The Big Story
The Big Story
About The Big Story
An in-depth look at the issues, culture and personalities shaping Canada today.
It's the most ambitious offshore mining project in Canadian history, and the fight for approvals has been long and arduous. That's because of both its scope, its dangers and the potential windfall to a province that badly needs it. So what is Bay du Nord? What does it promise and what, exactly, are the risks? And how do you balance the need to phase out fossil fuels with the future of an entire province's economy? GUEST: Lyndsie Bourgon, writing in Maclean's magazine
Your friends and family live in your phone. Sure, you see them from time to time, but usually for scheduled events, planned well in advance, with an agenda and a timeframe. How often do you just find a friend ... and chill? A new book illustrates the kinds of casual hangouts that are dying out, at the same time as loneliness rates are rising around the world. There's a particular kind of energy we get from just killing time, or wandering, and we're losing it. What's that doing to us? GUEST: Sheila Liming, author of Hanging Out: The Radical Power Of Killing Time
Around the world, transgender people are under attack. Often legislatively, other times physically. And many of us would like to think of Canada as an oasis amidst this rise in prejudice. But we're not. Today, a look at a clinic that provides gender-affirming care virtually to trans and non-binary people across the entire province of Ontario. Except right now it doesn't, because new legislation makes it impossible, and the provincial government has so far refused to provide an exemption. What's standing in the way? What is gender-affirming care, and why is it so important? And why is virtual health care, the only option for many communities, being trimmed by the government? GUEST: Kai Jacobsen, steering committee, Trans PULSE Canada; co-author, The Conversation
It was thought that the former president might be arrested on Tuesday, and charged in relation to alleged hush-money payments to an adult film star. That hasn't happened, but many who have been watching the case still expect charges to come. When they do, what will happen next? But this isn't the only investigation into Trump's potential crimes. There are more, and they involve more sinister allegations. So who exactly is investigating Donald Trump, and for what? Where do those investigations stand? What would a nomination race and potential presidential campaign look like, if one of the contenders is preparing to face a trial? Or perhaps more than one trial? GUEST: Aaron Rupar, independent political and policy journalist, author of Public Notice
Today it's Nordstrom, fleeing Canada after failing to turn a profit in almost a decade of trying. Before them, it was Target, thought to be a sure thing in this country. So far, Walmart is the exception that proves the rule: If you're an American retailer with your eyes on the Canadian market, you better do your research and have a plan. The loss of Nordstrom is sad for those who love its designer names, sure, but the stores themselves are a bigger loss as anchor tenants for premium locations in big cities that are slowly being taken over by empty storefronts. So what happened here? Was it them, or us? And what can we learn from the latest American brand to fail in Canada? GUEST: Gary Newbury, retail supply chain expert, Strategic Advisor and Delivery Executive with RetailAID
Even three years after it emerged, there's still no consensus on the origin of the virus that shut down the world. Last week, the US Department of Energy said that its conclusion (albeit with "low confidence") was that the virus escaped from a lab. Three days later new genetic research pointed to the presence of the virus in racoon dogs found in Wuhan at the time the virus began to spread. So chalk up another data point for each side, and still we're searching for answers. What does the new evidence tell us about each theory? How has this debate become politicized? Will we ever know where the virus truly came from? And if we did, what would it change ... if anything? GUEST: Umair Irfan, correspondent at Vox writing about climate change, Covid-19, and energy policy. (Read Umair's latest piece on Covid's origins here.)
