New government. New site.

Big year, 2015, from the macro to the micro. New government for Canada. New website for OpenCanada.org. It can’t be any more exciting, and busy, than to cover a government’s transition — and in many ways renewal — while helping to implement a redesign at a news startup. For those who have done the latter, you know how many hats there are to wear. The results, in both cases, continue to inspire me.

Other highlights from the past year:

In conversation with Stephen Lewis, the United Nations’ sharpest critic and greatest champion
OpenCanada.org, Nov. 28, 2015

Review of The 33Unbelievable tale of trapped Chilean miners is emotionally moving
Globe and Mail, Nov. 13, 2015

Travel: Berlin is a rapidly changing city steeped in history
Metro Canada, Oct. 4, 2015

10 foreign policy questions for Canada’s leaders
OpenCanada.org, Sept. 28, 2015

Q&A: Economist Tyler Cowen on inequality, Canada, and the state of global superpowers
OpenCanada.org, May 1, 2015

Canada’s place in the new Cuba
OpenCanada.org, Feb. 13, 2015

OpenCanada.org

Since taking the post of managing editor at the Canadian International Council, meaning I manage the content on its foreign policy website, OpenCanada.org, much of my more recent work has been published there. I will not list all copy here but in general my interviews and pieces for the site can be found here.

A few recent ones of note, however:

Canada’s Central American connection: An interview with Cornell professor Maria Cristina Garcia on Canada’s history with Central American migrants and the regional links within the current crisis of unaccompanied child migrants. “There’s a very thin line between political and economic motivations for migration,” she told me, sharing lots of great insight for those interested in migration and North and Latin America.

Lessons from Uruguay’s drug reform: From our series ‘A drug reform revolution,’ this piece looks at how Uruguay managed to approve the first national bill in the world legalizing the production, sale and consumption of marijuana. Not endorsing this law as the solution for all regions but drug laws are changing and not without a fight. (This piece was the result of some of my Master’s research at McMaster University.)

Pitting capitalism against the climate: An interview with Canadian author Naomi Klein on her latest book.

The right to know the truth on Gaza and Israel: An interview with UN human rights investigator (and Canadian law expert) William Schabas, who, since my talk with him, has been denied access into Israel while trying to prepare this UN report.

The political world of Jon Stewart: Stewart’s film Rosewater, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, opens Nov. 14, 2014. I spoke to Stewart, Garcial Bernal and Maziar Bahari, whose experience the film depicts, back in September at the Toronto International Film Festival.

State of the world’s youth

OCIC iAM Magazine Volume 5_ State of the World's YouthDOCREVIEWThe Ontario Council for International Cooperation (OCIC) connects great groups doing important work here in Canada and internationally. Each year, they produce a magazine around a particular theme, 2014 being State of the World’s Youth.

It was a pleasure to work with their team this year as a contributor and congrats to the organization for today’s release of a great issue. You can find the full version here, and my article, on youth-focus documentaries, by clicking the image here. Enjoy.

 

 

 

A few recent stories…

Better late than never… a few stories published over the last couple of months following a trip to Chile, interviews on the 40th anniversary of the 1973 coup there, and ongoing attention to the treatment of migrants-in-immigration-limbo here in Canada:

Escape from Chile: 40 years on
Globe and Mail, Sept. 6, 2013

Raising awareness for migrant prisoners
The Hamilton Spectator, Oct. 25, 2013

How to get lost in Valparaiso
National Post, Travel, July 11, 2013

Hasta la proxima…

Latin American immigrants make waves in Canada as Generation Ñ

Eva Salinas
Financial Post, Feb. 4, 2013

A  smooth Spanish accent and a wooden surfboard on a shelf in his office on Toronto’s King Street West hint at Diego Casco’s origins. Otherwise, the Costa Rican graphic designer might be from anywhere.

But after running his own design and communications company for the past 12 years and “just wanting to blend in” with the general business community, Mr. Casco is ready to be counted as part of a new group of educated, Latin American entrepreneurs making waves in Canada.

“We’re not too many but we’re slowly starting to show ourselves,” he says.

“The Canadian business community is not aware that there is an up and coming Generation Ñ — entrepreneurs and professionals from Latin America starting to do their own thing.”

It’s a coming out of sorts for the group that has been calling themselves Generation Ñ, after the letter in the Spanish alphabet (pronounced en-ye). Unlike the generation of Latin American immigrants before them, they are younger, more educated, bilingual and business-savvy.

 

Read the full story here…

In publishing, it’s sink or swim

The closure of the Toronto Women’s Bookstore  prompted me to do a bit of digging to see if there was a new reason to be scared for the industry, or if there is just more of the same terror as there was for the online habits that transformed the music industry.

Turning a page on books: Inside the evolving publishing industry
Financial Post, Dec. 10, 2012

The audience at Bryan Prince Bookseller, in the Westdale neighbourhood of Hamilton, Ont., has spilled into the next room. It’s a windy Thursday evening in November and although the residential area is mostly quietening down, the night is just getting started at the bookshop.

Several people crowd the doorway, peering in where one of the founders of McMaster University’s medical school, Dr. C. Barber Mueller, is presenting his new book, Excalibur. Just another full house celebrating books.

“You don’t hear of many good, positive stories about the print side [of publishing] and bookstores, but things are going well for us,” said Tracey Higgins, co-owner of the shop, where the walls are floor to ceiling with books.

If this weeknight reading is any indication, the popularity of books isn’t in doubt.

Instead, it’s the evolving ways books are promoted, sold and consumed that has those in the publishing industry scrambling to ensure growth and, for some, survival.

The opening of big-box retailers and an increasing use of online sites for reading and shopping in the past two decades has sent smaller businesses back to the drawing board.

Now, recent announcements of a game-changing merger between publishing giants Random House and Penguin, the filing for bankruptcy protection by B.C.’s Douglas & McIntyre and yet another closure of a beloved local shop (the 40-year-old Toronto Women’s Bookstore), have again raised fears of industry troubles.

This time, however, many smaller players are countering in a much more positive way.

“I can almost foresee a rebirth of Canadian publishing coming out of this,” said Cynthia Good, director of Humber College’s Creative Book Publishing program and former president of Penguin Books Canada.

Click here for the full story, photo and sidebox on online innovation in the industry…

 

A moving, important story in Uganda

I recently wrote a preview for Xtra Canada of Call Me Kuchu, a documentary featured at this year’s Hot Docs festival which follows those fighting against Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill.  The piece is also an update of what is happening in Uganda at the moment (the bill could pass at any moment).

While it’s vital to raise our voice against the bill now, knowing the back story is key. I attended the opening screening of Call Me Kuchu and found it to be even more moving than I expected — to read of these courageous, funny, passionate and threatened people is one thing, to get to know their face, their voice, their family, is another. None was as affecting as activist David Kato. Absolutely heartbreaking.