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The Informer

Sports

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Ten things Jermain Defoe can’t live without

As the new face of Toronto FC, the English striker is leading the club’s drive for its first-ever playoff spot. Here, the 10 things he can’t live without

Ten things Jermain Defoe can't live without

1 | My Bible
I always have one with me. I grew up in a Catholic home, and my family taught me to have faith.

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The Informer

Columns

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Dear Urban Diplomat: can I ask my neighbours to cover up their naked kid?

Dear Urban Diplomat: Can I ask my neighbour to cover up their naked kid?

(Image: Amanda Tipton/Flickr)

Dear Urban Diplomat,
My neighbour’s little boy is four, and he’s been running around our street in his birthday suit all summer. It’s getting a bit weird. At what point should small children be clothed when in ­public? Is there a law?

—Unfree Willy, Riverside

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The Informer

Features

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The Vaccine Truthers: why parents shun life-saving shots

A new generation of parents are refusing to vaccinate their kids. They’re convinced the shots are far more dangerous than the diseases they’re meant to prevent, and they’re willing to become social pariahs to prove it

The Vaccine Truthers

Ananda More, a Toronto homeopath, treats her daughter with alternative therapies instead of vaccines

Jennifer is a 30-year-old store manager in Georgetown who agreed to talk to me if I withheld her last name. She dresses plainly, rarely wears makeup and follows what she calls a green lifestyle, eschewing drugs and chemicals in any form, taking homeopathic remedies when she’s sick and observing a strict vegetarian diet. She met her husband, Frank, an independent contractor, in 2008. In 2011, she gave birth to their daughter, Franca, at home in a bathtub.

Jennifer was adamant that Franca not be vaccinated. As a teen, she had a bad reaction to a flu shot that kept her in bed for a month. In her 20s, she read horror stories about parents whose children had adverse reactions to routine vaccines that contained things like mercury and formaldehyde.

Five months after Franca was born, her parents divorced. Frank only agreed to give Jennifer custody if she had their daughter vaccinated. So, in late 2012, Jennifer reluctantly took Franca, then 10 months old, for her first round. Jennifer says Franca developed cold and flu symptoms within hours, picking at her ears incessantly. Then, after Franca’s second and third sets of immunizations at 18 months, Jennifer thought she noticed her daughter’s speech and mobility development regressing.

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TIFF 2014

TIFF Guide

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TIFF 2014 Insider’s Guide: Where to Eat, Drink and Party

A highly discerning look at the festival’s hottest hot spots

TIFF 2014: Where to Eat, Drink and Party

The Chase (Image: Dave Gillespie)

Where everything sparkles

The Chase
10 Temperance St., 647-348-7000
The glitzy surf-and-turf room on Temperance Street serves up expense account dining at its finest. Last year, at the after-party for Enemy, Jake Gyllenhaal and Alyssa Miller were holed up in a booth with a view on the fifth-floor terrace, and Isabella Rossellini hung out nearby, laughing with friends, while director Denis Villeneuve schmoozed with Dallas Buyers Club director (and fellow French Canadian) Jean-Marc Vallée.

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TIFF 2014

TIFF Guide

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TIFF 2014 Insider’s Guide: Where to Get Pampered

The best salons, spas and gyms the city has to offer

TIFF 2014: Where to Get Pampered

Stillwater Spa at the Park Hyatt (Image: courtesy of Park Hyatt)

WHERE TO GET A ONCE-OVER

Stillwater Spa at the Park Hyatt
4 Avenue Rd., 416-926-2389
The Park Hyatt isn’t the city’s newest or shiniest hotel, but its spa is one of the best. It’s also one of the most obliging: in response to a VIP request during last year’s fest, staff arranged for an off-menu oxygenating facial and even brought in tanks to pump more O2 into the treatment room. This year’s TIFF package delivers a detoxifying wrap, a smoothing facial and a mask ($513).

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TIFF 2014

TIFF Guide

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TIFF 2014 Insider’s Guide: Where to Go All Out

Over-the-top services that help you do TIFF the way it was meant to be done

TIFF 2014: Where to Go All Out

The Four Seasons

where to live large

The Four Seasons
60 Yorkville Ave., 416-964-0411
The two-year-old hotel is the city’s swankiest spot for a luxury staycation, with iPads in every room, flat-screen TVs embedded in the bathroom mirrors and incredibly attentive staff—they’ve been known to make late-night lingerie runs for visiting starlets. It’s also a prime spot for celebrity gawkery: last year, we saw Paul Haggis partying with Norman Jewison at George Christy’s annual luncheon.

