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Is journalism losing its purpose?

Reporters used to be local — a journalist would be assigned a neighbourhood or a beat, focusing all their energy on collecting information, finding sources, and writing stories that truly mattered to the community.

Now, the media is becoming nationalized. Global News, owned by Chorus Entertainment, will be laying off 70 employees across the country, including camera operators, reporters, anchors, and control room staff. As a result, local news from the Maritimes will now be broadcast out of Toronto. The local anchors have been let go.

“Fewer journalists will be out gathering news from every region from Vancouver to Halifax,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias, the trade union for communications and media workers. “If the Maritime newscasts now come from Toronto – how can you still call that local news?”

Unifor blames lax rules set forth by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Last year, the commission softened requirements on local programming, no longer making it mandatory to have “feet on the street”.

Before this announcement, the Toronto Star announced the “suspension” of their internship program, which generally employed a number of journalism students and recent graduates in both summer and year-long contracts. The reason, they say, was purely financial. As a former intern in the Radio Room, (which luckily will still be operated by students), these kinds of jobs are critical to the professional development of young journalists. It is one of the few internships in which a student is expected to perform as a regular staff member, and gets paid to do so. Those kind of internships are few and far between.

It seems every few months more media jobs are being lost. What does this all mean? It means a grim future for journalism, in which the jobs are fewer and fewer, and those who are hired can’t expect any job security. It also means that local stories, stories that can only be told by having feet on the ground, will be lost.

What’s not lost on me is that the CBC’s frontrunner show The National is able to afford four anchors, but Global News can’t afford to have a single person broadcast out of the Maritimes. Reporters need to be able to have their feet on the ground and tell the stories that should be told, not being pushed to the brink with no resources and little compensation. It’s time for everyone to step up — the government, the media, and the public — to ensure that local, community journalism endures.

Media personality uses his position to gain sex

The #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns are empowering women to step forward to try to stop sexual misconduct, and to shape a better world for our children. To do this it requires that guilty men fall.  The question that many are asking is do these men need to fall so harshly? The court of public opinion can ruin careers, it is unforgiving and the media stokes the flames with every dirty little secret uncovered. Is this public shaming a necessary part of the change our society is going through?

I hope we will get to a day when it isn’t needed, but think, as the beginning of social change sets in, the public shaming is a necessary part of the social change. And I say this as someone who has experienced public shaming. 

By taking on the Mayor of Toronto in 2013, and being the first to talk about his drug use and sexual misconduct, I became a target for Ford nation. And I admit that I wasn’t prepared to go up against a very savvy and strategic campaign (led by Rob’s brother Doug Ford) to bury the truth. From the moment the news hit social media, Doug Ford was on the phone with all the media personalities in Toronto, calling in favours and working to gain their support for his brother. His goal was to get them to discredit me, to turn the public against me and make the Mayor out to be the victim.  A friend of mine was, at the time, hosting a talk show on Newstalk 1010 and he warned me that Doug Ford was calling all the key commentators and trying to get them to discredit me. Doug was able to manipulate many of them. Even those who knew me to be a legitimate community advocate turned against me.  They spent a week questioning my background, my authenticity, and making Mayor Ford out to be the victim. Doug Ford succeeded at manipulating the media to work on his agenda, and for a time they were so busy attacking me, they ignored the legitimate stories swirling around the Mayor. Ford’s strategy to deceive the public through the media worked – until it didn’t.

But the public shaming was a terrible experience and I understand now why so few came to defend me. I am thankful to the men who did – Mayor John Tory and Greg Sorbara – were two men who stood up in a sea of accusations to suggest that I wasn’t one to exaggerate. But for a week or two I couldn’t get on the subway or walk through a grocery store without a Ford fanatic following behind me screaming that I was a lying bitch.  So I know very well what the court of public opinion can do to someone. And I also know that eventually the truth comes out – as it did on Mayor Ford.

Today women are finally uniting and using their voices to shine a spotlight on the sexual abuse and misconduct of some very powerful public figures. The guilty need to fall. And I for one believe that the truth will protect those who are wrongfully accused, as it did me. I went through hell, but I am stronger for it. The time has come for men who abuse their power to pay for their actions.  

