Is Netflix really a foreign colonizer? CBC president Catherine Tait might not be wrong


Catherine Tait, the uber-boss of the CBC, has compared Netflix’s television domination to the kind of colonialism exhibited by the British and French empires.

So far, no correlation has been made to Amazon Prime Video being headed by Attila the Hun or Genghis Khan running programming at Hulu, although I imagine those shops would be heavy on drama, light on comedy.

Next, we’ll hear that Tait wants to build the Great Cultural Wall of Canada barring the Americans from flooding the market with their cheap reruns of Three’s Company.

Donald Trump, still trying to build his wall or fence, or semi-permeable Styrofoam barrier, would be impressed.

The reality for Canada, though, is that the barbarians are already at the gate.

You don’t need to be an anthropologist to see what the most recent numbers reveal every week: American culture dominates our viewing habits.

The No. 1 show for several years running in Canada has the CBS nerd sitcom The Big Bang Theory. ABC’s The Good Doctor and CBS’s Young Sheldon were in second and third place. No Canadian show made the top 10 except for Lisa LaFlamme holding the fort by gamely talking about Trans Mountain pipelines on the CTV National News.

But bully for Tait for not showing the white flag.

“I was thinking about the British Empire and how, if you were there and you were the viceroy of India you would feel that you were doing only good for the people of India,” Tait said on a media panel in Ottawa Friday. “If you were in French Africa, you would think ‘I’m educating them. I’m bringing their resources to the world and I am helping them.’”

Tait made her comments while Netflix director of public affairs Stéphane Cardin reportedly shook his head in disbelief — although he might have just been trying to figure out his most recent bonus cheque since the company’s revenues grew by 35 per cent in 2018 to $16 billion (U.S.).

Not bad for a shop that started out sending you DVDs in the mail. Remember DVDs?

Or it could be because Cardin’s heard it all before. Despite the indignation from those in the industry who disagree with her, Tait’s comments aren’t new.

“They are the perfect representation of American cultural imperialism,” Christophe Tardieu, director of France’s National Cinema Centre, the organization that pays for most of the Cannes Film Festival, told the New York Times way back in 2017.

Netflix, of course, isn’t just disrupting legacy broadcasters; it is upending the movie industry as well, taking A list stars and plopping them on the same screen that you use to watch Jeopardy! Which, next to eating Cheez Whiz on Saltines, is as sacrilegious as it gets for the French.

Still, Tait has a point. Canadian broadcasters have a legitimate axe to grind with Netflix.

Netflix is not required to contribute to the Canadian Media Fund, through which cable companies and broadcasters help to finance original Canadian productions.

Secondly, streaming companies don’t have to collect GST or HST sales taxes if they don’t have brick and mortar operations in the country. Meanwhile, their competitors have to collect that tax as well as contribute 5 per cent of their gross revenue to the Canadian Media Fund.

Netflix has said it shouldn’t pay into the fund because that would force “foreign online services to subsidize Canadian broadcasters.”

Ottawa decided not to implement taxes after Netflix said it would spend at least $500 million over five years on programming, a number which the company says it will exceed.

But the reality is, the playing field is grossly distorted. Australia, the European Union and Japan have already moved to eliminate the competitive disadvantage. Quebec started requiring Netflix to collect taxes this year. So Tait isn’t far off the mark.

“So all I can say is, let us be mindful of how it is we, as Canadians, respond to global companies coming into our country,” she says.

Still, as a broadcaster and producer, Tait has to tread a fine line. She has to figure out how to work with the steaming giant while not being swallowed by them.

Partnering with Netflix has its advantages. Just ask the cast of CBC’s Kim’s Convenience, who are now global superstars, or the makers of Citytv’s newly popular Bad Blood, which the streamer recently acquired. Netflix has become the gateway to the world for quality Canadian television.

Yet success on Netflix is a double-edged sword. Tait said “it was very painful” for her to read a Vanity Fair article thanking Netflix for Schitt’s Creek, even though it was a show that originated on the CBC.

But nothing is more revealing than the whole Bird Box controversy. A unanimous motion in the House of Commons asked Netflix to remove all images of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy from its fiction catalogue. The streamer used stock footage of the 2013 derailment and explosion in the Sandra Bullock thriller Bird Box and the TV series Travelers.

Netflix apologized but has so far refused to pull the images from Bird Box. However, the producers of Travelers said they would yank the images from the show.

Perhaps the fact that Travelers is proudly co-produced by Canadians and originated on a Canadian channel made the difference. They had skin in the game. They were sensitive to the concerns in their own backyard.

That’s what Tait was trying, in a ham-fisted way, to say after all. That caravan of producers crawling north from Hollywood with a wad of cash? They don’t always have your best interests at heart, Canada.

Or put another way: “Looking at the ecosystem, everybody’s swimming in the same swimming pool,” she once said. “But some of the people aren’t cleaning it up.”

Tony Wong is the Star’s television critic based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @tonydwong


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In case of drug-addicted nurse, arbitrator got it wrong


Sometimes saner minds can right a wrong. But other times they can wrong a right too, incomprehensibly.

Whose rights?

Not the patients at a long-term care home in Kitchener, surely among the most fragile and needy of vulnerable people amongst us.

What are they and their families to make of an arbitrator’s recent ruling that a registered nurse, indeed a team leader, who stole opioids from locked medical cabinets, who was once found by a colleague in a staff washroom with an ampoule of Dilaudid (five times stronger than morphine) clenched between her teeth, who substituted water for unused injectable narcotics that were to be destroyed, who falsified patient records to cover her thieving, must be rehired and financially compensated for “injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect”?

It matters not that this individual — identified in documents only as D.S. — betrayed the trust of her employer and the patients under her care. It matters not that the employer insists it can’t meet the monitoring requirements specified for this particular individual by the College of Nurses of Ontario, arguing undue hardship to other staff. It matters not that she repeatedly failed to give residents the correct dosages of injections as documented. It matters not that she will be returned to the very environment that made it so easy to access the drugs she needed to satisfy her own addiction.

Nor does it matter that the now 50-year-old mother of three wasn’t fired because of that addiction, which she never revealed to her employer over the two years during which she clandestinely scooped drugs at every opportunity. D.S. was terminated, rather, for cause — theft of drugs and gross misconduct relating to protocols.

But no, that would make too much sense. The independent arbitrator ruled instead that the facility discriminated against the woman because her addiction caused her nefarious conduct. And addiction, classified as mental illness under the definition adopted by the Ontario Human Rights Code, is subject to statutory provisions: “Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination because of … disability.”

The employer had a duty of care to the disgraced drug-addled nurse, even though they were unaware of the addiction.

What of the duty of care to the patients, those in the 54 beds for which she was responsible?

It should be noted that the resident care manager testified she had “lost all trust” in the complainant and felt that she could not expose the residents to the “attendant risks” of D.S. being restored to her job, as did the woman’s supervisor.

