Nov. 3 Rob Ford Interview- Ford More Years!

Courtesy of Mr. Luke Savage


“The weekly Ford bro-nanza has come to an end. Some highlights:

– Rob Ford is very sorry. We aren’t quite sure if that’s for 1) lying about the existence of a video he denied existed while actively seeking it out; 2) referring to the kids on his football team as “f**king minorities”‘;3) calling Justin Trudeau a “f**got”; 4) having serious substance abuse problems and refusing to acknowledge or deal with them; 5) Urinating in public. Rob Ford has nobody to blame but himself for whatever it is he’s sorry for.

– Rob Ford is going to address problems and change. To do this, he’s going to get a driver. To replace the one who, you know, has been charged with extortion by police.

– Rob Ford wants the media to stop coming to his house. He will talk to them “anywhere, anytime”. Call him and he’ll set up a meeting. Note: After the show, Rob Ford refused to speak to the media and physically pushed a Toronto Sun camera operator out of the way before fleeing the Newstalk 1010 in his Fordmobile.

– Rob Ford is reducing the size and cost of government. Rob Ford is also planning to build a subway at a cost of 300 million per kilometre and wants to hire 100 new police officers. Presumably neither of these will affect the size or cost of government. Nor will the cancellation of David Miller’s Transit City plan, which cost the city hundreds of millions of dollars.

– Last week Rob Ford called for a city worker caught allegedly sleeping to be fired along with his supervisor. It is unclear how Rob Ford reconciles this with the numerous photos of him sleeping during council and other meetings or repeatedly showing up for work late or not at all.

– Rob Ford, career politician, hates when people “play politics”. Playing politics involves doing or saying things which are contrary to or disrupt the goals of Ford or Ford Nation in any way.

– Rob Ford wants the crack video to be released by Toronto Police. That is, the one which he “hasn’t seen or does not exist”.

– Rob Ford enjoys widespread support among “the ethnics” and “The Ethnic Community” (also known as “f**king minorities”).

– Doug Ford would like Rob Ford to drink a bit less and is also sorry for what happened during Taste of the Danforth. It is unclear how he reconciles this with his statement on March 26 that “I’ve never seen Rob drink at any event. Ever.” or with his brother calling the media “pathological liars” for reporting on his public drunkenness.

– One caller was furious because he often sees “up to three” city workers planting trees by the highway. This may well be the Platonic form of the kind of concern which motivates people to vote for Rob Ford.

– The leftist big labour journalist patrician clique that is out to get the mayor and arrest his crusade to “save the city a billion dollars” now includes notably left wing institutions like the police, The National Post, his former press secretary, the Board of Trade, and the Toronto Sun.

– Another caller finds the “intellectual” style of most politicians intimidating. In contrast, she prefers his revolutionary “progressive” style of leadership which allows people to “identify with him”. Rob Ford is the Tim Hortons version of Hobbes’ Leviathan. He is sovereignty embodied. He is all of us, and none of us. Rob Ford is The People, and so can you.

– Toronto is number one in the world, up quite a few spaces from number eighteen. In what, we aren’t sure.

In sum, the Ford brothers show every indication of continuing their reign of terror. The moral and ethical character of Toronto’s mayoral administration has rotted to the core. And there isn’t much we can do about it right now, because a large number of our fellow citizens have allowed their consciences and judgement to rot along with it.”

Review of Rob Benvie’s “Maintenance”


By Kira Wronska Dorward

Much like the year 1999 and the impending Y2K crisis, we stand on the precipice of a monumental change in world history, filled with doubt as to our place in the certain shift of events. Contextualizing individual problems within the greater scheme of things is not often possible in medias res, but as Rob Benvie examines in his novel Maintenance, large-scale occurrences have an effect on the micro level, and ultimately, all our lives and emotions are interlinked by an increasingly global environment.

