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Get rid of your winter weekend woes with Winterlicious, charity walk

Patricia D'Cunha and Amber LeBlanc | posted Friday, Jan 29th, 2016

What are you up to this weekend? Chances are you have the January blues or blahs (who doesn’t?).

We have put together a list of events below that can put the spring back in your step. And while we are on the subject of spring, the blissful season arrives in around seven weeks!

On a more serious note, there’s an Alzheimer’s walk taking place this weekend that needs your support. Your goodwill will go a long way.

Lastly, not to bring down your fun weekend, but GO Transit riders will be faced with a fare hike on Monday.


Don’t get to exercise much during the winter? Don’t worry, you can give your tastebuds a workout at Winterlicious.

(Left to right): Salmon dish at Soco, and bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin at Quinn's, are some of the dishes being offered at Winterlicious 2016. CITY OF TORONTO.
(Left to right): Salmon dish at Soco, and bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin at Quinn’s, are some of the dishes being offered at Winterlicious 2016. CITY OF TORONTO.

Starting Friday and until Feb. 11, food lovers can indulge in three-course prix fixe menus at more than 200 restaurants around the city. Isn’t that a delicious way to spend a cold winter’s day?

And the meals are reasonably priced, enough to drive you out of your winter blues. Lunch menus are priced at $18, $23 and $28, and dinner menus are priced at $25, $35 and $45.

Click here for a full list of restaurants.

Click here to find a restaurant on an interactive map.

Alzheimer Society’s Walk for Memories
Honouring those who are living with or caring for those with Alzheimer’s disease – that’s the focus of this weekend’s Walk for Memories.

The Alzheimer Society of Toronto event takes place Saturday morning in the PATH system downtown.

The Alzheimer Society of Toronto's Walk for Memories in 2015. Photo via Facebook/Alzheimer Society of Toronto.
The Alzheimer Society of Toronto’s Walk for Memories in 2015. Photo via Facebook/Alzheimer Society of Toronto.

It starts at 9 a.m. at Brookfield Place, with 1,500 people expected to participate. Over $350,000 has been raised so far. Click here to donate.

Toronto Tea Festival

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
– Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

Cha-cha-cha chai your way to the tea festival this weekend! It doesn’t matter if you are a recent convert or a connoisseur – everyone is invited to tea paradise.

Chinese tea and tea leaves. Photo via Facebook/Toronto Tea Festival.
Chinese tea and tea leaves. Photo via Facebook/Toronto Tea Festival.

From Darjeeling to Oolong, sample various types of tea; learn more about their origins, preparation styles, and processing techniques; and shop for various tea products.

The event is being held at the Toronto Reference Library from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday – that’s two full days of tea-ing it up with fellow lovers of the beverage.

Don’t ‘chai’ away from making this part of your weekend plans.

NHL All-Star Game
The NHL All-Star weekend takes over Nashville, Tenn.

It’s on the ice in ‘music city’ for the very first time, and Maple Leafs’ forward Leo Komarov is representing ‘The 6.’

Toronto Maple Leafs' Leo Komarov (47) celebrates his goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils on Apr. 6, 2013. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Bill Kostroun.
Toronto Maple Leafs’ Leo Komarov (47) celebrates his goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils on Apr. 6, 2013. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Bill Kostroun.

The game is at 5 p.m. on Sunday at 5 p.m. and can be watched seen on Sportsnet and CBC.

TIFF Kids Classics
You may not miss snow, but your kids surely do. They can’t toboggan, ski or make snow-angels … cue the boredom. Not to worry, there are other ways to amuse your children. One idea, why not take them to the movies?

A scene from the 2002 movie Ice Age. TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX.
A scene from the 2002 movie Ice Age. TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX.

Several family-friendly films, like Ice Age and The Goonies, are being screened at the TIFF Bell Lightbox until April 2. The films are shown every Saturday morning and on P.A. days at the Toronto District School Board.

Transit info

GO Transit fare hike
Commuter alert for next week: GO Transit is raising its fares starting on Monday.