It should further be noted that the facility never informed patients or their families that a nurse had been terminated for all the aforementioned reasons.

Yet now those affected individuals can’t do anything about D.S. — who has been under addiction treatment since 2016 — back on the ward, ministering to their loved ones.

The nurses’ union, the human rights advocates and the arbitrator are all in accord: D.S. was unfairly treated and must be accommodated.

We’ve seen where flagrant abuse of patients by a drug-addicted nurse has led before — Elizabeth Wettlaufer, who pleaded guilty to eight counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault against patients at long-term care homes and private residences in Ontario. Wettlaufer had a long record of shabby work, was disciplined on multiple occasions and was once fired for stealing drugs from a hospital and ingesting them.

And you thought only doctors are treated like gods.

Don’t get old. Don’t get sick. Don’t assume the professional rectitude of health-care practitioners. And definitely don’t put your faith in the rational judgment of arbitrators.

At the opposite end of the sanity spectrum, a tip of the hat to ofttimes excoriated refugee officials.

I give you Arash Ghulam Abbas, son of an Afghan politician, who arrived in Canada, via Russia and the U.S., and made a refugee claim on May 18, 2016.

Before washing up on our shores, Abbas allegedly ran a prostitution ring south of the border. He was charged, in both Maryland and Virginia, with human trafficking and prostitution. Some of the females — this from media reports — were minors. Several claimed they’d answered an ad in Craigslist, were wooed into the business, in New York City, and their passports then withheld.

In a separate police investigation, it was alleged that Abbas was the big cheese in an organization that recruited adult women, booking them into high-end rooms with clients across the entire country.

“Abbas frequently recruited girls who had problems with immigration and other issues, including the hoarding of their passports,” a Maryland detective told reporters at the time of his 2009 arrest.

For reasons never publicly disclosed — although it was alleged political pressure had been brought to bear because of Abbas’ father’s status — the Virginia charges were dismissed a year later and the Maryland charges voluntarily withdrawn.

Up here, eight years later, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration apparently became aware of Abbas’ refugee claim, notifying the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) their lawyers intended to intervene in the refugee hearing. The ministry took the view that, under the United Nations Convention related to the Status of Refugees, Abbas should not be excluded from applying for refugee protection based on the charges that had disappeared in the U.S.

The RPD disagreed — bully for them — finding that Abbas’ “criminality (if committed) in the U.S. constitutes multiple serious non-political crimes.” Based on the hearing, they did not find Abbas “to be a credible or reliable witness.”

From their ruling: “Simply put, the Board finds there is enough credible and trustworthy evidence to demonstrate that there is serious reason for considering that the claimant committed the said crimes.”

The evidentiary standard for the Board is below that required in civil law (on the balance of probabilities) and in criminal law (beyond a reasonable doubt).

At his hearing, Abbas claimed that American investigators had coerced the alleged victims into victims into making statements against him as part of plea bargains and that one of the detectives had a personal axe to grind because he, Abbas, had been in a romantic relationship with his stepdaughter and she wanted to marry him.

If Abbas had been charged with the same human trafficking offences in Canada, and convicted, he could have faced up to 10 years in prison.

Yet the Immigration Ministry was agreeable to having him here, an alleged pimp, as if we didn’t have enough sleazebags of our own, under refugee protections. The RPD was not.

Their decision was brought to Federal Court for judicial review by Justice Henry Brown.

In his review of the material, Brown pointed out that Abbas’ own testimony corroborated many aspects of the U.S. police reports. “For example, the Applicant knew relevant women were prostitutes, he drove a prostitute around and waited outside places she went, he knew of the website used to link the prostitutes to customers, and he knew how the prostitution ring operated. He testified he was not the ringleader and instead pointed to one of the prostitutes he knew.”

Early this month, noting that the RPD is not bound to “accept the position of the Minister,” Brown upheld the RPD decision.

“It correctly and reasonably assesses the seriousness of the non-political crimes at issue. Standing back and assessing the RPD’s decision as a whole, it exhibits justification, transparency and intelligibility within its decision-making process.”

Hallelujah. Sanity prevails.

Rosie DiManno is a columnist based in Toronto covering sports and current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @rdimanno


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I Thought Pregnancy Eating Was All About Pints of Ice Cream. I Was Wrong. | Healthyish


I pictured myself in the kitchen, skin glowing, baking a cake for no reason other than that I wanted to eat a cake. I figured I’d have ice cream by the pintful. When the waiter asked if I wanted dessert, I was going to say yes every damn time. I imagined my pregnancy as nine months of socially sanctioned overeating, the one time in a woman’s life when no one judges her for ordering grilled cheese and fries and a milkshake by herself at the diner.

This is gonna be fun, I thought.

It wasn’t.

First, there were the dietary restrictions, the fine print on my new indulgence contract. Depending on who you ask, pregnant women are supposed to avoid alcohol, unpasteurized soft cheese, raw fish, raw meat, rare meat, raw eggs, runny eggs, deli meats, tuna, swordfish, tilefish, King mackerel, lox, sprouts, too much caffeine, unpasteurized milk, and unwashed produce. My doctor’s list differed slightly from my friends’ doctors’ lists, which differed slightly from lists I found online. How was I supposed to know which list was the right list, the one standing between me and preventable miscarriage or birth defects? And what technically counts as a deli meat anyway? Meals, particularly meals out, suddenly felt like culinary minefields. There’s nothing joyful about standing at a holiday party googling, “can pregnant women eat pâté? »

I decided to take a laid-back approach. I knew so many women who enjoyed a nightly glass of wine! I read modern-day pregnancy bible Expecting Better, which uses science to persuasively argue that many of the restrictions are unfounded! But then I remembered something: I’m not laid back. On a vacation to Italy, I ate prosciutto—when in Rome, literally—then spent the next two hours wondering what it said about me as a mother that I decided the joys of Italian cured meats outweighed the elevated risk of fetal listeria.

So I did my best to follow the rules, but found that had a downside of its own: I felt uptight and uncool among women whose doctors gave them the green light on sushi or who downed espressos throughout their pregnancies. Avoiding unpasteurized cheese in some people’s company makes you feel like the one kid at the middle school party who refused to take a drag of that cigarette.

For all the talk of “eating for two,” it’s not actually a thing. Yes, you’re supposed to eat more calories, but only a few hundred per day—think a bowl of ice cream, not the pint. And those calories are supposed to come from foods like almonds and avocados, not, you know, Cheetos. Plus, during my first trimester, I barely wanted to eat, period—I didn’t experience food cravings so much as food aversions. Instead of looking forward to meals (my typical motivation for getting out of bed each morning is the opportunity to eat breakfast), they became obligations.

