HALIFAX – It was 1948 when her father told her. He was laying on the chesterfield in the living room of their Yarmouth, N.S., home, his body ravaged by tuberculosis.“He had consumption and he knew he only had a few months to live,” recalls Mary Lou Parker. “He told me we had Indian blood in us, which made us Metis.”The 12-year-old felt proud of her Indigenous roots. But she was warned never to reveal her “half-breed” heritage, as it was then called, for fear of being shunned.So she kept it secret until years later, in a quest to explore her identity and gain recognition, she formed the Eastern Woodland Metis Nation Nova Scotia, using a term — Metis — usually associated with Western Canada.Parker has since discovered there are many more people like her in Eastern Canada.Her group — one of many eastern Metis groups to emerge in recent years — has grown exponentially, and now has 30,000 members.But the sudden proliferation of self-reported Metis in Eastern Canada has emerged as a profoundly divisive debate.Census data show the number of people who call themselves Metis soared nearly 150 per cent in Quebec and 125 per cent in Nova Scotia from 2006 to 2016, according to Statistics Canada. Dozens of new Metis organizations cropped up over the same period.Many use identity cards that look much like Indian Status cards. Others have tried to claim Indigenous rights through the courts, fuelling a perception that the aboriginal newcomers are so-called rights grabbers.“It’s one thing to say ‘I’m First Nation, this is part of my culture and I want to learn more about it,’” says Cheryl Maloney, a Mi’kmaw activist and Cape Breton University political science professor.“But that’s not what they’re saying. They’re trying to be viewed as Metis under the Constitution, and to have rights and benefits.”Many critics reject outright that there is a distinct Metis identity in the Maritimes and Quebec.People of mixed blood in the region either integrated into Indigenous communities or assimilated with European newcomers, unlike the distinct Metis People of Louis Riel in Western Canada.“When you’re looking at the Maritimes and Quebec, the children of intermarriage were accepted by either party, in our case the Mi’kmaq or the Acadian,” Mi’kmaw elder and historian Daniel Paul says.“There was no such thing as a Metis community here in this region.”For those who consider themselves eastern Metis, the rejection of their identity is exclusionary and mean-spirited — a continuation of their oppressed status and the maltreatment mixed-raced people have faced for generations.They argue that a distinct mixed-heritage people existed in the region with a shared history and culture, not simply Indigenous ancestry. But these interracial people were compelled to identify as white for fear of discrimination.“We were forced to assimilate with white people, our identities stolen,” says Parker, the grand chief of the Eastern Woodland Metis. “Now we’re reclaiming our native heritage.”The 82-year-old says she’s not looking for benefits — just recognition and inclusion.“We’re not begging for money … we’re not after government hand outs,” she says. “We know who we are, we just want the recognition.”For the Mi’kmaq people who have made significant sacrifices fighting for treaty rights, though, it’s troubling. They say Indigenous Peoples suffered enormously from efforts to assimilate them. This includes the Residential School system — what one federal bureaucrat called the “final solution to the Indian Problem.”“We’ve gone through hell and back over the last many years with government and settlers,” says Allison Bernard, fisheries co-ordinator with the Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative from Eskasoni First Nation in Cape Breton.Skepticism of self-reported Metis in the region is understandable given the experience of Indigenous people here, he says, pointing out that he was forced to defend his right to hunt in court after shooting a moose.“Throughout history we resisted colonization and spoke out about the horrors against Indigenous Peoples,” says Jarvis Googoo, a non-practising lawyer in Halifax and a Mi’kmaw from We’koqma’q First Nation.“Where were these Metis people all this time?”Yet hiding Indigenous heritage was a matter of survival, says Karole Dumont, chief of the Council of the First Metis People of Canada.“If you could pass off as white you did,” she says. “Being Indian or Metis was dirty and it was taboo.”Metis families “hid in plain sight,” Dumont says, and while they didn’t “advertise” their Indigenous roots, they continued living as Metis in secret.“Our grandparents and great-grandparents did whatever they had to do to ensure that none of their kids ended up in residential schools.”The debate over the eastern Metis movement was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year when the East Coast Music Association pulled a Nova Scotia nominee from consideration for an Indigenous artist award.At issue was the heritage of Cape Breton guitarist Maxim Cormier, who identifies as Acadian and Metis. His name was withdrawn from the Indigenous artist of the year category after questions surfaced about his background.Dumont says revoking the nomination was “reckless and unfair.”“The Metis people are the only people who have to lay out their pedigree and prove their identity in Canada.”But Googoo says jobs, education and awards programs geared towards Indigenous Peoples are an important piece of reconciliation. He says having newly identified Metis flood those programs is a step backwards.“It’s worsening the problem because these organizations think they’re doing their part for reconciliation.”The nomination controversy is a microcosm of the maelstrom of debate surrounding the Eastern Metis.American anthropologist Circe Sturm uses the term “race shifting” to describe white Americans identifying as Cherokee to “reclaim or create something they feel they have lost” or “opt out of mainstream white society.”Darryl Leroux, associate professor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, draws parallels between the new Cherokee communities in the U.S. and Metis groups in Eastern Canada.He questions whether having “an ancestor from the 1600s makes one Indigenous today,” especially when there are no cultural or historical attachments to the Aboriginal ancestry.Leroux points out that his own genealogy includes Mohawk and Algonquin ancestors, but that doesn’t make him Indigenous, he says. Yet some of his relatives are claiming to be Metis — creating a rift in his family.“Often there’s only one person in a family claiming Metis identity,” he says. “Even their kin are not on board with what they’re doing.”In a journal article he co-wrote with Alberta academic Adam Gaudry, “White Settler Revision and Making Metis Everywhere,” Leroux identifies a “tactical use of long-ago racial mixing to re-imagine a ‘Metis’ identity.”Leroux notes the spikes in self-identified Metis populations followed court decisions recognizing treaty rights.While fewer than a thousand Nova Scotians identified as Metis in the 1996 census, that number more than tripled to 3,135 after the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed Mi’kmaq treaty rights in the 1999 Marshall decision, according to Statistics Canada.The population swelled again after the 2003 Powley decision, when the Supreme Court affirmed Metis have an Aboriginal right to hunt for food.By the 2006 census, self-identified Metis in Nova Scotia had once again more than doubled, reaching 23,315 by 2016. The increase mirrors a similar trend in New Brunswick and Quebec.“It cannot be a coincidence that it shifts following court decisions,” says Leroux, who cites evidence that some of the people now identifying as Metis were initially opposed to Indigenous treaty rights and even had ties to white supremacist groups.Jean Teillet, lead counsel in the landmark Powley case, is the great-grandniece of Louis Riel and one of the country’s top Metis and First Nations rights lawyers.Her argument — which the highest court in the land ultimately adopted — was that a rights-bearing Metis community must prove more than a genealogical connection to an Indigenous ancestor. The Metis Nation out west, for example, has an origin story, a name, kinship ties, language, traditions, symbols, territory and culture such as music, dance and food.“This is not just about individuals who have what I call an ever-so-great Indian grandmama,” she says. “This is a historical people that came into being before Canada asserted itself on their territory.”Teillet says the Metis claims of Eastern Canada appear to hinge on one key marker of membership — a genealogical connection — without any other evidence.“Sometimes these people in Eastern Canada rest their entire claim on a 400-year-old connection to one First Nations woman,” she says. “There is nothing more there.”Around 20 court cases have been launched by self-reported Metis in the region claiming Aboriginal rights. Each of them has failed, Teillet says.In one decision, a judge said it would be “easier to nail Jell-O to the wall” than find evidence to support the claim, she says.“I think they’re concocting a story out of thin air.”But some researchers studying the phenomenon argue that there is empirical and archival evidence that supports the existence of eastern Metis.Daphne Williamson, an aboriginal lawyer who works with the Nova Scotia Wampanoag community and Acadian Metis groups in the province, says the community didn’t disappear — it was disrupted and dispersed during the Acadian Expulsion.Still, she argues that their identity, language, culture and sense of community persist to the present day.Sebastien Malette, assistant professor at Carleton University, says genealogical data shows southwest Nova Scotia had three communities: First Nations people, “pure blood” Acadian settlers, and the “sang-meles,” or mixed blood.“The so-called pure Acadians of white descent didn’t want to marry the Acadians with Indian blood,” so a Metis people distinctive from the Acadian and the Mi’kmaq formed, Malette says.“There can be an invisible community due to stigma,” he says. “They have a long history of being stigmatized due to their heritage and being told they don’t exist.”Malette admits some eastern Metis may be motivated by hunting and fishing treaty rights. But he said the constitution of certain Metis groups have the stated objective of not interfering with Mi’kmaq rights.“I certainly can’t vouch for everyone,” he says. “But there are many Metis who feel aligned with their Mi’kmaq roots and feel a friendship and a closeness to the First Nations and just want their identity recognized.”Some of the Metis groups, though, have issued membership cards that look like Indian Status cards and are using them to receive benefits.It’s a problem Metis activists acknowledge. But they argue it’s an isolated issue that doesn’t represent the vast majority of eastern Metis.“People see the newly identified Metis as trying to cash in on a distant ancestry, but that’s wrong,” says Christian Boudreau, a director of l’Association des Acadiens-Metis Souriquois. “I don’t agree with taking any benefits away from the Mi’kmaq.”The federal government says it’s aware of concerns with the cards, and has received a number of inquiries on the issue.“While these cards convey membership to an organization, they do not confer Indian Status, nor do they confer rights and benefits linked explicitly to Indian status,” Stephanie Palma, spokeswoman for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, said in an email.“The government takes allegations and complaints related to the misuse of Indian Status cards very seriously.”
