The Big Story
Frequency Podcast Network
An in-depth look at the issues, culture and personalities shaping Canada today.
How an incident in PEI put hockey's changing culture on display
How an incident in PEI put hockey's changing culture on display
If Keegan Mitchell had just kept his head down and played hockey, none of this would have happened. And we'd all be worse off for it. But when the junior player stood up for a teammate who was called a racial slur, and then broke the league's social media policy by condemning the matching suspensions the two players received, an otherwise ugly part of the game was dragged into the spotlight. Now Hockey PEI is promising to do better, and players from the Hockey Diversity Alliance are reaching out to Mitchell to thank him for demonstrating how the culture can change. And where it starts.GUEST: Keegan Mitchell, Sherwood Metros
Why are Toronto streets still so deadly?
Toronto's Vision Zero plan is now five years old. The city's residents are still waiting for it to work. On Boxing Day, the latest tragedy saw a car jump a downtown curb onto a busy corner, injuring several and killing a teenager. It would be shocking, if it weren't for the fact that barely a week goes by without a driver striking someone just minding their own business.Why is Toronto so bad at this? Is it a lack of will, or a problem with how the city was built? What are other cities doing that Toronto isn't, and how fast can that change?GUEST: Ben Spurr, transportation reporter, Toronto Star
Will the federal government finally do right by First Nations children?
Fifteen years ago, a human rights complaint was filed against the federal government over their fundamentally unequal treatment of First Nations children in the child welfare system. Earlier this month, after years of fighting it in court, the government agreed to a $40-billion settlement. And now as an April 1, 2022 deadline approaches, advocates for these children and families are holding their breath until the money actually comes through.Why did it take so long? Why did the government go to court, even as it admitted how badly it has handled Indigenous issues? What will this money do, and can it ever make right what our government has done wrong?GUEST: Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, and professor at McGill University's School of Social Work
The strange origin story of psychedelics in Saskatchewan
In the 1950s, before they fuelled the acid-trips of the '60s, psychedelics were being passed around the Weyburn Mental Hospital in Saskatchewan. And not just among the patients—as well as being given to those struggling with mental illness, doctors and their spouses were using them on themselves—for "research purposes".How did Saskatchewan become the world's psychedelic hub? What did we learn there that would inform the rise in use and then strict enforcement of these drugs in the decades to come? And how can it help us understand why these drugs are now making a return to therapy?GUEST: Erika Dyck, historian of health, medicine, and Canadian society at the University of Saskatchewan and Canada Research Chair in the History of Medicine; author of Psychedelic Psychiatry: LSD on the Canadian Prairies
Is a vaccine tax ethical? And how will we know when Omicron has peaked?
With hospitals under stress across the country, governments are pulling out all the stops to keep the health care system working. Ontario will allow internationally educated nurses to apply for accreditation. And Quebec has floated the idea of a tax on those who are eligible for vaccination but refuse. Is this ethical? Or is this a slippery slope?Meanwhile, with testing capacity breached in many parts of the country, how will we even know when we are starting to turn the corner on this awful winter wave?GUEST: Dr. Christopher Labos, cardiologist, master's in epidemiology, co-host of The Body of Evidence podcast.
The long fight to bring a miracle drug to Canadians
It's called Trikafta, and people living with Cystic Fibrosis describe it as a true game-changer. It can treat symptoms at the source rather than manage them endlessly every day. It was approved in the United States in 2019 but only arrived in most Canadian provinces a few months ago. Why did it take so long? How does this drug work? And is the approval process it went through a precedent of better days to come for Canada's health care system?GUEST: Jeremie Saunders, host of Sickboy, living with Cystic Fibrosis
Jan 12 2022
What is virtual learning doing to Canadian kids?
This is not an episode about whether or not schools should be open. We've had that conversation. This is a discussion of what two years of on-again-off-again in-person schooling has done to Canadian kids, what we're learning from this huge and unwanted experiment and how we can help them adapt and, eventually, put this strange development stage behind them.GUEST: Dr. Rebecca Pillai Riddell, clinical development psychologist and professor at York University
Jan 11 2022
Not even a pandemic can stop escalating CEO riches
A fresh annual report shows that by January fourth the average CEO of a top-100 Canadian company had already made the annual salary of the average Canadian worker. This shouldn't surprise anyone. The scale of CEO compensation has been escalating for years, even as regular wages have remained mostly stagnant.But it wasn't always this way. CEO salaries used to be tied to the same things as frontline workers' salaries. They were higher, but not insanely higher. How did that change? And what would it take to return to a more equitable sharing of the wealth?GUEST: David Macdonald, senior economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ National Office
Jan 10 2022
Wild pigs are one of the world's most invasive species. They're spreading across Canada.
It begins a couple of decades ago, with a Saskatchewan farmer spotting some black shapes sniffing around his crops. Today these wild pigs number in the tens of thousands and may even have spread as far as Ontario. And wherever they go, they leave a trail of destruction and decimated ecosystems. What is Canada doing to stop the spread of these creatures?GUEST: Omar Mosleh, Edmonton-based journalist, the Toronto Star
Jan 7 2022
One year after Jan. 6, is America headed for a civil war?
Last year's attack on the Capitol building by supporters of former president, Donald Trump, was a shocking scene. But it was merely a visual representation of the problems that have long been simmering below the surface. The nation is divided and political violence grows more popular in opinion polls. Right-wing militias are ready to fight, and Republican lawmakers seem either afraid of them or complicit. The end of American democracy used to be unthinkable. Now there are several ways it could happen, far sooner than we think. GUEST: Stephen Marche, author of The Next Civil War: Dispatches from the American Future
Jan 6 2022
How close to the breaking point are our hospitals?