As the reality set in that I was sharing my body, and everything I put in it, with my baby, I began to fret over my nutrition in a way I never had before. Eventually I’d have lots of people to help me raise my baby—my husband, for example, would presumably pitch in—but for now, I was on my own. Only I could promote cognitive development with omega-3s or bone formation with calcium. It was an immense responsibility.

Meal planning, once a source of pleasure (what do I want to eat this week?!), now felt loaded. I made sure seafood was on the menu at least three times a week in search of those vaunted omega-3s. I snuck spinach into larbs and ate salads like it was my job—which I kind of felt like it was.

I was hungry pretty much all the time, so I began packing healthy snacks with a fervor. I brought containers of carrot sticks and broccoli to work no matter how many times my boss made fun of me for eating the after-school snack of a fourth grader. I was like that guy who pats down his coat every morning to make sure he has his keys and wallet, except I was checking for an apple and a hard-boiled egg.

I loved these healthy habits, but I hated having to think about food so much.

Then came my gestational diabetes test.

An estimated two to ten percent of women get gestational diabetes—basically, diabetes for the duration of your pregnancy. I was diagnosed with gestational glucose intolerance, which is not nearly as serious as diabetes, but it meant my body wasn’t processing glucose as well as it should. My doctor encouraged moderation in carbs but told me not to beat myself up over my food choices.

At first, I used a simple system: If something was truly delicious, I’d give myself the green light to go for it and not feel stress if it was high in carbs. My doctor encouraged moderation, not abstinence. But if I was eating it just because it was there and I was kind of hungry, I wanted to learn how to pass on that, something I imagine everyone with more self-discipline than me already does. This system worked for me for maybe a week, until I realized that I was setting myself up to agonize over every carb that passed in front of me. And when you work at a place like Bon Appétit, where people casually swing by your office to ask if you want some croquembouche, that was a lot of agonizing.

So I switched to cheat days, no matter how much that idea—and that phrase!—made me cringe. I’d give myself permission to eat sweets a few days a week, which I’d typically plan for when I knew there’d be something good—a tasting in the test kitchen for a cake story, say, or a vacation to Austin. This drastically cut down on the number of 4 p.m. squares of chocolates, or the times I’d wander over to the office snack table “just to look.”

I got into a routine. I was eating more healthfully than I probably ever had in my life. I felt like I had finally cracked the code on my sweet tooth, that the world had given me permission to eat junk and I had decided I was into carrot sticks. I was sure that I’d keep these habits after my pregnancy.

Of course that didn’t happen either. In the first weeks after I gave birth, I was ravenous (a consequence of breastfeeding, which burns calories like crazy), and I didn’t have the energy to think about what I was eating. I roamed around my kitchen shoving—literally shoving—into my mouth anything I could eat with one hand while bouncing a newborn with the other. If I overthought food when I was pregnant, this moment was its opposite. And with it came the realization that, thanks to the caloric churn of breastfeeding, I could eat whatever I wanted and lose weight.

This was my Ben & Jerry’s fantasy. Finally.

Months later, I’m still breastfeeding, though I’m no longer shoving Mallomars into my face (for the most part). I’ve gained back time in the kitchen and the wherewithal to peel carrots, and my diet is more closely approaching normal. One major difference between my life before pregnancy and now—aside, of course, from having a wonderful baby—is that I eat dessert with abandon. And, probably for the first time in my adult life, I don’t feel bad about it. After months of thinking so hard about what I was eating, it feels nice not to worry. I am eating for one once again, and at this moment, I feel like I’m doing right by her.


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What’s so wrong about a national park in B.C.’s southern Interior? Many locals still strongly opposed


Doug Boult looks out over the rolling mountains behind his orchard in Cawston B.C., covered with sage brush.

Where his fields of Gala and Ambrosia apples ends, the foothills begin. It’s also the start of the proposed boundary for the South Okanagan-Similkameen national park reserve. 

« When I was a young lad we hiked these mountains continuously, hiking around and enjoying things, » he said. « It taught us a lot of disciplines that are great for later on in life. »

Doug Boult on his apple orchard near Cawston B.C., at the base of the mountain range that could soon all be national park reserve land. (Brady Strachan / CBC)

Boult is one of a vocal group of people in the area who are worried the way of life he’s enjoyed will drastically change if the national park is established.

« We are going to lose our ability — our freedom to just go and enjoy [the back country], » he said. « It will now cost money to go and enjoy. It’s just a loss of freedoms. »

Park plan 15 years in development

The idea of a national park in the South Okanagan-Similkameen has been discussed and debated for the past decade-and-a-half

Provincial and federal governments have run and developed a series of feasibility assessments, engagement processes with First Nations, public consultations and park concept plans.

Progress stopped in 2011 when the B.C. government decidied not to proceed with the park reserve. Parks Canada soon stepped away citing lack of support from the provincial government.

The view from Mt. Kobau looking out over much of the area the proposed national park reserve area in the South Okanagan. (Province of B.C.)

But in October 2017, B.C., Ottawa and the Syilx/Okanagan Nation announced a renewed commitment to establishing the park reserve.

Now, Parks Canada is conducting a public consultation process to develop the concept and park boundary.

The government agency cites protection of the sensitive ecology and more than 60 provincially listed species living in the region, including badger species, birds and reptiles.

Local First Nations have recognized the need to protect the land through the establishment of a national park reserve.

« [It] will create greater protections for our siwɬkʷ [the water], tmxʷu’laxʷ [the land], and tmixʷ [all life on our traditional lands] within our unceded territory, » said Lower Similkameen Indian Band Chief Keith Crow in a statement. 

Federal, provincial and First Nations leaders, including Lower Similkameen Indian Band Chief Keith Crow, right, during a group photo from October 2017 at the tripartite announcement of establishing a national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen (Parks Canada)

Other park proponents cite the expected influx of tourists to the region.

However, many of their neighbours, like Doug Boult in Cawston, see it differently.

« It is a fragile area. We understand that. That is why we are doing everything we can to protect it, » he said. « The park and the visitors it will bring will end up doing more damage than what the locals have done to protect the land all these years up to now. »

Ranching concerns

A few miles north of Boult’s orchard, Mark Quaedvlieg inspects cattle at his feedlot.  Quaedvlieg’s grandparents settled in Keremeos in 1910 and provided pork, milk and butter to mining communities.

Now his cattle roam the Crown grasslands that could soon be within the national park boundary.

Keremeos rancher Mark Quaedvlieg’s cattle graze on Crown land that will be within the South Okanagan-Similkameen national park reserve boundaries, if the park is established. (Brady Strachan / CBC)

Parks Canada has promised ranchers it will continue to allow grazing within the national park, but Quaedvlieg fears it won’t be easy to renew grazing tenure.

« I don’t want to ranch on a piece of ground where people aren’t happy to see me there. Everything I hear from Parks Canada is that cattle are not a part of a national park, » he said.

