U.S. judge denies request for Keystone XL pipeline pre-construction work

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A U.S. judge has denied a request for pre-construction work to go ahead on the Keystone XL pipeline.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris on Friday denied a request by Calgary-based TransCanada to begin constructing worker camps for the 1,905 kilometre pipeline that would ship crude from Alberta to the Gulf Coast. 
 
However, Morris said TransCanada could perform some limited activities outside the pipeline’s right-of-way. Those include the construction and use of pipe storage and container yards.

« I don’t see it as that significant, » said Nigel Bankes, a professor of law at the University of Calgary.

« I think it simply confirms that the permit that TransCanada had remains suspended and what TransCanada has got out of this is some clarification about work that it can continue to do and work that it’s not allowed to do under the earlier judgement. »

The Keystone XL pipeline would bring oil from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb. (Natalie Holdway/CBC)

TransCanada said last month it plans to start clearing trees and foliage for the northern route of the pipeline after the National Energy Board announced it had approved the pipeline company’s request to do some winter clearing work.

The regulator said the company had satisfied requirements to remove trees and shrubs around Hardisty, Alta., and further south in a block known as Keystone’s north spread.

Hardistry is about 210 kilometres northeast of Red Deer, Alta.

The pipeline, expected to cost $8-billion, would carry 830,000 barrels of crude a day from Hardisty to Nebraska. The pipeline would then connect with the original Keystone that runs to refineries in Texas.

In December, a Montana Federal Court judge gave the company permission to continue some pre-construction work such as engineering, awarding contracts and taking meetings.

The pre-construction work is essential, the company has said, to be ready for the 2019 spring construction season and meeting its targeted 2021 completion date.

TransCanada is still waiting for approval to continue field work in the United States.

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Alexandre Bissonnette’s parents say ‘very severe sentence’ denies all hope of rehabilitation

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Manon Marchand and Raymond Bissonnette issued an open letter Monday evening, questioning the severity of the minimum 40-year sentence handed down to their son Alexandre Bissonnette Friday and blaming the Crown for encouraging a « desire for revenge. »​

On Friday, Alexandre Bissonnette, 29, was sentenced to at least 40 years in prison for killing six men at a Quebec City mosque two years ago. He will be 67 before he’ll be eligible to seek parole.

Bissonnette’s parents point out the 40-year minimum sentence is the heaviest sentence ever imposed in Quebec since the death penalty was abolished in 1976. « We consider this to be a very severe sentence, » they write.

They say the position of the Crown — which had sought six consecutive periods of 25 years of parole ineligibility — amounted to circumventing the abolition of the death penalty and extinguishing all hope of rehabilitation.

« Why deny convicts even the faintest hope? » they ask.

Bissonnette’s parents said last summer when they spoke publicly for the first time that they didn’t realize until it was too late how years of intimidation and bullying had affected their son’s mental health.

In Monday’s open letter, they point out their son suffered psychological and physical bullying « which had devastating effects on his personality. » 

They say the solution to prevent another tragedy like the one perpetrated by their son is to « not lock someone up forever, but rather try to better understand and prevent bullying. »

Appeal of sentence likely

Legal experts said Quebec Superior Court Justice François Huot’s sentence is likely to be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.

Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre Imam Hassan Guillet expressed sympathy for Alexandre Bissonnette’s parents after the sentence was rendered.

« They are as destroyed as we are, » said Guillet Friday, after seeing them in the courtroom.

Survivors of the Quebec City mosque shooting and the families of the slain men expressed their disappointment that children of the victims will have to revisit the case in 40 years, when Bissonnette is at last able to apply for parole.

Read the full letter from Manon Marchand and Raymond Bissonnette below:

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Trudeau denies news report that his office pressed former justice minister to drop SNC-Lavalin charges

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OTTAWA— Prime Minister Justin Trudeau adamantly denied an explosive story Thursday that senior PMO officials pressed the former justice minister to seek mediation instead of pressing criminal charges against a high-profile Quebec engineering company, SNC-Lavalin.

“The allegations in the Globe story this morning are false,” Trudeau told reporters Thursday. “Neither the current nor the previous attorney-general was directed by me or anyone in my office to take a decision in this matter.”

