Category Archives: recession

Freelancers are first to go at New York Times

suburban_mom_crash1As a freelance jouranlist, this latest memo from New York Times executive editor, Bill Keller, has me worried:

— We expect to roll out a trim of freelance budgets within the next few weeks.
Taken together, these moves will save millions of dollars — savings that would otherwise have to come out of payroll.

So much for my some of my colleague’s assurances that while staffers get cut, freelancers will benefit.


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Adbusters OK to sue CBC; From Mounties to Bolsheviks?; Toronto gets into movie biz but pussyfoots over coffee cups; Fighting attacks in Vancouver’s gay village; Poolside Breast-Feeding – HEADLINES 7 April 2009

photo credit: gyst, flickr

photo credit: gyst, flickr

Here are my picks for national news, written for  Take 5’s morning newscast on 7 April 2009.

Will unionization turn RCMP officers into a bunch of Bolsheviks?
Yesterday an Ontario Superior Court awarded the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Force the right to form a union.

The court ruled the section of the RCMP Act that prevents unionization is unconstitutional.

The Federal Government has 18 months to prepare before the landmark decision affecting 22,000 officers, takes effect.

RCMP commissioners aren’t happy with the threat of unions, which they have often warned would expose Canada to everything from rampant socialism to politicized police.

But supporters say besides bringing more money and benefits a union could also provide sweeping cultural change in the RCMP, for example by providing protection for whistle-blowers.

Vancouver’s Village fights back against gay bashing
On Sunday, activists clad in rainbow shirts marched through Vancouver’s Davie Village, the centre of Vancouver’s gay, lesbian and trans-gender community, to protest against ongoing violent attacks on gay men in the area.

According to the Georgia Straight, last month a 62-year-old gay man was punched at the Fountainhead Pub, he suffered brain damage and is still in hospital.  While in September, 27-year-old Jordan Smith was punched unconscious, dislodging his jaw.  His Crime?  Walking hand-in-hand with another man along Davie Street.

NDP politicians, are urging the attorney general to prosecute these attacks as hate crimes – so far only one out of the five attacks has gone forward as a hate crime.

A follow-up rally is being planned on April 13 at Vancouver’s City Hall.

B.C.’s highest court is green-lighting Adbusters Media Foundation’s case against CBC and Global TV
The decision in a 15-year legal battle came Friday.  It overturns a B.C. Supreme Court ruling that tossed out the foundation’s case against Global.  The new decision allows the case to proceed against Global and to add the CBC as a defendant.

Adbusters is claiming CBC and Global violated its right to freedom of expression by refusing to air some or all of the ten anti-consumerist broadcast ads it prepared. The ads were removed or not aired after other advertisers complained.|

Adbusters is arguing that the Broadcasting system is public – and that private operators, who are licensed by Parliament – should not get to censor public airwaves.

Mayor Miller takes Toronto taxpayers to the movies
City Council is buying 20 percent of Toronto’s Filmport.

Yesterday City Council voted 31 to 7 for a restructuring deal to bolster the private studio which suffered from the television writer’s strike last year.

No Diving Allowed.  Breast Feeding Encouraged.
That’s the policy line officials were forced to adopt after a Calgary woman threatened to hold a nurse-in in one Calgary pool.

Gemma Kelsall was given a hard time for breastfeeding poolside by some public lifeguards.

Now she’s being inundated with hate emails and messages.  The single mother of one is breast-feeding her 21-month old daughter.  She claims she’s being called a pedophile and that people are threatening to perform obscene acts on her.

But Kelsall is the real winner – the City of Calgary has even posted a video on its website explaining its breastfeeding policy saying  – “The City encourages mothers to breastfeed in all of its recreation facilities,” and it’s posting breast-feeding friendly logos at all of its pools.

More job losses and economic woe in store for Canada
That’s according to the latest announcement from the Conference Board of Canada.  Yesterday it predicted 340,000 Canadians will lose their jobs this year – with Alberta and Ontario being hit hardest because of their large manufacturing and construction sectors.

The Board also said the Canadian GDP will decrease by 1.7 percent this year.  And Canadians should brace for more more pain in 2010, when the Conference Board predicts job losses will peak.

Give us a cut
That’s the demand being made by Treaty One First Nations groups in Manitoba these days.

The First Nations are demanding a stake in three major oil, power and development projects Manitoba – and their demands are stopping work.

The latest claim is being made over an $800 million dollar wind farm that they say will be built on traditional land.