TORONTO – Ontario has introduced broad consumer protection legislation that covers home warranties, ticket sales, real estate practices, and travel services. Here are some of the provisions in the bill:Ticket sales— Bans the use of automated ticket purchasing software, or so-called scalper bots.— Bans tickets from being resold at more than 50 per cent of the face value.— Makes it illegal to knowingly resell tickets that were purchased by bots.— Ticket sellers would also have to disclose how many tickets will be on sale as well as the venue capacity, an itemized list of all fees, taxes and service charges.— Ticket resellers would have to disclose the ticket’s face value.— Companies would have the power to sue other companies for losses resulting from the use of bots.Home warranties— Establishes one administrative authority to deliver the warranty program for new homes and a separate one to regulate new home builders.— Clarifies the dispute resolution process to make it easier and fairer for new home owners.— Gives the auditor general the power to investigate the regulatory authorities.Real estate— Allows the government to create regulations specifying circumstances in which real estate agents and brokerages are prohibited from representing both buyer and seller in a transaction.— Real estate sellers, brokers and brokerages would also be subject to stiffer fines if they violate a code of ethics, up from $25,000 to $50,000 and $100,000 for brokerages.Travel industry— A travel salesperson could be required to take educational courses if a complaint is made against them.— Travel salespeople would no longer have to register as both a travel agent and a wholesaler.— Allows the government to make regulations governing advertising by out-of-province travel sellers who target Ontarians.
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Nissan Canada Finance says it has been the victim of a data breach that may have involved the personal information of some customers who financed their vehicles through the automaker.The company says it does not know precisely how many people were affected, but that it was contacting all of its roughly 1.13 million current and previous customers.It says it is still investigating what personal information has been impacted, but that it became aware of the unauthorized access on Dec. 11.The company says the breach may have involved access to the personal information of customers who financed their vehicles through Nissan Canada Finance and Infiniti Financial Services Canada.The unauthorized access may have included customer names, addresses, vehicle makes and models, vehicle identification numbers, credit scores, loan amounts and monthly payments.Nissan Canada Finance is offering all of its customers 12 months of credit monitoring services through TransUnion. It also says it has contacted Canadian privacy regulators, law enforcement and data security experts to help investigate.
HALIFAX – A new domestic violence court is set to open in Nova Scotia next month, moving cases from the traditional slow-moving, adversarial justice system to one that aims to quickly put a stop to the abuse.The court, presided over by Judge Amy Sakalauskas, will hear its first case on the eve of International Women’s Day next month at Halifax provincial court.“The criminal court process isn’t always the most appropriate to deal with these very complicated cases involving human interaction, dysfunction and difficulties,” said Pamela Williams, chief judge of the Provincial and Family Courts of Nova Scotia.The court will take only those who accept responsibility by pleading guilty, and use “more of a problem-solving, therapeutic approach,” she said.Abusers are thoroughly assessed, and given education and therapy that could last five to 25 weeks. Only then will they be sentenced — a reversal from how it usually works.“What will help in domestic violence court is the victim and the accused will be offered services at the get-go,” said Dolly Mosher, victim services co-ordinator with Halifax Regional Police.Many provinces have had similar courts for years, but Nova Scotia only created its first permanent domestic violence court in Sydney in last year’s provincial budget, after a four-year pilot project.The Halifax court opens March 7, with an annual budget of $600,000.It’s a sweeping change from the current approach to domestic violence cases, which often take many months to wind through the criminal justice system, Williams said.“Although matters were coming before the courts and people were charged, the reality was that we were having difficulty with either the accused not showing up for the trials or the victim didn’t feel comfortable coming forward,” said Williams.Recent figures underscore the need for a new approach to domestic assault in Nova Scotia.In 2016, there were 2,462 victims of police-reported violence committed by an intimate partner in the province, an increase of more than five per cent from the year before, according to Statistics Canada figures compiled for the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women.Female victims of intimate partner abuse, meanwhile, rose nearly eight per cent to 1,913 in 2016 from 1,778 in 2015.The new court aims to curb these numbers through a focus on early intervention and rehabilitation. Mosher said that means education and counselling will come when the abuser is often more remorseful and willing to change.“A lot of them grew up with constant fighting and arguing. They saw Grandpa beat Grandma and they don’t know any other way,” Mosher said. “A lot of men say they want help.”As with Nova Scotia’s special court for opioid addicts, the new court represents a shift away from simply punishing behaviours rooted in complex societal problems.It’s also part of an ongoing shift away from an era when domestic violence was largely dismissed a private matter.In the past, only the most egregious cases of intimate partner abuse would lead to charges and even then, an assault that involved spouses was seen as a family law issue rather than a criminal law issue, Williams said.Although sexual assault against a spouse became an offence in 1983, and the Criminal Code was amended to clarify consent issues a decade later, in the past police remained reluctant to intervene in domestic disputes.But a series of high-profile homicides and growing awareness about violence against women in the mid-1990s prompted a number of provinces — including Nova Scotia — to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to domestic abuse.“Nova Scotia was in line with a national movement to recognize that domestic violence is a crime,” Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Gillis said in an email. “The pro-arrest, pro-charge, pro-prosecution policy, was put in place to take the burden off the victim to press charges.”Now, if police find evidence of an assault, they have to press charges, Mosher said.“Women will have blood running down their face and say ‘No, he never hit me. I hit my eye on the corner of the door,” she said. “Women who have been in the system or abusive relationships for a long time come up with really good excuses of how they got hurt, and police are trained for that.”But while the zero-tolerance policy has been effective at ensuring police treat spousal abuse as a criminal matter, the justice system has historically been less equipped at responding to intimate partner violence, said Claudia Mann, court services director with the Department of Justice.“The criminal justice system is set up really as an adversarial process that basically assumes there is no ongoing relationship between the perpetrator and person who has been harmed,” she said. “A specialty court where everyone involved is trained in the dynamics of intimate partner violence makes the criminal justice system response more nimble.”Mosher said many assaults are plead out to a peace bond — meaning, the abuser promises to stay away — because “at the end of the day, the woman just wants him out of her life and doesn’t want him to be allowed to contact her.”But in cases with children involved or when accused is the breadwinner, women just want the abuse to end, and a peace bond forbidding contact is unrealistic, she said.“They don’t necessarily want their partners to be prosecuted,” Mann added. “They want the violence to stop, they want the behaviour to stop, they want their children and themselves to be safe. But they don’t necessarily welcome state intervention.”Abuse is often exacerbated by mental health, addictions or similar issues. The court has ushered in community-based groups that can help address the problems and assist with long-term change once the court-ordered program wraps up.Williams said the “million-dollar question” is whether one sitting a week — on Wednesdays — will be enough to meet demand for the program, but she said it’s possible it could be expanded in the future.Mann said some cases of domestic violence will still require a “traditional approach” and a criminal trial. But she sees the potential of a different kind of court.“We have a lot of expertise at the table. We are trying to be more open to what the victim wants from the process in a way we haven’t been able to.”
