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The Big Story

Author: Frequency Podcast Network

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An in-depth look at the issues, culture and personalities shaping Canada today.
645 Episodes
On his first day in office, President Joe Biden cancelled a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, keeping a campaign promise to Americans but bitterly disappointing Albertans and many Canadian politicians. It may be a relief to have a more stable US President in charge, but Biden wasn't elected to help Canadians. What does the new administration mean for Canada-U.S. relations? For trade? For foreign affairs, especially with China? And for Canada's chances at climbing out of a recession and into a greener economy? GUEST: Cormac Mac Sweeney, Parliament Hill Reporter
There were no mass arrests, military tribunals or public executions. Donald Trump went to Florida and Joe Biden went to the White House and nothing 'Q' said actually happened. So once Biden was inaugurated, what did the QAnon army do? What happens to a movement when ... nothing happens? Where do the followers, who have thrown away family and friends, credibility and cash, go from here? And should we pity them, or laugh and gloat? GUEST: Justin Ling
Joe Biden will be sworn into office today, hopefully without incident. But in the United States, proponents of democracy are analyzing how close their own came to collapsing. When one party, or even just one powerful politician, decides to disregard norms that have always held fair elections together, it creates stress on a system not designed with bad actors in mind. So how safe, by comparison, is our democracy in Canada? What checks and balances exist here that don't exist in the US? How could determined parties or politicians attempt to undermine democracy? And how much depends not on laws but on a collective belief in the democratic process? GUEST: Stewart Prest, political scientist
Covid-19 devastated long-term care facilities across the country in the Spring of 2020. But over the summer months, many provinces found ways to reinforce the places that care for our most vulnerable. Ontario, however, did not. What did Quebec and other provinces do to mitigate the impact of the second wave on long-term care residents? Why didn't Ontario follow suit? What's being done now? And will anyone be held accountable for this systemic failure? GUEST: Cynthia Mulligan, CityNews
Yes, it's worse in America. But it's not great here, either. The past few years have seen an alarming rise in hate groups in Canada—and there's nothing on the horizon that appears set to slow it down. It's a recipe for the sort of violence we've seen in Washington recently, and have seen on our own soil more frequently in recent years. So what does defuse the growth of white supremacy? What can governments do to curtail the kind of polarizing anger that leads to reactionary violence? And what can we do, each of us, when we see people we know who may be taking the first steps down a road that leads to conspiracy theories, hate and violence? GUEST: Shakil Choudhurt, Anima Leadership
We're now 10 months into a global pandemic and solidly into its second wave. And across the country, many workers are still not staying home when they're sick—because they simply can't afford to. Why don't so many businesses offer their employees paid sick days? Why haven't provincial governments mandated that they do? Why do critics say the federal government's attempt at paid sick leave is woefully inadequate? And why are we having this conversation almost a year into this pandemic? GUEST: Stefanie Marotta, The Globe and Mail
Most of us have spent the past year closer to home than ever before. And for a lot of Canadians part of that process has involved realizing just what their neighbourhood does and doesn't have. Maybe it's time to rethink how we create neighbourhoods, in order to maximize livability in our towns and cities. Maybe there's an easy formula we can follow to start doing that right now.... GUEST: Alex Bozikovic, staff columnist and architecture critic, The Globe and Mail
Our host would be fine with never seeing another Donald Trump tweet ever. But is that fair? Is it a slippery slope? Social media companies, and other service providers, have the right to refuse service to anyone breaking the rules they promised to abide by — but not even the most left-wing voters would pretend that Trump is the only politician or person flouting those regulations. Why would Facebook and Twitter finally remove Trump now? Should they have done it years ago? What precedent are they setting? And when we look back at this week in the years to come, will we be able to say it has changed anything about the way politics are done on the Internet? GUEST: Jesse Hirsh,
Our parents warned us that the Internet could harm us—from stalkers to kidnappers, pedophiles, the dangers of too much screen time and countless other things—but did they heed their own lessons? Boomers lead the pack as the generation most likely to share disinformation, and over the past few months we've seen some of the results play out in real time. How can those of us who grew up online help the people we love who didn't learn the nuances of the way algorithms try to seduce them? Help them tell the difference between reliable and sketchy news reports? Help them understand exactly how and why social media wants them to be so angry? Can we help our parents stay safe online the way they once tried to do for us? GUEST: Bonnie Kristian, The Week
Ridership is down by more than half, while costs to keep vehicles clean and employees and passengers safe are higher than ever before. Covid-19 has put an incredible strain on transit agencies across Canada. But at the same time, has the pandemic begun to change how we operate public transit—perhaps not with a break-even mentality but as a moral obligation to get Canadians where they need to go? Might more funding become available to run different routes at different times and ease crowding? Or will politicians back off as soon as the pandemic begins to ease? GUEST: Ben Spurr, Transportation Reporter, Toronto Star
At the time it seemed like it might be the worst disaster of 2020. When Flight 752 was shot down in Iran, 176 passengers and crew, including 55 Canadians, were killed. In the months to come, the cries for answers would be drowned out by the rise of Covid-19, leaving the victims' loved ones still searching for answers and justice. What can be done to get them the concrete information that might give them closure? What does justice look like? What's it like when the world forgets a tragedy that you live with every day? GUEST: Hamed Esmaeilion had family on Flight 752