In its classic plot, an examination of a suburban family’s life on the eve of the twenty-first century, Benvie seeks to address a fundamental truth of human existence: that not only death is unavoidable, but it carries with it an awareness of our coming end. In Maintenance, the Swelham family is unable to continue going through the motions when confronted by vague and varied existential crises. They lead their lives in separate narrative threads that intersect without really connecting, though supposedly in an environment that should foster greater communication, before technology and constant communication overran human connection. With his richly detailed and almost hypnotic prose, Benvie ultimately makes the point that despite the advances in technology in the year 2012, interpersonal communication is just as difficult as it was in the pre-cell phone era. By giving a familiar landscape a fatalistic tint, Benvie’s Maintenance, a title that ironies the mechanical gestures people make to maintain their sanities and their selves in North American culture, is an absorbing effort to penetrate beyond commonly accepted thematic and vernacular banalities.

Rob Benvie was born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and has since split his time between Montreal and Toronto, where he graduated from Trinity College, University of Toronto with a degree in English and Political Science. His writing has appeared in many print and online journals including McSweeney’sJoylandMatrix and Broken Pencil. In his musical life he has recorded and toured internationally with such endeavours as Thrush HermitThe DearsCamouflage Nights and Tigre Benvie. His is the author of Safety of War, also with Coach House Books.

Published in the 2012 Hart House Review

Afterword- Hart House Review 2013


What always strikes me, after many years on The Hart House Review, is the vast amount of literary and artistic talent pooling on the University of Toronto campus.  Maybe a small portion of this is a testament to the historical literary legacy of the University—alphabetically: Atwood, Fielding, Frye, Gilmour, Heti, Leacock, McCrae, Michaels, Mistry, Ondaatje, Oppel, Pratt, Redhill… However, in my opinion, it is really very simple: for whatever reason, U of T attracts the best talent simply because we have the best talent.

During my second year with HHR, impetus was put on opening up the Review to contributors outside of the University.  This went hand-in-hand with the move for national distribution, which as Deputy Editor I attained through Magazines Canada in the spring of 2011.  Showcasing U of T talent alongside some of the best in the country in front of a national audience is an important opportunity for our emerging artists, poets, and writers to be given recognition in a meaningful way.  The resulting gain in momentum in the past two years has resulted in several successful national partnerships and resonant acclamation. Making the Review a national publication was the first step of many towards making HHR a dynamic voice in the Canadian literary world, beyond its own reputation on the University’s campus.

In its twenty-one years of publication, the Review has been the first foray into serious publication of many now-notable Canadian artists.  Having overseen the twentieth anniversary issue as Editor-in-Chief in 2012 and the new initiatives that came with the elevation of HHR at a national- and international- level, a retrospective look made it apparent to me that with every issue the magazine grows, never resting on its laurels but always seeking to innovate and expand past precedent; for the enemy of any true artist is the status quo. In this respect I see HHR as a work of art in itself, but one in continual evolution.

Kira Wronska Dorward

Fiction Editor, The Hart House Review 2013

Editor-in-Chief, The Hart House Review 2012

Toronto in “The Audience”


The other night I had the privilege of attending the Lieutenant Governor’s Office’s red carpet gala premiere screening of Helen Mirren’s The Audience, which had just premiered in London at the Gielgud Theatre, but was transmitted live via satellite to Toronto’s Scotiabank Theatre.  For those of you unfamiliar with Dame Mirren (and you should be ashamed of yourselves), she has portrayed both Queen Elizabeths; first in the television miniseries Elizabeth I, and more notably in 2006’s The Queen, a portrayal of Elizabeth II in the days after the death of Diana Princess of Wales (for which Dame Mirren received a Best Actress Oscar).

The night began with a red carpet cocktail reception in the lounge next to the theatre, followed by a small pre-show speech from his Honour David C. Onley, where groups such as The Monarchist League, The Churchill Society, and the Chinese Professional Association (among others) were acknowledged for their contributions to the event, which ultimately represent a diverse but effusive partnership between the Canadian Crown, the institution of parliamentary democracy, and the various drama and history collectives that help to form the vivacious and vibrant province of Ontario.  The premiere marked the conclusion of the Lieutenant Governor’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, where his Honour joined fellow Ontarians for a live screening of the production’s premiere performance in London.


