Vancouver vegan cheese shop told they can no longer use the word ‘cheese’ in packaging – BC

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A vegan cheese shop in Vancouver has found itself at the centre of a fight over the definition of cheese.

The Blue Heron Creamery makes and sells plant-based cheeses, yogurts, and butters.

However, after receiving a complaint, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has ordered them to stop calling their products ‘cheese’.

The legal definition of cheese states that it is made from milk.


READ MORE:
Researchers want the world to eat differently. Here’s what that diet might look like.

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Blue Heron has also been told they can’t even describe their products as either plant-based or dairy-free vegan cheese, which are terms other similar Canadian businesses have used.

Chef and co-owner Karen McAthy said “what we are seeking is clarity on what we can and cannot do.”

“Is there room to expand what the word means or are we going to be stuck in industry battles?”

The company is still trying to figure out how to proceed.

“The feeling is obviously full of frustration and confusion,” Colin Medhurst from Blue Heron Creamery told Global News.

The CFIA did not provide a statement to Global News Monday but did send a link to labelling standards of food in Canada.

“We’ve always labelled and made it really clear in our packaging that we are dairy-free and plant-based,” Medhurst said. “So for us the frustration is that we’ve tried to show a lot of clarity and work within the process to not fool consumers.”

“So to be told that cheese itself is this unattainable and unusable word, unless you are using the tradition dairy-based form, is a little ridiculous.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Ontario education minister warned of ‘impacts’ of sex-ed rollback, human rights tribunal told

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Senior ministry staff warned the education minister that rolling back the sex-ed curriculum could be perceived as “outdated” and “not serving the needs of today’s students,” an Ontario human rights tribunal heard Thursday.

That’s according to a document introduced as part of a human rights challenge launched by an 11-year-old transgender child who contends the province’s repeal of the 2015 Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum discriminates against LGBTQ students.

A memo from senior ministry staff to Education Minister Lisa Thompson flagged concerns about rolling back the sex-ed curriculum because it would mean the exclusion of such topics as consent and sexting, among other things, a human rights tribunal was told Thursday.
A memo from senior ministry staff to Education Minister Lisa Thompson flagged concerns about rolling back the sex-ed curriculum because it would mean the exclusion of such topics as consent and sexting, among other things, a human rights tribunal was told Thursday.  (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star File Photo)

In a memo to Education Minister Lisa Thompson, dated July 25, 2018, assistant deputy ministers Martyn Beckett and Denys Giguère wrote about the “impacts” of quashing the 2015 HPE curriculum for elementary students, and replacing it with an interim one that included sex-ed material from 1998.

“There would be no mandatory learning of the following topics: consent, sexting, homophobia, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression,” wrote Beckett and Giguère.

They also pointed out that such a move “could be perceived by the public as outdated and not serving the needs of today’s students.” And, they noted, “some school boards have voiced their concern with utilizing sexual-health expectations from 1998.”

Nonetheless, in late August, Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government moved ahead with an election promise and repealed the modernized HPE curriculum, which some social conservatives felt was not age appropriate. It was replaced with an interim document from 2010, which includes sex-ed material from 1998.

Read more:

Consent big concern during sex-ed consultations, Minister Lisa Thompson says

Sex-ed curriculum ‘doesn’t talk about consent enough,’ Education Minister Lisa Thompson says

Transgender girl says sex-ed repeal made her nervous about returning to school

The government also launched an extensive public consultation process on a range of education issues and received about 72,000 submissions between September and December.

Beckett, who testified Thursday, said he and Giguère “wanted to be clear and transparent” with the minister about how the curriculum change would impact mandatory teaching expectations.

But, he added that just because topics are no longer deemed mandatory doesn’t mean teachers can’t teach them. He said “teachers have the ability to use their professional judgment … in how they wish to develop their lesson” and are free to teach about issues, such as gender identity, stereotypes and LGBTQ issues.

Teachers have a responsibility to ensure that all students feel “welcomed, included and celebrated,” he told the tribunal.