It's called chlorpyrifos, and it's actually still being used in Canada right now. Despite years of reports on the danger it might pose, it was only last year that the government banned it, and it's using a gradual phase out that won't end until the end of this year. So what is chlorpyrifos and what's the risk? What kind of foods is it used on? What can exposure do to us? And why was Canada behind both Europe and the United States in getting rid of it? GUEST: Marc Fawcett-Atkinson, reporter and writer covering food, climate, plastics and the environment for Canada’s National Observer
We're already in another space race. The question this time is who gets the prize at the end of it. Both China and NASA have committed to plans to put bases on the moon in the next decade or so, and one of the main attractions is its resources. There are lots of valuable commodities on the moon, and it also makes a great jumping point for further space travel in the future. So the competition to extract the moon's minerals first, in harsh, remote conditions, with the use of space robotics, will give someone a huge advantage. And there just happens to be a country to the north of the United States that is a world leader in all those things... GUESTS: Alex Ellery, Canada Research Professor in space robotics and space technology at Carleton University; Heather Exner-Pirot, senior fellow and director of natural resources, energy and environment at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute
Everyone who lived through 2008 as an adult flinched when Silicon Valley Bank failed last week. But was the bank's crash a unique situation, or something that should make us question our own financial institutions? What makes Canadian banks different from banks like SVB? What can we learn about the future of the economy from this failure? Why is the US government helping already-rich tech investors? And what do we need to watch for in the coming weeks and months? GUEST: William O’Connell, PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. His research includes global management of financial crises and the regulation of cryptocurrency markets
Over the past couple of decades, five workers have died on the job at Fiera Foods, sparking protests, investigations and allegations of a dangerous workplace. But where did those workers come from? Fiera says they are employed through temp agencies, and they have filed for the tax breaks to prove it. But the CRA says those agencies aren't real, and Fiera workers tell stories of showing up at the factory and being put right out onto the floor. This legal fight sheds light on just how companies can use temp agencies to reduce liability and save money, even when the jobs can be deadly. GUEST: Sara Mojtehedzadeh, investigations team, Toronto Star
For the past month, headlines have been dominated by leaked CSIS documents, intelligence sources, fears of foreign interference in Canadian elections and the political fallout of all that. But most Canadians don't know much about how our intelligence community operates. Which agencies do what? Who do they report to? Who can access their information? Why would they release it to the press? Because this is already shaping up to be the political story of the year in Canada, we wanted to lay out the basics. Here's what you need to know to understand what matters and why. GUEST: Stephanie Carvin, former national security analyst, Associate Professor at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, author of Stand on Guard: Reassessing threats to Canada's National Security
Twice in the last month, Canadians were shown just how open our Northern border can be. First, the Prime Minister ordered a UFO shot down. Then, we learned that Canadian Forces had found Chinese monitoring buoys in our arctic waters. As geopolitical tensions rise, the arctic is perhaps where Canada is most vulnerable. So how do we monitor it? What do we need to do to protect ourselves? How is a changing climate making it more vulnerable? And what keeps the security experts up at night? GUEST: Dr. Whitney Lackenbauer, Canada Research Chair in the Study of the Canadian North; Professor, School for the Study of Canada, Trent University
There are indeed medical reasons that require your driver's licence to be suspended. But there are a host of other issues, everything from depression to cold sores, that have been cited as medical reasons in licence suspensions in Ontario. What's happening here. At the core of the issue are MCRs—medical condition reports that can often trigger an automatic suspension, even for a condition that doesn't impact driving, or a condition the driver may not even have. Why is Ontario handing out hundreds of thousands of these suspensions? Who benefits from all these filings? And what recourse do people have when their ability to drive—and with it, often, their livelihood—is taken away? GUEST: Declan Keogh, Investigative Journalism Bureau Read his most recent Toronto Star article about MCRs here
