Canada

The Informer

Features

288 Comments

A new mixed-raced generation is transforming the city: Will Toronto be the world’s first post-racial metropolis?

I used to be the only biracial kid in the room. Now, my exponentially expanding cohort promises a future where everyone is mixed.

Mixe Me | By Nicholas Hune-Brown

Click on the image for 10 interviews with mixed-race Toronto children

Last fall, I was in Amsterdam with my parents and sister on a family trip, our first in more than a decade. Because travelling with your family as an adult can be taxing on everyone involved, we had agreed we would split up in galleries, culturally enrich ourselves independently, and then reconvene later to resume fighting about how to read the map. I was in a dimly lit hall looking at a painting of yet another apple-cheeked peasant when my younger sister, Julia, tugged at my sleeve. “Mixie,” she whispered, gesturing down the hall.

“Mixie” is a sibling word, a term my sister and I adopted to describe people like ourselves—those indeterminately ethnic people whom, if you have an expert eye and a particular interest in these things, you can spot from across a crowded room. We used the word because as kids we didn’t know another one. By high school, it was a badge of honour, a term we would insist on when asked the unavoidable “Where are you from?” question that every mixed-race person is subjected to the moment a conversation with a new acquaintance reaches the very minimum level of familiarity. For the record, my current answer, at 30 years old, is: “My mom’s Chinese, but born in Canada, and my dad’s a white guy from England.” If I’m peeved for some reason—if the question comes too early or with too much “I have to ask” eagerness—the answer is “Toronto” followed by a dull stare.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Goods

Stores

Comments

Why does everything cost so much more in Canada? 

Target’s plans to charge higher prices in Canada than in the U.S. triggered a new round of grumbling about the Canadian–American price gap last month. Now, a Senate committee report on the issue has made the country’s consumers—and consumer journalists—even more fired up. The report’s most anger-inducing section describes “country pricing,” the system by which manufacturers charge Canadian retailers 10 to 115 per cent more on wholesale products on the grounds that sucker Canadians are simply willing to pay more (the retailers pass the higher costs along to consumers). Higher customs tariffs, fewer economies of scale and higher transportation costs also contribute to Canada’s steep prices—though Diane Brisebois, president of the Retail Council of Canada, told CBC’s Marketplace that those factors should only raise wholesale prices by five or 10 per cent. On the upside, the committee found that U.S. and Canadian prices will converge as more Canadians start to compare prices using smartphone apps and websites—which should put competitive pressure on manufacturers and retailers. We hope.

The Informer

People

Comments

Farewell, penny: 10 oddly sweet articles about the coin’s demise

(Image: screenshot from Google.com)

The Royal Canadian Mint will stop distributing pennies to banks and businesses tomorrow, which means that, although the humble copper coin remains legal tender, businesses will now no longer give them as change. The day’s bewildering array of penny-centric articles suggests that Canadians have a strong attachment to the wee copper coin (as well as an awful lot of anxiety about the country’s ability to round to the nearest nickel). Below, the 10 weirdest—and yet strangely touching—send-offs.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Features

1 Comment

Jesse Brown: Why music streaming services mean the death of radio—or perhaps its rebirth

Jesse Brown: Technology

Video never did kill the radio star. Neither did CDs or MP3s or even satellite radio, which tried to take down dusty old AM/FM radio by offering a cable TV–like galaxy of choices. iPods were a big contender: with our entire music collections in our palms, who needed a DJ to play the same tunes (and a bunch of annoying ads) over and over? Apparently, we did. Picking songs from an infinite library became a chore, and iPod fatigue set in. Digital music sales were supposed to double, then triple, as hundreds of millions of people bought music-capable smart phones and tablets. That hasn’t happened.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Features

17 Comments

The Celtic Invasion: why the arrival of hundreds of Irish construction workers benefits Toronto’s building boom

The Celtic Invasion

Sean and James McQuillan left Ireland for Toronto in 2010

In the mid-1990s, companies such as Microsoft, Intel and Apple, attracted by Ireland’s well-educated workforce, tax incentives, minimal regulations and low wages, opened offices in Dublin with a speed that surprised even the gravest doubter. By the time the Celtic Tiger, as the exploding Irish economy was dubbed, had fully deployed its claws, the unemployment rate had dropped to just under five per cent, one of the lowest in the developed world. Ireland’s GDP grew to one of the highest in Europe, exports doubled in just five years, and the average income was climbing seven per cent a year, almost triple the
eurozone average.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Features