More than a decade ago, Quaedvlieg erected a large white sign along the highway between Keremeos and Cawston saying ‘No National Park.’

« It’s stood there every since and never been tampered with, » he said.

Anyone driving through the region will come across similar signs at the end of driveways — a stark reminder that despite the progress governments and proponents have made on the national park reserve idea, there are many who may never be won over.

A ‘No National Park’ sign along a road in Cawston, B.C. (Brady Strachan / CBC)


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Are steak and cheese healthy? Doctors group says Canada’s Food Guide is wrong on diet


Pushing aside a makeshift podium in the modest hospital at CFB Trenton, Dr. Barbra Allen Bradshaw says she told a crowd of army nurses, doctors and dietitians that “Canada’s Food Guide is making you sick.”

Eating a diet high in carbs and low in fat, like the nation’s food experts suggest, isn’t the way to a healthy heart or physique, she said. “It’s bad advice.”

Allen Bradshaw, a pathologist from Abbotsford, B.C., is part of a group of doctors from across the country who have been on a crusade to change the way Canadians are told to eat.

For the past two years, she and her colleague Dr. Carol Loffelmann, an anesthesiologist in Toronto, have spent much of their free time travelling the country, urging colleagues and regular Canadians alike to eat fewer carbohydrates than what’s recommended by the government and indulge in fat from sources such as steak and cheese — even if that flies in the face of conventional wisdom.

It’s all they can do as they wait to see whether Health Canada will heed the message from their grassroots campaign.

Since 2016, the women, who founded Canadian Clinicians for Therapeutic Nutrition, a national non-profit, have lobbied the government, with letters, an Ottawa meeting and a parliamentary petition signed by nearly 5,000 Canadians, to reconsider the diet advice they believe Health Canada plans to deliver in the next iteration of the Food Guide, which is due out in early 2019, according to a Health Canada spokesperson.

Allen Bradshaw and Loffelmann, who works at St. Michael’s Hospital, say some of the new recommendations may not be based on the most current, relevant scientific evidence and could continue to make Canadians overweight, reliant on medication and suffer from diabetes, fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome.

In an email to the Star, Health Canada said that as the new advice is finalized, it is also updating its evidence base with the latest nutrition science and that too will be released to the public in early 2019.

“The Food Guide has benefited from the input of many stakeholders,” the email said. “We are taking all feedback into consideration.”

Over coffee on a recent morning in downtown Toronto, the women, who met online, said the coming recommendations, which are based, in part, on evidence reviews released by Health Canada in 2015, will likely tell Canadians to limit added sugar and encourage them to eat whole, rather than processed foods. Those are good things, they said.

But, they said, Health Canada continues to hold strong on evidence that’s outdated and incomplete. For instance, they said some studies show that diets low in saturated fat, from sources such as beef and butter, are associated with heart disease.

But the jury of science is still deliberating on the full impact of saturated fat on health and so, the women said, in those cases and others, the Food Guide should remain “silent.” Or, conduct a rigorous, independent review of the research.

The women’s crusade began several years ago with their own, quiet struggles to lose weight.

After giving birth to her second child, Loffelmann dutifully followed the diet advice, informed by the Food Guide, that she learned in medical school. She ate whole grains, substituting whole wheat for white pasta, and leaned off the butter. Heeding the guide’s deeper advice to move more and eat less, she took up high-intensity exercise. But over time, her waistline expanded.

On the other side of the country, Allen Bradshaw, who was on the same kind of diet, struggled to lose weight and overcome gestational diabetes during her third pregnancy.

Independently, the two women began a search for answers diving deep into the scientific literature. What they found was that much of the Food Guide’s advice was not supported by the most current science.

So they started experimenting. Eating the opposite of the country’s nationally sanctioned advice by indulging in full fat yogurt and ditching the bowls of rice and pasta, they both lost weight. And stopped feeling hungry all the time.

The two took to the internet, sharing their successes with a small group of mom physicians across the country, who, to their surprise, were receptive. The small group grew as the women shared their results. Over time, they heard from doctors across Canada who began prescribing the same type of anti-food guide diet to their patients.

“All of a sudden, doctors are seeing their patients get off medication, losing weight and their markers of disease are dropping and their disease is going away,” Allen Bradshaw said.

That was a turning point for the women.

Armed with a letter signed by 190 physicians, they sent it to Health Canada in 2016, saying that in the 35-plus years since the government entered the country’s kitchens, the population has grown fat and sick.

Their letter urged the bureaucrats, who were at that point relying on evidence available in 2014, to consider the most current studies available. The letter added: “Stop using any language suggesting that sustainable weight control can simply be managed by creating a caloric deficit.”

The response was a form letter. The women answered it with a more detailed version of their initial correspondence, this time citing the current, relevant studies and signed by 700 medical professionals including doctors, nurses and pharmacists. They received a deeper response from federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor.

It said her ministry was relying on “high quality reports with systematic reviews of associations between food and health” from federal agencies in the U.S. and around the world. And that it continued to monitor for more evidence.

After more of a back and forth, the physicians were invited to Ottawa for a meeting with Health Canada.

It was a warm May morning this year when the women, along with three others, including Dr. Andrew Samis, a critical care and stroke physician from Kingston, Ont., stood outside the parliamentary building that houses Health Canada’s headquarters. They took a deep breath. Within minutes, they were spirited to a boardroom.

Over two hours, they explained their position, including, Samis said, that science on saturated fat remains incomplete and the government should reconsider the evidence it uses and how it evaluates what evidence to use for its recommendations.

He also told the bureaucrats, including Hasan Hutchinson, director general at Health Canada’s Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion, that Canadians, a multicultural lot, should be given several diet options, rather than a one size fits all. To varying degrees, he said, the research supports five legitimate diets, including plant-based, low fat, Mediterranean, ancestral paleo — fruits, vegetables and lots of protein — and keto, meaning low carb, high fat. Samis said: “We felt they were really listening.”

But shortly after the meeting, Samis heard Hutchinson on the radio plugging the old, tired advice. “It was disappointing,” he said.

The group’s last attempt at persuading lawmakers was a parliamentary petition signed by 5,000 Canadians and presented on Sept. 26 in the House of Commons urging lawmakers to conduct an external review of the evidence before unleashing new, potentially harmful advice on the public.

With that, the doctors have been left to wait. And spread their message in webinars and talks large and small across the country.

At CFB Trenton, Allen Bradshaw, who spent 14 years in the Canadian army as a medic, drank in the atmosphere and relished the nostalgia of her time in the reserves, where she assisted army doctors in tending to injured soldiers. The crowd, she said, ate up her anti-diet advice especially the edict that society has to stop blaming patients who follow the Food Guide and fail to lose weight, she said. “It’s not their fault.”