But the statements are unlikely to quell the uproar that broke after the Globe and Mail reported Thursday that Jody Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of the job after she refused requests to direct the independent public prosecution office to negotiate a remediation agreement which would have resulted in the firm avoiding criminal liability for actions it said were taken by individual employees.

Read more:

Former SNC-Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime pleads guilty for role in hospital bribery

SNC-Lavalin blamed a teenage refugee for its poor performance. Here’s the real story

Speaking outside the House of Commons, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer rejected Trudeau’s denial as “words written by a lawyer.” He said the report brings up questions about whether officials in Trudeau’s office, and even potentially the prime minister himself, tried to influence Wilson-Raybould over the SNC-Lavelin prosecution.

“The allegations that are in the media today raise the idea that Jody Wilson-Raybould lost her job for refusing to bow to pressure from the prime minister’s office,” Scheer said, accusing the prime minister in French of “hiding something.”

“It’s up to the prime minister to come clean on this,” he said.

During his press conference earlier Thursday, Trudeau said three times in English and twice in French that no one in his PMO directed Wilson-Raybould, or her replacement David Lametti, a Quebec MP, to take “any decision whatsoever” in the SNC-Lavalin prosecution.

Asked what efforts were made to influence her decision, Trudeau said: “At no time did I or my office direct the current or previous attorney general to make any particular decision in this matter.”

Trudeau side-stepped a direct answer to another question about the the nature of discussions between his office and Wilson-Raybold, saying, “We have a tremendous positive working relationship with all members of our cabinet.”

Asked how Canadians can believe the Liberal government’s claims of never politicizing the judicial system — which it has repeated in the Meng Wanzhou extradition case and to questions about the trial of vice-admiral Mark Norman who is charged with leaking cabinet secrets — Trudeau insisted that “we have been consistent that Canada is a country of rule of law that respects the independent judiciary and always will.”

“It’s something we have stood up for on the international stage, it’s also something we ensure on the domestic stage.”

According to the report, SNC-Lavalin sought to avoid criminal fraud and corruption charges based on allegations it paid millions in bribes to win government business in Libya between 2001 and 2011.

Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould declined comment through a spokesman after the story broke Thursday.

The engineering company claims the executives responsible have left the company and it has since overhauled its ethics and compliance rules. This past week, the company’s former CEO Pierre Duhaime was sentenced to house arrest over a separate bribery scandal tied to the construction of a Montreal hospital. Former SNC-Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime pleaded guilty and will serve 20 months of house arrest.

The Liberal government changed the law last year to what allow “deferred prosecution agreements” and allow remediation agreements to be reached.

In June, Conservative MP Dan Albas slammed it saying the change “gives, effectively, large corporations a ‘get out of jail’card” for offences such as money-laundering.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau defended the move as a way to protect jobs and the economy, and noted that it is similar to the approach taken by the United States and the United Kingdom.

“We recognize that when organizations are found to be offside with the laws, they should be held to account, and they should be held to account for their actions in a way that ensures we protect Canadians,” Morneau said.

He said the revised approach was a “prudent way to ensure that we have companies pay the price for any wrongdoing in a way that allows us to ensure that our economy continues to be successful and that the people who are legitimately responsible for the bad behaviour pay a price, as opposed to people who aren’t, such as people who are unwittingly employed by firms that have had that bad behaviour.”

Liberal MP Mark Miller, whose riding encompasses the Quebec engineering and construction giant’s headquarters, defended the PMO officials as well as the former justice minister on Thursday after the story broke. “I’m confident that the Prime Minister’s office at all times acted legally and ethically,” he said, adding it was never discussed in Quebec caucus.

Miller also called Wilson-Raybould “one of the most principled and ethical people I’ve met in the last three years.”

When Trudeau gathered with his cabinet ministers for a retreat in Sherbrooke, Que., last month, he sidestepped questions about why Wilson-Raybould was removed as justice minister.

“Jody Wilson-Raybould has been a hard-working minister and has been a great person. We have given her a very important job that I know she is going to do well,” Trudeau said.

Asked specifically whether she was moved for “speaking truth to power” too often, Trudeau would only say, “we have a great team of very strong ministers who have stepped up time and time again to serve this country.”

That’s the very language Wilson-Raybould used in a lengthy letter penned after the shuffle that laid out her achievements as justice minister.

In that letter, she said the role of attorney general “demands a measure of principled independence.

