Movie of first crush is about intimacy, not sex

Daniel MacIvor says he knew there would be inherent dangers of prejudgment with his new movie, A Whole New Thing. The story deals with a home-schooled 13-year-old boy, and his first crush – on his male high-school English teacher, reported CanWest News Service Oct. 8. “I was a bit worried, but this was about intimacy, not sex,” MacIvor said. Conceived almost by accident, while director and co-writer Amnon Buchbinder and MacIvor were working together on something else, A Whole New Thing grew out of a single comment from MacIvor about having a crush on his math teacher when he was a kid. When Buchbinder heard the story, he decided to toss the other ideas and work exclusively on developing MacIvor’s moment into a full-length feature script. “The whole thing came together in the space of about nine months like a baby,” said Buchbinder, a Toronto-based screenwriter and York film professor who retakes his place behind the camera with this family-driven, coming-of-age drama.

Buchbinder has been around the Canadian filmmaking community for many years. He’s made such festival films as The Fishing Trip and Oroboros, and teaches screenwriting in York’s Department of Film. He also recently penned a book, The Way of the Screenwriter. “I’m a teacher, and these issues of teacher-student relationships do come up. There’s an eroticism to it, and we’ve never seen that dealt with in a film.” Well, at least no legitimate drama. Pornography has successfully exploited the premise since its inception, but again, A Whole New Thing is not about sex. “Gender doesn’t matter because it’s not about sex. The question here is what kind of kid would make that mistake of judgment, and that’s where the home-schooling element came in. We needed to make him different, not of the same world, so he wouldn’t really have any idea about what’s appropriate,” said Buchbinder.

PM should play oil card wisely

“Canadians are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it any more,” wrote Chuck Gastle, an adjunct professor in international trade regulation at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in an opinion piece Oct. 12 in the Toronto Star. “At least that’s what Prime Minister Paul Martin said to the New York Club last Thursday. The American position on softwood lumber is nonsense, Martin said, and a ‘breach of faith.’ He then did the unthinkable on CNN by linking softwood lumber to energy. He stated that China and India represent alternative markets for Canadian energy. It is a bizarre comment in light of Canada’s NAFTA obligation to maintain its proportionate shipments to the US.

“Martin’s comments reflect the growing anger in Ottawa. But why suggest Canada might divert oil to China when we could simply cancel NAFTA? Canada would be free to adopt any national energy policy it wants. First, this might remind Americans that we are their largest and most secure supply of oil, at a time when they are most vulnerable. If not outright cancellation, Canada could still impose an export tax on oil shipments to the US by utilizing a NAFTA dispute settlement provision specifically designed to punish America for its failure to implement the Softwood Extraordinary Challenge ruling,” Gastle argued.

“Of course,” he concluded, “a better strategy might be not to play the oil card and return to the negotiating table to attempt to find a permanent solution to the lumber dispute. The repayment of the duties could be left to the proceedings before the Court of International Trade.”

Court halts TTC right-of-way strategy

Toronto officials fear their ability to embark on major mass transit projects may be jeopardized in the wake of a court decision that has halted plans to build a streetcar right-of-way on St. Clair Avenue West, reported the Toronto Star Oct. 12. Yesterday, three judges of the Divisional Court released a decision stopping the right-of-way. Backers of the project say it would ease congestion and speed travel along one of the city’s major arteries. The judges’ reasons have not been made public but some city officials fear the ruling challenges efforts to put into practice Toronto’s 2002 Official Plan. That plan – a blueprint for future development in the city – sits before the Ontario Municipal Board, awaiting approval. “The TTC’s plan, Transit City, is premised on doing initiatives like St. Clair and like the York University busway, so it’s unfortunate, and we have to wait for the full copy of the judge’s reasons,” Miller said.

Finance minister resigns amid probe into business dealings

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government was dealt a devastating blow Tuesday night as Finance Minister Greg Sorbara resigned just hours after he was named in a warrant as part of an ongoing RCMP fraud investigation, reported Canadian Press in a story that made front-page headlines in most major Ontario newspapers Oct. 12. Police raided Sorbara’s family’s real estate development company, the Sorbara Group, amid a criminal investigation into Royal Group Technologies, a company where Sorbara had been a director. Sorbara, McGuinty’s right-hand man, is the first minister in McGuinty’s cabinet to resign. He has been under a cloud since police began investigating Royal Group Technologies in February 2004. Several stories noted Sorbara earned a BA in 1978 and an LLB in 1981 from York University.

Former reporter turns ‘spin lawyer’

Lorne Honickman is an interview subject’s worst nightmare, reported The Globe and Mail Oct. 12. The veteran TV reporter, familiar to Southern Ontario viewers in the ’80s and ’90s as a courtroom correspondent for Toronto’s CITY-TV news, can ferret out a questionable motive behind even the most seemingly charitable of acts. Six years into his second career as a partner with Toronto law firm Goodman and Carr LLP, Honickman these days acts mainly as a litigator. But he’s spending a growing amount of his time leveraging his old reporting skills to provide media training services to corporate clients, such as First Canadian Title, as an adjunct to his legal practice. You’ve heard of spin doctors? Consider Honickman a “spin lawyer”.

He says his main goal is to teach clients the difference between accepting responsibility and admitting liability. “I don’t care about your tie being undone or that you’re looking over to the right,” said Honickman, who earned an LLB from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 1995. “I’m looking at the issues. I’m not your PR guy.”

On air

  • Wesley Cragg, business ethics professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, discussed recent Liberal spending scandals, on CBC Radio’s “Morning Program” Oct. 11.