Highlights from the news file for Tuesday, May 16———RCMP MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT AILING, AUDITOR SAYS : The RCMP is failing to meet the mental health needs of its members due to a lack of resources, poor monitoring and meagre support from supervisors, says the federal spending watchdog. While the Mounties were among the first federal organizations to introduce a mental health strategy, they did not make its full implementation a priority, auditor general Michael Ferguson says in a report tabled Tuesday. Some RCMP members even told the auditor that coming forward with mental health concerns led to reprisals from bosses. The findings come one day after a pair of sharply worded federal reviews on harassment in the RCMP called for greater civilian oversight and expertise to ensure the national police force is a healthy and respectful employer. Ferguson’s report says although more than half of members received timely access to the mental health services, one in six members did not. In more than one-quarter of cases, the RCMP did not even have records that would allow the auditor to assess whether members got the help they required.———PASSENGER BILL OF RIGHTS STOPS AIRLINES FROM BUMPING WITHOUT CONSENT: Airlines won’t be allowed to bump passengers from a flight against their will under a new passenger bill of rights introduced Tuesday by Transportation Minister Marc Garneau. That change is part of a package of amendments to the Canada Transportation Act, which also introduces new foreign ownership limits for airlines, requires railways to install voice and video recorders in locomotives and improves transparency and efficiency in the freight rail industry. Garneau promised the bill of rights last month in the wake of widespread alarm after a United Airlines passenger was seriously injured when he was dragged from a plane in Chicago. The minister said there will be minimum levels of compensation for people who voluntarily agree to be bumped from a flight and if airlines can’t get a volunteer, they will have to decide if they want to up the ante to persuade someone to get off. The bill will apply to airlines flying within, into or out of Canada.———AMBROSE BEGINS GOODBYE TO POLITICAL LIFE: Interim Opposition leader Rona Ambrose began to say goodbye to life in politics Tuesday. The longtime Conservative MP, who has led the Conservatives since they formed Opposition in 2015, will resign her seat in the House of Commons when MPs break for summer. She addressed a crowd of MPs and other political watchers Tuesday in Ottawa for a speech on the state of the Conservative Party, what she described as likely her last public speech before she begins her “post-partisan” life. She said serving as an MP has been one of the greatest honours of her life and she is optimistic about the future. The Conservatives are in the midst of choosing a new leader and the winner will be announced on May 27 at a convention in Toronto. Ambrose called the race “competitive,” and noted it’s drawn hundreds of thousands of new members to the party. Ambrose will stay on to help manage the transition before making her way into the private sector, which will include work on public policy files and possibly a book.———TRUMP’S REVELATIONS TO RUSSIA ‘WHOLLY APPROPRIATE,” ADVISER SAYS: The White House on Tuesday defended President Donald Trump’s disclosure of classified information to senior Russian officials as “wholly appropriate,” as officials tried to beat back criticism from fellow Republicans and concerns from international allies. One day after officials declared that reports about Trump’s discussions with the Russians were false, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said the president had been engaging in “routine sharing of information” with foreign leaders. Trump himself claimed the authority to share “facts pertaining to terrorism” and airline safety with Russia, saying in a pair of tweets he has “an absolute right” as president to do so. Trump’s tweets did not say whether he revealed classified information about the Islamic State, as published reports have said and as a U.S. official told The Associated Press. The official said the information Trump divulged came from a U.S. intelligence partner.———MINISTER ECHOES CONCERNS OF MURDERED, MISSING WOMEN’S FAMILIES: Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett says if families of missing and murdered indigenous women have concerns about the national public inquiry, she does too. Bennett was responding to questions about an open letter released Monday by advocates, indigenous leaders and family members expressing their misgivings to the inquiry’s chief commissioner. The group says it is aware the commission faces a difficult challenge, but says immediate action must be taken to prevent damage and shift the current approach. The inquiry — expected to take two years at a cost of $53.8 million — comprises Marion Buller, the first female First Nations judge in B.C., and four other commissioners. The commission is set to hold its first public hearing May 29 in Whitehorse but other community meetings won’t take place until later this fall at the earliest. A spokesperson for the inquiry says the chief commissioner needs to time to carefully consider the contents of the letter before she can respond publicly to the concerns raised in it.———BODY OF CANADIAN KILLED IN SYRIA BACK HOME SOON: The mother of a Canadian man killed while fighting Islamic State militants in Syria says his body will soon be back on Canadian soil. Tina Martino, of Niagara Falls, Ont., says a Kurdish group that fought alongside her son, Nazzareno Tassone, recovered his body and will be arranging to fly it back to Canada in the coming weeks. The 24-year-old died in December while fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa. The leader of a Kurdish community centre in Toronto that’s been working with the family says Tassone’s body was recovered on Saturday after ISIL fighters abandoned the site where it was being kept. Martino says she spent the past five months hoping her son’s body would be recovered so she could give him a proper funeral.