TORONTO – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada has made great strides in achieving equality for LGBTQ people but there’s still work to be done.Trudeau was greeted with a standing ovation as he took to the stage at a Toronto hotel on Thursday night to accept an award from human rights group Egale Canada for his LGBTQ advocacy.As he reflected on his efforts to make amends for historic wrongs suffered by LGBTQ Canadians, the prime minister affirmed his commitment to remedying present-day discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.“I am on your side,” he told the crowd at the Egale Identity Gala. “I will fight for you, and I will fight with you.”The prime minister mingled with advocates and allies as he found his seat in the rainbow-hued ballroom at the downtown Toronto Hilton.Speakers fondly recounted their interactions with the prime minister at Pride events and private meetings, sometimes censoring their accounts to protect his political sensibilities, and teased him about having looks that appeal to people across the sexuality spectrum.TD Bank CEO Bharat Masrani described Trudeau as “the very definition of what it means to be an ally” as he presented him with Egale’s inaugural leadership award honouring his contributions towards advancing rights for LGBTQ people in Canada.In his speech, Trudeau recalled his apology last November to public servants and members of the military who had their careers sidelined or ended due to their sexual orientation between the 1950s and early 1990s.He said he pulled his kids out of school that day so they could to share in what he described as one of the most poignant moments of his political career, just as he watched his father, Pierre Trudeau, patriate the Constitution alongside the Queen in 1982.“Ella and Xav watched their dad stand on the floor of the House of Commons, surrounded by colleagues, and promise that we as a nation will do better,” he said.“It was an incredible day that I will never forget, and I certainly don’t think they will either. And I am deeply privileged to be a part of this larger moment.”Trudeau pointed out some of the areas where progress still needs to be made, such as the prevalence of homelessness among queer youth and the disproportionate violence suffered by the trans community.He also expressed disappointment with the persistence of what he described as discriminatory restrictions preventing sexually active gay men from becoming blood and organ donors.“Yes, we’re working on it, but I’m upset too that it’s not there yet,” he said, waving his hand as if to assure the crowd.“Our entire government is committed to full equality for the queer community. You have my word on that.”
OTTAWA – The Trump administration is likely to quickly trigger the process that will lead to renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, now that a new U.S. trade representative has been confirmed, say two Trudeau cabinet ministers heading Canada’s side of the talks.International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said he’ll likely get his first opportunity to meet face-to-face with Robert Lighthizer when the two attend an APEC minister’s summit this week.The U.S. Senate approved Lighthizer as President Donald Trump’s trade czar on Thursday.Soon after, Trump said it was his intention to quickly file a 90-day notice with Congress to kickstart the NAFTA talks with Canada and Mexico, a requirement under U.S. law.Canada maintains a solid footing for the negotiations, whenever they begin, Champagne told Global TV’s “West Block.”“We are ready, we are prepared, and we’re going to see what they put on the table,” he said.“But we’re going to be firm in our position as to protecting Canadian workers and protecting Canadian interests.”Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said she also expected to meet with Lighthizer soon, and that the pre-negotiation process would likely start “very soon.”With Lighthizer’s confirmation, “I think that the process ought to now get moving,” Freeland told CTV’s Question Period.“And we’re enthusiastic about that,” she added.“We’re keen to sit down at the table with our American and Mexican partners and to modernize what has been a really great trade agreement for our continent.”The Trump administration has signalled that it wants significant changes in a range of sectors, including dairy, lumber, automobiles, pharmaceuticals and the NAFTA dispute-resolution system.Trump himself has said he expects “massive” changes, telling The Economist last week that “big isn’t a good enough word” to describe the negotiations.But whether there is time for a “massive” restructuring of the long-standing trade deal is being questioned by observers, who point out that Mexico has expressed a desire to get a new deal by early next year, before the Mexican election.In the meantime, both Freeland and Champagne said Canada will continue pressing Ottawa’s position in behind-the-scenes discussions with political actors in the U.S.; that NAFTA has been a boon for jobs in both countries.
