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February 2011 Archives


As winter drags on, here's something to look forward to beyond the snowy season: This spring, the Toronto Public Library wants to Keep Toronto Reading One Book . That book is Midnight at the Dragon Cafe by Judy Fong Bates. This first novel deals with the immigrant experience in small-town Ontario. Su- Jen and her parents emigrate from Communist China and take over the only Chinese restaurant in town. The book describes the loneliness and isolation experienced by the family as they struggle to make a life for themselves in Canada. We spoke with the author, Judy Fong Bates.

Listen audio (runs 7:08)

More on TPL's One Book campaign hereExternal Site


Live Right Now: Panel update

Carlos Rodriguez, Dr. Carrie Bernard and Helen van Dongen update their progress since starting on the road to a healthier life. Today, it's all about balancing day-to-day life with their new routines.

Listen audio (runs 7:32)


CCLA calls for G20 inquiry

Today the Canadian Civil Liberties Association released a report calling for a public inquiry into police actions at last summer's G20 summit in Toronto. More than 1100 people were arrested when thousands of police cracked down on protesters during the summit.

The CCLA and National Union of Public and General Employees put together their report after three days of public hearings in Toronto and Montreal in November. We spoke with Graeme Norton, Director of the Public Safety Project at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and co-author of today's report.

Listen audio (runs 4:07)


Integrating immigrants

Canada may welcome immigrants from all over the world but how well do we integrate them? A major international study released today ranks Canada 3rd at helping immigrants integrate. The Migration Integration Policy Index is published by the British Council and the Migration Policy Group based in Brussels. It ranks 25 European and 3 non-European countries. Among the areas where Canada stood to improve were political participation (ie. allowing newcomers to vote in municipal elections) and allowing immigrant input in the shaping of government policy.

We reached Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies. You can also see the whole study hereExternal Site


Money for financial education

One of the most crucial life skills is how to manage your money. Yet many of us, old and young, struggle with it. The Ontario Securities Commission has just allocated nearly $2-million to help the Ministry of Education start financial literacy programs in schools this fall. We spoke with Tom Hamza, the president of the Investor Education Fund, a group that promotes and develops unbiased, independent financial programs and tools. They will be helping develop the new programs.


BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Remembering the Underground Railroad

On the last day of February, Black History Month, we took a look at the Underground Railroad. The Railroad helped thousands of American slaves cross the border to a new life of freedom in Canada. Once they got here, black Canadians became a crucial part of Canadian society. We spoke about their legacy with Dyan Cross, who writes under the name L.D. Cross. She is the author of The Underground Railroad: The Long Journey to Freedom in Canada.

Listen audio (runs 5:40)


Toronto Community Housing Corp: Misspending revealed

Some of the people responsible for housing Toronto's poorest residents appear to have been leading a fairly lavish lifestyle on the city's tab. City auditor Jeff Griffiths outlined the misspending in a report earlier today. He found staff at the Toronto Community Housing Corporation spent thousands on things like parties, pedicures and boat cruises.

We heard reaction to the report from TCHC tenant leader Linda Coltman, who also serves as an alternate to the tenant representatives who sit on the TCHC board. Listen audio (runs 5:47)

The board of TCHC is quick to respond to the report. Chair David Mitchell and CEO Keiko Nakamura held a media conference earlier today. Listen audio (runs 3:40)


HEALTH: Dr. Brian Goldman on doctors becoming patients

When doctors go to medical school, they learn anatomy, how to read x-rays and how to sew up cuts. But one thing most doctors never learn is how to be a patient. That is, until they become one. Our house doctor Brian Goldman shares his first-hand experience being on the receiving end of medical care and some of his insights into what kind of patients doctors make and why.

Listen audio (runs 5:47)


Agent Orange

The Ontario government's alleged use of Agent Orange from the 1950s through the 1970s is coming under scrutiny as some former government employees suffering from cancer are wondering about exposure to the harmful chemical. Laura spoke with Carol Brown Parker, president of the Agent Orange Association of Canada.

Listen audio (runs 5:53)

For more information, visit


Free Parking

Remember what some people have called the War on the Car? Apparently there is going to be a ceasefire this weekend. Tomorrow from 7am until midnight a company is offering free parking in some city-owned Green P lots - a total of 7-thousand free spots. Laura spoke with Scott Neil, national marketing director for, the company behind the free parking.

Listen audio (runs 4:40)


Robin Brown: Kids Lit Quiz

An international competition called Kids Lit Quiz debuts its Canadian edition. Seven Toronto schools entered their teams for the competition at Maurice Cody Public School. Here and Now's Robin Brown has the details of the quiz and some of the students who took part in a competition that rewards their love of reading.

Listen audio (runs 8:09)

For more information, visit


Family Concerns in Libya

A Toronto man is concerned about the welfare of his father who is working in Libya. His father is one of the many Canadians stranded in Libya as the country suffers violent civil unrest. Laura spoke with Ahmed just after he got some good news.

Listen audio (runs 6:58)


Canadians in Libya

Help may be on the way for Canadians wanting out of Libya. CBC News has learned that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is sending a C-17 military cargo plane to get Canadians out of Tripoli. We spoke with Gar Pardy, a retiree Canadian ambassador and former Director General of Consular Services. He has been involved in evacuation efforts around the world.

