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Where to watch the Maclean’s debate on Aug. 6

Maclean's | posted Tuesday, Aug 4th, 2015

The 2015 federal election will be the most important and dramatic in a generation. Watch and engage during the Maclean’s National Leaders Debate Aug. 6. Have your say too—what would you ask our leaders? Comment on our Facebook page. And make sure to bookmark macleans.ca/debate, where you’ll be able to live-stream our debate, participate in live poll questions, and get involved in the discussion. More details on where to watch are below.

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What to watch for in the Maclean’s debate

Aaron Wherry | posted Tuesday, Aug 4th, 2015

macleansdebate-featured

Control the water supply. That is how the debate is won.

This much was apparently advised in a memo to British Conservative leader David Cameron in 2010, subsequently leaked to the Daily Mail. The author of the advice was a Canadian strategist named Patrick Muttart, a former adviser to Stephen Harper and one of the brighter minds credited with helping to bring the Conservative party to power here in 2006. In what Cameron’s team claimed was an unsolicited submission, Muttart apparently counselled Cameron to “practise staring down” Labour leader Gordon Brown while the camera was focused on the moderators or other leaders, since that “makes your opponent feel uncomfortable.” When attacking or responding to his opponent, though, Cameron should “look at his opponent’s shoulder and not his face,” because “facial reactions can be distracting/destabilising.” Don’t write notes while someone else is speaking, because viewers will find that rude. Personal attacks should be well-constructed, but infrequent. Instead of “abstract ideological musings,” the candidate should “use viable, easy-to-understand solutions.” And mind the water. “Ensure Cameron has room-temperature water,” Muttart was reported to have written. “Cold water (with ice) tightens the throat. You should control his water—not the TV studio.”

Here is how the grandest stage of federal politics is managed—a hint of the fussy preparation and consideration that precedes the modern political debate. And here, perhaps, is some insight into how Harper has quietly won so many of these moments.

Beyond even the gains his party has made in each of the last three elections, the Prime Minister is, arguably, on something of a winning streak. Although he has struggled in French-language confrontations, he has otherwise come out ahead nearly every time he has been put on stage beside his rivals. Going back to 2004, he was judged to be the winner of the English-language debate by 31 per cent of respondents to an Ipsos Reid poll, 13 points ahead of Paul Martin. After a narrow loss to Martin in the first English debate of the 2006 election—32 per cent for Martin, 30 per cent for Harper—Harper won the second English debate by a count of 34 per cent to 31 per cent, according to Ipsos Reid. In 2008, Harper was deemed the winner by a leading 31 per cent, six points ahead of Jack Layton. Three years later, he posted his most decisive victory: 42 per cent of respondents gave the decision to the Prime Minister, 17 points clear of second-place Layton. (Note that, in both 2008 and 2011, the Liberal leader of the day was an also-ran: Stéphane Dion placing fourth in 2008 and Michael Ignatieff placing third in 2011.)

The potential impact of a debate is possibly more nuanced than a quick judgment of who won, but there is much to be said for winning. And while he will not be remembered as a poetic weaver of words, Harper is perhaps not given his due as a master of rhetoric and controller of the moment. Set against the complaints and challenges of his critics, Harper is smooth and unhesitating, but calm and reassuring. Ever ready with a response, he pleads for reasonableness with open palms and dulcet tones. At one point in 2011, as the debate became mired in competing claims about the nature of parliamentary governance, the Prime Minister sounded as if he might cry, as he beseeched voters to give his party a majority. “I’m worried that, quite frankly, this country, at some point, we’re going to lose our focus on the economy, start raising taxes, start doing things that are not good for the long-run interests of the country, just because of the short-run politics of a minority parliament,” he begged. He looks into the camera when he speaks and he smiles when he has a chance. If you prefer to discuss these sorts of events using boxing analogies, he could perhaps be likened to a great defensive fighter, not easily tagged and good on the counterpunch. Unexciting, but effective.

