Page 1


oRONTO oday



Provincial Tories and NDP challenging in midtown

October 2011

lIBRARIES Do we really need them?

bonner wants in But former Raptor is denied citizenship

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Don’t be scared — it’s only my political statement


NEWS: On bail and under watch

Police unit keeps track of violent offenders


FASHION: DJ gets down and funky

CosmoTV host Josie Dye shares wardrobe tips


DINING: Star restaurant on Avenue Nothing fancy, but Issmi does it well


SPORTS: Baseball is over for the Leafs

on’t Panic, as they say in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. That is, please don’t close up this monthly guide to the midtown Toronto galaxy because you think your editor has turned into a ...well, I don’t quite know what it is I look like. It’s my Halloween picture from last year. (And yes, I did come to the office like this. Won a prize too.) Why my Halloween photo is on this page is, ostensibly, because we had an editorial team discussion about whether we should cover the all-Hallows celebration in this issue, seeing as it comes at the end of the month. In the end we decided we had too much of our heavy-duty political and cultural coverage in the October edition of Toronto Today, which in our conceited way we consider essential for our central Toronto readership. Maybe we’d throw a seasonal photo in somewhere. But there wasn’t even room for that in the main body of our publication. (Man, we are good, aren’t we?) So it fell to me to include it in this last column, which is produced after the rest of the magazine is put to bed. But still, I have to admit it bothers me. So I’ve come up with a new rationale: This photograph is my statement about the current political climate in Toronto and abroad. It’s turning us into a civilization of zombies. Or the undead. Or... okay, I haven’t quite worked out my “spectre is haunting Europe” metaphor yet, but I think you get the idea. Admittedly I wrote this shortly after watching the very frightening Tea Party Republican Debate on television. But you don’t have to tune in to CNN to get the horrors from politics these days. You need only read or listen to reports on the pronouncements coming out of our city hall, where it appears that years of careful research and planning have been thrown out with hardly a thought, to be replaced by napkin-drawn harebrained schemes — that could affect us all in this city for years to come.

Eric McMillan Editor-in-chief (Witness the library cutting issue, for example, covered in this issue.) The situation is hardly much more heartening at our other levels of government. You don’t need to be a psychic to pick up emanations of a new nastiness and small-mindedness creeping into our political discourse during the mercifully short provincial election campaign. (Covered in part in this issue also.) Be afraid, be very afraid. But not of me or of Toronto Today. It’s our hope that you find the articles in our issues helpful in clarifying what serious issues are facing us in Toronto. And to have some fun. Even if it takes dressing up like an undead goof once a year. We’ll see you — or your kids — at the door at the end of this month. You’ll know me. I’ll be the guy handing out candy while dressed in a suit and tie. True to my contrarian nature, I only wear a costume and makeup at work but take it all off to become a respectable professional in the evening when everyone else is outlandishly disguised. Have a good October, hope you survive the latest election, and Happy Halloween when it gets here. TT

But it was one of their most successful seasons

Plus lots more... On the cover: Libraries are more than books — is that a good or bad thing? Photo by Francis Crescia/Toronto Today



The thin red line Can the provincial Liberals keep their stronghold in Toronto?


By Omar Mosleh

“I’d be surprised if the Conservatives ts most popular sports team may be blue, don’t make some gains if we’re talking but for years Toronto was an impenetrable 416, (but) I think there’s still some LibLiberal red fortress, a dependable bulwark eral strongholds,” Wiseman says. “I don’t that withstood changes in municipal, prothink they’ll lose Toronto Centre or St. vincial and federal governments. Paul’s.” But the May 2 federal election was a Both ridings are currently represented game-changer. by MPPs who came to office in byThe Liberal party was eviscerated, elections. Glen Murray was first elected losing 14 of their 20 Toronto seats while in Toronto Centre after fellow Liberal the Conservatives and NDP picked up George Smitherman stepped down to run eight each. Even Liberal leader Michael for mayor in 2010. In St. Paul’s, Eric Ignatieff lost his Etobicoke-Lakeshore Hoskins replaced Michael Bryant in 2009, seat to Conservative newcomer Bernard after the Liberal MPP stepped down to Trottier. become CEO of Invest Toronto. With the provincial election fast Wiseman senses vulnerability in Don approaching, it remains to be seen whethValley East and West, both of which saw er the blue and orange waves will return Liberal incumbents toppled by Conservato the 416. Going into the election, the tive candidates in the May federal elecOntario Liberals hold all but four Toronto tion, he says. “It’s going to be a challenge seats. No provincial Tory has been elected for the Liberals. They’re going to be in the city since 1999. squeezed on both sides.” But the upcoming election could once But what has turned the tide and disagain reshape Toronto’s political landproved the truism that Toronto is largely scape, says Eglinton-Lawrence ProgresGrit territory? sive Conservative candidate Rocco Rossi, Part of the answer may be simply who unsuccessfully ran for mayor and hard work, says U of T director of Canapreviously served as national director of dian Business History Joseph Martin, who the Liberal Party of Canada. believes the Tories will gain Eglinton“There’s a real appetite for change Lawrence. and it should come as no surprise,” Rossi “What I picked up from voters from asserted. “This is not a Liberal fortress that riding who were not Conservative anymore . . . There’s nothing inevitable BATTLING GRITS: Relative newcomers Glen Murray and supporters was that they were much more about voting Liberal.” However, some observers say the Lib- Eric Hoskins, top left and right, are fighting their first gen- impressed by the quality of the (Conservaeral party still has a shot at defending its eral provincial elections after having won their midtown tive) campaign,” he says. “The Conservaseats for the Liberals in byelections. Michael Coteau, bottives federally were certainly working seats. Akaash Maharaj, senior resident at tom left, is trying to recapture Don Valley East after Liberal harder on the ground.” But Maharaj suggests the change is Massey College and former national pol- MPP David Caplan stepped down. Making a re-election bid, icy chair for the Liberal Party of Canada, Mike Colle, bottom right, is facing Conservative challenger only one aspect of a broader shift in Canapredicts the fight will take place on dra- Rocco Rossi, a former Liberal and mayoral candidate, in dian politics, where Canadians are not as Eglinton-Lawrence. willing to identify themselves as a staunch matically different battlegrounds. Liberal or Conservative. “I think the Liberal party certainly can ing the leadership for a third time, faces one of “Today I think Canadians are far more win Toronto and the election, but it will be a close-fought race,” Maharaj says. “Unlike pre- his most visible hurdles: the spectre of his own mobile in their loyalties, and parties know that they have to re-earn their supporters,” Maharaj vious elections, this will be a race where each of success. “A (third) additional term is certainly not says. “And if they don’t, someone else will.” the three parties will be fighting one another.” A demographic featuring prominently in that Maharaj sees the Ontario Liberal party facing unheard of in Toronto history, but it is unusual in assessment is the ethno-cultural community. several challenges: voter fatigue after several recent history,” Maharaj says. But even if McGuinty’s majority government Maharaj says the evaporation of steadfast loyalconsecutive elections, a wave of sympathy and respect for the NDP after Jack Layton’s death, is toppled, the Liberals will most likely retain ties is part of the reason the Liberal stronghold and strained relations between municipal and a few seats in Toronto, says Nelson Wiseman, could be crumbling. who teaches political science at the University “There was a time during my parent’s generaprovincial governments. tion when the vast majority of visible minorities And, Premier Dalton McGuinty, who is seek- of Toronto.


