How Toronto's Papers Covered the Last Days of August
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How Toronto’s Papers Covered the Last Days of August

In Front Page Challenge, Torontoist analyzes the best and worst of Toronto’s major dailies.

This week’s Front Page Challenge is another competitive one, with most of the city’s newspapers clearly in the hunt to be considered the winner, each taking different approaches to summarizing the world and capturing this week’s championship.

globe aug 30
The Globe and Mail

In Need Of A Fix” reads the sombre headline of today’s stark Globe and Mail front page. Against a black background, in a small pool of light, a solitary painkiller pill stands balanced on its edge. The Globe‘s wordplay this morning can be interpreted as the perpetual mantra of the typical drug addict and as the paper’s editorial demand for Canada to directly confront the growing problem of prescription drug abuse and opioid dependency in this country. With BC and Alberta already experiencing a public health crisis over the issue, Ontario is increasingly vulnerable as well, with a spike in fentanyl overdoses in our neighbouring American states (according to the most recent data, one quarter of all opioid overdoses in Ontario are related to fentanyl abuse). This morning the Globe rides along with American law enforcement as they are increasingly overwhelmed by this health crisis, accompanied by an article on the epidemic by André Picard, who has been ringing the alarm in this paper over this issue for some time now. For the Globe, there are no other Page One issues this morning (besides the promotion of their online subscription special, which ends tomorrow at midnight!).

post aug 30
National Post

The National Post is all over the place by comparison to the Globe. On top of the page, a protester is restrained after interrupting the National Energy Board’s first day of hearings on the Energy East pipeline project, disruptions leading to the indefinite cancellation of these hearings. The central headline, “Serenity Now in Nunavut,” concerns the arrival of a 900-passenger cruise ship, the Crystal Serenity, as it travelled through the Northwest Passage, providing the quiet coastal community of Cambridge Bay with a rare one day influx of tourism. The Post also covers a Montreal mother’s battle against an Outremont school event where teachers dressed in “Indigenous costumes” handed out headdresses to the kids. This wasn’t even the first time this woman complained about the cultural insensitivity displayed by her kids’ school; in 2014 she said “they were doing a play where Santa goes to Africa and gets Ebola and gets sick and the local tribes are dancing around him and my daughter was going to be in blackface.”

star aug 30
Toronto Star

The Star strikes a balance between hard news and weirdness this morning. On the serious side: more bombshells from the paper’s investigative unit with the news that the Wynne Government, after being hammered for months from opposition parties to take a hardline on political fundraising, have announced that in September they will be unveiling legislation that would ban MPPs from all parties from attending provincial political fundraisers. Surprisingly, given the Provincial Government has given the opposition what they were demanding and then some, the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats are furious, with one MPP calling the decision “disrespectful to our democracy.” Sometimes you just can’t Wynne.

The Star also “Gets Action” this morning in response to its reports on wage theft in the restaurant industry, with the Ministry of Labour revealing its plans to enforce the measures in place to protect vulnerable workers from having their wages withheld from law-breaking bosses.

On the weird side: in the wake of France’s crackdown on the burkini (the term for beachwear popular with Muslim women that contravenes the country’s ban on face covering) the Star profiles the popularity on China’s beaches of what has been termed “the facekini,” meant to protect sunbathers from UV rays and jellyfish stings; the paper wonders what the French police’s position on this headdress would be? Elsewhere in headgear news, Josh Donaldson is currently swamped in a baseball hat collection after Jays fans showered the Bringer of Rain with ball caps following his three-homer game on Sunday. But the strangest article of the morning is “Woofie 2.0,” the tale of an area man who is spending $70,000 to have his beloved dog Woofie cloned. From the article: “Johnson says he’s using the money Woofie earned (in her career as a search-and-rescue dog and as an actor in the 2015 film Doggie Daycare) to pay for the cloning procedure and can’t wait to ‘introduce Woofie to herself’ in the estimated six to 12 months it takes to make her clone.”

metro aug 30
Metro Toronto

Metro is the only one of Toronto’s papers to pay front page tribute to the late Gene Wilder, who passed away yesterday. Metro also reports on the relief headed to the city’s restaurant staff in their battle to get their withheld wages. But the main image this morning illustrates a story on the challenges that Toronto’s increasing noise pollution is placing on the social life of the city’s bird population, with two local cardinals shown out on a date but having trouble hearing each other. It’s all part of a special new Metro feature, Toronto’s Noisy Streets.

Toronto Sun

sun aug 30
You wouldn’t know it from looking at this morning’s Toronto Sun, but today’s front page represents a slap in the face to the paper’s fearless prognosticator, Joe “The Night Scrawler” Warmington. He was very upset yesterday on Twitter over the news that Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown was flip-flopping on a promise he made a few days ago to voters in the upcoming Scarborough-Rouge River by-election that he would happily shred the Province’s controversial sex-ed curriculum once he is elected premier. Brown admitted yesterday in an op-ed (that ran in the pinko Toronto Star, no less) that he would do no such thing and further that it was a mistake for him to say so. Among a flurry of tweets on the issue last night, Warmington expressed great confidence that the Tuesday front page of the Sun would tackle this betrayal head-on, so he was surely crestfallen to see this morning’s paper, which features a crudely-rendered photoshop of an Ottawa jihadist who planned to join in on the Holy War by travelling to Afghanistan by way of Alaska. Even Warmington’s tweeted promise of a scorched-earth Christina Blizzard column on Patrick Brown’s cowardice did not materialize this morning; she’s too angry at Kathleen Wynne (a column that didn’t get promoted on the front page either). Has the Scrawler become an unreliable narrator of our day and age, in this post-Rob Ford era?

This week’s winner: In terms of sheer aesthetic design, the winner this week is the Globe and Mail for its stark coverage of the Canadian opioid epidemic. Sorry, talking birds and Woofie 2.0…and our special condolences to the Scrawler, who yesterday had promised “Sun Gold,” a clear reference to this weekly competition. This victory is historic for the Globe, for they have finally escaped the basement of this column’s weekly standings.

Newspaper Number of Wins
Toronto Sun 12
Metro 10
Toronto Star 9
Globe and Mail 7
National Post 6

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