The actual turbines will be located on privately-owned land about ten kilometres away from the Roseau River reservation, but Aboriginal leader, Terry Nelson says seven First Nations consider this land their traditional terriotory.

Private developer, Babcock and Brown, say they’re willing to consult with First Nations on job deals but won’t fork over a slice of the revenue.

Nelson says if they’re unwilling to reach an agreement they’ll take the developers to court.

The move is part of a more aggressive strategy by Mantioban First Nations to force Ottawa to deal with thousands of acres of outstanding land claims.

Canadian teens are squeaky clean
A sweeping new survey of Canadian teens should dispel some parents worries.  The Project Teen Canada survey reports teens are less likely to smoke, drink or take drugs than they were eight years ago.

Teens are having about as much sex as Canadian seniors.  56% of teens have never had sex, up from 51% in 2000.

5,500 teens from across Canada were surveyed – and they seem to think they can have it all.  Most say they’ll get stable, fulfilling jobs and earn more money than their parents.  Ninety-one percent predict they’ll get married and it will last, and most want large families.

University of Lethbridge sociologist Professor Bibby published the findings in an upcoming book called, The Emerging Millenials.  Bibby says teens expectations are“nothing short of naïve,” and advises them to have a chat with their parents about having it all.

Epic coffee cup battle could be painfully prolonged
The City of Toronto could push back its already extended deadline to decide how to deal with the one million coffee cups city residents throw out everyday.

Last year the City backed down from its move to ban or tax coffee cups because of industry pressure.

It’s been seeking ways to recycle the cups but that could cost millions because current facilities need to be upgraded to deal with the cups plastic coating.

Consultants reports on the issue – which have already cost the city $50,000 – were presented in a closed meeting yesterday.  Afterwards, Geoff Rathbone, the city’s general manager of solid waste, said the deadline for resolving the issue may have to be pushed back again as no easy solution was forthcoming.

HONOURABLE MENTION: Ontario e-waste recycling program

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recession meal #1 – cod, old squash & my roomate’s rice

Despite my lack of a recession-induced layoff, I am shaking-down my piggy bank these days due to my New Year’s decision to try freelance journalism full-time.

I actually have earned some pay cheques  – it’s waiting for the cheques that’s making me blow up my bike tires to save paying for the street car.

I spend money on three things in this order:  1) RENT  2) GOING OUT DRINKING 3) GROCERIES.

Obviously the only place I can really cut down is groceries.  So I’ve made a commitment to use everything in my freezer and cupboards and until they’re gone, never to set foot in a grocery store.  To avoid scurvy and a soar stomach, I am buying whatever fruits and vegetables I want, as long as they’re purchased in Chinatown.

My first supper wasn’t bad considering I’m a mediocre chef at best, here it is:

recession meal numero uno

Cooking it was a bit scary.  I baked the spagetti squash (which looked so nice sitting on my window sill I’d forgotten to cook it since picking it at a local farm in October), defrosted a pack of five cod sticks, then made a batter of sorts using frozen hot dog buns from last summer’s bbq.  I was already really hungry so as I tried a few spoonfuls of spagetti squash as I scooped it all out, and it tasted mushier than usual, but I’m still not sure if that was my inability to believe the squash could still be good after all that time.  Then the faint burnt smell from the toaster as the hot dogs buns were so dry with freezer burn they went up like matchsticks.  I took a bite from the less burned half and it tasted like, well, freezer burn.

But I soldiered on. Scraping burnt bits from dog buns, whizzing them in the cuisine art, throwing in parmesan cheese and lots and lots of ground pepper.  Then I coated the fish sticks with milk, then a little flour, then more milk, then the batter.  Cook for six minutes – done.

The pièce de résistance?  My roomate’s homeade “Mexican rice” leftover from a weekend dinner party.  Topped with her Feta cheese.  I have to admit this was the best thing on my plate, and sadly, not my own.

What other delights in my cupboard and freezer await my creative talents?  Maybe I’ll skip dinner tomorrow.

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Teen sex, HST in Ontario and Hunting the Seal Hunters: March 26 ’09 Headlines


My pick of the day’s national news, written for broadcast on Take 5, CIUT 89.5 FM.

HST – it just rolls off the paycheque
Ontario is blending its Provincial Sales Tax with the GST to make HST – a harmonized sales tax.  The new tax will cost Ontarions more because they’ll pay PST on more goods – from fast food to heating bills.

But to soften the blow, Ontario households earning less than $160,000 dollars will get a cheque for $1000 dollars in 2010 – the year the HST takes effect.