The Jack Effect The late NDP leader and long-time Toronto rep may yet influence the provincial election outcome


By sandie benitah

Francis crescia/toronto today

TRIBUTES: Shyloe Fagan, a resident in Jack Layton’s Toronto-Danforth riding is one of thousands to visit the MP’s office on Broadview Avenue.

could be counted on to vote Liberal,” he says. “Today, visible minorities are active in every political party.” Rossi says the Progressive Conservative party pounced at the opportunity to show new Canadians that many perceived immigrant values such as hard work, family values and entrepreneurship are also “small-c” conservative values. “Many people in the ethno-cultural community have felt taken for granted by the Liberals,” Rossi says. If that is indeed the case, it could be the Ontario Liberal party’s undoing, Maharaj says. “If (Toronto) has been consistent, it has been in its willingness to punish politicians who appear to take it for granted,” he says. Ethnic communities are no longer seen as free votes and instead play a marked role in the planks of various election platforms. For example, the accusation that John Tory was pandering to new Canadians when he proposed funding for faith-based schools became a significant “club” during the last provincial campaign and McGuinty’s proposal to provide tax credits to businesses that hire immigrants with professional credentials could play a similar role, Maharaj says. However, the Progressive Conservative’s reaction to the proposal has also been criticized as being divisive, due to Tim Hudak referring to new Canadian citizens as “foreign workers.” “I guess you could say that ethnic minorities in Toronto have gone from being pawns to being clubs,” Maharaj says. “I don’t know if that is an improvement or not.” Wiseman says the immigrant employment proposal could become the definitive issue of the election and could lead to McGuinty’s downfall because he doesn’t feel it presents a convincing approach to creating economic growth. “They’ve already done something wrong on this immigration thing,” Wiseman says. “I think Continued Page 6

The raw public display of emotion following NDP Leader Jack Layton’s death left many with a renewed sense of appreciation for not only the political leader, but the party he helped champion. In the week following his death, people from all political stripes came forward to express their appreciation for Layton’s work and the values of socialism he preached daily through his work with the NDP.

It’s no surprise then that with less than a month to go until the provincial election, we’ve seen obvious signs that more people are feeling a little warmer toward the NDP. Several election polls released since Layton’s death have found there has indeed been a “Layton effect” as the Ontario NDP continue to gain ground. A Nanos Research poll conducted Continued Page 6

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The thin red line that’s a potential Achilles’ heel.” There are a number of other factors that could have an effect on the provincial Liberals maintaining their Toronto stronghold. One potential positive for McGuinty is that it’s rare to have three levels of government represented by one political stripe. “Historically, almost since confederation, Ontarians have said if we have one party federally we’re going to have another provincially,” Martin says, noting an exception in the Jean Chrétien era because there was no real Conservative alternative. Another factor with less clear ramifications is the popularity of Mayor Rob Ford. While the mayor has previously threatened to unleash “Ford nation” upon the premier if he doesn’t provide enough funding for the Sheppard subway extension, some say that threat is hollow in light of the recent outcry over proposed service cuts. “In a very, very short span of time, Ford nation has become a depopulated state,” Maharaj says. “If anything, the dynamic has reversed.” There is also the fact that 20 Liberal incumbents are not seeking re-election. Martin says it “can’t be good news” because incumbency has definite advantages.

Cont. from Page 5

Toronto-Centre Liberal MPP Glen Murray disagrees. “I think it’s very good, you want new blood. The worst thing that can happen when you’ve been in government for a long time is having the same old people stick around.” “Governments either renew themselves by bringing in bright, new, diverse views and opinions … or they become stale.” But no matter what colour washes over this city come Oct. 6, it’s likely political leaders across the province, and indeed the country, will be watching Toronto closely. The reason is that since amalgamation, the city has become more important, Maharaj says. In the last municipal election, no other individual politician, including the prime minister, received as many votes as the mayor of Toronto. This means the mayor holds more sway over more people, which leaders from all levels of government realize could make or break them. “Certainly, Torontonians can take solace in the knowledge that no one is taking them for granted now,” Maharaj says with a laugh. “At least during an election campaign.” TT


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The Jack Effect

Cont. from Page 5

back in early August saw the NDP trailing in third place with 16.2 percent support. Two more Nanos polls released in September show the party gained considerable support since Layton’s death on August 22. In a poll released Sept. 12, more than 400 Ontarians who identified themselves as decided voters were asked which party they would be voting for in the provincial election. This particular survey – conducted on September 10 and 11, showed the NDP still in third place, but now with 24.3 percent support. All six major polls released since Layton’s death have had the NDP at 22.8 percent or higher. It must be said that there has been strong indications that the public’s perception of the NDP was beginning to change even before Layton died. A case in point: The federal election. The NDP moved into opposition for the first time in the party’s history. Layton led that victory and in the polls leading up to the spring vote, he was consistently voted as the most popular leader. Those federal results also triggered popular support at the provincial level, as the majority of polls from mid-May into early August had the NDP from 19 to 24 percent. Regardless of the federal result and conversion to provincial support, political pundits wonder if the NDP will continue their hot streak in the Ontario election — a province still feeling burned by the NDP-led government under Bob Rae. Many Ontarians who remember that time swore off the NDP, and while it’s yet to be seen if the party will manage to become opposition at the provincial level, it seems as if residents are softening their stance. Aside from polls, there have been other signs the Ontario NDP is gaining steady support. Some MPP candidates have been using Layton’s name in an automated message to voters, asking for support. Michael Prue, the MPP in the Beaches-East York riding sent out the following message to his constituents: “This has been a difficult time for New Democrats everywhere

‘That put some energy into our party that’s very positive.’

with the incredible loss of our leader, Jack Layton. We shared sadness but we also shared a sense of renewed commitment, inspiration and hope.” A similar message was sent by Don Harris, NDP MP in Scarborough-Southwest, to drum up support for provincial candidate Bruce Budd. But the leader of the party, Andrea Horwath, issued a stern message to candidates, warning them against such behaviour. “I don’t think that’s the right way to do things, frankly, and when I found out it was being done that way I’ve made it very clear that I don’t want that to happen anymore,” she told reporters at a campaign stop in Windsor. Horwath, who was asked by Layton’s family to join them in greeting his casket when it arrived at Toronto City Hall ahead of the public memorial, said voters have approached her, wanting to talk about Jack. In fact, one person even asked to take a picture with her, thinking she was Layton’s replacement. She attributed the success of her campaign and any support she may have gained to the “energy” of the candidates and volunteers. “I think a lot of that is the result of the legacy that Jack left not only in his passing but before that when he had that fantastic success federally,” she said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “I’ve said all along that put some energy into our party that’s very, very positive, and that’s the focus that we’re taking.” But political watchers have also praised Horwath’s own charisma and leadership for the party’s seeming success. Horwath is the NDP’s first female leader. She is also only the second woman to lead a party in the history of Queen’s Park. The platform she unveiled in June has been hailed as a practical approach to politics that focused on the bread-and-butter issues affecting all Ontarians — jobs and affordability. For example, she has promised to make heating your home more affordable by excluding the HST from hydro bills. Nonetheless, Horwath still has her work cut out for her, despite the party’s growing popularity. With Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty and Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak tied for leadership in the polls, Horwath could be the swing vote in a minority government. It’s a role the NDP could finesse for a future election in less than four years time where a strong campaign could let Horwath make history all on her own. TT

Who says we need libraries? A lot of people apparently, despite facing budget cutters and the Internet



Francis Crescia/Toronto Today

CONNECTED: Many readers get their literature and information via digital devices these days, prompting libraries to offer online services and critics to question the viability of libraries altogether.

oronto has 98 public library branches, more than New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. It is the world’s busiest library system, yet it is facing threats on multiple fronts. Just last month the city had 99 public libraries. That was before the Urban Affairs Library at Metro Hall closed due to budget constraints. So, what does the future hold for the rest? On July 21, the accounting and consulting firm KPMG released the city’s core service review, identifying more than $740 million in possible cuts to help cover the $774 million deficit the city is projected to face next year. Cost-cutting measures in the report include the elimination or reduction of library programs, the closure of some branches and a reduction in hours of operation. Ward 2 councillor Doug Ford, considered by many to be calling the shots in the administration of his brother Mayor Rob Ford, has said he would vote to close some locations, reportedly joking his Etobicoke ward was home to more libraries than Tim Hortons. (He didn’t return phone calls for this article.) The KPMG report mentioned that up to 20 percent of the Toronto Public Library’s $170-million annual budget could be saved if some branches were closed, leading some to question whether Toronto really needs all its libraries. Instead of keeping their voices down like good library patrons, thousands of bookworms have spoken up in an attempt to keep their libraries open. The library’s union, Local 4948, staged four pickets in August outside the Toronto Reference Library, near Yonge and Bloor streets, and North York Central Library, near Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue, in response to the city’s core service review. “The purpose of the information pickets was just to provide to library patrons and the general public more information about the issue that’s facing the libraries,” said union president Maureen O’Reilly, who also said more pickets were being scheduled for September. The pickets encouraged people to sign a petition at mypubliclibrary. to, which generates an email to their local city councillors to say they are against the proposed library cuts. So far, nearly 50,000 people have signed the petition. More than 160 residents also spoke at a 22-hour long city council session on July 28 and 29 to voice opposition to the review’s proposed city service cuts. Others supported libraries in a contest, “My Library Matters to Me”, sponsored by the union. Contestants were asked to submit an essay, video or picture explaining the importance of libraries. Up to 50 winners are being chosen to win lunch with noted Canadian authors, as well as literary tours of Toronto places significant to the authors, perhaps having been portrayed in their books or having inspired them to write. Eleven authors involved in the contest include Margaret Atwood,