EDMONTON – Alberta’s highest court has struck down a section of the province’s Traffic Safety Act that allows authorities to suspend the licences of suspected drunk drivers until their cases are resolved in court.The Alberta Court of Appeal says taking away the licences of drivers who haven’t been found guilty violates their charter rights.The court said in a split ruling released Thursday that the law as it stands imposes sanctions as soon as a criminal charge is laid “without regard to the presumption of innocence.”Lawyer Nate Whitling had argued in an appeal filed by four individuals that a driver waiting to be tried on impaired driving charges has to do without a licence for many months because of a backlog in the courts.“It’s going to last eight, nine, 10 months while you wait for your trial date,” he said after the decision. “That pressures an accused person to plead guilty even if they’re innocent. And the Court of Appeal was particularly concerned about that aspect of the law.”Whitling pointed to Alberta’s own data to help make his case.“The government’s own statistics that they relied on in enacting this law recognized that about 22 per cent of the people who are actually charged with impaired driving are found not guilty.“This law pressured those people to plead guilty as well, and that’s why it’s contrary to the charter.”The ruling puts everything on hold for a year, so nothing will change for now. It’s expected the province will either appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada or rewrite the law.The appeal was filed against the Alberta Transportation Safety Board, the province’s attorney general and the registrar of Motor Vehicle Services.The appeal challenged the constitutionality of the law’s mandatory roadside suspension of operator’s licences for anyone charged with an alcohol-related driving offence.In the decision, Justice Frans Slatter said the violation of an accused driver’s fundamental constitutional rights “is clear, broad and significantly deleterious.”“The administrative licence suspension regime is … overbroad. It is clear that the automatic and universal nature of the regime will deprive the liberty of some drivers who are innocent-in-fact, or who are not guilty.”One of the three Appeal Court judges did not agree with the ruling.“In my view, the lengthy licence suspensions that can result … may have serious effects on people’s lifestyle, but the effects do not fall within the category of true penal consequences,” wrote Justice Marina Paperny in a dissenting opinion.“I would dismiss the appeal in its entirety.”The British Columbia government also faced a challenge to its drunk-driving law after it was brought in. It imposes heavy fines, penalties and immediate roadside suspensions.But the Supreme Court of Canada handed down a pair of judgments in October 2015 that upheld key portions of the law.It ruled for one that the law as it stood in 2010 did not violate an individual’s charter right to the presumption of innocence. However, a majority of the court said the law violated the charter protection against unlawful search and seizure.By the time the Supreme Court made its ruling, B.C. had already amended its law to address that point by allowing drivers who failed a roadside breath test to ask for a second test and to apply for a review of their driving prohibition.(CHED, The Canadian Press)
VANCOUVER – Ranchers fleeing wildfires in British Columbia’s Interior are leaving behind an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 cattle, hoping the animals’ instincts will keep them safe.The head of the B.C. Cattleman’s Association said there are a significant number of ranches established in the Cariboo region, where dozens of fires have been sparked since Thursday.Association general manager Kevin Boon said with so many fires springing up at once and cattle dispersed across properties for summer grazing, many ranchers didn’t have time to collect and move herds.“We’re hoping they’re staying ahead of the fire because in a lot of cases with the vastness of the area out there, you just can’t get to your cattle,” he said.Boon said it’s too early to be sure of the exact numbers of cattle on the range, but if the fires spread, more than 20,000 head could be affected.Deaths, particularly from smoke inhalation, are expected, he added. Some animals may have to be euthanized in the coming days if they’re discovered to be severely injured.Although ranchers are expecting the worst, Boon said the likelihood of the cows surviving is good.“These animals have very good instincts. They know what the places are that they can go where they are safe,” he said.Most of the cows are born and bred in the region and know where to find low-lying areas that are moist or by water sources, he said.“These fires move fast but they’re not that fast, these cattle can out-move them,” Boon said, adding that the bigger risk with the high number of fires is the cattle fleeing one area only to run into another fire.Sally Aitken, a Williams Lake resident who was evacuated last week, said she saw a herd grazing as smoke billowed in the distance.“They all had their heads down and they were eating grass as if nothing was happening,” she said. “The worst part of the fire was already down wind of them so they might have been okay … but they just seemed oblivious.”Boon said losing cattle can have a significant economic impact on ranchers, with breeding cows and their calves worth anywhere from $1,000 to several thousand dollars per head.Damage to infrastructure, such as fences, and loss of feed will also be costly for ranchers to replace.“They’re reported as forest fires and sure enough the trees are burning but that grass that we utilize underneath is burning,” Boon said.Feed may have to be brought in from other parts of the province or even further afield depending on how significant the losses are once the fires are extinguished.Boon said some ranchers who also work in lumber mills could be financially hit twice if that industry also suffers damages due to the fires.“It’s all speculation until we know there is damage being done,” he said. “A lot of the time we fear the worst, hope for the best and come out not too bad.”Some cows have already been collected and moved to vacant ranches, and Boon said efforts are underway to determine whether other cattle need to be moved or delivered more feed.He said there are disaster relief funds that will kick in to support farmers and his organization is already planning to help rebuild fences.As people return to communities that were evacuated, Boon said “it may look bare and barren” but drivers should be wary that “there is a good chance there will be some cattle or other wildlife on those roads.”—Follow @Givetash on Twitter.