There is still one man whose actions haunt me. In 2010 when I was running for Mayor of Toronto, I was on a political talk show with the other top four candidates.  The show was widely watched and it helped my numbers in the polls, so the next time I saw the host I asked if I might get on his show again. Always kind and friendly, he suggested we meet over lunch to discuss.  My assistant and I met him at Grano’s on Yonge Street, and the three of us ordered our lunch. Not five minutes into the lunch the host asked me if I would sleep with him. My assistant almost spit his drink all over the table. I politely told the host that I loved my husband and would never do that. I then excused myself, went to the washroom and called my campaign manager. My manager was at first angry that I was alone with a talk show host, but when I explained that my assistant was actually sitting there with us and had heard the entire thing, his anger turned to shock. He was great at calming me down and  joked that if I didn’t want to “take one for the team” then I should excuse myself and leave.  I followed his instruction, and later asked my EA what he and the host had talked about while I was in the washroom. He told me he questioned the talk show host to see if asking directly for sex actually worked for him. The host said that it worked 50 percent of the time. I hope he was just bragging, but I’ve always wondered if the women who are frequent guests on his show have slept with him.

Back in 2010 this meant that some of the male candidates had extra exposure on his show that I couldn’t get. They didn’t have to sleep with him to get on his show.  It was frustrating but in a busy campaign we didn’t have time to address it.  When I talk with younger women, they are shocked at the way the world was back then.  I realize that women of my generation were programmed to accept how it was. We had to joke about it because getting mad every other day wasn’t healthy. I remember a woman saying to me once when I complained about an editor who slept with interns that “boys will be boys.”  It wasn’t until I met my husband that I learned that some boys turn into caring and compassionate men concerned about building a fair and just society. 

In 2010 the host  made it harder for me to compete with the men I was up against, because they were invited to appear on his show while I wasn’t. He didn’t give a damn about how he impacted my future.   In the years since he’s approached me several times, usually at political functions, to suggest we “sleep together” and he always laughs about it.  I wonder if he does this so that if he is ever held to account he can claim that he was only joking? I also wonder how he would explain why he has never had me on his show, in a climate where talk show hosts complain that they can’t get women to appear on their shows?  And I wonder how many other women have had the same experience I did with him? How many women have not been invited back to his show simply because they won’t sleep with him?

I wonder too what our next steps should be? My assistant who sat with me at the table when I was propositioned by this host, remembers the conversation well. But my gut tells me we will need to gather a few other women who have shared a similar experience in order for his CEO to take this seriously. With two elections coming up this year the host will have many opportunities to prey on women candidates. I hope my words will stop him from abusing his power. So I shout them and warn women to be careful – avoid lunching with the host of a talk show!  If you have experienced the same situation, and know whom I am writing about, please contact me – sarah@sarahthomson.ca. We will protect your identity. 

And I warn him: we are coming. We aren’t rushing, but we are slowly gathering our facts and we won’t let up.  Do the right thing, and step down from your job.

Guilty men fear the truth

Finally women are coming out on sexual assault, and shining a spotlight on men who use their positions of power to exploit women. But, as with all change, there are people who don’t like this new world. They scream that it isn’t fair, that men in positions of power should continue to be protected, and the women who accuse them should be scrutinized. They ignore the flaws in the democratic system that allow the media to shame women into silence.  Studies show that 80 percent of sexual assaults are not reported, in most cases it is because women don’t want to face the shame and humiliation society hurls at them. Protecting these women is the first step toward moving our society forward.

Last week. when two women came forward to charge Patrick Brown with sexual misconduct, reporter Christie Blatchford, master of spin, came out ranting that the two women should have faced the media “because fundamental to a democracy is… the right to face your accuser and make full answer in defence.”  She didn’t explain why she believes that facing the accuser and defending yourself has to be done on a public stage for the media. Nor did she admit that it is the media that so often distorts the truth.  Finally our society is starting to realize that this shaming makes innocent victims suffer in silence rather than come forward. Exposing the accuser to ridicule and shame, to the spin that media personalities want to weave around them isn’t democratic – it’s archaic.

Make no mistake, Patrick Brown will face his accusers and he’ll get a chance to defend himself if he wants that. Every accuser puts herself at risk of being sued. Blatchford ignores this and laments that Brown has already been tried in a court of public opinion – she forgets it is the same court that has tried and hung so many women who sought justice. Take for instance, Monica Lewinsky – when it finally came out that she was telling the truth, the media refused to admit their own responsibility over the damage they had caused to her reputation.  Nobody paid a penalty but her, and the friends and staff who protected President Clinton walked away unscathed.  The media personalities who were directly to blame for damaging her reputation never had to be accountable.  They didn’t care what they had done, and they didn’t apologize.

