Trudeau government still trying to figure out national youth policy – National

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OTTAWA – Three years after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised a national youth policy, the federal government is still trying to determine what it should include.

Trudeau appointed himself the minister for youth in his cabinet in 2015 and in the following year’s budget promised a national youth policy to make sure young people’s needs and concerns are reflected in what his government does.

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In 2017, the government set up a committee of deputy ministers on youth issues, urging the top bureaucrats to bring young public servants to the meetings. The government also created a youth council in 2016, a special advisory group of Canadians aged 16 to 24, to help create the policy and started soliciting ideas for what belongs in the policy.

READ MORE: Young people can now text for mental health help through Kids Help Phone across Canada

They came up with a lot of suggestions. A briefing deck for the deputy ministers last June, obtained by The Canadian Press under access-to-information legislation, says that more than 1,200 participants participated in 40 roundtables across the country, 18 of which were hosted by youth-council members, and produced 9,000 ideas. Major themes included gender equality, Indigenous reconciliation and climate change.

This was something of a problem. “There will be questions of jurisdiction,” the briefing material says, noting that “a significant volume of ideas and issues fall within PT (provincial and territorial) jurisdiction.”

Also, the same slide says, “there will be expectations to manage … in the context of ambitious ideas and competing government priorities.”

READ MORE: Prime minister’s youth council split over Trans Mountain pipeline purchase

In other words, not all these things are possible, or even the federal government’s business.

“In my opinion, they definitely did a good job of I think identifying broad topics based on what the youth had said,” said Riley Yesno, whose two-year tenure on the council ended in January. She’s a University of Toronto student, an Anishnaabe woman who grew up in Thunder Bay.

“My personal hope for it is it ends up having some sort of teeth or being more actionable because while I think the guiding principles that we established were really great … unless there’s really actionable items attached to those principles, it could just be another kind of paper sitting wherever,” Yesno said.

The timeline for producing an actual policy remains unclear.

READ MORE: No federal supports, funding planned for children caught up in opioid crisis

“We all know that the next elections are in less than seven months so there’s not much time to put in place that policy,” said NDP youth critic Anne Minh-Thu Quach Monday. “I’m wondering if the prime minister is just using the youth policy as a political token or if he’s really going to do something about it.”

When Quach pressed the prime minister’s parliamentary secretary for youth issues Peter Schiefke last week in question period, he responded he would have “good news to share … in the weeks and months to come.”

In an email, Trudeau’s spokesperson Matt Pascuzzo called the youth consultations a “first step,” noting that through discussions with the prime minister and cabinet ministers, the youth-council members have been able to more indirectly shape policy.

WATCH: Trudeau says legalizing marijuana will make it harder for youth to access drug







“This engagement is essential in helping our government identify issues important to youth and to find solutions that will improve the lives of young Canadians,” he wrote.

The file falls under the Privy Council Office. Spokesman Paul Duchesne said by email that the next meeting of deputy ministers is scheduled for March. The committee’s job is to “ensure a whole-of-government approach to youth initiatives,” he wrote and promote a youth perspective in government.

He didn’t say how far along the national youth policy is.

Planned spending on the work fell from $1.6 million in 2018 to just over $1 million this year, though it’s to rise again to $1.3 million in 2020.

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‘Renters are not second-class citizens.’ Push is on to change culture, policy for long-term tenants

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Amanda Ferguson, 33, imagines Toronto’s astronomical rents are dinner- party fodder for people of her parents’ generation and her contemporaries living in small-town Ontario.

But renting is a longer-term and costly reality for more young professionals like Ferguson.

“It’s what you do to survive and balance the books,” she said.

At their own dinner parties, Ferguson and her friends talk about solutions to the high cost of housing — the possibility of commuting to Hamilton or moving to a smaller city — amid the mounting impossibility of owning in the Toronto region where the average detached or semi-detached home costs about $1 million.

A slavish devotion to home ownership in Canada, which has one of the highest rates in the world, and the growing gap between household incomes of tenants and homeowners in the Toronto region have helped attach a stigma to renting.

But with home ownership rates dipping in Canada, there’s a move afoot to normalize renting by pushing for policy and regulations that would give tenants the kind of security and control normally attached to home ownership.

Generation Squeeze, a Vancouver lobby group led by University of British Columbia professor Paul Kershaw, focuses on the economic plight of adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s struggling to pay for housing and child care. It has launched a petition and campaign called We Rent, to push politicians to level the playing field between renters and home owners.