When asked why the province did not keep the 2015 curriculum in place while undertaking its consultation process, Beckett said the government was committed to giving Ontarians a voice.

The applicant in this human rights case is an 11-year-old identified only as AB. Last week, AB testified that the government’s rollback of the curriculum puts trans youth in the shadows.

Students at Western Technical Commercial School joined a province-wide protest against the Ford government's rollback of the sex-ed curriculum in September.
Students at Western Technical Commercial School joined a province-wide protest against the Ford government’s rollback of the sex-ed curriculum in September.  (Steve Russell / Toronto Star File Photo)

AB’s lawyers Mika Imai and Marcus McCann argue that revoking an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum and replacing it with a noninclusive one violates the human rights of LGBTQ students.

“We think this puts trans and queer youth at risk of being bullied and being harassed,” Imai told the Star, during a break in proceedings.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has intervened seeking to protect the rights of girls and LGBTQ+ students, which it says are among the province’s most vulnerable and at-risk people. It also believes the interim curriculum does not properly address consent, putting students at greater risk of sexual violence.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and Justice for Children and Youth are intervenors in this case.

Lawyers for the government argue teachers have substantial discretion when it comes to delivering the interim curriculum and are allowed to use any resource they choose to help them design their lesson plans. Beckett said teachers can still use the 2015 curriculum as a resource — that document, however, is no longer available on the ministry website.

“Teachers are required to teach in an inclusive way,” said Beckett. “Teachers are to be mindful and inclusive of children in the community and in the province of Ontario.”

Although curriculum development typically takes about two years, Beckett said the province is committed to delivering a new HPE curriculum by September.

The matter is being adjudicated by Jennifer Scott and Brenda Bowlby.

Proceedings will resume Friday and closing arguments are scheduled for next week

The province is also facing a separate human rights challenge launched by two transgender teens, and legal challenges by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.

Isabel Teotonio is a Toronto-based reporter covering education. Follow her on Twitter: @Izzy74

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Several witnesses in Norman trial still haven’t searched personal records for evidence, court told

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Several major government figures at the centre of the criminal case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman have not searched their personal email and phones for correspondence relevant to the case, despite the instructions of court-ordered subpoenas.

Zita Astravas, who serves as the chief of staff to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, was called to testify Thursday at a pretrial hearing in the breach-of-trust case against Norman.

She said the advice she received from lawyers at National Defence was that she was required only to surrender communications from her work-provided BlackBerry phone.

Norman’s defence team, led by Toronto lawyer Marie Henein, has been fighting in court for the disclosure of thousands of federal government documents — and have accused the federal government of conducting a selective and haphazard search for those documents.

In testimony Wednesday, Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance acknowledged that he had not searched his personal email or his iPhone for anything that might relate to the case. Gen. Vance has insisted he doesn’t conduct any work-related business on his non-government devices.

Earlier this week, lawyers for federal cabinet minister Scott Brison delivered to court personal emails relevant to the case, separate from his government accounts.

Norman, the former commander of the navy, has been charged with one count of breach of trust and is accused of leaking cabinet secrets related to a $668 million contract to lease a supply ship for the navy. He was suspended as the military’s second-in-command in January, 2017.

Astravas was director of issues management in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office between November 2015 and August 2017 — the time period when the criminal investigation involving Norman first became public. She would have been the public servant tasked with briefing the prime minister on important issues and daily crises.

Astravas testified she didn’t know if her former email account had been searched in response to a subpoena issued by Norman’s lawyers.

Robert MacKinnon, the federal lawyer responsible for the record search, told the court the instruction given to all departments was that all devices must be searched. He said that instruction will be repeated.

​The pre-trial hearing has focused largely on the collection and production of communications relevant to the case. The actual trial is scheduled to begin in August, just months before the federal election.

Henein asked Astravas if she is aware of any communications within government about the timing of the case.

« Do you recall having any communications about delaying this trial or about the timing of this trial? » she asked.