File photo of a GO train. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Steve White.
File photo of a GO train. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Steve White.

Fares are going up between 40 and 60 cents depending on how far you travel, although the shortest trips won’t be increasing. Click here for the fare structure.

With ‘tea’ files from Christine Chubb and Diana Pereira

Raptors beat Knicks to set franchise record with 10th straight victory

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Jan 29th, 2016

The Toronto Raptors have made history, winning a franchise-record 10 games in a row.

Toronto’s all-stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan scored 26 points apiece to lift the Raptors to a 103-93 victory over the New York Knicks on Thursday, breaking a record that had stood for 14 years.

Lowry, whose sore wrist had him questionable to play right up until the players took the court for warmup, added 10 assists and six rebounds on the night. DeRozan’s solid performance came just hours after he was named an NBA all-star reserve.

Jonas Valanciunas had a double-double with 11 points and 18 rebounds for Toronto (31-15), while Cory Joseph had 11 points and Patrick Patterson chipped in with 10.

The Raptors’ previous win streak was back in the spring of 2002, March 22-April 3. This historic hot stretch — the longest active win streak in the NBA — began Jan. 6 in Brooklyn. And then, one by one, they racked up the wins: Washington twice, Philadelphia, Orlando, Brooklyn again, Boston, Miami, and the L.A. Clippers.

Thursday night, the Raptors led by as much as 14 points against a pesky Knicks team that was missing starting point guard and former Raptor Jose Calderon (groin), Carmelo Anthony (knee), and rookie Kristaps Porzingis (upper respiratory illness).

A fadeaway jumper from Derrick Williams pulled the Knicks to within eight points with 3:10 to play in front of a capacity crowd of 19,800 fans at the Air Canada Centre, before Lowry lit it up with eight straight points to put the Raptors safely ahead for good with 1:45 to play.

Arron Afflalo scored 20 points to top the Knicks (22-26).

The Raptors honoured DeRozan with a video tribute during a timeout midway through the first quarter. When play resumed, and with the Raptors trailing by six, DeRozan cut to the hoop for a dunk that sparked a 16-6 run, and Toronto went into the second quarter leading 27-21.

Lowry drilled a three-pointer four minutes before halftime that stretched Toronto’s advantage to 14 points. They led 53-43 at the break.

The Knicks pulled to within a point midway through the third, but coach Dwane Casey went to his bench to halt their momentum. It worked, as the Raptors pulled away to lead 73-63 with one quarter left.

The Raptors host Detroit on Saturday.

What to expect from the Jian Ghomeshi trial

Sarah Boesveld, Chatelaine | posted Friday, Jan 29th, 2016

Former CBC Radio star Jian Ghomeshi has spent more than a year on trial in the court of public opinion. On Monday, his trial in the court of law will begin in downtown Toronto, blocks from where he helped make Q CBC Radio’s flagship show. The 48-year-old, out on $100,000 bail and living with his motheras a condition of his release, pleaded not-guilty to four sexual assault charges and one count of overcoming resistance by choking. He will appear in court again in June for a second trial, dealing with one more count of sexual assault.

The Court, presided over by Justice William Horkins (there will be no jury), will hear from three female complainants, including Trailer Park Boys actress Lucy DeCoutere, who opted out of a publication ban on her name. Between the public’s interest in Ghomeshi and defence lawyer Marie Henein’s famous take-no-prisoners style of litigation, the trial is sure to generate high courtroom drama and wall-to-wall media coverage.

But these proceedings will also provide a case study in how a high-profile sexual assault trial plays out in Canada in the era of social media and how sexual-assault complainantsnavigate a system in which they often feel as if they’re the ones on trial.

Related: A guide to who’s who at the Jian Ghomeshi trial

Chatelaine will be in court to report on the proceedings. (Bookmark this page to follow our ongoing coverage.) To begin with, we asked legal experts what they think will be the big issues and questions expected to arise during the trial.

Was there consent?