Michael Ondaatje, Joy Fielding and Vincent Lam. Lam said he would take his contest winners to a Vietnamese restaurant in reference to his coming novel “Headmaster’s Wager.” He also plans to take them on a walk through Riverdale Farm, another attraction that KPMG suggested could be shut down to save money. Lam said he does not want any library branches shut down. “I think that libraries are quite unique because they provide a completely democratic way to access a really amazing range of high-quality Continued Page 8


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INFORMATION LINE: Workers at Toronto Public Libraries held pickets to encourage library patrons to sign a petition against proposals to cut services.

Cont. from Page 7

information,â€? Lam said. “It is being able to access information that really builds the wealth of cities, that really makes cities rich places to live in.â€? While the issue of library closures may strike a chord with many residents, how practical are libraries in the new information age?, one of world’s largest book distributors, recently reported that e-book sales now top hardcover book purchases made on their website. Several newspapers, magazines and scholarly articles are now available online. Using sites such as Google and Wikipedia are much faster ways of finding information than consulting an encyclopedia. Nonetheless, supporters have pointed out that Toronto’s public libraries have actually seen more visitors in recent years. Instead of replacing libraries, Internet access has become another service that libraries offer. “What it’s done actually is attracted a whole new group of patrons,â€? O’Reilly said. With more people coming in to look for websites rather than look for books libraries will have to change, but they won’t disappear, says Kelly Moore, executive director of the Canadian Library Association. “Libraries are about providing access to information in whatever form that comes in, so they’re going to have to adapt to be providing access to ebooks and digital materials,â€? Moore said. “That’s likely to mean more terminals and fewer things on open stacks.â€? She says librarians will also have to adapt to be able to help visitors navigate various media and resources. “In the same way that librarians have been able to navigate the information that’s been available in the print world, they’re doing the same in the online environment,â€? Moore said. Does this mean our public libraries are destined to become glorified Internet cafĂŠs? Or, further, in the future can they give up brickand-mortar locations altogether and just exist online? Indeed, some library systems, such as British Columbia’s public libraries and most university libraries have already set up online programs of book downloads. Think of the savings to the library budgets for overhead, personnel Continued Page 11

Libraries draw new patrons



















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Police unit keeps watch of most violent offenders


By Shawn Star

t’s nine o’clock on a Wednesday night, and police constables Dave Smith and Crispin Barnes of 51 Division are sitting in their cruiser parked outside a high-rise building in Moss Park. It’s the middle of their shift, and the constables have several house calls to make. The officers are visiting homes of alleged and convicted criminals in this downtown neighbourhood and Regent Park, one of Toronto’s most notoriously dangerous areas. But they aren’t there because 9-1-1 has been called. Members of Toronto Police’s Bail Compliance Unit, Smith and Barnes’ shifts are dedicated to ensuring violent offenders are keeping the conditions of their bail. Tonight, they’ll meet everyone from young offenders to repeat offenders, from people facing assault charges to those already convicted of them. Thanks to a successful test run in 2008, every police division in Toronto has had a Bail Compliance Unit (BCU) for the past two years. Smith has been with the BCU for two years, while Barnes has only been there four months. “He tells me, ‘You’re still on probation, buddy,’” Barnes says of Smith, who teases him because he’s new to the BCU. “I only hear that about every other shift.” Jokes aside, the unit, one for each of the 17 divisions, is making some headway in keeping Toronto’s offenders in police sight. According to Detective Dave Roberts of 51 Division, the BCU is a very active unit. It is one of the units Roberts, a 25-year veteran of the police service, oversees. Continued Page 10

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Cont. from Page 9

“There’s, say, 35,000 people within the city of Toronto on bail at any one time, but the majority of offences are committed by a small group of people,” he said referring to repeat offenders. “And we try to identify the small group of people who are continually committing offences.” As of mid-August, Toronto Police said they had conducted 12,947 compliance checks so far in 2011. At that time, Toronto Police had made 483 arrests for breaching conditions imposed by the courts. While all the arrests cannot be attributed only to the work of the BCU, as it is not uncommon for an officer to find breached bail conditions while investigating another matter, police are pleased with the results they are seeing from the newly minted unit. After a short drive from 51 Division headquarters, Roberts pulls over on Queen Street, just west of Parliament. Three large, V-shaped Toronto Community Housing buildings sit on the north side. Less than a kilometre from where the car is parked are the scenes of four shooting deaths from last year alone. Now, Roberts’ cruiser sits parked only feet away from a brutal baseball bat beating that resulted in the city’s 13th murder last year. Indeed, this area is notoriously one of the roughest in Toronto. Roberts radios Smith and Barnes who are just finishing a compliance check. A few minutes later, they pull up. Upbeat


shawn star/toronto today

BAIL COMPLIANCE UNIT Constables Dave Smith, left, and Crispin Barnes look over a list of parolees in Regent Park.

and full of energy, they explain how their job works. “We’re not standing at the door thinking, ‘please breach, please breach,’” Smith says of the offenders. It echoes what Roberts had said back at the station. “You treat everyone as an individual,” he said. “There’s really no reason to go in with the iron fist, so you try to get to know them and let them know that the purpose for your visits are to ensure that they’re complying with their conditions. “It’s as simple as that, it’s not anything more.”

With that, the team checks a list of five men they are about to visit. All are on probation, and all live in the same building. Within a half an hour, the team returns with positive results. Smith says for the most part, those on probation were happy to see them, some even welcoming. One individual, Smith says, has been on probation for two years already — and will continue to be until 2018. What kind of crime would constitute such a long probation? Barnes flips through his list. “Sex assault,” he says. “Three counts.” But there’s more to the story. The man, they said, is an example of how some criminals reform. According to police, since his release from prison, he has been working full-time, abiding by his conditions and staying out of trouble. The only sign of trouble is one of the five residents was not where he was supposed to be. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to go after him. “He has a court-imposed curfew of 9 p.m., but the building itself has a curfew of 11 p.m.,” Smith said, adding that the building is also home to many people with mental disabilities. “So it could very well be that he was just confused. We’re giving him the benefit of the doubt and checking back tomorrow.” Though they didn’t know what to expect upon their return, the odds are in favour of the man being there the next day. “On average, we make one arrest per month,” Smith says. The BCU identifies who the most violent offenders are by using a score system. In order to calculate an individual’s score, Roberts says the BCU considers the current charges relating to violence or drugs and the individual’s criminal history. The severity of the crimes allegedly committed is weighted differently. “The people with the greatest scores become part of the bail compliance unit lists,” he says. “The unit is really trying

to pick out the most violent people within the division, so it’s really evidence-based policing.” For example, Roberts says someone who is facing an assault charge and has no criminal history would score significantly lower than someone else who was facing the same charge, but had 50 to 60 previous convictions. “Essentially it identifies violent offenders in the divisions who are released on bail and allows us to focus attention to ensure they are complying with the imposed conditions,” Roberts said of the score system. With the addition of the BCU, police are hoping to curb the number of people breaching their bail conditions. “I believe there have been studies in the States that indicate that monitoring this type of offender does provide benefits,” he said. “The people who are being monitored definitely know that they’re being watched. “That would have an effect on their behaviour so they’re more inclined to comply with conditions.” Non-compliance can sometimes be a minor issue, like young offenders not abiding by their curfew, Barnes and Smith say. They said often times, they’ll end up getting a call from the offender’s parents saying he or she isn’t at home when they’re supposed to be. Toronto lawyer Alex Ejsmont says that is common because an offender’s surety, the person who takes responsibility for offender at the bail hearing, has a requirement to call police, in accordance with a promise they make on the witness stand. In some cases, he has also seen people remove themselves from being someone’s surety. “Especially people with addiction issues, parents dealing with adult children who still live at home,” Ejsmont said. “At some point they throw up their hands and say ‘this is really hard for me, and I can’t do this’.” Pointing to the United States as an example, Ejsmont says we are fortunate in Canada to have a system less focused on punitive methods. There is a “human face to sentencing” in Canada, he says, though proposed legislation, if passed, would enforce mandatory minimum sentences. This, says Ejsmont, has the potential to turn Canada into a more punitive system. “The potential for taking the human face out of sentencing and a lot of power away from individual judges is on the horizon,” he said. Ejsmont says he’s seen the positive effect of social programs and counselling on people who, if not for being in Canada, may otherwise have spent a significant amount of time in prison. “I have seen social justice work effectively and I am certainly an advocate for these types of community-based programs,” he said. “I’ve seen them work — not all the time — but when they do it’s quite rewarding as a defence lawyer.” TT