« I don’t remember, » Astravas replied.

‘Fishing expedition’

On Tuesday, the defence team produced a list of words used in documentation to refer to Norman that it had obtained through Access to Information. They include Kracken, MN3, C34 and The Boss.

Vance said the military routinely uses jargon, acronyms and pseudonyms and he didn’t see anything on the list that he thought would qualify as a ‘codename’.

The list released to the defence team through the access request did not include any terms used in Sajjan’s office, which claimed a ministerial exemption from the request.

Astravas said after she received a subpoena to appear in court late Wednesday, she asked her staff to make « best efforts » to check if other pseudonyms for Norman had been used. She said they did not come up with additional terms.

Henein asked if Astravas knew of the terms « the certain naval officer, » « a certain naval fellow » or a « a naval colleague » being used, but Astravas said she could not recall.

Norman’s defence team has been engaged in legal wrangling with government lawyers over the the release of documents deemed relevant to the case.

Henein described the situation as « quite extraordinary, » with the government asserting cabinet confidence over certain documents and the defence securing subpoenas to obtain those documents.

Crown lawyer Barbara Mercier suggested the defence is trying to prolong the process to « kingdom come. »

« I have a very strong feeling that this has been a very large fishing expedition, » she said.

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Dreadlocked Quebec comic pleads for calm after being told his hair is racist

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A Montreal comic who was told he could not perform — or even be in the audience — at a comedy show because his hairstyle was considered racist, is pleading for calm from both sides of the debate.

Zach Poitras, a white man with dreadlocked hair, received international attention after he was recently told by the Coop les Récoltes, a bar and solidarity co-operative at the Université du Québec à Montréal, that he and his hair were unwelcome at its comedy night.

A white person with dreadlocks is form of violence toward people of colour, the organizers decided.

« To read that I am racist because of my hair — I find that absurd, » Poitras wrote in a Facebook post Thursday evening.

Doesn’t want to be ‘poster boy’ 

He declined an interview request Friday. But while he is unhappy to have been denied the microphone, the comedian is also lamenting that he has become a « poster boy » for « polemicists » in the Quebec media who used his experience to attack what they consider an excess of political correctness. He said he does not want to be an instrument in their « battle against the left. »

In a Jan. 13 Facebook post, the co-operative said that a white person wearing dreadlocks is a form of cultural appropriation — an example of a dominant culture appropriating the symbols, clothing or hairstyles of a historically dominated people.

« We recognize that cultural appropriation is a form of racism, » the co-op wrote. « For a person from a historically dominated culture, seeing their culture appropriated … is a form of violence. »

Post sparks much debate

White people who wear dreadlocks are considered edgy, the post continued, while black people with the same hairstyle are prevented from obtaining job opportunities.

Poitras says the co-operative overreacted.

« I think that people are becoming a little too fragile with certain issues, » he wrote. « And I’m talking about both sides. On one side, I’m being prevented from doing stand-up because of my hair. On the other side, they are telling me to sue the venue. Let’s calm down please. »

Jackie Maule, a comedian and hairstylist specializing in dreadlocks, says the claim that dreadlocks are only for black people is false. She says her shop was the first « natural hair » dreadlock salon in Montreal when she opened in 2002.

« I just finished doing [dreadlocks] on a guy from Israel, » Maule, who is black, said in an interview Friday. « My place is multicultural, and dreadlocks for me are universal. »

Poitras said he has been in contact with the co-operative and there isn’t really a conflict between him and its members. He said he considers himself gender fluid and in general, his politics align with those of the co-operative.

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Quebec comic pleads for calm after being told his dreadlocks are ‘cultural appropriation’ – Montreal

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A Montreal comic who was told he could not perform — or even be in the audience — at a comedy show because his hairstyle was considered racist, is pleading for calm from both sides of the debate.

Zach Poitras, a white man with dreadlocked hair, received international attention after he was recently told by the Coop les Récoltes, a bar and solidarity co-operative at the  Université du Quebec à Montréal, that he and his hair were unwelcome at its comedy night. A white person with dreadlocks is a form of violence toward people of colour, the organizers decided.