Consent — and whether it was given — will be a major theme of the trial, particularly because of Ghomeshi’s Oct. 26, 2014Facebook post, crafted with the help of public relations firm Navigator, in which he claimed the rough sex he engaged in with his partners was consensual.

Why didn’t the complainants go to the police sooner?

At least two of the complainants — DeCoutere and another whose name is protected by a publication ban — shared their stories with the media before filing a complaint with the Toronto Police. DeCoutere said Ghomeshi choked and slapped her at his apartment at the end of a date in 2003 — 11 years prior. The question will be: What took her so long? The passage of time could help the defence plant doubt as to whether an assault took place and whether the complainant is remembering the events accurately.

Are the witnesses credible?

“In a case like this, credibility is the central issue,” says Joseph A. Neuberger, a criminal defence lawyer in Toronto. Expect a lot of time spent on whether the complainants were drinking, thus raising doubt about the reliability of their memory. There will likely be close scrutiny as to why DeCoutere continued talking with Ghomeshi after the alleged assault.

Are the complainants doing this for attention?

Enter the myth of the fame whore — the notion that complainants make accusations against prominent people for attention. DeCoutere is particularly susceptible to this kind of criticism from the defence, says former Crown prosecutor Sandy Garossino, because she went public with her name and identity. “The defence will have to really haul out the big guns and basically say, ‘You’re here looking for attention, you saw your chance, none of these things happened’ and really attack, openly attack the complainant. That’s a risky tactic.”

Was there collusion?

DeCoutere has said publicly that she and the other complainants have spoken with one another — a detail that doesn’t bode well for the Crown. “[DeCoutere] became a point person for others who wanted to tell their story but couldn’t bring themselves to do it publicly,” Leah McLaren wrote in a Toronto Life cover story about Ghomeshi. “The way she described it to me, she co-ordinated a covert network of women who have spent the last seven months sharing their assault stories with each other.” That passage will undoubtedly come up in trial. “I think the defence is going to really make hay about this,” Garossino says.

Can the Crown prove there was a pattern of violence?

To convince the judge that Ghomeshi serially abused women he dated, the prosecution may call witnesses who have not filed charges against him, Garossino says. The defence would likely argue against the use of this kind of evidence.

Will Ghomeshi testify?

It’s unlikely: Most accused decide against it. But if there is a chance the judge finds the witnesses credible and the prosecution convincing, the defence may see a benefit in bringing Ghomeshi up on the stand, Garossino says.

Sting to perform at halftime of NBA all-star game in Toronto

The Canadian Press and The Associated Press | posted Thursday, Jan 28th, 2016

Sting is trading “Fields of Gold” for a court of all-stars.

The Grammy-winning artist will perform the halftime show at the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 14 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Cirque du Soleil will perform a routine before the game that illustrates “the story of a basketball dream.”

Earlier this month, organizers announced Toronto rapper Drake will coach Canada’s team at the NBA all-star celebrity game on Feb. 12 at the Ricoh Coliseum.

The Canuck team includes two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash and Toronto Blue Jays all-star right-fielder Jose Bautista.

Comedy star Kevin Hart will coach the U.S. team, which includes actors Michael B. Jordan and Jason Sudeikis.

We may have hit ‘peak stüff,’ but Ikea says there is room to grow

Chris Sorensen | posted Thursday, Jan 28th, 2016

Steve Howard, the head of sustainability at Swedish furniture giant Ikea, raised eyebrows at a recent U.K. climate change talk when he mused that Western consumers had finally hit “peak stuff,” including “peak home furnishings.” It was a seemingly stunning admission, coming as it did from one of the world’s biggest retailers, and it conjured up images of a looming worldwide glut of slatted Malm bed frames and upholstered Tullsta armchairs. But if Ikea thinks its more affluent customers are already swimming in personal belongings—and remember this is a company that specializes in clever storage solutions, from Billy and Pax to Ivar and Algot—it has a funny way of showing it. Just 10 days later, Ikea Canada president Stefan Sjostrand joined the mayor of Halifax to announce a brand new 30,000 sq.-m store in Dartmouth, part of a plan to double the number of Ikea locations in Canada, from 12 to 24, over the next decade. (Globally, Ikea has also touted plans to double its sales by 2020, although it’s backed off the ambitious timetable in recent years amid a slowing worldwide economy.)