The most obvious way to do that is by increasing the stock of affordable and market-rate, purpose-built rentals that provide tenants with the security and professional management that provides them with security of tenure, says Generation Squeeze.

It wants the government to help by making the business model for rental development competitive with condos by using tax incentives such as GST rebates.

The guiding principle of We Rent is that “renters are not second-class citizens.”

It’s a cultural phenomenon that we prioritize home ownership, said Kershaw. For a long time it wasn’t as challenging to own a home in Canada as it is today in cities, particularly the two least affordable centres, Toronto and Vancouver.

“It became a sign of adulthood — you left the nest, you’ve got your own space and there’s some autonomy that comes with home ownership,” he said.

It’s not just about whether you can own a pet or paint your apartment. It’s about knowing that, as a renter, your child can access a particular school and stay there until they graduate in the same way that a homeowner is secure they can stay in the neighbourhood.

In the five years she has lived in Toronto, Ferguson, a communications professional, has been evicted twice. In both cases the landlords said they were moving her out to move in their relatives. Both instances followed conversations about illegal rent increases, she said.

When she moved to Toronto, Ferguson paid $1,350 for a one-bedroom apartment. The next place cost $1,450. Forced out again into the city’s 1 per cent vacancy rate in August, the average price was about $2,000, she said.

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto in the third quarter of this year was $2,056, according to market research firm Urbanation.

“They say you’re supposed to spend 30 per cent of your income on housing. That number is no longer realistic in Toronto unless you room-mate up,” she said.

She cites cities like London, England, where even established adults have flat-mates as the only feasible way of affording a home.

After the second eviction Ferguson and her boyfriend decided to look for a place together. They lucked out with an older-large two-bedroom place for $2,450.

Growing up in Amhertsburg, a town of about 22,000 half an hour south of Windsor, Ferguson remembers a big house with a lawn and being able to run to her to her friends’ houses nearby.

Owning a home “is something that’s instilled in me as the next step,” she said. “It’s kind of sad that it’s potentially off the table or, in order to get that, I’d be looking at a three-hour commute round trip from Hamilton.”

The benefits of renting are often under-rated, said Chris Spoke, who rents part of a Leslieville house with his wife and baby daughter, and is a founder of Toronto advocacy group, Housing Matters.

“When you think about things like labour mobility, being flexible enough to move to where the opportunity is, you’re less tied down. That’s something that you see as we extoll the virtues and benefits of home ownership — you do see less labour mobility and less flexibility on these fronts than societies that have higher rental rates,” he said.

Canadians have subscribed to the notion that housing is an investment. Increasing the value of that investment is incompatible with creating more affordable housing, Spoke said.

About the same time builders stopped making purpose-built rentals in the Toronto region, municipalities enshrined zoning rules that protect established neighbourhoods from denser, more affordable housing such as apartments, duplexes or triplexes.

For many Canadians, home ownership is a retirement fund — a way of paying yourself — Kershaw said.

“We’ve distorted that to say you’re going to pay yourself in an asset that we want to grow faster than the economy. We want it to be the best part of your portfolio. That has gone hand in hand in many big cities in Canada with home prices escalating far faster than economic growth and as a result leaving earnings behind,” he said.

A generation ago it took five years of full-time work to save a 20 per cent downpayment on an average priced home in Vancouver and across Canada.

“If you flash forward to today . . . it would take 13 years to save a 20 per cent payment on an average priced home in Canada,” said Kershaw. “In Ontario it is 16 years. In British Columbia it’s 19 years. In the GTA, it is 22 years and in Metro Vancouver it is 27 years.”

Given how horrifying those statistics are, he said, “We just have to anticipate that we are on a route where more and more people are going to be renters for longer periods of their lives.”

Tess Kalinowski is a Toronto-based reporter covering real estate. Follow her on Twitter: @tesskalinowski

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PC’s motion on gender identity not government policy, education minister says

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Ontario’s education minister says a controversial motion on gender identity introduced at a weekend Progressive Conservative party convention is not government policy.

The resolution, introduced at the convention by parental rights advocate Tanya Granic Allen, declares gender identity a « Liberal ideology » and asks that references to it be removed from Ontario’s sex-education curriculum.

Over the weekend, delegates at the convention voted in favour of having the resolution debated at next year’s party gathering.

In the legislature on Monday, Education Minister Lisa Thompson said the motion is non-binding and not government policy.

Critics say resolution is dangerous

Critics have called the resolution dangerous and have called on Premier Doug Ford to denounce it.

