LONDON, Ont. — Shawn Mendes emerged the big winner at Saturday’s Juno Awards pre-telecast as the heartthrob picked up four wins across several major categories.
The Pickering, Ont. native won artist, pop album, songwriter and single of the year for his hit track “In My Blood.” But the pop singer wasn’t present to accept the awards because he’s on the European leg of his concert tour.
That left Michael Buble as the biggest surprise appearance of the night. The crooner swooped into the gala dinner and awards ceremony to pick up a trophy just minutes before he recognized David Foster for his philanthropic efforts.
Buble grabbed his 14th career Juno for “Love,” which won adult contemporary album of the year. But the singer made it clear he was mostly at the event to celebrate his close friend Foster receiving this year’s humanitarian award.
“He has inspired me to be a better man and embrace the importance of giving back however I can,” Buble said as he introduced the acclaimed producer, whom he called “a man whose heart is as big as the sun.”
Foster was recognized for his support of hundreds of charities, including his own foundation, which provides financial help to Canadian families in need of life-saving transplants.
The suave producer said he enjoyed the opportunity to speak about his interests outside of music, calling his philanthropy “a second commitment in my life that’s equal or (will) maybe outlive my music.”
Other winners at the Juno gala included country act the Washboard Union, who nabbed breakthrough group of the year, while alternative album went to newcomers Dizzy for “Baby Teeth.”
Jeremy Dutcher had the crowd buzzing after he was played off the stage while delivering his acceptance speech, which touched on Indigenous representation in music and included a direct message to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about reconciliation.
“A nation-to-nation relationship does not look like pipelines,” said the winner for Indigenous music album.
“A nation-to-nation relationship does not look like sending militarized police force into unceded territory and a nation-to-nation relationship does not look like, in 2019, our communities still on boiled-water advisory.”
The show’s producers didn’t afford Dutcher much longer than the allotted time for speeches.
That led Arkells frontman Max Kerman to call Dutcher back onto the stage with them to finish his speech as they picked up the rock album prize.
In the metal/hard music category, Voivod marked a career first when they pocketed the award, telling the crowd it was their first Juno win in 36 years.
Wesli’s “Rapadou Kreyol” snagged world music album, while Dave Merheje’s “Good Friend Bad Grammar” won comedy album.
Loud Luxury, the pair of DJs who met at London’s Western University, picked up their first Juno for dance recording with their global hit “Body.”
The group is nominated for three more Junos at Sunday night’s televised show, where the remaining awards will be doled out. Top categories, including album, group and breakthrough artist, as well as country album of the year, are part of the broadcast.
Viewers can also vote for the Juno Fan Choice Award on the Juno Fan Choice website.
The show airs on CBC and streams through the CBC Music website.
Listen to a playlist of 2019 Juno Award nominees on Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2DGvgyZ
Follow @dfriend on Twitter.
David Friend, The Canadian Press
Canada takes centre stage in Bannon film based on Huawei exec Meng’s detention
OTTAWA — Canada plays a starring role in a soon-to-be-released film aimed at exposing China’s bid for world domination through technology — produced by one-time Trump strategist Steve Bannon.
The film, “Claws of the Red Dragon,” is fiction, but “inspired by” Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and China’s subsequent retaliatory measures, including the detention of two Canadians for alleged espionage and death sentences meted out to two other Canadians convicted of drug crimes.
Bannon has said the movie is aimed at exposing ties between Huawei, which he describes as the “greatest national security threat” to the United States, and China’s communist government, which he maintains is “the greatest existential threat the West has ever faced.”
He’s also been clear that his objective is to stiffen U.S. President Donald Trump’s resolve to shut Huawei out of development of next generation wireless networks over fears the telecommunications giant is controlled by the Chinese government and its equipment could be used to spy on or sabotage other countries.
The film is to be released next month by New Tang Dynasty Television, part of the Epoch Media Group that is closely associated with the Falun Gong spiritual movement and includes the pro-Trump and vehemently anti-Beijing newspaper, The Epoch Times.
The 54-minute movie follows fictional Chinese-Canadian journalist Jane Li as she reports on Canada’s arrest of the chief financial officer of Huaxing Hi-Tech; along the way she “exposes the company’s ties” to the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese military, according to a New Tang Dynasty news release.
The film features a Canadian cast, including Eric Peterson of “Street Legal” and “Corner Gas” fame.