———TEEN IN LA LOCHE, SASK., KILLING WAS SHOT 11 TIMES: A sentencing hearing for a teenager convicted in a deadly shooting at a school and a home in northern Saskatchewan has been told that one of the victims was shot 11 times. Dayne Fontaine, who was 17, was killed along with his younger brother at a house in La Loche in January 2016. The hearing in Meadow Lake, Sask., has been told that Dayne said: “Don’t shoot me” and “I don’t want to die” before he was shot. His 13-year-old brother Drayden was shot twice in the face and the head. The shooter then went to the high school where he killed a teacher and an aide, and wounded seven other people. The teen has pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder. He can’t be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act because he was 17 at the time of the shooting. Two weeks have been set aside to determine if the killer should be sentenced as a youth or an adult.———GREENS PLAN ‘CHESS MOVES’ AFTER B.C. VOTE: While British Columbia’s Liberals and New Democrats are gridlocked as they await the final ballot count from last week’s tight election, the Green party is setting priorities to use the leverage its three newly elected members achieved. The splintered election result could leave the upstart Greens with the balance of power in a minority government, and leader Andrew Weaver is pondering a series of chess moves that could shake the direction of the province. Green party deputy leader Matt Toner says they are looking for specific proposals from the Liberals and New Democrats on electoral and campaign-finance reforms before supporting either party in the legislature. Toner says the Greens want to see firm details of potential co-operation agreements before deciding where to throw their support in what will be a historic period in B.C. politics.———COUPLE SAY AIR CANADA CANCELLED TICKETS HOME: A Newfoundland couple say they were left stranded at an airport in Portugal after Air Canada suddenly cancelled their tickets home. The couple from Conception Bay South say they were forced to book new one-way flights to St. John’s at nearly three times the cost of their entire round-trip fare to Lisbon. Randell Earle says he arrived at the Lisbon airport with his wife for their return flight but was told their tickets were suspended and they could not board the Air Canada Star Alliance flight, operated by Portuguese airline TAP Portugal. The 67-year-old Earle says he called Air Canada from a local pay phone in the airport but was left on hold and then redirected to the airport ticketing counter, where agents told him they could not assist him. The retired lawyer says he was forced to stay overnight in a hotel and spend more than $6,000 on two tickets home, and although he tried to call Air Canada several times and launched a lawsuit in small claims court, he was only reimbursed his out-of-pocket costs after the CBC called the airline for a story.———SNOWBIRDS CANCEL SHOWS OVER TRAINING CONCERNS: Canada’s famed Snowbirds acrobatic flying team is cancelling appearances at a number of airshows in Ontario and the United States so some of its pilots can get more practice. Officials are blaming bad weather earlier in the year for having shortened the team’s training time. The nine-plane team has flown a number of shows this year, including a joint flight with a French team over Parliament Hill at the beginning of May. But Maj. Patrick Gobeil says it was determined that more practice was necessary after some of the planes were seen deviating from their positions mid-flight. As a result, the Snowbirds are pulling out from two airshows later this month in Ontario, and four other airshows in the U.S. The Snowbirds, in their iconic white, red and blue Tutor jets, have been entertaining airshow visitors in Canada and across the U.S. since 1971.
MURDOCHVILLE, – Two men were found dead Tuesday in a former copper mine in eastern Quebec.Provincial police identified them as a 50-year-old employee and a 60-year-old volunteer.Sgt. Helene Nepton said a gas leak may have caused the deaths.The men were found unconscious in an underground gallery at the former mine, which is now an educational centre geared toward tourists.It is located in Murdochville in the Gaspe region.
CHILLIWACK, B.C. – A school board trustee in British Columbia is vowing to stay in his job, despite calls that he resign over controversial remarks he made about LGBTQ issues.Barry Neufeld says in a statement that he “must” remain on the Chilliwack Board of Education to protect “impressionable children.”The statement comes after the board passed a motion on Thursday asking him to resign, saying he has publicly made statements expressing “strong opposition” to the expansion of the B.C. Human Rights Code to include sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as curriculum initiatives on the same subjects.Neufeld says in his statement that he does not oppose changes to the province’s human rights code and that nothing he has said is contrary to the code.Last fall, Neufeld criticized an educational resource aimed at supporting LGBTQ students, calling it a “weapon of propaganda” and saying it was “nothing short of child abuse.”Neufeld later apologized for his comments, saying he believes in a safe learning environment, but that educational resources should be reviewed by parents and teachers before they’re implemented.In his latest statement, released on Friday, the trustee said he wants all students to receive an “excellent education regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion or other group identity.”Neufeld said he does take issue with educators teaching that gender is fluid, that there are more than two genders and that gender is not based in biology.He said he believes children will be “confused and harmed” by such teaching.“It is my duty as an elected school board official to speak up when the best interests of children may be compromised,” said Neufeld, who has been a trustee for more than two decades. “I will continue to do my duty as trustee in this regard, while exercising my constitutional freedom of expression as a Canadian.”British Columbia’s education minister has also called for Neufeld to step down, saying in a Facebook post on Friday that the trustee’s comments were hurtful and offensive, and undermine the goals of the school board and the ministry.“While individuals are entitled to their opinions, Mr. Neufeld has jeopardized student safety, divided his school community, and acted against board and ministry policies,” Rob Fleming said in a statement.Fleming noted that an education minister does not have the authority to dismiss an individual trustee, but he does not believe that Neufeld should continue in his role.
