OTTAWA – The federal government is promising to close what some consider significant and long-standing gaps within the country’s military court system with a new declaration of the rights of victims.Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan unveiled proposed legislation on Thursday, which would provide victims in military cases with many of the same rights to information, protection and participation as those already available in the civilian system.“This is the right thing to do,” Sajjan told a news conference at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. “This will ensure victims have a voice and that their voices are heard.”The new legislation would also require military tribunals to consider the circumstances of Indigenous offenders when deciding on jail time and require formal courts martial for criminal cases rather than leaving some with unit commanders.The measures, if adopted, would represent a dramatic change to the way victims interact with the military justice system, which a recent internal review found was perceived as being unfair and opaque.The legislation is similar to changes proposed by the Harper government in June 2015, but which died a few weeks later with the start of the federal election campaign. It is considered long overdue by many inside and outside the military.While Canada’s bill of rights for victims came into effect three years ago, it exempted the military court system, much to the chagrin of many, particularly given concerns about sexual misconduct in the Forces.The military’s top prosecutor and a senior Canadian Forces military police officer both told The Canadian Press in 2016 that they wanted a victims’ bill of rights for military tribunals.The federal victims’ ombudsman also flagged concerns about “the gap in the rights of victims of crime within the Canadian military justice system” in November 2016.The proposed changes come only a few weeks before federal auditor general Michael Ferguson is scheduled to release a report on the military justice system.Sajjan defended the fact it took three years for the legislation to be introduced, given its similarities to what the Harper government proposed, saying the Liberals took the time necessary to deliver for the Canadian Forces and victims.“And tabling a bill just days before an election is called, you know where it’s going to end up,” he said in reference to the Conservatives. “So our government is serious about making sure that we make the changes that look after our people.”The proposed legislation includes provisions that would let victims better track their cases, seek compensation from perpetrators, and establish special liaison officers to help military members, families and civilians navigate the system.It also broadens the ways in which victim impact statements can be delivered during courts martial and gives victims the right to complain if they feel their rights have been violated.The plan to strip commanding officers of their power to hear serious cases, particularly those of a criminal nature, is also a significant shift in terms of perceived fairness, but also so commanders are better able to deal efficiency with minor disciplinary matters.“What we will have in place will make sure we have a system that is simplified and will allow unit commanders to impose much quicker discipline and in a simpler way,” said Commodore Genevieve Bernatchez, the military’s top legal officer.Sajjan said he’s not concerned that sending all serious cases to court martial would lead to more delays in the military justice system, which has been struggling with the same backlog issues as its civilian counterpart.“We are going to adjust resources if necessary to make sure that the process goes as quickly as possible, that we can have cases that are heard, and more importantly, justice for the victims.”The proposed legislation was welcomed by retired colonel Michel Drapeau, one of the country’s top experts on military law, who credited Bernatchez with pushing what he argued were some much-needed reforms to the system.“It is not a panacea,” Drapeau said of the impact the proposed changes would have on the military justice system, “but it is a very good step in the right direction.”
OTTAWA – The foremost constitutional authority in Canada once argued that random breath testing — similar to what the Liberals proposed to crack down on impaired driving — would infringe Charter rights, but the benefit to public safety would be so strong that it would still be upheld in court.Toronto-based lawyer Peter Hogg concluded nearly seven years ago that the ability of police to demand a breath sample from motorists at random, even without reasonable suspicion they drank alcohol before getting behind the wheel, would be a reasonable limit on constitutional rights and freedoms.“I am confident that a constitutional challenge would be unsuccessful,” Hogg wrote in August 2010 after MADD Canada asked him to weigh in.The Liberal government introduced Bill C-46, which includes new powers for police and harsher penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, in the House of Commons last month alongside their long-awaited plan to legalize marijuana for recreational use.The bill is expected to come up for second reading Friday.The proposed law includes new mandatory alcohol screening measures that would allow police to demand a breath sample from any driver they lawfully stop even if they had no suspicion the person had been drinking before being pulled over.MADD Canada has long been pushing for some version of the legislation. Other countries that have taken a similar approach, including Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, have seen a substantial reduction in alcohol-related accidents and even deaths, they argue.It was in this context that the advocacy group asked Hogg to review a draft of an article co-authored by Robert Solomon, its national director of legal policy and a law professor at Western University in London, Ont.It dealt only with random breath testing for alcohol consumption, and drug testing or any other measures included in the current bill.Hogg agreed with the conclusion that random breath testing, which the Conservative government had also explored, would not violate Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.“The invasion of the driver’s privacy is minor and transitory and not much different from existing obligations to provide evidence of licensing, ownership and insurance,” Hogg wrote.Hogg said by email Wednesday that while his 2010 arguments might need some “updating tweaks,” his basic opinion has not changed.Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has disagreed with Hogg on other issues before, notably when he concluded the Liberal doctor-assisted death law was inconsistent with the landmark Supreme Court decision that struck down the previous ban.But when it comes to Section 8, Wilson-Raybould actually made a similar argument in the so-called “charter statement” she tabled in the House of Commons last week.Still, while Wilson-Raybould defended measures as permissible under the charter, Hogg did not.He found that random breath testing would go against section 9, regarding arbitrary detention and imprisonment, as well as section 10(b), which is the right to see a lawyer without delay.But, he argued, those infringements meet the criteria for being justified under section 1, which allows the government to bring in a law that places reasonable limits on Charter rights, so long as, among other things, it can prove the goal was important enough to warrant such an overreaching.“The objective of (random breath testing) is to increase safety on the roads, or, more specifically, to reduce the carnage caused by impaired driving,” Hogg wrote.There is another big difference: Hogg was referring only to random stops, such as at a checkpoint.That is narrower than what Bill C-46 would allow.“(Random breath testing) will typically be applied to every driver passing through a checkpoint, so there is no stigma or humiliation involved, and no singling out of individuals on improper grounds (such as racial profiling),” Hogg wrote.Josh Paterson, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, called that an important question now that there is more awareness about allegations of systemic discrimination that can accompany random police stops.“When you start to think about the various ways in which police stops on foot are not random in lots of circumstances and disproportionately affect communities of colour, racialized minorities — when you put that lens over this whole thing, I think it raises cause for concern,” said Paterson.On Wednesday, Wilson-Raybould said “the potential for racial profiling” did come up as the legislation was being drafted, but added she does not think it would come into play.“There is nothing inherent in the new legislative power to use mandatory alcohol screening that creates a greater risk of racial profiling,” she said in an emailed statement.“It would not give police any more powers than they already have under common or provincial law to stop drivers at random to determine their sobriety.“Importantly, mandatory screening would not alter the responsibility that law enforcement has towards training and oversight to ensure fair and appropriate application of the law to all Canadians, free from racial and other forms of bias.”— Follow @smithjoanna on Twitter
KAMLOOPS, B.C. – A look at some of the numbers Tuesday in British Columbia’s wildfire situation:219: Fires burning in the province.35: Number of new fires that started Monday.$53.5 million: Amount spent on fighting fires so far this year in the province.43,000: Number of hectares burned this fire season.36: The air quality rating Tuesday in Williams Lake on the B.C. government scale that usually rates air from 1 to 10-plus.310: Firefighters arriving this week to help from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick and Parks Canada.10: Firefighting aircraft brought in from other provinces, including seven airtankers.300: Mounties who are being re-deployed from around the province and another 40 officers are coming from Alberta to lend a hand with policing and evacuations.10: Number arrested so far by RCMP in the evacuated areas around 100 Mile House and Williams Lake for mischief and break-ins.2: Officers who have lost their homes in the forest fires.$575: Fine handed out by the Abbotsford police patrol officer who saw a person throw a lit cigarette from their vehicle on Tuesday.