Democracy isn’t perfect. It’s a constantly changing idea, a moving target that social change tries to improve. It is flawed. It allows people to hold positions of power over others, and if this power is held by someone who abuses it, people get hurt. It isn’t just men in power who cause harm, there are women like Blatchford who have a pulpit but no sense of responsibility, and they use their words to damage others. What she does too often isn’t reporting, or journalism… it’s public shaming.

Today our society is trying to make up for the decades of shame and public humiliation forced on women who reported sexual assault.  Christie Blatchford wants to cling to the old world where flashing her tits to an editor curried favour. She did well for herself in that world, so it isn’t surprising that she’s fighting hard to protect it. But, it’s her tactics that I deplore the most. She pretends to be guided by the truth, but never bothers to uncover it. And when the truth does come to light, say like when the former Mayor of Toronto was proven to be a drug addict, Blatchford never made any attempt to correct the damage her words had done. Her tirade against me for coming out publicly to the media with Mayor Ford’s sexual misconduct and drug use was memorable. At the time, she insinuated I was lying, just as she does with two young women now accusing Patrick Brown. Back then she screamed that I should not have come out publicly and faced the media,  yet now she’s ranting that the two women must come out publicly and face the media. 

Blatchford claims she is worried that all men in positions of power will become easy targets. And I worry too. I worry that the gutter style media that Blatchford has made a career of supporting is the very noose that will hang innocent men. 

Democracy is founded on the desire for fairness –  and it is this desire for fairness that is guiding the social changes we are seeing today. The far right accuses women of claiming victimhood, but today women have gone far beyond being victims. Women are angry, they don’t forget – they want to even the playing field.  If men in leadership are to be safe from false accusations, it will be up to the media to become more accountable for our role in shaping public opinion.

The two women who reported Patrick Brown have inspired other women. But what I find inspiring about them is the very thing Blatchford can’t stand — they have shown  women a path to reporting sexual misconduct that doesn’t involve being publicly identified, humiliated and shamed. I believe these two women have opened the floodgates, and the sad fact is that there are few women over 40 who don’t have a story, or two, to tell of men who abused their position of power.

I remember a time in 2010 when I was running for Mayor of Toronto and was on a show with the other top four candidates.  The show helped my numbers in the polls, so the next time I saw the host I asked if I might get on his show again. Always kind and friendly, he suggested we meet over lunch to discuss.  My assistant and I met him at Grano’s on Yonge Street, and the three of us ordered our lunch. Not five minutes in he asked me if I would have sex with him. My assistant almost spit his drink all over the table. I politely told the host that I loved my husband and would never do that. I then excused myself, went to the washroom and called my campaign manager. My manager was at first angry that I was alone with a talk show host, but when I explained that my assistant was actually sitting there with us and had heard the entire thing, his anger turned to shock. He advised me that if I didn’t want to “take one for the team,” then I should excuse myself and leave.  I followed his instruction, and later asked my EA what he and the host had talked about while I was in the washroom. He told me he questioned the talk show host to see if asking directly for sex actually worked for him. The host said that it worked 50 percent of the time.  Needless to say, I never got on his show again. His refusal to have me on his show simply because I wouldn’t have sex with him, made it harder to compete with the men I was running against who appeared on his show several times. 

And now, eight years later, I question if I should have spoken up. By keeping silent, have I allowed him to sexually pray on other women? If you are a woman and have experienced a talk show host who used a similar line on you, please reach out to me (sarah@sarahthomson.ca). Let’s talk. Your identity will be protected.  

As the publisher of Women’s Post, I believe there should be a way for women to report sexual misconduct without having to face shame and humiliation, and without having to drag men through the court of public opinion.  The world is changing,  you can fight the change or you can embrace it and try to make the world just a little more balanced for all.

But be careful of the likes of Christie Blatchford — she is the kind of person who will invite you to a party at her house and act like your friend. But, years later, when everyone is accusing you of lying and kicking you, she’ll sneak in a few kicks just to fit in with the guys – and then later, when  the truth comes out, she’ll hope that you didn’t notice how many times she kicked you. I noticed.

