Thursday, December 13, 2007

Are You Dreaming of a Green Christmas?

When push comes to shove, the holiday season is when online retailers truly fly or flop. This year, discerning readers have given us a new criterion for deal-hunting; eco-sensibility. Providing eco-sensitive products and manufacturing is a noticeable upward trend among Canadian online retailers this season, and apparently consumers are more than willing to pay for it. Despite the eco-commerce boom, there are two looming questions for bargain-hunters across the country: “How is it green?” and “How can I get a deal?”

There are several ways in which to gauge the green quotient of a particular product. Primarily, the deciding factors are production methods and the materials. An increasing number of cosmetic companies are choosing all-natural, organic products with little or no packaging. Most are also using biodegradable packaging and eco-friendly shipping methods. Some will even “carbon offset” your order as an added incentive to buy online. Where foam “noodles” were once used to cushion breakables like jewelry or electronics, corn starch or sugar cane can be formed into similar material and will dissolve when soaked with water. A popular trend among clothing retailers is organic fibres like bamboo, hemp, soy or cotton and water-based silk-screening rather than the use of harsh chemicals. Many retailers are offering reusable shopping bags as well reducing the waste associated with your purchase.

Overall, there is good revenue basis for retailers to become eco-friendly. According to a recent survey by Environics Research Group, "75 per cent of Canadians surveyed were likely to change their shopping habits to purchase more environmentally friendly goods and services." In some cases, simply claiming to support eco-initiatives can garner some good press and an increase in sales. Retail and manufacturing companies are not the only ones affected by this change in consumer habits. Now more than ever, Canadians are shirking energy-sucking retail stores altogether in favour of shopping online.

Here at, we’ve noticed the green shopping trend and its increasing relevance to online shoppers. In response, has recently added a “green” section, where online shoppers can compare prices and find deals on eco-friendly products and services.

According to site founder Derek Szeto, "There are many Canadians who would prefer to buy eco-friendly products, but find them too expensive. Since the purpose of websites such as is to help consumers save money on the products they want to buy, providing a section that focuses on affordable green shopping is something we deemed very important."

Szeto points to the online community here at as the model for consumer behaviour. "Our readers are among the savviest online consumers in Canada," he adds, "and a growing number not only judge retailers and products based on price, but also on ecological soundness. People are starting to considering green products, even if they may cost a little more. As such, the Green Section aims to provide content that is mindful of monetary and ecological value."

Most companies are not shy about their environmental commitment, but since the trend is still young, information and deals can sometimes be difficult to track down. If you don’t find the information on their website, try e-mailing them to ask about it, or check out the discussion forums on for suggestions.

Published, December 13 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

CK Underwear Models "Steel" the Limelight

Twenty-five male models in hardhats and skivvies helped the designer celebrate a quarter century of underwear sales and launch its new Steel line of undergarments.

The Calvin Klein Underwear 25th Anniversary Party at Brant House was more than a celebration of 25 years of business success. The event, organized by Traffic Group with production by theideashop, was also an occasion marking the Canadian launch of the company’s new Steel line of designer undergarments. That explained the 25 men wearing little more than hardhats and skivvies posed on a truck with steel scaffolding outside the main entrance. They were models auditioning to be named the event’s Man of Steel.

Inside the venue, four steel-inspired live installation pieces by Meghan Watson entertained guests prior to the fashion show. The installations featured models sporting the Steel line posed near stark, futuristic objects and sculptures. Bright florescent lights projected the Calvin Klein logo behind the models, creating a silver glow that contrasted with the warmer tones of the natural wood floors and exposed skin. The overall aesthetic was clean, strong, hip, and urban. Felipe Martinez of Metal Works staged the evocative scenes; he also provided the steel runway and staging used in the fashion show. As part of the proceedings, the audience chose a winner in the Man of Steel competition.

After the voting, the venue was opened to the public. DJ Mark Holmes of the Mod Club provided the musical entertainment, while DYMEX supplied the sound and lighting.

Published BizBash.T.O., October 19, 2007

Seven Questions for Anna Porter

Anna Porter is the author of seven books including the recently released Kastner’s Train: The True Story of Rezso Kasztner, Unknown Hero of the Holocaust. It is the story of a Hungarian lawyer who negotiated with Nazi officials to aid in the forced emigration of Jewish citizens, thereby saving over fifty thousand lives from certain death. She began her career in New Zealand, working in a book store owned by a publishing company. Eventually Anna became the co-founder and CEO of Key Porter Books, a mid-sized publishing house based in Toronto. She is the mother of two journalists, and continues to serve on the boards of several national organizations including PEN Canada and SoulPepper Theatre. In 1991 Anna was awarded the Order of Canada in recognition of her efforts to promote Canadian literary talent abroad. She holds honourary doctorates from Ryerson University, St. Mary’s University and the University of Toronto. She will be appearing at public literary events across Canada between October and December 2007.

TDR: Your childhood years were spent in the midst of the Hungarian Revolution; what was that like and how did these early experiences inform your career?

Growing up I saw a lot of bad and morally abhorrent behaviour, and I’ve always been interested in it. I grew up in a time when betrayals were everyday events. You never knew who you were talking to. People grew up much faster in those times. You couldn’t trust anyone. Also, where I grew up the Holocaust was not taught in school so when I found out about it, I was fascinated. I mean, what does a moral person do in that situation? What does on do when there are is a time of complete moral uncertainty? What do we now about Darfour? [Katsztner’s Train] is specific to its time, but the issue is timeless.

TDR: When, why, and how did you begin to write?

We tried to escape from Hungary on foot when I was six years old and we were caught. I spent eight months in jail with my mother, and she tried to be light-hearted about it all. I always wrote stories and poetry. It was either very funny or very dark, or both. When we arrived in New Zealand, I could not speak English. There was a convent boarding school which accepted one refugee per year, and they chose me. The nuns were kind enough to take me in, and they taught me to speak English; that’s about all I can really say for them. You can imagine, not having any religion and coming from a Communist country, that it was not easy. On the other hand, after escaping the revolution, learning English from nuns, and scrubbing toilets in a mental institution to pay for schooling afterwards, I’d say I was somewhat prepared for publishing; I was tough enough by that point.