TORONTO – Former Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Christine Elliott says she will be seeking the nomination to run as the Tory candidate in the provincial riding of Newmarket-Aurora.Elliott narrowly lost the PC leadership race on March 10 to Doug Ford and initially questioned the results of the vote before conceding nearly a full day later.Elliott — who represented the riding of Whitby-Oshawa from 2006 to 2015 — has mounted two other unsuccessful bids to helm the party.In 2015, she also lost to Patrick Brown, the man whose abrupt resignation as party leader in January triggered the latest leadership race.In the most recent contest, Elliott also ran against Toronto lawyer and businesswoman Caroline Mulroney and social conservative advocate Tanya Granic Allen.Elliott’s announcement Monday comes a little more than two months before Ontarians head to the polls.“I have never been more convinced of just how much Ontario needs us,” Elliott said in a statement. “To all residents of Newmarket-Aurora, you can count of me do everything I can to fight for you at Queen’s Park. I hope I can earn your trust.”Elliott has worked as patient ombudsman for the province, a position that left her open to critiques that she accepted a patronage appointment from Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne.The 62-year-old is also the widow of long-time former federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who died in 2014.
REGINA — The Crown agency responsible for overseeing cannabis sales in Saskatchewan has sent a warning letter to a First Nation that has opened an unlicensed pot store.The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority says provincial and federal legislation still applies on reserve land.It says the Muscowpetung Saulteaux First Nation must have a provincial licence to open a pot store legally.The letter also says that cannabis for commercial sale needs to be produced by someone with a federal licence to grow it.The First Nation, northeast of Regina, opened its cannabis store last week.Chief Anthony Cappo has said the First Nation has a sovereign right to make its own cannabis rules.The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations is supporting the First Nation in exercising what it says are its inherent and treaty rights. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — A high-ranking Toronto police officer investigating allegations of assault and sexual assault at St. Michael’s College School says private schools should establish rules for reporting crimes to authorities similar to the ones all public schools have in place.Insp. Domenic Sinopoli, head of the sex crimes unit, says all public school boards in the city have signed protocols with the Toronto police that spell out the institutions’ responsibilities and the response to incidents where police involvement is required.He says private schools such as St. Michael’s, an all-boys’ institution that teaches grades 7 to 12, do not have such agreements with police.The Roman Catholic school has been at the centre of a police investigation into at least six incidents involving allegations of assault and sexual assault — some captured on video.Six students from the school were arrested on Monday and charged with assault, gang sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon in connection with one of the incidents.St. Michael’s failure to promptly report the incidents to police has raised questions about how private schools handle such incidents and whether more government oversight is needed.The Canadian Press
Yan Boissonneault’s daughter was turning blue.Without warning, his baby had stopped breathing, and he frantically performed CPR while his friend James Gallagher called 911.Years later, the men still become emotional remembering that day. Boissonneault learned that his daughter had a rare disorder that caused epilepsy, and when pharmaceutical medications failed to cure her seizures, he turned to CBD oil, a non-psychoactive substance in marijuana.“It’s been two years now and she hasn’t had a seizure,” Boissonneault said, standing next to rows of pungent marijuana plants under glowing white lights. “That’s what got me involved in this. It’s quite personal. … The only profit it gives me is the joy of seeing my daughter smile.”Boissonneault and Gallagher now run a handful of small legal medical grow-ops in British Columbia and are among the “craft” producers who hope to use their skills in the fledgling recreational market by getting a new licence for microcultivation.But would-be applicants are discovering a major hurdle in their way: obtaining municipal approval and zoning, a key requirement of the licences. Many cities have not established zoning and either aren’t ready or are reluctant to allow microcultivation, growers say.Small growers say the federal government failed to educate municipalities about the new licences and the need to create zoning to support them. As a result, they say, applications are delayed, the legal supply chain is beset with shortages and the illegal market continues to flourish.“The spirit (of microcultivation licences) was to get the small growers involved and to get the black market to convert over to the new market,” said James Walsh, president of the BC Micro Licence Association. “In reality we’re just not seeing it.”Ottawa began accepting applications from microgrowers on Oct. 17, the same day it legalized recreational weed. The licences cover 200 square metres of plant canopy, allowing a premium cannabis producer to make up to $3 million in gross revenue a year, Walsh said.But many small growers have not been able to apply to the federal government because they are still waiting for local zoning, he said.Health Canada said it has received 23 applications for the licences so far, including five in B.C., five in Alberta, seven in Ontario and six in Quebec.Cannabis legalization was the result of more than two years of consultation with all levels of government, and Health Canada has answered many questions from municipalities and remains available to do so, said spokeswoman Tammy Jarbeau.