BRUSSELS – The European Union’s top court says in an advisory opinion that a deal between the EU and Canada on sharing airline passenger data breaches citizens’ privacy and cannot be concluded in its current form.Wednesday’s opinion by the European Union Court of Justice’s Advocate General Yves Bot was a setback to attempts to share airline data in the fight against extremism.It says that transferring passenger data from the EU to Canada and the possibility that the information could be shared with others “entail an interference with the fundamental right to respect for private life.”The EU and Canada signed the agreement in 2014, but the European Parliament subsequently referred it to the court for a ruling on whether it was compatible with EU privacy laws.
EDMONTON (NEWS 1130) – Alberta will be seeking intervenor status in Burnaby’s appeal of the NEB approval of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline.Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says BC is playing a dangerous game–particularly with the Canadian economy.“As Canadian who are operating in an increasingly uncertain international economy, now more than ever we should be standing together,” says Notely.“We’ll be seeking standing, as we have in other appeals, to intervene, to argue the position that we’ve been taking all along,” she says. “The NEB has the authority to make these decisions and that the certificate issuing authority that the municipality in that case has is very limited.”In the meantime, Notley says there are a number of things Ottawa can do to deal with the delay strategies.“It is without question Ottawa’s project and it needs to get done. It cannot be allowed to be delayed and delayed until such time as people walk away in frustration.”Notley says Alberta representatives will be speaking with the federal government to encourage it to use those tools.Alberta’s ban on BC wine was lifted on February 22nd.
OTTAWA – A law firm pursuing a class-action suit against a former Ottawa fertility doctor says it has evidence indicating he fathered 11 children by impregnating patients with his own sperm.Two years ago, an Ottawa family filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Dr. Norman Barwin, alleging he is the biological father of their daughter, now an adult.In a statement, law firm Nelligan O’Brien Payne says DNA investigation now shows Barwin is the biological father in 11 cases where the intention was to use the sperm of the male of the couple or, in other cases, a specific anonymous sperm donor.The firm says it has also become aware of at least another 16 individuals conceived through Barwin’s practice who are not a biological match to the intended father.None of the allegations against Barwin has been proven in court.Karen Hamway, a lawyer for Barwin, had no comment on the latest accusations.
OTTAWA – The Order of Canada is getting 99 new members in 2018. Here’s a list:Companions of the OrderRoberta Bondar, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., astronaut, educator.Beverley McLachlin, Ottawa, longest-serving chief justice of Canada.Lorne Michaels, Toronto and New York, TV and film producer, creator of Saturday Night Live. This is a promotion within the order.Officers of the OrderChristiane Ayotte, Montreal, biochemist, researcher, who has battled doping in sports.Perrin Beatty, Toronto, former politician, community and corporate leader.Chantal Benoit, Vaughan, Ont., advocate for inclusive sports, longtime promoter of wheelchair basketball.Lise Bissonnette, Montreal, journalist and author.Cindy Blackstock, Ottawa, longtime champion of Indigenous children’s rights.Alain Bouchard, Laval, Que., entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist.Gertrude Bourdon, Quebec City, hospital administrator.Gordon Muir Campbell, Vancouver, public service, former high commissioner to Britain.Matthew Coon Come, Mistissini, Que., advocate for Indigenous causes.Wendy Marion Craig, Kingston, Ont., anti-bullying research.Suzanne Fortier, Montreal, scientists, innovator, academic.Sheila Fraser, Ottawa, former federal auditor general.OntarioJulia Gersovitz, Montreal, architect known for heritage preservation.Jane Green, St. John’s, N.L., researcher in genetics.Deanna Hamilton, Kelowna, B.C., promoter of First Nations fiscal management and governance.Patricia Meirion Moore, Calgary, community volunteer, fundraiser.Louise Nadeau, Montreal, clinical psychologist and professor who worked on treating addiction.Annette M. O’Connor, Ottawa, researcher and champion of patient involvement in health care-related decisions.Peter Henry St George-Hyslop, Toronto, and Cambridge, U.K., researcher in neurodegenerative disorders, notably Alzheimer’s disease.Neil G. Turok, Waterloo, theoretical physicist whose models offer ways to test fundamental theories of the universe. This is an honorary appointment.Members of the OrderAndrea Baumann, Hamilton, nursing educator.Mohit Bhandari, Burlington, Ont., contributor to the field of orthopedic trauma and researcher into intimate partner violence.Eli Bornstein, Saskatoon, contemporary sculptor-painter.Robert Bothwell, Toronto, historian.Hedi Bouraoui, Toronto, poet, novelist and essayist.Beverley Busson, North Okanagan Region, B.C., a champion of public safety who has worked in multiple national and regional safety and justice initiatives.Barry Callaghan, Toronto, publisher and writer.David R. Cameron, Vancouver, scholar, academic, expert in federal negotiations and constitutional affairs.John Conly, Calgary, researcher into infection control who created national guidelines on the standard of care for infectious diseases.Francis R. Cook, North Augusta, Ont., expert in herpetology, the study of reptiles and amphibians.Thomas d’Aquino, Ottawa, philanthropist, leader in the cultural sector.Gary Michael Dault, Napanee, Ont., writer on arts.W. Dale Dauphinee, Montreal, medical educator.Marie-Anne Day Walker-Pelletier, Okanese First Nation, Sask., longtime chief of her First Nation who worked to improve living conditions.Nan-b de Gaspe Beaubien, Montreal, a contributor to telecommunications and an advocate for family businesses across Canada and abroad.M. Jamal Deen, Hamilton, academic and specialist in electrical engineering and applied physics.Allan Steven Detsky, Toronto, expert in health care costs.Agnes Di Leonardi, Toronto, a leader in the