The Big Story-logo

The Big Story

World News >

An in-depth look at the issues, culture and personalities shaping Canada today.

An in-depth look at the issues, culture and personalities shaping Canada today.
More Information




World News


An in-depth look at the issues, culture and personalities shaping Canada today.




Thompson, Manitoba has a violent crime problem

Every year, Maclean's crunches the numbers on some of the most dangerous places in Canada. And for the past four years, the leader in violent crime severity has been Thompson, Manitoba. It has some of the problems that many communities face—poverty, addiction, homelessness—but its remote location makes them all worse. So what has the community tried to get crime down? What's worked and what hasn't? It's clear by now the problem won't be solved by policing alone, so what kind of holistic...


A terrifying new smartphone scam is on the rise

It's called 'phone number porting' or 'SIM swapping' and if a scammer can pull it off, it transfers your phone numbers, and all the access to all the applications and services that come with it, to a third party. That person can then use your number to gain access to many other parts of your digital life, and hold them for ransom. So why is this technique on the rise? What are carriers and police doing to stop it? What can you do if you suspect someone's trying to get control of your number?...


There’s lead in our drinking water. Why are we just finding out now?

A massive Canada-wide investigative project revealed that a third of Canadian homes and schools tested had dangerously high levels of lead contamination in drinking water. While that fact itself is shocking, the reality that it took a team of reporters and scientists months to unearth it is perhaps more troubling. Why is there no central process for testing and reporting contaminants in drinking water? Why do so few people have access to this information? Where was the breakdown in...


Lucy DeCoutere on life after the Ghomeshi trial

It's been five years since Lucy DeCoutere went public with accusations of sexual assault against former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi. The actress and Royal Canadian Air Force captain joins guest host Sarah Boesveld to talk about the trauma of the trial, and what she's learned about change, healing, and resilience. From finding humour in dark situations, to hiking to Mount Everest Base Camp, DeCoutere tells us of the responsibility she now has to be an advocate, and the resulting emotional...


Would you trust an AI program with your medical diagnosis?

A new piece of medical software's first job will be to offer a second opinion on conclusions drawn by human doctors in Toronto, but the days of Artificial Intelligence making medical diagnoses are likely not far off. Toronto’s University Health Network is teaming up with researchers at the University of Waterloo and the Vector Institute to develop the program, which can read and provide feedback on medical images like x-rays and ultrasounds. So how does the it work? What problems does it aim...


Inside the divided Conservative Party of Canada

Will Andrew Scheer still be leading his party six months from now? Depends on which half of the party wins an internal clash over its direction. The moderate faction believes that Scheer's inability to answer questions on his personal beliefs around same-sex marriage and other topics was a deciding factor for many Canadians who refused to vote for him. The more socially conservative wing believes that Scheer lost in part because he shied away from openly declaring his stances on abortion and...


The story of the secret salmon journals

If you think worries over the health of Canada's fish population are a recent thing...they're not. More than 100 years ago, officials in British Columbia were concerned enough about the state of the Sockeye Salmon that they compiled journals upon journals full of data. And then those journals disappeared. When they were later discovered, there was treasure inside them—at least for the scientific community. And the resulting work has allowed us to get a much clearer picture of how healthy the...


Disney+ arrives and the Streaming Wars really begin

If anyone can knock Netflix down a peg or two, it's the House of Mouse. Today marks the launch of Disney's new streaming video service, Disney+, and it comes with (almost) all the star power you'd expect—from classic animations, to Marvel and Star Wars and more. But will it actually make a dent in Netflix's spot atop the food chain? That depends. The video streaming industry is at a tipping point, with everyone from Apple and NBC to Disney and HBO and more joining Netflix and Amazon among...


Can restorative justice help rape victims heal, and avoid a painful trial?

Marlee Liss was raped, and she knew how awful it would be for her to relive it during a trial. She wanted a process that would do more than that—she wanted understanding, and closure and she didn't want her assailant to go to prison. So Liss opted for restorative justice. It's not a widely known option in Canada—though most victims have the right to it—and it's almost unheard of in cases of sexual assault. So why did Liss opt for it? And what was it about the process that worked so well that...


How “OK Boomer” sums up a massive generational divide

It began as a meme the kids use on an app you've probably never tried if you're over 25—yet somehow the phrase "OK Boomer" managed to dominate digital culture this week. How? Why? Oh and also: Ummm, what does it mean? If you're reading this and feeling ancient, don't worry. That's the whole point of today's episode. The world is changing faster than ever—and that means that what used to be generation gaps are now generation chasms. And that's changing the outlook of today's teens. The whole...