“Health Canada has encouraged and supported municipalities to put in place standards and local bylaws as necessary,” she said in a statement.The Federation of Canadian Municipalities published a guide to cannabis legalization in August 2017, providing advice on bylaws, zoning and business practices. The federation stressed the need to respect local authority during legalization consultations, it says on its website.Still, small growers say they’re encountering municipal red tape and it’s especially bad in B.C., despite its reputation as a marijuana mecca.Part of the issue is B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve, legislation protecting farmland from being taken over by industry and residential development. In July, the province introduced a law allowing cities to prohibit concrete-based pot facilities on the land reserve.There’s good reason to ban pouring concrete on precious agricultural land, said Malcolm Brodie, the mayor of Richmond, B.C.“Very simply, you put that kind of construction on the farmland, you’ll never have it for soil-based farming again,” he said.The city only wants one cannabis facility and it already has one, a licensed producer in an industrial area, said Brodie. He said applications in industrial areas will be considered on a case-by-case basis, though he wouldn’t guarantee any would be approved.There are already “hundreds and hundreds” of black-market grow-ops on the land reserve, said one small grower who asked not to be identified due to legal concerns. Within a 10-minute drive from his property, over a million dollars in cannabis is likely being produced monthly, he said.“Do they want us to keep growing the weed and selling it out the back door or do they want the tax money?” he asked. “We’re going to do it on ALR land regardless.”Growers use concrete facilities because soil is more likely to breed mould, yeast and bacteria, and open-air farming is impossible due to weather, he added.In Ontario, some municipalities created zoning before Oct. 17 while others have waited until microcultivator applicants approach them, said Mathew Columbro, president and founder of consultancy firm Vindica Cannabis Corp.“I think Ontario is doing a little bit better than B.C., but it’s not perfect,” Columbro said.The application portal should have been opened prior to legalization day, instead large licensed producers got the first shot at the market, said Ian Dawkins, president of the Cannabis Commerce Association of Canada.“The big story is fairness,” he said. “If big business is afforded an opportunity to bid on something and small business is iced out, then that is considered an egregious policy failure.“Yet on this enormous multibillion-dollar national project, where is that same leadership?”Small medical producers have put a lot of time and passion into growing quality marijuana, said Gallagher, looking out over the thriving grow-op he shares with Boissonneault.“We do have a lot of knowledge and we want to see how that transitions,” he said. “Can we turn this into a business now that it’s legal? That’s something that’s always been on our minds.”— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.Laura Kane, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — A new study by University of British Columbia researchers has found that Haida Gwaii’s population of northern goshawks are the last remnant of a highly distinct genetic cluster of the birds.Researchers estimate the population of birds may have been evolving separately on Haida Gwaii for 20,000 years.Armando Geraldes, who co-led the study, says apart from having a different genome, these birds also look different — they are darker in colour than other goshawks.Only 50 of these raptors are left on the archipelago.Geraldes says goshawks nest in large, old growth forests so one of the concerns is loss of habitat from logging.Senior author on the paper Darren Irwin says the animals fill an important ecological role as top predator.Irwin says their health reflects the health of the forest.The Canadian Press
Details are emerging about the kidnapping and killing of a Canadian mining company executive in Burkina Faso last week, as authorities continue their investigation.Jean Paul Badoum, an official with the West African country’s Ministry of Security, says the gunmen who kidnapped Kirk Woodman of Halifax also appear to have stolen a number of items, including money, cell phones and computers.He says the theft suggests the kidnapping may have been carried out by a gang of armed bandits.But Badoum says security forces are continuing to investigate and are not ruling anything out — including the possibility extremists or other groups were involved.He says as there were no witnesses and no one has come forward to claim responsibility, it remains unclear what took place or who was involved.Badoum says security forces are putting their maximum effort into identifying those responsible and bringing them to justice.Woodman, who worked for Vancouver-based Progress Minerals Inc., was found dead last Wednesday in Oudalan province, in the northern Sahel region. His body was found riddled with bullets.He had been kidnapped by armed gunmen from a mining camp in Tiabongou, about 20 kilometres from Mansila in Yagha province.Burkina Faso recently declared a state of emergency in the region as attacks by Islamic extremists increase, especially along the border with Niger and Mali.The Canadian Press
FREDERICTON — Former House of Commons sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers says he is retiring next month as Canada’s ambassador to Ireland, potentially setting himself up for a bid to become New Brunswick Liberal leader.Breaking: Former House of Commons sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers says he is retiring next month as Canada’s ambassador to Ireland #cdnpoli— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) February 1, 2019Vickers, hailed as a hero for helping to end the 2014 attack on Parliament Hill, says in a Facebook post today he’ll retire from the position effective March 2 and return to his home in Trout Brook, Miramichi, N.B.Vickers has been touted as a possible candidate for the leadership of the New Brunswick Liberal party to replace Brian Gallant.READ MORE: Kevin Vickers says he’s considering the New Brunswick Liberal leadershipIn December, Vickers indicated an interest in the job, but at the time said he was a long ways from making a decision.The New Brunswick Liberals will choose a new leader on June 22 in Saint John.Vickers, who has held the ambassador post since January 2015, says Ireland is the home of his ancestors and serving Canada as ambassador has been a special privilege.