At least one group of hospitals has called a "Code Orange" this week as health care workers battle a tsunami of Covid-19 admissions. That's a protocol usually reserved for mass casualty incidents, when there are too many victims to care for. It's a sign of just how brutal the January Omicron wave may be.Schools are closed and restrictions are back in place to help stem the tide—but did it have to be this way? Could we have increased hospital capacity, kept health care workers healthy and safe and kept schools open? What would it have taken and why didn't it happen?GUEST: Dr. Katharine Smart, President, Canadian Medical Association
Jan 5 2022
Should humans try to dim the sun?
It's called solar geoengineering, and it's an idea being researched right now. If we can't blunt the impact of global warming with the measures available to us, eventually time will run short and humanity will need to take drastic action. By preventing some of the sun's heat from reaching the earth, we could attempt to cool the planet down. Would it work? Possibly! Could it backfire enormously, leading to massive crop die-off? Also possibly! GUEST: Climate reporter Bob Berwyn, for Inside Climate News
Jan 4 2022
Tracking a Killer: The Cold Case of Elizabeth Bain
In June of 1990, 22-year-old University of Toronto student Elizabeth Bain disappeared. Her body has never been found, but police say it was a homicide. Elizabeth’s boyfriend Robert Baltovich was convicted of her murder. He spent eight years in prison before being deemed not guilty by the courts in 2008. Elizabeth Bain's killer remains at large.Check out Tracking a Killer here!
Dec 30 2021
The Reheat: The world of celebrity sex tapes
Whether a publicity stunt or revenge porn, the celebrity sex tape has long been a salacious and voyeuristic fascination for the media and its subjects' fans. But when it comes to male stars, their tapes have seemed to serve as fuel for their fire, while for female stars, the only rhetoric has been slut-shaming. Hosts, Sarah and Sadaf dive into the story behind the tapes of everyone from Rob Lowe to Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee to Paris Hilton to understand why, and what sort of ripple effect celebrity sex tapes have left in the years since.Check out The Reheat here!
Dec 27 2021
Inside the Hallmark holiday movie empire
If you're a Christmas movie person, then you already know Hallmark is a behemoth. But you might not know just how it became so dominant. It's a long story, born from a collision of religion and capitalism. But now, with critics crying for diversity, and traditionalists desperate for them to focus on family, Hallmark is at a crossroads. Will they make good on their progressive promises and risk alienating the core audience that has made them so much money? And can they afford to budge when Netflix and other streaming services are trying to carve into their market share?GUEST: Sadaf Ahsan, co-host of The Reheat (Listen to The Reheat's deep dive into Hallmark movies right here.)
Dec 23 2021
A holiday thank you, from us to you
As The Big Story takes its annual (and long overdue in 2021) holiday break, the team answers some questions from Jordan and shares their memories of a very strange and very tough year to be trapped in a news cycle. This is a glimpse behind the mics and mixers. If you've stuck with us all year, thank you for listening.GUESTS: The Big Story producers Stefanie Phillips, Joseph Fish and Braden Alexander
Dec 20 2021
BONUS: What do small businesses need to survive?
If you've heard any of our bite-sized interviews with small business owners, then you know they've faced closure so many times during this pandemic it's become part of their lives. But if we look at the big picture, what kind of help has actually made an impact? Which programs really worked? And what do the businesses that are still thriving during the pandemic have in common?This is a bonus episode of The Big Story, sponsored by Mazda's Local Legends initiative. (However, Mazda did not have any role or input in producing the editorial content of this episode.)GUEST: John Rocco, Scotiabank
Dec 18 2021
Lookahead: Will 2022 be the year of worker power?
From the great resignation to rising wages and the comeback of unionization, this was a year in which workers realized they don't have to take inhumane conditions and poverty-level income anymore. And all signs point to this viewpoint spreading. For the first time in decades, the labour market appears to be shifting in favour of the people who actually do the hard work that keeps society running. Can workers in North America continue to leverage that in 2022? Are we witnessing a tipping point here, or will capitalism fight back?GUEST: Juliana Kaplan, Business Insider
Dec 17 2021
Lookahead: Does Canada have a strategy for China?
It will be the biggest foreign policy question of the next year, and so far our government doesn't have a concrete answer. Canada will not send diplomats to the Beijing Olympics, but we will (probably) send our athletes. The two Michaels are home in Canada, but there are other Canadians in Chinese jails. As we find ourselves torn between the traditional alliances of America and the UK, and the rising power of China ... where will Canada go in 2022?GUEST: Stephanie Carvin, former national security analyst, author of Stand on Guard: Reassessing threats to Canada's National Security
Dec 16 2021
Lookahead: What will year three of the pandemic bring?
Hopefully, an ending! But we have hoped all along that the end was right around the next corner, only to be disappointed. It looks like we will enter 2022 riding a new wave of Covid-19 driven by the omicron variant—but will this prove to be a new evolution in the virus' takeover of our way of life or the beginning of the end? What will we learn in the next month or two that could determine how long it takes for Covid to evolve into an endemic nuisance rather than a deadly threat?And how can we get from now to whenever that happens?GUEST: Dr. Raywat Deonandan, Global Health Epidemiologist and Associate Professor with the Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa.
Dec 15 2021