automotive industry and a mentor for women through the International Women’s Forum of Canada.Peter J. Dillon, Peterborough, Ont., researcher into lake ecosystems.Jim Estill, Guelph, Ont., contributor to technology communities and philanthropist for refugees.Arthur Fogel, Ottawa and Beverly Hills, Calif., music, concert promoter.David Glenn Fountain, Halifax, contributor to the arts, education and charitable causes.David Fox, Toronto, actor and champion of Canadian theatre.Abraham Fuks, Montreal, medical researcher noted for work on type 1 diabetes and cancer immune-based therapies.Patsy Gallant, Campbellton, N.B. singer and actress.Laurier Gareau, Regina, a leader in developing the Franco-Saskatchewanian identity.Edward H. Garrard, Toronto, a leader in the charitable sector who has developed giving strategies in the fields of health care and education.Jack Gauldie, Hamilton, an immunologist specializing in gene therapy, aiding in the treatment of fatal diseases and contributing to the development of cancer vaccines.Nahum Gelber, Montreal, philanthropist in education and artistic culture.Jack Douglas Gerrow, Ottawa, who worked in accreditation and competencies in dentistry.Ronald D. Ghitter, Calgary, former politician and senator known for his commitment to human rights and social justice.Stephane Grenier, Val-des-Monts, Que., a retired lieutenant-colonel and a leader in mental health advocacy and programming for the military and general public.Mitchell Halperin, Toronto, a clinician, researcher and educator in nephrology, the study of kidneys and kidney disease.Peter Irwin, Guelph, Ont., a pioneer in the field of wind engineering.Beverley K. Jacobs, Brantford, Ont., a promoter of Indigenous women’s and girls’ rights, lead researcher of the Stolen Sisters report.David Trent Jaeger, Toronto, broadcaster and leader in music creation, performance and promotion.Rebecca Jamieson, Ohsweken, Ont., educator noted for her work in Indigenous education.Virendra K. Jha, Baie-d’Urfe, Que., engineer and administrator in the space industry.K. Wayne Johnston, Toronto, a surgeon, researcher and educator in vascular surgery.David I. Kent, Toronto, a publisher who supported Canadian literary and culinary writing.Dianne and Irving Kipnes, Edmonton, contributors to community building and philanthropists in the arts and health care.Jack Kitts, Ottawa, a leader in the development and implementation of patient-centred care.Jonathan Klassen, Toronto and Los Angeles, illustrator and author of children’s books.Burton Kramer, Toronto, noted graphic designer.Alan Latourelle, Ottawa, a longtime promoter of the country’s natural and historic wonders.Gilles Lavigne, Montreal, dentist and researcher noted for work on the interactions between pain and sleep disorders.Jean-Pierre Leger, Montreal, a business leader in the restaurant industry and a supporter of charitable causes.Rheal Leroux, Ottawa, organizer of major events in the National Capital Region.Paul-Andre Linteau, Montreal, historian.Jon E. Love, Toronto, business leader and philanthropist.Timothy E. MacDonald, Stratford, Ont., leader in southwestern Ontario business and community initiatives.Gabor Mate, Vancouver, physician, author and advocate in the fields of addictions and mental health.Seana McKenna, Stratford, Ont., actress noted for her work at the Stratford Festival.Bruce McManus, Vancouver, researcher in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease and organ failure.Edmund Metatawabin, Fort Albany, Ont., advocate, author and teacher known for his advocacy on behalf of residential school survivors.Morton S. Minc, Montreal, worker on social rehabilitation and the creation of innovative programs at the Municipal Court of Montreal.David Morley, Toronto, a leader in international development.Frances Olson, Edmonton, a community activist and contributor to the University Hospital Foundation.Hilary Pearson, Montreal, president of the Philanthropic Foundations Canada.Sherry Porter, Halifax, a leader in establishing Pier 21 as a national museum.Lucienne Robillard, Chambly, Que., former politician who worked on improving public institutions.Calin Rovinescu, Montreal, a leader in charitable causes and humanitarian relief following several natural disasters.Jean-Claude Savoie, Saint-Quentin, N.B, an entrepreneur and innovator in the forestry sector and wood processing industry.Sharon Sholzberg-Gray, Ottawa, a leading advocate for access to publicly funded and accessible health care services by all Canadians.Yvonne Steinert, Montreal, a leading contributor to faculty development and new training approaches in medical education.Veronica Jane Strong-Boag, Vancouver, activist, historian and researcher who has made the history of women an integral part of the study of history in Canada.Mutsumi Takahashi, Montreal, broadcaster and supporter of various charitable causes.Bryce Taylor, Toronto, surgeon and advocate for improved surgical safety standards and patient care.Mark Thompson, Vancouver, academic arbitrator and author who has worked in industrial relations and public policy.Scott Thornley, Toronto, graphic and verbal designer.Michael J. Tims, Calgary, expert in corporate finance and investment, which has bettered Canadian business across the country.Mohamed Lamine Toure, Montreal, a leader in promoting African and Caribbean cultures in Canada.Dave Toycen, Mississauga, Ont., a promoter of humanitarian relief and international development.Aritha van Herk, Calgary, a novelist and essayist who has raised public awareness of the Western Canadian experience.James Patterson Waddell, Toronto, a leader in the field of orthopedic surgery.Elizabeth Hillman Waterston, London, Ont., a pioneer in developing the academic field of Canadian literature and a mentor to writers across the country.Barry Wellar, Ottawa, a major contributor to the development and advancement of the field of geographic information systems in Canada.Marjorie White, New Westminster, B.C. an advocate for improving the lives of Indigenous people in urban centres, notably through the establishment of friendship centres across the country.Ronald Franklin Williams, Pointe-Claire, Que., noted contributor to architecture as a designer and teacher.Gerald Wood, Calgary, an entrepreneur and philanthropist.Yiyan Wu Ottawa, a leading authority and scientist in digital TV and multimedia communications research.