Listen audio (runs 5:33)


Gas Prices

Gas prices went way up today, in some cases by four cents to more than $1.20 per litre. Analysts are blaming uprisings in the Middle East. But Toronto gas station owner Jim Stonely thinks there may be more to it than that. He's the co-owner of Corktown Esso at the corner of Front and Sherbourne.

Listen audio (runs 5:27)


Losing Accents

Toronto is full of accents from all over the world, but there's one man who says an accent can be too much of a good thing. Voice coach and performer Adrian Luces is offering a 'voice neutralization' seminar. He talks about how losing your accent can be beneficial. The seminar is Friday at the Markham YMCA Business Centre.

Listen audio (runs 4:49)


Housing in TO

Buying a home in our city can be as competitive as any sport... But for people who are looking to enter the market or, upgrade their home, there's some good news from RBC Economics. Today, they released new numbers, showing that in Toronto, the housing market is pretty stable.Their figures suggest that the days of fierce bidding wars and homes selling for tens of thousands over asking are largely least, for now.
Robert Hogue prepared RBC's annual report on housing affordability for this year... He's a senior economist, and he spoke with us about the findings.


SOUNDS OF THE CITY: Mayor Rob Ford on the budget

Mayor Rob Ford is under fire for his budget, but he says he's sticking to his election promise of a tax freeze. The first budget under the new mayor was before Toronto City Council today. Some councillors critical of the budget wanted a property tax increase, but it was voted down.
The mayor was questioned about a number of issues including the land transfer tax, paying down the debt, spending on environmental initiatives, and whether this budget is putting the city into a financial hole for next year. He addressed all of them in a scrum with reporters.


ON STAGE: Coming soon to Canadian Stage

A few years ago, Toronto theatre company Canadian Stage got a new artistic director...and soon after, a new season. Matthew Jocelyn's lineup was a departure from what audiences were used to from Canadian Stage.. Some considered the plays esoteric....others thought them brave, interesting choices.

Today, Canadian Stage announced its new season. Critic and Here and Now theatregoer at large Lynn Slotkin was there for the newsand joined us to asses how the new series builds on -- or departs from -- last year's experiment.

Coming up next year to the Canadian Stage around town:

--- ANOTHER AFRICA: two plays from the Africa Trilogy that played last summer at Luminato.

-- ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE:choreographed and directed by Marie Chouinard.

-- RED: the Tony Award winning play about artist Mark Rothko and his young assistant., directed by Kim Collier who directed Studies in Motion this year.

-- CRUEL AND TENDER: by Martin Crimp, directed by Atom Egoyan, about deposing a dictator

-- THE YOU SHOW: created and choreographed byCrystal Pite.

-- THE GAME OF LOVE AND CHANCE: a boy meets girl story with two happy endings.,directed by Matthew Jocelyn

-- I SEND YOU CADMIUM RED: letters set to music and choreographed by James Kudelka.

-- THE TEST a dark comedy starring Eric Peterson.

-- BECKETT FECK IT: short works by Samuel Beckett works directed by Jennifer Tarver.

-- CLYBOURNE PARK: a huge hit in London,directed by Joel Greenberg and produced by Studio 180.

For more on the season, go to the Canadian Stage website .


TASTE OF T.O. : Sarah Elton warms up with mate

Our food columnist and locavore Sarah Elton popped in with the story of an Argentine cafe, El Almacen. (El Almacen means general store in Spanish). The cafe serves loose leaf mate, similar to a herbal tea, in gourds. You can sip the warm drink from metal straws, to be enjoyed along with other South American delicacies such as alfajores.

Listen audio (runs 6:02)

You can find the charming El Almacen at 1078 Queen St. West. Call ahead to make sure it is open: 416-516-2898


RRSPs: It's Never Too Late

So you think you've missed the boat on starting an RRSP just because you're in your 40s? Not so, says financial expert and author Gail Vaz-Oxlade.

Listen audio (runs 5:11)


Chris Bentley: Liquor Laws

Some festivals in Ontario may soon be allowed to pack up their beer tents and allow revellers to wander freely while enjoying an alcoholic beverage. That is one of several changes to the liquor laws announced by the Ontario government. The government is also hinting it may allow all-inclusive vacation packages in Ontario. And those planning weddings and charity events will be allowed to sell liquor beyond the current 1am cut-off. Laura spoke with Attorney General Chris Bentley.

Listen audio (runs 4:57)


Morality Research

University of Toronto researchers have published a study showing that when faced with a moral dilemma, most of us will do the right thing even when doing the WRONG thing will lead to a reward. Laura spoke with Rimma Teper, a PhD candidate in psychology and the study's lead author.

Listen audio (runs 5:53)


Regulating retirement care

For some seniors living in private retirement homes, their surroundings are less than stellar. Over the years, there have been reports of retirement home residents living in dirty rooms, left in soiled undergarments and being fed substandard meals. The Ontario government responded by announcing they would finally regulate these private homes. Today, they introduced draft regulations to inspect and monitor retirement homes. We spoke about the changes with Sophia Aggelonitis, provincial Minister Responsible for Seniors.

Listen audio (runs 4:40)