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The Informer

Culture

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Love, Actually

The F Word, starring Daniel Radcliffe in his post–Harry Potter prime, is a lo-fi love story for the digital age—and the most authentic romantic comedy in years

Love, Actually

(Image: courtesy of eOne Entertainment)

The new movie The F Word begins with a vintage rom-com meet-cute. At a house party, Wallace, a witty med-school dropout played by Daniel Radcliffe, spells out “Love is stupid monkeys” with word magnets on a fridge. His poetry draws the attention of a pretty animator, Chantry (portrayed by Zoe Kazan), sparking an instant romantic connection—but Chantry has a boyfriend, so she and Wallace embark on a fraught friendship. The F Word—renamed What If in the States—examines whether a man and woman can have a platonic relationship despite their mutual attraction. It’s a sweet, smart millennial spin on When Hary Met Sally.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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The Chase: They did the near-impossible—landing a house in Toronto, without a bidding war

The Chase: September 2014The buyers: Peter Loewen, a 35-year-old political science professor at U of T, and Yvette Lam, a 35-year-old business development officer at Harbourfront Centre.

The story: After meeting at a David Myles concert and ­dating for two years, Lam and Loewen took a series of quick leaps forward. First, she rented out her Esplanade one-­bedroom and moved into his Distillery condo. Four months later, he proposed while they were on vacation in France. Post-proposal, they started talking about having kids in the next year or two and, in preparation, they decided to trade up. The plan was to hold on to Lam’s condo for the rental income, sell Loewen’s place and search for a house. They set out with a firm $900,000 ceiling and a list of must-haves: an office where Loewen could write, a clean look to match their mid-century modern furniture, and a location within walking distance of good public schools and a subway.

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The Informer

Features

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Battleground Caledon

The rich and powerful want to keep their pretty rural getaway for themselves. The suburban developer Benny Marotta had other plans. A bizarre tale of smear campaigns, hired thugs and small-town vengeance

Battleground Caledon

From left: Caledon mayor Marolyn Morrison blocked Marotta’s planned suburb (Image: Derek Shapton); Developer Benny Marotta threatened to sue Caledon for $500 million (Image: CP Images)

Marolyn Morrison’s first meeting with Benny Marotta, the man who would become her nemesis, didn’t get off to a good start. It was spring 2004, shortly after Morrison was elected mayor of the leafy, sprawling town of Caledon. “Town,” in this case, is a bit of a misnomer, since Caledon encompasses many towns and hamlets scattered across its 700 square kilometres of mostly rural land. That morning, Morrison arrived at her office at the town hall with a sense of unease. She asked her chief planner to accompany her to the meeting so she wouldn’t be on her own.

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The Dish

People

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Ivan Reitman on Ghostbusters 3, California cooking, and exploding-marshmallow deserts

Nobody knows how to draw laughs like the legendary Hollywood producer-director Ivan Reitman. Ask him about his new restaurant, Montecito, and things turn serious

Ivan Reitman on Ghostbusters 3, California cooking, and exploding-marshmallow desertsYou’ve had a wildly successful career as the brains behind comedy classics Animal House, Ghostbusters and ­Meatballs. Why open a 280-seat ­mega-­restaurant in Toronto?
First of all, don’t call it at mega-­restaurant. It’s a series of intimate rooms that serve subtly different ­purposes and would total 280 seats if every damn one were full. Why I got into it? Two local restaurateurs, Tom and ­Jordan Bitove, approached me. Plus, I have a condo in Festival Tower and realized there isn’t a place nearby for a great, simple, sophisticated meal at a fair price.

Are you disparaging the Hooters up the street?
I’m suggesting there isn’t a great restaurant in the four-or five-block area.

Your family donated the $22-million plot of land for the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Montecito is around the corner. Have you received any flak from Yorkville restaurateurs for stealing the party?
Ha! No. But that shift was happening for about 15 years before the Lightbox came along, so don’t blame me.

No one knows more about comedy than you. With respect, what do you know about opening a restaurant?
Not much. But as a producer and ­director, I know how to get something relatively expensive done. I know how to entertain the public, too. Most importantly, I’ve brought in Jonathan ­Waxman, one of the fathers of ­California cuisine, to oversee the kitchen.

Tell us about Waxman’s baked Alaska. We’ve heard it’s an exploding marshmallow dessert based on the Stay Puft villain in Ghostbusters.
It’s true. I’m not a big fan of marsh­mallows, but this one is kind of cool.