I loved stories, and had always written poetry. At an early age my poems were published in Hungary. W.H. Auden always appealed to me … I did my Bachelors of Arts and Masters of Arts in English Literature at the University of Cantebury; my thesis explored issues of light and dark in American literature. Then I worked in a bookstore which was owned by a small press. I became a proofreader, and learned that it is a very detailed job. Then after graduation I went to England, which was the thing that people from New Zealand did. I slept in a hostel and stayed with a step-sister for a while. Just as I was becoming a little desperate I got a job in book sales, and then on the editorial staff at Cassell’s.

I wrote The Storyteller: Memory, Secrets, Magic and Lies for my children, to explain who my family was and what we had lived through. Then when I was fully working in publishing and my kids were growing up I wrote three more novels which were murder mysteries. They were dark, but they were meant to be amusing. They were also a great relief – there is nothing more satisfying than killing someone in a book when you are frustrated with them in real life.

TDR: Why decide to stay in Canada? How did your role in publishing evolve and what were some of the highlights and difficulties?

I decided to stay in Toronto because of the people I met here, including Jack McClelland and my husband. Jimmy Porter (he’s a lawyer) saw my picture in Toronto Life Magazine and called me at my office. The picture was taken at a launch party for a book by Pierre Burton. Anyway, he called me and asked me to go for coffee and I said no. He called and called and provided references of friends and so forth, and so I finally said yes. We have two children and they’re great. I can’t say anything more about them; they are wonderful.

I became a managing editor at McClelland & Stewart and then finally launched Key Porter Books. It was the only thing I could do; I knew everything about publishing by that time. Like any other trade, you learn it a bit at a time. We started with a few books and it grew and grew. I am proud of publishing Jean Chretien’s book, and doing the publicity tour. That was a highlight and it was a top seller in both languages.

TDR: Is there a style of publishing or writing that is uniquely Canadian?

There are many styles in Canadian literature, not a single style. It's hard to see what Mordecai Richler's and Margaret Laurence's styles have in common - except, perhaps, clarity.

For the head of a publishing house to have a personal relationship with the authors is quite unusual, and I am proud that I became good friends with many of them. That’s something I learned from Jack McClelland. Leaving it was the most difficult thing.

TDR: Why did you decide to write it at this point in your life and career?

AP: It is difficult to focus on something when you have a full time job. So first of all, I had the time required to dedicate to this project. My kids are grown up and I have resigned completely from Key Porter Books. It is now in the hands of a brilliant young man who is thirty years old, the perfect age to be running a publishing house.

These things kind of grow on you. I’ve always been interested in how the Holocuast could have happened, and what people chose to do in their individual lives when faced with the overwhelming moral problems. When I learned about this story, from my friend Peter Munk whose parents were saved by Kasztner, I was totally taken by it. I was beginning to attract this kind of story. There were so many contradicting accounts; the more I learned about this man the more I wanted to learn. Finally, I had to write the story all in one piece.

TDR: What distracts you and/or encourages you as a writer?

I am distracted by my past lives as a publisher - by people with manuscripts who would like help, who need to find a publisher, who do not know how to package their own work so it will be looked at by an agent, etc. All those years in the business have
accustomed me to being helpful when and where I can be. I am inspired by people's stories; written and spoken.

TDR: What was the process like in writing this book and how does it differ from your past experiences?

AP: I have tried really hard with this book. I don’t think I have ever tried so hard with anything in my whole life. I read more than 300 books in 3 languages, and traveled around the world to interview dozens of people for this book. It’s still not over; the American version requires one hundred additional footnotes which I am finishing now. The weight of this book has not yet lifted.

The story is also very controversial – even today people have a lot of problems with what he did and how he did it. I am sometimes invited to speak about him just so that the audience can yell at me. I expect some survivors whose families were murdered in Auschwitz will continue to attack Kasztner for not doing more. In Israel, after the war, he was sentenced to death for his actions and then the ruling was overturned years later.

I believe that I know more about him and what happened than anyone in the world, including his friends and family. He is a hero, and his actions can teach us something very valuable. I am very passionate about this, and it will be a great relief to have the book out in the world. The Canadian publication will give me a good idea of what to expect and then next year it will be published in Hungary, Germany and the United States. And the film rights have just been bought by the same man who did Shake Hands with the Devil. So I will be very happy to have it done. This is my seventh book, but it is my most important work, and may be my last.

Published Danforth Review, October 29 2007

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fashion Takes Action Green Fundraiser

The couture show was eco-friendly in everything from its shuttle service to its runway design.

Fashion Takes Action was the latest Toronto event to play hard but leave a light footprint. The earth-friendly benefit attracted a strong lineup of environmentally-aware Toronto designers, including Thien Le, Pat McDonagh, Farley Chatto, and Ula Zukowska, and profit from the event went to the national not-for-profit group Environmental Defense. However, this eco-conscious gala was about more than green name dropping or feel-good fund-raising. Event promoters and planners Kelly Drennan, president of Third Eye Media, and Katie Lister, president of Katie Inc., covered all the bases in their efforts to create a major party that hardly had an impact on the environment.

To begin, the website encouraged media and invited guests to travel by subway to a station close to the venue, where eco-friendly Toyota Prius cars would be on hand to provide complementary shuttle service to the party site. Unfortunately, the number of guests overwhelmed the shuttle capacity, forcing some guests to take cabs to the party site.

The non-profit, reclaimed Evergreen Brick Works building provided a partially open-air setting for the event. The venue is essentially a concrete floor with one crumbling brick wall, strategically placed beams, and a corrugated iron roof. EnWise Power Solutions attached miniature green-and-white plastic wind turbines in a vertical line on the iron beams that serve as dividers between the venue’s interior and exterior spaces.

To reduce the gala’s hydro footprint, EuroLite installed energy-efficient lighting throughout, and Bullfrog provided electricity obtained from clean, renewable sources such as windmills and water power. As well, Green Shift supplied eco-friendly disposable cutlery, cups, and napkins; Eco Flora provided ecologically grown flowers; and the City of Toronto poured free tap water from an HTO to a Go mobile water tank.

For dinner, organic caterers En Ville served hot goat cheese and mushroom risotto, while Toronto Sprouts had guests lining up for an organic seven-sprout salad with poppy-seed dressing. Locally grown organic vegetables with dip, cheese, and crackers covered two large, round tables in the middle of the space. No dinner seating was provided for the reception, encouraging guests to mingle around the silent auction area. Corporate sponsors donated eco-friendly auction items such as gift baskets filled with environmentally friendly products and a one-year membership to auto-sharing company ZipCar.