Who killed Barry and Honey Sherman? Inside The Billionaire Murders

It's one of the most mysterious cases in Canadian history, and one of the most high-profile. A billionaire husband and wife found dead in what at first appeared to be a murder-suicide, but quickly becomes something else. For almost two years, police have been investigating the deaths of the Shermans, and revealing very little about what they've been finding. But a new book by an investigative reporter digs deeper into the hunt for answers in the Sherman case—and we spoke to the author about...


Why there’s no such thing as sticking to sports

You may have heard of Deadspin. In fact, you probably have. Well, now it's dead. The site's entire staff resigned last week after its management insisted they stick to sports, and avoid the politics and lifestyle writing that made the site so beloved. But here's the thing—sports is about politics, and lifestyle and culture, and everything else. "Stick to sports" is both an insult and a rallying cry—but what do people mean when they say it? What kind of sports stories are only sports? And...


Why is the whole world protesting in the streets?

The specific causes may not be the same, but a general sense of urgent unrest has propelled millions of people into the streets in countries around the world. From Hong Kong to Chile to Catalonia to Lebanon, it may seem as though the world has never been as rife with public protest as it currently is. But is that true? And if so...why? What's behind the sentiment that things have to change—even if the specific change may vary by country? What determines whether these protests succeed or...


When Doug Ford returns to the legislature…

Ontario Premier Doug Ford adjourned the legislature in June, and then was gone for about five months—the longest break for a legislature in a quarter-century. Then, one week after the federal election, Ford and his Conservative government returned to Queen's Park. what? Why was Ford gone so long? That depends on who you ask. But there's no denying that the government is hoping to use the extended break as a reset, for their tone, for some of their policies and hopefully for their...


BONUS: A conversation about history with Dan Carlin

Dan Carlin is the host of Hardcore History, one of the biggest podcasts in the world. He's also an author, and his new book tells the tale of all the times the world almost ended...but didn't. He sat down with Jeff Marek, host of 31 Thoughts and a friend of The Big Story, in Toronto this week, and the conversation was fascinating enough that we thought we'd ask them if we could let you hear it. And they said yes, so here it is. A discussion about how The End Is Always Near. We'll be back on...


Are international students being taken for their money?

An investigation into the system that brings international students to Canada to study found exponential growth over a short time, as well as some disturbing results. Are the students who often spend everything their family has to come to Canada in the hopes of an education, a job and a shortcut to immigration getting what they pay for? In many cases the answer is no. It's not fair to the students—Canadian or international. It's not fair to the immigration system. So who does it benefit, and...


Wexit might be funny but the anger behind it isn’t

“Wexit” is somewhat of a laughable term, but the separation movement is gaining a lot of traction in Western Canada… especially in Alberta. It’s not a new idea for Albertans, so where did this resurgence come from? What would it actually look like if the oil-dependent province separated from Canada? How is this different from the Quebec separatist movement? And what can Justin Trudeau do, if anything, to soothe tensions with the West? Guest: Jason Markusoff, Maclean's


The problem with Canada’s temporary migrant labour program

The stories are horrible, and there are a lot of them. Mistreatment at best, assault and abuse at worst. They sound like the stories you hear from the United States, about the exploitation of undocumented immigrants who cross the border to pick American crops. Except they're happening here, while foreign workers pick ours. So what's wrong with Canada's Seasonal Agricultural Worker program? Who's to blame and can it be fixed? And why do so few Canadians even know this program exists, let...


Women in Canadian Politics: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Last week, more women than ever before were elected across the country. It's a new record for a number that hasn't always inched upwards in every election, and that's worth celebrating. But among the victories, most of the winners were incumbents, and very few women were chosen by their parties to run in so-called 'safe' ridings. And then, two days after Canada voted, we got an example of the cost of being a powerful female politician, when Catherine McKenna's Ottawa riding office was...


One man’s fight to get clean offers a view inside the opioid crisis

Rabbit is a user. But he doesn't want to be. He wants to get clean, and he tries. Hard. But it's not easy. Rabbit's story, told in a new documentary, displays the contradictory approaches available in the crisis from helping users change their lives completely, as opposed to keeping them safe while they fight to do it themselves. Is it better that Rabbit can work at a needle exchange program, because it helps ensure he's using clean needles? Or does that just keep him enmeshed in the...