Dion was overmatched in 2008, and Ignatieff seemed unready in 2011. With a certain reliance on one-liners—“We need more zingers,” the late NDP leader told his advisers before the debates in 2011, according to Building the Orange Wave by NDP strategist Brad Lavigne—Jack Layton had good showings in 2008 and 2011, but his most effective moment was a well-timed, and barely challenged, attack on Ignatieff’s attendance in the House of Commons, one that ultimately decided who won the right to sit across from the Prime Minister in question period.

It is surely possible that the 2015 debates will present Harper with a greater challenge. Although he will come to these meetings with far more experience than his challengers, he is also, after another four years in power, more vulnerable than he was in 2008 or 2011. Since that second debate in 2006, he has come to stage with a lead. In at least the first debate, he will be the underdog. And over the last few months, Harper has seemed in the House to be a man who is conscious that he must fight to keep his job—more aggressive, more urgent—which perhaps portends a more combative debater.

His competition is potentially strong—at the very least, intriguing. NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, widely noted for his QP performances and touted by Brian Mulroney as the best Opposition leader since John Diefenbaker, is the most aggressive challenger Harper has faced, and he has shown some ability to think on his feet. One pre-debate poll even made the NDP leader the favourite—37 per cent of respondents telling pollster Nik Nanos’s firm that they expect Mulcair to win a leaders debate, compared to 26 per cent for Harper and just 16 per cent for Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.The fast-talking and undaunted NDP leader will also come to the first debate as the presumptive favourite to become the next prime minister after this fall’s vote. That is an idea he can either confirm or undermine.

The stakes for the third-place Trudeau are different, but similar. The Conservatives have expended great effort portraying him as an unworthy goof, and now he can either confirm or exceed that portrayal. New to the arena and relegated to a few questions, Trudeau struggled within the confines of question period to establish himself beside the leading clash of Mulcair and Harper, but he is also supposed to be something of a skilled and likable communicator. And the televised debate is something different than the cacophonous confrontation of QP.

And then there is May. She was last seen in a leaders debate in 2008, and it might be remembered that she was an interesting challenge for the Prime Minister then, not only as a source of pointed criticism, but as a changer of the dynamic. Bruce Carson, a former adviser to Harper who participated in preparing the Conservative leader for the 2008 debates, has written in his political memoir, 14 Days, of worrying that one wrong move with May could ruin the Conservative party’s efforts to build support among women.

Set against relative parity in opinion polls and the first real three-way race in federal history, there are struggles within the struggle here: Mulcair and Trudeau have not only to best Harper, but also each other, and May might like to see the Greens win more than one seat this fall. But it will surely be most interesting to see whether anyone can beat the Prime Minister, who, presumably, will be well-prepared.

Pending water temperature, it is perhaps down now to who chokes.

Click here for the Federal Leaders Debate.

How to diagnose and treat summertime rashes

Cityline | posted Thursday, Jul 23rd, 2015

Rashes

Heat rash:

  • Heat rash usually results in small dots on the skin and feels sandpaper-like. It can be found under the breasts or in skin folds.
  • Why does heat rash happen? If you’re wearing tight clothing or have skin folds, your blocked sweat glands can lead to heat rash during the sweaty summer months.
  • To treat heat rash, use an over-the-counter cortisone cream or powder.

Athlete’s foot:

  • Athlete’s foot is detected by a scaly, flaky foot, possibly between the toes.
  • You can contract athlete’s foot by walking barefoot at places like the gym, by sharing socks, or getting a pedicure with tools that have come in contact with athlete’s foot.
  • To treat athlete’s foot, use an anti-fungal cream and be sure to wear shoes at the gym.

Poison ivy:

  • Poison ivy is usually in clusters of 3 leaves, and the leaves can be either serrated or clear-edged.
  • The plant is typically found in low-lying areas, such as along borders of roads or stony patches.
  • Treat poison ivy with cool water and soap. Be sure not to burn poison ivy to get rid of it as it can get in your lungs.