“It is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference and uphold the highest levels of public confidence,” she wrote.

“As such, it has always been my view that the Attorney General of Canada must be non-partisan, more transparent in the principles that are the basis of decisions, and, in this respect, always willing to speak truth to power. This is how I served throughout my tenure in that role,” she said.

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

Bruce Campion-Smith is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @yowflier

Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga

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Trudeau denies pressuring justice minister to intervene on SNC-Lavalin

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he and members of his staff never pressured former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the prosecution of construction giant SNC-Lavalin on charges of fraud and corruption.

« The allegations in the Globe story this morning are false, » Trudeau told reporters during a news conference Thursday morning.

« Neither the current nor the previous attorney general was ever directed by me or by anyone in my office to take a decision in this matter. »

The comments come after the Globe and Mail reported Thursday that Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of her portfolio after she refused to ask federal prosecutors to make a plea bargain deal with Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin. The newspaper, citing anonymous sources, said Trudeau’s office tried to press Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the prosecution of SNC Lavalin.

CBC News has not independently verified the allegations.

Wilson-Raybould refused Thursday to comment on the Globe’s story — to either confirm or deny it.

Wilson-Raybould is refusing to comment on reports that the Prime Minister’s Office pressed her to intervene in the case against SNC-Lavalin. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

SNC-Lavalin is before a court in Montreal, charged with fraud and corruption in connection with payments of nearly $48 million to public officials in Libya under Moammar Gadhafi’s government and allegations it defrauded Libyan organizations of an estimated $130 million.

Company spokesperson Nicolas Ryan said the company is contesting the case and has pleaded not guilty.

If convicted, the company could be blocked from competing for federal government contracts for a decade.

In 2013, SNC-Lavalin was debarred from competing on any project financed by the World Bank for 10 years following an investigation into allegations of bribery schemes involving the company and officials in Bangladesh.

On Friday, former SNC-Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime pleaded guilty to helping a public servant commit breach of trust in a deal that resulted in 20 months of house arrest, 240 hours of community service and a $200,000 donation to a fund for victims of crime.

In late November, the company’s former vice-president Normand Morin pleaded guilty to charges of violating Canada’s election financing rules through an elaborate scheme that sent more than $117,000 to the federal Liberal and Conservative parties and to individual candidates.

The company has maintained that the charges resulted from the actions of former executives, and it is under new management. It says it has cleaned up its act.

Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at elizabeth.thompson@cbc.ca

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Pot activist Marc Emery denies allegations of sexually inappropriate behaviour

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Vancouver’s self-styled « Prince of Pot » is defending himself against allegations of sexual impropriety.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Marc Emery addressed a number of complaints levelled against him on social media.

He apologized and admitted mistakes but insists he was never sexually aggressive with anyone.

Emery says he had consensual sex with three employees of his Cannabis Culture pot shops over the years, two of whom he married but never with anybody under the age of 19

His statement comes after an Ontario journalist claimed Emery was inappropriate with her at his Cannabis Culture store years ago. 

The Twitter post sparked a controversy on social media and triggered a huge response. as well as other allegations. Deirdre Olsen says she was 17 when she met Emery in 2008.

She said Emery was at the height of his fame as the so-called « Prince of Pot » and she says she was star-struck.

Olsen — who grew up in Ladner — said he once invited her to smoke pot from an oversized phallic bong and said explicit things to her. She said her mother stopped her from taking a job at the pot shop.

Emery acknowledges he had five to eight 17-year old friends that he smoked marijuana with in 2014 and 2015 after returning from prison.

CBC News has not fully investigated or verified the allegations in Olsen’s online claims. Emery did not respond to CBC News’ request for an interview Thursday.

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‘Absolutely false’: U.S. ambassador denies political motive behind Huawei exec’s arrest

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Donald Trump’s top representative in Canada is denying Chinese claims of a political motive behind the arrest in Canada of a key executive with the Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei.

U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft said the claim circulating in Chinese state media that Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s arrest in Canada was part of a political conspiracy engineered by Ottawa and Washington to punish Chinese tech firms or pressure Beijing over its trade practices is « absolutely false. »

Craft told Canadian journalists from her Ottawa residence this morning that Meng’s arrest and possible extradition to the United States are part of an ongoing « independent judiciary process » and that the situation is « very delicate. »

« This is part of our judicial process. It is just a matter that I cannot comment on, » she said.