WRITE ON: Some of Canada’s leading literary lights came out to support Toronto libraries against cuts. Cont. from Page 8

and book acquisition if this were to become the norm in Toronto, sure to warm the hearts of City Hall cost-cutters. However, many futurists and marketing experts have predicted this will bring about the demise of public libraries. Best-selling American author and speaker Seth Godin, for example, recently said on his popular blog that libraries as we know them will die, although he predicts librarians will still be needed: “Librarians that are arguing and lobbying for clever ebook lending solutions are completely missing the point. They are defending library as warehouse as opposed to fighting for the future, which is librarian as producer, concierge, connector, teacher and impresario.” The proposed cuts in Toronto, it could be argued, would actually AUTHOR Vincent Lam reduce the beneficial says libraries are impor- effect of librarians in tant because they help in our culture. However, building the real wealth in any case the futurof cities. ist prophecies may not apply in Toronto as easily as elsewhere. For one thing, this city is famously a community of communities, a collection of neighbourhood-centred residential areas, where the physical library is a unifying force. O’Reilly said she thinks the real value of libraries is not in the information they provide, but in the role they play in their neighbourhoods. “Libraries are very important to the public because they really, truly are a community hub,” she said. “Mothers and kids can go for story time, community groups can go in and use the meeting facilities in the library building, newcomers can go and get settlement information. “And, indeed, even in the summer time we serve as cooling centres.” TT


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Photo courtesy David Leyes/CosmoTV

DRESSED FOR SUCCESS: Radio personality Josie Dye will occasionally don the little pink dress to throw some of her Edge 102.1 interview subjects into a stupor with her array of styles. Dye admits, she loves certain items of clothing that accommodate her personality on any given day.

DJ plays that funky fashion music Oh So Cosmo host Josie Dye shares her wardrobe tips



hen Josie Dye took on hosting CosmoTV’s Oh So Cosmo, a show about style, men, sex and relationships, she had to part ways with her beloved legwarmers. “The stylist on my show said I had to throw them away now,” she says. Dye, who confesses to having committed other fashion sins like wearing denim on denim, says she applies to a less is more theory with the amount of clothes she owns. “Giving away clothes only helps you eliminate items you would wear for the sake of wearing them,” she advises. Once a month she also swaps clothes within her circle of friends. Everyone brings three outfits to trade. As midday announcer on radio station 102.1 the Edge, Dye says she usually sports jeans and a t-shirt because no one is around,


adding she dresses the part when a band comes into the studio. “Sometimes I will be the opposite of rock and roll and wear a little pink dress, then I will talk to them about everything rock, which really throws them for a loop,” she says. Aside from shopping at vintage stores for one-of-a-kind finds, a favourite local shopping destination is Holt Renfrew on Bloor Street West. “I am so busy that I can walk in, grab a personal shopper and be out of there in no time.” Dye counts actress Blake Lively as a fashion icon because she doesn’t have a set style and still looks great in whatever she wears. “She has that ability to be the girl next door or be the sexy diva,” she says. She also turns to TV shows and magazines for style inspiration and replicates a look when she really likes it.

“I wouldn’t say I dress a certain way … I just love certain pieces and I think they just have to fit with my personality that day.” As for essential pieces for fall, she suggests investing in staple items like boots and a designer purse. “I also think you have to go expensive on shoes and jackets,” she says. “I mean you wear them more than shirts and jeans.” She says her husband Joel Carriere, the owner of Dine Alone Records and Bedlam Music Management, told her to ditch dresses for their date nights. “He says a girl with jeans and a baseball cap is the sexiest thing he has ever seen.” TT

‘Sometimes I will be the opposite of rock and roll’


Service well done, not raw Liz Campbell


he decor features simple, clean lines and the menu is classic Japanese, but there is a genuine warmth and friendliness in the service at Issmi that makes it special. It’s apparent that this spot is familyrun. Frances, daughter of the founders, frequently pops into our enclosed booth to offer comments and smiles. We eschew the usual bento box and decide to order several different dishes instead. And to accompany, we order what is increasingly becoming a trend in Japanese restaurants: a flight of sakes. Ours consists of three two-ounce glasses, each served in its own little wooden box ($16.95). The first, Otokoyama Junmai sake, is pure rice wine — crisp, dry and delightful. The second is Onikoroshi Wakatake, a little sweeter and fruitier but nonetheless crisp. The last is my favourite dessert wine, Takara plum wine, sweet and fruity. Frances explains each and suggests we drink them in this order so as not to spoil the palate for the next. My guest suggests we start with spicy tuna sushi pizza ($13.95). I confess I have generally rejected this as pandering to Western taste — a big mistake


STAR CLASS: Though the restaurant was nothing fancy, food critic Liz Campbell says Issmi was a-one with its pleasant service.

on my part as it turns out. The fresh tuna has been laid on a base of deep fried pressed rice, and topped with avocado slices and tobiko (those bright red fish roe that add texture as well as colour). Wow! My taste buds have so much going on — crunchy, zesty, salty, even a little sweetness from the tuna — it’s fabulous. Our next course is Yaki Udon with chicken ($11.95). Fat noodles are tossed in a delicious teriyaki style sauce — slightly sweet and salty — with chicken and vegetables (snow peas, broccoli, mushrooms). It’s a delicious contrast to the spice of the first dish and we finish every mouthful. From the House Special Rolls list, our helpful waitress strongly recommends a new addition, spicy scallop, and we decide to add the dynamite roll ($8.95 each). As there is a list of makimono rolls (sushi rolls) on the menu, we were expecting these to be temaki or loosely formed hand rolls in the shape of a cone. So we’re surprised to see the neatly sliced sushi rolls. But our tastebuds are not disappointed. The dynamite rolls contain a large shrimp tempura with avocado and cucumber, wrapped in rice

and seaweed. They live up to their name. How do they do it? The batter on this shrimp is so delicate and crisp that even wrapping it in rice doesn’t turn it soggy. But as good as this is, the scallop rolls win top prize from us both. Pieces of fresh scallop, green onion and tobiko make a wonderful combination of flavours and textures. The crunch of the fish roe, the sweetness of the scallop meat and the tang of the onion blend in perfect harmony. In typical Japanese style, a small orange, neatly segmented into four with tiny toothpicks, is brought to cleanse the palate after dinner. The only dessert is ice cream — green tea, mango, red bean flavours ($2.95). My guest chooses mango and I ask for red bean (less sweet and filled with pieces of red bean). While good, I wouldn’t bother with these. They are standard fare and not a worthy finish for such a wonderful meal. Issmi is not fancy, but the food and its presentation take it up a distinct notch. And the service puts it into star class. Issmi, 1984 Avenue Rd. 416-488-2500. There is a tiny outdoor patio in front. Website: TT

Open 7 Days a Week at Noon.

3393 Yonge St. 416.322.2200 OCTOBER 2011 TORONTO TODAY 13



Ask the experts

PRÊT À PORTAL: Jamie Alexander, far left, Monica Mei and Chris Lancaster are the founders of the new mobile application, which allows fashionistas to share their style sense via the Internet.

