t rise” in Inuktitut. Located on the northern part of adjoining Bathurst Island and the Governor General Islands, it is approximately 11,000 square kilometres of Arctic tundra and ice-clogged waters.

Since the park is situated in one of the coldest and driest regions on earth, soil development and vegetation is sparse.

A visit in the recommended six-week window in midsummer comes, of course, at a time when the sun never sets. So it was as I set off with park director Jovan Simic in a chartered Twin Otter.

As it is with all northern charters, weather is always critical. When we took off, there were snow flurries and we encountered several snow squalls during the three-and-a-half-hour flight.

Simic, a one-time tennis pro from Toronto, has become a passionate environmentalist, intent on working with local Inuit in the joint management of this remote wilderness.

“We have a joint management committee and I speak with the elders about everything,” he explains. “One of their principal concerns was the survival of the Peary caribou population. The community has also been pushing for the clean-up of oil barrels abandoned from earlier Arctic exploration.”

As we fly over the still ice-clogged Northwest Passage, the impressive cliffs on the eastern edge of the park shortly come into view. From there unfold rolling hills, lowlands and highlands as far as the eye can see.

There is ne’er a tree or any appreciable vegetation to be seen. Patches of snow are all that interrupt the vast brownish tundra and rock.

We are able to land on a gentle hillside of tundra where Parks Canada has set up a retreat of two orange spherical “igloos,” where an overnight stay is possible. We see a small herd of muskox in the distance and what seem like wild swans in a nearby pond. Patches of purple saxifrage push up from the mushy tundra.

“So what do you think of our site?” an ever-so-proud Simic asks. As the snow flies, a reply does not come easily.

The rocky summits of the Mealy Mountains in Labrador.
The rocky summits of the Mealy Mountains in Labrador.

For my second trip of the year, I fly to Goose Bay in Labrador, a bustling community also set up next to a giant airfield. Now a Canadian air base, Goose Bay was built in 1941 as a strategic landing and refuelling spot for aircraft during the Second World War.

It is also the jump-off point to visit nearby Akami-Uapishk-KakKasuak-Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve.

Roughly the size of Jamaica, the reserve stretches for 10,700 square kilometres from the mouth of the fabled Churchill River to the Atlantic Ocean. The traditional names of the park are Akami-Uapishk, an Innu word meaning “White Mountains across,” and KakKasuak, a Labrador Inuit word for “mountain.”

There is no road access to the park, and Parks Canada is still working with local Innu on a co-management plan for the area.

I charter a helicopter for a morning and soon after takeoff, the bare rock summits of the Mealy Mountains come into view. One can imagine the glaciers rounding off the tops and carving out narrow lakes below. On the north, the glistening waters of Lake Melville stretch all the way to the ocean. The rounded mountains, tundra and boreal forest are home to many species of wildlife, including the threatened Mealy Mountain caribou.

As we continue flying over flatter terrain, the Atlantic Ocean comes into view and all of a sudden emerges a pristine, seemingly endless sand beach. Called Wunderstrand, this 50-kilometre stretch of beach was recorded in ancient Viking sagas, most notably by Eric the Red.

Somehow the idea that Labrador meets the Atlantic, in a limitless sand beach that looks as pristine as possible, defies imagination. Yet as we fly north, the beach stretches out as far as the eye can see.

On Labrador's Atlantic coast, a pristine 50-kilometre beach called Wunderstrand was recorded in ancient Viking sagas. It's part of Akami-Uapishk-KakKasuak-Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve.
On Labrador’s Atlantic coast, a pristine 50-kilometre beach called Wunderstrand was recorded in ancient Viking sagas. It’s part of Akami-Uapishk-KakKasuak-Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve.

As we fly back to base along the shore of Lake Melville, I contemplate the glory and majesty of this land we call Canada. It is what sets us off from the rest of the planet.

And there is no doubt the 47 national parks are the crown jewels.

John Honderich is chair of the board of Torstar, the Toronto Star’s parent company.


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Not That You Needed One More Reason To Visit Chicago, But…


Chicago is a symphony of perfect marriages. It’s got big-city charm with a warm, Midwestern sensibility. It’s resplendent in the summer, yet it is transformed into a snow-globe wonderland that winter lovers pine for. It’s got outstanding art museums and access to outdoor activities. And best of all, it touts some of the best chefs and restaurants in the world, a roster that includes fine dining; chic, James Beard awarded hotspots; and good ‘ole hot dogs.

Consider Elske for gorgeously-plated dishes in a cozy locale. Opt for the burger, always, at Au Cheval. Elevate your palate with Mexican flavors at Mi Tocaya Antojeria and take it easy when you order laid-back American favorites at Giant. Beyond the local mainstays we can’t get enough of, however, Chicago offers a stellar lineup of festivals each year, including our very own Chicago Gourmet, September 26–30.

Setting up shop each year in Millennium Park, this epic food festival puts a sonic spin on the five-day experience through this year’s theme–Rock the Fork–pairing great food with music. Think of it as a concert of culinary delights. Featuring cooking demos, wine and mixology seminars, and so many tasty bites you may never leave, Chicago Gourmet is slated to rule the city this month.


Experience several of the aforementioned restaurants, and take advantage of special musically inspired events, such as Italian Feast on the Symphony Center Stage, where you’ll dine within the walls of where the city’s most prestigious classical musicians pluck and play. Enjoy a menu prepared by Chicago native, Season 15 Top Chef Winner Joe Flamm, and others. Or, jive with musically inclined chefs John Hogan, Jeff Mauro, Bruce Kalman, and Duff Goldman, who do double duty at Blues, Booze & Bites. During the main event weekend in Millennium Park, Rick Bayless and Diana Dávila are teaming up for a duo demo during Chorizo Cha-Cha Challenge. Things heat up with Emily Fiffer & Heather Sperling of Botanica during Spice Party, and our very own Julia Kramer will emcee There’s More Than One Way to Make a Gin & Tonic cocktail seminar.

There’s no shortage of dishes to try or beverages to imbibe, and with the Windy City as your backdrop, we think you’ll be a lifer at Chicago Gourmet.


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