Asked how she took Chinese threats of unspecified « consequences » for Canada over Meng’s arrest, Craft again cited the need to respect the legal process.

« Once again, this is a judicial process, it is a very delicate process, and I don’t want to be involved in something that is an ongoing independent judiciary process, » she said. « (Canadian and American) law enforcement works very closely together. »

Meng. 46, is Huawei’s chief financial officer, and also the daughter of the firm’s founder. She was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1. She is wanted for extradition to the U.S. on allegations of fraud, including using a shell company to skirt international American sanctions on Iran over five years.

Meng’s bail hearing in Vancouver continues today. At issue Monday was the question of whether she poses a flight risk.

Craft was also asked whether the Americans have talked to Canada about how it might cope with the diplomatic and economic fallout from banning Huawei from taking part in building Canada’s 5G telecommunications network.

In a recent letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Senators Mark Warner and Marco Rubio urged him to keep Chinese tech out of the planned new high-speed network, warning that allowing Huawei into Canada’s 5G would put intelligence-sharing between Canada and the U.S. at risk.

Craft kicked the question up the ladder: « We had spoken to all our allies about this issue. It’s something that’s between my administration and your administration. The Canadian government will make that decision based on their findings. »

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Workers’ compensation board denies over 90 per cent of chronic mental stress claims, audit shows

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The provincial workers’ compensation board has denied 94 per cent of chronic mental stress cases since new legislation extended benefits coverage to employees experiencing long-term trauma or harassment on the job, according to an internal Workplace Safety and Insurance Board audit obtained by the Star.

Previously, workers could only seek compensation for mental health injuries caused by a traumatic incident, not those triggered by ongoing trauma in their workplace — which labour advocates and legal experts described in a 2016 ombudsman complaint as unconstitutional and discriminatory. Subsequent legal changes mean workers can now file claims for work-related chronic stress issues.

But between January and May, just 10 of the 159 claims for work-related chronic mental stress were approved, the audit conducted by the WSIB shows.

Maryth Yachnin, a lawyer with the Toronto-based legal clinic Industrial Accident Victims of Ontario, said advocates already had concerns about existing barriers to winning chronic mental stress claims — but said she was “stunned” by the denial rate.

“I cannot imagine a world where they should be denying upwards of 90 per cent of the cases,” she said.

In a statement to the Star, WSIB spokesperson Christine Arnott said the board wanted “anyone dealing with work-related chronic mental stress (CMS) to get the help and support they need.”

She said workers were entitled to compensation if they met the board’s criteria, which includes evidence of a “substantial work-related stressor” and abusive workplace behaviour that rises to the level of workplace harassment. (Workers are not entitled to chronic stress compensation for problems stemming from discipline, demotions, transfers or termination.)

“We will continue to monitor our new chronic mental stress program as we help support mentally healthy workplaces across Ontario,” Arnott said.

Yachnin said the board’s approach to chronic mental stress creates unique and unreasonable barriers for people with “harassment-type injuries.”

Workers filing for chronic mental stress, for example, must prove their workplace was the “predominant cause” of their illness — while workers with physical injuries must simply show their workplace was a significant contributing factor.

“That’s subject to a higher legal test than any other workers in Ontario,” Yachnin said, adding in court workers only have to prove employer negligence was one factor in a workplace injury.

Like all workers filing WSIB claims, those with chronic mental health injuries give up their right to sue their employer if they initiate a case at the compensation board.

“All workers with these chronic stressors have been stripped of their right to sue their employer. The replacement right has to mirror the right you took away,” Yachnin said.

The board’s current guidelines were formed after consultation with both employers and worker representatives. According to one submission from an employer association, “stress cases are not the same as ‘other’ kinds of workplace injuries,” and treating them as such is a “momentous miscalculation and policy design error.”

In the WSIB statement to the Star, Arnott said the nature of mental stress injuries are “complex and differ from physical injuries.”

“The use of the predominant cause test is consistent with other workplace compensation boards (Alberta, Quebec, Saskatchewan and British Columbia) across Canada that also compensate for CMS,” she said.

Last year, a coalition of 12 legal clinics and private practice lawyers decried the “predominant cause” test before it came into effect in a letter sent to former premier Kathleen Wynne.