OTTAWA — The federal government has introduced legislation that it says will remove a final federal barrier to the easier flow of beer, wine and spirits across provincial and territorial boundaries.Now, it says, it’s up to the provinces and territories to enact changes of their own that would allow for direct-to-consumer sales of alcohol across Canada.Internal Trade Minister Dominic LeBlanc says the legislation, once passed, will remove the federal requirement that alcohol moving from one province to another go through a provincial liquor authority.The issue has rankled consumers for decades and was forced under a media spotlight a year ago when a New Brunswick man lost a five-year court battle to buy cheap beer in neighbouring Quebec.The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled last April that provincial and territorial governments have the authority to restrict imports of goods from other jurisdictions and that Canadians do not have a constitutional right to buy and freely transport alcohol across provincial and territorial borders.LeBlanc said Tuesday that Canadians have been frustrated by provincial and territorial trade restrictions for too long.He has proposed changes to the federal Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act that would aid lower levels of government in lifting those restrictions on the sale of Canadian beer, wine and spirits between provinces and territories. The changes are in the bill implementing the federal budget.“The proposed legislative amendments would remove the only remaining federal barrier to trade in alcohol, and the onus will be on provincial and territorial governments to change their own regulations, paving the way for direct-to-consumer alcohol sales from across Canada,” LeBlanc said in a statement.“Removing barriers to trade between provinces and territories fosters economic growth, reduces the regulatory burden on our small and medium-sized businesses, and creates good, middle-class jobs across the country.”Andrea Stairs, who manages eBay in Canada and Latin America, welcomed the federal move but said “the hard work now turns to provincial governments.”“Interprovincial trade of alcohol is an opportunity to unlock economic prosperity by enabling Canada’s (small and medium-sized businesses) to trade more freely,” she said in a statement.Shortly after last year’s Supreme Court ruling, the New Brunswick government indicated changes could be coming to the province’s liquor laws.But the province’s treasury-board president Roger Melanson, who is also the minister responsible for trade policy, also noted that regulation of the alcohol trade in New Brunswick brings tens of millions of dollars into provincial coffers annually — money that is redistributed to services including health care, education and infrastructure.The country’s premiers last summer announced an agreement in principle to lift limits on how much alcohol residents can buy for personal consumption and transport across boundaries.Alberta and Manitoba have eliminated cross-border alcohol sales limits entirely.The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — A House of Commons committee is urging the government to take a deeper look at the concept of a guaranteed minimum income to help a growing cohort of “gig economy” workers.The MPs’ report on declines in traditional, full-time employment in favour of short-term contract work says the government needs to explore new types of income supports “that do not depend upon someone having a job.”To that end, the committee calls on federal officials to review a minimum income program, which is typically a no-strings-attached government payment to every citizen, as an option to help those between gigs who fall through the existing social safety net.The report calls for a revamp of the employment-insurance system to widen the safety net by reducing the minimum number of hours someone must work before qualifying for benefits and boosting the value of payments.MPs on the committee make a nod to some recent federal efforts, such as a soon-to-be-launched tax credit for individuals to offset the cost of work-training courses.But here, too, the committee urges the government to pay close attention to the design of the Canada Training Benefit to make sure it is accessible to low-wage, part-time or self-employed workers and to make every effort to ensure they use the program.The Canadian Press
Life is Good, the Boston-based lifestyle brand, is teaming up with Camp Southern Ground, the passion project of three-time GRAMMY winner Zac Brown, at Hangout Music Fest.Life Is Good Zac Brown TeesThe partnership will offer a limited-edition t-shirt with the Zac Brown Band lyrics, “Life is Good Today.” The shirt is given with gratitude for your gift of $35 to The Life is Good Playmakers and will support Camp Southern Ground.All of the counselors and adults who work with kids at the summer camp will be trained and certified as a Playmaker, so they can continue to help kids of all abilities and backgrounds have the happy childhoods they deserve. Playmakers is Life is Good’s nonprofit arm that trains childcare professionals to use playful engagement as one of the most meaningful ways to make a lasting, positive impact on the lives of kids in need.“Every child deserves a happy childhood, and by supporting Playmakers and Camp Southern Ground, you can make this summer an experience of a lifetime for kids who truly deserve it,” said Bert Jacobs, Chief Executive Optimist for Life is Good. “And, we’re showing our gratitude for those who give back with a t-shirt you can feel good wearing.”Nestled on over 400 acres in the farmlands of Fayetteville, Georgia, Camp Southern Ground, a 501c)3 non-profit organization, is the passion–project of GRAMMY Award winning artist Zac Brown. Inspired by his own experience as a camp counselor, Zac’s vision is to create a state-of-the-art facility that will serve children ages 7-17.Camp Southern Ground will have activities to challenge, educate and inspire typical children; children from all socioeconomic backgrounds, races, and religions; and children with diverse abilities, in particular, Asperger syndrome, Tourette syndrome and Autism disorders, as well as learning differences such as ADD/ADHD and Dyslexia. Zac has long recognized the necessity for every child to have access to the best resources to learn, grow and succeed, in a positive, healthy and organic environment.Hangout Music Fest attendees – and anyone who wants to give and get – can text 4GOOD to 77948 to make a donation and reserve their exclusive “Life is Good Today” t-shirt.