READ MORE: Comedian rejected for shows after dreadlocks deemed ‘cultural appropriation’

“To read that I am racist because of my hair — I find that absurd,” Poitras wrote in a Facebook post Thursday evening. He declined an interview request Friday.

But while he is unhappy to have been denied the microphone, the comedian is also lamenting that he has become a “poster boy” for “polemicists” in the Quebec media who used his experience to attack what they consider an excess of political correctness. He said he does not want to be an instrument in their “battle against the left.”

WATCH BELOW: Student with dreadlocks confronted for ‘cultural appropriation’






In a Jan. 13 Facebook post, the co-operative said that a white person wearing dreadlocks is a form of cultural appropriation — an example of a dominant culture appropriating the symbols, clothing or hairstyles of a historically dominated people.

“We recognize that cultural appropriation is a form of racism,” the coop wrote. “For a person from a historically dominated culture, seeing their culture appropriated … is a form of violence.” White people who wear dreadlocks are considered edgy, the post continued, while black people with the same hairstyle are prevented from obtaining job opportunities.

Poitras says the co-operative overreacted.

“I think that people are becoming a little too fragile with certain issues,” he wrote.

“And I’m talking about both sides. On one side, I’m being prevented from doing stand-up because of my hair. On the other side, they are telling me to sue the venue. Let’s calm down please.”

Jackie Maule, a comedian and hairstylist specializing in dreadlocks, says the claim that dreadlocks are only for black people is false. She says her shop was the first “natural hair” dreadlock salon in Montreal when she opened in 2002.

READ MORE: Disney trademarks ‘hakuna matata,’ petition says it’s cultural appropriation

“I just finished doing (dreadlocks) on a guy from Israel,” Maule, who is black, said in an interview Friday. “My place is multicultural, and dreadlocks for me are universal.”

Poitras said he has been in contact with the co-operative and there isn’t really a conflict between him and its members. He said he considers himself gender fluid and in general, his politics align with those of the co-operative.

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More than 400 students in India told to retake language tests after Niagara College flags concerns

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An Ontario college has raised concerns over the validity of the scores of a popular international standardized language test submitted by students applying from India after a probe found “inconsistencies” in language proficiency.

Niagara College has contacted more than 400 students admitted to its January 2019 programs who had taken IELTS tests at locations in India, telling them they had to undergo a second English test or risk losing their offer of admission.

Niagara College flagged concerns with “inconsistencies” in the scores of English-language tests taken by students applying from India. It has asked 428 applicants to retake the test in India or risk having their offers of acceptance cancelled.
Niagara College flagged concerns with “inconsistencies” in the scores of English-language tests taken by students applying from India. It has asked 428 applicants to retake the test in India or risk having their offers of acceptance cancelled.  (Niagara College)

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is accepted by most Canadian academic institutions and is one of two major English language tests used by Immigration Canada as independent proof of an immigration or citizenship applicant’s language proficiency.

Steve Hudson, Niagara College’s vice-president of academic and learner services, said the school launched an investigation this fall after the number of first-year international students flagged by faculty for being “at risk academically” surged to 300 from an average of 150 in previous years.

Those students were made to take an in-house language test and the college found 200 out of that group were failing in their academic programs because their English was not at the required level. Further investigation found 80 per cent of them were from India and had taken their IELTS tests at locations run by Australia-based IDP Education.

Niagara College said officials alerted IDP Education with their findings shortly after the fall semester started and notified immigration authorities last week.

“Based on (our analysis), we felt we needed to be absolutely certain that applicants for our winter 2019 term have a level of English proficiency that will allow them to succeed, and we wanted to do this before they invested significant time and money to travel here to study,” Hudson said in a statement to the Star.