Michele Henry is a Toronto-based investigative reporter. Follow her on Twitter: @michelehenry


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Turnips > Carrots: Prove Me Wrong


You know you work at a food magazine when the extremely hot topic of conversation at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday involves the relative merits of…the turnip. Sound dull? Trust me: It was not. But let me back it up a step and explain how this all began. Tasked with developing a recipe for a weeknight rotisserie chicken pot pie, I had to dig deep, look into my heart, and ask myself, “What makes a pot pie a pot pie? What elements of the pot pie are non-negotiable, and which are begging to be improved upon?” (Yes, these are the kinds of questions that keep me up at night.)

I’ll tell you what was the first thing to go: sad, soggy, lifeless cooked carrots. Forgive me if you disagree, but I’d be happy if I never saw a cooked carrot again in my life. What they lack in texture, they rarely make up for in flavor. They’re sweet-ish, I guess? I don’t know, I’ll leave the sweetness to a vegetable that’s more worth my while: the turnip. They’re supremely crunchy with a slight radish-y kick of heat when raw, yet pleasantly sweet with a very appealing juicy-yet-firm texture when cooked. Both things that carrots do not have. (Ok, I’m done raggin’ on ‘rrots.)

Fast forward a couple of days. I’ve completed my journey of pot pie introspection and it’s time to get cooking. As you might guess, I made the decision (albeit controversial) to nix the carrots in favor of turnips. Developing recipes for Basically can be tricky at times because we have a self-imposed limit on the number of ingredients in any given recipe. (The number is 10.) Given that constraint, every ingredient included really and truly has to carry its weight. There’s no room for throwing something in there just because it looks pretty, or just because we’ve got it on hand. Which meant out with carrots and in with the turnips. (For all the pot pie purists in the house, fear not, I left in the frozen peas.)

Chicken Pot Pie


Miss me with those lil bits of cooked carrot.

I proudly paraded my golden brown puff pastry pot pie around the office as soon as it was finished, carrying with me plates and forks for all who wanted a piece o’ dat pie. I could not have anticipated what ensued: an hour long heated debate about whether or not the turnips belonged. People tasted the pie with the utmost skepticism upon noticing there were no overcooked orange bits swimming amongst all that creamy, chicken-y goodness. One editor loathed the loss of the carrot—only to find herself fishing around for more turnips after the first bite. Another made it clear that he will stand by cooked carrots always and forever. An unpopular opinion in my book. Even senior food editor Chris Morocco was anti, saying he doesn’t love turnips and his favorite kind of turnip is a daikon…radish. (Yeah, I was confused, too.) But then as more people got their skin in the game, Team Turnip began to turn out. The tides shifted and suddenly the Bon Appétit staff was ALL about those ‘nips.

It became clear to me that a vote was in order. So we voted. And guess who lost? That’s right, the CARROTS. Despite everyone’s skepticism, the turnips slayed with a vote of 9 to 2. So take it from even the harshest of critics, turnips are the bomb and they’re here to stay. They’re an oft overlooked root vegetable and deserve a real moment in the spotlight. Next time you’re in the produce aisle and find yourself reaching for a bunch of the basics, remember this tale, and pivot to the turnip department instead. As senior staff writer Alex Beggs declared: “FREE THE TURNIP!!!”

Go make yourself some pot pie already!



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Survey says Canadians think Earth beat its heat record in only 10 of the last 18 years. They’re wrong – National


Canadians — you’d think they’d be the most knowledgeable people on the planet.

In 2016, the Great White North ranked first in the share of university and college graduates in the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The share of 25- to 64-year-olds with a college diploma as their highest educational attainment was more than double what it was in OECD countries overall.

Coverage of climate change on

But education does not necessarily equal indication of a populace that’s well-informed on a slate of issues, if the results of a new Ipsos survey are anything to go by.

The polling agency released “Perils of Perception” on Wednesday.

It’s an annual international survey conducted in 37 countries that looks at whether respondents have accurate, or inaccurate ideas about major issues.

READ MORE: 86% rate quality of life in Calgary as ‘good’ — 2018 Citizen Satisfaction Survey

This one ranked Canada 11th out of 37th countries when it came to accurate understandings of major issues.

At that rank, it trailed countries such as Hong Kong (1st), New Zealand (2nd), Sweden (3rd), Hungary (4th) and Great Britain (5th).

One area of misunderstanding  — climate change.

WATCH: Minister of the environment presents Ontario’s climate change plan without a carbon tax

The survey found that Canadians are underestimating the number of years that the planet Earth has set heat records over the last two decades.

It also found that Canadians are overestimating the share of energy that they consume from renewable resources.

This chart from Ipsos shows Canadians underestimating the heat records that have been set in the last 18 years.


Canadians estimated that Earth set heat records in 10 out of the last 18 years.

In reality, the planet set heat records in all but one of those years.

Even though the estimates were off by seven years, Canadians nevertheless ranked fourth out of 37 countries when it came to an accurate understanding of this matter.

WATCH: Critical UN talks aim to tackle global warming

The survey also showed Canadian respondents overestimating how much renewable energy they use.

Respondents estimated the renewable share of their energy use at just over 30 per cent, when really, the share was 22 per cent.

This chart shows how much of their energy use Canadians believe comes from renewables.


The results provided some insight into the difficulties that governments across Canada have faced trying to agree on how to combat climate change, Mike Colledge, president of Canadian public affairs with Ipsos, told Global News.

“You see we miss it by almost 50 per cent,” he said.

“You can understand why it’s hard to get traction for either side of this discussion.”

WATCH: Vancouver landmark tackling climate change head on

Colledge said Canadians are locked in a debate over climate change in which neither side has appeared to convince the other.

“When you try to move people, it is not about moving them with facts,” he said.

“So you have a debate in the country now on climate change, where you have people largely yelling facts over the wall at each other, and if you disagree they call you a denier, and if you disagree on this side they call you a liar.”

He noted in an op-ed that people are unlikely to shift each other’s opinions with facts, that there are “other emotions and values bundled into this debate.”

“There’s no debate bringing people to the middle and saying, let’s understand what the real concerns are around this issue,” he said.

“I’m not absolving anybody… but that’s what’s unfolding.”

READ MORE: One-third of cannabis buyers still using illicit dealers, according to Ipsos poll

With 15 per cent of Canadian respondents considering climate change one of the top three priorities facing the country, Canada ranked third in terms of its concern, tying it with Germany, Belgium, Australia, Sweden and China.

That was higher than the global average of 11 per cent.

The survey also found an inverse correlation between concern about climate change, and issues such as corruption and crime.

Climate change ranked as a low priority in countries with high crime and heavy poverty, Colledge said.

WATCH: UN Secretary General calls for swift action, says ‘we are in deep trouble’ with climate change

Only one per cent of respondents in Argentina, for example, saw it as a major priority.

The issue didn’t rank close to the top when considering averages, either.