TORONTO ONTARIO, – Sears Canada is facing a social media campaign calling for a boycott after the company said it planned on paying millions in bonuses to keep executives on board during restructuring, despite not offering severance to laid-off workers.The retailer’s Facebook page has been flooded with comments from people vowing not to shop at Sears, and the hashtag #BoycottSearsCanada has been gaining traction on Twitter.Sears Canada, which is operating under court protection from creditors, began liquidation sales on Friday at 59 department and Sears Home stores slated for closure.The company has said it plans to cut approximately 2,900 jobs, without severance, while paying $9.2 million in retention bonuses to key staff.Several people participating in the boycott say they’re not spending their hard-earned dollars at a store they say rewards mismanagement at the expense of front-line retail workers.A retail analyst says that the boycott could impact people still working at the stores, but it may not make a difference if the retailer goes out of business.Sears Canada declined to comment on the matter.
EDMONTON – The advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving wants Alberta to sell marijuana through government-run stores — at least in the short term — to ensure public safety before profit.Andrew Murie, the CEO of MADD, points to marijuana stores in the United States that slash prices to mark the annual April 20 counter-culture celebration of public cannabis consumption.“There are a lot of people that want to make a lot of money on this legalization, a lot of entrepreneurs, and they’re not interested in public safety,” Murie said in an interview Thursday.“I think governments, especially the provincial government, (need to) stand up and say, ‘Look we will proceed with caution, and we will make sure that we’re not losing a lot of young people, which is the greatest risk.’”MADD and other groups are weighing in on Alberta’s plans to regulate and enforce the legalization of recreational use of marijuana starting July 1.Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said Wednesday the plan is to have the legal age of consumption set at 18 to match the legal age for drinking and smoking.The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission would distribute and oversee sales, but Ganley said the province hasn’t decided whether the government should sell weed or let private entrepreneurs do it. Alberta regulates and sells its liquor through private stores.Ivonne Martinez, head of the Alberta Liquor Store Association, said that model has shown it can work and required zoning restrictions are already in place to keep stores away from where kids gather.“If you want to try to meet the tight deadlines that the federal government is putting forward … I think that meets all of their requirements,” said Martinez.No matter what the model, Ganley said cannabis will not be sold in the same venues as tobacco, alcohol or pharmaceutical drugs.Martinez said existing liquor stores could adapt, physically wall off two sides and create separate entrances.The Alberta Medical Association declined comment Thursday, but has made it clear it strongly disagrees with setting the legal age at 18 instead of 21.“Legalizing recreational cannabis at an age of 18 knowing the clear effects on the developing brain and higher risk of addiction at younger ages is inappropriate,” the association said in previous written submissions. “It sends a message that there is no increase in risk and harm to youth, which is clearly incorrect.”Ganley has said 18 makes sense because it’s better to have young people get marijuana over the counter than from a drug dealer.The federal government won’t allow the sale of cannabis-laced edible products until it develops regulatory oversight to dictate things such as serving sizes, potency and health warnings.The state of Colorado legalized marijuana use in 2012 and has seen a rise in accidental ingestion and poisonings among children.Kathy Belton of the Injury Prevention Centre at the University of Alberta said she wants to see more information on how governments plan to keep kids safe.“The age limit is not what is shown to be best practice, but I understand why the province chose 18 years,” said Belton in an email.“The more distressing point is the lack of detail about the consumer education program.”Ganley is also promising tougher rules on enforcement before next July.Calgary police chief Roger Chaffin, acting head of the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police, says officers will face a complex challenge when marijuana goes from being a black and white issue to multiple shades of grey.For example, any adult caught with 30 grams of marijuana will be within the law — but 30.5 grams is not.“One more joint went from being legal to being illegal,” said Chaffin.“That’s where we continue to work with the government … to make sure we have a consistent approach for how we will manage those things. Do they become criminal matters? Are they matters that are going to handled under provincial legislation? These things are not yet answered.”