For more tips from Dr. Marjorie Dixon, watch the video below:

8 common sunscreen mistakes you’re probably making

Kate Gertner | posted Tuesday, Jul 21st, 2015

SunScreen

1. Using expired goods: Yes, sunscreen does expire! Over time the active ingredients that work to protect your skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays deteriorate and become less effective.

2. Improper storage: Where you store your sunscreen is almost as important as how often you apply it. The glove compartment, windowsill and even your beach bag may seem like convenient places but exposure to extremely hot or cold temperatures will hider the formula’s effectiveness.

3. Light-handed application: Repeat after us, you can never apply too much sunscreen. NEVER. Slather it on often (abide by bottle’s recommended re-apply times) and liberally from head-to-toe.

4. Lingo confusion: Many foundations, BB creams and tinted moisturizers list an SPF (sun protection factor), which is a measure only of the sunscreen’s effectiveness at blocking out sunburn-causing UVB rays (but not the potentially more dangerous UVA rays). For complete and effective broad-spectrum coverage (protection against both UVB and UVA rays) you need to look for products with the circle. This year, Health Canada has introduced guidelines on the amount of UVA protection required for effectiveness. Now, if a sunscreen meets these standards, the UVA symbol will be circled on the package.

5. Playing the numbers game: Don’t be fooled There is very little difference between SPF 50 and SPF 100. Soon, high SPF numbers will be a thing of the past: 50+ will be the highest sunscreen SPF on store shelves.

6. Using only on sunny days: You might be surprised to know that some of the worst sunburns occur on the cloudiest days. UV rays are invisible and can penetrate though clouds, haze and fog — they’ll get you when you least expect it.

7. Applying protection when you are already exposed to the sun: There is a reason you’re supposed to apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Creams and sprays need time to absorb into the skin in order to be effective.

8. Missing the lips, ears and top of the feet: The little bits are just as sun sensitive as the rest of your face and bod. Be sure to spritz on the sun protection to keep these sensitive areas burn free too.

5 common grilling mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Chatelaine | posted Thursday, Jul 16th, 2015

GrillMistakes

Even if you’re a master of the grill, after a winter spent away from the barbecue, you may find your skills are a little rusty. And if you’re a grilling novice, these tips are a great place to start. It’s the perfect time to get acquainted with your barbecue; avoiding these common mistakes will result in a delicious summer filled with effortless eats.

Here are five common grilling mistakes, a few simple tips for avoiding them:.

1. Using the wrong grilling method.
There are two ways to grill: direct heat and indirect heat. The direct heat method cooks foods that are placed directly on the heated grates. This is the commonly used when you want a good char on your vegetables, like when grilling asparagus or green onions, or for when you want a golden crust on your meat, like burgers andsteaks. With indirect grilling you create a heated zone on one side of the barbecue and use residual heat to cook food evenly – this method works perfect for grilled pizza.

Direct heat: Cheesy sliders with red onion marmalade.

Indirect heat: Grilled margherita pizza.

How do you know which method to use? Go for the indirect method when cooking foods that require more than 25 minutes of grilling, for cuts of meat over 2 inches in thickness or for highly delicate foods that can burn or scorch quickly.

2. Overcooking meat, poultry and fish.
It can be difficult to precisely control the level of heat on a barbecue, which can lead to dry, overcooked food. The best way to avoid this is to use an instant-read thermometer to check doneness. Fish can be a little trickier; a great tip is to grill fish at five minutes per 1/2-inch of thickness.

3. Food sticking to the grates.
There are a few steps you can take to prevent food from sticking to the grates. Start by cleaning the grates before each use and follow-up by brushing them with cooking oil (this will season the grates and allow food to release). Be sure to preheat the grill for at least ten minutes before grilling and allow the food to cook long enough to form a sear before flipping.

4. Vegetables falling through the grates.
Grilling adds a unique smokiness and complex flavour to vegetables. They cook quickly, but depending on their size, they are notorious for falling through the grates. Try using a veggie basket, or a favourite trick of the Chatelaine Kitchen is to create veggie packets out of aluminum foil like in our warm potato salad.