Online catwalk

Please write to our experts: If you would like to take advantage of their years of experience, send your questions to “Ask the Experts” and they will be happy to reply to you in this space. By E-mail:, by Fax: 416488-3671 or write: Ask the Experts, c/o Town Crier, 101 Wingold Ave., Toronto, ON, M6B 1P8. Marc Linett, a partner in the personal injury law firm of Linett & Timmis, has been practicing accident and insurance litigation in Toronto for over 36 years. His firm has established a solid reputation representing thousands of injured victims and their families throughout Ontario.

Marc Linett

Linett & Timmis Personal Injury Lawyers 1867 Yonge St., Suite 1004, Toronto

416-366-5100 1-800-363-5100


: I was at my local ice-cream shop last week when I slipped and fell on a slippery patch on the floor. After I got up I noticed someone had previously spilled their ice-cream all over the floor but no one had bothered to clean it up. Since this fall I have had to miss a lot of time from work because my leg is very sore and painful. My doctor said I may have torn a ligament as a result of the fall. It has also become very difficult to look after my family because of my injuries. Do I have any rights against the ice-cream shop?


: Under Ontario’s Occupiers Liability Act, the ice-cream store may be responsible for your injuries if it was not properly maintaining the floor of its premises to keep it safe for the use of its customers. If the store was aware of the ice-cream spill and did not clean it up or if it did not have a proper system of inspection in place to monitor and maintain the floor premises, it may be liable for your slip and fall. It may also be responsible if, after it became aware of the ice-cream spill, it failed to take reasonable steps to warn customers of the spill on the floor with appropriate signage or by cordoning off the area. You may be entitled to recover damages for your pain and suffering, loss of income and any other related expenses you incur because of your fall. This would include the cost of hiring a housekeeper and childcare assistance if you are not able to look after your home and your children because of your injuries. Your family members may also have a claim for their loss of care, guidance and companionship.

Marc Linett, a partner in the personal injury law firm of Linett &

14 TORONTO OCTOBER 2011insurance litigation in Timmis, has beenTODAY practicing accident and Toronto for over 36 years. His firm has established a solid reputation representing thousands of injured victims and their families throughout Ontario.

Media and fashion-savvy trio gets the world sharing their togs through social-networking app By Ann Ruppenstein


hree midtown residents are behind a new mobile application that lets fashionable people share their outfit inspiration and sense of style with other trendsetters across the globe. “ is the visual Twitter for fashion,” explains the company’s CEO Monica Mei, who lives near Bay Street and Bloor Street West. “Our members from all over the world can post their daily looks instantly and fashion fans can see what others are wearing right now.” Designed and developed by Mei, Jamie Alexander and Chris Lancaster, the free application is now available for download on Apple, Android and Blackberry devices. “It’s the easiest way for fashion lovers to share their style story over multiple social networks in one click,” Mei says. By taking a picture of their outfits with their cell phones, users are able to tag their clothes by designer and retailer, share details about what inspired their daily look and post photos on their Twitter or Facebook accounts. In addition to being connected socially to a community of fashion lov-

ers, members can also follow brands, blogs and magazines. Alexander, who lives near St. Clair Avenue and Oakwood Avenue, first came up with the initial concept for when he noticed how much time his wife spent shopping and reading style blogs and magazines. He was inspired to create a website where people who loved fashion could express themselves. Mei, who is also a fashion designer with her own label called Aime, says she revamped the site when she joined the company last October and changed the posting function so that it would be mobile for smartphones. “About a year ago we decided it was time to quit our full-time jobs and focus on this full time,” says Lancaster, who also in the St. Clair and Oakwood area. Mei says she hopes the application will soon be an international success. “Our goal is to keep adding new features to make the easiest … way for fashion lovers around the world to share their style story.” TT










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LET’S GO DIGGING: With trowel raised high by Peter McClusky, Jana McClusky celebrates her victory at the garlic planting race.

Garlic’s reputation sweetens over time

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arlic, wrote Mrs. Beeton in her Victorian era Book of Household Management, “is the most acrimonious of the whole of all the alliaceous tribe”. Thank goodness that attitude is history! Today, garlic has become so popular that several garlic festivals have sprouted up. That’s good news for gardeners who want to try growing their own this fall, which is the best time for planting this “most acrimonious” bulb. Bob Litke, a collector who grows more than 100 varieties of garlic on his farm near Nithburg, Ontario, started growing “just for fun” when a neighbour gave him two bulbs. “It’s important to pass garlic along to friends and family,” Litke advises, “to preserve diversity and continue the strains our grandparents might have brought from the old country.” Peter McClusky, director of the Toronto Garlic Festival and a passionate garContinued Page 16


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lic grower himself, adds that rather than growing from imported grocery store types, Ontario-grown garlic from a farmer’s market or garlic festival is a better option for planting. “They will not have been exposed to the damaging temperatures of a refrigerated truck and are already acclimatized,” he explains, adding that there’s more choice of strains from local markets and festivals, too. Both McClusky and Litke agree that garlic grows best in full sun – as much as eight hours daily if possible. “The more the better,” says Litke who also recommends growing in well-drained soil because “garlic hates water”. In heavy clay soils, a raised bed can provide the drainage garlic demands – add plenty of compost and organic matter to enrich the soil and to promote good drainage. “Plant the cloves eight inches apart,” Litke advises, “about two inches below the surface of the ground.” Keeping weeds at bay is also important for growing the best garlic. “I’ve used spoiled hay and straw as mulch,” says Litke, who adds that fallen leaves, easily found on city streets in the fall, also make good mulch. There are two types of garlic: hard- and softnecked, and many varieties within these two main groups. Hard-necked garlic produces “scapes” in June. The tips of these rounded green shoots contain miniature flowers and bulbils. “This is how garlic reproduces in the wild,” explains Litke. In cultivation, though, it’s important to cut off the

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scapes to direct the plants’ energy into producing larger bulbs. Scapes have become popular in cooking, and in garlic grower and author Sonia Day’s latest book, Incredible Edibles, 43 Fun Things To Grow In The City. A Canadian Cookbook Awards nominee, Day offers a recipe for garlic scape pesto. Silverskins are the most prevalent type of softneck garlic. They’re often braided, as they’re easier to work with than hard-neck types. “Commercial growers prefer softnecks,” explains McClusky, “because they are less labour intensive to grow and store for long periods.” However, hard-neck garlic will keep for many months if stored between 10 and 20 degrees in a fairly dry, dark spot. All garlic, though, must be air cured before storing. “I put a tie around three stalks,” says Litke, “and hang the bunch in an airy space out of the sun.” It’s easy to get hooked on growing garlic. Liz Primeau, founding editor of Canadian Gardening discovered garlic when she was 17 years old and her experiences form the basis of her forthcoming book, In Pursuit of Garlic: An intimate look at a divinely odorous bulb. Due out in January 2012, it covers the origins and history of garlic, garlic in literature, fables and medicine, plus how to grow and cook with it. Surrounded with cloves of garlic, Lorraine Flanigan writes from her garden in the South Eglinton neighbourhood of Toronto. TT




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Tradition under glass Nonna of the kitchen infuses peasant dishes with her memories of Italy


elebrity chef Lidia Bastianich’s cooking is infused with memories of her upbringing. Born in the former Yugoslavia and raised in a small Italian town near Croatia, Bastianich is a conduit for the regional cooking she’s familiar with. And she’s won many Canadian fans with her back-to-basics approach. Her food is simple. If you’re of European descent, it’s the stuff your grandparents might whip up on a Sunday afternoon: sausage, cutlets, a simple salad, pasta. Pure, unadulterated flavours. Some refer to it as peasant comfort food. “I think peasant food is just another way of saying traditional food,” she says. “It’s not elaborate, it’s just nutritionally sound. When a culture, through centuries, cooks something in a certain fashion there is a reason for it,” Bastianich says, although she admits to modifying some of her family recipes. Using olive oil instead of pork fat, for instance. Peasant food also happens to be the cuisine du jour: people of all ages — regardless of economic class — love eating local, seasonal foods. The celebrity chef market may appear to be flooded but Bastianich, 64, is one of the few cooks of her generation to capitalize on her family traditions. She’s also a corporation. Bastianich has authored a children’s book, hocks a line of crockware bearing her name on American shopping channel QVC, and has a line of food products available at fine foods stores. Soon you’ll be able to buy Lidia’s wine at the LCBO (she owns two vineyards in Italy). She also hosts her own show, Lidia’s Italy, which is broadcast on FoodNetwork Canada, PBS and TeleLatino in Ontario. Last summer she opened an Italian restaurant in New York City with culinary heavyweight

By Alexandra Bosanac


OLD SCHOOL: Lidia Bastianich, host of Lidia’s Italy on the Food Network, fits the title of nonna.