REGINA – A piece of Canadian football history has gone out with a bang in Regina.The last standing section of the Mosaic Stadium, home to the Saskatchewan Roughriders for 80 years, was demolished Friday as hundreds of football fans dressed in the team’s green jerseys watched on in a mix of nostalgia and sorrow.The area is being converted to a mixed-use development and the city paid just over $2 million for the facility’s deconstruction.Many fans gathered behind a security fence, while others perched on nearby rooftops to watch the westside grandstands of the stadium topple.Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field was home to the Roughriders from 1936-2016.The team opened the 2017 season in a new $278-million facility, also named Mosaic Stadium, right next door.It has a capacity of 33,000 but can be expanded to 40,000 for major events.“It is sad, a lot of memories,” Elaine Kivisto said as she watched the last bit of the stadium come down.“I’ve been a season ticket holder for 37 years, our sons played high school football here and so we came to all those games, so it is bittersweet.”(CTV Regina, CKRM)
MONCTON, N.B. – Two New Brunswick real estate agents have lost their licences after taking “outrageous and egregious advantage” of a vulnerable senior, the provincial regulator said in a scathing decision released Wednesday.Tanya Hannah and Maurice Poirier, owners of Absolute Realty, took “extreme financial advantage” of a senior by purchasing his home for about $17,000 through a series of transactions, said Alaina Nicholson, acting director of consumer affairs with the Financial and Consumer Services Commission.The home was initially valued at over $300,000.“It is clear that they gained substantially from the transaction” while the senior “lost his home, his only asset, and was provided with nothing more than a year-and-half’s rent,” she said in a 30-page decision that found Hannah and Poirier were unsuitable to be licensed under the Real Estate Agents Act.The case highlights the insidious nature of financial abuse against the elderly, commission CEO Rick Hancox said in an interview.“At the end of the day, the senior got $17,000 for his house.” he said.In 2013, the homeowner hired Hannah and Poirier to sell his Moncton-area home for $324,900, according to the regulator’s decision. After several months on the market, the agents agreed to purchase the property under Hannah’s name for $238,000.The real estate agents, then affiliated with Century 21, negotiated a renovation credit of $138,000, knocking the purchase price of the home to $100,000.Hancox said “at a stretch” the agents only spent about $25,000 renovating the home, which was described in the original listing as “well maintained.”But rather than pay the homeowner the balance, the agents obtained an interest-free loan from him and agreed to pay him $1,000 a month. Although the agents paid the senior’s rent of $670, only once did they deposit the difference of $330 in his bank account, the regulator’s decision said.It also appears the real estate agents financially benefited from an additional mortgage they obtained on the property, the decision added.Meanwhile, legal actions by the public trustee show the senior had named Hannah and Poirier as power of attorney, giving them authority to manage his affairs.The senior had also appointed Poirier as the executor, trustee and sole beneficiary of his will, with Hannah named as alternate executor, trustee and beneficiary.The case was uncovered when the senior was admitted to hospital with diminished mental capacity.The province’s public trustee took over his affairs, and upon discovering the apparent financial abuse, referred part of the case to the regulator.In response to proceedings against them, Poirier and Hannah said they took the New Brunswick man to various appointments and helped him with errands around Moncton. They also said they cleaned his apartment, brought him groceries and contacted his doctor when his health appeared to deteriorate.But the regulator found the real estate agents “befriended a vulnerable senior with an admitted drug problem and what doctors reported was limited capacity,” Nicholson said in her decision.“They struck a deal with him that was one-sided and completely self-serving. They have taken complete financial advantage” of the senior, she said.The regulator revoked both their licences and stated that neither can apply for a new licence for one year.The public trustee has launched a civil action against Hannah to recoup money owed to the senior.— By Brett Bundale in Halifax