The world watched as an angry mob stormed the US Capitol Wednesday. It was a scene few imagined we'd ever see—but it was also, somehow, inevitable. In the weeks since the election Donald Trump had been broadcasting his desire for his followers to take action. Then they did. The mob was cleared. Joe Biden's win was certified and it appears there will be a peaceful transfer of power. But what does an early-January insurrection attempt portend for US and global politics in 2021? And how safe are we in Canada from the sort of angry political uprising we just watched our neighbour grapple with? GUEST: Balkan Devlen, senior fellow at McDonald Laurier Institute, Superforecaster for Good Judgment, Inc.
The past year has been hard on all of us—but especially for those to whom we entrust our children. From a rush to online learning with schools closed, to a hasty back-to-school plan that was followed by rising Covid-19 numbers in schools, to the uncertainty of not knowing when or how they'll be able to teach their students this winter...many educators are close to giving up. How can we keep our education system functioning while also protecting our kids, our families and the people we need to teach them? What have we learned about our education system that could help us adapt in the future? And what happens to it if enough teachers decide they simply can't take it anymore, and leave the public system for private schools? GUEST: Inori Roy
In some parts of Canada—especially Ontario—hospitals are close to the breaking point. At the same time, tests are finding a variant of Covid-19 that may spread much faster than the usual virus. How worried should we be about what this means for the next several weeks? What do we know, and what don't we know, about the newest version of the virus? How precarious is our current situation? Is there a way to bring numbers down before the spring thaw and what would it take to do it? This is a look inside the second wave and at the light at the end of the tunnel. GUEST: Dr. David Fisman, epidemiologist, Dalla Lana School of Public Health
This past week, Ontario broke its seven-day average Covid-19 case record. Its hospitals are nearly full. Its vaccine rollout is slow. And the government lost its finance minister, who became the first of several politicians around the country to be found travelling outside of Canada in the middle of the pandemic. When Covid-19 first hit Ontario, Premier Doug Ford's straight-talk and frank empathy drove his approval rating through the roof. Ten months later, he's facing a host of of issues that threaten not just that rating, but the wellbeing of the entire province. It's been a bad month for the Ontario government—but the next few weeks will determine if it gets worse. GUEST: Cynthia Mulligan, Queen's Park reporter, CityNews
Welcome to 2021! It's going to cost more to eat this year. The unprecedented events of 2020 combined with longer-term issues will lead to a massive spike in the prices the average Canadian pays for most groceries — and restaurant food, too, when dining out returns again. How much? Which foods and why? Is this a one-time increase or the start of something that will only accelerate? And where can bargains still be found in the grocery store? GUEST: Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, professor in food distribution and policy in the Faculties of Management and Agriculture at Dalhousie University, lead author of the Canada Food Report.
It's the ability to put ourselves in another's shoes and it's been needed more this year than ever. But what kinds of experiences teach us empathy? How do our childhoods shape the people we become? What can second-generation immigrants teach the rest of Canada about the skill? And how will Canada change when the unprecedented number of second-gen kids grow up and lead the country? GUEST: Sadiya Ansari, writer and reporter
Blink and you could miss it—the Richview Memorial Cemetery sits nestled on a thin slice of land between two of North America’s busiest highways. The cemetery is guarded by one Randall Reid, but not all such places are so fortunate. Today we bring you an episode of a new Frequency podcast hosted by Big Story producer Stefanie Phillips. In this first episode of the series, Stefanie digs into the world of "cemetery hunters"— a unique special interest group that tracks down cemeteries that are forgotten and in imminent danger of being paved over to become parking lots. What does the future of our cemeteries look like—and who will save them when we’re gone? Listen to Paradigm on your favourite podcast player today.
Over the past ten months we've been accustomed to seeing our daily routines change in ways large and small. Covid-19 has popularized phrases from "in these unprecedented times" to X "will look a little different this year". And for many Canadian families there is no annual tradition as profound as the holidays. And for those families' children there's nothing quite like Santa Claus. So how is the Jolly Old Elf coping with Covid, keeping his workplace safe and making sure that even if Christmas is different, it's still special? Well, we asked him. (Yes, this episode is child-friendly! Happy holidays from the Big Story team.) GUEST: ... Santa!
Ten months into this pandemic, after so many of us rediscovered how vital local news can be, there are even fewer local newsrooms in Canada than when it began.  How did we end up here? What are we losing when small-town papers die? How is it possible this virus has made local news both more necessary, and more impossible to sustain as a business, than ever before?  GUEST: April Lindgren, principal investigator for the Local News Research Project
Comments (9)

Viva La Vida

Why does this woman keep laughing? Whats so funny about this?

Oct 26th

Chris Dick

You did this entire POD without.talking about Universal Basic Income or the Robotic revolution. Serious omissions in your presentation. You will find what you should know at

Aug 28th


What if users just decide not to take phone everywhere or what if forgets to take phone somwwhere?

May 5th



Mar 9th

Kaity Strong

just bought the book. how can I get a copy of this documentary for my gr 11 and 12 world issues students to watch in our environmental justice unit?

Dec 5th
Reply (1)

Pedro Cardozo

i can't understand a lot the calling, the quality is not good

Nov 6th

Justin Hayes

sounds good until you remember that women in Iran are risking their lives to go out in public without the hijab

May 2nd

James Knight

in harper lee's sequel, atticus is a racist, he was defending the "law", not a racial injustice

Oct 31st
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