GRAND MANAN, N.B. – A little-known cross-border dispute that has simmered between Canada and the United States since the late 1700s is now approaching the boiling point.In the past two weeks, at least 10 Canadian fishing boats from New Brunswick have been intercepted by U.S. Border Patrol agents while fishing in the disputed waters around Machias Seal Island, a spokesman for the fishermen says.Laurence Cook, chairman of the advisory board for Lobster Fishing Area 38, said Wednesday that some Canadian vessels were boarded by American agents who asked about possible illegal immigrants.“There’s been a bit of a misunderstanding there somewhere,” Cook said in an interview. “They’re in international waters, so border patrol shouldn’t be boarding Canadian vessels.”Machias Seal Island, which is about 19 kilometres southwest of Grand Manan Island and east of Maine, is in a disputed area known as the Grey Zone, where lobster fishermen from both Canada and the United States have long fished side by side.The small island is a flat, treeless piece of rock, which includes a large colony of puffins and a lighthouse that is manned by two Canadian lightkeepers year-round.However, both Canada and the United States claim sovereign jurisdiction over the island and the surrounding waters at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy.As lucrative lobster catches have increased in the zone, competition between fishermen has intensified in the past decade.“Neither country accepts that there is a Grey Zone,” said Stephen Kelly, a research scholar at Duke University in Durham, N.C., and a former American diplomat who served in Canada. “That’s created more tension in the area over the last decade.”Kelly said both countries have done very little to assert their claims.“Sometimes doing nothing is better,” he said. “But in this case, just because it looks like it’s not broken can be very deceiving — especially with our new president in the United States. The last thing Canada wants is for Donald Trump to seize on this as an example of U.S. sovereignty being challenged.”The suggestion that the border agents were looking for illegal immigrants seems improbable, he said.“That’s possible, but … the Gulf of Maine is not a major route for illegal immigrants sneaking into the United States,” Kelly said. “If anything, people are sneaking the other way. They’re trying to get out of the U.S. and into Canada to claim asylum.”He said drug smuggling is a more relevant concern.On Grand Manan, local residents are speaking out about the U.S. intervention, said Cook.“I guess the comment on the street would be: ‘Typical American bullies,’” he said. “They’re not happy about it, and they don’t think (the Americans) have any business doing this.”Cook said he’s never before seen border patrol agents in the area, where the U.S. Coast Guard typically patrols. He said he had no idea why American authorities are suddenly flexing their muscles.“All of a sudden the attitude has changed. What caused that? You’ll have to talk to border patrol.”The U.S. Border Patrol, which is part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, declined to comment and referred all inquiries to the U.S. State Department, which did not respond to a request for an interview.Global Affairs Canada distributed a brief statement saying it is investigating “these incidents that occurred in Canadian waters.”Spokesman John Babcock said the Canadian government is also talking with U.S. agencies, though he did not provide details about the fishermen’s allegations or Ottawa’s response.“Canada’s sovereignty over the Machias Seal Island and the surrounding waters is long-standing and has a strong foundation in international law,” Babcock said.“Until the matter of the boundary is resolved, we will continue to take practical steps with the U.S. to ensure that the area is well-managed. Canada and the U.S. have a long history of co-operation which ensures that fishing in this area is well-managed and safe for both countries.”The Grand Manan Fishermen’s Association issued a statement that used much the same language. As well, the group suggested the actions of the U.S. agents may have been routine.“We understand that a few Grand Manan fishermen were approached by the United State Border Services during the month of June. Our understanding is that this was a part of a regular exercise being conducted along the U.S. marine border.”The association said it has enjoyed a respectful and cordial relationship with its U.S. counterparts.— By Michael MacDonald in Halifax
VANCOUVER – A tug that capsized and sank at the mouth of the Fraser River off Vancouver has been pulled from the water and officials say the next step will be determining how much fuel leaked from the vessel.The 19-metre-long George H. Ledcor was hauling a loaded gravel barge on the north arm of the Fraser River not far from Vancouver International Airport when it capsized late Monday.David Hoff with Ledcor Group, the operator of the tug, said Thursday that the vessel was lifted out of the water and crews would be draining potentially contaminated water from its hull.“It’s called dewatering, so they will be pumping the water that is inside the tug to a special container on the barge,” Hoff said in a phone interview.The barge, a large crane, divers and other specialized crew were needed to complete the operation, which officials had initially hoped would have wrapped up within a day of the sinking.Hoff said the vessel’s hull would also need to be carefully checked.“The dewatering will take a while and they will have to go in and inspect for damage and inspect the vessel before they start to move it,” he said.If there’s no damage, the tug should float on its own, said Hoff, but environmental concerns and numerous approvals would be required before it could be moved upriver to a shipyard.It remains unclear how much of the diesel fuel the tug was carrying was released into the river. A strong smell of diesel was noticeable near the spill site on Tuesday.Dan Bate with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said the amount of diesel lost is expected to be much lower than the 22,000 litres the tug was capable of carrying.“We won’t have a better sense of that number until the tanks in the vessel are measured which will allow us to get a better number on the actual volumes leaked,” he said.Hoff said earlier that as much as 600 litres of diesel had been recovered in the first 24 hours after the accident and Bate said diesel is considered to be a lighter fuel that can evaporate quickly.The Transportation Safety Board said it also deployed a team of investigators to the site to gather information and assess the incident.The board investigates marine occurrences to advance transportation safety, but does not assign blame or determine civil or criminal liability. (The Canadian Press, News1130)
OTTAWA – “Since we formed government, the Canadian economy has created over 60 per cent more full-time jobs than the Conservatives did over the same time period.” — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Aug. 14, 2018.___Hoping to beat back Conservative claims that their environment-friendly agenda is a costly jobs killer, the Liberal government has been burnishing its economic record lately, insisting that it has done better at creating jobs than its Tory predecessor.It’s an important exercise in spin for a government whose central brand is about convincing Canadians that “the environment and the economy go hand-in-hand” — that fighting climate change, in other words, needn’t come at the expense of economic growth.Hence the recent message from Trudeau and other cabinet ministers that since being elected in 2015, the Liberal government has created 60 per cent more jobs in Canada than the Conservatives did during the same time period.Are they telling the truth?Spoiler alert: The Canadian Press Baloney Meter is a dispassionate examination of political statements culminating in a ranking of accuracy on a scale of “no baloney” to “full of baloney” (complete methodology below).This one earns a rating of “a lot of baloney.” Here’s why.THE FACTSOfficials in the Prime Minister’s Office pointed to Employment Minister Patty Hajdu’s office to provide a breakdown of how Trudeau came up with that 60 per cent figure.Veronique Simard, a spokeswoman for Hajdu, said the Liberal government created 542,500 full-time jobs in the 33 months since winning the 2015 election, while the Conservatives under former prime minister Stephen Harper “created just 322,300 full-time jobs in its last 33 months in office.”Trudeau wasn’t the only one spreading the message: in a response to Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre deriding the Liberal carbon plan as a “job killer,” Environment Minister Catherine McKenna tweeted, “Our government has created 60 per cent more jobs than the Harper Conservatives did in the same time period.”