A trailer for the movie, replete with ominous soundtrack, shows Peterson — playing a character named James MacAvoy and bearing an uncanny resemblance to Canada’s former ambassador to China, John McCallum — meeting with a detained Canadian named Michael.
In real life, Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been detained in China since December, accused of espionage shortly after Canada detained Meng, who is wanted by the U.S. on charges of fraud related to evasion of American sanctions on Iran.
The trailer also shows Peterson telling someone who looks remarkably like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the Chinese “just arbitrarily sentenced a Canadian to death. There’s no telling where this retaliation will end.”
In the New Tang Dynasty news release, Bannon calls the movie “a seminal and timely work exposing the inner workings” of the Chinese Communist Party and Huawei.
“Run by a radical cadre of the Chinese Communist Party, China’s Communism today is the greatest existential threat the West has ever faced,” Bannon says. “Huawei, the technology and telecommunications arm of the CCP and the People’s Liberation Army, is the greatest national security threat we have ever faced, as it is already in the process of a global tech domination via 5G and 6G (wireless networks).”
Bannon told Bloomberg earlier this month that he hopes the film will be screened for Trump at the White House.
“The central issue in the 2020 presidential campaign is going to be the economic war with China: manufacturing jobs, currency, capital markets and technology,” he told the news agency. “Huawei is a key part of that and this film will highlight why it must be shut down.”
Joan Bryden , The Canadian Press
Fringe controversy: Performers weighing how to balance spontaneity with consent
CALGARY — When a performer at a Fake Mustache Drag King Troupe show sits in the lap of an audience member, the goal is to elicit shock from everyone in the bar except the person being cosied up to.
James Demers, who manages the Calgary group, said someone is planted in the audience or the artist sets ground rules with a patron ahead of time.
“If there’s going to be physical contact, we’d like people to be upfront about that,” he said. “The spontaneity makes for a great show, but we don’t ever want to make someone uncomfortable.”
Earlier this week, a performer at the Edmonton Fringe theatre festival sparked controversy after he pulled an audience member on stage during a racy variety show, grabbed him from behind and unbuttoned his shirt without consent. The man was so upset that he reported it to police, but no charges were laid.
Mike Delamont, who was in character as the “Scottish Drag Queen,” apologized and said he stopped as soon as he realized the man wasn’t on board. Delamont also said he’s volunteered for sensitivity training.
The Fringe has said he won’t be in Late Night Cabaret shows for the remainder of the festival.
At Fake Mustache shows, a bigger concern is keeping performers safe from drunk and grabby audience members, Demers said. Patrons are told ahead of time to follow a performer’s signals when tipping if it gets too touchy.
He said consent has always been discussed among theatre performers.
“What has changed with the #MeToo movement is that we are now having these conversations with the general public.”
Lara Schmitz, a producer for the Dirty Laundry improvised live soap opera show in Calgary, said it’s not anything-goes in improv.
“Improv does not get any exception in the understanding of consent and respect,” she said.
“Those help to create stronger improvisations — and that is crucial to having a strong ensemble that can trust each other enough to play.”
She said actors are encouraged to seek consent while they’re in character — asking “may I kiss you” to their on-stage love interests instead of just going in for a smooch.
“If the person says no, you don’t kiss them.”
Sara Simpson, a co-artistic director at the Kinkonauts Improv Laboratory in Calgary, said performers have to silence their inner censors, but listen to their inner editors.
“If you judge yourself while you’re performing, you’ll just be silent on stage and nothing will be good enough,” she said.
“You still need to not be a jerk.”
In the rare instances when the Kinkonauts have an audience member come up on stage, they never pick the person whose hand is being reluctantly forced into the air by a friend, she said. They also won’t indulge people in the audience who yell obscene, offensive things for laughs and attention.
Before every show, she said, Kinkonauts tell their fellow troupe members what is and isn’t OK. That could mean not wanting to be touched in a certain part of their body or partaking in an overly violent scene.
“That might change from day to day,” she said. “It might change based on who I’m performing with.”
Actively seeking consent does not equal prudishness, she suggested, recalling one scene where an all-women troupe clutched each other’s breasts in a chain.
“In the context of the scene and in the context of these long-standing relationships with these people, it worked, and it was great and it was empowering and it brought the house down.”
Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
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