The IELTS test, which is jointly owned by IDP Education, the British Council and Cambridge Assessment English, is a three-hour exam that assesses candidates’ listening, reading, writing and speaking skills on a scale of 1 to 9. A score of 9 indicates the person is an “expert user” with full command of the language. But it is up to individual organizations to determine a pass score.

More than three million IELTS tests were taken in the last year by people around the world, according to IDP Education.

“The test is recognized for being fair to all test-takers regardless of nationality, cultural background, gender or special needs,” Warwick Freeland, managing director of IELTS/IDP Education, said in an email statement from Melbourne.

“IELTS is the leading English language test for international students in Canada,” he said, adding “results from all IELTS test centres, including all centres located in India, continue to be accepted for admission to Niagara College.”

In a followup email to the Star on Saturday, IDP Education raised questions about the value of the in-house test Niagara College gave to the Indian international students in the fall cohort, saying the college “used a low-stakes” test which is “not approved by Canadian education institutions or government to check their English language skills.”

Niagara College’s Hudson said the IELTS language test results submitted by the first-year at-risk students from India this fall were authenticated by IELTS and the school is treating the “inconsistencies” in their scores and language proficiency as a one-time anomaly. “We continue to believe IELTS is a good test for assessment of English proficiency,” he told the Star.

“We have been open to dialogue with IDP and have been communicating our interest in understanding (the) rationale for the larger number of students identified being at risk of failure,” Hudson said in a followup email on Saturday. “Academic quality and student success has always been and will remain at the core of Niagara College’s decision-making.”

An Immigration Department spokesperson said officials are looking into the matter.

There have been previous instances that have exposed the vulnerability of the administration of language testing around the world:

  • A Pennsylvania State University student from China pleaded guilty this year after paying someone to take the TOEFL English-language entrance exam for her.
  • In 2016, several people in Britain were convicted of running an immigration scam that paid fake “sitters” to take TOEIC language exams for non-EU students.
  • In Australia, an employee at Curtin University’s English Language Centre was found guilty in 2011 of accepting bribes and manipulating IELTS results through the centre’s computer system. The case triggered an investigation by Western Australia’s Corruption and Crime Commission.

Freeland, who said IDP Education partners with a range of organizations who administer IELTS in 140 countries, maintained “IELTS is a secure and valid indicator of a candidate’s ability.”

“All test centres are rigorously monitored to ensure they operate to the highest of standards,” he said.

The test, which costs about $215 in India, has two versions, one for higher-level academic purposes and a general version that measures a person’s ability to function in English.

Niagara College said the school will be responsible for covering the cost of retesting for the 428 students in India and the tests must be completed by Monday.

Gonzalo Peralta, executive director of Languages Canada, an association that represents more than 200 providers of accredited English and French language programs across the country, said maintaining the integrity of language tests is important to the international education sector.

“Language testing is one tool that tells everybody — the students, institutions, Immigration Canada and employers — with confidence that this person is ready to perform linguistically,” he said in an interview. “You can’t run international education without appropriate and good-quality testing. So much depends on it.”

Alarm Raised Over Validity of International Language Tests | Story Behind the Story

Peralta said test operators constantly update their security measures and have tight rules in place at local test centres, including requiring photo ID and banning cellphones.

When informed about the situation at Niagara College, Peralta said, “I’m concerned it impacts one of our good members, Niagara College. I’m also concerned for the students who have invested substantially to learn. I’m concerned about IDP, not knowing what has happened.”

According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education, there were 494,525 international students in Canada at all levels of study in 2017, a 17 per cent increase over the previous year. Some 123,940, or 25 per cent, of these students came from India, which made up the second largest contingent behind China.

At Niagara College, which has campuses in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, 2,914 of a total 4,683 international students come from India. Tuition fees for international students average $13,500, more than triple the amount their Canadian peers pay.

Subscribe to the Star to support deep local reporting in your community

Hudson said the school received about 8,200 international applications for the winter 2019 term, of which 4,800 applicants were from India, where the school recruits through international education fairs. The college made 1,300 admission offers to Indian applicants; 428 of those students have been asked to retake the IELTS test or take the alternative Pearson Test of English.