“The Canadian economy is humming,” she wrote. “Our emissions are dropping. We have a plan and it’s working.”THE NUMBERSTo calculate the number of jobs created over a specific period, The Canadian Press relied on figures from Statistics Canada for full-time jobs each month. The agency reports the total number of people employed monthly, which stood at 15.1 million full-time workers in July.Calculations by CP confirmed the data provided by Hajdu’s office: 542,500 new full-time jobs between October 2015 and July 2018, and just 322,300 new jobs between January 2013 and October 2015 — a difference, for the record, of 59.4 per cent.But there’s more to the claim than just the numbers.THE EXPERTSFor one thing, there’s the familiar political convention of taking credit for economic growth — a practice that brings to mind the old saw about “lies, damned lies and statistics.”Any suggestion that the Liberals are “somehow responsible” for those numbers confuses the sequence of events with causality, said Stephen Gordon, an economics professor at Laval University.“The fact that this is done so often doesn’t make it any less wrong,” said Gordon — no fan, he said, of using such statistics to suggest that the arrival of any new government results in more jobs.But for the sake of argument, the Liberals should be comparing their first 33 months not with the end of the Harper era, but the beginning — a period that saw 635,400 new jobs between January 2006 and October 2008.“If you’re going to argue that the arrival of a Liberal government leads to increased employment, you might as well argue that the arrival of a Conservative government has an even stronger effect on employment,” Gordon said.“It’s a stupid game to be playing, and I wish politicians would stop playing it.”Governments often “claim credit for — and take blame for — economic performance for which they often have little control,” added Emmett Macfarlane, a political science professor at the University of Waterloo.“Stephen Harper was no more responsible for the 2008 global recession than Justin Trudeau was for job growth in the month he was elected.”Using month-by-month statistics to measure performance in the job market can be unreliable, since the story can change dramatically, depending on which months are chosen as reference points, said Sheila Block, senior economist from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.During the Conservative government’s first 33 months in office, the economy was booming, while their last 33 months included a collapse in oil prices, she noted.THE VERDICTIn truth, governments of all stripes take credit for short-term and medium-term economic indicators that are actually beyond their control. And they are selective about the data they choose to promote, as well as the time frames, to ensure it supports their narrative.Indeed, by contrasting their first 33 months with the Conservative government’s last 33 months, they are effectively comparing apples and oranges.METHODOLOGYThe Baloney Meter is a project of The Canadian Press that examines the level of accuracy in statements made by politicians. Each claim is researched and assigned a rating based on the following scale:No baloney — the statement is completely accurate.A little baloney — the statement is mostly accurate but more information is required.Some baloney — the statement is partly accurate but important details are missing.A lot of baloney — the statement is mostly inaccurate but contains elements of truth.Full of baloney — the statement is completely inaccurate.
– With files from Mike Eppel and Nigel NewloveRelated stories:Top 10 takeaways from the 2019 federal budgetLiberals offer ‘modest’ help for first-time homebuyersReconciliation with Indigenous Peoples key theme in Liberal pre-election budgetLiberals to create national drug agency as building block of pharmacare planNew $1B border strategy will get tough on irregular asylum seekersOntario’s finance minister criticizes federal spending and carbon pricing plan Thanks to higher than expected tax revenue this year, the budget sees more than $4 billion being spent immediately with over $2 billion going out to municipalities for much needed infrastructure repairs and other short-term projects.“To give our communities the help they need, and to ensure that money earmarked for communities is invested as intended, we will be giving a one-time boost to municipalities through a municipal infrastructure top-up — doubling this year’s federal commitment through the Gas Tax Fund,” Morneau explained.There’s also help on the way for millennial home buyers with the creation of the First-Time Home Buyers incentive which will see a reduction in the requirements for down-payments under mortgage insurance. The plan could effectively cut the monthly cost of a $350,000 mortgage by $280 per month.“That’s real help for people who want to own their own home,” Morneau added. “For young people. For families. For Canadians who need just that little extra help to make their dream of owning a home a reality.”There is also an increase to the amount you can take out of your RRSP for a first-time home purchase — going up from $25,000 to $35,000.The government is not making any changes to the mortgage stress tests brought in last year, only saying it will adjust if necessary.The government is setting up a new program called Canada Training Benefit, to provide skills training for Canadian workers and companies.Workers aged 25-64 (with an income of less than $150,000 per year) will accumulate $250 per year in tax credits up to $5,000 which workers can claim as a tax credit on college or university tuition on skills upgrade programs.“It’s a personalized, portable benefit that will help people plan for — and get — the training they need,” the Finance Minister said.The budget is also lowering the costs of student loans, proposing a reduction in the floating interest rate, fixed interest rate and interest-free grace period on outstanding debt. The average student borrower would save about $2,000 over the lifetime of their loan.There is also more support toward Indigenous Reconciliation, with an additional $4.5 billion over five years totaling $17 billion per year by 2021-22.Morneau outlined how that money would be spent, saying: “It includes new support for Indigenous languages, for Indigenous entrepreneurs and businesses, for mental health and home care, and for emergency response — all critical parts of healthy and successful Indigenous communities. And most critically … it includes continued investments to make sure that these communities have clean, safe water.”The budget’s single biggest-ticket item, however, is nearly $4 billion in aid for dairy and poultry farmers impacted by new free-trade deals.The budget does not provide details for how or when the money will be doled out to farmers and producers, who have long railed against any move that would expand foreign involvement in their sectors.But the promise of compensation could nonetheless salve such opposition and concerns about lost income, particularly in Quebec and Ontario, where many of Canada’s supply-managed farmers and producers operate.“To ensure that Canada’s dairy, poultry, and egg farmers can continue to provide Canadians with high-quality products in a world of freer trade, we will make available an income protection program for supply-managed farmers, along with a measure to protect the value of quota investments these farmers have already made,” Morneau said.National PharmacareThe Trudeau Liberals say they are moving toward national pharmacare by creating a new national drug agency to lower medication costs.The federal government says the new agency will help negotiate better drug prices and drive down the cost of medication for Canadians by up to $3 billion in the long term.The plan, contained in the federal budget, also involves creating a central list of drugs considered cost-effective and a strategy to lower the price of high-cost drugs used to treat rare diseases.