Globally, the top issue for countries was financial and political corruption, at 34 per cent.

READ MORE: Albertans are least likely in Canada to believe in climate change, survey shows

It was followed closely by unemployment, at 33 per cent.

When it came to unemployment, it turned out that Canadians were actually overestimating rates in their country.

The survey showed respondents estimating unemployment at 24 per cent, when in fact it’s six per cent — for a gap of 18 per cent.

That demonstrates a level of concern around the economy that goes beyond the metrics, Colledge said.

With people apparently over-concerned about the economy, and perhaps under-concerned about climate change given the facts, Colledge was asked whether there was room for people to dampen their worries about one issue and heighten them about another.

“The space for climate change to grow doesn’t automatically open up because the economy gets better,” he said.

“Unless we can convince people that the economy is better.”


The survey carried out interviews in 37 countries between Sept. 28 and Oct. 16.

About 1,000 people were surveyed as part of the Canadian study. Canada was one of 21 countries in which a representative sample was surveyed.

Data for each question was taken from a variety of verified sources.

When results didn’t sum up to 100, or the difference appeared to be +/- more or less than the actual, this may have been due to rounding, numerous responses or the exclusion of “don’t knows” or not stated responses.

Data were weighted to match the profile of the population.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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I loved being class president at St. Mike’s. Here’s what it is getting wrong


Liam Mather is a former class president at St. Michael’s College School who graduated in 2013. He holds a B.A. in History from McGill University. Mather is now based in Beijing where he manages a high school debate league. This piece is adapted from a posting he originally wrote on Facebook.

After much painful reflection about the recent sexual assault at St. Michael’s College School, I have a few thoughts that I want to share.

Liam Mather seen in Beijing this year. He is wearing a St. Mike's sweater.
Liam Mather seen in Beijing this year. He is wearing a St. Mike’s sweater.  (Courtesy Liam Mather)

I am deeply saddened for the victim. The assault was unspeakably violent. I am disturbed that he was repeatedly victimized as images of the assault were shared across social media, and I am upset by the school administration’s initial response. I pray that this boy is receiving support.

There is a powerful stigma against victims of sexual violence. Our conversations must be focused on caring for this boy and other victims that are coming forward. We must talk about how the school can prevent and respond to future assaults, or this story will repeat itself.

Personally, I have been struggling to reconcile my overwhelmingly positive experience at St. Mike’s with this horrific assault. I cherished my time at the school. Serving as the student government president made me proud. I wasn’t an athlete, but I benefited from the school’s academic rigour and rich extracurricular programming. I had wonderful mentors, such as Father Malo, who taught me values like compassion, personal discipline, and love of scholarship. I became politically conscious through the fine teaching of Paul Barry, Norah Higgins-Burnham, and too many others to name. My parents made sacrifices to send me and my brother, Thomas, to St. Mike’s — and we worked hard to make those sacrifices worthwhile. I had great friendships that transcended social cliques. I felt safe, happy, and supported.

Read more:

Rosie DiManno: Media are not the enemy in the St. Michael’s sex assault scandal

St. Michael’s College School president and principal resign in wake of sexual assault scandal

What we know and don’t know about the scandal at St. Michael’s College School — and what we can’t report

Since news of the sexual assault broke, I’ve felt a range of emotions: depression, anger, humiliation, confusion, even guilt. I felt devastated that such a violent assault occurred on campus. I also felt discomfort watching national and international media outlets attack the sanctity of my positive memories of the school. Were they wrong? Or had I overlooked something as a student?

But let’s be clear about the main issue. The school is not a victim. The alumni who feel defensive are not victims. A student was sexually assaulted within the school. He is the victim. The ones who perpetrated the assault, the ones who filmed and posted it on social media, and the ones who stood by and said nothing as the assault happened, they were also students. What compelled them to commit or enable this terrible crime?

It is morally imperative and prudent that graduates critically reflect on the school’s culture. It is convenient, dishonest and dangerous for graduates to frame the assault as the independent behaviour of a few exceptionally bad students. The school needs to assess the factors that contributed to these students’ destructive behaviour — and prevent this story from happening again. As alumni, if any harmful values were cultivated during our time at the school, we need to identify those values and discard them. That is the courageous way to move forward.

Liam Mather, right, with his younger brother, Thomas, at Thomas's graduation from St. Mike's in 2017.
Liam Mather, right, with his younger brother, Thomas, at Thomas’s graduation from St. Mike’s in 2017.

My personal reflections and my discussions with some alumni have led me to the following conclusions.

First, the assault absolutely reflects a cultural failure of the school. The notions that define manhood are changing. Society used to demand that men be physically strong, emotionless and chauvinistic. But increasingly, empathy and intelligence are valued. What version of manhood is St. Mike’s imparting onto its boys?

The school seemed to be grappling with this question when I was a student. Long renowned for its athletic programs, the school also began promoting music, dance, theatre, media production and visual arts. It built a multimillion dollar performance centre on campus, which opened in 2010. The space for artists, writers and dedicated students expanded; I genuinely felt that the school encouraged my intellectual curiosity. Teachers and the administration began promoting mental health awareness. The Basilians preached a liberal interpretation of doctrine. There was more collaboration with girls’ schools.

However, the school retained a hypermasculine subculture, in which conventional masculine values were incubated. When I was a student, this subculture lurked in the shadows of the locker hallways and the changing rooms. If you put teenage boys together, without adult supervision, aggressive behaviour can carry social rewards. Boys can feel an urge to act dominant; other boys will feel reluctant to challenge the alphas. This is well-established in psychology literature. When I was at St. Mike’s, hypermasculinity sometimes degenerated into bullying. I think the recent assault is a particularly heinous outgrowth of hypermasculinity. This subculture might not be unique to St. Mike’s, and might not define St. Mike’s, but it is there.

The St. Mike’s administration has a responsibility to correct the perverse psychological incentives of its students. It must establish a zero-tolerance policy for “boys being boys” behaviour. It needs to delineate the spaces where controlled aggression is acceptable (on the football field) and where it is not (in the locker room, everywhere else). It needs to reaffirm to all of its boys that it is OK to be gentle, caring and artistic. While there is obviously a significant difference between a dust-up in the hallway and sexual assault, the line is finer than people think. I don’t say this to be glib, but consider Piggy’s death in Lord of the Flies. The dominant tendencies of young boys, when unchecked, can have catastrophic consequences. St. Mike’s never fully focused its efforts on stamping out these tendencies.

A second and related problem is that St. Mike’s, overall, was not a nurturing place for gay students. I am straight, and I do not wish to speak on behalf of all gay former students. I have reached this conclusion after speaking with many of my close friends at St. Mike’s who were gay, as well as through personal retrospection about the culture. Many gay students thrived at the school. However, they did not receive outward institutional support and faced widespread homophobic attitudes from students — and even from a few teachers. It was common for boys to use homophobic language in an effort to emasculate and assert dominance over their peers. Many gay students were not comfortable coming out at St. Mike’s. I do not think this has changed since I graduated in 2013. This is unacceptable.