 

 

Woman of the Week: Michele Romanow

Michele Romanow is best known for her role as a “Dragon” on CBC’s hit television show Dragon’s Den. Her passion, tenacity, and knack for numbers has made her a driving force on the show — and an investor everyone wants to have backing their team.

What sets Romanow apart from her co-stars is her focus on the individual. If she is going to invest in a business or a company, she wants to get to know the people behind the project.

“I think as tempting as it is to look at the exact business on hand, I inspect the entrepreneurs themselves,” she said in an interview with Women’s Post. “You are looking for someone with a chip on their shoulder. Someone who needs to win. There are so many pivots and turns when you start a business, you want someone who is going to make it work.”

Beyond the “Den”, Romanow is a tech titan and serial entrepreneur who knows how to spot an opportunity. By her 28th birthday, she had already started three different companies across different industries.

She began her career as a civil engineering student at Queen’s University, a tough program that taught her how to problem solve. Romanow had an interest in math and science, but it wasn’t until she helped launch a sustainable, zero consumer waste café on campus that she realized she had a passion for business. Her goal was to convince the administration that her pitch wasn’t about a food service, but rather a sustainability project important to the development of the school. She raised most of the capital herself and the café — called The Tea Room — remains a fixture on campus to this day.

Since then, Romanow has jumped from project to project, solving problems and building new ventures.

“The power that you have [as an entrepreneur] is enormous,” she said. “I think the fun is in solving problems you don’t want to see in your world.”

Her second business was Evandale Caviar, a fishery based in New Brunswick that distributed high-end, Canadian sturgeon caviar to luxury hotels. Unfortunately, the business fell apart in the 2008 recession.

Since then, Romanow has launched a number of incredibly successful businesses. She is the co-founder of Buytopia.ca, Snap by Groupon, and Clearbanc. Clearbanc is Romanow’s most recent venture — an online financial service that makes it easier for entrepreneurs to get capital to grow their own company.

Romanow also helps craft digital solutions for international brands like P&G, Netflix, Starbucks, and Cirque du Soleil. She was a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award; the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards; and was a Cartier Women’s Initiative Award global finalist. Romanow is listed as one of the top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada and was named as one of the Forbes Top 20 Most Disruptive “Millennials on a Mission”.

You would think she is a person who loves to be busy and have numerous things on the go, but Romanow is passionate about her work and doesn’t like to “be busy for the sake of busy”. She would rather get things done and spend her time on something that matters.

In July of 2017, Romanow partnered with Ruma Bose and Richard Branson to launch the Canadian Entrepreneurship Initiative. The goal is to showcase Canadian entrepreneurs and offer assistance to those starting out.

“How do we create more Canadian success stories, especially women,” Romanow asked. “Almost half of Canadians can’t name an entrepreneur they look up to.”

Clearbanc is committing $1 million to finance small businesses and help create those success stories.

In addition to all of these projects, Romanow makes time to mentor women and offer advice to young entrepreneurs. Her biggest piece of advice? Just do it!

“Overplanning can be a detriment,” she said. “My first piece of advice to people is that you have to get started now. Most people think about and analyze businesses for a long time, but it’s important to start to move it. The first idea never ends up being the business that works, but the process allows you to get there.”

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Canada Week with the Great Canadian Baking Show

Oh Canada!

It was baking week on the Great Canadian Baking Show, which meant lots of delicious, patriotic, treats!

The first challenge was a Tourtière, a French-Canadian meat pie. The bakers were asked to make a flaky pie crust with a meaty centre, and pair it with a condiment. I am a huge fan of Tourtière. My mother makes it for the family every Christmas Eve, pairing it with Russian gravy, so I know what goes into making this rich and decadent meal. Each baker used a different meat combination, with some airing on the lean side. Fat is necessary in order to keep the filling juicy and tender.

I have to admire James Hoyland and Verdana Jain for making a vegetarian pie instead. They stuck to their beliefs, regardless of the challenge, and shocked the judges with their delicious pies. James used beets to give the pie a meat-like colour while Verdana used cashews as a base.

**Also, I need the goggles James uses to cut onions!!

The technical challenge was a maple cookie. While many of the previous technical challenges have been foreign to the bakers, this one was well known to all. The only thing bakers struggled with was the amount of maple butter in between the cookies.