“Parents of children with rare diseases know these costs all too well,” Morneau said. “It’s not just dollars and cents to these moms and dads … It’s nights spent sleeping by a hospital bedside. It’s a constant worry that never goes away. And it’s knowing how much happier and healthier their kids could be, if they could just get the treatment they need.”The federal government says prescription-drug spending in Canada has spiked over the past 30 years — up from $2.6 billion in 1985 to $33.7 billion in 2018.The Liberals say the measures in today’s fiscal blueprint will help build a system to ensure Canadians get prescription drugs they need.The plan comes after a federally struck expert panel issued a report laying out what it called the “building blocks” of pharmacare, including the recommendation that Ottawa oversee an agency to roll out a national drug plan.Highlights from the federal Liberal budget:$1.7 billion over five years, and $586 million a year after that, for a Canada Training Benefit to help workers upgrade skills and acquire new ones while keeping their jobs. The benefit includes a $250-a-year tax credit to pay for training programs and access to employment insurance to cover living expenses for up to four weeks away from work.$1.18 billion over five years to toughen border security, including hiring more judges to handle judicial reviews of asylum applications.Measures to make housing more affordable, especially for first-time buyers, by letting them borrow $35,000 from RRSPs (up from $25,000) and having the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. contribute a small share of equity for down payments.A federal deficit of $19.8 billion, including a $3-billion “risk adjustment,” an increase of $200 million from last year’s forecast. The Liberals’ forecast again includes a gradual reduction in the deficit, but not quite as quickly as anticipated last year. By 2023-2024, the projected federal deficit is $11.4 billion.$3.9 billion for farmers in supply-managed industries affected by new trade agreements with the United States and Asian countries.$2.2 billion for municipalities’ and First Nations’ infrastructure projects, through a one-time boost to the amount distributed through the federal gas-tax transfer.$1.2 billion over three years to enhance social services for Indigenous families and children, the main element in a package of spending aimed at Indigenous Peoples.Lowering the interest rate on Canada Student Loans to the prime rate, from the current prime-plus-2.5-percentage-points.Creating a new Canadian Drug Agency to centralize the evaluations of the effectiveness and efficiency of new drugs and buy in bulk nationwide, instead of province-by-province.$500 million a year, starting in 2022, to subsidize the costs of drugs for rare diseases, whose high costs are distributed among very few patients.$300 million over three years for rebates of up to $5,000 on electric or hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles (with a maximum purchase price of $45,000).$950 million for municipal governments to refit their own buildings for energy efficiency and to provide their own subsidy programs for private homeowners to do the same.$50 million over five years to devise a new national dementia strategy. Reeling from the on-going SNC-Lavalin controversy and months before the next federal election, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is hoping a budget filled with promises for Canadians of all ages will be enough to earn your vote.The federal Liberals are spending billions of dollars on everything from pharmacare to helping workers learn new job skills to easing the burden on first-time home buyers in its final budget before voters go to the polls in October.“There’s a growing sense of uncertainty taking root around the world, and Canada is not immune to those worries,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau said while introducing the government’s fourth budget titled Investing in the Middle Class.“A good job, the ability to make ends meet, the chance to build a life that’s at least as good as the one your parents had — that’s what we all want.”The Trudeau government, which is bringing in more money than forecast, is projecting a $19.8-billion deficit for the 2019-20 fiscal year.That’s $200 million more borrowing than anticipated in a year that was supposed to see the federal books deliver a surplus, according to the Liberal election platform from the 2015 campaign.Morneau says the government needs to deal with what he calls growing concern around the world that good jobs won’t last, children will be worse off than their parents and that living longer will mean a crushing financial burden.So it’s sprinkling billions of dollars across a variety of programs meant to help people at every stage of their lives.WATCH: How the federal budget is targetting Canadians of all ages.
TORONTO — A former Toronto pastor found guilty of manslaughter in the death of his pregnant wife will face a sentencing hearing today.In February, a jury found Philip Grandine guilty in the death of his wife, who drowned in her bathtub in October 2011.Anna Karissa Grandine was 29 years old and 20 weeks pregnant when she died.Prosecutors alleged that Grandine drugged his wife with an anti-anxiety medication so she wouldn’t be as vigilant while he continued an affair with her friend.The Crown said he then failed to stop his wife from getting in a bath while sedated.Grandine had previously been tried for first-degree murder in his wife’s death and was found guilty of manslaughter, but the conviction was overturned on appeal.Ontario’s highest court found the trial judge made an error when answering a question from the jury in that case and ordered a new trial on the manslaughter charge.That meant prosecutors could no longer argue that Grandine meant to kill his wife.The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Senate’s ethics watchdog is telling the upper chamber to provide him documents more quickly to speed up investigations and strengthen his independence.Pierre Legault recommended in a report that senators use parliamentary privilege in fewer instances to withhold files, reports and emails from him, particularly in cases of sexual harassment.He wrote that slow responses and refusals could affect the findings of a probe, cause unnecessary delays and potentially compromise the watchdog’s independence.Legault also says the ethics officer should weigh in on a harassment case only if the upper chamber determines it is significant enough to cause damage to the reputation of the Senate.The recommendations are attached to a report made public just before the Canada Day long weekend that found former senator Don Meredith harassed a half-dozen employees, as well as a constable in the parliamentary protective service.Parliamentary privilege is meant to protect legislators’ ability to do their jobs without fear of interference or retribution by, for instance, keeping outsiders from nosing around in their official business. In this case, Legault struggled with being an appointee of the Senate, doing work for the Senate, being stymied by the Senate’s and senators’ reluctance to co-operate with him.The co-founder of the group Democracy Watch said the ethics officer’s notes on his investigation of Meredith’s conduct describe a layer-cake of conflicts for senators — first they must decide harassment has taken place, but then they have control over what investigators can view.“It’s a recipe for cover-ups and abuse of vulnerable people for a committee of senators to control investigations of allegations of harassment or other wrongdoing by senators, especially when the committee claims it has the right to keep information about wrongdoing secret,” Duff Conacher said.The Senate’s conflict-of-interest committee said in a statement that it will review the report but won’t make any further comments for now. Any decisions the committee makes would come in the form of a report that would be made public.Meredith resigned in 2017 before the Senate could vote on a recommendation that he be expelled over a sexual relationship with a teenage girl.At the time, the ethics officer was also looking into allegations of workplace harassment after top senators became concerned about the high rate of turnover among Meredith’s office staff. His review only came after the internal committee examination confirmed senators’ concerns about a toxic workplace.During the review, the details of which Legault made public Friday, the ethics officer ran into hurdles accessing documents needed as part of the probe.Legault wrote that the internal-economy committee — charged with overseeing Senate rules and spending — “invoked parliamentary privilege on a number of occasions,” meaning the ethics officer couldn’t get what he wanted. The committee also vetted all requests for information he made to the Senate’s administration.“Being required to wait for the (committee) to approve my requests and, in some cases deny them while requesting further details and information about them, may result in unnecessary delays and also may compromise my independence,” Legault wrote.Legault also noted that refusing information based on parliamentary privilege “may result in a lack of evidence” that affects findings.The Canadian Press