Egale Canada, an advocacy group for members of the LGBTQ community, called the motion transphobic, saying gender identity is protected in Canada’s Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

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London Police Services Board releases draft sex assault policy, requests public feedback – London

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Roughly nine months after first launching consultations, the London Police Services Board is out with a new draft sexual assault policy (below).

The overhaul was launched in the wake of media reports outlining the number of complaints that police deemed unfounded.


READ MORE:
Victim featured in ‘unfounded’ report responds to London Police apology

Dr. AnnaLise Trudell with Anova, a shelter and support centre for survivors of abuse and sexual violence, believes the policy is a step in the right direction.

“It kind of brings a few different pieces together, so one is the advocate review, which we’re already doing, which is where every sexual assault case reported to the police gets reviewed by community members, and there’s lots of learning that’s been happening in that space within the last year,” said Trudell.

“The other is sort of empowering the survivor a lot more around guiding the process, so he or she can disclose the name of the accused, and the chief will sort of work as much as possible to make that be something that they can do.”


READ MORE:
New draft policy for sex-assault investigations expected by end of 2018: London police board

The policy also calls for increased training for police.

Trudell notes that the policy has some blind spots.

“Stats Canada came out with a report a few months ago that said that reports to the police declined since 2004 by 20 per cent,” she said.

“We know that people are actually going to the police less and a lot of reasons as to why that is, and some of that might be around confidence and knowing that the system is not going to be great for them, so this type of policy helps get at that.”

The public is asked to provide feedback on the draft policy by Dec. 10 via email to lpsb@londonpolice.ca or the board says arrangements can also be made to speak directly to members of the board’s sub-committee on community relations.

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

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Kingston city councillor proposes good neighbour policy for leaves, snow removal – Kingston

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As the seasons begin to change in Kingston, the ground is covered with orange, red and yellow leaves.


READ MORE:
Leave the leaves alone: Nature group tells Canadians not to rake their lawns

For one local couple, trading swimsuits and sunshine for rakes and snowblowers is nothing new. Doug and Jill Spettigue have lived in their home on the shores of Lake Ontario for over 40 years, and each year they look out the window and see leaves and snow accumulate on their front lawn.

“We enjoy raking leaves and preparing for the snow that we know will fall during the winter months,” said Jill.


READ MORE:
Nature Conservancy of Canada announces large sugar maple natural reserve

The Spettigues are doing their part to ensure that the leaves and snow in their yard are piled properly so that they do not spread to neighbouring properties — a duty that Coun. Jim Neill says many Kingstonians are failing to do.

“I’ve had several complaints about neighbours who blew snow and raked leaves onto their property, and we’ve always tried to negotiate with that neighbour, but we need a good neighbour policy,” said Neill.

Neill continued by saying that he wrote a good neighbour bylaw, but the municipal act doesn’t allow for it because the city already enforces rules for blowing snow and/or leaves onto roadways and city property. Still, he says a similar policy was enacted in Calgary and seems to have worked.

“A way in which this can be resolved between neighbours without making it a legal bylaw is this policy. We have staff looking into it, and I’m looking forward to Kingston adopting a similar policy,” said Neill.


READ MORE:
Beaconsfield residents irked by handling of leaf blower ban

The Spettigues say a bylaw is not the answer because being a Kingstonian comes with a certain pride, and it should be reflected on the city’s streets.

On Tuesday evening, the policy will be brought to city council, and Neill says he is confident it will be passed unanimously.

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

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Can Ontario cops smoke pot? Police association unhappy over policy talks

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The president of the Police Association of Ontario isn’t happy officers across the province are being left in the dark about whether or not they’ll be able to use recreational cannabis off duty when it becomes legal.

Bruce Chapman, president of the Police Association of Ontario, says so far there’s been little collaboration with police associations to develop policies for their members. 

« Here we are two weeks from the legalization of recreational marijuana … there’s been limited consultation with associations that represent the members, so it’s concerning from the aspect of police associations, » said Chapman.

Pot use policies for officers are being developed by police services across the country, with Calgary declaring an abstinence-only policy for their officers. The RCMP, meanwhile, have established an eight-hour cut off on cannabis use before officers show up to work.

In Ontario, the Ottawa Police Service has revealed its officers will be allowed to use recreational marijuana off-duty, but they must follow fit-for-duty guidelines.

While other police services work on policies, officers are asking questions.

« The frustration will come when they’re trying to enforce a policy no one knows all the answers to, and the consequences of their actions and what they’re allowed to do, and how they differ from service to service and neighbouring jurisdictions could have completely different policies put in place, » Chapman said, pointing to Calgary and Vancouver’s very different policies.