EuroLite, EnWise Power, Bullfrog Power, Aesthetic Earthworks, Banrock Station, and Carbon Zero were all major sponsors. Each donated products or services to the fund-raiser and were rewarded with a logo on the event Web site and signage on tripods at the venue.

For the fashion show, Aesthetic Earthworks designed a 20- by 80-foot sod runway, complete with plants and trees. A number of guests were unaware that some chairs flanking the runway were reserved. This led to the awkward situation of volunteers asking them to vacate their seats shortly before the lights dimmed. The show included performers from Silhouettes Modern Dance Company dancing to recorded music. The clothing models walked barefoot along the sod runway, around live potted plants, and under the energy-efficient lights. Most tickets were confirmed electronically, and signage was printed by CJ Graphics on earth-friendly FSC paper.

Published BizBash.T.O., October 19 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Style at Home Celebrates 10th Anniversary

The style-conscious magazine filled with decorating ideas used room vignettes to recreate their popular editorial section.

Style at Home looked inside itself for inspiration in creating an event to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The publication’s staff designed the affair, held at Festival Tower Presentation Centre, to resemble the pages of the magazine. Various editorial sections were re-created, including the popular High/Low column that compares the high-end and affordable versions of popular design trends. To bring High/Low to life, the staff assembled room vignettes and ran a contest in which guests tried to guess which items in the rooms were high and which were low—those who guessed correctly won the items and detailing in the room scene.

Associate design editor Tamara Robbins chose and arranged the flowers, including arrangements for the room vignettes. Amazing Food Service provided event production, additional staffing, and catering. Transcontinental Media, publisher of Style at Home, supplied the invitations, organized the public relations, and hired the Printing House to produce large cardboard blowups of pages from the magazine.

Bombay Sapphire provided a pairing menu, while Starbucks chipped in tasty treats. Amazing Food Service’s menu included small soup servings that guests helped prepare by pouring hot water into tiny white cups.

Published BizBash.T.O., October 19 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Irshad Manji: Faith without Fear

When Irshad Manji wants you to understand something, which she does quite often, the colour of her arresting brown eyes seems to intensify. Their shade at once deepens and shines. Her posture remains perfectly upright, while her whole body leans in and lengthens itself to one finger pointing directly at your heart while she speaks.

“I do not live with fear;” she says clearly and slowly, “Not because I have nothing to be afraid of, nor do I invite violence or hate. I refuse to live with fear. It is not part of my life.”

Courage is often required for Irshad to speak publicly, but she feels the importance of her work outweighs personal risk. After all, she little more reason to be afraid today than she did as a young girl, abused by her father and threatened by her educators at a private religious school. She has also taken great risks in her career; first in following her elected member of parliament to Ottawa, and later as the openly gay anchor of a national television show. Irshad is driven, insatiably curious, passionate about her cause, and fearless.

She is also defiantly loyal to a faith that provokes conscience-shaking acts. Irshad believes that the Muslim faith is an important and inherently good one, which can and will adapt to modern human rights and multicultural values. She prays every day and follows Ramadan. For her insistence on Western liberal values aligning to her faith, she is charged with disrespect and self-hate. She insists that the faithful must embrace and survive modern challenges to survive; that is the criteria for legitimacy that a global generation requires.

But since publishing and speaking about Islam’s relationship to the Western world (and vice versa), the nature of that risk has changed. Her home includes a top-notch security system and bullet proof windows. Death threats come in regularly - though mundanely by e-mail - from around the world and from within her own city.

“A book is worth more than a life,” Salman Rushdie once told her, providing the final push to write her controversial bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today.

She speaks freely and often, with engagements in over a dozen countries per year. A new documentary, Faith without Fear, follows Irshad at home with her Mom and in dialogue with Muslims around the world. In Canada, she mentors students in human rights and public policy at the Pierre Trudeau Foundation in Montreal. Last year she lectured at Yale University; and this year she is creating a curriculum with NYU at the Wagner School of Public Leadership. Her foundation, Project Ijtihad, encourages young Muslims to engage in thoughtful debate about Islam, and to lead a global reformation of the faith.

While North American militaries are fully engaged in Islamic nations of the Middle East, Irshad’s talk is serious, her work is serious and there are, of course, serious reactions. So it is lucky for all of us that she’s got a wicked sense of humour. Her new documentary, for example, shows Irshad trying on a full burqa with the help of an Afghan tailor. “You know, I have always wanted someone to dress me,” she remarks dryly. Her comment escapes him and he removes her glasses in order to cover her face with a black veil. “Talk about blind faith,” she says, giving him a friendly nudge. He smiles and nods, though it’s hard to know if he understands.

Born in Uganda, Irshad Manji and her family were among thousands forced into exile by the brutal dictatorship of Idi Amin after 1970. She was four years old when the Manji family landed in the mildest part of Canada, Richmond British Columbia. Irshad attended public school along with the traditional Islamic madrassah, where an inherent gender bias and a few anti-Semitic teachers did not sit well with the girl from upscale and ethnically diverse Richmond.

Two very strong personality traits developed in those early years – a love of liberal democracy, and an insatiable desire to question the world around her. She quit her formal Islamic studies at the age of fourteen. Her mother, a guiding force and mentor throughout her life, was horrified by supportive.

At 22 years old, Irshad completed an Honours Bachelor of Arts, majoring in intellectual history, at the University of British Columbia. She worked for her local Member of Parliament, following her to Ottawa as a legislative assistant. She was a speechwriter for the New Democratic Party and then a national affairs columnist at the Ottawa Citizen – “the youngest member of an editorial board for any Canadian daily” at the age of 24. Two years later she published her first book, Risking Utopia. She made the shift from publishing to television, hosting several programs and engaging in public debate with well-known conservative figures like Michael Coren. Between 1997 and 2001, Irshad co-produced the Gemini-nominated series QT: QueerTelevision with media giant Moses Znaimer, among others. It was Znaimer who re-opened her personal challenge to the Muslim faith by demanding to know how she as a Muslim could condone practices of stoning. After leaving the program she embarked on a quest for knowledge, eventually coming up with Trouble, subtitled A Muslim’s Call for Reform in her Faith.

Her role models, Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, have taught her to be unafraid of ruffling feathers within her own community, a message she passes on in her public engagements and on her blog, She is connected to an international network of academics and activists, and delivers free online translations if her work within censored nations. The feedback from young Muslims has been encouraging.