The showstopper challenge was donuts, which was a little odd considering this treat actually originates in the United States. Sure, Canadians enjoy a good donut with our double double, but that doesn’t mean it is a national treat. Bakers could have been asked to make butter tarts, nanaimo bars, blueberry grunt, or even a Made In Canada cake — all much more Canadian than a donut. Hopefully, these items will be included in other challenges.

The origins of the donut aside, there were some bakers who tried to “canadian-ize” their treats. Linda made some beautiful maple bacon and double-double flavoured donuts and Verdana used Saskatchewan berries as her inspiration. Julian created some fun canoe-shaped donuts and Sabrina made donut poutine! This was a challenge that allowed the bakers to be creative and have fun. It also made me want to try to make donuts!

I’m going to dedicate some time to talk about James — who I firmly believe is my spirit animal. The way he cooks is the way most of us amateur bakers cool: with a messy flare. At the end of the day, no matter how many bags explode on him or how many glazes bubble on to the stovetop, his food always tastes good (at least according to the judges), and that’s all that matters! I feel a weird connection to him as a messy baker myself. When I first started baking, nothing turned out right. I once served a neon orange pumpkin pie to friends. It tasted great…it just looks like something out of a cartoon. But, that’s the beauty of this show. While presentation is really important, at the end of the day it’s all about the taste.

I’ve mentioned the camaraderie of this show so many times, but it presented itself in a different way — goofiness!  So many puns, so much cookie stealing, and lots of fun in the rain. It gets harder to see bakers go home every week — but alas, that’s the reality of the show. This week James won star baker for his delicious vegetarian pie and his peach stuffed donuts (yay!) and the whimsical Jude Somers from Victoria, B.C., was asked to leave.

Baking Minute: dessert week with the Canadian Baking Show

This week was dessert week on the Great Canadian Baking Show – and that meant pies, tarts, and meringue. By the end of the 45 minutes I had this intense craving for something super sweet.

The first challenge was to make an elegant pie or tart. The word “elegant” was key in this challenge as the judges expected dainty presentation. Most bakers used the “blind bake” method for their crusts, where they cook it prior to putting the filling inside to ensure the bottom doesn’t get soggy. I had never heard of this method, and will definitely try it the next time I make a pie.

The bakers really put their all into these desserts. Linda Longson from High River, Alberta, made a beautifully decadent raspberry chocolate pie that captured the audience and made the judges’ mouth water. “I want to dive into that pie,” Bruno Feldeisen said, and rightly so. The pie was decorated with white chocolate curls.

Every pie showcased a little bit of the baker’s personality. There was a pie representing the northern lights, a rustic apple pie, a mile-high lemon meringue, and a pi pie (that turned out to be more of an ode to chaos theory – poor messy James).

The best part of this challenge was watching the bakers. Linda, who I can only assume is a speedy baker as she is always hanging around helping others, points out that Terri Thompson’s pie crust is starting to rise. “You may want to poke some holes in your crust Terri, it’s starting to rise,” she says. In no other baking show, at least that I have witnessed, has a competitor been so kind to another. Her piece of advice probably saved Terri’s pie from disaster.

The technical challenge was a fondant fancy. This involved a dozen equally-sized sponge cakes with jam in the middle. The icing was a cream fondant that had to be evenly spread on the top and four corners of the cake. Bakers had to top it off with a small flower. This challenge was particularly difficult, and many bakers had a hard time with the icing. The icing can’t be spread, so it must be drizzled on top so that it overflows down the sides. But, if you don’t have enough or you have too much, it can cause a mess. The bakers did well enough, at least when compared to last week’s disastrous Montreal Bagel.

The showstopper challenge was a pavlova, a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. This meringue is then topped with a whipped cream and fruit. It’s a tricky dessert because the meringue can crack, especially if there isn’t enough time to cool the base before applying the cream. There were quite a few excellent pavlovas. My personal favourite was that of James D’Entremont from Halifax. He may have struggled with the first few challenges, but his pavlova had beautiful swirls in it and was beautifully decorated with blueberries and a sugared berry leaf. I was also impressed with Verdana’s yogurt whipped cream.

