How Toronto's Papers Reacted to Castro's Death, and Trudeau's Reaction
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How Toronto’s Papers Reacted to Castro’s Death, and Trudeau’s Reaction

In other news: Syria, Patrick Brown's byelection woes, and the Toronto Sun's fear-mongering.

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

This week’s Front Page Challenge still shows lingering traces of the death this weekend of Fidel Castro, with at least two of this town’s papers still smarting over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s less-than-harsh words marking the passing of one of the most polarizing world leaders of the 20th century. One unifying theme this week is of a world under siege, with invading forces on people’s turf—it seems that whether you’re at home, in a Christmas market, or in line at the bank, unwanted interlopers are lingering at the gate…

The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s source for news about the phenomenon of government cash-for-access fundraisers. This morning’s blockbuster story is the revelation that last spring the Liberal party held a fundraiser attended by a lobbying group for recreational marijuana use that was attended by Bill Blair, Trudeau’s point person of the planned decriminalization of pot planned for next spring. The Liberals are refunding the donations made at the event but deny there were any ethical breaches. Ottawa is also under pressure to reject a bid from a Chinese corporation that is seeking to buy a majority stake in one of British Columbia’s largest chains of retirement homes. And two beluga whales have died in captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium; an investigation is underway. The central image this morning features a bombed out section of Aleppo, Syria, where thousands are fleeing the carnage of the civil war.

National Post

The Aleppo bombings are also the central image on today’s National Post, focusing on the plaintive story of a seven-year-old Syrian girl who was live-tweeting the bombing of her home during Sunday’s siege. Christie Blatchford makes A1 today with a snide report about a professor at Ryerson University stepping down from his directorship of the School of Social Work after a dramatic walkout during an anti-racism meeting. Blatchford is excited about this story because she gets to mock “political correctness” on campus along the way, using quotes from the Facebook group of the Ryerson branch of the Black Liberation Collective that has spoken out against the professor and the “violent” disruption his walkout caused. (Blatchford wonders “how merely leaving a meeting can be deemed a violent act,” sarcastically adding “Perhaps he had an appointment? Heard an office phone ring? Had to go to the loo?”) Blatchford is generally more of an “All Lives Matter” type and uses words like “screed” and “tirade” to describe the statement criticizing the professor. Elsewhere on the moral outrage beat, columnist Colby Cosh is steaming mad that Justin Trudeau had anything nice to say about one of the pallbearers at his father’s funeral, former Cuban president Fidel Castro. Trudeau was one of the few Western leaders to have a nice thing to say about Castro’s legacy but Cosh is not a fan of any diplomatic attempts to humanize “el Comandante,” though it will be interesting to see if Cosh is similarly outraged if kind words are spoken of, say, Henry Kissinger when he passes. And the Post also adds five braaaaains to the top of the page in an article on “what happens to the brain when we text,” in a shameless attempt from their graphics department to appeal to the zombies amongst their regular readership.

Toronto Star

The Star also puts the aftermath of Castro’s passing on Page One, with marquee political columnist Paul Wells reviewing Canada’s relations with the Cuban leader over the years. Wells is also upset that Justin Trudeau accentuated the positives about Castro in his statement, deploying a bizarre metaphor for a family newspaper: “Calling Castro a great orator is like calling porn legend Ron Jeremy a romantic: it confuses volume with quality.” The Star blows the lid off an arrangement between Ontario Conservative leader Patrick Brown and a Simcoe North MPP who gave up his seat so Brown could run in a byelection, with the irony that Brown has been slamming Premier Kathleen Wynne over the perception of bribery against her former deputy chief of staff over a similar arrangement in the recent Sudbury byelection. The Star also covers Canada’s attempts to return to a leading peacekeeping role in the world, as a Senate committee report expresses concerns about what Canada’s role in Africa should be. And they are the only Toronto paper to make front-page headlines out of the CBC’s promise that with a $418 million funding increase from the feds, Mothercorp can get rid of ads.

Metro Toronto

Metro features a local angle on the annual War on Christmas, though this story is about the intrusion of corporate involvement in the Distillery District’s non-profit Christmas market. Organizers are reportedly concerned about global brands like Hallmark trying to muscle in on the turf by doing brand activation giveaways outside the entrance, potentially putting a dent in the business of vendors who are paying to be part of the festivities. “Is it illegal to do what they’ve done?” asks the executive producer of the Christmas market. “No, it’s not illegal. But I don’t think it is overly ethical.” Metro also features the depressing story of a Korean woman taunted in line by a man at the TD Bank at Queen and Spadina who targeted her with racial slurs. Not only did no one in line intervene, but staff at the bank were hesitant to take action either, the excuse being the man was also a client of the bank. TD has since apologized to the woman for how they handled the incident. Metro also includes news on the alarming number of sexual assaults reported in the Canadian military this year, as well as officially confirming that Toronto is a nightmare for the rental market, promising to reveal “how bad it really is in this city” in the pages within.

Toronto Sun

sun nov 29

The Toronto Sun’s front page this morning is a throwback to their classic tabloid house style, with giant yellow text blasting the news that you are NOT SAFE IN YOUR HOME anymore, though the article within explains that this is a specific area being referred to here, a neighbourhood living in fear after a second homicide has been reported, as the subhed tastefully puts it, “on street where granny killed.” The Sun unfortunately juxtaposes this story about a repeat incident of fatal violence visited on a specific community with a top banner headline “You Again, Eh?”, which is in fact a reference to hockey phenom Connor McDavid and his Edmonton Oilers returning to Toronto to play the Leafs tonight.

This week’s winner:
the destruction of Aleppo with figures in a bombed-out cityscape is the most potent image of the day. The Globe and Mail earns this week’s Front Page Challenge.

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Newspaper Number of Wins
Metro 15
Toronto Sun 14
Toronto Star 11
Globe and Mail 11
National Post 7