“You know,” she says suddenly, as we stroll down a quiet Toronto street, “Not every little event or article seems important, but when you do have the chance to reach a large audience, it is an amazing feeling. It is a really incredible thing.” With that thought her energy returns and we say goodbye. She is already thinking of the next talk, the next chance, and the next audience she hopes to inspire.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Model Behaviour: Toronto's Eco-Couture Inspires Natural Beauty

Without a burlap sack or hemp sandal in sight, Toronto managed to produce a totally green runway show this month called Fashion Takes Action. Ten Canadian designers unveiled mini-collections of eco-couture, featuring sustainable fabrics, low-impact dye, and cruelty-free methods of production. The designs were showcased during a runway show and gala which boasted the "lightest eco-footprint possible" and benefited Environmental Defense.

The collections ranged from avant-garde to entirely accessible; three designs were sold at live auction from the runway immediately following the show. Models walked barefoot on a sod runway under LED lights; an open wall behind them displayed the sunset over the lush green belt, and allowed guests to enjoy fresh air. Farley Chatto, Annie Thomson, Thien Lee, Damzels in this Dress, Thieves and Juma were only a few of the designers involved. Each was forced to abide by strict criteria in creating their designs.

It began with Annie Thomson's recycled, almost gothic collection set to grinding, bass-heavy music. Trademark green and black stripes marked this collection, which seemed to play off the apathy and strength of a mainstream green movement. Damzels in this Dress and Thieves offered a more upbeat picture of eco-awareness. Set to remixed hip hop and pop music, the shapes were longer and more playful. The fabric of choice for all of the designers was bamboo; whether brightly coloured in stunning ballgowns from Thien Lee, or in a sleek, stylish
suit from Farley Chatto, the material was immensely versatile in shape, colour, and texture.

The final display of eco-fashion was a soulful, sensual operatic score behind Pat McDonagh's classic white designs. Her pieces featured wide skirts, empire waist lines, and a simple, repeated penguin design. All of the clothing was hand-made, but hers also featured a water-based
design was individually printed with low-impact dyes. The particular care and time that is required for such work makes the collection particularly unique. The signature piece, a white high-waisted, wide skirt with penguins dancing around the hem and load of crinoline
underneath, was sold at auction and will be re-made to size for the highest bidder.

Great care was taken at every stage of the event to ensure its green-ness, including offsetting the entire event with BullFrog Power and CarbonZero. The food was locally grown and organic, served with recyclable plates and cutlery. No electricity was used to style the model's hair, and the stylists chose organic make-up from Aveda. Like the green movement itself, there are aspects of eco-couture that remain far from reach for the general public; a Thien Lee gown sold at the gala for $900 but has a retail value of $6000. And of course, like the flirty designs from League of Lovers and Thieves (already available online) or the LED lights - there are many options already at our fingertips.

Published Green Living Online, October 15 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Canadian Bargain-Hunting Experts Hit the Green Market

Online shoppers are about to find a better deal for the planet and their pocketbooks

October 11, 2007, Toronto, ON. - Canada’s largest online bargain-hunting community has launched a “Green Deals” section. now offers a unique resource for those looking to save money on eco-friendly products and services. Bargain hunters can go directly to the “Green Section” at

The new section is different not only in content, but in style. The signature red page design has been given a green makeover both literally and figuratively. In the Green Deals section, the usual information on sales, discounts and coupons has been supplemented with eco-friendly tips. is also “walking-the-walk” and plans to purchase carbon credits to offset the energy used to run the web servers that host the site.

The founder and President of, Derek Szeto, says the new section will remain true to the focus of the rest of the site. “There are many Canadians who would prefer to buy eco-friendly products, but find them too expensive. This section will help make it easier and more affordable for consumers to go green.”

Vice-President of Operations and Community, Ryan McKegney, agrees. “The Green Deals section was created in response to what our audience is interested in. We have over one hundred thousand registered community members whom we interact with and poll regularly,” he says, “That audience has grown to include people looking for organic baby clothes, LED lights, recycled paper, and other green products. is and always will be about saving money, but now our readers can do so in a way that lessens their impact on the environment.”

Launched in November 2000, uses the power of community to alert bargain-hunting consumers to Canadian deals via the Internet. The site currently boasts over 1.1 monthly unique visitors and over 20 million page views every month. According to, is one of the 100 most popular websites in Canada. In recognition of his achievement and innovations as an entrepreneur, the founder of and president of Clear Sky Media, Derek Szeto, has been nominated for the Ernest & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Visit at

Published by Clear Sky Media, October 11 2007

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Anna Porter: Publishing Political

If you are jailed as a political prisoner at the age of 6, escape on foot from a totalitarian state, attend Catholic boarding school in a foreign language, and scrub toilets at a mental hospital to pay for your higher education, you may be tough enough for the world of publishing, considers Anna Porter. These experiences, among others, certainly helped her to prepare for a successful stint as CEO and founder of Key Porter Books, and are also behind her recent foray into non-fiction.

The newly released Kasztner's Train, is an engaging, thoroughly-researched work of non-fiction, and Anna's 7th book. It is an examination of personal courage in a time of overwhelming moral ambiguity.. The subject matter is weighty and sobering – sentiments that are evident in her voice as she explains the final processes.

"I have tried so hard with this book," she says, "I don't think I have ever tried this hard at anything in my professional life. This book is so important. The questions raised here are timeless – what does a moral person do when faced with injustice? What are we doing about the genocide in Darfur? These are timeless issues, unfortunately. "

Anna moved to New Zealand in 1956 to escape the Hungarian revolution, after living under its increasingly tense and brutal foreshadowing. The family's first attempt to escape the country landed both six-year old Anna and her mother in prison for a few months. Anna was 12 years old when her family successfully walked out of their country.

A Catholic boarding school in New Zealand, administered by nuns, accepted her as their only refugee student. She learned the English language and some semblance of religious training through an unpleasant immersion. At 18 she left the convent school to attend the University of Canterbury. There she completed Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Arts degrees, both in English Literature. She loved poetry and hers was published in Hungary at a young age.

While a university student, Anna worked first as a maid in a mental hospital and then at a bookstore, owned by a publishing company in New Zealand. Her first job was as a proofreader. She then moved to England and worked in marketing and sales for a larger publishing house, which would prompt a trip to Canada.

She never meant to stay in Toronto, but it has been a successful stint. It was here that she assumed her first editorial role, with McClelland & Stewart at the age of 25. Here she also met her husband to be - a lawyer who, after seeing her photograph on the society pages of Toronto Life magazine, called her repeatedly (even providing references!) until she consented to meet for a coffee. She also became very close to publisher Jack McClelland; an influence and mentor to her throughout her career.