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The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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The High Cost of Cheap Labour

Union support can be the key to a mayoral victory. Members will put up signs, go door-to-door and get out the vote on election day. They’ll also expect payback come budget time

The High Cost of Cheap Labour

(Images: Firefighters by GetStock; Ford, Chow, Tory by QMI Agency)

Fire Station 424, on ­Runnymede in Bloor West Village, has been slated for closure since before amalgamation. It’s a pointless station, made redundant by three others nearby. Earlier this year, council finally voted to cut it from the budget, but they could not bring themselves to finish the job: they emptied Station 424 of its last remaining fire­fighters and fire truck, and then kept the building. As the local councillor, Sarah Doucette, told the media after the vote, “It will be a fire station without a truck.”

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The Informer

Columns

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Dear Urban Diplomat: how do I get my cottage-hogging brother to play fair?

Dear Urban Diplomat: How do I get my cottage-hogging brother to play fair?

(Image: Stephanie Pakrul/Flickr)

Dear Urban Diplomat,
A few years ago, my brother and I inherited the family cottage, on Lake of the Woods near Kenora. He and his family live a half-hour away and use the cottage a lot. My partner and I can only make it out there about three times a year. My brother told me he’s buying a new $850 barbecue for the place, and he wants me to split the cost with him 50/50. I don’t feel that this is justified. Shouldn’t I be paying less? How should I respond?

—Weber Warfare, Richmond Hill

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The Dish

Drinks

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The Great White Way: five refreshing Mediterranean wines

Ultra-refreshing wines from the sun-baked eastern Mediterranean

The Great White Way

Toronto’s current love affair with cuisine from Lebanon, Greece and other eastern ­Mediterranean nations gave me reason to revisit the bottles from that region. I’ve found them underwhelming in the past, but his time around, I was swept up by their vibrant ­flavours. The high acidity of indigenous grapes (especially Greek varietals like assyrtiko and moschofilero), the stony minerality of the terroir and modern winemaking techniques have created exactly the wines I want to drink in the heat of a late summer night.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Rise in the East: Byblos, Fat Pasha and the Middleterranean craze

Toronto’s Middleterranean dining scene (that’s a mash-up of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean) moves beyond falafel houses and shawarma carts

Rise in the East

Clockwise: Platters are best enjoyed on Fat Pasha’s breezy back patio; The daily salatim includes a rotating selection of pickles; At Fat Pasha, a mural depicts scenes from Jordan, Turkey and Israel—countries that influence the menu; Fat Pasha’s roasted cauliflower is topped with pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, tahini and skhug (a coriander, mint, parsley and chili sauce)

Byblos 3 star
11 Duncan St., 647-660-0909

Fat Pasha 2 star
414 Dupont St., 647-340-6142


No one truly craves cauliflower. But, like parsnips, celery root and other produce I associate with the Great Depression, or simply with depression, it’s now on all the menus, the latest obsession of the same chefs who’ve spent the last few years exploring the more remote sectors of carnivorism. At Fat Pasha, Anthony Rose’s new restaurant on Dupont, a few blocks west of his Rose and Sons and Black Crow, he roasts a whole cauliflower until the florets char and the woody central stem turns tender and sweet. The roasted head is dressed with pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and lashings of tahini and skhug—a garlicky Israeli herb and chili sauce. The dish is huge—the server brings it to your table with a steak knife—and weirdly addictive. I know people, not a vegetarian among them, who gleefully share Rose’s cauliflower as if it were a main course porterhouse. But it’d be a mistake to skip the restaurant’s grilled sea bream with a fragrant gremolata of preserved lemon and red finger chilies, or the hefty chicken thighs in a smoky-sweet pomegranate barbecue sauce.

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The Informer

Features

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The Killing of Sammy Yatim

The death of Sammy Yatim unleashed a torrent of anti-police outrage. For most Torontonians, the video was the verdict. But what really happened on the Dundas streetcar that night? The untold story of the cop who pulled the trigger—and why

The Killing

(Image: John Hanley)

Just before midnight on July 26, 2013, Sammy Yatim boarded a westbound Dundas streetcar and made his way to the back. He was wearing the standard teen trifecta of baseball cap, black T-shirt and jeans that hung loosely off his slight frame. Despite the late hour, the streetcar was filling up. It was a Friday night in the middle of the summer, and Toronto was hopping: Justin Bieber at the ACC, Kiss at the Molson Amphitheatre, a beer festival at the CNE grounds and the Jays hosting the Houston Astros at the Dome.

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