How Toronto's Papers Covered the Trump/Russia Bombshell and Cardboard Trudeaus
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How Toronto’s Papers Covered the Trump/Russia Bombshell and Cardboard Trudeaus

But the robots are the real winners.

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Illustration by Brett Lamb

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

Scandal engulfs the front pages of Toronto’s newspapers this morning, with tales of trust violated, fair elections possibly undermined by outside interference, and, most notably, the ethics of deploying cardboard cut-outs of a photogenic Prime Minister.

globe march 21
The Globe and Mail

The top story this morning is related to the Globe‘s major investigation into how sexual assault allegations are handled by this country’s police and courts, with a special Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women releasing a report calling for Statistics Canada to resume tracking the rate at which such allegations are dismissed as unfounded, and for mandatory education programs for law enforcement and the judiciary on the issue. Otherwise, Page One is consumed with Russia news: coverage of FBI director James Comey’s explosive testimony before a House Intelligence Committee on possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election and further details on last Tuesday’s story about the mysterious business relationship between Canada’s Bombardier and Russian Railways.

post march 21
National Post

In what must be a heartbreaking development for the National Post, the Canadian newspaper most likely to publish commentary like this, or even this, Comey’s testimony in Washington revealed not only that Russia may have interfered directly in the sanctity of a fair American election to install Trump as President, but also that Trump’s shocking allegations that President Obama had ordered wiretaps on Trump Tower may also have been a lie. The Post hasn’t yet commissioned editorials about how none of these bombshells are that big a deal; expect those pieces to run later this week. In keeping with the fact that Trump would be perfect casting as the President in a RoboCop-type sci-fi social satire, the Post also reports today on The Big Robot Debate, with the Financial Post confirming that, yes, indeed, a robot is going to take your job, and Andrew Coyne counter-arguing that robots are our friends and that employment has never been higher.

star march 21
Toronto Star

There is a media tradition in this country where before a finance minister delivers a budget, they participate in a photo-op where they try on a new pair of shoes, and so this morning the Star leads with Bill Morneau dazzling the kids at Toronto’s Nelson Mandela Park Public School with his fancy (and Canadian-designed) footwear. The Star is otherwise consumed with explosive bombshells: the Comey testimony, the scandal involving Senator Don Meredith, whose own lawyer has dropped out of defending him against allegations of a sexual relationship with a teenage girl, and the shocking news that Ren Bostelaar, a local Toronto photographer and comedy writer, has been accused of posting revealing photos of women in his social circle (including their contact info) anonymously in online forums without their consent. The Star also reports that Canada’s global affairs ministry is now instructing their diplomatic missions in the United States to ease up on the use of a life-size cardboard cut-out of Prime Minister Selfie that recently popped up at a Canadian music event during SXSW in Austin. Perhaps it’s too lifelike for their liking?

metro march 21
Metro Toronto

Cardboard Trudeau also makes the front of Metro, but the two main stories this morning are about racism in the local dating scene, which was detailed by Hadiya Roderique’s recent Walrus essay “Dating While Black,” and the plan by the Toronto Public Library to offer extended operating hours at two library locations, which would be open without staff, raising concerns about the safety of patrons and maintaining the integrity of their collections.

Toronto Sun

sun march 21
Toronto Sun

The Sun celebrates the Maple Leafs “big win” last night in their hunt to stumble backwards into a playoff spot this season. But at the top of the page, they are once again promoting the comedy stylings of their columnist Mike Strobel, who combines two of his favourite targets this morning: fans of a dedicated bike lane network in the city, whom Strobel refers to as “The Bicycult,” and do-gooder environmentalists like David Suzuki, who Strobel feels has strayed out of his lane by pledging the Suzuki Foundations support of the initiative. “Don’t You Have A Whale To Save Or Something?” asks the headline. Strobel, who obviously hasn’t considered that dedicated bike lanes actually reduce the amount of space on the road a bicyclist is otherwise entitled to take up, thinks the Bicycult must be in trouble if they need Suzuki’s help as an advocate to make the pilot lane project on Bloor Street permanent, and resents that Suzuki is even providing “a pre-written email” for bike lane fans to use to send to Mayor Tory and city councillors. Strobel offers a pre-written counter email of his own, which doesn’t sound at all like Crotchety Old Man boilerplate:

“Dear Mayor Tory and Councillor: Quit kowtowing to the bicycult. They represent 1.2% of GTA commuters, yet make 98% of the noise. The silent majority, including local business, thinks the Bloor St. bike lane pilot is political poppycock. End it before the bicycult takes over the whole city and we can’t get to work anymore. Do your job. Thank you.”

This week’s winner: This was a tough decision for our jury, with no paper standing out in a major way, so this week’s champion is the National Post for the imaginative descending layout of a Robot head, Comey’s head, and Justin’s head. Once in a while, the World’s Best Designed Newspaper™ can pull off a Front Page Challenge victory based purely on aesthetics.

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