In her first ten years of Canadian life she became president and publisher of Seal Books, a company partially founded by McClelland & Stewart. Like her mentor and friend Jack, Anna developed close relationships with Canadian authors, most of whom remain her friends today. By 1979, Anna knew every facet of the industry and was at ease when launching her own business, Key Porter Books.

Her most recent book, Kasztner's Train, required Anna to read over 300 books in 3 languages, find and read primary documents, and to travel all over the world for interviews. The film rights have been bought, and she is working on 100 additional footnotes for the American release. Anna is convinced that she is more familiar with the subject of her book than anyone in the world, including his own family. That subject is Rezso Kasztner, who directly negotiated for the lives of 1684 Jewish Europeans, and saved an additional 20 000 more during the Holocaust. Like many issues surrounding the topic of genocide, the means and extent to which Kasztner acted is controversial. Anna is convinced that he is a hero. But she is ready for the acclaim and accusations that will come.

Her own dedication to personal ethics is evident in the grand array of Canadian associations with whom she is involved. Soulpepper Theatre, Schulich School of Business, World Wildlife Fund and PEN Canada continue to benefit from her input and intellect. In 1992, Anna Porter was awarded the Order of Canada for her efforts to promote Canadian literary talent abroad. She has been awarded Honorary Doctoral degrees from Ryerson University, St, Mary's University, and the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Published Women's Post, October 5 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

TIFF Tastemakers Lounge Goes Green

Amidst a whirlwind of red carpets and black-tie events at the Toronto International Film Festival, celebrities were spotted resting in their natural habitat at the Tastemakers Celebrity Gift Lounge. The eco-glam theme attracted visiting talent who were happy to escape the festival madness for the body-pampering, conscience-boosting luxury of the Portman Room at the InterContinental Toronto Yorkville Hotel.

The lounge was a place where visiting talent could relax, receive final touches on their makeup, find a quick snack, and most importantly, pick out their own swag from an enormous selection of products. This year marked its third appearance at the festival, but it was the first time the lounge seemed to come alive - literally. That is due largely to the creative and strategic vision of Rock-it Promotions president, Debra Goldblatt, who also developed and managed the space.

“There has never been a better trend then everybody attempting to go GREEN,” Goldblatt explains, “We not only wanted to continue providing a great Canadian lounge to visit, but during a week of frivolity and fun, use this opportunity to support a charity and continue educating others!”

HGTV’s Designer Guys were responsible for decorating the 1251 square foot space, as well as planning and securing all of the furnishing rentals. A living wall was erected in the center of the room in order to manage the space, and as an integral part of the overall design. The E.L.T. (elevated landscape technology) was literally a wall of live plants, flowers, and the occasional spider. Reflecting a secondary goal of the lounge - to promote Canadian talent and product - the living wall was provided by Ontario-based company, ELT Easy Green.

The attention to detail, and commitment to purpose, was evident. Every piece of the room had a natural feel and eco-conscious element, including the cork floors provided by Carpet One, a red salvaged-branch chandelier courtesy of Atelier, and giant art installations made of insulated concrete forms from Greenblock. The existing lighting in the room was offset by Eurolite and Bullfrog Power, a company devoted to providing 100% green power in Ontario and Alberta. The furnishings were selected from several companies and included Felt, a company that relies on plush recycled materials and the creative talent of artist Kathryn Walter, and the upscale, re-used aluminum line, Klaus by Nienkämper. Other design and furnishing providers were Urban Tree Salvage, Relative Space, Mio, and Brothers Dressler, who custom-made furniture out of rescued materials and using eco-friendly manufacturing techniques. As if a swanky, organic room filled with celebrities and Cadbury chocolate was not enough entertainment, interactive stations were provided by Smashbox Cosmetics, Greg May Hair Architects and others.

Major media sponsors eTalk, Inside Entertainment, and were thrilled to have exclusive access to the celebrities, who were in turn delighted to receive a plethora of unique, high-end gifts from Canadian retailers. Companies lucky enough to have been invited to participate will see glamorous, world-famous celebs touting their products across the pages of magazines by next week. Among those products were Adria Vasil’s popular book, EcoHolic, Dermaglow skincare products, Domo Tea, Joe Fresh Kids Organic clothing, and Otazu Jewelry. It is the fine work of Debra Goldblatt that during one of the most important cultural events in the country, the World Wildlife Fund-Canada could garner attention and resources for one of the most important issues of our time.

Published BizBash.T.O., September 21 2007

Friday, September 7, 2007

End of Summer Fun at the Bargain Hunter's Picnic

The Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation was centre stage on Sunday, Aug. 26 at the 1st Annual Bargain Hunter's Picnic in Toronto. The event brought together over 500 loyal readers of Canada's largest online bargain-hunting community, A coupon-crazy crowd waited at the gates of Varsity Stadium while the final touches for the massive event were still underway. Despite the disappointment of an inexplicable "no-show" by the company hired to provide bouncy castles and cotton candy for the kids, the event was a success. Benjamin Clost and his band, The Mariners, pleased the crowd with their soulful cover tunes while DJ company Sights 'n' Sounds kept the mood upbeat. In the beautiful afternoon sunshine, dozens of energetic children enjoyed free kites, frisbees, board games, and footballs while the majority of the crowd, fanatical fans of, enjoyed meeting each other for the first time in real life. A gourmet barbeque meal was served and gift bags handed out to donors.

Derek Szeto, President of, hosted the event in appreciation of its active online community and as a chance to raise awareness for a good cause. Sponsors included 7th Stage Productions, Men's Power Spa,, Steam Whistle Brewery, Listerine, BBQ Catering and, of course, the Women's Post.

Published Women's Post, September 7 2007

Friday, August 24, 2007

Remembering Philanthropist Bluma Appel

This summer, in a trademark show of generosity, Bluma Appel donated $350,000 and assisted in raising an additional $170,000 toward the University of Toronto Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing's state-of-the-art Clinical Simula-tion Learning Laboratory.

Ms. Appel was honoured for that gift at an intimate cocktail reception in June, hosted by the dean of the faculty, Professor Siobhan Nelson. Guests were able to wander through the learning lab – which is unique in Canada – and offers nurses hands-on training in infectious diseases, among other conditions. Rubber mannequins lay prone on hospital beds, their chests raising and falling with imitation breath while beeping monitors signaled their make-believe pulses. Almost every person in attendance had kind words and praise for Ms. Appel, who sat close to her husband while friends and admirers drew near. It was the last in a number of historic contributions made by Ms. Appel to the Canadian social and political scene. The founder of CANFAR and a life-long patron of the arts, she was awarded the Order of Canada twice, the Order of Ontario, a Dora Award, and two Honourary Doctorates.

