Weekend Posted: Some great stories you may have missed

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Welcome to your weekend Posted. On Nov. 25, 1963, there was a state funeral for U.S. president John F. Kennedy. Some 1,200 people attended, representing 90 countries. Among them were Canadian prime minister Lester B. Pearson and Paul Martin Sr., who was secretary of state for external affairs, and the father of future prime minister Paul Martin. Perhaps those fun facts will come in useful if you find yourself at pub trivia over the next few days.

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Last summer saw an unforgettable and unprecedented fire season in Canada. It was hellish. Apocalyptic. And those are the words of officials, not just journalists hunting for the mot juste. In fact, the fires that swept across parts of the nation in the summer of 2023 were so intense that officials who track wildfires needed to create whole new charts to show how much land was destroyed. By the end of September, 18 million hectares of forest had burned. That’s six times more than the average Canadian fire season. It represents a landmass larger than 140 of the countries in the world. Postmedia newspapers covered the crisis relentlessly. Our coverage has now been packaged into a book, with dispatches from 47 reporters across the country. It captures the tale of the summer Canada burned, telling the stories of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who evacuated, the destruction and the response to the astonishing fires. Monica Zurowski, the deputy editor of the Calgary Herald, edited the book and has published this excerpt. The book, from Postmedia/Greystone, will be available online and in bookstores on Monday.

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POURING DRINKS FOR THE POWERFUL

Canoe Restaurant chief bartender Jeff Sansone is retiring after 30 years.
Peter J. Thompson/Financial Post Photo by Peter J. Thompson/Financial Post

For nearly 30 years, Jeff Sansone has been pouring out drinks in a Bay Street bar for some of Canada’s richest and most powerful people. The Canoe Restaurant, on the 54th floor of the Toronto-Dominion Centre, was the home away from home for “martini-drinking, cigar-smoking bankers, lawyers, traders and dealmakers of note, a male-leaning crowd who would loosen their ties and buy a few rounds as the evening progressed,” reports the Financial Post’s Joe O’Connor. At the time, Sansone getting the job was a bit of a shock: the powerful were far more accustomed to a beautiful, female bartender pouring their drinks than a man. Times have changed, though, and Sansone is headed for retirement. “Bottomless expense accounts are no more, the cigars are long gone and the Bay Street boys who once smoked them are now pushing up against grandparenthood,” writes O’Connor.

NATIONAL POST NEWS QUIZ

Chrystia Freeland illustration
Brice Hall/Postmedia Photo by Brice Hall/National Post

U.S. President Joe Biden celebrated his birthday this week. That makes him four years older than Donald Trump, his likely challenger in the next presidential election. The octogenarian president, though, said something — or didn’t! — about the milestone. If you know what it was, you’ll have a leg up on this week’s National Post news quiz.

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DEAR DIARY

In the weekly satirical feature Dear Diary, the National Post re-imagines a week in the life of a newsmaker. This week, Tristin Hopper takes an imagined journey into the mind of the Canadian economy: There are times I have fleeting glimpses of what seems to have come before. Large resource projects built to budget on short timelines. Whole sectors thriving without even a thought to government subsidy or support. Home completions. Were these hallucinations, or are they scattered images from a past that none of us remembers?

ET CETERA

  • Legal documents filed this week accuse New York City Mayor Eric Adams of sexual assault in 1993. The legal summons does not contain details of the alleged assault, but says it occurred when both Adams and the victim were employees with the city. Adams has strongly denied the allegations.
  • Since July, more than 9,000 people have been killed in fighting in Sudan. National Post columnist Tasha Kheiriddin wonders why this conflict is getting so much less attention than the war between Israel and Hamas.
  • It’s not quite on the same level as the Ikea monkey, but a well-behaved chicken caught a ride this week aboard a Toronto transit subway car. This led to the Toronto Transit Commission reminding riders that pets need to be leashed or in carriers.
  • The contentious bill working its way through the Canadian Senate that could see further exemptions to the carbon tax for Canada’s farmers will have the vote delayed for another week. National Post’s Bryan Passifiume has the story.
  • A new poll finds that Canadians — both white and non-white — are skeptical of the maxim that “diversity is our strength” and believe that diversity can bring “problems” as well as benefits. Fifty-six per cent of respondents to the Leger/Postmedia poll favoured a mixed view of diversity’s benefits. While agreeing that “some elements of diversity can provide strength,” they backed the notion that it can also cause “problems” and “conflict.” Just 24 per cent of Canadians saw diversity as an unambiguous “strength” — roughly the same as the 21 per cent who characterized it as predominantly a “problem.”
  • During a joint press conference with Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, and Charles Michel, president of the European Council, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives for not supporting the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement. The Conservatives voted against the bill because they said it promotes the carbon tax.

SNAPSHOT

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Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama competes in the men’s short program at a figure skating competition in Kadoma city on Friday. Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images Photo by PHILIP FONG /AFP via Getty Images

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