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Idiot insight from Toronto

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Three words: judge, sex, bondage. Really, the story on Judge Lori Douglas indicates that’s there’s a never-ending public thirst for high-powered people doing smutty things, and where the debate over private life and public office begins.

Anyways, I’m not paid to ‘opinionate’ on the daily news cycle, and I try to be careful about where I editorialize on ongoing issues I may potentially cover.

(So, Lori Douglas, Jack King and Alex Chapman – the last of which I interviewed last week – you’ll be spared from my take here.)

What I do feel I’d like to address is what I affectionately call the Toronto Media Blinders.

You all know it, especially you hacks and flacks who are familiar with the ‘national’ Toronto-based media parachuting in every so often with pseudo-insight of what’s going on inside Winnipeg.

Other gems included a 2,600-word chronicle in the Globe in February 2006 on if Winnipeggers should permanently abandon plans for its downtown. Shortly before their correspondent fled the province and left reporting. What a closer.

This week, Christie Blatchford of the Globe wrote a column which trumpeted an ‘exclusive’ with Jack King.

The story didn’t really reveal too much – except that he feared his marriage was in jeopardy (Really? You think?) – and echoed a lot of court reportage already in the public domain thanks to CBC and the Freep’s Mike McIntyre.

But, the story was interesting, in so much it was the words of a heavily embarrassed man.

Where I choked, really choked, was reading a column by the Toronto Star’s Heather Mallick on her take on the judge debacle.

Mallick, as you might recall, is a gifted writer who was with the Globe before she was pilloried at CBC for a column on Sarah Palin.

She weighed in on the judge story with this little treasure:

"And here’s another implausible aspect to the story. If you wanted to set up a threesome as Douglas’s husband, Jack King, did, why didn’t he go to a bar like the rest of us, buy a few drinks and make suggestions? Toronto’s very multicultural, your chances on the subway alone are excellent. But this is Winnipeg. Perhaps this alone lay at the heart of the Douglas disaster. What Toronto considers homespun is thought of as wildly exotic in a Prairie city and this couple was humming for it."

I have to tell you, Heather, Winnipeg, too, has bars and buses. The line wasn’t only offensive, it was – by my impression – baseless.

(By the way, Mallick was apparently born in Norway House, but I’m not sure long she actually lived here – so I am going to guess her comments are based off an experience closer to 50 or 60 years ago, not say, in 2010)

The fact is people misbehave everywhere, especially when it comes to sex. And heck, if that kind of behaviour is thought of as ‘homespun’ in Toronto, then so be it.

The difference if you’re a Toronto columnist, I guess, is that you assume you’re the first urban domain to explore those very human foibles. And since when is that a surprise for anyone west of Mississauga?

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About Gabrielle Giroday

Gabrielle has handled the police and crime beat for the Winnipeg Free Press since 2009, meaning she’s seen the best and worst humanity has to offer.

Covering the crime beat in a city known for its homicide rate and violent crime can be challenging, but Gabrielle tries to look at the more complex factors that drive violent events. She began the beat after originally joining the Free Press in June 2005.

Her previous experience contributing to the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business magazine, the National Post, Maisonneuve magazine and NOW Magazine. She was also a member of the editorial board of the Queen’s University Feminist Review, and completed a degree there in politics and English. Some of the Toronto native’s favourite adventures include hitchhiking in the Cuban countryside during a stint studying in Havana, and hanging off the back of a jeep climbing the Kanchenjunga mountain in Nepal.

Gabrielle also felt privileged to write about the first-time elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the summer of 2006, and received a grant from the Canadian Association of Journalists and Canadian International Development Agency to write about sexual violence there.

She recently went to Cameroon in fall 2010 as part of an expert election monitoring team, on behalf of the Commonwealth.

When she’s not chasing a story, Gabrielle can be found jogging every morning by the Legislature and down Portage Avenue.

She’s always enthusiastic about stories that involve investigating the road less travelled or the opinion less broadcast.

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