CALGARY — The sentencing hearing for a Calgary man convicted of killing his grandson continues Tuesday.Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Richard Neufeld found Allan Perdomo Lopez guilty of manslaughter last month.The judge-alone trial heard the boy, Emilio Perdomo, was sent to Canada from Mexico in 2015 so he could have a better life.But five months after his arrival in Calgary, Emilio was taken hospital unconscious with a traumatic brain injury.He never woke up and died eight days later in hospital.READ MORE: Judge finds Calgary man guilty in grandson’s deathAs the prosecutor says Perdomo “shows little to no remorse”, he furrows his brow. Crown adds he tried to blame the boys mother and implicated innocent people in Emilio’s death.— Tom Ross (@Tommy_Slick) September 24, 2019The Crown is asking for a sentence of 12-15 years as well as a weapons probation of 10 years.In its arguements the Crown said Emilio endured weeks of abuse and was riddled with bruises and scars. It believes these injuries would have been apparent to Perdomo before the final blow, a “dangerous, criminal act”.The defense, however, believes the 15 year sentence is too high, instead calling for a maximum of eight years.During the trial, the Crown played a police recording from the family minivan of Perdomo Lopez tearfully praying in Spanish.An English transcript of the intercept submitted at trial said the man was asking for forgiveness and saying he “didn’t want to kill that child.”The prayer was one of 11 police recordings from the accused’s vehicle, home and phone that were presented as evidence.Defence says the trial has collapsed Perdomo’s business, and out the family in “financial ruin”. Says the Crown’s suggestion of 12-15 years is not supported by findings of fact in the court.— Tom Ross (@Tommy_Slick) September 24, 2019Perdomo Lopez’s lawyer Darren Mahoney had said the remark was not a confession and that the Crown cherry-picked segments of the recordings to construct its story.The judge said in his decision that the prayer had to be given great weight given the man’s devout Christian faith. He likened it to a witness swearing to God to tell the truth in court.“I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Perdomo confessed to having killed Emilio, even though he did not want to do so,” Neufeld said. Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Most of the federal party leaders are hitting the books today, cramming for Monday’s critical English-language leaders debate like high schoolers before an all-important final exam.Judging by the Liberal party’s campaign itinerary, though, Justin Trudeau thinks he’s going to ace it.Instead of debate prep, Trudeau will spend part of the day in a rural community just outside Belleville, Ont., planting trees in a riding that the Liberals barely managed to wrestle away from the Conservatives in 2015.The NDP’s Jagmeet Singh, the only other leader with public events on his agenda, will be in Ottawa to pick up debating tips from Ed Broadbent, the party’s long-standing elder statesman. Later today, he’ll appear on CBC Radio’s live call-in show, “Cross Country Checkup.”Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Green Leader Elizabeth May are both either in or en route to the national capital to prepare for Monday night’s televised debate, arguably the most important event of the campaign so far.Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier are also taking part, marking the first time all six leaders have squared off in person on the same debate stage.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2019.The Canadian Press
On World Food Day, October 16th, New York City’s food trucks are donating 5 percent of their sales to help international humanitarian organization Concern Worldwide fight extreme hunger in the world’s poorest countries.Participating trucks include: Gorilla Cheese NYC – @gcnyc1, Chinese Mirch – @ChineseMirch, Milk Truck – @milktrucknyc, Toum – @ToumNYC, Valduccis – @valduccis, Phil’s Steaks – @PhilSteaks, Snap – @SnapTruck, Mexico Blvd – @MexicoBlvd, Red Hook Lobster – @Redhooklobster, Nuchas – @NuchasNYC, Souvlaki GR – @SouvlakiTruck, and Shorty’s on Wheels – @ShortysNYC.“We are deeply grateful to the New York City Food Truck Association and all of the trucks who are coming out on World Food Day to help us make hunger history,” said Sarah de Tournemire, Development Director at Concern Worldwide US. “Each and every meal purchased tomorrow at the participating trucks will be so much more than just a meal—it will help reach more malnourished children who are in need of treatment and help more communities break the cycle of hunger.”To find specific location information, follow the participating trucks on Twitter. Updates will also be available throughout the day on Twitter @Concern and @nycfoodtruck.Five percent of participating food trucks’ sales on World Food Day, October 16th, will specifically support the Concern for Hunger campaign, a movement against extreme hunger that Concern launched last month with award-winning actress Toni Collette. All donations to Concern for Hunger support Concern’s programs that treat and prevent malnutrition in the world’s poorest countries.To learn more about Concern for Hunger and how you can make a difference, watch this message from Toni Collette and visit ConcernUSA.org.
Top country music artists Darius Rucker and Randy Houser have both started the new year off with successful music releases, but they are also being recognized for their volunteer work with Musicians on Call (MOC), a nonprofit organization that brings live and recorded music to the bedsides of patients in healthcare facilities.Darius Rucker performs for patients in Nashville.Credit/Copyright: Musicians On CallNBC’s Lester Holt recently traveled to Nashville, Tenn. to join Rucker and Houser as they performed and visited with patients at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt through the MOC Nashville branch. The visit, recently highlighted in Country Weekly magazine, was the focus of the Making a Difference segment of NBC Nightly News on Saturday, Feb. 16.The two artists shared with Holt their experiences over the years performing for patients in healthcare facilities and the influence it has on them personally to witness the visible affect music has on these patients. Weighing in on the advantages of having Musicians On Call in their hospital was Dr. Elisabeth M. Dykens, Professor of Psychology and Human Development and Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, who can personally attest to the patient benefits achieved through music.“Everyone could see the impact of music on the patients, their families and hospital staff when Darius Rucker and Randy Houser entered the hospital rooms to play a song just for them,” shares Musicians On Call Executive Director, Dr. Leslie Faerstein. “Musicians On Call goes to the bedsides of patients 41 times a week in 6 cities and delivers the healing power of music to those who need it most.”Source:Musicians On Call
The Prince of Wales has officially opened a purpose-built “home away from home” for the families of wounded troops being treated in hospital.Prince Charles Opens Fisher HouseHis Royal Highness met wounded service personnel and their families before cutting a ribbon and unveiling a plaque to mark the opening of the Help for Heroes-backed Fisher House at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The facility, thought to be the first UK-US military charity partnership, will provide long-term support to the loved ones of servicemen and women with life-changing injuries.The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity, Help for Heroes and American charity Fisher House Foundation have formed a partnership to create the 18-bedroom home. A five-minute walk from the wards where military patients injured overseas are treated, the new accommodation will be made available to their families at no charge.Offering spacious bedrooms, kitchen facilities, living rooms and a garden, the new £4.2 million building is designed to allow military families to share their experiences and support each other.The Prince of Wales, who has made numerous private visits to injured troops at the hospital in recent years, also chatted with staff who will help to run the newly opened home, which is modelled on a network of similar facilities in the United States.Earlier, The Prince visited Solihull in the West Midlands in his role as patron of Marie Curie Cancer Care.The Prince was joined by girl group The Saturdays as he officially opened a new £20 million Marie Curie Hospice.Building work at the site in Marsh Lane began two years ago and The Saturdays have supported the project since its inception.His Royal Highness visited the hospice’s day service centre with the pop stars and met in-patients privately before also meeting volunteer gardeners and staff.Commenting after the visit, Marie Curie chief executive Dr Jane Collins said: “We are honoured that His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and The Saturdays were able to attend today and open our new hospice and meet our staff, volunteers and patients.“We are grateful to everyone who has been involved in raising the funds to build this fantastic new hospice, which will allow us to care for more patients across the West Midlands.”The Saturdays member Rochelle Humes, making her first public appearance since giving birth to a baby girl in May, said: “It is such an honour to be part of such a special day and amazing to see how fantastic the hospice looks.“We are all very proud to be ambassadors for Marie Curie.”Source:PrinceOfWales.gov.uk