MONTREAL – Lawyers for the man who shot dead six men at a Quebec City mosque will argue their client should receive a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years.Alexandre Bissonnette pleaded guilty in March to six charges of first-degree murder and six of attempted murder. He’s therefore liable to face consecutive sentences, which could mean up to 150 years in prison.His legal team says 150 years in prison is equivalent to sentencing Bissonnette to death by incarceration.Bissonnette’s lawyers, Charles-Olivier Gosselin and Jean-Claude Gingras, told trial judge Francois Huot on March 28 that they planned to challenge the part of the Criminal Code that allows judges to hand out consecutive sentences to people convicted of multiple murders.Their challenge, which was tabled in court this week, argues that part of the Criminal Code is unconstitutional and violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.Sentencing arguments for Bissonnette, 28, are scheduled to begin April 10.Gosselin and Gingras are scheduled to argue on behalf of their motion to challenge the law in June.The charges against Bissonnette were related to the shooting attack at the Islamic Cultural Centre in which he killed six worshippers: Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Aboubaker Thabti, 44; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57; and Ibrahima Barry, 39.The counts of attempted murder involved five people who were struck by bullets and a sixth charge encompassing the other people present at the mosque.
MONTREAL – Quebec’s striking crane operators defied an order to return to work on Friday, as the province’s transport minister announced the government’s intention make the union pay the costs of the strike.Andre Fortin said in a statement that he was preparing to send a formal notice to the crane operators’ union in order to claim damages for what he described as an illegal strike.“For almost a week, crane operators have been carrying out an illegal strike and that is unacceptable,” he said.“Worksite delays represent significant costs that taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay.”In a press conference, Quebec’s premier reiterated the message that striking workers would face consequences.“(To) those who think that because there are elections coming up, the government would haggle some kind of solution outside of the law, remove this illusion from your mind,” Philippe Couillard told reporters.Quebec’s construction commission said most of the crane operators stayed off the job for a fifth straight day on Friday despite a labour board ruling ordering them back to work.In granting the interim order on Thursday, the tribunal ruled that the urgency to act was justified because the strike was having a significant impact on worksites.The tribunal will decide at a later date whether the actions constituted a illegal strike when it hears the case on its merits.The operators are protesting changes made to training requirements that will allow workers to operate cranes without first obtaining a vocational diploma.Crane operators say the new training program is less comprehensive and could lead to a rise in workplace accidents.The construction commission, which enforces industry labour rules in Quebec, had argued the strike is illegal because crane operators are under contract until 2021.The collective agreement prohibits ordering, encouraging or supporting a strike, slowdown or lockout.There are 1,856 crane operators in the province and 1,573 of them are represented by two major unions whose lawyers argued against the order on Thursday.
GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. – The defence is not calling any witnesses in the trial of a camp cook accused of killing two people at a northern Alberta work site.Daniel Goodridge has pleaded not guilty due to a mental disorder to charges of first-degree murder, assault with a weapon and interfering with human remains.Final arguments from the Crown and defence are to be heard on Tuesday in Grande Prairie Court of Queen’s Bench.In an agreed statement of facts entered in court, Goodridge admits to the slayings as well as to terrorizing others who woke in the middle of the night to screams at the Canada North oilfield camp near Fox Creek in June 2015.Police officers found the bodies of David Derksen, who was 37, from La Crete, Alta., and 50-year-old Hally Dubois of Red Deer, Alta.Psychiatrist Lenka Zedkova testified that Goodridge’s mental state led him to believe his co-workers wanted to assault him.She said he had been hearing voices and thought he needed to kill everyone to make them stop.Court heard that Goodridge, 31, stabbed Derksen more than 70 times, cut off parts of his body and set him on fire.Some workers hid in their rooms while others fled into the bush as Goodridge ran around the remote property with a large knife.He also threw rocks at vehicles and set fires in some buildings.When RCMP arrived, Goodridge refused to drop the knife and lunged at an officer. Mounties fired 12 shots, wounding him.(CJXX, The Canadian Press)Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Derksen was running around the property.