Nor is Ikea content with simply erecting more cavernous big-box stores in Ikea-less communities, many of which practically beg the popular retailer to set up shop. Ikea is also seeking to boost sales by taking a page from “fast-fashion” retailer H&M, another Swedish success story, and collaborating with big-name designers on limited-time collections.

So how to square Ikea’s “peak stuff” talk with its “buy more” actions? A spokesperson volunteered in an email that Howard’s comments were made as “part of a wider global context where many people still have very limited means” while Sjostrand suggested the goal was “to continue to grow our business, but grow it in a more sustainable way.” Translation: Ikea will sell you more furniture and home furnishings, but it will try harder not to make you feel guilty about it. Which explains why the company’s corporate reports are festooned with examples of sustainability initiatives, from selling only LED-compatible lighting to serving responsibly harvested fish in the cafeteria.

Yet, while Ikea should be lauded for trying to reduce its environmental footprint, its lofty goal of bringing sustainability to the masses will be far more difficult to achieve. For one thing, Ikea’s core business is selling well-designed home furnishings so cheap—a $39.99 Fjellse bed frame or $12.99 Lack side table—they’ve effectively become disposable. In fact, some of Ikea’s particle-board creations seem designed to dispose of themselves when they detect disassembly with an Allen key, like a crumbly spy plane that’s fallen into enemy hands. How can such waste, critics charge, ever be considered good for the planet?

Anything’s possible, of course, but so far at least, it sounds like a case of trying to have your meatballs and eat them, too.

Whether Canadians are actually at “peak stuff” is debatable. The surge in firms offering “self-storage” units across the country—essentially a second garage or attic—suggests we may be finally approaching some sort of inflection point, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped the hordes from descending on Ikea’s blue-and-yellow stores each weekend. And there’s little doubt Ikea has ridden the wave of Canada’s housing boom to the bank. Data from Statistics Canada shows sales of furniture ballooned nearly nine per cent in November 2015 (the most recent month for which figures are available), compared to a year earlier, with all those tiny, 650 sq.-foot condominium units erected in cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary seemingly tailor-made for Ikea’s sleek, space-saving Scandinavian designs. At the same time, Ikea’s affordable kitchens—including modular cabinets, butcher block countertops and apron-front sinks—have become a staple of many a Canadian home renovation or property flip.

The outcome was a 10 per cent increase in Ikea Canada’s sales last year to $1.8 billion. Ikea also reported the number of visitors to its stores increased by four per cent to 26 million, or about one store visit per working age Canadian. Worldwide, parent Ikea Group enjoyed $48.7 billion in sales at its 328 global locations and $5.3 billion in profit .(Although Ikea is a privately held company, it releases selected financial data in a bid to be transparent about its operations.)

Ikea’s now infamous showroom “maze” no doubt played a role in those impressive same-store sales increases. Alan Penn, a professor of architectural computing at the University College London, has argued the one-way trip through the real-life version of Ikea’s catalogue is designed to leave shoppers disoriented and slightly overwhelmed, primed to toss home furnishing items in their carts lest they have to go back and find them again. In fact, some estimate between 40 per cent and 60 per cent of all Ikea purchases are impulse buys—things people didn’t plan to buy when they walked in the doors.

With more people shopping online, Ikea has been forced to explore new ways to boost shoppers’ spending. That includes reaching out to new customers—including those who may have assumed their Billy bookcase days ended when they graduated from university—and creating a sense of urgency around purchases. In October, Ikea launched a limited-time collection of furniture and housewares in collaboration with British designer Ilse Crawford that included cork-topped tables and stools; weighty ceramic pitchers and plates; a daybed wrapped in jute and a rug woven from seagrass. Ikea called it “high-end design . . . at typical Ikea prices,” while Crawford told Architectural Digest she sought to bring “atmosphere” to Ikea’s already extensive lineup of more than 9,500 pieces. Popular items sold out at some of Ikea’s Canadian stores within days.