The Aspen Institute Arts Program is pleased to announce that photographer and artist JR, organist Cameron Carpenter, and actor Goldie Hawn will serve as its 2015 Harman-Eisner Artists in Residence.In this role, JR, Carpenter, and Hawn will participate at the Aspen Ideas Festival (June 28 – July 4) and engage in Institute activities throughout the year in New York, Washington, DC, and elsewhere.“The artist-in-residence program creates opportunities for good work through the arts, and it is a tremendous opportunity to have JR, Cameron Carpenter, and Goldie Hawn this year to push forward the role of the arts in service to society at large,” said Damian Woetzel, director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program. “I am looking forward to working with each of these extraordinary artists in bringing their uniquely powerful voices to bear on the issues we face today.”The “Pervasive Art” of JR talks about commitment, freedom, identity, and limit and has appeared everywhere from Paris City Hall to favelas in Rio. In Face 2 Face, the biggest illegal exhibition ever, JR posted huge portraits of Israelis and Palestinians face to face in eight Palestinian and Israeli cities, and on the both sides of the Security fence / Separation wall. In 2008, he embarked for a long international trip for Women Are Heroes, a project in which he underlined the dignity of women who are often the targets of conflicts. His international participatory art project Inside Out, which allows people to get their picture and paste it to support an idea, a project, an action and share their experience, will come to Ideas Festival this summer.Cameron Carpenter’s repertoire — from the complete works of J. S. Bach to film scores to his original compositions — is probably the largest and most diverse of any organist. He is the first “concert organist” in history to prefer the digital organ to the pipe organ, and to champion it as the future of the instrument. In 2014, Cameron launched his International Touring Organ — a monumental cross-genre digital organ built by Marshall & Ogletree to his own design — in extensive tours in Europe and the USA. His Sony Music debut album, If You Could Read My Mind, entered Billboard’s Traditional Classical chart at No. 1 on its US release. He is the first solo organist ever nominated for a Grammy Award for a solo album, and has spoken and debated at think tanks and conferences including TED, IdeaCity, and The Entertainment Gathering.“I hope to bring to this year’s Festival a contribution worthy of the astounding brainpower that will attend,” Carpenter said. “The organ, a multi-dimensional medium for the expression of emotion through the machine, is a cultural and historic entity that needs representation in such environs, and I take that charge seriously.”In 2003, Academy Award–winning actress Goldie Hawn founded The Hawn Foundation, a public charity with a mission to equip children with the social and emotional skills they need to lead smarter, healthier, and happier lives. The Foundation is tasked with applying cutting-edge scientific research to create education programs that support the social and emotional development of children. It developed MindUP, an evidence-based curriculum and teaching model for grades K–8 that provides children with the tools to help them understand and improve their own emotions, moods, and behaviors, as well as reduce stress and anxiety, sharpen concentration, build confidence, increase empathy, and improve academic performance. In 2009 Goldie Hawn was presented by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) with a special award for her work to increase public understanding of mental health.“The Aspen Ideas Festival gives a voice to all aspects of our worlds challenges, delivering solutions and cutting-edge scientific discoveries,” said Hawn. “I am thrilled to be sharing time on the stage with Michael Eisner in the Arts section to share how cinema can impact awareness and lift the human spirit.”The Harman-Eisner Artist in Residence program was inaugurated in July 2006 to ensure that the valuable ideas and perspectives of leading artists are shared in the Institute’s ongoing “Great Conversation” — in discussions related to arts and culture, but also in those related to the myriad other vital issues the program addresses, from urban development, education, and race to citizenship, domestic politics, and foreign policy. Previous Harman-Eisner Artists in Residence have included Memphis jookin master Lil Buck, actress Alfre Woodard, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, director Julie Taymor, architect Elizabeth Diller, conductor Robert Spano, dancer and current Arts Program Director Damian Woetzel, author Tobias Wolff, painter Chuck Close, actor and playwright Anna Deavere Smith, stage director Stephen Wadsworth, and opera singer Jessye Norman.“Goldie Hawn, Cameron Carpenter, and JR are not only three of the most interesting, diverse, and compelling artists in America today, but they also are people who are interested in utilizing their talents to provide access and opportunity for those in our society who are in danger of being left behind,” said Michael D. Eisner, Institute trustee and chair of its Committee on the Arts. “I couldn’t be more excited to have them join us as at the Aspen Institute this year.”The Aspen Institute Arts Program was established to support and invigorate the arts in America, and to return the arts to the center of the Aspen Institute’s “Great Conversation.” Directed by Damian Woetzel, it brings together artists, advocates, educators, managers, foundations, and government officials to exchange ideas and develop policies and programs that strengthen the reciprocal relationship between the arts and society. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org/artsprogram.The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, click here.