The Canadian Press EDMONTON — The growing scandal at an all-boys private school in Toronto made its way to the Grey Cup this morning with the coaches of both teams asked about it at a pre-game news conference.St. Michael’s College School has been rocked by allegations of assault and sexual assault by students, including violent hazing.Six boys are facing charges in connection with an alleged sexual assault captured on video that police sources say involved members of a school sports team.Calgary Stampeders coach Dave Dickenson said he and Ottawa Redblacks coach Rick Campbell were concerned at what had gone on, saying sports should be positive and inclusive.Campbell declined comment, saying he did not want to downplay a serious issue but needed more information on what happened.Since the scandal broke last week, a number of former students have come forward with allegations of “sexualized” hazing and the school has said recent incidents clearly indicate it has a problem.
Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press CALGARY — The Crown says a second-degree murder charge against a Calgary senior accused in his wife’s death has been withdrawn following his death.Fred van Zuiden was found unfit to stand trial in the death of his 80-year-old wife Audrey, whose body was found in their home in October 2016.Court heard he had dementia and therefore could not understand the charge against him or even recognize his lawyer.Van Zuiden was 88 when he died at a secure care home in Camrose, Alta., on Jan. 6, but loved ones had hoped he would pass away without the murder charge attached to his name.Crown prosecutor Ken McCaffrey says he withdrew the charge as an administration step.He says he would have done so sooner had there been guarantees that van Zuiden posed no risk.“This is a very heartbreaking case and I certainly would have stayed the charge or withdrew the charge earlier if I had had those guarantees,” McCaffrey said Monday.“But from my perspective, the primary focus is the protection of the public.”McCaffrey said he hasn’t dealt with a case like this in his 26 years as a criminal lawyer and other prosecutors from across Canada have called asking about it.The van Zuidens were married nearly six decades. They ran a sailboat business together and had no children. Close friends have described them as soulmates and have said he never would have intentionally hurt his wife.“The family has now come to find closure during these difficult few years,” van Zuiden’s nephew, Robert Vlessing, said in a statement.Van Zuiden, who was born to a Jewish family in Holland, chronicled his flight from the Nazis during the Second World War in his memoir: “Call Me Mom: A Dutch Boy’s WWII Survival Story.”“We will remember Fred for the full and accomplished life he had with Audrey and as the man of passion, bravery, honour, and respect that he truly was,” said his godson, Vince Walker.
EDMONTON (660 NEWS) – We could learn more on Tuesday about the Alberta government’s plan to purchase rail tanker cars aimed at getting more crude to market.Premier Rachel Notley is scheduled to release an update at 1:00 pm MDT.In November, Notley announced her government was eyeing up to 7,000 rail cars and locomotives.READ MORE: Alberta to purchase rail cars to ship oilNow, some analysts are questioning the move.Mike Walls at Genscape said crude oil production cuts announced by the Alberta government had the unintended consequence of making rail shipments of crude less economical.“It’s possible government didn’t consider (crude oil shipments) dropping off as materially as it has in the past few weeks.”Some producers, like Imperial Oil, are eliminating almost all rail shipments in February.“If it’s going to be uneconomic for them, they’re going to take down rail,” said Walls.Walls said the lack of pipeline capacity for Alberta crude won’t eliminate the need for rail in the future.“In the near term, rail is uneconomic. Longer term, some amount of rail is going to be needed.”READ MORE: Suncor cites crude-by-rail woes as it calls for early end to Alberta oil cuts
OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been found to have broken the rules in the SNC-Lavalin affair, according to the country’s ethics commissioner, but it turns out Mario Dion’s findings may not have much of an impact on the upcoming federal election, a political scientist says.The news comes just two months ahead of the fall election, and David Moscrop with the University of Ottawa says while the controversy did cost the Liberals in the polls before, the party eventually managed to bounce back.“I’m sure it’ll affect their numbers,” Moscrop explained of the ruling. “It just means that what was going to be a close race will be an even closer race.”He adds most Canadians probably didn’t even know the country had an ethics commissioner before now, and that Dion’s findings likely won’t convert many Trudeau fans or haters.However, he notes there will likely be some attention.“Everyone’s going to use this to some political advantage,” Moscrop said. “On the other hand, when people hear ‘ethics commissioner,’ they’re going to assume that it’s significant, and that person has some credibility. So it’s going to be on the radar, and it’s going to be salient. So I suspect people will take it fairly seriously.”In his report, Dion concluded that the prime minister “contravened” Section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act by “using his position of authority over Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould to seek to influence her decision.”The Trudeau government has been accused of improperly pressuring the then-attorney general to end a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. The prime minister has insisted his government balanced the need to respect the independence of the judicial system with its concern about the potential loss of 9,000 jobs if the prosecution of the Quebec engineering firm went ahead.The controversy, which has been going on for several months, led Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott to quit the cabinet, before both women were ousted as Liberal MPs.
