An underground tunnel to the trial of the century

IMG_0053After a long adjournment in the trial of suspended Sen. Mike Duffy, as I sit here girding myself for Part II of that endless spectacle, I can’t help but reflect on how, one sunny Toronto morning back in March, I climbed down a ladder into the earth, ducked into a tunnel below York University, then emerged weeks later to find myself in the murky surroundings of Ottawa’s Elgin St. courthouse, hearing the strange details of the inner workings of the Senate of Canada.

That ladder in Toronto led to a weird place, like something from the One Thousand and One Nights, or the bandit’s lair in The Count of Monte Cristo. Really, I haven’t been the same since. You can find the story I wrote for Maclean’s magazine about the Toronto tunneler Elton McDonald here—I was thrilled to see Longform.org pick it up—and you can find the amazing Emma Teitel’s “Talk of the Town”-style update on Elton, also in Maclean’s, here.

My serialized coverage of the Duffy trial is available in all its eye-splitting totality here (just scroll down to the bottom to locate Day 1, when I had the chance to point out how Duffy “makes you think of a young king’s least-favourite eunuch“).

I’ll be adding to the Duffy chronicle with a nightly web dispatch throughout June. And Toronto-based illustrator Kagan McLeod and I will continue our weekly Duffy cartoon—find those strips here, including the above action portrait of Duffy training elephants in the art of memorializing “victims of communism.”

The first few weeks of the trial in May landed me on the CBC a couple of times—on The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti one morning, and on The 180 with Jim Brown, where I performed a version of my story about a particularly tedious day in Courtroom 33, which makes me sound like I’m on LSD.

Meanwhile, as I was covered Duffy, an investigative piece I’d worked on for six months, about the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School instructor Bruce Monk and his alleged habit of taking nude photographs of underage female students, came out in Maclean’s. That piece was based on the accounts of four women who attended the school in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and who told me Monk had photographed them alone in various states of undress. A couple of days after the article hit newsstands, Monk lost his job. The piece also led a number of other RWBS alumni to step forward and tell similar stories. Luc Rinaldi, an assistant editor at Maclean’s, wrote this chilling follow based on those new accounts.

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