“We recognize that this is stressful for these applicants and their families, but we want to ensure that before they make significant financial and emotional investments involved with travelling to Niagara College to study, that they have the opportunity to be successful in their studies,” said Hudson.

“We believe the hardship they would experience if they were to travel here and be unable to succeed in their program of study would be much more significant. We will continue to engage with the applicants and IDP throughout this process.”

Hudson said those “at-risk” students who are already attending the college have either been redirected to language programs or offered additional language and academic support.

Nicholas Keung is a Toronto-based reporter covering immigration. Follow him on Twitter: @nkeung

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Trudeau told Trump in Paris he wants to ‘resolve’ tariffs issue before G20 in Argentina

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used some face time with U.S. President Donald Trump in Paris on the weekend to raise the issue of the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs that still have not been lifted despite the successful conclusion of the NAFTA talks.

French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a private dinner on Saturday night for the world leaders who travelled to France for commemorations for the Nov. 11 centenary of the First World War armistice. Trudeau’s office had previously told reporters the pair had a « good interaction » that evening, but didn’t elaborate.

« I absolutely brought it up, » Trudeau said in response to a question from CBC News at a news conference on Monday morning. « The issue of steel and aluminum tariffs continues to be a concern to Canadians, like it is a concern to many American citizens and companies.

« As I’ve repeated to President Trump, I hope we’re able to resolve in the time before we meet each other in the G20 in Argentina. »

PM says Canadian intelligence officials have heard recordings purported to be of Khashoggi’s killing 8:15

The new United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) was announced on Oct. 1 after more than a year of fraught negotiations. Early last summer, the U.S. stopped exempting Canada and Mexico from its « national security » tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Trump and other officials from his administration have spoken openly about the usefulness of the tariffs as leverage in negotiations.

USMCA signing expected Nov. 30

Trump has also mused about how much revenue that tariffs bring in for his government, despite their crippling effect, not only on steel and aluminum producers, but to secondary manufacturers, for whom their raw materials become more expensive.

Canada imposed retaliatory tariffs on the U.S. as of July 1, adding more pressure to trade in steel and aluminum products between the two countries, which previously enjoyed tariff-free trade in these products under the original North American Free Trade Agreement.

The USMCA is expected to be signed on Nov. 30, the day before a new Mexican administration is sworn in.

That also coincides with the meeting of G20 leaders scheduled for Buenos Aires, leading to speculation that a signing ceremony could be held on the margins of that summit.

But no official details have been announced yet for the signing of the USMCA. 

Mexican officials have said they want the tariffs lifted before the signing ceremony takes place.

But Canadian officials have not gone that far. Neither did Trudeau, when asked again Monday whether his government has placed any conditions on Canada’s signature.

« Discussions and work is ongoing. And as always, I won’t be negotiating in public, » the prime minister said.

Reporters asked Trudeau what Trump said when the prime minister raised the issue of steel tariffs.

« The president echoed that he certainly hoped that we were able to keep moving forward on what has been a positive trade relationship, » Trudeau said.

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Wynne government ignored warnings about borrowing billions to fund hydro rate cuts, committee told

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The defeated Liberal government ignored numerous warnings from top civil servants that its scheme to borrow billions to lower electricity prices a full 25 per cent was a “bad idea,” says the former deputy minister of energy.

Serge Imbrogno told a legislative committee Tuesday bureaucrats were asked for options to further reduce hydro rates by former premier Kathleen Wynne’s government in 2016 after waiving the 8 per cent HST on hydro bills, but the financing plan came out of the blue from the office of then-energy minister Glenn Thibeault.

“We were a little bit shocked because it was pushing out costs today to future ratepayers,” Imbrogno, now deputy minister of the environment, said at Premier Doug Ford’s select committee on financial transparency examining the $15 billion provincial deficit.

“More debt, higher cost going forward. Someone has to pay that.”