2 Comments

Editor’s Letter (November 2012): Toronto’s glossy new global appeal

Sarah FulfordThe U.S. presidential race has been depressing to watch. The portrait of America that has emerged from the conventions and the debates and the attack ads is grim: a country plagued by vast unemployment and a shrinking middle class, where many average citizens can’t pay the bills. For the first time in generations, Americans anticipate their kids will never make as much money as they do. Even the flow of illegal immigrants to the U.S. is slowing; since the economy crashed in 2008, the number of Mexicans sneaking across the border has declined.

Both presidential candidates think they know how to fix the country. Obama believes in sharing the wealth, and Romney believes in the power of the free market. The only thing they agree on is that the American dream is in tatters.

Or maybe it just got displaced. Maybe it moved to Canada. We have our share of economic challenges, as anyone in ­Stephen Harper’s office could tell you. But compared with many troubled spots on the globe, Canada is paradise. Our middle class is relatively stable, and people from all over the world are desperate to move here. This country, of course, has always attracted immigrants in search of a better life. But Canada wasn’t necessarily a first-choice destination. Now, as Europe experiences extreme economic volatility and the U.S. becomes a place where people are working three minimum-wage jobs to make ends meet, Canada’s status abroad has greatly improved.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Business

Comments

Canada’s banking boom has a downside: “shenanigans” from the big banks

Canada’s biggest banks are basking in good news lately: profits are up, as are payouts to shareholders, and (unlike their European and American counterparts) the largest lenders are expanding their workforces. However, those boom times aren’t trickling down to the common folk, according to the Globe and Mail’s Rob Carrick. Late last week, he decried the uptick in “bank shenanigans” since the tough times of the 2008 recession:

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Sports

Comments

Two GTAers’ Olympic hopes are revived thanks to some shady badminton shenanigans 

An Olympic scandal has worked out in Canada’s favour: badminton players Alex Bruce of Toronto and Michele Li of Markham are back from the brink of elimination after a Chinese team, an Indonesian team and two South Korean teams were disqualified for match-throwing. The teams were trying to lose to ensure they’d have easier match-ups in subsequent rounds (an official told the Toronto Star the dishonourable practice isn’t unheard of in lower profile events). Needless to say, the audience who expected (and paid) to see Olympic-level badminton were not impressed with the beginner-style skills displayed. As the players served into the net, missed some shots and over hit others, the crowd started booing and chanting “off, off, off.’’ And the Badminton World Federation complied, disqualifying those players and ushering Bruce and Li into the quarter finals. Chalk one point down for sportsmanlike conduct. [Globe and Mail]

The Informer

People

1 Comment

Conrad Black hints that he may be getting back into the newspaper biz

(Image: Charles LeBlanc)

In an interview with Rachel Mendleson that ran on Huffington Post Canada yesterday, Conrad Black remarked that he sees investment potential in the country’s near-moribund newspaper industry and that he’d consider getting in the game if the “right opportunity” came along. (From Baron Black of Crossharbour: “There is a great premium to be placed on the editorial function and on the goodwill of a famous trademark like a respected newspaper.”) When pressed on how he would reenter the market, however, Black was evasive—he didn’t want to compromise his imaginary plans with “excessive disclosure.” Still, that didn’t stop the Western media from working itself into a frothy tizzy. The Guardian suggested he must have been merely “teasing” and Yahoo Canada pointed out that Black probably wouldn’t be allowed to buy a newspaper even if he wanted to (convicted criminal without Canadian citizenship and all). The Globe and Mail, for its part, compared Black to Warren Buffet (yes, Warren Buffet). [Huffington Post]

The Goods

Shopping

21 Comments

The Bay’s Team Canada Olympics collection includes a teddy bear, a flag and an adorable onesie

2012 Team Canada Olympics gear (Image: B Insider)

The 2012 Olympic Games begin tomorrow, which means that in addition to being bombarded with a lot of McDonald’s advertising, there will be a lot of barbecues and parties requiring guests to wear patriotic swag. While maple leaf-emblazoned shirts and jogging shorts may not make it into the permanent rotation, for the next 17 days, The Bay’s Team Canada garb will likely become a de facto uniform for some. And, though wearing so much red and white may seem daunting, The Bay’s Olympic team collection includes several pieces that will actually look good after the Olympics. (So, the opposite of this.)