“The Supreme Court of Canada and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal have rejected the wrong-headed notion that mental injuries are less real, more subjective and more suspect than physical ones,” the letter said.

According to the WSIB’s chronic mental stress policy, a work-related stressor is considered “substantial” if it is excessive compared to “the normal pressures and tensions experienced by workers in similar circumstances,” although the policy says workers can’t be denied compensation simply because they work in a routinely high-pressure environment.

“In some cases … consistent exposure to a high level of routine stress over time may qualify as a substantial work-related stressor,” the policy says.

Yachnin said logic runs contrary to how physical injuries are treated, where constant exposure to stress or risk would be seen as “positive evidence of causation.”

Board adjudicators must also “be able to identify the event(s) which are alleged to have caused the chronic mental stress,” through “information or knowledge” provided by co-workers or supervisors, according to board policy.

“When you think about harassment in a small workplace, the person harassing you is very likely your employer,” Yachnin said. “Who else in the workplace is going to provide confirmation?”

The low number of claims registered to date may reflect a lack of awareness about legislative changes, Yachnin said — but could also indicate workers see the barriers to winning compensation as insurmountable.

That prevents the employer-funded workers’ compensation system from functioning properly, she added: if employers’ insurance premiums go up because of high injury rates, there is a financial incentive to rectify the safety risks.

“(The costs) are properly borne by the employer community because they were generated by workplace risks,” Yachnin said.

“The system is designed to point out the canary in the coal mine and show where there are health and safety risks factors,” she added. “But you can’t do that if at the front door you’re basically auto-denying them. I don’t know what else to call this.”

Sara Mojtehedzadeh is a Toronto-based reporter covering labour issues. Follow her on Twitter: @saramojtehedz


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Scott Brison denies lobbying for shipbuilder in Mark Norman affair

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A senior Liberal cabinet minister denied Tuesday lobbying on behalf of one of the country’s leading shipbuilders, which has been swept up in the court fight surrounding the military’s former second-in-command.

Treasury Board President Scott Brison faced a second day of questions in the House of Commons over what contacts he had with Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax prior to a key cabinet committee meeting at the heart of the criminal case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.

Court documents filed last week alleged that Brison had a « close relationship » with the shipyard and that he was fronting an effort to scuttle a proposal from rival Davie Shipyard, of Levis, Que. in the fall of 2015.

« The only engagement I had with Irving Shipbuilding during the period in question was being copied on a letter sent to two other ministers, » he told the Commons, referring to a letter the company sent to four cabinet ministers, extolling the virtues of their proposal.

« My job as Treasury Board president includes expenditure review and due diligence to ensure the integrity of government contracting. That is exactly what I did, my job. »

The political, bureaucratic and corporate tug-of-war over acquiring a leased supply ship for the navy is underpinning the Crown’s case against Norman.

He was charged last spring with a single count of breach trust.

Prosecutors allege the former vice chief of defence staff favoured a $668 million proposal by the Davie yard. When the newly elected Liberal government wanted to pause the project, Norman allegedly leaked word of the secret decision of the cabinet committee.

At the time, he was head of the navy.

‘Obstructing justice’

The ensuing political uproar over the possible cancellation forced the Liberals to back down and the ship was eventually completed and has now entered service.

The leak to CBC News became the basis of an RCMP investigation. The reporter who wrote the story, James Cudmore, left journalism shortly afterwards and went to work as a policy advisor in Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office.

The disclosure motion, which has put Brison in the crosshairs of the Conservative opposition, was filed on Friday by Norman’s lawyers who are asking the court to release a trove of secret and confidential documents related to the handling of the leased supply ship program.

The prime minister’s office, according to the court documents, is blocking the release of the information. Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen said officials were « in essence, obstructing justice » by blocking the naval officer’s right to a fair trial.

Hiding behind the courts

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he wasn’t prepared to comment about an ongoing court proceeding.

« Due process will apply and justice will be done, » he said. « I am sure the honourable member knows that criminal prosecutions are not pursued on the floor of the House of Commons. »

The Conservatives, however, countered that the case had already been politicized by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who on two occasions, before charges were laid, made remarks which Norman’s lawyers seized on in the court filing.