SURREY, B.C. – A former Vancouver police detective publicly apologized for kissing and betraying the trust of a teenage girl and a 21-year-old woman at his sentencing hearing on Friday.James Fisher told provincial court he is “embarrassed and ashamed” as he apologized to the two young women, the Vancouver Police Department and the Crown.The teenager was 17 when he kissed her on three occasions for up to 10 minutes. Fisher said he regretted causing her to lose her faith in police.“I know that she trusted me and for the rest of my life I’ll regret that breach of trust,” he said. “I offer no excuses or justification. It was wrong and I want to publicly apologize to both of them.”Fisher has pleaded guilty to three charges, including breach of trust and sexual exploitation for kissing the teenager, and breach of trust for kissing the young woman.Before his arrest and subsequent retirement, Fisher was a 29-year veteran of the force and a member of a team that investigates prostitution, criminal exploitation and child sex abuse.The sexual exploitation charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days in jail.The Crown recommended Fisher serve 18 to 20 months of jail time, followed by probation, while the defence asked that Fisher serve his mandatory minimum sentence on weekends and be given conditional sentences for the other two charges.The girl who was 17 when Fisher kissed her said in a victim impact statement that the officer’s actions caused her to relapse with a drug addiction and drop out of school.“Those memories are still some of the most painful ones of my life,” she said in a video played for the court. “It feels like the ultimate breach of trust from someone when I was most vulnerable.”The court heard recorded conversations in which Fisher admitted kissing both complainants.The teenage girl complained to Vancouver police in the spring of 2016 and the department initiated an investigation. She agreed to allow police to record her phone calls.In the summer of 2016, Fisher learned that a false rumour was circulating in the department that he’d had sex with the girl, Crown lawyer Amanda Starno told court.Fisher asked his friend in the department to interview the girl — a plan investigators thought was questionable, but one they approved in order to record the conversation, court heard.He called the girl, then 18, just before his friend was scheduled to interview her. His voice shook and he breathed heavily during the phone call, which was played for the court.Fisher urged her to tell the officer that she either didn’t remember saying they’d had sex, or that she’d said it while she was high, and that intercourse never happened either way.She agreed not to say anything that would get him in trouble. But she told him she was hurt by the kissing and “it didn’t seem right that a police officer was making out with me.”“I never, ever meant to hurt you,” Fisher replied. “I thought that it was mutual, and when I did see it wasn’t, I stopped. … I’m sorry.”Defence lawyer William Smart said Fisher called the girl at her request and by telling her to say she was high or didn’t remember falsely saying they’d had sex, he was counselling her to tell the truth.Smart provided 11 letters to the judge about Fisher’s character, including one written by his daughter, who was in the courtroom. His former Vancouver police colleagues wrote that he was highly respected and hard-working, often working through the night and neglecting his home life.The defence lawyer also disputed the Crown’s assertion that his client misled police in a stabbing investigation involving the 21-year-old woman he kissed.The Crown said the woman told Fisher she had stabbed someone, but he misled the investigating officer by providing an outdated phone number for the woman and describing her as a witness.But Smart said Fisher thought at the time the woman was only a witness. She told him later that she had carried out the stabbing, but he believed she was covering for someone, Smart said.Police ultimately granted her immunity for the crime and she agreed to help with their investigation into Fisher in the fall of 2016. She recorded her conversation with Fisher in a coffee shop.In the recording, Fisher assured her he had said nothing about her involvement in the stabbing and repeatedly asked her not to tell him anything more.The woman said she “opened up” to him the last time they spoke and she was shocked when he kissed her. It left her feeling shaken, she told him.“I trusted you. … Why did you kiss me?” the woman asked. “I looked up to you like a father.”“I shouldn’t have done that. I apologize for that,” Fisher responded.The woman said in her victim impact statement that she used to joke about Fisher walking her down the aisle someday. But the kissing transformed her from a happy, upbeat person to a negative, depressed drug addict, she said.“My life went downhill fast.”— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.
TORONTO – In the wake of the Me Too movement — sparked by sexual misconduct allegations surrounding Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein and dozens of other prominent men — a spotlight has been placed on workplace behaviour and the equal treatment of women.Ahead of the one-year anniversary of the movement, talent organization theBoardlist Canada and U.S. research firm Qualtrics surveyed more than 100 Canadian board members, venture capitalists and executives and found women are still reporting mistreatment at the office and that many companies are still not taking action after Me Too.The online survey conducted between May and June 2018 found:– 41 per cent of respondents said they have experienced sexual harassment, misconduct or assault in their careers– 8 per cent said allegations of sexual harassment or inappropriate behaviour have come to light in their offices– 53 per cent of respondents who sit on boards said the company is reevaluating its policies in light of Me Too– 52 per cent said their company has not taken action as a result of Me Too– 32 per cent of respondents said their board was considering discouraging drinking and partying at company events following Me Too– 7 per cent said they had noticed backlash at their company as a result of the Me Too movement– 83 per cent of respondents said their company has discussed Me Too, allegations of inappropriate behaviour and gender discrimination– 70 per cent of venture capital respondents said they are advising their investment portfolio companies about appropriate behaviour and sexism*NOTE: The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.