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Business

3 Comments

Hudson’s Bay Company entertains the idea of an IPO

(Image: JamesZ_Flickr)

Rumours are swirling about an initial public offering for Canadian icon Hudson’s Bay Company. Women’s Wear Daily is reporting that HBC’s owners want to capitalize off The Bay’s recent rehabilitation—the department store has seen a marked improvement in finances since 2010 (it was reportedly running negative or break-even comp-store sales for 20 years prior to that), a Topshop expansion and reports of other retail partnerships in the works. Moreover, as Canada’s retail sector braces for Target’s impending arrival, the fact that HBC has operations both north (The Bay, Home Outfitters) and south (Lord and Taylor) of the border could be a draw to investors. In 2011, the company was exploring the possibility of listing publicly, but the idea was reportedly squashed due to market volatility. This time, Richard Baker, HBC’s governor and CEO, is remaining cagey. He told WWD, “There is nothing on the radar at the moment, but it could come at any time.”

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Sports

Comments

VIDEO: see how much hard work—and how much food—it takes to be an Olympian

We were already pleased at how well represented Toronto will be at the London Olympics next month, and now we have another homegrown athlete to cheer on. Beach volleyballer and Toronto native Josh Binstock and his B.C.-born teammate Martin Reader earned their Olympic berths last weekend, just 20 days before the Olympics are set to begin. And, based on this YouTube video [York Region]

The Informer

Business

Comments

VIDEOS: our favourite Toronto-made commercials from this year’s Cannes Lions awards

The red carpet at last year’s Cannes Lions festival (Image: Digitas Photos

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is an annual pat on the back for the advertising and PR industries, recognizing the most innovative works of communication (and salesmanship) from around the globe. Canada was well represented at this year’s fête, with Toronto bringing some serious creative fire of its own. We sorted through the pile of honorees and picked out our favourite ads from local agencies—they include videos of a reverse bank heist, a Cyclops doctor and a sexy apology. Click through to watch them all.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Features

Comments

The Argument: Why is quintessentially American writer Richard Ford’s new novel about Canada?

The Argument | Ford NationThe day after George W. Bush was re-elected president, the American novelist Richard Ford got in his car and drove across the border to Saskatchewan from Montana. He did not come in search of political asylum—something many American liberal intellectuals loudly and half-jokingly yearned for that day—but for a flu shot, which his U.S. health care provider had deemed him “not old enough or sick enough to merit.”

Ford had made the journey north often enough, but this time it was different. “I crossed that border, and I just felt the world lift off my shoulders,” he says. “I realized there was something about Canada that was very established as good in my mind.” The burden of being American—of being from a politically fractious, sometimes violent place—suddenly vanished. “For many Americans, Canada has long been seen as a place of refuge.”

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

People

1 Comment

Party Pages: The Trillium Awards, a rowdy affair for beflowered Ontario authors

The Trillium Awards, the annual ceremony for Ontario-based authors, took place, fittingly, at the Toronto Reference Library last week. The awards have honoured some of Canada’s most famous writers, like Michael Ondaatje, Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood, and this was an extra-special night in celebration of the event’s 25th year. Nominees wore pink flowers, while past winners wore white to differentiate themselves in the massive crowd of literati (we guess wearing trilliums would be a little premature for the pink-flowered crowd). As it has since 1994, the event also fêted French- speaking nominees, so hosts Heather Hiscox of CBC News and Karen Thorn-Stone, president of the Ontario Media Development Agency, jumped between French and English (it becomes a rather long night when you hear everything twice). Though Hiscox sounded fluent, Thorn-Stone’s delivery seemed a touch forced—she even quipped, after her first French foray received a round of applause, “Now you’re just making fun of me.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisement

Advertisement