Bluma Appel died on July 15 at the age of 86.

Published Women's Post, August 24 2007

Jill Barber's sweet tune of success

Jill Barber has won several music awards, filmed two videos for MuchMusic, recorded a duet with Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy, and receives performance requests from all over North America. She has been swept off her feet by the CBC, recently released a second full-length album, and will embark on a European tour this fall. Yet the 27-year-old singer songwriter still gets a little nervous in front of her home-town crowd in Toronto.

She is the rare sort of artist to whom the industry, as much as the music, seems to come naturally. Soon after moving to Halifax at the age of 22, with little more than an undergraduate degree, summer romance, and passion for music, Jill's career took off. The day of this interview finds her running between an appointment with her stylist, an interview with CBC's Jian Ghomeshi, and several live performances. Yet she is relaxed and low-key, ready for a small drink and a long chat on a Queen West patio.

On the walk toward refreshment, we pass Victor Syperek, a well known club-owner from Halifax, and some others from the Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Records (FACTOR), which, along with MuchMoreMusic, are responsible for funding her latest music video. The FACTOR group is welcoming and familiar. Though Halifax has clearly been a career catalyst and spiritual home for the artist, for Jill it was like starting over.

"I started playing at open mic shows and coffee houses when I was 16," she explains, "As a student in Kingston I played sold-out shows and people knew who I was." The small town loved Jill's unique blend of lyricism and folksy, jazz-influenced vocals. While earning her BA in philosophy at Queen's University, she was playing and promoting sold-out gigs. The summer after graduation, she embarked on the all-Canadian 20-something journey and went tree planting. There, she met the man who lured her to the East Coast.

"It had a happy ending, though" she says ruefully, on stage at a recent Toronto concert, "Well, it ended and I'm happy."

Although the romance that brought her to Halifax was short-lived, it was the first of many risky-but-calculated decisions which ultimately paid off. Upon moving, Jill began an unpaid internship with a local indie newspaper, The Coast. Known as the hipster-cum-activist rag around town, it was the perfect place to connect with the local music and entertainment scene. The internship quickly became a paid position, granting her instant access to every event in the city.

"When I moved to Halifax, I was following my boyfriend, not my career. I didn't know anyone. But I found an amazing community of artists and felt at home immediately. Ontario is the home I was given, but Halifax is the home that I chose."
It is the best sort of irony that, while at work in the depths of the accounting department for The Coast, a major source of entertainment information, Jill Barber was quietly recording an album that would earn her a place on the national stage. A few years after working at the newspaper, she would be featured on the cover. Twice, she was voted by Coast readers as Best Local Female Artist – quite the honour for one born in Port Credit, Ontario.

Although she left her fans, friends, and family in Ontario, she did bring a little piece of Kingston to Halifax, in the form of an EP that she had recorded in her dorm room. While working at The Coast, she dusted it off, cleaned it up a bit, and sent it into Atlantic Airwaves, a local CBC Radio show. Fate, it seemed, conspired to put it in the hands of a producer. She was soon performing as a guest on the show, and soon enough – "like a bit of a Cinderella" – her first full length album, Oh, Heart, was recorded in 2004 with the help of CBC studios, funding, and talent.

For a few years after, she played repeated shows around the Maritimes, teaming up with other young Canadian talent like Ron Sexsmith and Jim Bryson. She feels more at home on stage than anywhere else, so it should be no surprise that the logistics of managing a music career came just as naturally.

"I don't think people realize that the music industry is very entrepreneurial," she says. "The same skills you need to run a business are required in this industry, especially if you are the primary player. You need to have solid leadership skills and the ability, especially when on tour with friends and colleagues, to separate work time from play time. You also need to bring a good team to play."

Her second album, For All Time, has a distinctly different sound than the first. The album is a little more country-influenced, with slower melodies and more secretive lyrics. Her most personal expressions, the weight of all her savings, and a bank loan are riding on this most recent album. But the girl who believes that "one should always have a good book on the go" is not bothered. Early 2006 granted her two East Coast Music Awards and a schedule of back-to-back tours. This summer alone she played in the Yukon, Nova Scotia, and all parts in between. Her dusky, wise, and sentimental song style will also be featured on a series of CBC recordings called East Coast Sessions.

Her music resonates with many – musicians, writers, lovers, students, well-heeled professionals, hippies to hipsters. Self-taught, seemingly immune from the acclaim, and ever-grateful for the support, she stands in her flowered dress and cowboy boots under a single spotlight. Watching her perform, you can feel that Jill Barber is playing it by heart.

Summer celebrations, from swinging jazz to sizzling shopping

Canada is in the midst of a swinging summer, with jazz fests running across the country. In Toronto, the Beaches Jazz Festival began on July 25 with a fundraiser for the Toronto East General Hospital Foundation. The event was held at the Balmy Beach Club and featured hot jazz and tasty samples from a selection of fine restaurants in the area. Sponsors such as Perrier, Trillium Foundation, Pizza Pizza and Mill Street Brewery helped to make the annual event a great success.

While the Beaches Jazz Festival is an occasion Torontonians can expect to look forward to every year, the city welcomed a new event this August with's chic Queen Street Shop Crawl. Launched in 2006, the website has already become the Canadian woman's go-to for advice on all things fashion and beauty. "I was looking for a new salon in Toronto, so I went online to see what I could find," explains the young co-founder of, Ali de Bold, "When I finally found a listing of salons with some reviews, it was American. There was nothing in Canada like it, so we decided to make one." quickly gained traction with Toronto fashionistas, female focused media, and national beauty retailers. The website allows women to share their experience and rate products "from electronics to electrolysis." A former insurance claims adjuster and current student of Radio and Television Arts, Ali brought the on-line community to life on August 9 with a "Shop Crawl" along trendy Queen Street West. An impressive crowd attended the three- hour event, which featured special retail discounts, freebies, and mingling opportunities. Sponsors included, SunSilk, Kiehl's, Lipstick Powder 'N Paint, Corner Office Beauty.

Published Women's Post, August 24 2007

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Online Bargain Hunters Unite in Toronto!