WINNIPEG – Manitoba is aiming to speed up family court so that divorces, child custody disputes and other matters don’t drag on for years.Chief Justice Glenn Joyal of Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench says coming changes are aimed at reducing not only the demands on court time, but also the toll taken on people involved.“If you have a matter lingering in the Court of Queen’s Bench … for a period of three to four years, without even a trial date yet being set, you can almost assume and count on that delay as having significant implications for both the financial costs to the litigant and the emotional costs to the litigant,” Joyal said in an interview this week.“Parties … ask, ‘How long is this going to last? How much more do I have to pay? At what point can we get closure?’ Well, if you can’t, as a system, answer those questions, there’s something foundationally deficient about what you’re offering as a judicial service.”The court’s new model for scheduling and case-flow management includes a triage system aimed at clarifying and narrowing the number of issues being disputed in a case before it goes to a courtroom.Once the matter is before a judge, there will be time guidelines. A trial date will have to be set at the first case conference hearing — an administrative meeting with the judge — no more than 15 months out.One Winnipeg family lawyer says the new approach could see lawyers and their clients more focused on what needs to be resolved before a first court appearance.“You have to be pretty clear about what your client needs before you embark in the system,” said Greg Evans.The changes mirror similar measures recently undertaken in Manitoba’s criminal, civil litigation and child protection courts. They also come at a time when the provincial government is considering setting up an administrative alternative, which would include mediation, to some family court hearings.“We … have to put in place those best practices that will make Manitobans believe that they’re getting a better quality of access to justice in family matters in a system that’s going to be considerably less complex, considerably less slow and, in the end, considerably less expensive,” Joyal said.
TORONTO – With most kids heading back to school this week, many parents may be concerned about whether younger children are traffic-savvy enough to cross the street without supervision.Can they judge how far away an approaching vehicle is? Or how fast it’s travelling to make it across safely?“Parents tend to overestimate their child’s crossing ability,” said Barbara Morrongiello, a psychologist at the University of Guelph, whose research focuses on childhood injury prevention.“The parents tend to assume children are much more cautious than they are in fact.”So Morrongiello assembled a team of computer science students to design a program that teaches children how to cross the street using real-life scenarios — all within a computerized virtual reality environment that allows them to learn and practice.“In our system, the children are fully immersed in the pedestrian environment,” she explained from Guelph, Ont. “So they basically wear 3D goggles and are actually in the environment, they’re not observing the environment.“We can see their reaction time and their attention because we code where they’re looking and their speed of reaction.“In our system, we have a very sequential learning strategy. So we start by selecting where you cross and then we talk about how to cross and when to cross.”The virtual reality program teaches the child by having them traverse a two-lane road where there’s a blind curve or a hill, as well as what to do when crossing at a point between parked cars.A pop-up character that acts as a coach reacts to the child’s movements, saying for instance: “Oh, that was great” or “But you didn’t look to the left, so let’s practise that again.”“It was set up that way so the child can work independently,” said Morrongiello, adding that the program can take an hour or two depending on the child’s attention span.“So it’s a very tailored approach to learning. We try to make it so each child has a fun experience and wants to continue to play it.”In a study of 130 children aged seven to 10, those who were trained in street-crossing techniques using the program fared much better than a control group of kids who didn’t get the virtual reality training.Those assigned to take part in the VR program made 75 to 98 per cent fewer road-crossing errors following the test, compared to their untrained counterparts, said the researchers, whose study was recently published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.“The children did exceptionally well,” said Morrongiello.One of kids who took part in the study when he was younger was Kaelan Rekker.“It was really cool because it was my first time doing virtual reality,” said Kaelan, now 11 and about to enter Grade 6.“Yeah, I made a few mistakes at first,” he admitted from his home in Guelph. “I got hit by a few cars.“After that, then I was really focused on looking both ways before crossing the street … (and) like looking for gaps between the cars and how fast they were going so that I could walk across.”His mother Kristen Rekker said she was more concerned about street-crossing skills when Kaelan, his twin sister Eden and their 13-year-old brother Dawson were younger.But because of their different personality traits, Rekker was a bit more concerned about Kaelan, who “sometimes makes different decisions than the other two, who might be more careful at crossing the street.”“It’s only in the past few years that they’ve been walking to school on their own and they’ve had to cross a rather busy intersection on their way to school.”The researchers designed the program to be inexpensive, requiring only the use of a computer, 3D goggles and a game-controller like that of an Xbox to operate the virtual reality environment.“We’re hoping to disseminate it broadly. It could go in a library, it could go in a school,” said Morrongiello, noting that the program is not a money-making venture.“We do it because we really are passionate about preventing childhood injuries.”With good reason: child pedestrian injuries are a leading cause of injury-related death among Canadian children aged 14 years or younger, according to Parachute Canada, an organization that promotes evidence-based solutions to avoid preventable injuries.The Guelph researchers have already been contacted by a public health group in Israel and are in the process of translating the program into Hebrew, with a likely roll-out date in January.Morrongiello said she welcomes inquiries from school boards, municipalities and other organizations both in Canada and abroad.She won’t name a specific age when kids are ready to learn to cross the street independently, as perceptual skills and brain development vary from child to child. But generally, she suggests starting when kids are aged seven or eight.“We are very cautious in our training,” Morrongiello said. “Even when these children succeed, we make them understand and their parents understand that it doesn’t mean that they’re now free to go and cross streets on their own.“It means they have a better understanding going out our door than they did coming in. But that doesn’t mean necessarily they’re going to be able to handle any traffic situation or any unpredictable situation, like when they’re late for school and in a hurry.”— Follow @SherylUbelacker on Twitter.
VANCOUVER – A Vancouver casino says it “categorically” stands against racism after Drake accused it of “profiling” him.In a post on Instagram, the Toronto rapper called Parq Vancouver “the worst run business” he has ever witnessed.He says the casino did not allow him to gamble, despite his providing “everything they originally asked” him for.Drake didn’t elaborate and his representatives declined to comment further.Following Drake’s post, Parq Vancouver’s website was flooded with negative comments, with one user saying, “It’s 2018 not 1945.”In a pair of statements on Saturday that did not name Drake, the casino first said it was “actively investigating” the incident, then apologized for what it called “the experience our customer had.”“We are operating in one of the most complex, highly regulated industries and are always looking to better our communication and customer service,” casino president Joe Brunini said in a statement.“We are constantly improving our communications process to ensure that these new regulations are better understood by all guests.”Under rules that took effect in January, casinos in B.C. are required “to gather detailed information on the source of player funds for all transactions of $10,000 or more,” according to the provincial gambling regulator.“Effective today, all cash and bank draft/certified cheque buy-ins for $10,000 or more, in one or more transactions within a 24-hour period, will require a source of funds receipt,” the British Corporation Lottery Corporation said in a statement Jan. 10.“The original receipt must be from the same day of the transaction and show the financial institution, branch number and account number.”In the wake of Drake’s allegations, Brunini said the casino was “committed to having a productive conversation to resolve this issue.“We categorically stand against racism of any kind. We are committed to providing a safe, secure and enjoyable experience for all,” he said.
WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump must have been spoiling for a fight Wednesday when he woke up to a harsh new political reality: a divided Congress, newly empowered Democrats and maybe even a powerful new presidential challenger.While a surge of opposition didn’t swamp the Senate, where the Republicans actually made gains, Democrats turned the tide in the House of Representatives, forming a majority that gives them more power to subpoena cabinet members, investigate the president’s ties to Russia and compel the release of the his tax returns.But to hear Trump tell it, the midterms represented an “almost total victory” for his party.By turns conciliatory and combative, Trump put on a vintage performance Wednesday in the East Room of the White House — listing Republicans who lost after rejecting his campaign help, sparring angrily with reporters and offering to work with Democrats only if they stand down on their investigative threats.“They did very poorly,” he said of a number of Republican incumbents who turned down his support, several of whom he mentioned by name. “I’m not sure that I should be happy or sad, but I feel just fine about it.”Within hours of the end of the 90-minute news conference, another prominent name was gone: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who submitted his resignation Wednesday “at (Trump’s) request” after months of being vilified and embarassed publicy by the president for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.Whenever the subject of Russia or taxes came up Wednesday, Trump sounded like he was issuing an ultimatum.“They’ve got nothing, zero. You know why? ‘Cause there is nothing,” he said of the Democrats, suggesting that he would push Senate investigations of Democrats’ conduct if they try the same thing with him.“They can play that game, but we can play it better, because we have a thing called the United States Senate, and a lot of very questionable things were done, between leaks of classified information and many other elements that should not have taken place.”One thing that clearly didn’t change overnight was Trump’s contempt for the media, particularly CNN.“You are a rude, terrible person,” Trump said during one especially heated exchange when CNN’s Jim Acosta tried to steer the line of questioning towards the ongoing Russia investigation.“The way you treat (press secretary) Sarah Huckabee is horrible and the way you treat other people are horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.”Tuesday’s vote ushered a number of new and diverse faces into Congress, including the first Muslim, Indigenous and Korean-born women, while voters in Colorado made Jared Polis the first openly gay man to be elected a state governor.And it might also have freed up another Democratic superstar to take a run at the White House: the charismatic Beto O’Rourke, who was edged out in his bid to represent Texas in the Senate by Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.O’Rourke capped off a remarkably strong campaign with a concession speech that sounded much more like a call to arms.“We are great people: ambitious, defined by our aspirations, the hard work that we are willing to commit in order to achieve them,” he told supporters in his hometown of El Paso.“Every single one of us — Republicans, Democrats, independents, from the biggest of cities to the smallest of towns — the people of Texas want to do and will do the great work of this country.”Before Tuesday’s result, O’Rourke had said he had no plans to seek the presidential nomination in 2020.Asked if she believes him, University of Texas at Austin politics lecturer Victoria DeFrancesco had a simple answer: “No.”“Had he won, then 2020 would have been tough for him to justify,” DeFrancesco said in an interview. “He is a fantastic fundraiser, he has a great message and if you watched his concession speech — I’ve never seen a concession speech like that. That was basically a campaign speech. So you can read between the lines.”Of course, no shortage of Democratic hopefuls are waiting in the wings, all representing segments of the demographic and ideological formula some believe comprises the perfect candidate: elder statesman Joe Biden, visible minorities Cory Booker and Kamala Harris and political veteran Elizabeth Warren, among others.“I think he’s as strong of a candidate as anyone else, but it would not be a cakewalk, because there are a lot of other talented people out there,” DeFrancesco said.“You could boil it down to two camps: some say, ‘Let’s play to that middle,’ and others will say, ‘No, let’s fortify the bases.’ So I think the next 12 to 18 months are going to be about defining which of those two visions wins out.”
ST-LAZARE, Man. — Canadian National Railway says it doesn’t yet know how much oil leaked from a derailment in western Manitoba, but it says trains are now running on the line again.The railway said Saturday there was “a partial leak” of crude south of St. Lazare, Man., but it was contained and none had reached the Assiniboine River.When asked on Sunday about how much oil spilled, and how many of the 37 cars that derailed on Saturday leaked, a CN spokesman said it’s “still being assessed.”Transportation Safety Board spokesman Alex Fournier says investigators from the board spent Sunday at the site, but he didn’t have information about the quantity of the spill either.Barry Lowes, reeve of the Rural Municipality of Ellice-Archie, Man., which surrounds St-Lazare, said Saturday that “quite a bit” of oil had spilled and there was a foul smell in the area.CN says no one was injured in the derailment and there was no fire reported, and the cause of the wreck remains under investigation.The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The Ontario government’s decision to repeal a modernized sex-ed curriculum does not violate a transgender girl’s rights, the province’s human rights tribunal decided Thursday.The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario dismissed the argument that the government was discriminating against the 11-year-old sixth-grader — identified only as AB — by not including mandatory lessons on gender identity in the curriculum at the time she filed the complaint.The tribunal said a separate court decision in favour of the government made the girl’s complaint moot.The Divisional Court ruled in February that it is the role of elected officials, not the courts, to make legislation and policy decisions, noting that government lawyers said teachers were allowed to go beyond what is in the new curriculum.“While the applicant is worried that she may experience increased victimization, her fear is speculative because it is now clear to all school boards and teachers what is required of them,” adjudicators Jennifer Scott and Brenda Bowlby wrote, noting that the court affirmed that teachers are required to include all students in the sex-ed curriculum.“There is now no uncertainty about the sex education that she will receive,” they wrote. “Her teachers must include her because the code and charter require them to teach in an inclusive manner.” Since the girl’s hearing before the tribunal in January, the Progressive Conservative government introduced a sex-ed curriculum that returns to teaching gender identity and consent.But the lessons on gender identity will happen in Grade 8 — later than it would have under the modernized curriculum introduced by the previous Liberal government in 2015.The girl testified in January that she wasn’t sure how classmates would treat her if subjects such as gender identity and gender expression were not required, and voiced concerns about going to a bigger school next year for Grade 7.