Both Imbrogno and cabinet secretary Steve Orsini — who also headed the civil service under Wynne — testified they repeatedly expressed worries about the feasibility of the scheme to the Liberals, including in briefing notes to cabinet warning of higher costs and accounting issues later red-flagged by Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk.

Among the potential trouble spots were the risk that charges to ratepayers for the increased borrowing, to amortize costs of recent electricity system improvements over a longer period, could be ruled unconstitutional as a tax.

The warnings were issued as the government was failing in the polls with last spring’s election approaching.

“In their view, the objective of providing rate relief superseded the concerns that I had,” Orsini told the six Progressive Conservative and three New Democrat MPPs on the committee.

“I had significant, substantial concerns…the public service would not have recommended or supported this.”

Conservative MPP Ross Romano (Sault Ste. Marie) — whose government has kept the Liberal hydro rate reduction plan in place and promised a further 12 per cent cut — said the bureaucrats did their best but hit a “brick wall” with Wynne’s cabinet on the issue.

Asked if Ford will axe the hydro bill rate relief, Romano replied: “That’s not what the committee is here to determine.” He also called the Liberal hydro plan a “bad idea.”

In a bid to turn the proceedings against the Conservatives, New Democrat MPP John Vanthof asked Orsini and Imbrogno if they would sound warnings “in the same manner” if they believed the Ford government was making unwise policy decisions.

Vanthof cited the new premier’s decision to axe the cap-and-trade plan to fight climate change, which Ontario’s independent Financial Accountability Office said Tuesday will cost the province’s treasury $3 billion over four years.

“There is that interface between government setting policy and the public service speaking truth to power, but also then implementing government policies,” Orsini said, without referring to a specific situation.

In cases like the Liberal hydro plan, the job of the civil service is to move ahead at the direction of the government with the objective to “mitigate” problems with a policy, he added.

Vanthof said he raised the question because “the same thing could be happening right now…who’s saying the public service isn’t being put under exactly the same pressure now on something like cap and trade?”

Rob Ferguson is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robferguson1

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Would You Believe Me if I Told You I’m Addicted to Raw Broccoli Salad?

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The thought of reading an article about a raw broccoli salad probably sounds as fun as making a dentist appointment. (I’ve put the latter off for eight months now, BTW). But this broccoli salad recipe has loads of creamy peanut sauce, crunchy daikon radish, and a sprinkling of dried tart cherries, so now you’re probably like, OH HELL YEAH I’M IN.

It all started on a cool morning at the end of winter, in one of our ideas meetings. Senior food editor Chris Morocco went on and on about this one specific dish that blew his mind at Brooklyn pizza joint Emily. It was the raw broccoli salad. I get that Chris develops for Healthyish. And that he understands balance. But when I go to a pizza place, any part of the menu that isn’t the pizza section is completely irrelevant to my life. I was skeptical of this entire thing.

So one day, I found myself moseying around the test kitchen looking for snacks. And there I saw a plate of creamy dreamy peanut dressing, chopped up broccoli, radish, and cherries. I dragged a bite of broccoli through the peanut sauce. Then a piece of crunchy radish. Then another hunk of broccoli. And sooner or later I devoured the whole plate.

A few weeks went by. I was home and hungry, and realized I had all of the ingredients for this recipe in my kitchen. So I quickly whisked together creamy peanut butter, tangy rice vinegar, umami packed soy sauce, a bit of sugar, sesame oil, grated ginger, and kosher salt. I chopped up the end of a daikon radish and the crown of broccoli I impulse bought from the market. I tossed in the last of the golden raisins I had from this raisin pesto and voila!

And then I made more of the peanut sauce to toss with some rice noodles for lunch. And then for a park picnic a few weeks after that. And then my roommate stuck her finger in the sauce and she got hooked too.

So there are a few morals to the story, but the two I would like to focus on are 1) don’t procrastinate on scheduling your dentist appointments, and 2) ALWAYS trust Chris Morocco.

Get the recipe:

raw-broccoli-salad-with-peanut-dressing.jpg

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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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