 5. Over-marinating the meat.

Marinating is one of the easiest ways to add a ton of flavour to meats and vegetables. Unfortunately, it is also easy to over-marinate leading to tough meat. Marinating times are impacted by the cut and size of the meat, but here are a few to keep in mind:

Flank, skirt and brisket: These tougher cuts should be marinated at least two hours, but can withstand up to 12 hours (keep in mind that brisket can be marinated for up to 24 hours).

Steak and chops: These cuts of meat benefit from a shorter marinating time as they will become tough if left in the marinade too long. Thirty minutes to four hours is plenty of time to soak up flavour. Try a shorter marinating time with our tandoori lamb chops.

Chicken: If you’re tight on time, 20 minutes will make a difference to chicken, but try to marinate for two hours or overnight for optimal flavour. For an easy weeknight dinner, try this citrus grilled chicken.

Fish: The acidity will start to cook the fish, so marinate for 15 minutes and no longer than an hour. No time to marinate? Try this cedar-plank salmon recipe – the flavouring is brushed on just before cooking.

Safe home remedies for garden pests

Cityline | posted Tuesday, Jul 14th, 2015

Pests

We love animals, but they’re not always welcome in the garden — especially when they’re eating your plants! Carson Arthur shares his solutions for keeping creatures out without harm.

For cats:

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 rosemary spears (or lavender)
  • 1 litre boiling water

Method: Mix all ingredients together in a spray bottle. Let cool before applying to areas where cats have been.

For deer and rabbits:

  • 6-8 rhubarb leaves
  • boiling water

Method: Pour boiling water over rhubarb leaves in heatproof container. Let cool before applying to inedible plants, like cedar trees. The leaves are toxic, so the mixture shouldn’t be sprayed on vegetable  or fruit plants.

For aphids:

1 regular-strength Aspirin
1 litre water bottle

Method: Dissolve Aspirin in water and apply to aphid-infested plants.

For more tips, watch Carson’s segment below!

5 ways to get your family outside this summer

Today's Parent | posted Thursday, Jul 9th, 2015

FamilyOutdoors

After 13 years, I found the silver bullet: the trails. Lacing up for a run, walk or bike ride slays my kid’s grouchiness within minutes (or at least half an hour). We’ve always been an active family, but it was only after tween angst hit (hard) that I noticed the correlation between trail time and better moods. Since then, it’s become my go-to parenting tool.

Studies show being outdoors doing physical activity lowers depression risk, reduces anxiety and improves behaviour—but that’s moot if you can’t get your brood outside. So my advice is: Don’t ask, tell. Bribe. Threaten. Cajole. Whatever works. Because the payoff is pretty sweet.

Within minutes, Esmé typically takes off, power walking with the dog. Or cycles ahead as I follow on foot. Or pushes herself to breakneck speed, to drop her dad and I on family trail runs, eager to be alone with her thoughts.

Sometimes she doesn’t notice me catching up, and I hear her humming to herself, an unguarded moment for my taciturn introvert. Other times, she slows down so we can walk and talk. Or she gets silly: On a recent outing, I wondered why she was lagging as I jogged ahead. I found out when she rode past me, hitting me with the brushy end of a five-foot-long reed that she’d fixed, jousting-rod style, to her bike.

If you’re not already an especially active family, it can be hard to know what to do beyond hanging out at the local playground or splash pad. Here are a few ways to enjoy summer outside with your kids.

• Open-water swimming. Check local lake and river water-quality updates. Then put down the Kindle and wade in!

• Orienteering and geocaching. Go on a high-tech treasure hunt using your GPS. Be prepared for trails and mud.

• Explore a provincial park. Even better—explore at night. Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park hosts guided wolf howls.

• Pick up a rod. Google “learn to fish” and your province to find free programs.

• Search for creatures. Look for snails after it rains. Go out after dark and watch bats swoop for insects. Bring a flashlight and see what bugs are underfoot.

12 best sunscreens for every skin type and adventure

Chatelaine | posted Tuesday, Jul 7th, 2015

OSunscreen
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