Sjostrand says it was the first time Ikea has partnered with an outside designer for an entire collection. It won’t be the last. “We will continue to work with celebrities because we think it’s important to spice things up,” he says, pointing to an upcoming collaboration with London menswear designer Katie Eary that will hit stores this spring and is heavy on unblinking eyeballs and boldly coloured fish. Asked whether the goal is to make Ikea’s furniture more like fashion, so that customers are encouraged to replace pieces more frequently, Sjostrand said that’s only true of accessories like pillows, curtains, blankets and rugs, which are typically used to freshen up tired decor. When it comes to furniture, however, he says Ikea builds things to last.

Others beg to differ. Aiden Enns, a former managing editor at Adbusters magazine who founded the Buy Nothing Christmas movement, calls Ikea’s products “beautiful junk” and says, “You buy it even though you know it won’t last very long.” Now the editor of Winnipeg-based Geez magazine, Enns doesn’t doubt executives are keen to do the right thing, but he still believes Ikea’s business model is inherently unsustainable because consumers will eventually realize “how stupid it is to keep buying mid-grade disposable items.”

Like many big global corporations, the image that Ikea presents to the public reflects a somewhat sanitized version of reality. The company’s official history recounts how founder Ingvar Kamprad got his start selling pencils and postcards, and derived the Ikea moniker from his initials plus the first letters of the name of the farm he grew up on and the parish in which it was located (Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd). It also details the evolution of Ikea, founded in 1943, and its flat-packed furniture concept, as well as Kamprad’s desire to ensure the longevity of his creation by splitting Ikea’s retail operations and intellectual property into two separate entities, making a corporate takeover that much more difficult. Ikea also spends a lot of time talking about its grandiose-sounding mission “to create a better everyday life for the many people.”

What the official history doesn’t mention is how Kamprad, one of the world’s wealthiest people, fled his native Sweden for four decades to avoid paying the country’s high taxes—all while simultaneously building Ikea’s brand around Swedish imagery, names and designs. At the same time, critics have questioned whether Ikea’s extraordinarily complex ownership structure, involving a web of Netherlands- and Liechtenstein-registered companies and not-for-profits, was similarly designed as a tax dodge. Equally troubling were revelations that Ikea used political prisoners in East Germany in the 1970s and 1980s to make some of its furniture, a transgression it apologized for three years ago, after it was confirmed by an auditor’s report.

Peel back the cheerful marketing and eye-catching designs, in other words, and Ikea is not much different than other big, global retailers like Wal-Mart or Target. It’s a massive, profit-making entity that leans on its 978 suppliers in 50 countries to deliver inexpensive products of relatively high quality. “When it comes to this thing about Ikea selling cheap [products], I would say, ‘No, they’re selling inexpensively because they are a very good buyer,’ ” says Steen Kanter, who spent 23 years at Ikea as a senior executive and now runs Raleigh, N.C.-based consultancy Kanter International. He adds that he still proudly sits on an Ikea sofa he bought in 1986. “The throwaway idea has more to do with people growing out of something, as opposed to a product that doesn’t last,” he says.

For critics, however, the net result is the same. The downside is the potential for a big environmental footprint. Ikea is already the third-largest consumer of wood in the world after Home Depot and Lowe’s—both of which sell actual lumber—and has been accused by some environmental groups of using wood logged from old-growth forests in Russia. It’s also clear that, peak home furnishings or not, Ikea’s hunger for raw materials can be expected to grow alongside its global expansion.

But it’s also true that few companies have embraced the mantra of sustainability as strongly as Ikea, particularly in recent years. The company claims to be well on its way to becoming “forest positive” by 2020. That means using only wood that’s either recycled or has been certified as responsibly harvested by the Forest Stewardship Council, a not-for-profit that advocates for responsible forest management. Similarly, Ikea claims 100 per cent of its cotton now comes from sustainable sources while all the lighting sold in its stores is LED or LED-compatible. Two years ago, Ikea Canada even purchased a 20-turbine wind farm in Pincher Creek, Alta., promising the facility would produce more electricity than Ikea uses in all its Canadian stores. And that new store in Halifax? It will be powered by rooftop solar panels and heated and cooled by geothermal energy when it opens for business in two years.