It's Canada's most famous ongoing whodunnit. More than five years after the murders of the billionaire couple, the case is still open, the police are still chasing leads, and reporters are still getting new tips. But that hasn't resulted in a concrete suspect ... yet. Why not? What makes this case so hard to crack? And so compelling to the public? What could have been done earlier to make a difference in the information available? What are we still learning now? What might we learn in the months to come? And why does the reporter who has spent years investigating this case believe that we will, eventually, crack it? GUEST: Kevin Donovan, chief investigative reporter, Toronto Star; host of The Billionaire Murders podcast
On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion in the country in 1973. The decision shocked many around the world, and has had folks wondering: could this happen here, at home, in Canada? And what led up to this historic moment in the U.S.? What are the real and current issues facing the state of abortion in Canada, and how can we make a difference? This two-part mini series is hosted by Sarah Sahagian, a feminist podcaster, writer, and non-profit executive living in Toronto. Her byline has appeared in such outlets as The Washington Post, The National Post, The Toronto Star, Refinery29, Romper, and Scary Mommy. In her previous life, she was a gender studies academic who studied parenting and mother blame. Sarah is also the co-host of Frequency Podcast Network’s The Reheat.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Morgentaler Decision. That landmark decision decriminalized abortion across Canada and turned the courageous Dr. Henry Morgentaler into a household name. As pivotal a part of Canada’s abortion rights story as Dr. Morgentaler was, many of us are unfamiliar with the stories of woman-identified activists who fought alongside him to ensure people who didn’t want to be pregnant wouldn’t have to be. So, who were the women who fought for abortion rights – and even helped others access illegal abortions – before The Morgentaler Decision? This two-part miniseries introduces listeners to a few of those voices. Hosted by Sarah Sahagian, a feminist podcaster, writer, and non-profit executive living in Toronto. Her byline has appeared in such outlets as The Washington Post, The National Post, The Toronto Star, Refinery29, Romper, and Scary Mommy. In her previous life, she was a gender studies academic who studied parenting and mother blame. Sarah is also the co-host of Frequency Podcast Network’s The Reheat.
Last month a horrific earthquake in Turkey made it clear that outdated building codes—or non-compliance with updated codes—can turn a normal disaster into an historic one. And while Canada may not have the same earthquake risk or code non-compliance that Turkey has, we have our own problems. Simply, our building own codes are an outdated, confusing mess, and we're finding out regularly just how unequipped the current system is for the extreme weather that's coming. What makes sense about the systems surrounding building regulations in Canada? How are we adapting, if at all, for what's to come? And why can't we figure out a solution that puts the whole country on safer, and saner, footing? GUEST: Kathryn Blaze Baum, investigative reporter, The Globe and Mail
Some Canadians cannot see Canadian news on Google right now. It's because of what Google calls a 'test' that it only admitted when a reporter noticed it happening to them and asked the company. The government, meanwhile, calls it 'bullying' as it prepares to pass Bill C-18, which would force companies like Google to compensate Canadian media companies for serving up their content. If the bill passes, Google could theoretically block all Canadians from finding their news on Google. Will Google's flex work? The government says it won't back down, and that C-18 will pass, so it's preparing to call Google's bluff. What happens when a tech giant goes head-to-head with a government? And what does it say about the state of media that one company could hold such power over audiences? GUEST: Mickey Djuric, Canadian Press reporter
It costs more these days. But yeah, so does everything. What makes coffee a perfect product to explore the world's rising costs, though, is its ubiquity. You can get it absolutely anywhere in the world—but not only that, dozens upon dozens of countries grow, produce and export it, so no one factor in one nation or on one continent explains why your latte costs more. So how does the coffee industry work? Why and how is it changing? And what can that tell us about ... everything else? GUEST: Gavin Fridell, author of Coffee, Canada Research Chair in International Development Studies, St. Mary's University
It used to be a threat almost exclusively to the poultry industry. But the current strain of H5N1 avian flu has spent the past year infecting millions of wild birds, thousands of mammals, and even humans. To experts who track the disease, it's clear something is up. But we're not yet sure what comes from it. The virus could become more contagious in mammals, but less harmful. It could remain difficult to transmit widely outside of bird populations. It could, theoretically, go away gradually. But it also might not. There is pandemic potential here and the questions on experts' minds is if we are sleepwalking towards another disaster... GUEST: Dr. Shayan Sharif, acting dean of the Ontario Veterinary College, professor of pathobiology
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