Black Enterprise will present its highest honor, in recognition of the achievements of black women during the Women of Power Legacy Awards, on March 9, 2017, at the 2017 Women of Power Summit in Phoenix, Arizona.The Women of Power Summit is the nation’s No. 1 executive development and leadership conference for women, annually attracting more than 1,000 corporate executives, professionals, and businesswomen from across the country. The Women of Power Summit, hosted by ADP, will take place March 9-12, 2017, at the Arizona Grand Resort and Spa.The Women of Power Legacy Awards recognize outstanding impact, achievement, and leadership by women in business, the arts, education, government, and other areas of influence.Honorees to be recognized at the 2017 Women of Power Summit Legacy Awards Gala, hosted by PepsiCo, include the following outstanding achievers:Ursula Burns is Chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation. During her tenure, she has helped the company transform from a global leader in document technology to the world’s most diversified business services company serving enterprises and governments of all sizes. Burns has spearheaded the largest acquisition in Xerox history; the $6.4 billion purchase of Affiliated Computer Services.Phylicia Rashad is a Tony Award-winning actress, singer, and stage director. She first became known for her stage work, with a string of Broadway credits, but is perhaps best known for her television role of Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show. In 2004, she became the first African American actress to win the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, which she won for her role in the revival of A Raisin in the Sun.Marcia Ann Gillespie became Managing Editor of Essence magazine in 1970, shortly after the African American publication was founded. While at Essence, she transformed the magazine into one of the fastest growing women’s publications in the United States, and in 1971, she was promoted to Editor-in-Chief. She joined Ms. magazine as a contributing writer and editor in 1980, and was named Editor-in-Chief of the publication in 1993. With this appointment, Gillespie became the first African American woman to achieve this position at a mainstream publication dedicated to discussing feminist issues.Pastor Shirley Caesar is an iconic gospel music artist, who has traveled the world spreading the Gospel and breaking down barriers for gospel artists. She has received multiple Grammy Award nominations, winning this coveted honor 11 times, and she has released over 30 albums throughout her career. Truly exemplifying gospel music to the core, Caesar has sung for presidents and world leaders, yet still remains an active pastor, preaching at her thriving home church in Raleigh-Durham, NC.“We are thrilled that we will have this opportunity to honor to women who are gifts to the world,” says Women of Power television show host and Editorial Director of the Women of Power Summit, Caroline Clarke. “Their examples pay proper tribute to the Legacy Award honorees before them, and will serve as powerful motivation for those to come.”The Women of Power Summit will host more than 1,000 attendees that will engage in three immersive days of executive development sessions and activities designed to train, equip, and encourage industry leadership, career strategies, as well as effective peak-performance and work-life balance techniques. Topics will include navigating corporate politics, career development, strategies for the C-suite, and opportunities for one-on-one coaching.Confirmed speakers include former Chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam Brands Ann Fudge; Head of Global Consumer Marketing at Apple Music and iTunes Bozoma Saint John; Chief Leadership Officer at Levo Tiffany Dufu; Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue Elaine Welteroth; Founder and President of ColorComm Lauren Wesley Wilson; Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente Bernard Tyson, and more.The host sponsor of the 2017 Women of Power Summit is ADP. Presenting sponsors include General Motors, Dell, Macy’s, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, PepsiCo, Walmart, and The Walt Disney Company. Platinum sponsors include Southwest Airlines and State Farm, and the corporate sponsors are The Island of the Bahamas, Carnival Corp. & PLC, and FedEx Express.For more information on the speakers and agenda of the 2017 Women of Power Summit, go to blackenterprise.com/wps. For updates via Twitter and other social media sites, check the hashtag #BEWPS.
Star Wars: Force For Change in collaboration with Omaze will launch the Star Wars “Past, Present and Future” fundraising campaign to benefit UNICEF and Starlight Children’s Foundation.STAR WARS: FORCE FOR CHANGE CELEBRATES 40 YEARS OF STAR WARS WITH EPIC FUNDRAISING EVENTThe campaign is themed around the timeless appeal of Star Wars, with experiences inspired by the saga’s past, present, and future. Lucky winners will receive prizes, like the chance to appear in the upcoming Han Solo movie, tickets to the world premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, or, an overnight stay at the fabled Skywalker Ranch.Over the course of four weeks between April 11th and May 11th, 2017, fans may enter at omaze.com/StarWars for a chance to win these once-in-a-lifetime Star Wars experiences, with each week bringing a new prize to be awarded to a randomly-selected winner. Additionally, at the end of the campaign, one randomly-selected grand prize winner will be awarded all three amazing experiences.Starlight Children’s Foundation is joining Star Wars: Force for Change as the initiative’s newest charity beneficiary in 2017. Through a $1 million grant, Star Wars: Force for Change supports the foundation’s core programs which are designed to bring comfort and joy and comfort to hospitalized kids through Starlight’s network of more than 700 children’s hospitals, clinics, camps and other partners across the US. Star Wars: Force for Change and fan donations through this campaign will also provide new Starlight programs, like fun, comfortable Star Wars-themed Starlight Brave Gowns, to tens of thousands of hospitalized children across the country.Since 2014, Star Wars: Force for Change and UNICEF have joined together to help improve the lives of children around the world. With the support of Star Wars fans, the collaboration has raised more than $9 million to help the world’s most vulnerable children. To date, Star Wars: Force for Change has helped UNICEF save the lives of over 30,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition through the distribution of over 4 million packets of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food Packets (RUTF) around the world.“In a year that we celebrate 40 years of the Star Wars saga, I continue to be inspired by the incredible generosity and charitable efforts of our fans,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. “We are so proud of their tireless dedication to positively impact the lives of children and others around the world, and hope this year’s Force For Change campaign will offer a few of those wonderful fans an experience they will never forget.”Star Wars “Past, Present, and Future” Winner Experiences: • Past – Stay at Skywalker Inn, tour of the archives & the Ranch, and a screening of Star Wars: A New Hope • Present – Join the cast and attend the Star Wars: The Last Jedi premiere and exclusive after party • Future – Visit the set, meet the directors and have the chance to appear in the untitled Han Solo movie • Grand Prize – One winner will receive the Past, Present AND Future prizes!Fans are encouraged to follow the campaign at omaze.com/StarWars for exclusive updates each week.