“I don’t know what the students have been taught,” she said at the time.The challenge before the Divisional Court — which was brought by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association — differed from the human rights case because it did not focus on the effects on LGBTQ students.The applicants in that case argued that the changes infringed teachers’ freedom of expression and put students at risk by failing to be inclusive.But the tribunal opted to lean on the court decision because the government used the same defence in each case.“In order for the applicant to succeed, we would be required to find that the Divisional Court erred,” Scott and Bowlby wrote. “That, in essence, amounts to stepping into the shoes of an appellate court.”Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Teens and young adults who use electronic cigarettes are significantly more likely to use cannabis as well, according to a new study co-authored by a Canadian researcher.Pediatrician Nicholas Chadi’s analysis of previous research, published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that the likelihood of marijuana use was three to four times higher among youth who vaped.One of the key findings showed the risk for younger adolescents aged 12 to 17 was higher than for young adults aged 18 to 24 years.“It’s an important discovery for us,” said Chadi, who is now based at Montreal’s Ste-Justine Hospital but conducted the research during a previous posting in Boston.“The risk is higher for both sub-groups, but it’s almost twice as high for the younger ones.”The study, titled “Association between electronic cigarette use and marijuana use among adolescents and young adults,” analyzed 21 previous academic papers encompassing some 130,000 participants. Chadi worked on the project while he was a pediatric addiction fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.The results of the study are in line with current medical knowledge that shows young brains are less developed and more susceptible to substance use and addiction, Chadi said in an interview.Both nicotine and cannabis affect the neural pathways associated with pleasure and reward. Chadi said both substances could make the brain more sensitive to other psychoactive subtances and addictive behaviours during adulthood.“The younger we are, the more the brain is susceptible to becoming addicted to substances, therefore the risk of consuming nicotine or vaping is even higher for younger teenagers,” he said.He said the analysis doesn’t go so far as to conclude that vaping leads directly to cannabis use, but it contributes to a growing body of work that appears to suggest a link.“We can’t prove a link of causality,” he said. But with a large number of studies pointing in the same direction, “we have a good reason to think that exposure to vaping is part of the cause of initiation to marijuana.”The strongest link was found in younger subjects who combined vaping with tobacco or alcohol consumption. It’s not impossible that these youth are simply more susceptible to substance consumption, Chadi said, although the studies tried to limit certain factors, such as addiction or mental illness.A previous analysis published in 2012 found a link between tobacco use in youth and current or future marijuana use.“Currently, the rates of vaping is exploding among youth, both in Canada and the United States, it’s something happening around the planet,” Chadi said. “The perception of risk concerning electronic cigarettes isn’t there.”Studies like this show that the nicotine used in e-cigarettes is just as dangerous, if not more, than the nicotine in traditional cigarettes when it comes to young teens, he said.“It’s very important from a public health point of view, because it reinforces the message that e-cigarettes are not at all a tool to promote teen health, and on the contrary, it can increase the problems of dependence and addiction among those youth,” he said.Vaping is often falsely perceived as a banal and risk-free activity. However, other studies have shown that vaping as a teen increases the risk of smoking traditional cigarettes, Chadi said.“We now realize that the vast majority of teens who vape probably have never touched a traditional cigarette or other drugs,” he said. “These devices are so addictive and well-made for youth that the youth fall into the trap; they develop a dependence and go find other sources of nicotine and other drugs.”Both nicotine and cannabis create dependence, but the association between them makes it even harder for youth to give up one or the other.“We enter a type of spiral where the perception of risk is very low, it tastes like candy or jujubes, and we realize a few years later that we can’t stop,” Chadi said.“A dependence on electronic cigarettes isn’t funny. It can really take over their school activities or their hobbies, because they have to vape every half-hour or hour, and it becomes very incapacitating.”Jean-Benoit Legault, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada has given the green light to a pair of British Columbia class-action suits alleging a global price-fixing conspiracy by electronics firms.The suits, filed by Whistler, B.C., businessman Neil Godfrey, allege the companies overcharged buyers of optical disc drives and products containing them, such as computers and video-game consoles.The cases, involving more than 40 defendants, including powerhouses such as Sony, Toshiba, Samsung, Philips, Panasonic and Pioneer, were certified as class actions, decisions upheld on appeal.Godfrey is seeking compensation for all B.C. residents who purchased the products between Jan. 1, 2004, and Jan. 1, 2010.The proposed class also includes so-called umbrella purchasers — people who bought products that were not made or supplied by the companies in question — based on the theory that the conspiracy led other manufacturers to set higher prices as well.Godfrey launched the main action in September 2010, but a separate one against Pioneer did not come until August 2013, leading the company to argue it began after the expiry of a two-year limitation period.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2019.The Canadian Press
The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy today announces a national letter writing contest, highlighting the beneficial connection between reading and writing abilities.The “Devotedly, Dad” contest is open to America’s dads and granddads to encourage a love of literacy in their own families. Two winners from each state will be selected and receive a copy of All the Best, My Life in Letters and Other Writings, personally signed by President George H.W. Bush, plus a pair of his favorite and fun First Family socks.“The art of letter writing certainly hasn’t been lost on my dad. For decades, he has been a prolific writer, penning notes, letters and emails to his colleagues, friends and family,” said Jeb Bush, Foundation co-chair. “Of course, the personal letters written to my brothers, sister and me happen to be my favorite…always signed…Devotedly, Dad”Be sure to view the letter contest video from Jeb Bush here.The contest coincides with the release of President George H.W. Bush ’s new edition of All the Best, My Life in Letters and Other Writings, which includes 100 additional pages of photos, diary entries and letters.Contest Rules: • Original letters (maximum word count 800) should be written by fathers or grandfathers to a child or grandchild of any age. Write from the heart, head or funny bone about the importance of literacy and learning – simply sign it “Devotedly, Dad” • Submit letter online here. They’re looking for letters from across America; they’ll randomly select two letters per state. • Deadline for submissions is 5 p.m., April 12, 2013 • Winners will be notified through email. Select letters will be posted on Father’s Day, June 16, 2013 at www.BarbaraBushFoundation.com.The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy was established in 1989 by former First Lady Barbara Bush. The Foundation supports the growth of family literacy programs across the country, having invested more than $50 million across all 50 states. As a public charity committed to 100% literacy, the Foundation fulfills its mission through support of programs that allow parents and children to learn together. For more information about family literacy visit the Foundation’s web site at www.barbarabushfoundation.com.Source:PR Newswire