I want to echo the call of my courageous friend and former class vice-president, Jonah Macan, for the school to found a gay-straight alliance to fight homophobia and promote inclusiveness.

The third problem is also related to hypermasculinity. It is an issue that I have been reflecting on since Dr. Christine Blasey Ford bravely went public with her sexual assault allegation against Brett Kavanaugh. I was troubled by the media’s portrayal of Kavanaugh’s high school, an all-boys Catholic private school where gross sexism was ingrained into the student body. It haunted me because Kavanaugh’s school reminded me of St. Mike’s.

When I was a student, many of my classmates had a hyper-sexualized view of women. This toxic attitude went mostly unchallenged by the school, except by a few teachers and staff. The school did not actively promote positive relationships with women. It did not rigorously teach feminism or consent. For the students who tried to resist sexist social currents, many still did not a develop a deep understanding of women’s health, social or political issues. Everyone has some personal responsibility for their attitudes and behaviours; I also call on my classmates to reflect on how they treat the women in their lives. But St. Mike’s should impart on its students a positive understanding of what it means to respect women. A new program, aimed at teaching Grade 11 and 12 students about consent, is a step in the right direction.

Some of you might still insist on disconnecting the assault from the school’s culture. To you, I say the following. Even if you think the assault is an outlier, society does not tolerate the male behaviours and attitudes that I have described. We can use recent events as an opportunity for critical self-reflection and growth. For the interests of the school as an institution — not to mention for the well-being of future students, women and everyone else — St. Mike’s needs to confront the negative parts of its culture.

The final point I would like to make concerns the response to the assault by the school and the broader community. First, the administration’s initial response was wrong. The administration should have reported the assault to the police immediately. After all, private institutions have powerful incentives (their reputation, money) to cover up sexual assaults.

Maybe we can give the previous administration the benefit of the doubt regarding its intentions. However, the optics are still damaging to all victims within the school, who might lose trust in the administration and authority figures more broadly. The response is especially unacceptable given the recent history of the Catholic Church covering up sexual assault. As members of a Catholic community, we must hold the school to a high standard.

Gregory Reeves, the St. Michael's College School principal when the scandal about alleged school sexual assaults broke. Reeves resigned just over a week ago.
Gregory Reeves, the St. Michael’s College School principal when the scandal about alleged school sexual assaults broke. Reeves resigned just over a week ago.  (Christopher Katsarov)

With the resignations of Principal Greg Reeves and President Father Jefferson Thompson, the incoming administration must undergo training on how to respond to sexual assault in a manner that is consistent with victims’ interests.

Second, I am disappointed that so many former students have blindly defended the school, without also acknowledging the suffering of the victim. One implication of some graduates’ nostalgic Facebook posts is that they stand in solidarity with the school as its reputation tanks, and not in solidarity with the victim. This is probably unintentional, but it is inexcusable. We should focus our energies on supporting the victim and asking hard questions about the school’s culture.

These posts have another negative implication. They might deter other victims in the St. Mike’s community from speaking out, because they will feel uneasy about further tarnishing the school’s reputation. There are almost certainly other victims of sexual assault or bullying in the community who have been suffering in silence. I urge alumni to express support for all victims of sexual assault and severe bullying. You might not have been a bully. You might have not been bullied. You might have enjoyed your time at the school, as I did. But evidently, it was not a safe place for every student. We must validate the experiences of victims, rather than stifle their voices.

I am also a little embarrassed by the parents and alumni who have criticized the media. Again, the school is not the victim. The victim is the victim. The assault was a brutal crime and is a matter of public interest. The media uncovered this story; they have been hawkish because the school was not immediately transparent; they have kept the story in the news cycle because more assaults came to light. The broader public is judging our community’s capacity to respond with empathy. If you pretend the school is the primary victim, you are not only being insensitive to real victims, you are actively reinforcing negative tropes about the community.

At the end of the culture review, the leadership of St. Michael’s must make a decision. It can pretend nothing is wrong. In doing so, it will edge out a new niche in the Toronto private school market as the bastion of male chauvinism. Maybe this version of the school can still win football championships. But I will not want anything to do with it.

Alternatively, after a long and difficult introspection, the school can make the difficult choice. It can build out progressive programming that confronts its cultural problems and prevents future assaults. There is going to be resistance to these changes, because our beloved school is old, and old places are bad at changing.

But hopefully, over time, the phrase “St. Michael’s Man” can acquire a new, robust meaning: a man that excels in the classroom, on the field, on the stage and in the debating hall. A man who treats women with respect. A man who has the space to explore alternative sexualities. A man who respects his peers. A man who will still win a Metro Bowl ring. I have faith that the good people at St. Michael’s will make this choice. The right choice.


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Eating Eggs with a Fork? You’re Doing It Wrong


Every Wednesday night, Bon Appétit food director Carla Lalli Music takes over our newsletter with a sleeper-hit recipe from the Test Kitchen vault. It gets better: If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll get this letter before everyone else.

I’ve got a soft spot for this special scramble

Scrambling an egg is like skinning a cat. There’s more than one way to do it.

Maybe that’s too broad and/or too gruesome. If I had to put scrambled eggs into just two categories, there are scrambles you serve with a fork, and those that are best eaten with a spoon. The distinction is purely stylistic and a matter of personal taste, but for whatever reason, it seems like our society really puts the fork scramble on a pedestal. I say it’s time for that to change.

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I grew up on fork scrambles, and I never had a reason to complain. I knew how to make my mom’s slow-cooked scramble, which is excellent, and I knew knew never to order scrambled eggs in a diner, because they’re always terrible. I was sure that covered it. Like all radical opinions formed late in life, I hadn’t given any thought to what I’d been missing until a seismic event caused me to reconsider my deeply held beliefs (about eggs). That milestone moment was the day I met and interviewed Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the famous French chef with the namesake restaurant and the very blue eyes.

I went to see JGV, as he’s known, because I wanted to know how he made his legendary, buttery, very runny style of scrambled eggs. He complied, and invited me to come to Jean-Georges, the restaurant, in the middle of lunch service on a weekday, to make eggs for me in his open kitchen surrounded by busy cooks. I spent the first several minutes of our interview attempting to wedge myself into a narrow space between the end of a counter and a trash can. While I was doing that, Jean-Georges, the man, got out a small saucepan, a fat piece of unsalted butter, a whisk, and a container of whipped eggs. The eggs had to be completely smooth, he said, so that there were no visible bits of cooked whites in the finished dish, and he told me that they used an immersion blender to do big batches for service. The other trick, he told me, was to start the eggs in the pan with most of the butter—everything cold—and then slowly heat it up, whisking constantly.

scrambled eggs step 2

Photo by Ted Cavanaugh

Okay, let’s pause right there. For everyone out there accustomed to making a standard batch of light-and-fluffies, dry-and-rubberies, or soft and ribbonies, you know they start the opposite way—in a preheated skillet with foaming butter. Non this time.