PST will be withheld from certain items however – including children’s clothing, diapers, feminine hygiene products, books, child car seats, and new homes under $400,000.

Other things to expect when the $100 billion dollar provincial budget rolls out at 4 p.m. this afternoon –
• $27.5 billion for public transit, roads, schools, hospitals and long-term care
• $620 million to match federal funding for social housing
• and to pay for all of it – a predicted 18 billion deficit

The Hunters become the Hunted
Well Canada’s seal hunt is nothing if not efficient.  The Quebec hunt started on Monday and ended yesterday at 10 a.m. after seal hunters reached their quota of 17,200 animals.  Meanwhile hunters in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI are readying for their hunt that begins Friday.

The Federal Government has set this year’s allowable catch for the East Coast seal hunt at 338,200 harp, hooded and grey seals.

But the hunters are being turned into the hunted, as environmental and animal rights groups trail the hunt by air and sea.
While the seals killed in the hunt aren’t endangered, protesters say the hunting techniques are inhumane and that there is no market for the seal furs.

In the past weeks, their case has been bolstered after Russia decided to ban the hunting of baby seals, and the European Union said it’s considering a ban on trade in products made from seals.

Meanwhile Scientific American warns four seal species from around the world are threatened.

Only one of the species lives in Canada — Quebec’s Lac des Loups marine harbour seals live in lakes and rivers just south of Hudson’s Bay.   They’re the only seal species in the world who spend their entire lives in rivers and lakes without ever venturing into the ocean.

Nunatsiaq News reports between 100 and 600 of the seals are left – but they’re not under threat from seal hunters or melting ice.  Instead future Hydro Projects along Quebec’s northern lakes and rivers threaten to alter their habitats.

Labelling the seals as endangered would give them some protection from planned dams –

Canada’s Fisheries and Oceans department will decide whether to add the seals onto the Canada’s Species at Risk Act by the end of the month.

Toronto’s own Champs-Élysées?
Yesterday the City of Toronto unveiled its plans for the $342 million dollar makeover of Queen’s Quay.

The plan includes a new streetcar to serve the eastern end of the Quay – and cutting the four lane road to two – using the leftover space for pedestrians and cyclists.  The plan shows the streetcar running down the middle of a green lawn – a touch that has yet to be confirmed.

Construction on the new design by Rotterdam-design firm West 8 who won a competition in 2006 — is planned to begin in 2010.

City officials say the recession won’t stop their plan to make Queen’s Quay “one of the most ten beautiful streets in the world.

University of Winnipeg Bans Bottled Water
After our interview this morning with the Polaris Institute on the evils of bottled water, you might be thinking of pitching your plastics.  Well University of Winnipeg students won’t have a choice in the matter.

That’s because it’s Students’ Association voted to phase out all bottled water sold on campus by this Fall – and it will be banned from student-led events and meetings.

A student-initiated referendum on the issue drew the highest voter turnout in years – with three-quarters of students voting to eliminate the sale of bottled water on campus.

The university will put more water fountains on campus to quench student’s thirst.

Let’s talk about sex – teenage sex.

Two new reports show Canadian teens are on top in sexual education
but when it comes to sex toys – they have to take matters into their own hands…

Canadian women have fewer kids than their American counterparts – and experts say it’s because our approach to sexual education is better.

Both Canadian and American women say they want to have an average of 2.2 children BUT American women end up having 2.09 and Canadian women have about 1.6, says a special report by the Vancouver’s online newspaper, the Tyee.

America favours the abstinence makes the heart grow fonder approach.  The federal government there spent 1.5 billion dollars over the past decade on abstinence-only programs that teach teens “skills to avoid sex.”

New numbers released this week show teenage pregnancy numbers are rising in the U.S.

Some experts are calling for a more Canadian approach – spending money on programs that educate teens about contraceptives and safe sex.

The birth rate of American teenage girls is more than double that in other industrialized countries, including Canada, and the abortion rate is also higher in the U.S.
But Canadian teens are forced to take matters into their own hands when it comes to accessing sex toys, according to a report by Xtra newspaper.

While Canada’s age of consent for sexual activity is 16, most major sex toy retailers, both in stores and online, restrict access to anyone under the age of 18.

The bar is a result of an old Toronto bylaw that requires porn products to be housed behind an opaque median. As a result, most adult stores pedaling porn, ban those under 18 from their shops so they can freely display magazines and DVDs.

For years, stores have posted signs restricting those under 18 from entering and today some stores still refuse to sell products to teenagers.

Critics say this unfairly prevents teens from getting their hands on sex toys.