Animal Defenders International (ADI) has presented multi-talented comedian Ricky Gervais with the prestigious Lord Houghton Award for his high-profile advocacy on animal protection issues, creating awareness in a unique way to worldwide audiences.Ricky Gervais awarded for animal protection advocacyADI President Jan Creamer said: “Ricky Gervais is an outstanding and outspoken campaigner for animals who has raised animal protection issues with new and growing audiences. This award is in recognition of the longstanding and passionate role Ricky plays in giving animals a loud and powerful voice.”On receiving the award, Ricky Gervais said: “I am honoured to receive the Lord Houghton Award for a cause so close to my heart. The suffering of animals absolutely sickens me and I will continue to speak out and support the sterling work of organisations like Animal Defenders International.”Ricky is currently on tour with his ‘Humanity’ show, and has been a supporter of ADI for many years, being one of the first to champion their ‘Stop Circus Suffering’ campaign. While at XFM in the late 1990s, Ricky spoke out against the horrific abuse of elephants, a baby chimpanzee and others documented by ADI at animal trainer Mary Chipperfield Promotions, which resulted in cruelty convictions for the owners and their elephant keeper. Ricky has continued to be an outspoken advocate for the campaign, urging governments in both the UK and US to introduce legislation to prohibit travelling wild animal acts.The shocking violence inflicted on Anne the elephant at Bobby Roberts Super Circus in 2011 and exposed by ADI “graphically displays why the government should ban wild animals in circuses” Ricky said, continuing “I am appalled that wild animals are still kept in circuses and fully support the call for a ban. It is high time that government got on and implemented one.” ADI’s evidence led to a government commitment to ban and a cruelty conviction for Anne’s owner – yet five years later, the government’s bill has still not been presented to Parliament.The comedian, writer and producer, who has over 12 million twitter followers is an outspoken advocate on several animal issues including trophy hunting, blood sports and animal experiments.Last year, supporting proposals to uplist the African lion to Appendix I (greatest protection) at the CITES conference in Johannesburg, Ricky said “The survival of the African lion hangs in the balance. We must stop blood-thirsty hunters from decimating our wildlife for a barbaric adrenaline rush or trophy piece to show off to their mates.” Sadly, fierce opposition from lion bone/body part traders fought off lion protection this time, but the campaign continues.The Lord Houghton Award was initiated in 1980 as a lasting recognition of the significant contribution made by Lord Houghton to the animal welfare movement. During his long parliamentary career, he was a passionate animal welfare advocate, actively campaigning for changes in legislation to bring about improvements in animal welfare, even into his nineties.Each year one of the four participating organizations – Animal Defenders International, OneKind, Cruelty Free International and League Against Cruel Sports – selects the recipient of the award.In 2012 ADI presented the award to legendary multi-Emmy award winning TV host Bob Barker – an ardent public advocate for animals who, among other achievements, had ended each episode of his iconic show ‘The Price is Right’ with a plea to his audience to spay and neuter their pets.This presentation of the 2016 Lord Houghton Award to Ricky was delayed for the completion of a record-breaking 18-month rescue mission in South America. ADI rescued over 100 wild animals from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade in a mission to assist the governments of Peru and Colombia with enforcement of their new laws ending the use of wild animals in circuses. Native wildlife such as bears, monkeys, birds and others were rehomed in Amazon sanctuaries, a tiger to a sanctuary in Florida and 33 Africa lions were rehomed to their native Africa.
In recent years, country icon Trace Adkins has made it his mission through his music to give back to those who need it most.The singer/songwriter was a spokesperson for both the Wounded Warrior Project and the American Red Cross and has participated in 12 USO Tours for our service men and women. On March 21 at the historic Ryman Auditorium, Adkins will be teaming up with a handful of musical friends to benefit Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee.“Jammin’ to Beat the Blues” with Trace Adkins & Friends will feature an exciting lineup of some of today’s best artists, including one of the most celebrated vocalists in Christian music, Jason Crabb. The GRAMMY Award winner and recipient of 21 GMA Dove Awards has performed on some of the most prestigious stages across the world and is known for his powerful, emotive voice. More special guests will be announced in the coming weeks.“Jason’s career highlights, with multiple Dove Awards and a GRAMMY will impress you but his incredible voice will move you,” shares Adkins.Adkins released his 12th studio album Something’s Going On last March and has seen major success with songs like “Watered Down” (Adkins’ personal favorite) and current single “Still a Soldier,” which pays tribute to veterans and again highlights the compassion and dedication the artist has for those around him.For more information on “Jammin’ to Beat the Blues,” click here.