His Honour David C. Onley addressing the premiere’s guests

The performance itself was Helen Mirren at her best.  Already in her element as (either) Elizabeth, and teaming up again with writer Peter Morgan (who has in the past won several prestigious awards for The Queen’s screenplay), Helen Mirren does what Helen Mirren does best: not simply being herself, but being simply The Queen- or as close as the global audience can come to imagining her:

For sixty years Elizabeth II has met each of her twelve Prime Ministers in a weekly audience at Buckingham Palace – a meeting like no other in British public life – it is private. Both parties have an unspoken agreement never to repeat what is said. Not even to their spouses.

The Audience breaks this contract of silence – and imagines a series of pivotal meetings between the Downing Street incumbents and their Queen. From Churchill to Cameron, each Prime Minister has used these private conversations as a sounding board and a confessional – sometimes intimate, sometimes explosive.

From young mother to grandmother, these private audiences chart the arc of the second Elizabethan Age. Politicians come and go through the revolving door of electoral politics, while she remains constant, waiting to welcome her next Prime Minister.


The Scotiabank Theatre

Rife with that dry British humour beloved of Monarchists and Republicans alike, the play (mostly set in a single room in Buckingham Palace), runs the gamut of the Queen’s twelve disciples- from the Suez Crisis up to quite literally the crisis of the day- the indeterminate sex of the Royal Baby.  Richard McCabe’s “build me a Rhineland Schloss!” line as Harold Wilson is worth admission alone.  McCabe’s character in particular delivers the laughs while simultaneously tugging at the heartstrings, reminding the audience that as her most beloved Prime Minister (within the bounds of this Royal confessional), the Queen is not as hard as Westminster’s Coronation Stone.  And if there was any doubt as to Her Majesty’s humanity, a “Gangnam Style” ringtone going off in the Royal Handbag is sure to provoke the laughs that mask the reality of the Queen’s situation as both holder of and supreme servant to the Crown (“Sigh, Grandchildren.  I told them I did not want the bloody thing [IPhone], but my security team assured me the thing would be useful as a tracking device- in case I try to escape.”)


The outstanding performance of Hadyn Gwynne as Margaret Thatcher draws the eerie parallels (and variations) between the private characters, public image, and, most ominously, the mortality of these two Iron Ladies (“born just six months apart!”).  The discussion of the funeral of Baroness Thatcher and the recent illness of Prince Phillip with David Cameron (Rufus Wright), portents the tenuous future of both the monarchy and Britain itself in the twenty-first century, as one remembers that Her Majesty is not, in fact, made of iron, even if she is made of moral steel.


Her Majesty with Prime Ministers (from left to right) Thatcher, Wilson, and Churchill
(actors: Haydn Gwynne, Richard McCabe, Helen Mirren, and Edward Fox)

Grad School- my of my!

So, I’ve been bad about posting lately.  Back in April, I left for a month long holiday in Europe (cruise from Miami to Madeira to Portugal to Barcelona, flew from Barcelona to Vienna for a week to see a friend, hosteled it in Copenhagen for three days, and Couchsurfed my way back through Iceland), and then the minute I got home all hell broke loose.  My cousin was over from England, my appendix exploded, ghosts of university past appeared, and I put a new proposal out for a project I’m rather excited about but will stay mum until there’s something concrete to announce.

So I totally forgot THE BIG NEWS.  I got into UofT.  A feat considered impossible by some.  I will be an MA in Arts- History at the University of Toronto come September.  I’m very excited about this- there is light in the darkness people!

I am currently working with my grandmother’s war memoirs in preparation for my research proposal, which involves Latvian female refugees during World War II.  Exciting- and obscure- stuff to be sure, but it’s all there: Nazis, Communists, stolen babies, dead husbands, death, pestilence, resistance…

To wet the pallet:

Before iron twilight descended over the helpless half of Europe, Latvia was a place of beauty, intellect, and life.  Riga, first taken by the Vikings and the ancient port city of the Hanseatic League, counted itself among the fashionable capitals of Northern Europe.  It was a city teeming with intellectuals; writers, artists, musicians- bohemians that gave the city a particular vivacity that merged seamlessly with the elegance of the old world.  It was a city of beauty and life- but also one of connection.  Riga’s ancient roots as an important seaport meant that its value would not come to be measured by its acquisitive neighbours in artistic, aesthetic or intellectual terms; its worth would ultimately, and most bitterly, be determined by its connection to the sea.