Mario Batali. This is one enterprising grandma. But she’s old-school and that gives her credibility. People love watching her, because she’s a grandmotherly figure. She aptly fits the description of an Italian nonna — stout, matronly — but she’s one of the hottest celebrity chefs around. North Americans flock to her promotional events, she thinks, because her food philosophy is pretty basic and non-imposing. Very attractive to Canadians who don’t have much time to labour over a meal. “I think that people who don’t cook for themselves, I find

out that they’re kind of afraid, they don’t think that they can cook. The best thing I can do is empower them, encourage them, because everybody can cook. So get started.” To do that, Bastianich says stick to the basics. Her recipes rely on a handful of easily acquired ingredients: oil, garlic, crushed red pepper, parmesan, some form of pasta and all the intense flavouring elements (anchovies, olives and capers). And seasonal produce. “If you have those in your pantry, you have a good base to make many a meal,” she said. TT

More local news and views at


Technical foul Former Raptor Matt Bonner awaits his Canadian citizenship


HANGING IN THERE: Matt Bonner missed a chance to compete in the FIBA qualifiers because he hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t lived in Canada long enough to earn his citizenship.

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he Canadian menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s basketball team lost their chance to play in the 2012 Summer Olympics when they lost their final game of the FIBA Americas tournament this September 91â&#x20AC;&#x201C;89 to a then-winless Panama team. Canada needed to place fifth in the tournament for their Olympic hopes to stay alive but finished in sixth. Although it was head coach Leo Rautins who stepped down, it was Canadian Citizenship and Immigration who dropped the ball. For a couple of years now, former Toronto Raptor and New Hampshire native Matt Bonner has been trying to gain Canadian citizenship so he can play for Canadaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s national team. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was hoping to get (my citizenship) in time to be able to help represent the country on the national team and help the team qualify for the Olympics,â&#x20AC;? Bonner said. With actual Canadian NBA players like Steve Nash, Jamaal Magloire and rookie Tristan Thompson choosing not to play for Team Canada, having Bonner on the team would be a welcome boost to the roster. The 6-foot-10 power forward with threepoint range spent his first two NBA seasons in Toronto beginning in 2004. He quickly became a fan favourite and earned the nickname the Red Rocket due to his red hair and tendency to take the TTC to home games and practices. In fact, the Red Rocket did not own a car until he was traded to the San Antonio Spurs before the start of the 2006â&#x20AC;&#x201C;07 season and bought a white 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix. He went on to win an NBA championship with the Spurs who recently drafted Cory Joseph of Pickering who played for Team Canada during the FIBA Americas tournament. According to his immigration lawyer Stephen Green, Bonner did not get to play because he has not lived in Canada long enough to become a citizen. Bonner was on a work visa while on the Raptorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; roster and did not apply for citizenship until 2009. Applicants must reside in Canada for at least three years although exceptions are sometimes made. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There are residency requirements to acquire your citizenship,â&#x20AC;? Green said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You can ask for discretion to overcome that if the minister feels itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s appropriate in the circumstances and they look at what the personâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s done in Canada, what are the reasons for it.â&#x20AC;? If Bonner was granted an exemption, he may have been able to play for the national team during the 2010 FIBA World Champion-

ships in Turkey where Canada failed to win a single game. Although he understands why he was not granted an exemption Bonner feels he has a case to justify one. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a due process and I respect that,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;No one wants to see people get preferential treatment but I think Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got enough ties to the country and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been here long enough and I do a lot of charity work and hopefully theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll see that I deserve to get it.â&#x20AC;? Bonner was at the University of Toronto on Sept. 10 for his Rock the Court charity concert, which raised money for Athletes for Africa and the St. Albanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Boys & Girls Club. Although he has a grandfather from Newfoundland, Bonner had never been to Toronto before playing for the Raptors but said he instantly fell in love with the city. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve had the opportunity to play all over the world and Toronto is my favourite city,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The best part about Toronto is the people. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a lot of good people here. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It was awesome to be able to play here and live here and get to know a lot of them.â&#x20AC;? Bonnerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wife Nadia is from Toronto, where the couple reside during the off-season and raise their 2-year-old daughter Evangeline-Vesper. Last summer, Bonner worked out with the national team in Toronto where they practise. He said it makes sense for him to play for the team since he is in town in the summer anyway. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m here in Toronto every summer as it is and always looking for a place to play and would love to be able to represent the country,â&#x20AC;? he said. Although he didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get to play for Team Canada this summer Bonner has been busy dealing with the NBA lockout. As vice-president of the playersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; unionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s executive board he has been travelling back and forth to New York City for negotiations with the league. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m going to be doing everything I can on the executive board of the union to make it so we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t miss any games so we can get back on the court,â&#x20AC;? Bonner said of the lockout situation. As for his immigration situation, Bonner said whether he gets to play for Team Canada or not he will definitely get his Canadian citizenship. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nothing I can do but wait patiently,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;For me itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s something thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to happen eventually anyway so hopefully it happens in time before Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m too old and I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t play anymore.â&#x20AC;? TT


Reviewer’s rapping on the Edge


By Mathieu Yuill

ut of the ashes of the early- and mid-2000s North American auto crisis has come Ford, and it can send many thanks to its extremely popular crossover, the Edge. Introduced in 2006, the Edge became the best-selling crossover vehicle and has sold some 420,000 of them. Not bad for a segment that sells one million units each year. Its signature big bold styling is accented by the chunky grill and broad front fenders that give the Edge a football-player-like stance. Despite its big looks, climbing in and out of the vehicle does not require a three-step ladder like many of its contemporaries do. However, once situated behind the wheel you still sit very tall and are able to see over much of the traffic. Eighteen-inch wheels come standard on the Edge but you can option them up to 20-inch, and if your inner rap star just needs to be let out you can opt for the Sport package that includes 22-inch polished aluminums. Unfortunately, the 22s aren’t spinners, so you’ll have to settle for being just an East Coast rapper. The Edge’s 3.5-litre V6 has been improved and Ford now offers two new engine choices to put under the hood. A new Ti-VCT (twin independent variable camshaft) accounts for a 20-horsepower bump and a 3 lb-ft of torque boost, all while lowering fuel economy by almost a litre per 100 kilometres. Their top-of-the-line engine is a 3.7-litre V6 that comes standard in the Sport trim. It puts out 305 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, but it’s a bit thirstier and the added performance doesn’t really make up for

Edge Sport package is mad live

the poorer fuel economy. One of the Edge’s biggest positives is the amount of room on the inside. Five adults can sit comfortably and even load up the rear with a weekend’s worth of camping gear. The Edge isn’t a small vehicle, but it’s by no means a behemoth, and you find you’re constantly reminding yourself you actually have more room when you’re in a parking lot or other tight areas. There’s an Edge for all price ranges, starting at $26,499 and ranging all the way up to $39,734 for the sport model. If you’re looking for all-wheel drive you’ll have to shell out just over $33,000, which is still fairly competitive in this segment. TT OCTOBER 2011 TORONTO TODAY 19

Mark Your Calendar Sat., Sept. 10–Wed., Oct. 5 “Nouvelle”, New Members’ Exhibit at Heliconian Club, 35 Hazelton Ave. Opening reception Sat., Sept.10 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Exhibit-viewing appointments 416-922-3618. Free. Sat., Oct. 15 Walking tour of the Forest Hill community, Forest Hill Library, 700 Eglinton Ave. West. 2-4 p.m. Learn about the history of the area’s homes and buildings. Register in person or call 416-393-7706. Thurs., Oct. 20 2012: From garbled Science to death from the skies! Locke Library, 3083 Yonge St. 7 p.m. The end of the Mayan Calendar! Galactic alignment! Mysterious planets! Deadly solar radiation! Geomagnetic reversal! The end of the world! Or not. Popular doomsday scenarios predict the world will end December 21, 2012. Why you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the Internet, and why the astronomy behind these scenarios is confused. Presented by Kelly Lepo, PhD candidate, University of Toronto, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Program room. Sat., Oct. 29 Halloween Howls at Leaside Library, 165 McRae Dr. Spooky stories, a creepy craft, and a frightful film! 10:30-11 a.m. Wear your costume if you dare! Drop in. No registration required. Leaside Community Room. Nov. 1 and Nov. 3 All about retirement residences: a part of the healthy aging program, at St. Augustine’s of Canterbury Anglican Church, 1847 Bayview Ave. 7 p.m. on Nov. 1, and 1-3 p.m. on Nov. 3. Free. Explore the types of retirement residences available, costs and questions to ask; lifestyle, activities available in various types of residence, levels of health care provided. Please register at 416-485-2656.