Imagine Dragons will perform at LOVELOUD on August 26, a concert designed to ignite the relevant and vital conversation of what it means to unconditionally love, understand, accept, and support LGBTQ+ youth in our communities.Video: LOVELOUD FestivalThe LOVELOUD concert will be held on August 26, 2017 in Orem, Utah at the Brent Brown Ballpark at UVU.“I want the LOVELOUD concert to engage a passionate and supportive audience in the fight against teen suicide and to bring communities together to start the conversation and celebrate individuality,” said Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds. “We want to offer hope to young people, let them know they’re not alone and encourage acceptance in the home and community.”One of the most troubling issues with a lack of communication or an absence of acceptance amongst young people in the LGBTQ+ community is teen suicide. The numbers are staggering. Consider the following: • Suicide is the leading cause of teen deaths in Utah. • LGBTQ+ youth that come from a home or community where they are not accepted are eight times more likely to commit suicide.“LOVELOUD is committed to creating a community of inclusion,” continued Reynolds. “Our goal is to create support and resources for those in crisis, specifically by providing insight into recognizing and helping those in need, resources to those wanting to learn more, and guidance on how to more effectively start a conversation with family and friends.”LOVELOUD Fest will feature live music from Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees, Krewella, Nicholas Petricca of Walk The Moon (Acoustic), Joshua James, and Aja Volkman; all of whom are donating their time and performances to this cause. All proceeds from this concert will go to the LOVELOUD Foundation which lends support to various charities such as Encircle and Stand4Kind, as well as national charities, The Trevor Project and GLAAD.Doors open for the LOVELOUD concert at 5:00pm and the music begins at 6:00pm. The festival will feature food, beverages, and a number of other activities for fans of all ages and interests. The goal is to make the LOVELOUD concert an annual event in Utah, around the United States, and the world. For more information about the 2017 LOVELOUD concert or to purchase tickets now, visit www.loveloudfest.com.LOVELOUD was founded in 2017 by Dan Reynolds, the lead singer of Imagine Dragons to help ignite the relevant and vital conversation of what it means to unconditionally love, understand, accept, and support LGBTQ+ youth in an effort to keep families together. LOVELOUD is the catalyst for bringing communities together to start the conversation and celebrate individuality. Talking, sharing and showing the realities of what teens in our society face daily is where it all begins.
This month, Helen Woodward Animal Center will once again unite with animal welfare proponents and organizations worldwide for the 5th Annual Remember Me Thursday.Honored on the fourth Thursday of September, the campaign asks pet lovers and animal rescue groups to create an unstoppable, integrated voice advocating for homeless pets to live in forever homes, not die waiting for them. Grassroots candle-lighting ceremonies and a global avalanche of social media buzz will shine a light on the millions of animals still awaiting adoption and encourage communities to opt to adopt and reduce the millions of homeless pets euthanized each year. As in previous years, some very big names are stepping forward to lend their support to the cause, including TONY and EMMY Award-winning actress, Kristin Chenoweth, who has been named the 2017 Official Spokesperson for the campaign. Helen Woodward Animal Center encourages the world to join with these philanthropic celebrities and to be a part of this very special day, Thursday, September 28th, 2017.As the campaign’s 2017 Official Spokesperson, Kristin Chenoweth is a TONY and EMMY Award-winning actress with credits across stage (“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”, “Wicked”, “On the Twentieth Century”), film (“Rio 2”) and television (“The West Wing”, “Pushing Daisies”, “Glee”, “Descendants” and “American Gods”). She recently co-starred in “Hairspray” for NBC and her newest album “The Art of Elegance” was released in September 2016. Kristin received a coveted star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Live Performance, Stage/Theatre in 2015. Kristin’s upcoming projects include Lionsgate/Hasbro’s “My Little Pony: The Movie” as well as the animated film “The Star.” She is also a new Mamma to her rescue Miss Thunder Boom Boom Chenoweth, affectionately known as Thunder Pup, who is a (bigger than expected) bundle of unconditional love, laughter and fluff.Chenoweth’s spokesperson-status is particularly meaningful to Helen Woodward Animal Center, as her support for Remember Me Thursday began in its inaugural year.Regarding her love of animals, Chenoweth stated: “On August 27th of last year, my beloved Maltese, Madeline Kahn Chenoweth went to Heaven. Though I still miss her so, I am grateful for all the happiness we shared. She was pure, unconditional love. The pain of losing her was worth it. Please take a moment and remember all of the sweet shelter pets just waiting for their opportunity to warm your heart on Remember Me Thursday.”Chenoweth leads an impressive list of celebrity supporters also aligning themselves with Remember Me Thursday. Notable personalities, professional athletes, pet behaviorists and social media pet stars have signed on as “luminaries,” committing to share their thoughts on pet adoption in videos and via their social media accounts throughout the campaign. At press time, 60+ influential luminaries have joined the cause, including:Notable Film, TV and Stage Personalities: Alexander Jean, Andie MacDowell, Ashley Bell, Ashley Roberts, Bellamy Young, Beth Stern, Bonnie-Jill Laflin, Carrie Ann Inaba (2015 Official Spokesperson), Christian Siriano, Coco Austin, Courtney Lopez, Diane Keaton, Elaine Hendrix, Eric Paslay, Eric Roberts, Holly Madison, Ian Somerhalder & Nikki Reed, Katherine Heigl (2014 Official Spokesperson), Kathy Najimy, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Lou Wegner, Mark Steines, Pauley Perrette (2016 Official Spokesperson), Stephen Kramer Glickman, Wil Wheaton and Wynonna Judd.International Celebrity: Gilberto Santa Rosa.Professional Athletes: David Backes (Boston Bruins), Bryan Bickell (Chicago Blackhawks), Mark Buehrle, Jeff Carter (LA Kings), Liam Hendriks (Oakland A’s), Kevin Kiermaier (Tampa Bay Rays), Anze Kopitar (LA Kings), Joey Logano (NASCAR), Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay Rays), Jake Muzzin (LA Kings), Ryan Newman (NASCAR), and Marc Rzepczynski (Seattle Mariners).Animal Specialty Celebrities: Dr. Marty Becker, Wendy Diamond, Jackson Galaxy, Tamar Geller, Jill Rappaport, Hannah Shaw, and Victoria Stilwell.Animal Celebrities: Alien Cat Matilda, Choupette Lagerfeld, Cole and Marmalade, Justin Fire Survivor, Lil BUB, Monty Boy, My Cat Kyle, Nala Cat, Norbert, Paddington, Pumpkin the Raccoon, Purrminators, Sauerkraut Kitty, Tango, Tuna, Vito Vincent, and Worried Cat.Remember Me Thursday was established in 2013 by Helen Woodward Animal Center President and CEO Mike Arms. Moved by the staggering statistic of the 2.7 million homeless pets who lose their lives each year in the U.S., Arms put out a call to rescue organizations in an attempt to create a global awareness campaign. As creator of the International Pet Adoptathon and the International Home 4 the Holidays program (placing over 13 million pets in homes since 1999), he was able to send out an expansive request and the response was significant.Now in its fifth year, Remember Me Thursday has been supported by 180 countries with hundreds of thousands of individuals and more than 700 separate animal welfare organizations around the globe holding candle-lighting ceremonies of their own, spreading the message on social media, or lighting a virtual candle. The enormous swell of celebrity support has resulted in the topic trending each year on both Facebook and Twitter, garnering more than 865 million social media impressions since its start.To be a part of the 2017 Remember Me Thursday campaign, individuals and animal welfare organizations are encouraged to get the entire world talking about pet adoption on Thursday, September 28th, by tweeting, tagging, posting and sharing the beauty and life-saving significance of pet adoption using the hashtags #RememberTheRescue and #RememberMeThursday. Animal-lovers can win life-saving funds, toys and food for adoptable pets looking for forever families at their favorite non-profit, pet adoption organization. To enter the Remember Me Thursday Social Media Contest, simply upload your rescue pet’s photo and story to the #RememberTheRescue Photo Wall for a chance to win!For more information on Remember Me Thursday and a full list of participating celebrities and animal welfare organizations, go to www.remembermethursday.org.