In Vancouver, officers can self-evaluate whether they are fit for duty.

Chapman thinks Calgary’s outright ban policy will face a legal challenge.

Association doesn’t support ban 

He said his association does not support an outright ban on officers using marijuana when off-duty.

« It’s not a personal support, it’s a constitutional support for the laws of the land, » he said. « I worked in my career in the drug squad where we used to arrest people for using cannabis, but if the federal laws are changing and it’s legal to do so – in October you can’t stop an officer or a civilian from doing it in their own time, similar to alcohol. »

Chapman says he wants to see police services sitting down with officers’ associations and coming up with solutions that work.

In his conversations with officers, he says he’s seeing a large variance in attitudes.

« There are some benefits to it – it helps anxiety in certain conditions. I’m not saying I’m opposed to it, I’m not saying I support it. The membership at large has varying degrees of support for it, from, ‘No, it doesn’t matter, I’ll never use it,’ to ‘I may use it. I used it 25 years ago and I may do it again now that it’s legal,' » he said.

He says fitness for duty is a major consideration, similar to the alcohol policy many police services have in place now.

Ottawa settled, Toronto not

Chapman says major police associations across the country are currently holding meetings to discuss legalization for their members.

Toronto Police Service has not released their policy yet. As of last week, the force said it was still considering all options for the policy.

Both Waterloo Regional Police Service and the Guelph Police Service are still developing their policies.

Windsor Police Service has not yet released a policy. Officials there said, « The matter is still being studied and reviewed. »

CBC News has reached out to the Ontario Provincial Police to get an update on their marijuana use policy for officers but had not heard back at publication time.

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Canadian police services still putting ‘finishing touches’ on pot consumption policy for officers

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Many Canadian police services are still « putting the finishing touches » on the rules surrounding officers’ consumption of cannabis, less than three weeks before marijuana is legalized for recreational use.

So far, Calgary is the only jurisdiction with a complete abstinence policy.

Officers in the Calgary Police Service will be banned from consuming marijuana even on their days off or vacations — a policy that the police union says it plans to fight.

Other police departments with policies in place require officers to be « fit for duty, » more in line with the rules surrounding the consumption of alcohol and prescription drugs.

Both the RCMP and the military will allow members to light up, though the Canadian Forces says personnel must leave at least eight hours between using cannabis and being on duty.

The Vancouver Police Department approved its policy this week, with officers required to self-evaluate whether they are fit for duty.

« We don’t have a specific time limit on alcohol or prescription drug use, and we will not be implementing one for cannabis, » said Const. Jason Doucette, a department spokesperson.

« Our officers will be provided with information surrounding cannabis use and potency, etc., and it will be their responsibility to ensure they show up fit for duty. »

‘We don’t tell employees they cannot drink alcohol’

Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto and Halifax haven’t yet released their rules, but Regina has indicated it has no plans to ban officers from using the soon-to-be-legal drug.

The « finishing touches » are being put on the policy, but the Regina police chief says the approach there will be similar to the rules surrounding alcohol use.

« It involves finding the right balance between avoiding regulating what our employees do in their own spare time and the expectation that they are fit for duty when they come to work.

« We don’t tell our employees they cannot drink alcohol in their own time, away from work, but we do expect our officers to show up for work fit for duty, » said Chief Evan Bray.

Breakdown city by city

The Toronto Police Service said it is « considering specific direction to members regarding the recreational use of cannabis. » A spokesperson said « at this stage, all options are being considered. »

The only stipulation for Ottawa police is they must be « free from the effects of alcohol or any drug including cannabis » when they report for duty.

Here’s a list of Canadian police services that responded to CBC’s request for details on cannabis policies:

  • Vancouver: Officers allowed to consume.
  • Calgary: Officers not allowed to consume.
  • Edmonton: No policy yet.
  • Regina: No policy yet, but officers will be allowed to consume.
  • Winnipeg: No policy yet.
  • Toronto: No policy yet.
  • Ottawa: Officers allowed to consume.
  • Montreal: Officers allowed to consume.
  • Halifax: No policy yet.
  • St. John’s: No policy yet.
  • RCMP: No policy yet. Officers will be allowed to consume. 
  • Military: Members allowed to consume, but not within eight hours of a shift.

CBC News also reached out to services in Quebec City, Fredericton and Charlottetown but did not receive responses. 

All Canadian police officers will receive online training through the Canadian Police Knowledge Network (CPKN) on the new federal legislation.