Back to JG. The pan was over very low heat. The Frenchman was whisking. He added a pinch of salt. The butter was sort of mushing around. Nothing happened for a couple of minutes. While nothing was happening, he told me that this was how his mother used to make eggs. He told me that what he was doing would make them very light, since the whisking was incorporating air into the eggs. He said the movement would prevent the curds from forming long strands, and instead they’d take on an incredibly smooth, fluffy, finely textured finish. I watched as the egg mixture began to very gradually thicken. It looked like very loose polenta. He kept whisking. He told me that you could finish the eggs with crème fraîche, or cream cheese, or stir in chives or basil, but that the simplest way was with just butter. After a few more seconds, the eggs took on a porridge-y consistency. He immediately dropped another knob of butter into the pan and removed it from the heat… yes, still whisking.

Now, because we were in a fancy restaurant, the next thing he did was spoon the scrambled eggs into an expertly hollowed-out egg shell, top them with whipped cream, and then he capped the whole thing off with a very generous spoonful of black Sturgeon caviar (from California) out of an impressively large tin. Then he gave the whole thing to me, with a spoon.

Moi?! Oh boy, oh boy. I sunk that spoon right through the caviar, and the cream, and into the puddle of eggs, and the bite I got was rich and eggy and hot, cool and creamy, salty and slippery. Whatever JG was saying at that point, I wasn’t hearing, because spoon eggs were happening to me and the noise my brain was making was deafening.

The bad news is that I never got to have the soft scramble like that again, because all the other times have been in my own house and there’s never been a giant can of caviar in this place and I would feel pretty crazy putting whipped cream on my morning eggs. The good news is that the spoon eggs are also very magical without any of these accoutrements, eaten without fanfare out of a bowl. I made them so often at one point after learning this technique that when I’d ask my son how he wanted his eggs, he’d say “the soft way,” and I knew what he meant.


Lisa Hubbard

At home, with practice, I learned that patience was key. You have to beat the eggs long enough to fully incorporate the yolks and the whites before you start cooking, and you can’t half-ass it. If you rush the cooking process by raising the heat, the bottom will scorch and the eggs will never take on that coveted custardy texture. Go low, go slow, and don’t stop whisking. Slide them off the heat if you feel like it’s going too fast, then slide them back on. A couple of minutes might go by and they may look almost the same as they did when you started, but suddenly the aroma of cooked egg will rise from the pan. You’ll smell it before you see it, and that’s when you should add the end-game butter (or creme fraiche, or cream cheese and chives). Make sure you’ve got buttered toast and a bowl and spoon ready. A fork would be about as useful as a cat in a snowstorm.

Get the recipe:

The Softest Scramble (aka Spoon Eggs)


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Munk Debates blames ‘technical error’ for wrong results in Bannon-Frum faceoff


Before it even began, the Munk Debate that pitted former Trump strategist Steve Bannon against conservative commentator David Frum was already steeped in controversy.

Now there’s even more.

Protesters yell at ticket holders outside of Roy Thomson Hall Friday night to protest the appearance of former Trump strategist Steve Bannon at the Munk Debates. Toronto police have laid charges against 12 people in connection with the protests.
Protesters yell at ticket holders outside of Roy Thomson Hall Friday night to protest the appearance of former Trump strategist Steve Bannon at the Munk Debates. Toronto police have laid charges against 12 people in connection with the protests.  (Steve Russell / Toronto Star)

The Munk Debates announced on Saturday morning that they made a “technical error” in delivering the results of Friday night’s faceoff between Bannon and Frum after initially announcing that the latter had lost when it had actually been a draw.

The debate had already faced criticism, with calls to cancel the event amid protests over Bannon’s involvement, including a raucous rally outside Roy Thomson Hall that resulted in the arrest of 12 people.

Read more:

The Munk Debates typically begin with a vote asking the audience to choose whether they are for or against the question at hand. They also ask whether the audience members are open to changing their votes after listening to the debate. At the end, a final vote is done with the same initial for-or-against question. The debater who swayed votes to their side wins.

At the end of Friday’s event, they asked the audience whether “the future of western politics is populist, not liberal.” The now-incorrect results showed a clear win for Bannon at 57 per cent in favour and 43 per cent against — a far cry from the corrected tally posted Saturday morning of 28 per cent in favour and 72 per cent opposed, resulting in a draw.

“The system involves various people talking behind the scenes,” said Rudyard Griffiths, chairman of The Munk Debates in an interview with the Star. “There’s one person that’s managing the live poll, that person is communicating with another person who is entering it into a slide, and then another operator is collecting those slides that are displayed on the screen in the hall. So there’s a lot of different moving pieces.”

Instead of presenting the numbers in the final vote at Friday’s debate, the tally from the question about whether or not the person’s opinion could be swayed were shown on stage — incorrectly stating that Bannon had won over Frum.

It was also The Munk Debates’ first time collecting votes electronically, having used paper ballots in the past, Griffiths added. They will conduct an internal report into how the error was made and how a mistake like this could be prevented.

Organizers caught on to the error about five to 10 minutes after the final announcement, but it was too late.

“By the time the error had been identified and brought to my attention, the people who were in the hall had left,” Griffiths said. “Some had remained for a post-debate reception and we were able to communicate the results to those people.”

They posted an update to their Facebook page after the debate. On Saturday morning, they sent an email to their members and posted the correction on Twitter.

While votes tend to sway after debates, draws are not unheard of, Griffiths said.

“You’re also talking about a sample of roughly 2,800 people,” Griffiths said. “Some people may change their mind, but other people on the other side may change their minds also. So even though someone’s changed their vote, the net effect of that on the results is negligible.”

People were also entering the debate late and missed the vote on the initial questions, having been delayed by the protest outside.

J.P. Luisi, who attended the debate, was surprised that the corrected results did not yield a clear winner.

“My wife and a few other people that I spoke to changed their vote at the end, so it seemed odd that statistically there wouldn’t be a change,” Luisi said. “It’s like flipping a coin. Theoretically it could land on its edge, but chances are that it will be heads or tales.”

Luisi said the audience seemed shocked at the now-incorrect results announced onstage, especially considering the unexpectedly large swing.

“There was some murmuring in the crowd briefly and then people afterwords were saying that they were surprised that there was such a change,” Luisi said. “Even people that voted for Bannon were surprised that he would have changed opinion that much.”

David Frum posted The Munk Debates’ correction on Twitter.

Stefanie Marotta is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @StefanieMarotta


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