A recent Toronto Teen Survey, shows only 6.4 percent of teenage girls and 3.9 percent of boys had used sex toys.  But of those teens, 89.6 percent had engaged in penetrative sex.

Sex educators and activists, including the AIDS Committee of Toronto, argue the toys should be available to anyone, as a safe sex tool, an alternative to intercourse, and as a way for teens learn about their sexuality.

Don’t interfere with Kashmir…
Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon might think twice before picking up his pen and answering citizen’s letters after one such letter put him in hot water in South Asia and Ottawa this week.

Torontonian Mushtaq Jeelani, fexecutive director of the Peace and Justice Forum which is seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict between India and Pakistan in Kahmir, wrote to Mr. Cannon asking for Canada’s position on the conflict.

After Mr. Cannon wrote back, Jeelani published a press release last Thursday.  It contained quotes from Cannon saying Canada is working with other G8 countries to press India and Pakistan for a peaceful solution in Kashmir and ensure human rights are respected.

But the seemingly harmless comments got Indians into a tizzy, the Indian government fiercely resists foreign interference in the dispute.

The story was picked up in major Indian and Pakistani newspapers and drew comments from political parities in Kashmir and beyond.

In this week’s Question Period, Mr. Cannon was forced to address the issue, saying Canada’s position on Kashmir hasn’t changed.  SOURCE: Embassy

Honourable Mentions

Americas Strategy Includes Military Drug Ops

How to manage B.C.’s Pacific Ocean


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Free ways to wish Toronto a Happy 175th

Baked Creations cupcake

Baked Creations cupcake

It’s the city’s birthday today but celebrations will last well into the year.

Here are my picks (insert nerdy history bias here) for not-to-be missed, FREE, happenings:


The Bohemian Embassy Revival – Toronto Public Library City Hall Branch 7-8:30 pm.

Watch Toronto in Six Words:


Go to Fort York it’s free all weekend!  After all, we’re also nearing the 2ooth anniversary of the War of 1812 (I know you’re flush with excitement).

Starting tomorrow until  June 13th — Lit City: Toronto through the Eyes of Authors and Artists @ The Market Gallery, The Market Gallery, 2nd floor, South St. Lawrence Market, 95 Front Street East



Fabled City: Red Square – The Great Depression in the Township of York
York Museum, 2694 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto
Saturday May 2, 1 – 2 p.m.

In the 1930s many families in the Township of York lost were forced to move into tent “cities”. One (located at the current site of George Harvey Collegiate) was labeled “Red Square” because of the political agitation of its residents. Hear compelling stories from Red Square during the depression.

Free, Please RSVP as seating is limited: 416-394-2759


Lit City: Yorkville
Yorkville Branch, 22 Yorkville Ave.
Wednesday April 29, 7 p.m.
Ray Robertson reads from Moody Food, set in the village’s 1960s era. Katrina Onstad reads from How Happy To Be, set during the madness of the Toronto International Film Festival.

Lit City: Friday Nights with Diaspora Dialogues
Palmerston Branch, 560 Palmerston Ave.
Fridays, April 17, 24 and May 1, 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Diaspora Dialogues returns with its popular Friday night series of free readings and performances. Sample a captivating cross-section of our city’s writers, performers, and artistic forms, including fiction, poetry, spoken word, theatre, and music!

  • April 17: Priscilla Uppal and more
  • April 24: Anthony De Sa and more
  • May 1: Nino Ricci, Sherri Vanderveen and more

Photo credit top: A Baked Creation


Filed under cheap fun, family, news, recession, thrifty, Toronto


Despite the headlines that more of us are pinching pennies as the recession picks up speed, I haven’t noticed many of my friends or family changing how much they’re spending.  To find out if the newspaper headlines match what’s really going on, I went to the One of a Kind Show in Toronto to talk to shopppers and artisans.

I rolled the results into my first radio story.  It aired Thursday on Take 5 (CIUT, 89.5 FM).  You can listen to it here:

The sound quality needs help, but it’s a start.

As for my spending patterns?  Despite the downturn, I haven’t cut corners yet, and probably won’t until my own paycheques start diminishing…


This week, for example, I picked up my silent auction prize, got at CANFAR‘s gala (thanks for the free tickets Al), and am now the proud owner of a print by the father of op-art, the king of geometric abstraction, Victor Varasely, (warning, the official website is designed for heavy drug users).

Fun!  But not as much fun as our resident crack bear is having on severe winter storm watch.  My roommate found him next to a dumpster in the Bellwoods.


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