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U.S. congressman’s bid to lift lifetime bans on Canadian cannabis workers hinges on mid-terms, say policy experts

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VANCOUVER—Whether Canadian cannabis workers will be permitted to cross into the United States may hang on the outcome of the November midterm elections, says an American policy expert.

Rep. J. Luis Correa, a Democratic congressman from California, sent a congressional letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen last week expressing concern that Canadians engaged in “lawful business activities” were being penalized unnecessarily, citing reporting in StarMetro Vancouver.

But a power shift in the House of Representatives is necessary for Correa to truly make waves with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), said Sanho Tree, director of the Drug Policy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.

“It all hinges on what happens Nov. 6,” Tree said in an interview, referring to the date of the upcoming U.S. midterm elections.

American politics, said Tree, is a “winner-take-all” system. And since Correa’s Democrats are currently the minority party in the House of Representatives, they have little power to affect meaningful political change. If they were to claw back a majority in November’s mid-terms, however, they could cause “all kinds of problems” for the DHS, he said.

Correa himself was blunt in a Wednesday interview. Lifetime bans for Canadian cannabis workers are a result of American laws lagging behind contemporary, reputable evidence on the potential health benefits of cannabis and the economic benefits of cannabis legalization, he said.

“This is one of those cases where politics has prevailed over good, common sense public policy,” Correa said. “This is an unintended consequence of our legal environment being seriously flawed.”

He said many of his constituents are veterans suffering from conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder who have personally attested to cannabis’ effectiveness as a medicine that has improved their quality of life. Economically speaking, he added, banning Canadians from the U.S. for participating in a legitimate business practice north of the border would have a chilling effect on relations with the States’ largest trading partner.

With that in mind, said Correa, the congressional letter to Nielsen represents two things: a request that DHS clarify what rules and regulations it uses to administer lifetime bans on Canadian cannabis workers; and a nascent push to determine what needs to be changed to permit those Canadians access to the United States.

“What we want is common sense regulations when it comes to our Canadian brothers and sisters,” he said. “That’s the end goal.”

But resolving this issue with any finality will require a change in law, Correa said in a followup statement by email. Cannabis is currently a federally controlled substance, and immigration law has various regulations and restrictions on controlled substances and persons associated with them.

Determining what, exactly, needs to change and how, wrote Correa, is what he and his staff are working on now.

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment, but Correa stated in an email that his office has received a response from the department acknowledging his submission.

Under past presidential administrations, a congressperson might find purchase across the party aisle for her or his ideas, said Paul Quirk, a professor in the department of political science at the University of British Columbia. But the unusual deference shown by Republicans to Trump — and intense federal Republican opposition to easing cannabis laws — means Correa will almost undoubtedly need a big Democratic win in the November mid-terms to make real headway, he said.

Correa’s next moves may include making speeches, reaching out to other members of Congress and trying to drum up enough support to prompt action, said Quirk.

“(But) at this point, with the election coming up, he’s probably counting on a Democratic House and a better chance for action, (or) at least critical oversight, beginning in January,” he said.

The response of Canada’s federal politicians to the ongoing issue has been less definitive, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself citing the impotence of foreign governments in influencing drug policy in the U.S.

Whether Ottawa is involved in or is even aware of Correa’s push for change is unclear. Bill Blair, minister of border security and organized crime reduction and Canada’s new lead on the cannabis file, did not respond to a request for comment.

Back in the U.S., Scott Railton, an immigration and naturalization lawyer based in Bellingham, Wash., said that even if there is a power shift in the House of Representatives, the U.S. federal government moves slowly.

“Sometimes it takes a while for Homeland Security or even Washington D.C. to get real action on something,” Railton said. “And in the absence of a real perceived fire, it might take a while (for Correa to see results).”

The long-term success of Correa’s bid for change in border policy, he added, may ultimately be decided by whether other interests step up to show support.

Senators in the northern border states will likely show interest in the issue once cannabis legalization officially takes effect in Canada on Oct. 17, he said. But whether business owners, other elected representatives or even voters take notice remains to be seen.

“If there are slowdowns at the border or anything affecting local commerce that can be directly pinned on changing law in Canada,” he said, “that’s going to inspire action on the U.S. side.”

Correa, however, was adamant that he is in it for the long haul.

“As both our nations continue to advance legal cannabis, it is vital we work together and grow together,” he wrote in his email to StarMetro Vancouver. “With the cannabis industry poised to be a multibillion-dollar industry, ensuring our two countries can work together will allow us to share in the economic boom legal cannabis will bring.”

Perrin Grauer is a Vancouver-based reporter covering Canada’s cannabis economy. Follow him on Twitter: @perringrauer

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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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