Li Bingbing, Lily Tomlin and Loree Rodkin join a powerful cast of celebrity supporters and artists amassing to save the Asian elephant during Elephant Parade: Welcome to America.After stops in London, Milan, Amsterdam and Singapore, The Resorts of Dana Point will now host the US debut of the international open-air art exhibition featuring dozens of colorfully decorated life-sized baby elephant sculptures.From international film stars and Hollywood legends, to jewelry designers and fashion icons, this grassroots movement turned global crusade has corporate and celebrity supporters focused on the future of the endangered Asian elephant.“We are thrilled to welcome Li Bingbing, Lily Tomlin and Loree Rodkin onboard for the American debut of Elephant Parade,” said Mike Spits, co-founder of Elephant Parade. “Their passion for conservation is inspiring and we look forward to unveiling their elephants in Dana Point.”Once the ten-week exhibition in Dana Point is complete, the custom artworks will be auctioned with proceeds benefitting The Asian Elephant Foundation and supporting a variety of preservation programs across Asia. International Film Star Li Bingbing is well known for role in her achievements both on and off the screen. Throughout her life, Bingbing has been involved in charitable efforts through her work as an UNEP Goodwill Ambassador and WWF Earth Hour Global Ambassador. Bingbing, who has starred in a number of high-profile English-language films including Resident Evil, The Forbidden Kingdom, and the upcoming Transformers sequel, joins Elephant Parade to raise international awareness about the plight of the Asian elephant. Lily Tomlin, an Oscar nominee and one of America’s iconic comediennes, continues to venture across an ever-widening range of media, starring in television, theater, motion pictures, animation and video. In 2013, Tomlin narrated the HBO documentary An Apology to Elephants, a film that explores the abusive and inhumane treatment of captive elephants. The film also demonstrates the elephants’ importance to ecosystems and the dangers facing wild elephants worldwide, including habitat destruction and tusk poaching. Loree Rodkin blurs the lines between modern and medieval with her visionary approach to jewelry design. Her old-world artisans have handcrafted specialty pieces for countless Hollywood stars including Cher, Lady Gaga and Madonna. Rodkin made history when she designed First Lady Michelle Obama’s inaugural jewelry, pieces set for permanent display in the Smithsonian.Previous top-tier supporters include Katy Perry, Isaac Mizrahi, Tommy Hilfiger, Goldie Hawn, Diane von Furstenberg, and Joss Stone, among many others. The exhibition is also launching two other events this summer in Trier-Luxembourg and another touring over 14 major cities across the United Kingdom.Elephant Parade was founded in 2006 by father and son team, Marc and Mike Spits. While on holiday in Thailand, Marc was introduced to a baby elephant named Mosha, who became the world’s first elephant to be fitted with a prosthetic limb after stepping on a landmine. Her inspired journey helped build the foundation for the socially-conscious business enterprise, Elephant Parade.“We’ve created a social enterprise built on a successful model of art, business and charity resulting in very tangible, timely preservation efforts,” commented Mike Spits, co-founder of Elephant Parade. “If we don’t take action now, the Asian elephant could become extinct in just a few short decades.”Proceeds from Elephant Parade full size exposition statue sales and an additional 20% of the Elephant Parade net profits are donated to The Asian Elephant Foundation, which financially supports and actively monitors projects for the welfare of the Asian elephant.To date, Elephant Parade has raised more than $6 million for Asian elephant conservation and approximately 8 million people worldwide have experienced the expositions.Source:PR Newswire
Cheap Trick, Social Distortion’s Mike Ness, and Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna with Beastie Boys’ Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz, have been added to an all-star roster paying tribute to Joan Jett at nonprofit organization, Little Kids Rock’s sixth annual Little Kids Rock Benefit.The event will be produced by Steven and Maureen Van Zandt at New York’s iconic Hammerstein Ballroom at The Manhattan Center on October 23.The organization’s mission is to ensure the continuation and revitalization of music education in economically challenged public schools across the country through teacher trainings, instrument donations, and offering curricula rooted in popular music.The benefit will honor legendary musician and leader of the hard-rocking Blackhearts, Joan Jett as the “Rocker of the Year.” Performers paying homage to Jett’s music will include Alice Cooper, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, Cheap Trick, Tommy James, Kathleen Hanna with Ad-Rock, Darlene Love, Glen Hansard, Mike Ness, Jesse Malin, Brody Dalle and Jake Clemons, who will be honored as the “Big Man of the Year.”Each year, the “Big Man of the Year” award honors an artist or philanthropist whose contributions have helped build a world where kids can live rich, purposeful lives. The award’s title pays tribute to the initial honoree, the late Clarence Clemons, who embodied the spirit of giving back to children and to making the world a better place. Television producer and co-author of Big Man, Don Reo, will present the award to Clarence’s nephew, Jake Clemons. Guitar Center CEO, Mike Pratt, will also be honored for his support of the charity.The annual event, this year presented by Guitar Center, will take place on Thursday, October 23 at 6:30 pm at the Hammerstein Ballroom at The Manhattan Center (311 W. 34th St.), a longstanding supporter of Little Kids Rock and a 2014 event sponsor.Following in his uncle’s footsteps, Jake has been a supporter of Little Kids Rock since 2009 and sits on the organization’s honorary board. During this time, Clemons has visited participating classrooms, contributed on Glen Hansard’s “Drive All Night” EP, which raised funds for Little Kids Rock, performed at several benefits and raised proceeds for the nonprofit during his 2013 show at the Stone Pony. He also recently released his solo debut EP, Embracing Light.Another focal point of the evening will be a live and silent auction, in which select items are already live for bidding at www.charitybuzz.com/littlekidsrock including the chance to play live on-stage with Joan Jett and all of the other artists at the event. Other items that will be available for bidding include dinner with Maureen and Steven Van Zandt, limited edition Citizen Watches, and the ultimate Atlantic Records experience, which includes the opportunity to perform a four song showcase in front of the Chairman/CEO of Atlantic Records. All proceeds will enable Little Kids Rock to bring free lessons and instruments to over 135,000 disadvantaged public school students in 28 cities.Limited tables are available at various sponsorship levels, and limited show-only balcony tickets are now available for purchase at $250 for a single seat. Annually, this event raises enough funds to bring music education and instruments into the lives of tens of thousands of additional public school children who otherwise would not have access due to school budget cuts.RESERVE YOUR SEATS: www.littlekidsrock.org/2014benefit/reservations/ or call 973-746-8248.