Tapped with a conservative presale estimate of $3 million to $5 million, the painting is expected to sell for more. The thing about Canadian art is that Canadians have largely kept it to themselves — so says British art historian Ian Dejardin.But there’s definite potential for worldwide appreciation of Canadian art, and tonight could mark one instance where the cat’s out of the bag.The commanding large-scale canvas Mountain Forms by iconic artist and Group of Seven founder Lawren Harris — a mountain scene from his coveted 1920s creative period — hits the block with Heffel Fine Art Auction House in Toronto. Advertisement Login/Register With: Advertisement Facebook Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Twitter
Facebook Login/Register With: Advertisement Celest’s vocals are strong and soulful, and a free-styled rhyme by Jetset adds a fresh new twist to the compelling song. Given Nick Drake’s long battle with a depression that took his life at a young age, it is fitting that a donation was made on behalf of the collective to the Unison Benevolent Fund, the Canadian music industry’s method of supporting members in distress.Celest is a major star in Asia (she sang for Singapore at the Beijing 2008 Olympic opening ceremonies), as a supermodel and actress as well as a singer/songwriter. In a bid to crack the North American market, she is currently writing and recording her debut English-language album and will be releasing singles soon. Stay tuned.by Kerry Doole Advertisement Celest & The Torontonians – “Life In A Northern Town” (Independent): Written as a tribute to late folk great Nick Drake, “Life In A Northern Town” was an international hit for The Dream Academy in 1985. Three decades later, it has been brought back to life by Celest, a singer from Singapore who now finds herself living in a northern town, Toronto.She has assembled an all-star group, the Torontonians, featuring singer/songwriters Julian Taylor and Chris Birkett, plus Young Wolf Hatchlings’ Jarrel Young and MC Jetset. The crew assembled at the Canadian Film Centre recently to perform the track, filmed live in 4k with three cameras for the WANTED Live! channel. LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Twitter
Advertisement Advertisement Login/Register With: Facebook LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Reid joined the Canadian sitcom in its fourth season, playing the love interest for Dan Levy’s character David.In one of the show’s biggest moments of the year, Reid performed a heartfelt rendition of “Simply The Best” for David.By COREY ATAD | ET Canada Noah Reid (Twitter) Canada’s own Noah Reid rang in the New Year in the most romantic way.The “Schitt’s Creek” star revealed in an Instagram post on New Year’s Eve that he and his longtime girlfriend Clare Lydia Michelle got engaged.“Roommates for life,” the 31-year-old actor captioned the post. Twitter
By Jorge BarreraAPTN National NewsOTTAWA–Former Cree leader turned NDP leadership candidate Romeo Saganash says he doesn’t believe the absence of an NDP provincial wing in Quebec is a “handicap” in the race to replace party leader Jack Layton who died from cancer in late August.Saganash, a Quebec MP for the riding of Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik, announced he was gunning for the NDP leadership Friday.Saganash and Brian Topp, the NDP party president and immediate frontrunner, are so far the only two declared leadership candidates in the race, though several other MPs are expected to join in.In an interview with APTN National News Monday, Saganash dismissed concerns raised by high-profile Quebec MP Thomas Mulcair who said candidates from Quebec were at a disadvantage in the leadership race because the NDP lacked a provincial wing there.Mulcair, seen by many as a top NDP candidate, told reporters Monday that he was holding off declaring his intentions to run because he believed the numbers were against him.Saganash admitted that the newness of the NDP in Quebec and its lack of a provincial base was a “challenge,” but it wasn’t enough to make him back off his leadership bid.“It is definitely a challenge and every challenge brings an opportunity,” said Saganash. “We have our work cut out for us. Definitely it is not a handicap in my view, rather an opportunity.”While the NDP has about 90,000 members, only about 1,600 are from Quebec.Saganash also disagreed with Mulcair’s call for the NDP to launch a membership drive targeting the province. He said the NDP should launch a national membership drive, instead of focusing just on Quebec.Mulcair said thousands of membership cards have been sold in British Columbia, where the party recently went through a leadership race, and in Manitoba and Ontario as a result of provincial elections, giving candidates from there an advantage.Most of the NDP’s membership is based outside Quebec despite the majority of elected NDP MPs coming from the province.Saganash said he plans to raise his profile among party members in the rest of Canada the old-fashioned way.“I’ve learned in the past 30 years that it is a matter of going up to them, visiting them and talking to them,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know who Romeo Saganash is. I think this is a huge challenge that I am willing to take up. It is an important hill to climb.”Saganash resigned as director of government relations and international affairs of the Grand Council of Crees to run in the last election against Bloc Quebecois incumbent Yvon Levesque.During the election, Levesque was forced by his party to apologize after he said that Saganash’s Cree ancestry was a liability with voters in their constituency.Saganash, who is making history as the first First Nations leader to vie for the leadership of a major federal political party, said he was focusing on convincing NDP members to back him because of his ideas.“During the campaign I told the Cree…I am not asking the Cree to vote for me because I am Cree, but for the values I stand for,” said Saganash. “It is a very diversified riding. We have Inuit, Cree and Algonquin, we have Abitibi and James Bay non-Natives. When I said yes to Jack Layton I said yes to everybody, not just the Cree.”Layton died from cancer on Aug. 22.