Free public party attracts hundreds in search of good deals, and in support of Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation

Toronto, Canada, August 21, 2007 – If you thought clipping coupons saved you a lot of money, you haven’t met fanatical members of, Canada’s largest online bargain-hunting community. The six-year old website registered its 100,000th member this summer and boasts almost a million fresh eyes per month. Founder and President Derek Szeto decided to celebrate this milestone with The Bargain Hunter’s Picnic; a massive, public, outdoor party scheduled for August 26 at the newly renovated Varsity Stadium in Toronto.

“The community is an enormous part of our success,” he says. “Members share tips on good deals, make recommendations on what to buy, and are having a lot fun saving money and spending it wisely. We really wanted to show our appreciation for their loyalty and participation. While celebrating our community though, we also knew that it was important to give back to the community-at-large. For that reason we’re working with Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation to help make lives a little brighter. It is a wonderful organization and we are very happy to work with them.”

Within the first few days of event registration, ticket sales for the Bargain Hunter’s Picnic raised over $1,000 for Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation. The event will feature a gourmet BBQ, live entertainment, giveaways, games and more. It takes place from 12:30 – 4:30PM on August 26 at Varsity Stadium & Field in Toronto. Although it will act as a highly-anticipated meet-and-greet for the community, everyone and anyone is welcome to attend. features daily deals, coupons, and freebies for both online and in-store purchases. An editorial team, with the help of the community, locates the best deals; helping readers make smart purchases in a sea of online retailers. The Bargain Hunter’s Picnic will mark the end of Reader Appreciation Month at and is the first major, public and official community event.

What: Bargain Hunter’s Picnic – a free, public event with games, entertainment and more.
When: Sunday, August 26, 12:30 – 4:30 PM
Where: Varsity Stadium & Field, 299 Bloor St. West, Toronto
Who: and Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation

For more information please visit:

Launched in November 2000, uses the power of community to alert bargain-hunting consumers to Canadian retailing deals via the Internet. The site currently boasts over 2.5 million unique sessions and over 17 million page views every month. According to, is one of the 100 most popular websites in Canada. Visit at

About Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation:
We help seriously ill children and their families cope with their pain, fear and isolation through entertainment, education and family activities.

Published Clear Sky Media, August 21 2007

Friday, August 10, 2007

About Town and Around the World: Ladies at Lunch

Women in Film and Television (WIFT) held its international summit in Toronto last month, highlighting homegrown talent among an impressive array of industry professionals. WIFT is designed to encourage and support the work of women, and men, in screen-based media.

The summit provided an excellent opportunity for Canadian filmmakers and producers to network with other industry leaders, as well as a chance to show off some impressive exports. Among those who gave the Canadians bragging rights were Academy Award and Genie Award winner Torill Kove (The Danish Poet) and Genie Award winner Deepa Mehta (Water), both of whom were awarded Outstanding International Achievement Awards during a posh gala luncheon at the Park Hyatt Hotel. While the gala luncheon was a highly anticipated event for summit delegates, the general public also leapt at the chance to be in the presence of these controversial and compelling women. Every ticket available to the public was scooped up at a mere $215 each.

"We are very excited about presenting this important event," said Sue Sheridan, Executive Director of WIFT-Toronto. "In a global marketplace, it is essential for women and men in screen-based media to network, forge new partnerships, and learn from the experiences of colleagues in other parts of the world."

Another delicious event took place last month when celebrity chef Christine Cushing showed off her skills and skillet on July 11 for a Pre-Bastille Day cocktail event at the Alliance Francaise. World renowned cookware brand T-fal was the generous sponsor of this exclusive event. Cushing provided scrumptious pairings of French cuisine and wine while Xavier Sabourin, vice president of T-fal, showed us why the "Made in France" cookware is reason enough for a Fête nationale. While the food, wine and joie de vivre were intoxicating, Cushing proved herself to be an inspiration. Trained at George Brown college and the Paris-based École de Cuisine La Varenne, she has launched a catering business, hosted a live show on the Food Network, written three best-selling cookbooks, and now runs her own line of food products called "Pure." She volunteers her spare time to terminally ill children through the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation.

Published Women's Post, August 10 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

Scream Literary Festival & World Green Building Council 2007 Galas

In a magnificent meeting of high intellect and rock music, the 15th annual Scream Literary Festival Gala took place in Toronto on July 7 at the trendy Hugh's Room. The event was dubbed "Spontaneous Combustion" and featured performances by Rock Plaza Central and The Carbonas, among others.

The festival attracts roughly 1200 attendees annually; this year it benefited from the quirky, bookish glamour of Dennis Lee, Leon Rooke and George Elliot Clarke. Aside from the curious, and the general seekers of good times, audience members included hipster parents, verbose executives and word-nerd students. For those eagerly awaiting the string of Word on the Street Festivals scheduled to hit cities across Canada this fall, the Scream Festival is a highly anticipated indulgence. The final evening of the festival draws an incredible crowd; Over a thousand people gathered on July 9 to hear poetry flung high into the stars from an outside stage. Spontaneous Combustion was an early release for this electric passion. An early, invite-only cocktail reception preceded the more raucous affair, which lasted well into the evening.

While the literary community was heating up the dance floor, the World Green Building Council [WGBC] has been struggling to keep things cool, so to speak. On July 10, WGBC hosted its gala reception at the Liberty Grand, as part of the 7th international Congress. The Congress will encourage strategies and solutions that address carbon emission issues on a global scale. Recent research shows that buildings are the source of 40 per cent of carbon emissions worldwide. Toronto is celebrating its new status as the permanent home of the WGBC Secretariat. Gala dinner attendees included Hon. Donna Cansfield (Minister of Transportation), Hon. Greg Sorbara (Minister of Finance), Toronto Mayor David Miller, and renowned architect Peter Busby. O.C. Sponsors included Direct Energy, St. Lawrence Cement, Metrus Developments, Enbridge, Industry Canada and the Clinton Foundation.

Published in the Women's Post, July 20 2007

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Competitive Advantage in Going Green

The Canadian government is showing concern for the environment in every province, with incentives for both residents and corporations. Aside from providing the next generation a world to live in, though, businesses and consumers are getting warm fuzzy feelings from what has now become a real market trend – going green. Consumers of this era are the savviest and most ethically driven that North American materialism has ever witnessed; they crave responsible yet indulgent consumption, while governments and businesses are fighting hard for their approval. Hence the rash of tax breaks and charitable donations that come tied to marketing campaigns and publicity stunts.

