#JianGhomeshi , Toronto, and the 20-Year Smirk

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Ghomeshi interviewing Justin Trudeau

Like most Americans I only know Jian Ghomeshi as the guy who replaced Terry Gross and Fresh Air on my local NPR station. Or so I thought…

Let me take you back to Toronto in the early 90s. The city was not lacking for self-absorption and arrogance:  The Barenaked Ladies were busking, The Jays were champs, and Due South was an export.

I was an actor fresh out of drama school. I landed with a pretty good agency whose roster included Sheila McCarthy, Dean Mcdermott, Maury Chakin, Paul Gross, Aidan Devine, Sandra Oh, and Amanda Tapping. There was no lack of swagger among this group.

We were young. We did many foolish things. I witnessed many acts of questionable behavior. One Christmas, I worked a holiday party with Dean Mcdermott (we parked the guests’ cars). I saw Martin Short so blind drunk on the front lawn I thought he’d never stand up. Years later I saw him in a Santa Monica Toys R Us on a Sunday morning. He didn’t appear much better. But somewhere along the way, Martin Short must have changed his behavior. He wouldn’t be alive otherwise.

I was once invited to a #CBC season launch party;  a Friday afternoon debauch at their King street studios that started with booze flowing at noon and went right on through until eight that evening. Eight hours of sodden Canadian actors and “celebrities” blind-drunk out of their minds behaving like the biggest narcissistic douche-bags south of the 401 (myself included).  Don Cherry was there, that’s where I met Mr. Dressup, Ernie Cooms (Somewhere I have a photo of the two of us, I’ll post it if I find it).  Scott Thompson from Kids in the Hall strutted around in a vampire cape, you would have thought he was Norma Desmond.

These days I hear Scott is pretty chill, really mellowed out, and a nice guy.

Moxy Fruvous

Moxy Fruvous

And then there was Jian Ghomeshi. I never knew his name, I just knew him as a member of the band, Moxy Fruvous. They used to hang around my agent’s office.  I don’t know who they were friends with, but they’d usually saunter in the door, grab a Diet-Coke from the mini-fridge in the foyer, and generally strut around the place like they owned it.  Ghomeshi was the worst. He generally acted like it was everyone’s great privilege to be in his company. The stories going around now about him having a narcissistic personality disorder? I don’t know anything about that now, but that was certainly Ghomeshi back then.  I thought the guy was a real arrogant piece of work.

And I say this because the Jian Ghomeshi I know today I bear no ill-will. I didn’t even realize the DJ I’ve been listening to on Q is the same arrogant asshole who crossed my path 20 years ago.  I’ve enjoyed his interviews, especially with Canadian subjects, it makes me a little homesick. He is informative, appears sensitive, has a very appealing radio manner. Hell, maybe it’s Q I just like. Piya Chattopadhyay works just fine for me too.

I believe in the rights of the individual. Pierre Trudeau said it years ago, and I am a big believer in what he said, “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation”.  What Jian Ghomeshi does in his bedroom is none of my business.

I also believe in the rights of women. There are now allegations of sexual abuse against Mr. Ghomeshi. His attempt to shrug these off in his Facebook apology as harmless, consensual sex-games displays a lack of sensitivity and self-awareness that is disturbing. Wherever the truth may lead in this matter, what I can confirm is this: the guy who posted that Facebook message that seemed more like boasting of sexual proclivities than a heartfelt explanation? That’s the same egocentric braggart I observed 20 years ago.

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Detective Krawczyk’s hunt for sexual predator Donnie Snook

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I have met Detective Paul Krawczyk  on two occasions; once when given a tour of the Toronto police’s major investigations unit, and once in Vancouver when the victims group, CAVA – for which I briefly served as a board member – was giving the entire Toronto child exploitation unit an award. He is a formidable and tenacious investigator. When so much about Toronto is an embarrassment, Krawczyck and the unit are things the city can truly be proud of.

And –  because I grew up in Saint John, New Brunswick – I sadly also know Donnie Snook.

The Toronto Star has written an excellent profile of Krawczyk and his 22 month pursuit of the former Saint John Councillor who was arrested for sexual relations with a child and construction and possession of child pornography:

Donnie Snook investigation: Hunt for unknown sexual predator took Toronto police 22 months

 

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Toronto-area victim identified as Guang Hua Liu

The victim in the Toronto-area human remains case has been identified  as 41-year-old Guang Hua Liu of Scarborough Liu was last seen alive on Aug. 10 and was reported missing by friends the following day.

 

Bizarre and disturbing. The first set of remains were found near Hewick Meadows Park in Mississauga, not far from the Square One shopping mall. The second set of what appear to be human remains were found in a bag near Kennedy Road and BonisAvenue in Scarborough. That’s about a 30 minute drive using the 401 and 403.

Here’s the latest:

Peel Regional Police say they have identified Guang Hua Liu, 41, of Scarborough, as the victim.
Peel Regional Police say they have identified Guang Hua Liu, 41, of Scarborough, as the victim. (Toronto Police Service)

Peel Regional Police say the remains found in Mississauga and Toronto in recent days belong to a single mother who went missing earlier this month.

Insp. George Koekkoek named the victim as 41-year-old Guang Hua Liu of Scarborough during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Koekkoek said Liu was last seen alive on Aug. 10 and was reported missing by friends the following day.

Liu, a Canadian citizen of Chinese descent, was a single mother of three.

Until recently, Liu was employed as “the owner of a now-defunct spa” on Eglinton Avenue in Scarborough, Koekkoek said.

Koekkoek said police have executed search warrants in their investigation.

“We are working on suspect information,” he said.

The investigation that led to Liu’s identification began when a human foot was found in the Credit River in Mississauga’s Hewick Meadows Park last Wednesday. Further remains were found nearby.

On the weekend, Toronto police were alerted to the discovery of remains on back-to-back days in the West Highland Creek.

While police had previously said there were “obvious similarities” between the finds in both cities, Koekkoek said Tuesday that police had “forensically linked” the recovered remains.

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A severed head, a foot and two hands discovered in Mississauga, Ont., last week and human remains found in Toronto on the weekend, are likely from the same victim, police said Monday.

Police say they can’t be 100 per cent certain, but there are “obvious similarities.”

Forensic scientists will make the final determination but Peel Regional Police said Monday morning their investigators believe the gruesome discoveries in the nearby cities over the past week are from the same victim.

“It is fair to say that … somehow parts of a person’s body have been discovered in two different locations,” said Const. Peter Brandwood.

On Saturday and Sunday remains were found in a creek in Toronto’s east end.

On Monday Brandwood confirmed those remains are human.

“Those remains that were discovered in Toronto have now been confirmed to be identified as human remains. Investigators are convinced that there are obvious similarities between the body parts in our investigation here and the human body parts and the recovery of those human body parts in the Toronto jurisdiction,” he said.

 

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