At the end of the show, the bakers sat side by side, holding hands as the hosts revealed the names of the star baker, and the person leaving the competition. The star baker of the episode was Linda, while Corey Shefman from Toronto, Ont. was sent home following a few mishaps with his pastry and meringue.

What was your favourite baking minute? Let us know in the comments below!

Baking Minute: bread week with the Canadian Baking Show

The second episode of the Canadian Baking Show focused on one of my favourite things — bread! The bakers were challenged to make some of the most difficult and technical kinds of bread, while still including a unique and personal flare on their creations. I was excited to watch this episode as bread is, unfortunately, not something I have mastered.

The first challenge was to make Focaccia, a fluffy Italian flatbread seasoned with oil, herbs, and various vegetables, meats, or cheeses. It’s a delicate bread — the dough must have even air pockets and too many toppings can turn this dish into a pizza. I was enthralled with Julian D’Entremont’s baking this week. His use of Nova Scotian dulse, a kind of seaweed, was really inspiring and representative of his hometown of Halifax. I loved that other bakers were trying it out while their breads cooked. At the end of the day, I think the unofficial winner of this particular challenge was Sabrina Degni, whose Focaccia was inspired by her Italian grandmother, and Linda Longson, who used rosemary-infused oil and sea salt for an absolutely gorgeous and simply delicious bread.

The technical challenge was, of course, the Montreal-style bagel. I thought this challenge would be easier, but I’ve since learned that bagels are deceiving. First you have to kneed the dough, but not over-kneed it. Then boil it in honey water. Then dry it. And then FINALLY you cook it. There are so many ways it could go wrong, even the bakers from Quebec had a hard time. The judges wouldn’t even try James Hoyland’s bagel as it was raw. Poor guy.

The showstopper challenge was to create a bread centrepiece with a sweet filling. I have to say, there is a huge difference between how these bakers performed last week and this week. Maybe it took them a while to get used to the cameras being in their faces or to get used to the tent-in-a-field atmosphere, but the final products of this challenge were a lot more put together and clean than the cake challenge in the premiere.

What was even better than the final product was the reaction of the bakers. When the judges cut into the bread and they saw how it looked in the inside, whether a bunch of even layers of filling or swirls of fruit. They were so proud! While there were a lot of amazing creations, my personal favourite was Julian’s, who made some mouth-watering cinnamon buns with a Kraken in the middle. Oh, and he also had fried bread as tentacles!

There has been some criticism about the judging of the Canadian Baking Show, and I do agree that at times it can get repetitive, especially during the technical challenge where they just keep repeating the words “crispy”, “soft”, and “chewy”. But, I was rather impressed with the commentary in the Focaccia challenge. The judges gave advice to the bakers, patiently explaining what went wrong and what went right. I’m hoping the judging gets a bit more creative as more contestants leave and there is more television time for this part of the show.

The winner of bread week was Sabrina, who rocked all three challenges and created a really unique centrepiece with a weaved bread basket. The person who left this week was Sinclair Shuit of London Ont. (hometown of Winnipeg), whose centrepiece pear puff pastry wasn’t cooked enough to please the judges.

Next week is dessert week…God help me!

Let us know what you thought of the episode in the comments below! In the meantime, I’m going to go and eat a muffin…or some french toast…or maybe just a whole loaf of bread.

VIDEO: Who else is excited for the Great Canadian Baking Show?

Tonight is the premiere of the Great Canadian Baking Show, the Canadian spin off of the U.K. television show of the same name.

Ten amateur bakers from across the country will gather in a tent in the middle of nowhere and compete for the grand title of Great Canadian Baker. In each episode, the bakers will compete in three rounds: the Signature Bake, the Technical Bake, and the Show Stopper.

Why should you watch this show? I’m a huge fan of the original show — the Great British Baking Show — and in the video below I explain why it is the best cooking show on television right now. I’m extremely excited for the Canadian spin-off and hope they keep the essence of the original series in tact.

Every week, I will be reviewing an episode from the show, going through my favourite desserts, talking about challenge winners, and perhaps discussing the cuteness factor of the goats (or other woodland creatures that may pop up). Here is the introduction to our new series, “A Baking Minute”, or in this case, a minute or two.

Are you excited for the Great Canadian Baking Show? Let us know in the comments below!

What do you think of CBC’s new National team?