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generAl home repAirs Wrought iron gates and fences Security bars • Mobile welding Stainless Steel Welding Railings Custom metal work All types of home repairs


Path finding Former convict finds his way with a community business


By Omar Mosleh

fter spending years in jail for petty crime, Donovan Brooks found the path to change his life in an unlikely place: the lobby of his Lawrence Heights apartment building. “One day I was in my building, going outside, I looked out my glass door to my lobby and there was a paper that said ‘Project Wildfire’,” Brooks recalls. “It said something like ‘Do you want to turn your dreams into a business?’” An unexpected location, perhaps, but also a fitting one because Brooks picked up that flyer and is now launching a business that aims to improve his community. Project Wildfire is a social business incubator targeted at young people age 19 to 29 with a focus on Toronto Community Housing neighbourhoods. It aims to help fund and launch businesses that have a mandate to create social change. Brooks is one of four finalists who won a $2,500 grant as well as access to The Centre of Social Innovation’s workspace for a year. Wildfire director Mike Brcic said Donovan was selected because the judges sensed a genuine desire to create positive change. “It really resonated with me and our judges, seeing somebody who so earnestly wants to create change not only within himself but also within his community,” Brcic said. The 27-year-old Brooks is in the process of establishing Great Heights Home Repair. The goal of the business is twofold: he hopes to create jobs for youth in the area and to offer home repair services to a community that suffers significant infrastructure issues. “I want to reach out to everybody, but specifically to the people in my neighbourhood, because I’ve seen their everyday struggles,” Brooks said. “I know exactly how it is.” 101 Wingold Ave As he walks the winding paths of Lawrence Toronto, Ontario Heights, speaking softly over a chorus of barkPh:ing416-488-4779 dogs, Brooks elaborates on some of those Fx:everyday 416-488-3671 struggles, which he knows well. “Over here, we’re accustomed to hearing the sounds of bangs and sirens and police kicking in doors,” Brooks said. “It’s just different.” Lawrence Heights, built in the early 1960s, primarily consists of low-rise community housIssue: Aug 2011 ing and over the years has gained a reputation as Date: a haven for crime, drugs and violence. Brooks said that, while the reputation is not

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DONOVAN BROOKS stands outside one of Lawrence Height’s subsidized mid-rise buildings.

necessarily unwarranted, people don’t understand the root causes of the community’s challenges. “You put a bunch of poor people that are struggling in one neighbourhood, throw in some drugs and guns and what do you expect?” Brooks asked. “It’s just a cycle and a lot of people don’t understand that cycle.” But Brooks said he knows a way to break the cycle. All young people need is a voice and an opportunity to change. “That voice is people like me,” Brooks said. “I’m not fully changed, I’m on the verge. “But if you give these young people a voice, you can make them feel more confident and say ‘Yes, I can do this’.” Not long ago, Brooks was in the same position as many of the area’s youth. Born and raised in Flemingdon Park, Brooks moved to Lawrence Heights at a young age and lived in a large family household that included his grandmother, aunt, siblings and cousins. Soon after moving to Lawrence Heights, Brooks started getting into trouble. As a child he felt misunderstood and acted out in class as a form of rebellion. He was frequently suspended and got involved in drugs early in life. At 22, Brooks was charged with possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to five years in prison. The stint forced him to reflect on his life — and his future. “What made me change while I was there, was that I had the opportunity to find myself, to actually sit down and think about all the things I did and all the people I hurt,” Brooks said. “I was tired of seeing my family cry.” Now, Brooks said he hopes to prevent youth Continued Page 21


Cold days, hot art Hang some heat by your desk while writing on pink stationery


By Liz Campbell

t never ceases to amaze me how a little ingenuity and creative thinking can produce such useful and even beautiful results. Check out these great ideas: Beautifully Warm Winter’s coming. A new art form can really warm things up. Prestyl’s Radiant Artwork heating panels can provide heat ‘beautifully’ to any room — literally. Your favourite artwork or family portrait can be incorporated onto a special film on an ultra-thin infra-red heater. This isn’t new technology, but this classy application means silent warmth for family and pets without fans. Prestyl’s Radiant art doesn’t heat the air so there are no hot spots. The energy is reflected by some surfaces and absorbed by others, thus creating balanced, multidirectional warmth. Maintenance-free and very efficient, these are made with recycled materials and the product itself is 99 percent recyclable at the end of its long lifecycle. The size of the panels are 24 inches by 24 inches, 24 inches by 48 inches, and 41.5 inches by 41.5 inches. Unit prices range from $350 to $700. For more information visit Just in Case In an emergency, do you know how to lay hands on all your important documents quickly? Where are your insurance papers, will, safety deposit box key, and so on? LifeinCase is a durable, portable and affordable file system that organizes documents into an intuitive five-part system: Personal, Medical, Property, Estate, and Financial, each featuring a sturdy file folder and handy checklist of suggested documents to store.

WARM UP, WITHOUT THE ABSINTHE: Prestyl’s Radiant Artwork lets you be the artist, offering customers the opportunity to put their favourite masterpiece or even family photo on heating panels.

It’s lightweight but more resilient and solid than flimsy, accordion-style folders. Prompted by a family tragedy made worse by document disaster, it’s useful for a host of reasons and particularly helpful for those living where storage space limited. $39.99 at Pretty in Pink Remember when people had beautiful personalized stationery? Actually, remember when people wrote on paper? You might have thought e-mail had eliminated all that but you’d be wrong. Meeblemail offers beautiful artist-designed stationery, along with chic monograms. You can make your e-mails as distinctive as you are. And you can support breast cancer research with some of what you spend. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The price of each stationery design is $4.99 and it’s yours to own for a year. will donate 50 percent of the purchase price to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Visit www. TT

The biggest motivation is enacting change Cont. from Page 20

from making the same mistakes as him by providing them with a positive opportunity. “The biggest motivation for me right now is to produce change,” he said. “I added so much negativity, to not only this neighbourhood but to other people’s families, so I think they deserve it.” Great Heights Home Repair is still in the early stages of development. Brooks has registered and incorporated his business, recruited his first employee and is waiting for insurance so his team can work safely. As part of Project Wildfire, he had to go

through an exhaustive recruitment and proposal process where he garnered online votes, pitched his idea and learned the basics of establishing a business in various free workshops. While Donovan originally envisioned repairing homes in Lawrence Heights, the idea has some challenges: Firstly, it’s unclear if he would be allowed to repair Toronto Community Housing homes and secondly, many local residents are financially strapped and unable to afford repairs. “I’d love to do a project with (Toronto Community Housing), because that’s basically where my ideas stem from,” Brooks said. “But if I was to try

and fix up the whole community, my business would go straight to the ground before it even opens.” Despite the hurdle, Brooks said he hopes to kick-start change in his community. But still for Brooks the most advantageous aspect of the program is it has allowed him to create change within himself. “My dad’s been so disappointed in me for the past however many years,” Brooks said. “I told him I won and ever since that it’s like his heart smiles.” “It’s not like he’s hearing his son’s going to jail anymore.” TT OCTOBER 2011 TORONTO TODAY 21







Brian Baker

Best of luck, Wendy


BLUE GRIT: Pitcher Drew Taylor, left, and slugger Jeremy Walker were part of Toronto Maple Leafs squad that went 22-13 on the season. Their most successful season since 2007, the Leafs pushed Brantford to seven games in the semis.