Wendi Russo is hosting an exciting new online auction featuring personal clothing, dresses, shoes, accessories and beauty items.Wendi Russo Launches Charity AuctionCredit/Copyright: ShopHQWendi Russo has been an engaging hostess on ShopHQ for 9 years and specializes in presenting fashion, beauty products, jewelry and gemstones and can be seen in 70 million homes nationwide via Comcast, Dish Network, Direct TV and www.shophq.com as live streaming video. Most notably, Wendi is Mrs. Minnesota United States 2010.All items will be LIVE FOR AUCTION March 14 – 24.There will also be items from some of Wendi’s pageant friends who have donated to this great cause, including:Janice McQueen Ward – Mrs United States 1999Sarah Bazey – Mrs International 2012Kellie Lightbourne – Mrs USA, national, and international titles, Regular Host on Lifetimes TV Designing SpacesKaley Sparling – Mrs World 2013Madalyn Kamkar Haake – Mrs United States 2013100% of the proceeds will benefit Shared Hope International, a non-profit devoted to the education and prevention of child sex trafficking in the U.S. and overseas.“I hope you will support the Recovery of Victims and Education of the public with my auction or a donation to Shared Hope International,” Wendi says. “Many of the pieces are from my own personal wardrobe and others are donated by Pageant Title holders and On Air Personalities from ShopHQ. Together we can help create a ripple effect and touch the lives of those who are losing theirs to slavery.”To access the auction, click here.
Activists, ambassadors and actors gathered at the United Nations earlier this month to underline their commitment to empowering women and girls with autism, a lifelong neurological condition that begins in childhood and is characterized by some degree of impaired social behaviour, communication and language.Video: Dakota Fanning wants to break down autism stereotypesWomen and girls were the focus on World Autism Awareness Day, observed on 2 April: a segment of the global population that faces “multiple challenges,” as UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated in his message for the Day.Speaking at the commemorative event in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber, Alison Smale, head of Global Communications at the UN, outlined some of the many forms of discrimination women and girls with autism face.“They are denied equal access to education and employment, to healthcare services, justice and equal recognition before the law, and they are far too often denied the freedom to make their own choices,” she stated.The UN Headquarters event included breakout panels exploring issues that have an impact on women and girls with autism such as gender disparity in diagnosis, racism and sexism, as well as the heightened risks they face of violence, sexual exploitation and abuse.American actress Dakota Fanning, star of the autism-themed film ‘Please Stand By,’ was among the panellists, who came from as far away as South Africa, Iceland and Poland.Julia Bascom, Executive Director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, provided an overview of the state of women and girls with autism.She said they are diagnosed much less frequently than men and boys, and often much later in life: sometimes only after bringing in their own children for assessment.“The diagnostic criteria for autism are normed off of four-year-old white boys in upper middle-class families in the United States,” she reported. “So, anyone who doesn’t fit in that box has an uphill climb.”With one child in 160 on the autism spectrum, Ambassador Mahmoud Saikhal of Afghanistan stressed the need to fight stigma and promote inclusion, but also to highlight the contributions made by people with autism.He gave examples such as Eileen Parker, inventor of a weighted blanket that helps some people with autism to feel calm enough to fall asleep, and Dr. Temple Grandin, a leading advocate.“Events like this help to give a voice to those who may otherwise be left behind,” he said, reading a statement on behalf of Miroslav Lajčák, the President of the UN General Assembly.Ensuring that no one is left behind is the promise of the Sustainable Development Agenda for a more just and equitable future that world leaders have committed to bring about by 2030.Ms. Smale, the UN official, called for giving women and girls with autism a direct role in policy making on matters that concern them.“To achieve the inclusive society to which we aspire, we must ensure that the fundamental rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted by Member States at the UN in 2006, are known and respected and are recognized as applying to everyone, including women and girls with autism,” she said.Though based in the US, the non-profit Autistic Self Advocacy Network – Ms. Bascom’s organization – works to empower people with autism globally, under the rallying call of ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us!’“As a society we still see autism as a negative, sad, scary thing. But for autistic women, an autism diagnosis can be a tool for empowerment,” she told the UN audience.“It’s an answer, it’s an explanation, it’s a way out of cycles of self-blame and guilt. It’s a passport to an entire community. And if we’re lucky, it’s a connection to the understanding, support and services we need in order to truly thrive –sometimes for the first time in our lives.”