Earlier this week, CBC announced Peter Mansbridge’s replacement as host of the flagship show The National. In an attempt to offer Canadians “a new kind of evening news”, the national broadcaster decided to hire four people to take turns hosting The National. The new hosts are: senior correspondent Adrienne Arsenault, political reporter Rosemary Barton, CBC Vancouver host Andrew Chang, and CBC News host and reporter Ian Hanomansing.

“Each of these award-winning journalists bring distinct strengths and expertise to the program,” said Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor-in-Chief of CBC News, in a statement. “They will report as an integrated team, across broadcast and digital, to deliver depth and context on the stories that matter to Canadians.”

This is an interesting decision on CBC’s part — to replace one national icon with four others in an effort to make The National more relevant to local communities (although the North and Maritimes are missing). There will be offices based in Vancouver, Ottawa, and Toronto, with the hosts split up between them. While this is a unique approach to national journalism, it does seem a bit of an oxymoron. It also begs the question: do we need four people to replace Mansbridge? Sure, he was a good anchor, but is he ‘we-can’t-replace-him-with-a-single-person’ great? I would argue no.

There is no doubt these four journalists are qualified for the job. I’ve been a fan of both Aresenault and Barton for a long time. Aresenault is an award-winning journalist known for her investigative stories. She has covered everything from natural disasters, conflicts, politics, sports, and human-interest stories, including the terrorist attack in Brussels and Paris. Barton has a long history of political reporting covering federal campaigns. For the last few years she has served as host for the daily CBC show Power and Politics and has done an amazing job keeping political representatives to account.

Chang has served as host for a number of CBC’s shows, including the National, and was a key member of the Olympic broadcast in 2014 and 2016. He has worked for both CBC Montreal (covering the NDP’s rise to power) and CBC Vancouver. Hanomansing is probably the most recognizable as a veteran host and reporter. He has covered everything from earthquakes, riots, the Olympic Games, and McMurray’s wildfires. He is the current host of CBC News Now weeknights.

The CBC’s choices, while qualified, are causing a bit of an uproar. If the CBC was looking for diversity — they succeeded. But, as was mentioned in a number of satire pieces written about the announcement, to hire two women and two minorities to replace one white man may not have been the message they were going for.

I’m honestly not sure what to think about this announcement. I have followed the careers of each of these reporters, and I am confident they will do an amazing job as hosts of The National. I think Canadians are going to have to wait and see how this new setup works before commenting on whether or not the CBC has overreached by adding so many co-anchors. Who knows? It could revolutionize the way people look at national news!

Personally, I’m going to miss Rosemary Barton on Power and Politics and am a bit more concerned about who will replace her on the show than what happens to The National. But, that’s just me.

The new National will broadcast on Nov. 6.

What do you think of the new hosts? Let us know in the comments below!

What did you think of Jian Ghomeshi’s trial?

The last year has been eye-opening, and not in a good way. The case of CBC radio broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi, who was accused of allegedly sexually assaulting and choking four women, really shed light on how messed up our justice system really is. It also demonstrated why so many women (and men) don’t report instances of sexual violence.

At the end of the day, Ghomeshi was found not guilty of four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking. The second round of the trials ended with an apology and a peace bond, which essentially is a contract that stipulates the accused must maintain good behaviour for a year and cannot contact the complainant. It is not an admission of guilt and it will result in no criminal record.

Ghomeshi was asked to apologize to the final complainant, Kathryn Borel. His apology mentions the power he held at the CBC and how, after serious consideration, he misunderstood how his actions could be interpreted: “I was a person in a position of authority and leadership, and I did not show the respect that I should have to Ms. Borel … I failed to understand how my words and actions would put a coworker who was younger than me, and in a junior position to mine, in an uncomfortable place.”

Borel decided to forego the trial after being presented with the option of a peace bond because it seemed “the clearest path to the truth.” In a statement following the trial, she said that “In a perfect world, people who commit sexual assault would be convicted for their crimes. Jian Ghomeshi is guilty of having done the things that I’ve outlined today. So when it was presented to me that the defence would be offering us an apology, I was prepared to forego the trial. It seemed like the clearest path to the truth. A trial would have maintained his lie, and would have further subjected me to the very same pattern of abuse that I am currently trying to stop.”

So, it’s over. After intense investigations by various media outlets, excruciating witness interviews, and hours of court time, the Ghomeshi trials are done.

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