Intercounty be-leafing Toronto finishes second in standings, ousted in semis


By Brian Baker

hristie Pits sits silent after another season of Toronto Maple Leafs baseball, one that saw them make their deepest push into the playoffs since 2007, when they won the Intercounty title. Late one night, fresh from a trip to Cape Breton Island, pitcher Drew Taylor called to share one of the most memorable seasons for him. “A lot of it had to do with the deep pitching staff this year and we had guys who filled in gaps,” he said. He credits starters Marek Deska and Mel Melehes, with earned run averages of 3.32 and 3.75 respectively, as being key in the rotation. But Taylor adds his coming off the disabled list helped in their playoff drive. Fully recovered from elbow surgery on his right arm, the southpaw returned to the Maple Leafs pitching 25 innings with a 2.16 ERA and 12 strikeouts. He admits though it was a rushed return. “When I went through all that I didn’t even have time to get back to just throwing the ball softly and getting back into throwing shape,” Taylor said. “It was a bit of a climb through the first part of the season to get ready.” Still, in between he eased back into being on the mound, helping the Maple Leafs to their 22–13 record. “I took my time and came back by the end of the year,” he said. “I felt I was pitching strong and had a good finish.” A key moment came in a July 19 game against the league-leading Barrie Baycats. With a win, it would secure the Leafs second overall. “I ended up getting the start after coming back and I threw into the eighth inning,” Taylor said, adding he threw for 7 1/3 innings, gave up three hits and no earned runs. During the season he ended up starting only two games, but for the playoff run Taylor was in the rotation. A problem throughout the season, he admits, was consistency. “It seemed to be, if we would score eight runs, our

pitchers would have a rough game and give up nine,” he said. “If our pitchers were doing really well, and gave up two or three runs, we’d only score one or two.” After eliminating the Burlington Twins in six games, the Maple Leafs met Brantford Red Sox, league champ for the past three seasons, in the semifinals. The boys in blue went up 2–0, let the Red Sox tie the series and then went ahead with a 9–2 win in game 5. Then Brantford replied, including in game 7 where they won 9–3. Taylor was pitching and allowed seven runs in the first inning. “I would say that was the only game that I had where I felt like I didn’t have a lot of success,” he said. “I talked to a couple of guys from Brantford after the game and they said I was pitching fine, it was just that they were swinging the bat and putting balls in play.” Toronto had a couple of defensive errors in that same game, and a few walks on Taylor’s part led to Brantford manufacturing runs, he added. For the 2011 season, there were standouts at the dish. Utility Rob Gillis came through in the playoffs. Jordan Castaldo batted .412 in the regular season with six dingers and 29 RBIs. Jeremy Walker, who had teammates worried he would retire, returned to the roster for another trip around the horn, batting .338 with three homeruns. “Our lineup all the way through was really strong,” Taylor said, adding Kern Watts was Mr. Clutch. “He hit a grand slam for us in a game we ended up coming back and winning.” As for a fifth season for Taylor, it all depends on medical school. “I will hopefully have the opportunity to play next summer, no matter where I end up going to med school,” he said. “I feel like I can still compete and I have a lot of fun. “Really, that’s what keeps you going.” TT


previously ubiquitous presence will be missing from the fields, stands and courts of Northern Secondary School this year. For the past two years whenever I would attend any sporting event involving the Red Knights, I’d always see teacher-coach Wendy Luck either in the stands cheering her school on or leading her charges into battle. But after 10 years of teaching, Luck has opted for a change of scenery. Her new post is not too distant, as she takes on the role of instructional leader for health and phys ed at the board for grades 7 to 12. It was Northern alumna Erica Fearnall who broke the news to me this summer, and so it seemed only right to offer a send-off for Luck in Toronto Today for her hard work at Northern SS. Though Luck admitted she didn’t think her work was newsworthy. “At first I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me because it’s just me’, I do what I do because I love it and not because I’m going to get a pat on the back,” she said. “(But) thank you.” On the first day of school of 2011–12, Luck chatted with me about her years as a member of the Mount Pleasant and Eglinton school’s roundtable. She shared her experiences, like coaching the senior girls volleyball team to the South Region finals in 2001, which they won. Her other highlights include beating Eastern Commerce in senior girls basketball to qualify for OFSAA in 2009 and her first trip to OFSAA with the girls soccer team. “The girls there needed a Continued Page 26 OCTOBER October 2011 TORONTO TODAY 25

Rhyming off the seasons

Cont. from Page 25

coach, so I just stepped up to the plate because I had coaching skills but no soccer (skills),” she said. “It was an interesting season, but I learned so much.” It was outside her comfort zone of volleyball, basketball and ultimate Frisbee where she made a connection with Leah Smith, the captain of the soccer team who encouraged Luck to take them on as coach. “I still keep in contact with her. It’s just a relationship that has turned into a bit of a friendship and support now,” Luck said. “She took a chance on me and helped coach the team as well.” Another student spiked into her memory is Annie Lau. The volleyball player is hearing impaired. “To this day, it’s one of the things that made me a better person and a better coach as well,” she said. “She’s come so far and she now plays on Canada’s deaf volleyball team.” As for mentors of her own, colleagues Terri-Lynn Hedgcock, Monica Bennett and Karen McIntyre inspired the squire to become a full-fledged knight. “They were the type of ladies that taught you how to earn the respect in the classroom and be organized, responsible but I think more importantly all three of them supported me in whatever I chose to do,” Luck said. “If I ever needed help, they were the first people I could ask here.” Due to conflict of interest policy, the former Northern teacher won’t be able take the helm of a school team. She says steering the wheel of an outside club team would lack the teacher-coach fusion she was used to as a Red Knight. “I thought a little about that but after several years of coaching in the school I’m not sure with regards to philosophy if it would be a good fit with my teacher-coach philosophy,” she said. While she tests the waters with the school board, she’ll continue to play ultimate Frisbee with the Toronto Ultimate Club, and she plans to stay in touch with her colleagues. And by no means does she rule out a return to the classroom, as she cannot give up coaching for long. “In two years, if I miss the coaching, which I know I’m going to … I’ll definitely have to make some adjustments and more than likely come back to it,” she said. TT

‘To this day, it’s one of the things that made me a better person.’


1 1





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1. Aver 6. Woodwind 10. Hammer-wielding god 14. Hawaiian dances 15. Philbin co-host 16. Villain’s nemesis 17. Northernmost inhabited place in the world 18. Fires 19. Angers 20. Darkener of windows starting in December? 23. Toyota model of the ’90s 24. Respected members of most cultures 28. Not feel well 32. Mai ___ 33. Venomous snakes 37. Ruler beginning in March? 39. Mid-’70s sitcom 41. Roman couples? 42. Middle East nation on the Red Sea 43. Servant slave of three months beginning in September? 46. 7th letters 47. Before, poetically 48. Common playground shout 50. Tyrant 52. Subway alternative







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DOWN 1. Cable provider 2. Spring flower 3. Common given name for Slavic girls 4. Butter and lemon 5. Respect 6. “… ___ all, for that matter” 7. Bike-sharing program looking to expand into Midtown 8. Willing to try new things 9. Direction to the right on a map 10. Second loser? 11. Him companion 12. Mineral rock 13. Sigur ___ 21. French kings 22. Mournful poem 25. Hours spent online?

26. East-west avenue running from Bathurst to Dufferin 27. Omens 29. Mathematician Haret, who has a university named for him in Bucharest 30. Like the Robin Hood character Tuck 31. Row 33. Barked 34. Dole out 35. North and South 36. Leading web-translation company 38. Large portion of beer 40. “Here’s lookin’ ___” 44. What soup kitchens provide 45. Arm or leg 49. Assurances 51. One of 150 in the Bible 53. Intelligent 54. Brownish pigment 55. French hat 57. Reproduce 58. Spanish 101 word 59. Like a taillight 60. Cincinnati team with five championships 61. Deuce follower 62. It contains over 300,000 entries (acr.) 63. Vast expanse

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Toronto Today - October 2011  

The October 2011 issue of Toronto Today, the Town Crier Group of Community Newspapers' Midtown edition, a fresh news and lifestyle magazine...

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