But what about all the waste created as consumers toss their old Ikea furniture to the curb and replace it with the latest affordable designs? Ikea points to several initiatives under way in various countries that, depending on their success, could one day be applied to the global chain in pursuit of a more “circular economy.” They include a “second life” program in France that encourages customers to return, resell, recycle or donate used furniture and a “buy and sell” section for Ikea furniture on its Swedish website. “We’re really looking into it,” Sjostrand says, adding that Ikea doesn’t rush into anything until it’s been thoroughly tested. “We don’t think sustainability should be a luxury for the few. It should be for everyone.”

In the meantime, Ikea will continue to do what it does best: sell more stuff to the masses.

Milos Raonic takes on Andy Murray in Aussie Open semifinals

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jan 27th, 2016

Canada’s Milos Raonic earned a berth in his second career Grand Slam semifinal on Wednesday with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory against Gael Monfils of France at the Australian Open.

The 25-year-old from Thornhill, who also reached the semifinals at Wimbledon two years ago, will face off against four-time finalist and second-seed Andy Murray of Britain on Friday.

Murray earlier defeated eighth-seed David Ferrer of Spain 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-3 to earn his 18th trip to a Grand Slam semifinal.

Raonic is the first Canadian man to reach the Australian final four, and just the second Canadian to do so, after Eugenie Bouchard made it to the semifinals in 2014.

The victory over Monfils extended Raonic’s 2016 winning steak to nine matches to equal his previous best in 2012.

Top-seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia and No. 3 seed Roger Federer of Switzerland will contest the other semifinal on Thursday.

Looming taxi protest could disrupt NBA All-Star weekend in Toronto

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jan 27th, 2016

Taxi drivers are planning large-scale protests aimed at shutting down Uber, including one demonstration that’s threatening to disrupt the NBA All-Star weekend in February.

The last mass cabbie protest snarled Toronto traffic last month.

The next ‘day of action’ is set for Tuesday in Ottawa. Hundreds of taxi drivers from several cities – including the GTA – are expected to ‘bus in’ to Parliament Hill, demanding action from the federal government against Uber.

In Toronto, city council will meet next Wednesday to decide whether or not to pass an injunction against the ride-sharing service.

If councillors vote against an injunction, cabbies say they’ll take their protests to the next level, possibly staging major demonstrations starting Feb. 12, just as the NBA’s All-Star event comes to town.

Representatives from all of the region’s taxi associations will sit down together for the first time on Feb. 7 to plan their next move.

Last Friday, Uber was granted a City of Toronto taxi brokerage licence, putting it on equal ground as regulated taxi companies such as Beck and Royal.

Toronto, like many cities around the world, has been struggling to monitor ridesharing services like Uber since it first set up shop in 2012.

Earlier this month, insurance company Aviva Canada announced that it had plans to support Uber drivers with special coverage.

Man leaps from GO train after robbery

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jan 27th, 2016

A man who stopped a GO train after a robbery could face heavy penalties for the alarm as well as the initial theft.

Toronto police were called to Birchmount Road and Raleigh Avenue, north of Danforth Avenue, around 10:40 p.m. on Tuesday.

Both the suspect and a woman were on the westbound Lakeshore GO train from Oshawa to Union Station. The man tried to take the woman’s purse, did not succeed, and then fled.

Police say he stopped the train, pried open the doors, jumped out onto the tracks, and ran away.

All rail traffic, including CN Rail, was stopped while police, including the canine unit, searched the area. The delay was an hour long, and the suspect wasn’t found.

Police are still looking for man. No one was injured.

If the man pulled the emergency brake, which is located between cars, he could be charged with mischief. If convicted, that carries a $5,000 fine.

Pressing the emergency strip can result in an $85 fine.

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