A former Vice editor's alleged drug mule awaits sentencing in Australian jail. Jordan Gardner, a Toronto musician caught at the Sydney airport with suitcases of cocaine, is just one character in a National Post exposé on Vice Canada. The main focus is Gardner's ex-roommate, Slava Pastuk, a music editor Vice fired when he came under suspicion for enticing Gardner and other junior Vice employees into the drug trafficking trade, allegedly offering them $10,000 per illicit delivery. (Pastuk has not been criminally charged, and he refused comment to the Post.) Vice’s legacy of condoning illicit activity comes into play, too: when the Post emailed CEO Shane Smith about his own purported history of coke slinging, he replied: “WTF?! So stupid.”

Cuckgate takes Nick Kouvalis off Kellie Leitch’s trail. “When a member of a campaign team becomes the focus of media coverage, the time comes to resign,” Kouvalis said in a statement, ending his formal relationship with the most-discussed Conservative leadership bid. The matter of Kouvalis introducing the word “cuck” into the Canadian political lexicon is lambasted in a column by Leah McLaren, whose former Globe and Mail editor mom, Cecily Ross, started the “Not My MP” campaign in Leitch’s own Collingwood riding.

“Councillor Punch Sockalingam" has the right ring to it. The municipal by-election in Scarborough Rouge River’s Ward 42 happens on February 13. There are 29 candidates on the ballot, including MPP Raymond Cho’s former executive assistant, Hratch Aynedjian, and the area’s public school trustee, Neethan Shan. But only one of the candidates is buying banner ads on CP24: Punch Sockalingam, a realtor (and Uber driver) who’s no stranger to viral self-promotion. Photos with familiar faces leave little doubt about which side he’s punching from.

Meet the three middle-aged stars of Generation Screwed. Despite its profane name, the youth wing of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has struggled for traction amidst social media noise. But the group's Toronto Action Forum sounds like a delightful way to spend a Saturday, with three keynote speakers: Doug Ford, Ezra Levant and Jordan Peterson.

Today's edition of 12­:­36 is brought to you by Passport 2017, which has a free pack of iPhone emojis to let the creatures of this land speak for you—from a burger-munching raccoon to laughing moose, cheeky ducks and a stone-cold Arctic fox. For details on how to download them forever click passport2017.ca.

“I’m not going to be the leader who attacks fun.” Mayor John Tory’s opposition to patio permit fee hikes provided him with an easy positioning statement. He has also promised help for local live-music venues, possibly in an attempt to live up to the objectives of the hitherto inscrutable Toronto Music Advisory Council. Also saved from possible ruin by city hall: 401 Richmond, the arts haven whose tenants were facing twice their previous tax load. The city has asked the province to exempt buildings like 401 Richmond from standard reassessments.

The Weeknd is now checkout-line-famous. Abel Tesfaye might already have been big enough for the cover of GQ, but now he’s crossed a fresh media frontier thanks to a relationship with Selena Gomez. Whether the National Enquirer cover story is true or not, it's not outside the realm of possibility that Gomez's mother isn’t thrilled about her pop star spawn's recent canoodling with a crooner who sings about debauched drugging.

The biggest losers of the Super Bowl. Bell Media might’ve lost its simultaneous substitution rights, but they’ll override the Fox feed before and after the game, with the usual rotation of less interesting commercials. The NFL remains determined to get the CRTC ruling on this overturned next year—little consolation for the Bell broadcasters laid off this week because of "regulatory pressure."

Word of the moment


A new wave of politically charged attention for Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel lands it back on the Globe and Mail bestseller list this weekend.

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