Where better to witness the madness of marketing, the struggle for ethical business, and the resulting win-win situation for all levels of Canadian citizenry than the business capital of Canada, Toronto? This week I got the scoop on a few of the organizations providing top debates and successful schemes.

For instance, on June 21 the Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters celebrated its 75th anniversary gala with a theme of "Greening Your Business – The New Competitive Advantage." The event was held at the Liberty Grand and speakers included James H. Miller, executive vice-president of Honda Canada Inc. and Judith E. McKay, chief administrative officer & general counsel for DuPont Canada.

On June 26, just days after Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty promised 88 million dollars toward Home Energy Retrofit and Solar Power Initiatives, another corporate-to-consumer event was held on the subject of eco-friendly business. Discussing the marketing merits of hopping on the fuel-efficient bandwagon were Renee L'Abbe (Creative Research Unit), Jen Evans (Sequentia Communications), Adrian Capobianco (Fuse Marketing) and Kaileen Millard (NPD Group) at the Fashion Group International seminar, "Harnessing the Power of the Modern Consumer."

Published in the Women's Post, July 6 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

Canadian Women of Courage

When Winnie Mandela was denied an entrance visa to Canada recently, it made international headlines. For a small group of artists and social activists in Toronto, however, it was a very personal disappointment. On June 6, Mandela and her daughter, Zindzi Mandela-Hlongwane, were the guests of honour at a private dinner celebrating "the spirit of women with passion, courage and influence," along with noted Canadian journalist, author, and rabble-rouser Irshad Manji, in Toronto. The dinner also marked the opening of an opera entitled The Passion of Winnie, composed by Bongani Ndodana-Breen and performed as part of the recent Luminato festival. It was hosted by Women's Post and Finer Foods Limited.

Despite her absence, or perhaps in some measure because of it, the dinner party was an extremely intimate affair. Actor and activist LeVar Burton took her place, as he had done the previous night when addressing the premiere audience of the opera. During the dinner, roughly 25 guests were captivated while both Burton and Manji spoke eloquently on the subject of courage, both political and private. A beautiful piece from Bongani's opera was performed by its leading lady, who charmingly interrupted herself mid-song to describe the scene.The evening was in large part about voice.

Chef Ray Bear flew in directly from Halifax with Clearwater lobster for the event. At the pre-dinner cocktail reception, under the dying sunlight on a private terrace in Rosedale, the discussion centered on a woman and a country half a world away, but in abstract terms only. Courage, they said, does not recognize justice – only injustice, wherever it may be.

Another kind of courage was celebrated recently as well. The White Ribbon Campaign is hailed as the "largest effort in the world of men working to end men's violence against women." The annual fundraising concert drew a healthy number of Canadian alt-rock and folksy talent to the stage of The Phoenix Club. In a bizarre turn-around, host Jian Ghomeshi looked better than he sounded, as he stumbled and rambled through some very poignant sentiments. Performers including Ron Sexsmith, Jim Bryson, Jill Barber, and Melanie Doane sang tunes by Neil Young. The hip venue and clever promotional material, along with an extremely dedicated set of volunteers, helped to raise awareness and money for a very worthy cause. Strangely though, the VIP room was empty. Sometimes the most important of causes can also be the least glamorous.

Published in the Women's Post, June 22 2007

Friday, March 9, 2007

2007 Heart Beat Ball & East Coast Music Awards

Stephen Lewis was speaking to the heart in Toronto last week. On February 16, Lewis, who is the UN's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS, delivered the keynote speech at the Heart Beat Ball, a fundraiser for the Women's Cardiovascular Health Initiative [WCHI]. The event was held at the posh Four Seasons Hotel and distinguished Toronto Member of Parliament Dr. Carolyn Bennett served as the honourary chairwoman for the event. Guests wore red in celebration of the heart, and brought attention to the need for better research into women's health.

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter McKay was taken to task in Halifax on February 18 at the gala award ceremony for the East Coast Music Awards [ECMA]. It seemed that McKay forgot where he was and, even worse, where he came from, as he thanked the people of Toronto - no, Ottawa - oh, Halifax - and presented an award at the ceremony and over a live national broadcast. Comedian Mary Walsh followed the appearance and wasted no words as she lashed out against the Nova Scotian, to the thunderous applause of the audience. Winners at this year's ECMAs included Measha Brueggergosman for classical recording of the year, and Jill Barber for female solo recording of the year and recording of the year. The awards marked the end of a five-day industry conference, and also launched a trade mission south of the border to explore new markets for Canadian music.
Published in The Women's Post, March 9 2007

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

2007 Genie Awards, Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame

Canadian talent swept over Toronto in a flurry of awards and posh receptions last week.

The Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame [CSHF] paid tribute to legend Joni Mitchell when she was honoured at the 4th Annual CSHF Gala on Jan. 28 Performances by James Taylor, Jim Cuddy, Chaka Khan and Measha Brueggergosman (among others) were impressive and inspired, even to an audience made up mostly of other musicians. Yet among the glittering starlets and copious cocktails there was one subject on everyone’s lips with reverence and awe: the music of Joni Mitchell and Jean-Pierre Ferland. Some of the songs honoured were Woodstock and Both Sides Now, both by Mitchell, and Je Reviens Chez Nous by Ferland. Local music junkie and CBC hipster Jian Ghomeshi was among the guests at the pre-award reception.

The Genie Awards were held at The Carlu on Tuesday, Feb. 13 to celebrate the best in Canadian film. Actors Roy Dupuis and Patrick Huard were the centre of attention at the gala party, attracting many with their charming smiles and newly-won accessories. Dupuis, who played hockey legend Maurice Richard in the movie The Rocket won the Genie for leading actor; just one of the nine awards given to that film.

Meanwhile, the other handsome Quebecois star and funnyman Patrick Huard celebrated as his film Bon Cop, Bad Cop took home the prize for best
motion picture. It was truly a French-Canadian evening as Robert Favreau and Gil Courtemanche were honored for best screenplay adaptation; a version of the haunting and heart wrenching novel by Courtemanche, A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali, a work that has also been awarded several literary prizes, including the Governor General’s Literary Award. The Danish Poet, which has also been nominated for an academy award in the USA, was honored with the Genie for best animated short. Creator Torill Kove, another Montreal native, is no stranger to this sort of attention; her previous animated film was also nominated for an Oscar and Genie.

Published in The Women's Post, February 27, 2007