Asked about the investigation on April 6, 2017, Trudeau said he believed the matter « will likely end up before the courts » and then on Feb. 1, 2018, he stated the RCMP investigation would « inevitably » lead to « court processes. »

Lisa Raitt, the Conservative deputy leader, said Goodale is trying to hide behind the court process by saying it’s improper to comment.

« Maybe he should tell that to the prime minister who deemed even before an investigation had concluded that the admiral would be charged, » she said.

« For a government that is in love with the Constitution, I really thought it would understand that the right to a fair defence and the right to procedural fairness of the individual would trump their desire to hide some uncomfortable things that were probably said at a cabinet meeting.

Why is the government putting its self-interest above somebody’s defence? »

The Crown and Norman’s lawyers will be in court Nov. 2 to argue over the disclosure of documents.

A trial is not expected until next summer.

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B.C. extra told Hallmark movies won’t show interracial couples — parent company denies policy – BC

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When a casting call hit the local newspaper, many Gibsons residents couldn’t pass up being part of a Hallmark Christmas movie.

For one week in August, the Sunshine Coast community was transformed into the winter setting of A Carousel Christmas starring Kathie Lee Gifford, a film based on the popular Christian Godwinks book series.

“It was very Christmas-y, very beautiful, very typical of a Hallmark movie,” said Lesley Horat, who signed up to be an extra with friends.

Coverage of Hollywood North on Globalnews.ca:


Filming was halfway through its first day when Horat said the movie magic ended with her being marginalized because of the colour of her skin.

Horat said she was allowed to take part in a one scene that featured a crowd watching the lighting of a Christmas tree. When the next scene called for a number of couples to linger behind romantically, Horat was told to sit it out.

“The casting wrangler looked at us and said, ‘Oh no, Hallmark has this policy against interracial couple representation in our productions,’” she said.

Leah Pettit and Norman Kohler also witnessed the wrangler’s shocking statement.

Ironically, the married couple was allowed to take part in the scene, even though Kohler is mixed race.

“My husband is part-Ghanaian but apparently looks white enough that we were OK on screen,” said Pettit.

READ MORE: From 2016 — Racism still rampant in Hollywood despite widespread criticism, study shows

It was Kohler’s brother who tried to pair up with Horat.

“I guess from optics it just didn’t look right,” she added. “He is fairer than I am and so we were kind of set off to the side.”

None were surprised when she voiced her concerns over the alleged policy to other staff on set.

Horat, who has first-hand experience with racial segregation, chose not to come back for the second day of filming.

“My parents are immigrants from South Africa and they left during apartheid… so this sort of no race mixing was part of my young life,” Horat explained.

In a statement to Global News, Hallmark’s parent company Crown Media wrote:

“We state unequivocally that Crown Media does not have a policy, stated or unstated, regarding interracial couples in our programming.”

“Programs and their characters should reflect the wide diversity of our audience, keeping in mind the importance of dignity to every human being. Sensitivity is necessary in the presentation of material relating to age, sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or national derivation to avoid demeaning stereotypes.”

Kathie Lee Gifford, right, talks about making Hallmark movies based on the “Godwinks” books, on the “Today” show.

Today

Crown Media said it will investigate the allegations to ensure all its third-party production vendors which are tasked with filming the Hallmark movies fully understand their values and policies.

A Carousel Christmas was helmed by Vancouver director Michael Robison, who told Global News he’s never heard of such a policy.

“I’ll talk to the producer of the show and see where this originated but it’s not a policy of mine,” said Robison.

“Some of these people have been working for Hallmark for 10 years and maybe, in their defense, they’ve picked up some bad habits because that’s not appropriate.”

“We are all scared to rock the boat…”

Multiple sources from within the B.C. film industry, who spoke to Global News on the condition of anonymity, said many know of an “interracial policy” that they said has been tied to Hallmark productions for a long time.

“It’s just common knowledge that Hallmark expects people of the same ethnicities to be coupled,” said one insider. “We all are scared to rock the boat on this issue because there are so many productions that are happening.”

Hallmark movies account for dozens of projects filmed in B.C. each year.

Horat and her friends said they likely won’t watch A Carousel Christmas when it premieres on TV in November.

“I felt like they ruined my space where I live because I don’t have to deal with that on a daily basis.” Horat said. “Why even bother showing diversity if you’re going to take it back to 1950s southern America?”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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