Legendary Emmy-winning actor and comedian Ed Asner presents the 6th Annual Ed Asner & Friends Poker Tournament Celebrity Night on Saturday, September 8, 2018, 5:00 PM, at Playa Studios (11260 Playa Ct. Culver City, CA).Asner leads a long list of celebrities, sponsors, and top movie studio execs who are ALL-IN this year on behalf of of The Ed Asner Family Center (TEAFC) dedicated to helping differently “abled” individuals. More than 300 guests are expected to attend at this year’s event. #pokerwithed“Don’t miss our Celebrity Annual Texas Hold ’Em Tournament and Poker Night. Come compete against celebrities, friends and members of the entertainment industry together to raise funds for my new The Ed Asner Family Center,” said Asner, who has a son and grandsons on the autistic spectrum. “Our goal is to nurture and cultivate self confidence for those with special needs and to embrace and support their families.”Past celebrities that have joined Asner include Rosie O’Donnell, Don Cheadle, Clancy Brown, Matthew Modine, Michael Chiklis, Dylan McDermott, Lou Diamond Phillips, Ed Begley Jr., Tom Bergeron, Peter Fonda, Daryl Hannah, Thomas Gibson, Lisa Loeb, Michael McKean, Holly Robinson-Pete, Wayne Brady, Randy Rainbow, Sebastian Bach, Rocky Carroll, Patricia Heaton, Ivy Teves, William Zabka, Greg Grunberg, among others.Now in its sixth year, the poker tournament is expecting to raise over $100,000. The Ed Asner Family Center is a nonprofit co-founded by the Asner family whose mission is to help those with special needs and their families seeking wholeness in all facets of life. The Ed Asner Family Center not only caters to the needs of the special individual, but aims to embrace the complete family, helping them meet the challenges they face with grace and support. The Center offers arts and career advancement programs after school and on the weekends as well as counseling and mindfulness classes.A longtime advocate for the developmentally disabled and those on the autistic spectrum, Asner personally understands the challenges that special needs families face, and the healing power of a creative, loving environment. The Los Angeles based The Ed Asner Family Center is the first of many branches nationwide. In the past, the Ed Asner Poker Tournament has raised much needed funds for charitable organizations such as Autism Speaks and the Autism Society of America.In addition to the Celebrity Poker Tournament, guests will enjoy a dinner buffet, cocktails, silent auction and opportunity drawings. Poker prizes will be awarded for the top three winners. Non-poker players can also join in to watch the poker tournament, enjoy the buffet, cocktails, and participate in the Silent/Live Auctions.
Brandi Carlile has announced an all-female music festival, to take place in Mexico January 30 – February 3.The Girls Just Wanna Weekend will feature Indigo Girls, Marren Morris, KT Tunstall, Patty Griffin and many more.“These past few years I’ve really been noticing the exclusion of women at the top of mainstream festival lineups,” said Brandi. “This is a weekend holiday in Mexico celebrating women in rock and roll.“Men and women and anyone in between… EVERYONE is welcome from all walks of life! There will be tequila, there will be sunshine and we will be demonstrating that women are the main event!”The festival will take place at the Hard Rock Hotel, Riviera Hotel. More information can be found here.